You didn’t spell out the nature of your “evidence,” but if you feel there are reasons to be worried, there’s a good chance that something is amiss. Your husband’s explosive reactions to your probing seem to confirm our suspicions in this regard. He sounds like a man in denial. Granted, this has become a trite, overworked phrase, but clinicians agree that it accurately describes an actual psychological phenomenon. According to Dr. Robert Custer, denial, in the psychiatric context, “means refusing to acknowledge something to oneself, getting oneself to actually believe that there is no danger at all.” It’s a very common frame of mind among people who struggle with addictions of all kinds.
And yes – pornography is addictive. It’s one of a number of sexual addictions that have become increasingly widespread 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 these things 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.
What can you do to verify or dismiss your feelings of uneasiness? That’s difficult to say without more detailed information. You might begin by taking another look at yourself, your husband and the situation in your household. Do your homework and make sure you aren’t being fooled. Afterwards, if you’re still convinced that there are valid reasons to suppose that your husband is hiding something from you, sit down with him and confront the issue head-on. Instead of blaming and accusing, express sincere concern for him. Lay out the reasons for your suspicions and concerns. Ask him to search his heart and tell you honestly whether or not 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, see if you can enlist the help of an objective third party – a pastor, a relative or a male friend who agrees with your assessment of the situation and who would be willing to come alongside you in order to strengthen your case. If he admits that he is struggling in this area, don’t heap condemnation on his head. Instead, offer to support and help him find the assistance he needs.
If you are indeed dealing with a case of porn addiction, we suggest that you and your husband seek professional Christian counseling, and 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. Call us. Our Counseling department 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.
In the meantime, you and your spouse might consider installing some accountability software on your computer. Please be advised that software programs of this nature are not the ultimate answer to the serious and complex problems like those you mentioned, but we feel strongly that they can play an important role in helping you keep tabs on the entire family’s online activities.
When Your Spouse Is Watching Porn: Dr. Michael Sytsma explores the effects of viewing pornography and offers advice for someone who has just discovered a spouse’s porn use.
Pornography and Virtual Infidelity