Should I Talk to My Spouse About My Porn Problem?

There is no greater accountability than knowing your spouse is watching you.  It is unlikely that you would look at pornography or flirt with your co-worker if your spouse was standing there next to you.  This is what I love about Spector Pro’s screenshot system.  I know my wife has access to minute-by-minute screenshots of any time I am using my computer.  This gives me such relief because I know I won’t even stop to sniff a temptation if it comes across my screen, and I certainly won’t go looking for it.

Some of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had with my wife were to tell her I had messed up and looked at Internet pornography again.  This was during the post-college years when Steve and I had stopped our accountability talks, and I hadn’t put Spector Pro on my computer yet.  Telling my wife made the struggle real.  It was the epitome of taking something out of fantasy and placing it squarely in the most real thing there is:  my marriage.  When our struggles stay in our head, they are easy to justify as understandable.  Even when we talk to a same-gender friend for accountability, there is still a level of empathy and grace that comes from this person who can likely relate to the allure of our temptation.  But when we share it with our spouse, the one we have betrayed, we feel the real pain that our sinful actions cause.  We need to feel this pain because it makes us understand that our sin is far from harmless.  We need to see our sin the way God does, and feeling this pain helps move us closer to that.

I encourage you to talk to your spouse about your sexual sins and to utilize them as a part of your accountability team, but do so using the proper timing.  Before confiding with them, I strongly encourage you to have some successes down the road of purity first.  What I mean is, if you are in the middle of a longstanding porn addiction that your spouse knows nothing about and you go to them and tell them, they are not going to know how to react.  Some will panic and overreact, feeling like all of their trust has been eroded and that the marriage is falling apart.  If you have not put any plan for action in place, while they may want to forgive you, there’s no way they can trust you to not simply fall back into it again.

The solution to this is to first put your plan of action in place and start developing a new track record of purity.  If you have talked to some same-gender accountability partners already, possibly your pastor as well, and you’ve already put a good Internet filter on your computer and smartphone, it will certainly soften the blow when you talk to your spouse for the first time.  Especially since you are asking for their help, and are even including them on your computer software accountability reports.  Your spouse will still feel hurt, and rightfully so, but knowing you have a plan in place and that you have had some success with it already will go a long way to showing them that you truly mean your new commitment and that you truly do love them.  I don’t recommend going into gruesome detail with them on what or who you’ve been looking at or thinking about.  Generalizations will be painful enough, and should be all that is needed to get the point across, as well as the help you need from them.  The most important thing they will need to see is that even though it hurts to be told these things, it is a much better alternative than you continuing to keep it a secret and not do anything about it.

Allow your spouse to grieve the trust that has been broken, and expect them to pull away for a little while.  Don’t use this response as a rationalization to go back to your sin.  It’s only natural that they respond this way and it’s all a part of the healing process.  It will take continued growth on your part to keep growing stronger in your purity.  As you do this, your spouse’s trust in you will grow correspondingly, as will their willingness to be close with you once again.

Talking to your spouse needs to be well-complimented by the regular accountability you receive from same-gender Christian friends.  Leave the specific names, thought processes, and gruesome details with your same-gender accountability partners, and tell your spouse about the general truths of what you’re learning, as well as the general sins you’ve fallen into.

You will also want to be sure your spouse has been exposed to books such as the one I’ve written, or to resources such as www.xxxchurch.com so they can see you are not the only one who struggles in this area and they are not alone as a spouse trying to help one who is struggling.  These resources will help equip your spouse with a spirit of grace and healing, rather than judgment and alienation.  It will also show them how much better off they are to have a spouse who is actively and tenaciously fighting against these struggles, rather than the scores of people who have become apathetic and even welcoming of them.

I think it’s necessary to confess our sins and explain our plan for freedom to our spouse because it is the most potent way of shining the light of reality on our sin and temptations.  Of all people we can seek help from, our spouse is the one with the most authority when dealing with the ramifications of our sin.  This authority is a strong motivator for success.  Second to this, our spouse is our most powerful ally in our fight for purity.  They are the only one who can physically and emotionally address our sexual needs, so I think it’s foolish to keep them shut out of our game plan for health and freedom.  Not confiding in our spouse at some point only perpetuates our need to pretend like we have it all together, which is the opposite of what is needed for the freedom of reality to overtake us.

Whenever you share anything with your spouse about your struggles in this area, whether general or specific, they are going to feel some degree of hurt.  Hopefully with a careful and comprehensive approach such as this one, the hurt will be minimized and the traction you gain from these conversations will far outweigh the initial discomfort of having them.

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One response to Should I Talk to My Spouse About My Porn Problem?


  1. I really wish my husband had come to me. Every single time we had a discussion about it, it was because I caught him. Even though he’s been porn free for two years (we’ve been married for 20) all the lies still hurt. I’m still hurting. Especially because for many years he blamed me. Because he never came to me to confess, I’ll never really know if I can trust him again. He never confessed in the past. If he slips up again, I just assume I won’t know until I sense things are off. That’s how I always knew in the past. I could just tell.

    Anyone reading this, tell your wife. It’s much better coming from you than her finding out another way.

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