Healing for Wives Who’ve Been Hurt
From Adultery or Porn Addiction.
few years back, I asked my wife to write me a letter describing how my
struggle with sex addiction affected her. The following is her letter:
asked me to write a letter about how your addiction affected me. At
the time, things were a bit hazy and I was young and didn’t know what
to think of everything.
It really flared my insecurities up. I
measured myself up to other women “in your eyes”. I was always trying
to see what you’d find more attractive in others – where my flaws
were. In the beginning of our marriage it was the worst. My
insecurities plus your addiction equaled disaster.
porn movies a few times out of curiosity to see where I was lacking in
bed. In a way it was self-torture. “I wasn’t good enough”, “I didn’t
measure up”. What was it that you were looking at or drawn to that I
couldn’t fill? I was constantly looking at women (probably more than
you) to see if you’d notice her smaller waist, her bigger chest, her
I’ve gotten better about not letting it be “my
fault”. If you ever decide to go down that road again and self
destruct, it isn’t going to be my fault. It’ll affect me yes, but not
like 12 years ago.
Your sex addiction ruined the little bit of
self-esteem I had back then, and there wasn’t much of it to begin
with. It put me on guard for everything – I was afraid that if I
wasn’t “perfect” (whatever that is) you’d leave or stray. I made you
my everything, which was wrong, and when you cheated on me with a
prostitute in 1991 it devastated me.
Today I still struggle
with insecurity; I’m paranoid about any pictures that might be in
something we might get in the mail, or even a magazine I might want to
read. It’s not that I think you’re going to go back to where you were,
but that you’ll see in that picture what you don’t have in me.”
The process of healing from adultery is hard and sometimes painful, and
it takes time to heal from the wounds of betrayal. However, the Living
God does heal and completely restore women and their marriages from the
wreckage of infidelity (and yes, porn is adultery), so there is
I’ll use some of the points my wife brought up in her letter as a guide for some of the issues we need to examine.
1. It’s not your fault.
You could be a 20 year old with the perfect body who gave her husband
all the sex he wanted, and it still wouldn’t resolve his struggle with
sex addiction. Why? Because sex addiction is his way of dealing with
the emptiness, pain and loneliness in his heart. Sex doesn’t resolve a
wounded heart, which means anything you may do or not do sexually isn’t
the cause for his problem no matter what he says. Some guys
try to take advantage of their wife’s false guilt by using “if you were
only giving me more sex I wouldn’t be this way” as a smoke screen. If
your husband tries to use this line on you, call him on it; never allow
him to pin his choice to serve the god of lust on you.
may be friction in your marriage, but there is conflict in every
marriage, and resorting to porn or an affair won’t “fix it.” If your
husband is in deep, chances are he’ll be immersed in self absorption
and lust, which means he may try to do anything to avoid owning up to
his responsibility. 100% of the blame for his decision to worship lust
lies on his shoulders, so never allow your husband to put a guilt trip
on you. You didn’t cause it, and you can’t fix it.
2. Don’t allow your husband to devalue you.
Women do this when they allow their husbands to continue in sex
addiction unchallenged. Before you were married if your groom-to-be had
said “I’m going to masturbate to porn once a week… or have sex with
prostitutes while we’re married” you wouldn’t have walked down the
aisle with him – you’d have forced him to choose between you and sexual
sin. Why? Because he would be treating you like trash if he said such a
thing! You’re a precious daughter of God, not a trophy for his
bookshelf, so don’t allow your husband to treat you like one. This
means he needs to choose between you and porn, or affairs, or whatever
his chosen way of acting out sexually might be.
have to draw a line in the sand with him: “it’s me or porn… or we
need to talk about separation.” He has to make a commitment to do
whatever it takes, now, to break free from lust. His commitment must be
shown by persistent, determined action; in this arena, words alone mean
nothing. This means all porn must be removed from the house and he will
no longer corrupt you or your family. If needed, a porn blocker is
installed (and he gives you the password), the computer is removed,
and/or all TV service is turned off. It means he goes to a group and/or
meets with an accountability partner at least once every week.
addiction is a hard problem to break free from, so if he isn’t going
all out then he won’t get better… and if he’s isn’t going all out,
chances are that he’s still playing games with lust. Lies, deception
and cover up play a big part of sexual addiction, which means you can’t
trust that he’s getting better from words alone. His actions are the
clearest indicator of how serious he is about getting help, so look for
proof in his deeds, not his words.
Confronting your husband
may not be easy. He will be floundering in shame, and will have built a
wall of isolation around his heart. Talking about his sexual sin will
be a terrifying prospect to him – especially in front of you. Some men
will resort to outbursts of anger or accusations to deflect attention
from the real issue. If he does this, don’t take the bait, and stick
with the core issue. It’s best that you take a few days and pray before
confronting him; even better if you have friends who can pray with you.
My experience has been that women sense when their husbands
are messing with sex addiction long before they understand it mentally.
You have a 6th sense that we men lack, and you know by instinct when
something’s wrong. If your heart’s telling you that something’s wrong
with your husband (and it’s coming from the right place, meaning it’s
not insecurity talking) then chances are you’re right. Follow your
instinct up with prayer and ask the Lord what to do next.
have every right to demand that your husband chooses between you and
lust, and you should. Where women make a mistake and enable their
husbands’ addiction is when they do nothing and allow their husband to
continue corrupting them and their children unabated.
3. Get in his corner.
Once your husband starts down the road to recovery, don’t expect him to
become completely free for all time from all sexual sin overnight,
especially if he’s spent years saturating his mind with lust. (I refer
to lust in general here, not affairs or sex outside of marriage, which
must stop immediately.) Most men (95%+) get hooked on porn or sex
addiction in their teen years, which means they’re fighting something
that’s been a lifelong struggle. This is no easy task. Finding freedom
is often a process, not a one time event.
your husband is showing you by consistent action that he wants to break
free from sex addiction, join him in the fight. Pray with and for him
every day. Ask him once a week how he’s doing (it will add more
accountability into his life.) Remember that his sex addiction is
about medicating a hurting heart, and he’s probably just as confused
and scared as you are (in addition to being quite ashamed).
convinced that a man’s wife is his greatest asset in the battle against
lust; your involvement and support can make a huge difference, because
you can minister to him like no other human being on earth. If he goes
on a business trip, you can pray for him over the phone when he’s in
the hotel room (and ask him the next morning what he watched.) You can
(gently) help him see his blind spots.
are that he’s never experienced grace before, and your grace can play a
powerful part in his healing. As long as he’s working hard at it, stick
with him; be grace in the flesh to him.
4. Get other women in your corner
Don’t try to make it through this on your own. You’ve been deeply hurt
and need other women to express your pain to; women who can provide
support and comfort, and pray with you. (It’s important that your
supporters aren’t trying to pour more gasoline on the fire of your
anger – this will only make it worse!) Women who keep everything
bottled up inside are a volcano waiting to blow, and putting off asking
for the support of others adds more pressure to coming explosion. As
most men who struggle with sex addiction think “I’m the only one who
struggles with this and can’t tell others,” so their wives think “I
can’t tell anyone about this; no other women talk about it so I must be
alone.” Think about this fact: in every survey taken, at least 50% of
the men in the church have a problem with porn or sex addiction. This
means that 50% of the wives in the church will at some point (when
their husband’s struggle comes to light) have to deal with the pain of
their spouse’s adultery. You’re not alone, and there are many other
women going through the same situation.
Some women avoid
talking about their husband’s problem because they’re afraid that
others will think “she didn’t do enough (fill in the blank with your
insecurity of choice here) for him.” Their husband’s sex addiction,
they think, is condemning evidence that there was some area in their
marriage where they were lacking, and if others, particularly other
women, find out, that they’ll be judged. Always remember the truth
mentioned above, that, in spite of the lies of shame Satan tries to
pound on you – your husband’s sex addiction is not your fault. Satan’s
goal is to destroy your marriage, and he’ll pour on the attack with
thoughts of doubt, insecurity and the fear of judgment from others to
keep you isolated and cut off from help and encouragement. (He uses
this same method of attack on your husband to keep him from reaching
out for help.)
Remember that there’s a very real spiritual
battle going on, and our enemy will do everything he can to keep both
you and your husband isolated.
Don’t let shame, fear or insecurity keep you from reaching out for help.
want to avoid placing the full force of all your pain and anger only on
your husband. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t express your feeling
to him; you should, but you also need others who aren’t emotionally
involved to talk to. Having other women to talk to will take some of
the pressure off of your marriage, which may already be at the boiling
We have women available who can email you for support, if you don’t have someone there locally who you can talk to. Please email me if you’d like another woman to contact you.
5. Avoid looking for comfort in the wrong places.
You may be tempted to find comfort in another man’s arms, or get
involved with other guys in chat rooms while your husband is
floundering. Don’t go there. It will only add more pain and stress on a
marriage that’s already pushed to the breaking point. Don’t start
looking at porn movies (as my wife did) to “find out where you were
lacking”… this will corrupt you and your family further. Keep your side
of the street clean.
women might have a tendency to turn to food for comfort during this
time. Overeating won’t solve the problem, and like lust, it can put an
emotional wall of shame between you and God. Seek comfort through the
support of other women, and in the presence of Jesus, Who is waiting to
comfort you. If you don’t already, get a journal and write your
feelings out. God can bless, comfort and speak to you through the
outpouring of your heart in writing to Him.
6. Face your father wounds
It’s not an accident that you married a man who’s fallen into sex
addiction. Most wives were neglected or abused by their fathers growing
up, and they married a man who mirrored their father emotionally. Some
women marry their husbands with a hidden motive of resolving their
childhood hurts – meaning that “fixing” their husband and/or creating
“the perfect marriage and home” might resolve their father wounds. You
can’t fix him, and even if you could it wouldn’t resolve the hurt in
a husband’s betrayal is revealed, it can exacerbate any unresolved
father wounds in your heart, and you may find yourself slipping into
deep depression – or having problems with uncontrollable anger over
situations unrelated to the adultery.
of this, of course, would be a natural reaction to what your husband
has done, but it may be that his betrayal has also tapped into old
wounds that need to be resolved. If you don’t face your father wound
issues it can keep you stuck in a cycle of bitterness and depression –
and the marriage along with it. How to deal with father wounds is
discussed in Healing Father Wounds.
Although this article is written from a man’s point of view, the
principles shown for how to deal with it apply to women too.
7. Make God the true source of your life
In her letter, my wife wrote “I made you my everything,” which is
another way of saying she made me an idol. Men are not knights in
shining armor, nor are we romantic dream machines; we’re broken clay
pots, just like women. As men tend to make work or ministry their god,
or source of life, women can use the relationships in their life as the
primary source of their self esteem. When a woman makes her husband or
family her god (i.e. “I am complete if I have the perfect husband with
the perfect children”), she places unreasonable burdens and
expectations on the backs of her loved ones. Then, when something goes
wrong, such as when her husband reveals his struggle with sex
addiction, her world collapses when the defective foundation her sense
of self worth was built on falls apart.
rebuild your self esteem, your sense of self worth must come from God,
and He must be your first source of life, love and value. Only God’s
love can keep you going through the storms and trials of life. If
you’ve accepted Christ as your savior, you are God’s daughter; holy
precious and beloved in His sight (read Ephesians 1 & 2, and 1st John 4.) He will never betray you or let your down, as other broken
people will. When you’ve accepted God’s love and He is first in your
life, you can tell your husband to choose between you and porn, because
your value comes from the Lord, not your husband. If God is first, when
your husband struggles your self esteem won’t take a big hit because
you’ll see your husband as a broken clay pot in need of grace, not the
“everything” that your life depends on. If God is first, you’ll have an
easier time coming along side your husband in the battle.
And, if God is your source of life and love, you can do what’s next, which is to:
8. Forgive your husband
If you want to be completely healed from all the bitterness and pain of
your husband’s betrayal, and if want your marriage to survive, you will
have to forgive him.
doesn’t mean you try to short circuit the natural process of grieving,
or deny that you’ve been hurt. It doesn’t mean that you stuff the
problem. To come to the place of forgiveness you must first admit
you’ve been hurt – deeply.
will cost you everything, and cost your husband nothing. It means you
will never hold what he did against him again; his debt, which he can
never repay, will be completely erased.
your husband for his sin against you may be the most Christ-like thing
you ever do, and it will identify you with Christ like nothing else
can. Jesus was killed by the people He loved, so the people He loved
could be close to Him. You’ve been betrayed by the man you love, and
the only way you can ever remove every barrier between you and your
husband is to forgive him as Christ forgives.
you withhold forgiveness, you’ll keep yourself trapped in bitterness
and pain, and it’ll eat you alive. Your bitterness will continue to be
a wall between you and your husband that will keep your marriage stuck
in resentment, misfired communication, and hurt feelings.
doesn’t give him the permission to abuse your grace and indulge in
sexual sin. It doesn’t mean you stop holding him accountable for his
actions, or that he no longer needs to go all out in the battle against
is a choice, a powerful act of the will; it’s not something you will
feel like doing. It’s giving up of all of your anger and releasing your
husband from all expectation to grovel, or make it right. (Which, he
you forgive him, you allow God’s grace to flow freely through your
heart, flush out all of your pain and anger, and fill you with His
peace. You tear down a wall that was between you and God, and you and
your husband. Your forgiveness allows God’s grace to flow to your
husband and lift his shame and guilt. It is only after you forgive when
you will find peace again. If you’re struggling with providing
forgiveness, Jesus can give you the power to let it go, if you’re
Article found at Blazing Grace