Focus on the Family

Spouse May Be Involved With Pornography

man walking away into fog
What should I do if I believe that my spouse is looking at obscene and sexually explicit material?

I’m not completely sure, but I’ve found evidence that my husband watches porn. He gets angry and defensive whenever I raise the subject and tells me I’m imagining things. Any advice?

 


ANSWER:

If you feel like you have reasons to worry, there’s a good chance that something is wrong. And your husband’s explosive reactions to your questions seem to confirm our suspicions. He sounds like a man in denial.

In the psychiatric context, denial “means refusing to acknowledge something to oneself, getting oneself to actually believe that there is no danger at all” (Dr. Robert Custer, When Luck Runs Out).

That frame of mind is very common among people who struggle with all kinds of addictions. And yes, pornography is addictive.

So, what can you do?

Understand the root of pornography addiction

Porn addiction is one of several sexual addictions that have become increasingly widespread. And it’s not just a male problem. It affects men and women, boys and girls, from every age group and all walks of life.

Sexual addiction is relentless and escalates because it’s rooted in the basic human craving for relationship. In other words, porn is powerful because it offers a counterfeit form of intimacy and attachment.

That’s important to keep in mind when trying to help a loved one who has believed the lie that depersonalized sex can ultimately satisfy the longings of the human heart.

Face your fears

What can you do to verify or dismiss your uneasiness? That’s hard to say without more information. But you might start by taking another look at yourself, your husband, and what’s happening in your house. Do your homework and make sure you aren’t being fooled by your husband’s dismissive attitude.

Then, if you’re still convinced there are valid reasons to suppose that your husband is hiding something from you, sit down with him and confront the issue head-on. Don’t blame and accuse. Instead, express sincere concern for him. Give the reasons for your suspicions. Ask him to search his heart and tell you honestly if he has a problem with pornography — a problem that may quickly become too big for him to handle on his own.

If he refuses to listen, get the help of an objective third party — a pastor, a relative, or a male friend who agrees with your assessment of the situation and would be willing to come alongside you. If your husband then admits he’s struggling in this area, don’t condemn him. Rather, offer your support to help him find appropriate assistance.

Find ongoing help

If you are dealing with a case of porn addiction, we suggest that you and your husband get professional Christian counseling, and we highly recommend that you do this together.

The most successful treatment takes a family systems approach that involves an initial program of intensive therapy followed by regular and ongoing counseling sessions. (Another key to recovery is to identify a trusted friend or group of people who will provide support and accountability.)

Our staff would be happy to give you referrals to programs like this or a list of qualified therapists in your area who specialize in treating sexual addictions. You can contact our Counseling department for a free over-the-phone consultation.

In the meantime, you and your husband might want to install accountability software. That’s not the ultimate answer to the complex problems your spouse faces, of course. But it can play an important part in helping you keep tabs on the entire family’s online activities.

 

Resources

The Last Addiction: Why Self-Help Is Not Enough

False Intimacy: Understanding the Struggle of Sexual Addiction

Nothing to Hide: Hope for Marriages Hurt by Pornography and Infidelity

Digital Pornography Addiction: What You Need to Know and Where to Find Help

Referrals

Hope Restored® marriage intensives

Covenant Eyes

Pure Hope

Be Broken Ministries

Celebrate Recovery

Articles

Pornography and Virtual Infidelity

Dealing With Pornography

Pornography

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