My Husband is Watching Porn... Part 2

Last week I shared the first portion of a resource from Freedom Fight, one of the online ministries my husband uses and recommends. Thank you to everyone who gave feedback on that section: each of you made some very good points. My apologies to anyone who found that post triggering.

Part of our reality is that even those who are truly trying to "get it" (i.e. our pain and trauma and frightening ongoing reality) struggle to do so. However, I still appreciate that they are trying and I still want to work with those in any system (church, therapy community, justice system) who are open to listening to our stories—even if we have been hurt in some of these systems before. Particularly when it comes to The Body, we need to keep talking so that there can be growth and healing, as well as better care and discipleship for those coming along in the next generation.

Today I give you the last part of Ted's hand out. Let me know below what feels helpful... and also if anything feels off or hurtful.


Boundaries

We’ve talked about how anger is a natural, normal and even helpful response many wives have when dealing with a husband who is caught up with porn. In this segment, I want to make a suggestion as to how best to use that anger so that it serves a constructive purpose.

One of the most helpful things we’ve seen wives do when dealing with their husband’s porn habit is set firm boundaries.

In a recent survey, 39% of respondents said they either regretted not setting enough boundaries, not being firm enough in setting the boundary or following up on it, or not setting them sooner. One wife says, “Boundaries helped me to gain clarity and to know what I can live with and what I can’t live with. I regret that I was not more persistent in boundaries.”

Your boundaries should include things you need to see him doing like pursuing recovery, accountability, internet filtering, etc. as well as those things that are out of bounds like sexually acting out and other triggering activities. The goal of boundaries is to keep you safe and promote healing. It can be helpful to have a counselor who can support you as you make boundary requests.

The wife’s firm stance can truly be a powerful tool in the hand of God to help “redeem” her husband and salvage their marriage. Jay Pyatt, who is now a professional mentor for sex addicts shares about his own story when he says, “In 2010, my wife took the courageous step to confront me one more time. Seven years later we live a life I could never imagine.”

Now I realize some wives struggle with the actual words to say when initiating a conversation about boundaries. Dr. Kevin Skinner, Certified Sex Addiction Therapist Trainer, teaches wives to use the following statement before they tell their husbands their conditions moving forward: I love you and I don’t want to do this, but I can't live this way any more. This statement is a great example of being both gracious and firm when you set boundaries.

One very important boundary is to insist that he get help for his sexual acting out. You’ll also want to make sure you’re being clear in your expectations. Be specific. Don't just say, I want you to do better. Tell your husband specifically what you expect from him so you’re both on the same page. It can be helpful to remind your husband that your boundaries are not an attempt to control him but a necessary step to protect you and the sanctity of your marriage as well as promote your husband’s healing.

Hopefully this helps you better understand your role in helping your marriage heal and recover from the poison of porn. Remember, in your anger, pursue those outcomes that are going to be constructive and lead to growth for you both. We trust God will give you wisdom as you strive to implement these principles in your own personal situation.


Lisa says: if at times you failed to pursue specific outcomes in your anger... join the club. In the righteous indignation (or rage) we sometimes feel early on, we just express fury at the sin and the consequences of it on our lives, our children's lives, the lives of those in our community, etc. It's the nature of that early anger for many of us.

However, as I've mentioned in other blog posts on anger: in time it becomes possible to move from anger at him to anger at the sin (and addiction). Eventually we can harness the energy of the anger and use it to take positive action for everyone. Later yet (when life is safer) we might find ourselves increasingly able to by-pass anger altogether and enter into grief: where we find God waiting to comfort and heal us.

That's the kind of thing that's hard "to get" without having walked this journey for a long time. However, I still appreciate it when someone trying to understand our situation doesn't vilify our anger, but rather sees it as the natural, and (for the most part) helpful response to evil that it is.

Thanks Ted, and thanks Community!


Long after the fire of the anger has died down, we have an ongoing source of strength in our loving God.

This article was written by:
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Lisa Taylor

Lisa is a PSA trauma survivor, counselor and award-winning author living with her kids & recovering husband in New Zealand. She runs groups and sees international clients via Naked Truth Recovery.
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