His Lust Problem Is Not About You

Sixteen: the number of days it had been since I checked my work email. But between the wedding, a cross-country move, and our honeymoon, time hadn’t permitted me the luxury.

Today I would have to face reality.

I opened my new husband’s laptop. My computer and the rest of my furniture hadn’t arrived at our new home in California yet, so we’d have to share. I waited while it booted up and entered his password to log on. I clicked the internet icon and. . . nothing. I clicked it fourteen more times. Same results.

“Babe, it won’t work!” I shouted from across the house. “The internet won’t connect.”

“Just a second, I’ll fix it.” He came and clicked on a little eyelid icon and put in yet another name and password.

“What is that?”

I spent a lot of time on computers, but that was an icon I had never seen before.

“It’s accountability software.” He said in a very matter-of-fact tone.

Stumped, I responded, “Accountability for what?”

He looked me in the eyes this time. I still didn’t really understand what was happening. All I knew was that it was annoying to have to use someone else’s computer and even more annoying to not be able to easily log on to said computer.

We were about to have a life-changing conversation and I was only half aware of it.

“It tracks everything I look at on the internet. It’s called Covenant Eyes. It sends a report to Dave so we can keep each other accountable.”

Back up the bus!

Could he be saying what I thought he was saying? He struggled with looking at “things” he shouldn’t on the computer. No, wait. What????? Did this mean he wrestled with . . .

Porn?

This couldn’t be happening to me. Not on the day we returned from our honeymoon. Not two weeks into marriage. Not to me. Period. I didn’t marry a man who struggled with lust. Surely I would have known about that before we got married. That should have come up in counseling or something. Was that what he meant? I had to ask the question. But, I didn’t really want to know the answer.

Gulping hard, I let the words out.

“So, uh, um, what exactly do you mean by ‘stuff you shouldn’t look at?'”

I felt my fragile new marriage and even more tender sense-of-self crumble as he confessed to a decades long struggle. He was exposed to the poison early and, although he wanted to be free from its toxicity, it was sometimes a battle. He explained that though it was getting better, it wasn’t a switch he could flip off. As my tears started to fall, the speed at which his words came slowed to a complete stop.

I didn’t know what to say. How could I not have known this before?

I left the house. Immediately. It’s the only time I ever left during a discussion of any kind. I had to. I couldn’t breathe and had no idea what to do. You don’t exactly call your mom and tell her this problem. I felt weird telling friends. What would they say anyway? They probably never had to deal with this. . .

I returned after an hour or so to find my husband kneeling on the floor in our bedroom. A song by Third Day was blaring loud and there were tear stains on his face. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m so sorry.”

I knew he meant it. What I didn’t know was how I could handle this.

***

With all my heart I wish that my experience was rare. I wish the data on pornography use was exaggerated. And, more so, I wish, so, so much, that the temptation luring our men away wasn’t so prevalent. Why does virtual sex-on-a-platter have to be so easy to access?Mouse

I’d like to tell you that the conversation above is the only one we ever had on the topic and my husband’s instant healing has kept him from struggle through today. But, that wouldn’t be true. Thanks to healthy practices and great accountability software, we’ve been able to keep the worst of the worst at bay. But, scantily clad women permeate our culture and old thought patterns are hard to break.

Because he battles his flesh in the arena of lust, I must battle with him. Notice, I didn’t say battle against him. Rather battle with him.

You see, it’s his struggle. It’s his sin. But, it’s our marriage. And, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about this lust fight, unless I get in it, he will lose.

There are four things I want you to know if your husband is battling the lust beast.

1. This has nothing to do with you and how you look. His lust problem is not about you. He isn’t looking because you aren’t enough. I want you to use a Sharpie and write that on your arm if you have to. Believe it. Please, believe it. His struggle goes far deeper than a sort of your body versus her body comparison game. The faster you can accept this to be true, the sooner you will be able to actually help him deal with his sin in a healthy way.

Please don’t try to become like those women. Please don’t look to see what those women look like (out of curiosity). And, please don’t run out and get boudoir photos taken because, “If he wants sexy pictures they should be of you.” That’s not what this is about. At all. Objectifying yourself is not the way to help him be free.

2. Be on his team. During my husband’s earliest confessions with his lust battle, I was anything but on his team. I was against him. We weren’t teammates. I was mad. How could he betray me like this? I called him an adulterer and then stomped away on more than one occasion. And he would say, “Why can’t you be on my team?” I didn’t know what that even meant.

Now, I do. I realize that if we are going to overcome this, he needs my help. That doesn’t mean that I can’t react, feel betrayed or hurt. But, it does mean that I can offer him grace for his struggle. I have to see his sin for what it is: sin. Then, recognize that I have a sin problem, too. Not in the same arena perhaps, but his transgressions aren’t uglier than mine, they are just different transgressions. It is only when you see yourself as just as broken and as equally in need of a savior can you really empathize with him.

3. Talk about it. I know, you’d rather not talk about it. Part of you just doesn’t want to know. But, that doesn’t make it better. Secrets kept in the dark fester and then grow. Issues brought to the light are exposed and can be healed. Tell him you’ll do your best to react with grace, but that you need to know when he’s struggling. Then pray for him. Don’t withhold sex or punish him for hurting you again. Instead, pray that Jesus would bring him to repentance and that God will use this to grow both of you. I know this will be hard. But, I promise it will help.

4. Have hope. I know it feels dark and cold and lonely to deal with this issue. You may feel like your relationship is over or there is no way you’ll survive this. Allow me to encourage you: do not give up. There are countless stories of marriages that have survived porn and lust battles of every kind. There is great hope for your marriage too. See a Biblical counselor, talk to someone at your church whom you trust, and daily seek God’s face for help. You will feel too weak to handle it and that’s because you are. But, He is not. There is great hope for your marriage to come out stronger on the other side of this if you don’t give up.

I don’t take this topic lightly. I counsel women on it regularly and my heart hurts each time I hear another story. But, then I’m reminded of the truth of God’s word. He redeems us out of our sinful state. He does the same for our marriages. If this is your battle today, here is my prayer for you:

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for my friend who feels uncertain right now. Maybe she feels betrayed by lustful habits carried out in the dark that she never knew about, or perhaps she’s still reeling from a confession of harmful behaviors. Whatever the case may be, I pray that you comfort your daughter. That you let her know and help her believe that this isn’t about her, her appearance or her value. Help her to be a good helpmate to him even through this struggle that is so hard for us women to fully understand. Help her to be on his team and to, above all else, not give up on their marriage. Show her their greatest hope is still found in you. You aren’t defeated by lust and neither should they be. Strengthen my sister to be bold and brave as she walks alongside her husband through this battle. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

 

14 Comments
  • Carole
    February 18, 2015

    Great post Heather. Our marriage’s experience with lust addiction has been very similar to yours. Accountability software is very helpful and worth it. We saw a huge difference when I got on his team; I too was very hard on my husband and angry with him. My self-esteem got a lot worse and over the years I tried to change myself to no avail. Open communication is very necessary, especially in the beginning. And you are right, sin must be brought to the light to be freed from it. When I got on his team and saw his addiction as a sin and not as a lack of satisfaction with me, I had a lot more compassion and actually felt sorry for him. I was able to embrace being his accountability partner as opposed to remaining in the role of his interrogation officer ready to hand him a death sentence. I also started to feel a lot less self-conscious and inferior. I began to understand the sin more clearly. God also showed me I had sins in my life that affect him in very negative ways. Sin is sin and we all need His saving grace and hopefully we can extend some to each other as Jesus would. Our marriage is striving today…with an accountability software still on our computer. I also know that as he goes longer without seeing pictures of other women, his mental rolodex is slowly filled with only memories of me. My husband happily states, that the lust battle in his mind is fading. Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2) It takes time but God is good and faithful to transform a husband’s mind when he chooses to fight the lust battle.

    • Heather Creekmore
      February 18, 2015

      Carole, thank you so much for sharing this. Compassion…that’s exactly it. It was the same for me. You stated that beautifully — the role of interrogation officer feels awful. The freedom comes when we can recognize our own sin, and that it also impacts our husbands, and come together in our brokenness.

  • Christine
    March 11, 2015

    Such a great post. I agree with every single thing you said. I’m still working on getting it in MY head that it is not a comparison game. The Lord did a miracle in our marriage when we both confessed sin against each other. The reality of how powerful sex is should be something that prompts us to have compassion for our husband’s in this area. By God’s amazing grace, He has given me that compassion. We talk about it a lot. And we love Covenant Eyes!

    • Heather Creekmore
      March 12, 2015

      Thanks for sharing that, Christine. So, so many women are wrestling this and I think it’s a lie of the enemy that they need to compete! Thanks again for sharing!

  • anonoynous
    March 22, 2015

    My painful story began in 2002 after discovering something on our new computer. My husband is such a good liar he convinced me for 10 years it was just a one time silly little thing. He was often abusive & volatile & blamed me I couldn’t forgive a one time silly little thing. I never believed him properly. Almost four years ago he admitted it was twice. The story had changed. I left with our child & went to my parents. For three days he said twice then finally confessed the computer had been five years but stopped three years before that. I nearly didn’t go back but I did. He confessed the issue had carried on with other images. For the past four years he’s been adamantly saying women aren’t even a temptation. Now he’s confessed to sometimes lusting after women in public. Because of all the lying I don’t know the full extent. Maybe I’m a bad Christian, but I’m all graced out. Truly. I am now chronically ill from the stress. I’ve told him we coexist as I am unable to leave. 17 years of this & I’m done. I have nothing left in me for this anymore. I need my sanity back. I think the Church has excused lust as something men can’t help. Whereas why is stealing still forbidden? All credit to those who can handle this. I simply cannot anymore.

    • Heather Creekmore
      March 23, 2015

      I’m so, so sorry to hear your story. Thank you for sharing it, I know you aren’t alone. Are you all in a good church? No one can handle this alone. I pray that you guys are in or can find a community of believers where he can come clean and be restored. You can’t find forgiveness for something you haven’t confessed or repented of, so if that’s not been part of the equation, I can imagine it’s still a struggle. I’m so sorry to hear about the impact on you. A great Christian counselor or community of understanding, Christ-following women who are willing to be honest about their struggles sounds like it would be a big help to you too. Prayers to you my sister. No sin should be simply excused. I just pray that you can receive more of God’s love and grace, too. It’s hard to keep pouring out without being refilled. For me that has happened through counseling and a community of “real” and often “struggling” women at our church. I pray that you can find that too. It really does make a difference. Prayers for complete restoration for both of you.

  • Heather
    June 18, 2015

    Your prayer is exactly what I was blessed with when my husband told me, after 6 years of marriage, that he has suffered with this addiction since he was a child. I know God gave me legs to stand on when I couldn’t figure out how. Thank you for that beautiful prayer. There are so many women in this situation whether they know it yet or not. We need to help and lift each other and do everything we can for our husbands so we can win the fight for our marriages and families.

    • Heather Creekmore
      June 19, 2015

      It’s so hard, but once it is brought to the light I truly believe couples can come through it and thrive. Thanks for sharing, Heather. Yes, we do need to encourage each other and not let the Enemy win this battle!! Don’t give up. We are all sinners saved by grace and amazing freedom can come once the cover is off. Praying for your continued journey!

  • Anna
    July 11, 2015

    Thank you for sharing your story. I felt like I was reading a mirror of my own story 3 years ago. Just a few short months after our wedding, the truth came out.
    It was the worst pain and hurt I’ve ever endured and felt like our happy little world was spinning out of control and I could barely breathe. God’s love and grace have brought us a long way. We’re still fighting for purity and some battles are worse than others but we’re walking out this testimony in the making.
    I definitely needed to read your prayer this morning. Thank you for sharing and being transparent Heather.

    • Heather Creekmore
      July 14, 2015

      Anna, thanks so much for sharing that. It does hurt so much but I know God is faithful to redeem our marriages too! Continued prayers for your family — may God strengthen you both and use you mightily to help others who are facing the same battle!

  • Jenny
    February 11, 2017

    Hi, I found out about my husband’s struggle this past year. It has been very difficult for me. Major self esteem issues now. He had worked some on fighting this, but is trying on his own, not really getting help from a partner or really taking it to God. Everything I read mentions software on home computers for accountability. Is there such a thing for cellphones? I imagine that’s more difficult, but I really need some kind of accountability for peace of mind. He apparently was using the incognito tab in chrome, so no record was left in the history. He was open with me early on after I found out, but now it’s a struggle to get him to talk. It worries me.

    • Heather Creekmore
      February 12, 2017

      Hi! Oh how my heart hurts for you. I know the pain of this. Just keep praying and encouraging him to seek accountability. We haven’t discovered a great way to keep cell phone accountable – my husband doesn’t have internet on his (He would have to let you control the parental controls on phone to do this). Just make sure he knows you are on his side and you want to help him, but encourage him that he can’t do it alone. Covenant Eyes has some great resources that may help you both. Prayers for you and your marriage.

  • Karen Brummet
    February 24, 2017

    I appreciate you posting this! There are so MANY women out there who need to know that this is affecting at least 50% of Christian marriages. The best advice that I can offer is for the wife to do their best to find a Christian support group of women who have been affected by their husband’s sexual integrity issues. I am fortunate to have found a group (For Women Only). Ted and Dianne Roberts have written workbooks for women to get healing in this area and also, to heal from their own past trauma. They also have a For Men Only accountability group for the men. It’s been 3 years, this May, since I caught my husband looking at porn. This was not the first time, he had lied to me the other times and I bought the lie. We had been married for 10 years at that point. This last time I felt God telling me to confront him firmly and to let him know that I knew what he was up to. He finally confessed that he had a porn problem and that it had been going on for 40 years for him. Having had past sexual integrity issues of my own, I think I was able to relate to what he was going through and my heart hurt for him. It took him going to individual counseling, joining the men’s accountability group, computer accountability software, TV blocking software, and then couple’s counseling before I was able to be on his side against satan’s attacks. After 3 years he is still attending his accountability group and our marriage is in a much more stable and intimate place. Even if the husband doesn’t own up to his lust/porn/affairs, it is important for the wife to seek support on her own and for her own well-being. Unfortunately, not all marriages are saved, and you can only do your part to make it work. If the husband is not willing to do the work, then you may have to decide at some point that he is not serious about the marriage and it may require you to separate or divorce him. No matter what, God is there for you and He is always by your side – He will never leave you nor forsake you.

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