Archive

January 11, 2016

What Do You Do If Your Spouse Looks At Porn?

Porn.

computer-addiction1Even reading those four letters causes many of you to turn up your nose in judgmental disgust, while others lower their heads heavy with shame.  But because most of us live in a modern electronic age, flipping on the Internet and accessing porn is just about as accessible as turning on the water faucet.

When I was little, it wasn't quite so easy.  The first time I accidentally stumbled onto late night pornography down at a friends house, I was in elementary school.  Sitting all alone in front of the television, gulping up late night HBO that I wasn't allowed to watch, my jaw dropped in shock when naked bodies filled the screen—even though I had been sexually abused as a small child outside of the home and knew all about feelings of sexuality.

I knew I should look away.  But I couldn't.  And I didn't want to.

My little body had known how to turn on sexually for years, and when those feelings came over me like a yoke, I felt enslaved to my physical body.   As I watched the pornography and those sexual feelings arose, I felt powerless NOT to masturbate.  (Blogged about my addiction to masturbation from sexual abuse a few weeks ago).  The second I was finished and shame fell on my head like hot coals, my little legs ran to the kitchen where I experienced my first binge on food, beginning decades of a medicating food addiction to numb the pain of a broken heart.

Most people think eating disorders are all about feeling fat—but really, they're all about feeling shame and needing to numb it.   (And once again, if you want to learn how to get free of these SHAME CYCLES, you definitely want to read my first book God Loves Ugly' and correlating study guide).   The food temporarily numbed the shame.  The food temporarily appeased the hurt.  But the food—and the amount of it—also felt like punishment.

And I was horrible and deserved to be punished for the porn I had seen.

There was a vicious cycle that formed that night, and one that I didn't learn how to break for decades:

FEELING SEXUAL–>

MASTURBATION–>

SHAME–>

DESERVING PUNISHMENT–>

BINGEING ON FOOD TO NUMB AND PUNISH MYSELF–>

……REPEAT CYCLE ALMOST EVERY DAY FOR TWENTY YEARS.

You see, even when porn wasn't accessible (and most of the time it wasn't) my head was.  And the fantasies in my MIND'S EYE were just as toxic to my heart, soul, and body as my PHYSICAL eyes were.  

 

Fast forward to marriage,

….where I started off as a shame-filled, eating disorder addicted, partially depressed, sexually confused, secret masturbating Christian in full time music ministry—who felt like she needed to be punished for how unlovable she was.

(How 'bout them apples, y'all).

(SIDEBAR:  If you feel this way, hiding your secret shame, you WILL perform for approval and love, from God and others—and there are THOUSANDS in ministry in this scenario.  You will NEVER be in connection and relationship with God and others as long as you're covering your shameful secrets.  INTIMACY CANNOT HAPPEN WHERE SECRETS EXIST, and many are afraid that if they reveal their true heart, they will lose their ministry platform.   And you were CREATED for connection, intimacy, and relationship…..so basically, you will NEVER be fulfilled on this earth as long as you cover your secrets with shame).

Once again….HOW ‘BOUT THEM APPLES, Y'ALL.

 

Though I hadn't struggled much with online pornography, I had always struggled with daily masturbation.  And when Luke and I got married, he had fully disclosed his former porn addiction, but I had selectively disclosed my current addiction to masturbation.  As he told me about his past struggles with pornography, I actually felt better about myself, putting his struggle WAY higher on the ‘sin list' than my fantasy/masturbation problem—not realizing that they are exactly the same thing.   

Looking at perverted sex with your physical eyes is the same thing as looking at perverted sex with the eyes of your heart.   (Matthew 5:27)

 

 

2007:

The first time Luke came to me in the living room of our first apartment, letting me know he had slipped up and looked at porn, my true heart EXPLODED out of my mouth like a violent volcano…..(Luke 6:45)

How DARE he look at porn.  How DARE he run to another woman—a stranger—a prostitute.  HOW DARE HE CHEAT ON ME IN THIS WAY!

For three days, an ice storm rolled into our home as I turned a cold shoulder to passive aggressively take verbal jabs at my husband.  I wanted to punish him for what he had done.  I wanted to make sure he knew to never do that again.  I wanted to hurt him as he had hurt me.

Every ounce of insecurity rose up every time I thought about the girls he had seen in porn—big chests that I didn't have, tight booties without cellulite that I didn't have, and flexibly skilled in ways I knew nothing about.

But here's the thing.  The anger coming out at him was really projected anger that I already had towards myself….for not being perfect.  For not looking perfect.  For not being good enough.  For being dirty and screwed up.  For being shameful.  My anger and lack of understanding for Luke was really my anger and lack of understanding for myself….

And every time I opened my mouth, I gave him the punishment that I believed I deserved.

When you find it easy to be hard on others for not being perfect, it's a dead giveaway that you're hard on yourself for not being perfect. 

 

Friends, let me tell you something.  For those of you in marriage, and those of you hoping to be married some day…..manipulation and shame are TERRIBLE MOTIVATORS FOR CHANGE.  Terrible.  And they don't work.  They might produce temporary results where someone is shamed enough to quit a behavior, but they never get to the root of the problem.  They NEVER get to the core reasons WHY.   Passive aggressive behaviors, controlling behaviors, anger, shame…..they all promote fear-based relationships—and fear only produces separation.

After enduring several days of angry, shameful, fear-based behaviors from a furious wife, my ridiculously wise husband sat me down.

 

“Babe,” he said kindly.  “I need you to pull close to me in my pain—and not push me away.  I need you to try and understand why I've struggled with porn so you can help me heal.  I need you to be secure in the fact that YOU are the woman I chose to marry and make a covenant with—not them.  I need you to be a safe place that I can come when I'm hurting, and not a scary place that I want to avoid.  I need you to love me without punishing me—even if that's what I deserve.”  

Basically, my husband was asking me to be like Jesus. (mic drop)

 

You see, friends, I was giving my husband what I gave to myself every day, and I constantly fed my heart a healthy dose of judgment, anger, self-hatred, and shame.  I didn't have any grace for his pain because I didn't have grace for my pain.  I didn't have understanding for his sexual dysfunction because I didn't have understanding for my sexual dysfunction.   I didn't know how to love his wounds because I didn't know how to love my own wounds.

 

The next time Luke came to me, confessing that he had slipped up and looked at porn, I stopped and took a deep breath.  I knew what came out of my mouth would be a mirror reflection of what I was giving to myself, and though I didn't fully know how to love myself yet, I was willing to start trying.

“Come here, baby.”  I pulled him close in his pain and shame–just like Jesus constantly pulls us close.  We held each other as husband and wife and I listened with understanidng, trying to become a harbor from the storm of his wounded heart.  I didn't have to have the answers—because to be honest, I didn't have them.  All I had to do was listen with understanding, stay connected in relationship, and be a safe place where love could begin to heal.

 

Because we set an early precedent in our marriage that I wouldn't react when Luke came to me if he looked at porn, a miracle happened.  He didn't really look at porn very much.  In fact, it's been years and years since he came to me in confession.  And not only that, but because I'm a safe place for his pain and he's a safe place for mine when we royally screw up on our road to healing, he actually feels very secure to come to me when the initial feelings arise—and they still do.  Just this past week as he cleaned out his closet, looking at all the piles of junk on the floor that made him feel horrible about himself, he let me know he wanted to look at porn to just escape and make himself feel better.

But when he included me in the feelings, and we pulled each other close in relationship, he didn't have to carry them alone.

And he didn't need to look at porn to make him feel better….because my love and acceptance made him feel better.

 

I meet person after person struggling with porn, infidelity, masturbation, and sexual shame inside marriage, trying to get free without letting anyone in on their secret.  But freedom doesn't come alone….it comes within relationship.  As long as you keep secrets within your marriage, you will never experience true intimacy.  Ever.  For marriage to work the way God intended, a covenant was made so when the junk arises, you're locked into relationship as you work out the wounds of your heart together.  

If your spouse has the courage to let you know that they're struggling with pornography (both male or female), become a safe place where healing can begin.  They're making the right move by being vulnerable—then it's your turn to make the right move by moving towards them in love.  Fear and manipulation don't bring healing—grace, love, and acceptance do.  You're not excusing the behavior, but you are providing a harbor for the heart to heal so the behaviors can actually change.

 

Because porn is everywhere and not talked about enough, I've asked my sage of a hubby to elaborate on it in next week's blog from a male perspective.  Ask questions below and I'll get to them when I can….comment if it's hitting home, and SHARE THIS blog.  This message must get out.  There are too many marriages crumbling for fear of vulnerability and intimacy.

Until then……give yourself permission to love yourself today right where you are….so you'll actually have love to give away.

(If you ARE addicted to porn and don't even know where to start removing the shame, here is a fantastic website to help: www.XXXchurch.com)

 

xx,

Signature CBG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19 Responses to “What Do You Do If Your Spouse Looks At Porn?”

  1. krinnovatore

    What a wonderful post! I’m so looking forward to reading Luke’s perspective next week. Here is a question for him: what exactly is it about porn that provides the (false) comfort of escape? Although they are not better options, I can see how drinking or using drugs can allow one to temporarily escape from feelings of shame, inadequacy, pressure, etc. But I don’t quite understand what it is about pornography that addresses those needs/desires. Thanks Christa and Luke for being vulnerable, honest and insightful!

  2. Tessa Adams Kirby

    Christa, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this post, your honesty and fearlessness on the topic have greatly inspired me. I know it is next to impossible to contact you but I have sent you a DM on Instagram to share with you a little bit about my story and how you greatly inspired me. I hope you get a chance to read so that you may be encouraged as I have been by your words. Thank you christa!

  3. Jennifer Gurr Talley

    Ok so every post you write I send to my husband to read at work and this by far has been the most impactful post so far. Thank you so much for opening your life and heart to us. I’m not sure you will ever now just how far reaching your words actually have been. We showed your video about shame at our church a few weeks ago…just amazing. What a breath of fresh air you and your beautiful family are to us;-)

  4. Question for Luke..As a wife, I always was to know WHY. I wonder if it is my fault or if my husband is needing more. Is he bored with me? There are also times when we haven’t been intimate that often and I wonder if his needs are being met by pornography. Is that a totally unfair thought to have? I’ve heard it said that men need a release every 2-3 days. Should it strike fear or worry in my heart if it’s been 2 weeks? Or is that my own insecurities screaming at me?

  5. Tangledinquestions

    Hi there
    I recently got married and realized why I couldn’t connect with my husband
    And why when he spend time with me it’s like he isn’t there
    He was looking at porn a few times a day and everyday
    But after I talk to him and he talked to pastor
    He seems like he is trying to connect with me
    But I still have a fear that he will look at porn again
    What should I do?

  6. I am so THANKFUL for your blog posts. I’m so glad that you’re going /there/ and you’re not afraid to talk about the tough, taboo subjects that Christians enjoy sweeping under the rug.

  7. “When you find it easy to be hard on others for not being perfect, it’s a dead giveaway that you’re hard on yourself for not being perfect. “. Exactly what I needed to hear tonight Christa

  8. Christa, Thank you for your article! I have a question.. I’m a girl and I’m 23. I stugeld with porn, masturbation, fantasy,.. But not anymore. Thanks to God, I’m free now. But I am in a relationship (for the very first time) with a great guy and I want to be honest to him. We both have talked about that we don’t want secrets, that we’re not perfect and that we want to talk about are past. And I feel like this is something he should know. I want him to know, because I would never want to marry a man if I couldn’t be completely honest. Because like you said I believe that that will build intimacy and trust. But we are now in a relationship for a little bit more than 2 months. At the end of January it will be 3 months 🙂 but I was just woundering, do you think it’s wise to share about my past now? And I was woundering how much should I tell him? Because we aren’t married. Do I tell him everything? Do you have some advise for me?

  9. Thank you for sharing your heart Christa. It’s so encouraging. What im struggling with is the self-righteous attitudute, because I never really had problem myself with such things and protected myself for the person I marry and “now this is what I got” feeling is present everytime I discover he failed. Im grateful for Holy Spirit, without him I wouldnt handle this but I pray for peace in me and more unconditional love in my heart for my hubby even though I might never understand why..want to be more like Jesus 🙂 God bless you, your marriage and your family. Xx

  10. Dani Field

    Oh my goodness this is life giving! Thanks Christa. Your blogs alone impact my life… Those times you’ve come to Sydney to the Hope’s place and we’ve met, I’ve felt so much like sharing my story with you but last thing o ever want to do is bombard you or anyone. I lived in isolation even when I was in worship ministry because of my sexual dysfunction… My secrets kept me alone and distant. Praise God that I’ve been able to journey out of it and allowed God to change me (finally gave up trying to do it alone). Austin and I got married in Nov 2015 and it’s been a new and exciting journey relearning intimacy in a new way (for me).
    Anyway, thanks for these blogs. Sometimes it’s like you’re writing MY story. X

  11. Stephanie

    I honestly cannot even.. This spoke to me in so many ways. I’m so happy you shared this Christa. I definitely struggle with approaching people in a loving way when they come to me with a problem.. Instead I freak out and get angry, in turn pushing them away. I never understood what I was doing wrong until you spelled it out for me. THANK YOU!

  12. I have the same exact questions as Rose. I know my husband has had a past with pornography and I’ve confronted him about it and told him how terrible it makes ME feel. He deleted everything he had saved on this computer, but i know it’s easily accessible and easily deleted. I have really worked on myself -being kinder, making myself more attractive, taking notes on what he says and what spiritual leaders, God himself, the Bible, various books and marriage blogs say, etc. He has noticed a change in me but we’ve been married for a year and a half now. We couldn’t control ourselves before we were married, but since the day we got married, sex had been a maybe 3-5x a month thing and I always wonder if he is finding satisfaction in things like porn or chatting up the women at work or the pub. And because he only wants to see me happy, i fear that even if he did struggle, that he wouldn’t come to me about it. So Luke, the Bible says that a lustful thought is as bad as adultery. What goes through a man’s mind when he says a girl is attractive or he sees something scandalous on tv, a movie, a commercial…does that rev him up or does he compartmentalize it? Why does he reject me on a regular basis? Does a man see those things as cheating? Does a husband lie about his wife’s attractiveness? I’m just kind of lost here. According to every resource, including my husband, I’m doing everything right, so why do I still feel like he isn’t being completely truthful, and why do i sense that he is going elsewhere for satisfaction? What can I do to help him or the situation?

  13. I recently ended a dating relationship because my boyfriend was addicted to pornography. We are both strong believers and I honestly did not know what to do because I know he wanted to change and get rid of the addiction and shame. While there is a lot of information online and books written about how a spouse should deal with a sexual addiction, there wasn’t much guidance on if you are in a dating relationship. My question to Luke: Do you think it is ok to date a man with a current porn addiction because so many Christian men struggle with this?

    As I prayed for months and sought council, I decided to end the relationship because i knew that I couldn’t break my boyfriend’s addiction and he needed to seek help himself through his own support group. I want to reach out to all the women (and men) that don’t feel good enough because of their partners addiction. You are not alone. You are beautiful and so worthy. Jesus looks at you in awe. Another person’s sin struggle does not define your worth!

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

“I had planned to end my life, but chose to give it one last shot and signed up for the Master Heart Course. I finally found what I was looking for. My life has changed in ways I could never could put into words, being healed far beyond what I could imagine. I have a long way to go, but this course literally saved my life..”

Mayah
Sign Up to
Receive Christa’s
E-Course ‘5 days
to stop the crazy’

+ monthly videos.

It’s free!