by Mike Genung
When a man is deeply ensnared to porn or sexual sin, it can become the driving force in his life. Lust can become such a big part of his life that to let it go means saying goodbye to a close friend, if not an idol. Anyone who dares suggest that he give up his god will be in for a battle that can include guilt trips, manipulation, outbursts of anger, denial that there’s a problem, or hostility.
When a husband is in that deep, the only way to get through to him may be to draw a firm line in the sand. Let’s examine what this means for the wife.
Know who you are.
You are a daughter of the living God. You are beloved, clothed in a robe of righteousness, and of immeasurable worth in the sight of the Lord. No matter how much your husband may have whittled away your self-esteem, this truth still stands. He may claim he would get over his porn or sex addiction if you gave him more sex (which is a lie), or were a “better wife” in some way, but nothing he says can change the truth of who you are. His porn addiction does not devalue you as a person; do not let accusation, manipulation, or guilt persuade you otherwise.
Know the truth.
God’s word says that just to look at a woman with lust is sin (Matthew 5:28). Marriage is the only context in God’s word where sex is sanctioned; all other sex acts, including masturbation, are excluded. (See masturbation for an in depth look at this). God’s word is 100% on your side and your husband doesn’t have an inch of ground to stand on. The only sex he should have is with you.
Know what God did when he put you and your husband together.
God gave you to your husband. You are God’s gift to your husband, and he is God’s gift to you. The Lord didn’t make a mistake when He put you two together; His intentions for your marriage are shown throughout Scripture. He wants your husband to love you as Christ loved the church, just as He wants you to submit to your husband as the leader and priest of the home (Ephesians 5). Your marriage is one of the highest calls God will place on your life and that of your husband’s.
Understand what’s going on.
If your husband is balking at giving up porn or sexual sin, he’s attempting to treat you, the person God called to be the most important in his life, like a prostitute. That should make you mad. But before you reach for the baseball bat, look at the other side of the coin. Your husband has the same wretched, evil sin nature that you do. He’s prone to blindness, pride, weakness, and other sins like the rest of us. That will never excuse what he does, but it does help to provide perspective before you confront him. Most men are scared to death of having their sin exposed; for others to find out means their carefully constructed mask will be destroyed.
You must stand firm on who you are, the truth, and what your marriage is about.
Before you confront your husband, spend extended time in prayer. Ask at least one other person friend to pray too. You’re heading into a spiritual battle and the enemy wants to keep your husband in darkness.
As best you can, try to keep the burner of your emotions turned down on low. Stay focused on the truth and what God wants to do in your marriage. Remember that the goal is repentance and reconciliation, not to attack. Strive to speak all of the truth in love as best you can. This doesn’t mean you’re going to be an emotional robot, but that you don’t want emotion to drive the conversation. Once tempers flare both sides raise their defenses; listening to the other side becomes of less importance than defeating them.
When it’s time to confront, you can start with the truth of who you are, what God says about your husband’s sin, and that for him to continue on his path of spiritual, emotional, and physical adultery will not be tolerated.
If your husband wants to stay with you, he must get help. If he refuses or says “Awww, I can do this on my own, I don’t need help,” stand firm. If he could really stop on his own he would have a long time ago. The truth is that no man can break free from sexual sin without others; isolation is part of the sickness.
So what does “stand firm” look like if he refuses to give up his sin?
If he doesn’t get help, he can’t have you as his wife. He needs to choose between porn and sexual sin, or you. He can’t have both, just like He can’t have God and sin. This is hard, but to let your husband continue in sin is to allow him to use you and treat you like a prostitute. Don’t back down.
Standing firm means you must back up your words with firm consequences; think through this before you confront him. Separation is a viable option that shows you mean business. Separation can mean sleeping in a different room in the house, and it can escalate to one of you moving out. Many men will think hard and long about such strong medicine, because they not want to lose you or their family, and if it gets our why their wife has separated from them they will have to dismantle their Good Christian Mask in front of others.
Remember that you can only accept immediate action from your husband; words mean nothing. He must find a support group today. He must start looking for a counselor immediately. As soon as possible, he installs porn blocking software on every computer in the house, turns off the cable tv service if necessary, and trades his smartphone for one that can’t access the internet.
This may intimidate some women, especially if you’ve allowed your husband to steamroll you in the past. Remember that your marriage is at stake. The deeper he gets into sexual sin, the bigger the risk to your marriage. Some men have to smack a brick wall before they get help; unfortunately, you may have to be the one who introduces him to one.
The good news is that you’re not the wall; God is. You just need to stand firm on the truth, deliver the message, and let God take care of the results. You can neither control nor force your husband to get help; it’s the Holy Spirit that convicts of sin (John 16:8). This takes the burden off your shoulders, and will help as you remember that you’re not alone and that the Creator of your marriage is with you.
We have a team of women at Blazing Grace who can relate to what you’re going through that you can talk to, by email or phone. Please contact us if you’d like to be to put in touch with one.