Can there be anything worse? (Relatively speaking) You’re in a relationship with a man who you love and adore. You have a lot in common. Your family thinks he’s great. You can talk for hours and all signs lead to the fact that he really is the one for you. Well, all except one: He watches porn.
There are countless amount of women that I speak with, both on and off of the X3Church platform, who struggle with having boyfriends or husbands who look at porn. Now, I will say that before I address this, to an extent, I believe that how a *girlfriend* should handle it is *very different* than how a wife should. When two people get married, Malachi 2:14 refers to that as being a *covenant* between a husband and his wife. This is why when Christ spoke on marriage in Matthew 19, verse 6 tells us that what God has joined together, let no man separate. When you are married, God is the “third cord” (Ecclesiastes 4:12) and he takes marriage *very seriously* (I Corinthians 7:10-11). However, when you have a boyfriend, as I oftentimes say, “What a wife goes through, that would be called ‘commitment’. What a girlfriend sends herself through, that is oftentimes called ‘settling’.”
It is for that reason that I am going to separate the “What should I do” into two sections, starting with the wife first:
1) Pray. Here’s why. Your gut reaction is probably going to be to cry or yell or cuss or tell him to get out. When two people stand and say, “For better or for worse”, for some couples, this would be one of their “worses” and so you need a moment to go to God to seek some direction (Proverbs 3:5-6). When your husband is watching porn, that means that there is a place of brokenness somewhere *within him*. Praying first helps you to get some perspective on that so that when you do approach him, it will be from a calmer and more centered place: “He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.” (Proverbs 17:27-NKJV)
2) Try not to take it personally. OK, of course you’re married to him and so you’re gonna automatically take it personally. What I really mean by this is that you shouldn’t want to run out and purchase some trashy lingerie or schedule a breast augmentation just because he is partaking in that activity. I remember in the movie 500 Days of Summer when one of the characters said that his girlfriend wasn’t his fantasy. He then went on to describe what his fantasy woman would look like. It’s what he followed that up with that I really liked: “I like my girlfriend better, though. She’s real.” You are *the real deal* and no porn image can take that away from you. So, if it’s getting a prayer partner (someone who you are *really trust who is not going to uncover your marriage* because the world does not need to know that your husband watches porn…it usually makes matters worse and not better), if it’s making sure to pamper yourself with spa dates (no joke), if it’s making an appointment to meet with your pastor or it’s all three, definitely make sure to take steps to *take care of you* during this time. What you have discovered, more than anything, is that there is some spiritual warfare of a sexual nature going on within your home and so you need wise counsel (Proverbs 24:6) and to be covered with the power of prayer (James 5:16) as you go through this. The last thing that you should do is isolate yourself or internalize what you are going through. Oh, and it’s OK to be mad. It’s a natural response. Just get with someone to work through your anger so that it doesn’t fester.
3) Talk to him with questions. I am currently leading a masturbation fast with some women and because it’s such a “hush hush” topic, one that a lot of people are *very embarrassed* to talk about, I’ve been making a concerted effort to address them with the tone of a *question* rather than a *statement*. That’s because questions tend to “take the edge off” and keep people from feeling so attacked (therefore, on the defensive). While some men shamelessly watch porn, within the Church, this is usually not the case. It is their “closet activity” and so to come at him with verbal guns blazing, you’re probably not going to get the kind of answers that you’d like or even would need. Approach him as you would if you were found out about one of your secret habits (*we all have them* even if they are not sexually related) and actually *listen* to what he has to say. If he is open to sharing with you his feelings, that’s a *wonderful thing* because that means that he trusts you enough to be vulnerable. If you find out that it has been a longterm habit, ask him can you both pray together on it and if he’s open to going to some counseling about the matter; not because he’s “crazy” but so you both can get some perspective on how to move forward.
If you are a girlfriend…
1) Make you a priority. If the relationship is serious (meaning you all are *working towards marriage* and mutally so), then a lot of what I said about the wife applies to you. However, if it is a more casual relationship, you should really take some time out and think about if you want to take this kind of journey on. One of the really unfortunate things about how a lot of people process “boyfriend/girlfriend” relationships is that they tend to “play house”: acting married when they are not married. You don’t *have* to remain in a relationship with someone who watches porn. A part of the “privilege” of being a girlfriend is that you can simply break up. There are so many wives who married porn addicts and wish that they had ended the relationship before getting married. A porn watcher, especially someone who is consumed by porn, is a huge red flag. Please don’t ignore it.
2) Stop (or don’t start) having sex with him. Yes, this is a Christian site and so we actually do not advocate fornication (um, since God doesn’t-Hebrews 13:4). However, we don’t advocate porn, either and a lot of Christians do it as well, so this is a realistic (Ecclesiastes 7:18-Message) tip that I am offering. What a lot of women in dating relationships tend to do is think that if they give their boyfriends *more sex*, it will curb his appetite for porn. Usually, it does *just the opposite*: it feeds the monster. Guys don’t watch porn because they *love* those women. They watch porn to fuel a sexual desire and lust can not be satisfied with more sex. If that were the case, there would be a lot less people struggling with porn. For the sake of your own self-esteem and so that you will not actually be treated like a *sex toy*, it’s a good idea to keep the sex and sexual activity at bay.
3) Get some insight. Chick flicks can be dangerous sometimes. That said, you might want to romanticize your way through the matter and tell yourself that your love for him can get him past his longing for porn. God’s love can do that. And *even then*, your boyfriend has to choose to want to receive what God has to offer. So, if you really want to take his porn-watching on, take a similar approach in addressing it with him as mentioned to the wives, get on the Spouse section of our site and see what some of the women go through, read a few books on porn addiction, also speak with a pastor or someone who you trust and then step back and assess if being involved with someone who is involved with porn is something that you really want to deal with. There is nothing easy or simple or “romantic” about it, so make sure that you choose from a really responsible place. There’s a reason why Proverbs 4:23 says to “Guard your heart.” Those are words to live by.