My husband has been struggling with pornography for nearly 20 years and gets angry when I challenge him on it. I have responded each time in forgiveness and willingness to help him through it but he shows no repentance for it. He doesn’t talk openly about his struggles. I feel totally broken and am losing trust in him. He won’t let me talk to anyone about it and he is unwilling to get help. I question my self worth as a wife and person. How long do I keep fighting this losing battle?
You are valuable.
You were fearfully and wonderfully made according to the Bible.
Your worth is never based on the choices and actions of others.
I hear and understand the hurt, pain, and mistrust you are feeling because of your husband’s pornography use. Nothing is more painful for a wife than the breaking of intimacy and the betrayal of trust through infidelity. But his choice to pursue fantasy over a real connection with you as his wife is not a reflection of your worth as a woman.
His choice to pursue fantasy over a real connection with you as his wife is not a reflection of your worth as a woman.
The hardest part about wanting to help a spouse through an issue, especially one like pornography, is that he has to want your help. He has to see the need for change. He has to want to change. With no evidence of repentance on his part, he may not appreciate how problematic his actions have been and how devastating this is to you.
I would really encourage conversation between you both. Regular dialogue about how his day was at work, and so on, can help him become more comfortable opening up with you. Often times men use pornography because of stress, tension, and the sense of losing control in another area of their lives. By asking about his day on a regular basis, you may discover that he is under a lot of pressure at work or stressed about finances at home.
I would really encourage conversation between you both.
When you have the opportunity to talk to him again about this subject, it may be time for some tough love. Do not personally attack him, which will only cause him to put up a guard and be defensive, but focus on how his pornography use affects you. Communicate your wants and needs. Put pressure on him to realize that he cannot have you and other women.
Your marriage vows to each other included commitment to your spouse and no one else. He cannot expect you to continue as if nothing is wrong while his sexual attentions and intentions are focused on others outside your marriage. You entrusted your heart to your husband, and he is violating your trust and your marriage vows.
If he continues to shut down the conversation with no regard to hear you out, then it is appropriate for you to bring in a third party to the situation. Seek someone who can offer wisdom and guidance, such as a pastor or religious leader. Showing him just how damaging this is to your relationship may urge him to take notice and start listening.
Marriage needs to have mutual respect between a husband and a wife, and he needs to see the lack of respect he is continuing to show you.
Seek someone who can offer wisdom and guidance, such as a pastor or religious leader.
See if he would be open to having an accountability partner other than you. Many times a husband is not interested in accountability if he knows that his wife will see his failures and poor choices. Perhaps if you suggest someone close to him that he trusts, he may be more willing to seek help. If he is still unwilling to address this issue, find someone who will help you and give you encouragement and counsel.
I want to encourage you to hold on to hope. Being willing to invest in rebuilding intimacy and trust in your marriage will lead to a happier relationship. Hopefully, he will appreciate and open his eyes to your efforts and love for him.
Yours in accountability,
“Ask Ali” is an op-ed column answering common questions about accountability and related topics.