What to Do if He Battles Lust

She sat across from me at a small corner table. Starbucks isn’t exactly the most private place to have a conversation, but she needed to get it off of her chest. Her stare burned through her paper cup as she said the words.

“I think he’s been looking at porn.”

That lump formed in my throat. I’ve felt it before. It always accompanies a pain in my heart when I hear those words. Another sister in Christ who’s heart has been trounced by the evils of lust. Another woman who has done everything she thought she could to be attractive enough for her husband, but now feels like nothing will be good enough.

“He’s seen it all, how can I compete?” she stutters.

I pause. I can’t have a quick answer for this. I know the pain but I also know that each heart has a different message it needs to hear. I pray in my head for God to give me the right words.

“It’s not about you.” I tell her.

She cries and nods a little. But, she doesn’t believe it.

“How can it not be about me? If I could just lose this weight. I know I used to dress better too. It’s just harder now. I don’t have time with all these babies and . . .”

“But, it’s really not about you.” I say it again.

“Then why would he hurt me like this?”

“Because, it’s not about you!” I remind her a third time. “And, because you can’t fix it that easily.”

***

It’s not an awesome answer. But, it’s the best one I have for any friend who’s husband struggles with lust. The tentacles of pornography seem to envelop our already fragile hearts and then squeeze until we suffocate.

But what do you do if it’s you? Here’s what to do if he battles lust:

1. Internalize this mantra: It’s not about me.

As someone who has wrestled her body image for decades, I falsely believed that I would cure my husband from ever lusting again if I could attain some physical standard of beauty. The older I got and the more babies I had, the harder that became to do though. And, fortunately, I also realized that it wasn’t really about me. Supermodels get cheated on. Actresses who seemingly set the standard of beauty for our culture wrestle this same issue.

2. Resist the Temptation to Retaliate.

One human instinct when we’ve been wronged is to punch back. You hurt me, now I’ll hurt you. You think it’s okay to look at her, then guess who I’m going to start talking to online. Though the enemy will whisper that you are justified in responding in this way, you can never heal a hurt with more hurt. It’s okay to be angry at what has happened, but it’s not okay to respond in kind. I believe this includes with-holding sex. If you need a bit of time to pray and restore yourself through connection with God, that’s okay. But, if you don’t want to connect in marriage because you are still mad, then pray that God can soften your heart with His forgiveness.

DeathtoStock_NotStock23. Resist the Temptation to Become His Conscience.

You may also be tempted to become you husband’s shadow . . .as a way to “help him” with his struggle. Let me suggest two things. First, you can be his accountability partner at some level–I suggest getting his internet usage reports through programs like Covenant Eyes–but you shouldn’t be his only accountability. It will be hard for you to ever move past his sin if you are the only one asking how he’s doing with recovery. Suggest that he find a man who will hold him accountable and encourage him to repent and combat this sin habit.

4. Find Someone to Talk To.

The best thing you could both do is find a Christian counselor to help you both through this. If you don’t know where to find one, ask your pastor to recommend a good one. (A good one –this part matters-don’t just go to anyone who has a Ph.D. make sure they are biblically based in their methods.) Beyond formal counseling, find a friend you can trust and confide in. Chances are, your husband already knows how much he’s let you down. Yes, it’s okay for you to let him know that, but continuously beating him over the head for his sin by venting to him your hurt, again and again, won’t help pull him up from the pit he’s in. Find a female friend to whom you can vent the frustration.

4. Grieve but Don’t Despair.

Something has been stolen from your marriage. You can grieve that loss and ache from the pain it causes. But, don’t give up. God is in the business of making all things new (Rev. 21:5), and that includes your marriage. He can restore the years the wasted time–the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25).  It may be the hardest thing you’ve done so far. Keep your eyes and your trust in Jesus, not in your spouse. He is where your hope is rooted, not in the fallible, human man you married. Remember, you were saved by grace alone too. Extending that grace to him, even through his struggle, can ultimately bind you tighter together and make our marriage stronger than ever.

Fall Body Image Quiz Graphic

4 Comments
  • Alice
    February 15, 2016

    “God is in the business of making all things new (Rev. 21:5), and that includes your marriage.” Amen!
    Excellent points! My husband and I overcame his sex addiction which included watching porn and I can’t agree more to each one of your points! We surrendered our marriage to Christ after I found out that he had not only excessively watched porn, but also had multiple extra-marital affairs with prostitutes. Today we are certified marriage mentors and our marriage is thriving! God not only restored our marriage, but He gave us beauty for ashes. He is an amazing God!

    • Heather Creekmore
      February 15, 2016

      Amazing story of God’s transformative power! Thank you so much for sharing that!

  • Lily
    April 21, 2016

    My husband struggles with lust and a porn addiction that lead to a short affair. He has repented and seeking counsel for our marriage and his addictions. A year later I am finally understanding that my appearance had nothing to do with his thoughts and actions. My self esteem is finally being restored. However, I still struggle to deal with the realities of being married to a man who lust. I feel as though I gave my sexuality, the beauty I do possess, my efforts to remain attractive as a gift/promise to my husband. I feel as though it is all wasted and thrown away. Because of his problems, he can never truly appreciate me as God intended. I grieve this loss from my marriage. Some men don’t have this problem and their wives get to feel “noticed” & “attractive” by the one person God designed to meet that need. I want this for my marriage, but feel it is lost and my efforts wasted. What’s a better perspective on this situation?

    • Heather Creekmore
      April 21, 2016

      Oh Lily, I do know exactly what you are feeling and saying. And, I understand that loss you feel. I’ve felt it too. Like he would be ogling over me all the time if he didn’t have this history. It’s so hard. My best encouragement to you is to not give up hope. God has the ability to restore that which has been stolen from us. Many, many, many men struggle with lust. In many cases, if a wife tells you her husband doesn’t struggle, there’s a great chance she just doesn’t know about it. So, try to avoid comparing what “could have/should have been” with other marriages. Truth is, you don’t know what they are going through.

      Second truth is, I’m not sure that God designed your husband to meet that need to feel noticed. I may be on a short limb here, but it’s been my experience that my husband can never do enough to affirm me in this area — and I’ve realized that’s not his fault. It’s mine. I get stuck wanting him to fix it — make me feel like I’m enough — and he can’t do that. Only Jesus has been able to do that. I wrote about that a bit in a post called “How do I get my husband to affirm me” I’d just encourage you to not believe the lie that this is stolen from your marriage, forever and that “everyone else’s husband” is doing this. Feeling affirmation, loved, beautiful, and accepted often starts in our hearts…not with what we get from others. 🙂

      I hope that helps, some. Prayers for you. I do understand your plight. Keep praying for your man too. It’s been 11 years since we had our big challenges in that arena and my husband is not the same man he used to be. Encourage him, love him well, and let him know you are there to fight with him, even though you don’t understand the struggle.

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