God Can Rebuild What Porn Ruined

Loving a Husband Battling Lust

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The weeks following my initial discovery of my husband’s online indiscretions were fraught with a mixed bag of emotions. I vacillated between punitive desires to withhold all forms of physical intimacy and a desire to prove my worth to him.

Porn had robbed me of my value as a wife, rendering me an insecure, worthless woman, defined solely by my appearance. Porn had also robbed my husband of the gold-plated pedestal on which I had earnestly placed him. My mind was on high alert as Satan met me with new thoughts just seconds after waking up.

I can never have children. If my husband isn’t attracted to me now, what will it be like after I’ve had a baby?

I need to spend more time at the gym. If I can only look like those girls, then he won’t have a desire to look elsewhere. Maybe I’ll sign up for a marathon?

He needs an accountability partner. If I can get him to confess his sin regularly to someone else, then he will stop.

He needs to read the right book. I can send him links to articles I find.

I hate him. Why did he do this to me? I shouldn’t have to feel this way!

Maybe marriage was a mistake.

I let my feelings dictate my thoughts. I so desperately needed to be validated by anyone and everyone. I was embarrassed by my husband’s sin and unwilling to speak to anyone else, afraid of what they would think of him or, even worse, what they might think of me.

I, of course, was to blame. If only I hadn’t eaten that second piece of lasagna or had been more generous intimately. My husband’s sin, I firmly decided, was entirely my doing.

Just as I wasn’t sharing my internal dialogue with anyone around me, I wasn’t discussing it with my husband either. I went through the motions of my daily obligations. By all appearances, things were going well. No one knew our shared secret, the growing fracture in our marriage.

Barely surviving, I trudged through my days, resolved to be a better wife, not out of love for my husband, but to ensure porn would no longer be in his future.

Reconciliation Isn’t Linear

The process of reconciliation is not a linear one. It is challenging and can be unpredictable. We were spiraling downward at increasing speeds while putting our best foot forward on Sunday mornings. I internally spewed venom at my husband, growing in anger at his lack of consideration and effort toward my fragile state.

I had, for all intents and purposes, forgiven my husband. I had verbally forgave him, yet the growing root of bitterness in my heart screamed otherwise. In 2 Corinthians 2:11, Paul encourages forgiveness, “so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” Our Enemy, the devil, is cunning and desires that our “thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).

Just as Eve questioned the goodness of God when she accepted the fruit, I was questioning his goodness as I wondered about my commitment to my marriage and the story he had given me.

I was putting hope in all things perishable. Peter reminds believers early in his letter to remember that our merciful God has, through his Son, “caused us to be born again to a living hope . . . to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3–4).

I set my hope fully on external affirmation from my husband, seeking that it would serve to ensure my husband’s eyes were only for me. I was hoping in perishable things that would never truly deliver.

Reconciliation Is a Process

The process of reconciliation is not a one-time act either. It could only begin when I stopped relying on my heart and feelings to determine my actions. My heart longed for a life of comfort and ease, a conflict-free marriage with a steady stream of affirmation and a natural closeness. I had allowed my heart to dictate my belief system: I alone was to be honored and praised.

As I slowly began to renew my mind (Romans 12:2) and let the truth of the Bible dictate my beliefs, I began to see that the Lord’s perfect will for me was not to pit myself against my husband. Even my attempts to whittle down my body to any size smaller were not submission to the Holy Spirit — not a readiness to fight my own sins as well as my husband’s. It was self-sufficiency — sprinting from holiness, in favor of the world’s idea of strengthening a marriage when a husband’s eyes stray.

Put on Love

It is only after preparing our minds for action that we can start to resist conforming to the passions of our former ignorance (1 Peter 1:13–14). My former ignorance, my deceitful heart, was yearning for justice. There was no earnest love for my husband (1 Peter 1:22), only self-righteous indignation and haughtiness. My own sins seemed to pale in comparison to the sin of lust. I had declared myself judge and jury, and my husband did not stand a chance.

But in light of God’s mercy through the cross, we “as God’s chosen ones” are told in Colossians to put on “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:12–14).

It was only after I started to put on love toward my husband that I could truly submit to the restorative work of the Holy Spirit in my marriage. My anger was redirected to the porn industry, our fallen world, the objectification of women. By God’s grace, my prideful marital frustrations began to subside.

Renewed and Restored

I can honestly say that I am not as personally affected by my husband’s struggle with lust as I once was. I can honestly say that, as I pray for my husband, I pray against this sin for him. I pray for self-control (Galatians 5:22–23). And I pray that he finds the Lord to be more satisfying than the fleeting passions of his former ignorance (1 Peter 1:14).

He will tell you it’s a journey of mountains and valleys — and that the only common denominator he can see is that, if he is seeking the Lord, the valleys are fewer and farther between.

As cliché as this will sound, my renewed feelings on this matter were not primarily a result of counseling or reading a certain book or any other formula or prescription. I didn’t tape Psalm 139 to my mirror (not that that’s a bad idea). I did not lose weight. It can all be ascribed to one thing: the Lord.

The Holy Spirit changed my heart. He helped me to see it actually isn’t about me. My husband’s struggle is just that: a struggle. And his struggle isn’t with me — flesh and blood. His struggle is with the powers of the dark world and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). When he chooses to pursue sin, it’s not as an alternative to choosing me — it’s an alternative to choosing Christ.

And I am his wife, his helpmate (Genesis 2:18). My role is not to go to war against my husband, but to go to war with him. I, too, have been called out of darkness into marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). And now I, too, through our trials can boldly proclaim the excellencies of the merciful One who called me.

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.