How to Heal from the Effects of Porn in Your Marriage: Part 1

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Porn is an epidemic, and it is everywhere. Marketing professionals know full well that pornography is sensational and it sells - we literally can’t get away from it. Commercials, product packaging, even an innocent scroll down Instagram bombards us, and our spouses, with images that challenge our sinful desire to lust. Jesus holds marriage sacred, a covenant between a man and a woman, where they are called to love and respect each other, which includes keeping yourself bound to the other in many ways, including intimacy. 

Sex is designed to be a beautiful ritual, created by God, to combine a husband and a wife together into one being - and when pornography enters the equation, the beautiful effects of that intimacy are compromised. It is harder to trust your partner, self doubt and depreciation are given a foothold, and communication that is literally the life-blood of your marriage can suffer. Oh, and it’s not just men that fall victim to porn - equally, women struggle with this too (be sure to read Part 3 of our blog for this perspective on how husband’s are affected by their wife’s porn addiction), though society makes us think it’s just a “man’s” sin.

So how can we navigate the hurt and this issue of porn that affects nearly EVERY (yes, every) relationship today? Jesus, of course. Jesus can teach through His example that we can forgive, that we can find worth, that we can be brave and talk through hard conversations, and that we can find community when we share our experiences. It’s our hope that in sharing the following stories from some brave people in our community and their friends that have also been affected by this issue that you will find hope, help, and the strength through Jesus’s redemptive work in their lives and see how He will help you, too. Perhaps now you can start the process of opening up with your partner and letting Jesus into your conversations and your hurts as well. 


“I am continually shocked to find out that nearly every one of my married friends have had to deal with pornography in marriage. When my husband and I started dating, he was pretty up-front about his pornography addiction early on. While it wasn’t an easy pill to swallow and the topic of pornography set up camp in the back of my brain from that day on, it’s definitely something that led both my husband and I down the path of being better people, spouses, and Christians. 

We did put off having sex before marriage, so we didn’t really feel the full implications and psychological damage of pornography until we were married. Neither one of us thought intimacy would be a problem - we were pretty excited to have sex, as most people are when they are waiting for marriage. The expectations of performance that were put into my husband’s mind by watching porn for 15 years quickly came to a front, and we struggled with intimacy from wedding night on. His expectations were unrealistic, and I was too embarrassed to talk about mine.

We both still struggle with shame and embarrassment when talking about what we are feeling, needing, and expecting from sex almost 7 years later. Porn destroyed his confidence, made me frustrated that my husband didn’t “want” me, cause me to be jealous and envious that he “had to” turn to porn for satisfaction, and caused a lot of secrecy and shame between us which bled into other areas of communication.

I wanted to hate him. I wanted to be the victim, the martyr, the strong one for putting up with his sins and still loving him. I had to learn that porn is like an addiction, and it does not reflect me, what I look like, or what I do or do not give my husband. I had to learn to treat my husband with grace when he confessed he “messed up”, partly so he would feel comfortable telling me honestly when he slipped again up for accountability sake, and partly because that’s how Jesus treats us, ALL of us, everyday.

The part that we must be watching out for is wanting to villainize our partner and not be aware of our own sins. Jesus warns against this as well in Matthew 7:1-5: “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt?”

Through counseling we learned the cause of his desire to look at porn (Surprise! Nothing to do with me! Most of the time its a coping mechanism for stress.), communicate our expectations, needs, and wants more openly, and patterns in our communication about sharing our feelings despite them being hurtful to the other person. The bottom line is this: its not a quick fix, and both of you have to be committed. But by talking out your feelings and actions and responding with grace and support EVERY time while sharing how you feel, even if its hurtful to the other person, will heal you. Because, it’s the literal example Jesus gives us: pray (communicate!), receive grace, see relief, gain trust, lessen temptation, repeat.