My husband confessed that he’d been engaging in Internet porn for several months. I always considered him one of the most honest and genuine people I knew, and now I feel totally crushed. It’s so hard to know what to do. Please give me some perspective.
The fact that he has been engaged in internet porn doesn’t mean he isn’t an honest and genuine person. It means that he is someone who has a weakness that if not dealt with will become a sexual addiction that will destroy his marriage and his life. Praise the Lord that he has acknowledged the problem and is willing to get help.
If he is a normal man, the odds are good that this problem didn’t just arrive out of anywhere a few months ago. Almost every sex addict can trace pornography exposure to childhood. The average age of exposure used to be 11 but now with Internet and television, the average age is now 7.
It might be helpful for your and our readers to know the observable symptoms for a sexual addict. They include: preoccupation with sexual behaviors, escalating patterns of sexual activity, acting distant or withdrawn, a pattern of out of control behavior, inability to stop despite adverse consequences, ongoing desire or effort to limit sexual behavior, sexual obsession and fantasy as a primary coping strategy, increasing amounts of sexual experience because the current level of activity is no longer sufficient, severe mood changes around sexual activity and the neglect of important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of sexual behavior.
It seems to start innocently enough but what happens is that enough is never, ever enough. Recently one man told us, “The more I got into it, the more I felt that the material had to be stronger, more explicit. I started getting videos. I even called some of those telephone “dial-a-porn lines.” Feeding the preoccupation leads to ritualization and then to compulsive sexual behavior and eventually to a sexual addiction. Patrick Carnes describes sexual addiction as “the athlete’s foot of the mind.” It never goes away. It always is asking to be scratched, promising relief.
The predictably downward spiral of sexual addiction can lead from printed pornography to videos, adult night clubs, massage parlors, sex with a consenting partner, prostitution, exhibitionism and voyeurism, involuntary sexual contact, obscene phone calls, bestiality, rape, incest and child molestation. Your husband is fortunate because he has the opportunity to deal with the problem before it takes him down and out.
The good news is that according to Romans 8:37, we can become more than conquerors. If your husband wants help, it is available. The first step is to acknowledge and confess his sin to the Lord and to you. The next step is to turn to someone in your church or community who is trained to deal with sexual addiction. No sin is a private sin that affects only you. In fact, one of the greatest myths which leads the addict to repeat sexual behaviors is that it does not adversely affect other relationships, especially a marriage.
It will also be important for both of you to learn more about the trap of sexual addiction. The best resource is by Dr. Mark Laaser, Faithful and True: Sexual Integrity in a Fallen World. Last of all, we encourage you to find a couple of trusted friends and ask them to pray for you and your marriage at least once a day for the next six months. You don’t need to tell them specifics. Simply let them know that God is doing a special work in your relationship and you would value some intercessors to support you during this time. Remember that, according to Philippians 1:6, God will continue the work He has begun in us. Our only job is to let Him.