Family Counselor: Pornography in the Marriage

by Dr. William B. Knippa

I was startled recently when I discovered my husband looking at pornographic Web sites on the Internet. At first he denied it was a problem, but he has since confessed that he has been doing this for quite a while. We are in the process of counseling for this, but I’m finding it very hard to keep living with this man, whom I thought I knew so well. I’m not sure what to do.

First, it is important to understand that your response to this discovery is normal. Other women who have made a similar discovery experience considerable distress and confusion about the future of their marriage. You are grieving the loss of who you thought your husband was and how you imagined your marriage to be. You may want to read Living with Your Husband’s Secret Wars by Marsha Means. You will identify with the stories told, emotions expressed, and situations shared.

Second, know that healing and rebuilding your marriage is possible, but that it takes a mutual commitment of time and hard work. I encourage you to continue seeing your counselor. Ideally, he or she would have experience in the area of sexual addiction, since it is vital that your husband confront his behavior. By admitting that he has been looking at pornographic Web sites, he has taken a necessary first step. But it is only a first step.

Like alcoholism, sex addiction is a lifelong struggle that requires ongoing attention in a counseling environment. Sex addiction carries with it a special stigma, both for the offender and his or her spouse; it goes to the very core of the nature of intimacy and relationship. You and your husband are likely struggling with feelings of shame, betrayal, anger, and embarrassment. Your counselor will no doubt allow opportunity for you and your husband to voice your strong emotions, develop a plan for rebuilding trust, and establish accountability.

A vital part of the process is to seek the wisdom, comfort, and power of the Holy Spirit. God’s strength and grace are ever-present for you truths that become even more evident as you hear Him speak to you in Scripture and receive Jesus’ real presence in Holy Communion. Pray for healing for your husband and for your marriage, keeping in mind that the One to whom you are praying knows first-hand the devastation of betrayal, yet remains faithful to you.

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