Is my spouse's addiction to sexually explicit material a reason to leave him? He continues to struggle with this problem despite deep feelings of remorse and many attempts to get outside help. Is a permanent separation the only way to resolve this conflict?
Not necessarily. A temporary separation may be useful as a way of motivating your spouse to deal with his problem, but it's impossible to say for sure without more detailed information about your circumstances. This is a question that you need to sort out with a trained Christian counselor.
We're sorry to hear that, up to this point, your efforts to find this kind of outside assistance have been so ineffective. But we do want to encourage you to hold on to hope. This is not the time to give up and throw in the towel. We know that effective therapy is available to anyone who is willing to do the legwork of investigating the options.
Accordingly, we'd like to suggest that you and your spouse make another attempt to seek out counseling. What's more, we highly recommend that you do this together. The most successful course of treatment takes a family systems approach that involves an initial program of intensive therapy, followed by regular and ongoing counseling sessions. Also key to recovery is identifying a trusted friend or group of individuals who will provide an environment of support and accountability. Our staff would be happy to provide you with referrals to programs of this nature or a list of qualified therapists in your area who specialize in treating sexual addictions. Don't hesitate to contact our Counseling department for a free consultation.
If your spouse refuses to join you in the counseling process, you may wish to consult Dr. James C. Dobson's book Love Must Be Tough for possible solutions. It will help you develop the strength and courage you need in order to confront this issue head-on.
In the meantime, perhaps it will encourage you to know that you and your spouse are not alone. Sexual addictions of all kinds are strikingly pervasive in contemporary society. Contrary to the common stereotype, this is not an exclusively male problem. It affects men and women, boys and girls, from every age group and all walks of life. Because it is rooted in the basic human craving for relationship, sexual addiction is tenacious and progressive in nature. To put it another way, porn is powerful primarily because it offers a counterfeit form of intimacy and attachment. It's important to keep this in mind when seeking to help a loved one who has fallen prey to the deception that de-personalized sex can ultimately satisfy the longings of the human heart.
Below are a number of resources and referrals that should prove useful in your efforts to help your spouse find healing and release from the bondage of sexual addiction.
In this iQuestions video from Focus on the Family, Dr. Gary Chapman discusses the process of marital separation and explains how it can be a pathway to reconciliation and redemption when approached correctly.
Pornography and Virtual Infidelity