What If My Husband Looks at Porn?

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It was such a kick to the stomach. A nauseating, heart-pounding kick.

I remember staring, confused, at the computer screen. What exactly was he looking at, anyway? Is that what I think it is?

Then, the slow realization.

And then, the unexpected kick in the gut.

We had sat through sermons together. We had nodded our heads in unison, agreeing. Yes, porn wrecks lives. Yes, porn objectifies women. Yes, yes, all the things, yes. We had even discussed it, ad nauseum.

He, of course, “had struggled” with lust. Key word: struggled — the “d” on the end indicated to me a past-tense struggle, a struggle no longer. I was okay. I was safe. I had married a Christian man. There was no need to worry myself with thoughts of comparison or insecurities with my body type. My husband only had eyes for me, and I only had thoughts of pity for those poor, unfortunate women whose husbands lacked my husband’s self-control.

But then it all came crashing down that night. I remember stumbling into the room, confused by the soft glow illuminating the room at such a late hour — trying to understand why he looked so panicked — then came that devastating blow. And then the shame, the guilt, the self-condemnation, the uncontrollable anger, the inability to shake the feeling of betrayal.

Who is this person I married?

I have been lied to.

Thoughts and doubts kept coming at me. I became a woman obsessed. My eyes were constantly following his eyes. Nowhere was safe. The barista at Starbucks? Why her? The woman at the worship service Sunday morning? Why do his eyes linger on her? Is nowhere safe? It quickly became tiring. My brain was constantly “on.”

And then came the onslaught of personal insecurities. Why are there so many women more attractive than me? Why can I never become thin enough? Why am I not brunette enough? It was not phenotypically possible for me to compete with the objects of my husband’s lust. Genetics were never in my favor. The endless pleading with my husband and need for constant approval and affirmation were becoming a strain on our relationship, until it all finally came down to this: he was not meant to bear the weight of my idolatry. And I was not meant to bear the weight of preventing his sin.

Six Truths for Wounded Wives

Through a lot of counseling, tears, discussions, and prayer — a long process of healing and grace-filled restoration in Christ — God has shown me several truths that might minister to other wives like me.

1. You, sweet woman, are not in a battle against your husband.

You and your husband together are in a battle against sin. Satan would love nothing more than to separate yet another covenant bond. Let me go ahead and affirm that, yes, an unfortunate consequence of sin is that it does hurt your relationship. Fight that with the blood of Christ. Forgiveness is offered to us all on the path back to marital unity.

But in seeking “unity,” we are not condoning sin. Be angry at the sin. Take note of Jesus and his anger — by grace, make it a righteous anger. Be angry and do not sin (Ephesians 4:26). Go to counseling. Pray together. Find a biblical community you can trust and be vulnerable with. Fight this sin together, and seek help from others.

2. His sin is not your body’s fault.

While I appreciate the endless amounts of marital literature espousing the value of staying in shape for your husband, the truth is even the most attractive, physically in-shape women fall victim to the pain of a husband’s infidelity. It is not your body’s fault.

Sister in Christ, you will age. You are aging! There will be seasons where you are not able to look like you did on your wedding day. I have had three children. I can attest to this personally. We have to trust God with our eight-week-postpartum body. We have to trust him with our newlywed body. And, although I have not personally experienced this yet, we have to trust him with our elderly body.

Sure, stay in shape for your husband to the best of your ability. But not as lust-insurance to keep him from dealing with the heart and root of his own sin struggle. Your level of hotness is not some spiritual preventative measure. It is more important that you are pleading with God in prayer for your husband than working on the circumference of your thighs.

3. Embrace Jesus’s sovereignty, and trust him for your husband.

This fight together is not your doing or your undoing. Jesus is Lord over all, including your husband’s struggles. Grace alone can bring about the permanent change your husband so desperately needs. Not you. You are not his Lord. You are not and have never been capable of changing someone else’s heart condition. If your husband will ever see the ugliness of porn, he must first see the beauty of Christ as part of his daily experience of the Christian life. And you cannot give him such a spiritual vision. It is a gift from God.

4. Your sin of bitterness is not justified.

Sexual sin has dire consequences. It wrecks families. People lose their jobs over it. We have watched political careers unravel due to sexual sin. Pastors commit suicide because of the fallout of sexual sin. It is never to be taken lightly.

However, your bitterness and resentment are also not to be taken lightly (Ephesians 4:31). Be honest with your husband, but do not condemn him (Romans 8:1).

5. He needs you and your forgiveness now more than ever.

We are called to bear one another’s burdens and to forgive, just as we have been forgiven (Colossians 3:13), and not just when those burdens are more convenient for us. Those commands are meant precisely for moments when it is hard to forgive — when our husband’s burdens result in our own pain. Those are the burdens we cannot exacerbate by abandoning him. Those are the burdens we are called to help him carry (Galatians 6:2).

6. Your husband is not your savior, and you are not his.

We are not capable of saving our husbands any more than our husbands are capable of saving us. Both of us are creatures in need of grace. Accountability structures and rules and online limits all have their place at times. But ultimately, it comes down to you alone in those moments of temptation. It is in those moments that you can only trust Jesus to help you. And it is in those moments that you can only trust Jesus to help your husband. In a world filled with alluring sexual temptation, nothing but the blood of Jesus can wash away our sin and free us from it.

Press On

Much more could be said on this topic, but the underlying issue is this: we are all depraved sinners in need of grace, men and women in need of walking by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). We cannot self-atone for our sin. Thankfully, Jesus atoned for all our sin. It is only his working in us that can help us become the people we are called to be. It is only by his grace that our marriages have any hope to last until death separates us.

So, press on, sweet friend. Give your husband to God every day. Trust that he has plans for your husband that include this part of his story. And trust the same for yourself, too.

is a mother to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading, and teaching herself how to braid. She writes on her blog.