Having the Conversation…With Your Spouse:

Last week we began a short series on the subject of pornography.  While often viewed as innocent self-pleasure, pornography hinders more marriages than anything else. It’s about self-pleasure, not marital intimacy.  It’s about one fulfilling their own desires and not the desires of their spouse.  It’s about one’s flesh, not one flesh.

We began this series simply stating that those who view porn on a regular basis, whether addicted or not, need to have a conversation with themselves about the problem.  Once one admits the problem, they may then get the help they need to move closer to finding real freedom behind closed doors – with their spouse.

This week, we want to tackle a second area: If one admits to him/herself they have a problem, should they confess their struggle to their spouse or not?

Essentially, there are only 2 possible answers to their question – Yes, or no.  And to be completely honest, both answers have the backing of many counselors out there today.  Let’s first look at some of the reasons why one should confess their pornography struggle to their spouse.

1) Marriage is a One Flesh Relationship.

We write about it here often, and scripture has a lot to say about it, too.  Marriage brings two separate people together to one flesh.  One.  They are, in essence, one person in the eyes of God.  Concerning sexual sin, a husband (or wife) caught up in pornography is sinning directly against God AND against their spouse.

For example, when David sinned by sleeping with Bathsheba (and killing her husband), he later wrote a Psalm to God saying, “Against, You and You alone have I sinned.”   The reader immediately thinks, “What about Bathsheba?  What about her ex-husband David murdered?  Surely David sinned against them, too, right?”  I think a strong case can be made that we can not only sin against God, but against others.  Luke 15 shares the parable of the prodigal son, who when he comes to his senses says, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

The argument, therefore, is that when you sin in the area of pornography, you are sinning both against God and against your spouse.  And just as the prodigal son came to his senses and confessed his sin to his father, so one today who sins against others should confess to them.  James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

2) Your Spouse Can Help Keep You Accountable:

Another reason why confessing sin to your spouse may be wise is that he/she can help keep you accountable.  Think about it, if a guy friend asks the question, “Have you seen any pornography over the past week or two?” it’s a little bit easier to answer the question with partial truth.  But if your spouse is asking the question, you will not be able to lie.  They will see right through it and you will see the pain this problem is causing.

These are only a couple of reasons as to why having the conversation with your spouse may be seen as a good idea.  However, a strong case may be made that it is safer to not confess to them for the following reasons.

1) It May Cause MORE Damage to the Marriage.

Let’s think about this from the perspective of a woman for just a minute.  Her husband lovingly comes to her with a heavy heart, confessing to her that he has been struggling with pornography for a while.  He tells her he’s getting help, but he would like her to pray with him through this ordeal and work through it together.  In this situation, the wife will be devastated.  And ultimately, she will decide to either accept his offer, OR her suffering will take control of the marriage.  She may be somebody who has always struggled with her image, and now she’s left with numerous self-doubts thinking, “All those times he told me how beautiful I was – it was really only a lie!  He finds others much more beautiful than me!”

Sadly, whether it’s a man or woman struggling with pornography, this is often the result.  The one being sinned against is so heavily offended and wounded that the marriage relationship struggles.  The couple is now no longer concerned with accountability, they’re needing heavy marriage counseling just to survive.  Some choose not to accept help, and divorce rips a once happy marriage to shreds.

2) Your Spouse Isn’t a Good Accountability Partner.

This ties in heavily with number one above.  In our marriage, Megan has made it very clear that if I ever struggled with pornography, she wouldn’t want to know.  Over the years, I’ve talked with only a handful (I’m certainly no expert) of men who have struggled with porn.  In one case, his wife was very aware of his struggle.  Her response was simple, “I love you and I’m not going to let this ruin our marriage.  But you need to get help.  I want to know somebody is keeping you accountable, but that person isn’t going to be me.  I don’t want to know the details of your struggle.”

So, you see, when it comes to whether one should openly have the conversation with their spouse, it’s really an up-in-the-air question.  The best real suggestion we can provide is to pray about it.  God knows you, your spouse, and your marriage much better than you do.  Spend serious time in prayer asking whether you should openly communicate to your spouse the struggles you’re having.  Some men (or women) will spend serious time in prayer and decide they have a commitment to their spouse and must tell them.  Others may pray and determine that their love for their spouse is so strong they do not want to cause them severe pain by opening up.  The bible doesn’t clearly say, “Thou shalt…” in this situation.  And maybe that’s because God knows that what’s best for your marriage may be something different than what’s best for somebody else’s marriage.  And that’s just one more reason to let Him decide whether or not you should have the conversation with your spouse.

In our next post we’re going to take a different directly in the “having the conversation with your spouse” idea.  This one will focus on the one who suspects their spouse is involved with porn.  Should they confront their spouse or not?  If so, what symptoms do they look for?  And how do they do so?  We’ll write about that soon.  Until then…

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Do you know of any good resources (books, websites, etc.) for men or women who are struggling with porn?  What about resources for those who have decided to keep one another accountable in this area?  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Linking with: Revive Your Marriage

4 thoughts on “Having the Conversation…With Your Spouse:

  1. (Theresa) A great resource, “Every Man’s Battle”. Eph. 5: 8-11 mentions exposing evil. I am an advocate of accountability and keeping all things out in the open. I believe that the Enemy loves secrets and if he is able to deceive us into believing it is better to keep things hidden, then healing and restoration is hindered greatly. I agree with Justin that each marriage should be led by the Spirit and God knows our timing for dealing with issues.

  2. Pingback: Having the Conversation…With Your Spouse: part 2 « Do Not Disturb

  3. Pingback: Having the Conversation…With Yourself: « Do Not Disturb

  4. I run a ministry in Katy, TX named Castimonia (castimonia.org) that helps men with any struggle they might have in the realm of sexual purity, including pornography.

    It is my opinion, that if a husband struggles with pornography, he should tell his wife in front of a trusted conselor who is capable of helping the spouse throught the processing of the flood of emotions that will come over her, including anger. If the husband keeps the problem secret, it only adds fuel to the shame-addiction cycle and will keep him in his porn-viewing problem.

    If any man is struggling with pornography, they can read more on my site, castimonia.org.

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