It Won't Happen in My Home
And Other Myths About Internet Pornography
By Carla Foote
It Happened in Our Home
Jane and Laura are both married, strongly committed to their children and families and involved in Christian ministry. Both women agreed to share the pain of their husband’s addiction to Internet pornography in the hopes that other women would be able to recognize and name the addiction and seek help.
I was young, innocent and naïve. I had some suspicions about my husband’s behavior. He wasn’t coming to bed at night. It would be 2 a.m., and I would find him on the computer. When I walked in, he’d click it off.
Eventually I found evidence that he was downloading pictures. When I confronted him, he could turn it around and make me feel like it was my fault, my unwillingness to perform as often as I should. His addiction escalated until the Internet wasn’t enough, and he took a trip to meet someone else.
We went through three years of me finding things, me confronting him, and him becoming even better at hiding. His lies escalated over time. Our marriage became emotionally and sexually abusive. What he saw in the pictures, he thought that we could mimic when we were together.
After my daughter was born, I knew that I had to protect her. The escalation of my husband’s addiction and his unwillingness to change led our marriage to dissolve.
Eventually I remarried. My second husband is a godly man, so when I discovered that he too struggled with Internet pornography, I was devastated. I was flooded with emotions — anger, hurt, inadequacy, numbness, betrayal of trust. I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me again!
After my husband got caught and admitted his problem, he actually felt better. The weight of his secret was lifted from him. However, now this weight was crushing me! Now it was my secret, my guilt, my shame. I didn’t want our friends to find out. People in the church wouldn’t understand that people of integrity can struggle with addiction to pornography. Fortunately my husband admitted responsibility and we have received counseling and set up accountability systems. Pornography is an addiction. Even with counseling and accountability, there was a time several years later when my husband was under stress and relapsed. But we are committed to the process of restoration.
What you need to know:
Pornography is graphic communication intended to produce sexual feelings.
Pornography on the Internet has escalated the availability of such graphic communication and intensified the deviant nature of the images.
Every day almost 40 million people visit one or more of the 4.2 million porn sites on the Internet.
Nearly 50 percent of Christians say that pornography is a major problem in the home.
God created us as sexual beings and sexuality in marriage is a beautiful creation; however, intimacy is thwarted by seeking sexual fulfillment in other ways.
My husband had struggled with pornography in the past, but I thought this phase was over, and we had built a strong marriage.
One night I happened to look at the record of Internet usage on the computer. I sobbed as I read through a long list of Internet sites with names that made it clear that female body parts were featured. The details in this list included date, time and title — so I knew what he had been seeing and when. My heart sank as I read the dates — including the day of our child’s birth or days surrounding a particular holiday. All I could think of were the emotional and family memories that I had associated with these special times and how they had now become tainted.
I felt overwhelmed with guilt. How did I not know? What made me think that this was no
longer a struggle?
Next, my mind went to my kids. How are these acts going to affect and influence my children? What if they find out? How is this going to shape my daughter’s view of men – or my son’s view of women? How could my husband let this sin into our household?
Then I realized the truth about our sexual relationship. Our years of intimacy absence, which my husband had claimed was due to his chronic illness, were related to pornography!Ouch. I realized that I was not enough. I could never compete with the beauty on the screen or page. I was never going to compare with the air-brushed or perfect body.
The next day I confronted my husband, as I had done in the past. This time, however, I put some requirements on him. “Either you get help or I’m leaving!” Harsh words. Frankly, I’m not even sure if my threat to leave was justified, but it reflected the depth of my feelings. With remorse, my husband confessed that he had a serious problem and that he would try to avoid the Internet. We put precautions in place and sought counseling.
No fancy ending to this story. Just two broken people trying to live with grace and forgiveness. Just two people attempting to build their marriage and raise their kids. I still feel a lack of intimacy and sadness. I realize that God has to fill the empty places in me where I feel unloved.
What myths do you believe about Internet pornography?
- “I’m sure that my husband would never access Internet pornography; he is a strong Christian man.”
- “If I were more sexually available to my husband, he would not indulge in Internet pornography.”
- “If we get rid of the computer in our home, my husband will stop accessing Internet pornography.”
- “Internet pornography isn’t that bad. Men have used magazines such as Playboy for entertainment for years; Internet pornography is just the modern version of the magazine.”
The Story Isn’t Over
Internet pornography is an addiction that is not easily resolved. Jane and Laura are committed to working through the process of recovery and healing with their husbands. They shared their stories because they know that the secrecy and shame of Internet pornography addiction keeps many from recognizing the problem and seeking help.
Moving from Addiction to Restoration
Internet pornography is called “the crack cocaine of sexual addiction.” Soozi Bolte, psychotherapist, shares that the reason Internet pornography is so addictive is because it is accessible, affordable and anonymous. You don’t have to walk into a bookstore or strip
club to get a “hit.” At first, it’s free, although the cost goes up with deepening levels. And you can access Internet pornography almost anywhere. Like all addictions, Internet pornography is progressive; the time spent on the addiction may increase, the behavior become increasingly deviant and the risks higher as an addict may move from anonymous online activity to making contact.
Addicts do not change their behavior just by wanting to do better. Admitting that there is a problem is the first step in getting help; however, with addictive behavior, professional counseling is an important part of the recovery process. In addition to professional counseling, ongoing support and accountability systems are essential for recovery from pornography addiction.
There Is Hope!
“During a recent leadership weekend that involved intensive group therapy for sexual addicts and their significant others, one of the things that co-addicts (spouses) wanted to communicate is HOPE. People in recovery DO recover, and there is renewed intimacy in a relationship,” said Bolte.
If you think your husband struggles in this area, educate yourself about the nature of pornography addiction with the following resources. Carefully communicate with your spouse about the issue, and use the resources listed to find counseling and support for both you and your spouse.
What if my husband won’t get help? While you may want to be an encouragement to your husband, you can only change your own behaviors and circumstances. Seek professional counseling for your own issues of living with an addictive spouse.
What if I’m the one with a sexual addiction? Internet pornography and other sexual addictions affect women as well. Many of the resources listed below offer help for women as well as men. Every Woman’s Battle by Shannon Ethridge (WaterBrook 2003) addresses the issue of sexual temptation in women.
Note: We appreciate the willingness of anonymous women to share openly and honestly from their lives. Soozi Bolte, psychotherapist and Board Member for MOPS International, provided input for this article.
- The Pornography Trap by Ralph H. Earle Jr. and Mark R. Laaser (Beacon Hill Press, 2002)
- I Surrender All by Clay and Renee Crosse (NavPress, 2005)
- Every Man’s Battle by Arterburn, Stoeker, Yorkey (WaterBrook, 2000)
- Every Heart Restored: A Wife’s Guide to Healing in the Wake of a Husband’s Sexual Sin by Arterburn, Stoeker, Yorkey (WaterBrook, 2004)
This article originally appeared in MOMSense magazine, January/February 2006, MOPS International, Inc.