What to Do if He Battles Lust: Help! My Christian Husband Looks at Porn.

by | May 18, 2020 | Comparison, Lust Issues in Marriage, Marriage

Thanks to shelter-in-place orders and too much time at home with screens, pornography use is on the rise again. If your Christian husband looks at porn, or if you’re wrestling the impact of porn use in your marriage, I hope you’ll take a moment to read this and take action, like installing Covenant Eyes software, to safeguard your whole household.


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. There’s no quick answer for this. So much pain. 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.

3. 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.


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9 Comments

  1. Kylie

    I found out my husband has been struggling with porn recently. I’m still grieving this reality, and I’m still trying to convince myself that it isn’t about me. I’m trying to convince myself of the truth I know – I am enough, and I am worthy.
    I’m struggling to shake my feelings of betrayal. I feel a mess of every emotion.
    As I sat with him, and he confessed his truth. I felt my heart break in half. I cried, I mourned, and I was angry with him.
    As I learned the truth about his habits, I asked myself how on earth Jesus is able to forgive me for my sins so easily? I prayed for the words, for the grace, for the understanding and ability to empathize with something that I’ve never struggled with. I looked at him and saw his shame and regret. I heard his story of just being raised in a home that didn’t know Jesus.
    I hurt for him.
    I hurt for myself.
    I have to tell myself that God is good, and that even though right now nothing feels good, that mercies are new every morning.
    please pray for my heart and his, as we tackle this very hard journey.

    Reply
    • Heather Creekmore

      I’m so so so sorry. The rock bottom, the conversation, the hard all has to come before the healing. The death before the resurrection. Praying for you both as you feel the pain and prepare to boldly walk forward. Be encouraged that this has to be the start for a new path to be forged, so you’re one step closer to a healthier marriage. But, I know it hurts. Badly. Dear Jesus – please touch Kylie’s heart with your love and peace this morning. Thank you for enabling her to show grace. God help them both as they navigate what’s next. Thank you for her husband’s courage to bring his struggle to the light. Continue to give Kylie the peace and strength she needs to be her husband’s advocate as he breaks the bondage of pornography. Protect them from the enemy and his lies. In Jesus name, Amen.

      Reply
      • Connie

        My husband occasionally searches for women online and he doesn’t know that I know. I had a conversation with him about looking and how it’s disrespectful but he disagrees and says that looking isn’t lusting. I found out that he has searched for women recently (mind you they’re all the same type – busty, in explicit positions etc).

        I don’t know what to do because he thinks it’s ok and it’s fine. I’m really hurt and am considering going for a boob job to at least make myself feel better. He thinks I’m just insecure. He refuses to see a marriage counsellor as well. And I’ve been praying and there seems to be no answer.

        Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you

        Reply
        • Heather Creekmore

          I’m so sorry for all you are going through, friend. I know that getting a boob job won’t help the problem — lust isn’t about you– it’s about him. And, it’s never enough for the wife to try to “look like” what he’s looking like online. I really hope you’ll check out my friend Rosie’s ministry – Fight 4 Love – https://www.fightforloveministries.org — She will have some great resources for you there. I would continue to be honest with him and remind him in letting him know that it hurts you. I know God can do a mighty work to convict him in ways that a wife’s words cannot — so I’ll pray with you for that as well. Meanwhile, continue to pray that God will encourage you in his confidence– that he will free you from the thoughts, images, and mental spiral that goes along with thinking about what your husband may be looking at. I pray that God will help you find your confidence and worth in Him alone – and that no matter what actions your husband does–you will know that you are worthy, valuable and loved. In most cases – a man looking at other women isn’t a sign that he’s fallen “out of love” or doesn’t appreciate his wife’s beauty. Lust issues are often related to control and anger… and aside from praying for him–know that changing your body won’t fix it. Praying for you! Hugs and grace, Heather

          Reply
  2. Lily

    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?

    Reply
    • Heather Creekmore

      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.

      Reply
  3. Alice

    “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!

    Reply
    • Heather Creekmore

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

      Reply
    • Shaheen Supariwala

      Certified marriage mentors??

      Reply

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