She pulled me aside to confess her painful secret: she had accidentally discovered that her husband was looking at porn. She was hurt and confused, and her question dropped into the church hallway air between us like a deflated helium balloon: “Why?”
I could see it in her face. In her posture. In her balled fists and her furrowed brow. She was wondering why she wasn’t enough for her husband. She was trying to wrap her troubled mind around what this discovery means about her marriage, about her husband’s love for her, about her physical appearance and her sex life. She was trying to decide how to think about what she could only describe as a betrayal. And she was desperately searching for someone who could explain it all to her.
The black-hole-like pull of pornography is complicated and yet so simple. Men and women alike are drawn to it for various reasons and keep coming back to it because sin is like that—it always seems so glittering and alluring while it kills us little by little. Like all sin, it hurts. It hurts us and it hurts those closest to us. Marriages everywhere are struggling to stay afloat in the middle of the vast ocean of pornographic material that is so readily available. Women often want to know what they are doing wrong to cause their husbands to keep going back to the source of the shame and the failure.
I looked into her precious, worried face, and I told her one thing that I have learned about pornography through the years: Your husband’s pornography problem is not about you.
In fact, it has very little do to with you. It isn’t about how you dress or how you look naked. It isn’t about how you treat your husband or whether he feels loved by you. It isn’t about which sex positions you’re willing to try. And, even if your husband says it is about any of those things, it isn’t.
Your husband’s pornography problem is about one thing. It’s about how sin is always crouching at our door, waiting to devour us. Pornography is such a quick and easy temptation, and it’s everywhere. Your husband wouldn’t be normal if he didn’t struggle with the desire to look at pornography. He didn’t suddenly develop a taste for lustful thoughts and images when he married you. Chances are, he has struggled for most of his life with this issue, and despite what many think, even a happy marriage isn’t a cure for the desire to look at what can be so easily found on the internet.
You may be the sweetest, most doting wife in the world. You may be attentive in the bedroom. You may be in great shape. You may be none of those things. But, nothing you have said or done and nothing that you are or aren’t has driven your husband to look at pornography.
I’m not saying it doesn’t affect you. It does. Very much so. His private struggle is also yours. His failure in this area hurts you deeply. You can help him in many ways as he deals with this temptation, but ultimately it is his battle to fight, and his failures are not yours to own.
Wives, be prayerful. Be gracious. Be tender. Be tough when you must. But, don’t believe for one second that your husband’s pornography problem is about you. Pornography robs a marriage of lots of things: trust, intimacy, openness. Real choices lead to real consequences. But, don’t forget that this is ultimately a spiritual issue, just like your own struggles with sin. It isn’t about your husband’s level of satisfaction with you.
In most cases, pornography is a source of terrible shame for a Christian husband. You can be a great ally for him in this area. I know it’s difficult. I know it’s heartbreaking. But, the more you recognize that your husband’s feelings about you are not the source of the problem, the easier it will be for you to help him gain victory here.