Should I Confront My Spouse?

If you see indications that your spouse's Internet use is out of control or if you have reason to believe that he or she is involved in some form of online sex or relationship, then you need to confront them with your concern. You don't have to be judgmental or condemning — you simply express with love the things that concern you and wait for your spouse's response. For example, you say, "Honey, I feel like your online activities are taking you away from me and the family;" "I found some inappropriate stuff on our computer, do you know where it came from?" or "I love you. I'm concerned because our marriage is in trouble. I see the following (detail specific problems):"

There is an outside chance that your spouse was not responsible for the images you found or that your spouse was genuinely not aware that his or her Internet use had given you reason to be concerned. Confrontation under these circumstances is helpful because it gives you the opportunity to restore trust and open communication.

However, if you are tapping into a real problem the response could be ugly. Out of embarrassment, your spouse may grow defensive and try to minimize the problem or may even try to shift blame for his or her actions to you: "There wouldn't be a problem if you weren't so paranoid."

Because of the unpredictability of confrontation, many spouses choose not to confront, even after they have seen early warning signs. Instead they hope for the best and just try to tolerate a less fulfilling relationship. "In that case, they need to quit looking at their spouse through their eyes and see them through God's eyes," says Rob Jackson, a Christian counselor who had to fight to restore his marriage.

"God doesn't want you to focus on what you would do to please your spouse, He wants you to focus on what He expects or requires of you — a very different standard." He doesn't want sin to keep someone from having an abundant life and a healthy marriage — even if the spouse is too afraid to confront the problem.

As difficult as confrontation can be and as unpredictable as the response can be, some guys actually want to be caught so they can be relieved of a secret struggle. "Hopefully, your spouse is like many who get caught in the trap of addiction," says Steve Arterburn, founder of New Life Clinics. "They know what they are doing is wrong. They are aware of the sorry nature of their lives. The problem is that they don't know how to initiate changes in their behaviors. What seems most painful to you may be exactly what he needs in order to begin the healing and recovery process."

"Confrontation is really your only power," says Marsha Means, an author who wrote about her husband's struggle with pornography. "You're powerless; it's up to God and that person after you confront."

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From Real Solutions for Overcoming Internet Addictions, published by Servant Publications. Copyright © 2001, Stephen O. Watters. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

Next in this Series: How Do I Handle His/Her Denial or Refusal to Get Help?