My husband and I were chatting while we were driving yesterday. I asked him what he thought was different in his life now that he has freedom from pornography addiction.
He said his heart is new.
I kind of chuckled and asked what that meant to him. So he went on to talk about how the way he sees life and people is completely opposite from before.
He said he no longer lusts after other women but sees them as sisters in Christ. He no longer views the world only as a place open to sexual temptation but rather, a place that invites relationships with God’s creation.
I thought about that for a while and I fully agree. My husband is a new creation.
So, I figured I would break down what I have seen change in him into three categories:
Of course the obvious is true of him, he no longer looks at porn or masturbates at all. But beyond that, he is incredibly intentional with his time and energy in terms of our marriage and family. He protects our time together, making me and our children his first priority.
He pursues me! This pursuit is no longer just aimed at sex, but at getting to know me better, exploring new things with one another, and having deep, honest conversations about absolutely anything.
He is always aware of his own recovery. It is easy to get to a place where we no longer think there is temptation at all, but alas, there is. He acknowledges that and makes sure there are boundaries in place for him to stay the course.
Prior to freedom, my husband was not great at being emotionally available. Instead of having conversations about how we felt, there were arguments and blame.
He now has the capacity and willingness to fully hear my feelings without believing I am blaming him for anything and, even more, he shares his own feelings with me.
Sex is no longer merely about an orgasm, but about deeper emotional connection that draws us closer. He now only wants to engage in physical intimacy if we are BOTH wanting to do so and he pursues me in that as well.
My husband has come to the realization that his prior actions have caused a ton of damage to our marriage and to me personally. Because of this insight, he continually and actively tries to heal that hurt.
For him, pornography and masturbation was a tool he used to escape emotions he did not know how to deal with. He now, after counseling, has the ability to regulate his emotions in healthier ways and dive deeper into those emotions he so desperately tried to hide from.
Pornography use is sinful and, therefore, a separation from God. My husband felt that. He did not fully engage in a relationship with Christ while he was using.
Now, on the other side, he actively draws near to God. In prayer, in worship, in everyday life.
He sees people as loved and created by our Father instead of objects to use for his own pleasure. He is more interested in their stories and how he can walk alongside them to point them to God.
He wants our family to fully see and know Christ. He leads our family this way. This was never the truth while he was in the throws of pornography use.
All three of these aspects are different for him. He, through Christ and a ton of hard work, has become (and continually grows to be) the man God created him to be.
I will say that when you are trying to see if your spouse is on the right path, look to all three of these areas.
A person can change behaviorally and ignore the spiritual and emotional side things, but that person will not change for the long haul. A person has to include ALL aspects of themselves to see lasting freedom.
The truth is, looking to porn, masturbation, or whatever other unwanted sexual behavior, as a release usually means there are some hurts that haven’t been dealt with. And until those things are uncovered and healed, behavioral change will only last a short while.
Now listen, this list is not exhaustive and definitely is not the end all be all to know your spouse is in true recovery. But, it is a clue into true heart change which equates to true freedom.
And that is what we all want.