It’s the conference season, so we’re all over the place speaking and talking to people. It’s an honor to hear their stories and to be invited into their lives. It’s also heartbreaking, sometimes. We think the hardest part is talking to those whose marriages are in trouble. The grief is palpable. They look broken, injured, hurt.
Many of these stories start the same: A crying wife tells us she found out her husband was using porn. What comes next varies, but it usually ends with a marriage broken or in trouble. That’s no surprise, since porn use is adultery. Yes, it is. The Lord said in Matthew 5:27-28, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” That’s not debatable, it’s not opinion, it’s the Word of God. Looking with lust is a sin against God, breaking one of the Ten Commandments, and it is a sin that attacks the very heart of your marriage.
So, what do you do? How do you respond if you find out your husband’s been watching porn?
First, stop and pray. Take the time to remember that we are ALL sinners, every one. “For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It hurts. You feel betrayed. But, at the root, this is a sin against God like all others.
Read this. It’s called Porn and Your Husband and it’s from our friends at Covenant Eyes, the internet accountability people. They deal with this every day. This resource will help you to understand that your husband’s sin is not your fault, but that he’s going to need your help to get out of it and to restore your marriage. It’s a great road map to figuring out how to respond now and in the weeks to come.
Think through your goal. You’re probably furious. It’s understandable, that’s for sure, but James 1 tells us, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” If our anger doesn’t work righteousness, we’ve got to find another way to respond, something else to do, other than just lash out at our mate. It’s tempting to just walk (or run!) away, but, especially if you have children, you’ve got to think through the consequences. Here’s an Open Letter to Parents Considering Divorce we wrote that you might want to read. Ultimately, the goal should be repentance and restoration, but you can’t do that alone!
Speak the truth in love. You need to confront your husband with his sin. You may be tempted to scream and holler and throw things. Honestly, we would be, too. Back to that verse in James, though. Can’t do it. The Word of God tells us our anger won’t work. Instead, we suggest you approach him in sorrow and humility, “Honey, I really, really love you. That’s why this upsets me so much. I’ve found out that you are watching porn on the internet. The Lord says, “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” I am hurt and I feel betrayed. I’m worried about you, too. Adultery is one of the Ten Commandments. I don’t want you to be in sin against God. How can I help you stop this? I want to save our marriage!”
Be prepared for lies, deception, and accusations. Sex is private anyway. Add in: “men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil,” and you have a recipe for deceit. Suggest that if it’s not true, that you put some accountability on all the internet devices in the family so you can find out what is happening (It may actually be your child, even a young one. People are writing us about 7-9 year olds found on porn!) We use Covenant Eyes. You can try it for
a month free if you use our link (Make that TWO MONTHS FREE if you sign up through our link by 6/21). And really, whether or not you have a problem in the house, you need some accountability on the internet.
Let go of undeserved guilt and shrug off accusations. Hear us: This. Is. Not. Your. Fault. There is no excuse for sin. Even if you have sinned against your husband, that does not excuse his sin in any way. And you probably didn’t. Porn use causes a dopamine cycle addiction similar to that of a heroin addict or alcoholic. If you offer an alcoholic a delicious glass of milk, it’s not going to keep him from going for the liquor, no matter how satisfying and nutritious the milk is. He needs to repent so he can begin to enjoy what God has created for him to enjoy again.
Be as understanding as you can manage. Porn users can experience impotence and sexual dysfunction that can trash a guy’s self-esteem. He’s going to need a lot of encouragement to break this sin and addiction. That’s a LOT to ask for someone whose self-esteem has been trashed by the whole thing, too, but God can give us amazing grace. Ask Him for help. And know you have our utmost respect for fighting for your marriage!
Get help. Go to the pastors/elders of your church or ask an older, godly couple for help. Your husband needs accountability beyond you. If you don’t get help from the first people you approach, keep looking. Some people are dealing with their own sin and can’t help you. Find someone who can.
Have hope. We know couples that have beat this, even when it’s gone to physical adultery. With true repentence and a lot of love and forgiveness, it’s possible not just to get your marriage back, but to build a better one. Remember, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9) Jesus’ blood covers this, too. And He can “restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten.”
Please, Lord, bring the sinner to repentance and give grace for forgiveness to their mate. Please restore this marriage.
Related Resources: For more on this difficult subject, plus lots of help on how to handle conflict and how to restore your marriage, get our book, My Beloved and My Friend: How To Be Married To Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses. It’s available in a His & Hers Special with an audiobook for the guy to listen to on the commute and a book for his wife to read in the bathroom.
Hal & Melanie
Note: There are affiliate links in the post, but we recommended Covenant Eyes for years before they offered to bless us in this way.
Get 60 days FREE of Covenant Eyes protection when you go there through our link by May 21st.