My Husband's Watching Porn... What do I Do?

This week's post is from Ted Shimer of Freedom Fight. Ted contacted me about 10 months ago, after reading Beyond Betrayal, because as someone who designs groups for male addicts, he wanted to make sure he was understanding the wife's side of the story. I really appreciate it when those who work with the men take the time to learn about betrayal trauma and consider how they can support the partner.

His post below was written for the wives who are still in the relationship, and for whom discovery/disclosure is relatively recent. Feel free to leave your thoughts on it for him below.


If you're reading this article, chances are you've discovered that your husband is watching porn. The first thing I want to say to you is I'm sorry for the pain he's likely caused you. Feelings of anger, disappointment and betrayal are quite normal and are to be expected.

As you process your emotions, you may feel the urge to lash out at your husband and I don't blame you. On the other hand, you may find yourself wanting to completely ignore his porn problem, hoping it will just go away.

Just know this...you have the power to make choices which bring about your own healing, and in time may assist in the healing of your marriage. Don't get me wrong. Your husband is the one who decided to bring porn into your lives and it is his responsibility to fix it. I trust that when you seek God, He will give you wisdom on how to move forward and respond to your husband.

Now, let me say this...

Because you're reading this article, I assume you still have hope for your marriage being restored from the ravages of pornography. So, the purpose of this article is to give you some guidelines as you discern what role you might potentially want to play in helping your husband on his road to recovery and healing.

I want to give you three common responses that wives usually have when talking to their husband about his porn habit. The first response is unhelpful and even damages the prospects of restoration and ridding your marriage of porn.

The second response is a step in the fight direction but falls short of getting the response you are after.

The third response typically leads to the most positive responses. There are no guarantees that you will get the outcome you desire but this is what has proven to lead to the most positive outcomes.

Response #1: Ignore It

One common response of wives is to become enabling and passive. They don’t want it to be true that their husband is looking at porn so they ignore the obvious signs and when they do bring it up, he always seems to have a decent response so they let it go. They do this even though their intuition tells them something is going on or that something is off.

It’s as if some wives choose to overlook things in the hopes that it will somehow go away. It’s the good ole ostrich head in the sand syndrome and it’s not healthy for [you] or for the marriage relationship.

Vicki Tidwell is a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist and author of Moving Beyond Betrayal. She challenges those with a tendency to enable with this statement, "The best thing that can happen to any addict still active in addiction is to reach the bottom. Anything that slows him down or prevents him from reaching the bottom faster is merely a delay—or roadblock—to his recovery and health. This is a very challenging mindset for partners to embrace, but addicts, and those who work with addicts, know it to be a deep truth.”

What some wives believe is helping their husband is actually crippling his ability to recover from his porn problem. Unlike other addictions or substance abuse areas, porn can be misleading because it’s easier to hide when you have a problem. It’s not like alcoholism for example, where you smell the alcohol on the alcoholics breath or can easily detect their slurred speech.

All the more reason why it’s important for wives to be alert and attentive to signs of porn use or addiction and address them. Too much is at stake. Now is the time to be proactive, not passive. It’s better to speak out sooner rather than later.

Lisa Taylor, a counselor who works with betrayed wives and author of the excellent book, Beyond Betrayal says, “I frequently find myself wishing women would take a stronger stand earlier on in their journey: when there are fewer wounds and the addict is less mired down in his addiction.”

Lisa goes on to explain how detrimental this type of avoidance behavior can be for marriage recovery because the pain piles up after years of repeated offenses by the husband. It’s a lot more difficult to forgive and heal from 100 pounds of emotional pain than it is from 20 pounds of it.

Tough love is better than blind love

Nate Larkin, founder of Samson Society affirms the notion that passivity is not ideal when he states that “4 out of 5 sex addicts will not seriously engage recovery until their wife gives them an ultimatum.” This means about 80% of married men who are caught up in porn will not take action to change unless their wife demands it.

The key lesson here is that no matter how emotionally painful it may be to confront and address your husband, avoidance and passivity is not the answer. You do a huge disservice to him, to you and to your marriage when you become disengaged.

Hopefully, you can see why it’s not helpful to be passive and enabling when dealing with a husband entangled with porn.

Next week we'll continue this series by taking a look at a second common response wives have towards their husband and his porn use.


I want to acknowledge that for many women, the first step towards healing and freedom (from the pain of their husband's betrayal with porn) is the hardest. If you feel that you are called to begin to confront your husband about his porn use (or other sexual behaviours), but aren't sure how, please consider finding support for yourself. If you don't have friends, family or a church community who "get it," please consider seeing an APSATS-trained counsellor or coach, or joining a face-to-face or online support group for partners of porn and sex addicts.

This article was written by:
Author image

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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