What You Need to Know About Your Husband's Porn Confession

A husband and wife in a marriage counseling session
iStock/Thinkstock (models for illustration purposes only)

If you've discovered your husband is looking at porn or has been sexually impure in other ways, I know you may feel as if the floor has dropped out from beneath your feet. On the surface, you may be functioning pretty well — “intact” marriage, healthy children, steady job and busy family life. Perhaps no one would suspect that your household has been devastated by the impact of your husband’s actions. But the truth is that your stability has been shaken and you are scrambling to hold everything together. You may be able to relate to Kaylee (not her real name):

Kaylee ran her arm across her husband’s side of the bed and wasn’t surprised to find it empty at 3:15 a.m. For many years her husband, Jackson, had struggled with insomnia, and he would often get up and go downstairs to read or play internet games until he was sleepy enough to come back to bed. It had been a while since Kaylee had gotten up to check on him. Whenever she did, he urged her to go back to bed so at least one of them could get a full night’s sleep.

On this particular night Kaylee got up to search for her husband. She didn’t find Jackson reading in his chair in the family room. Instead, she saw a sliver of light under his office door — the light of his computer. She was annoyed that he was playing internet games. Whenever he did that, he always came back to bed wide-awake and wanting to make love regardless of how tired she felt. If she didn’t comply with his desires — or demands — he’d be furious and harshly criticize her for not being the kind of woman he deserved in bed.

Without knocking, she quietly opened the door. Jackson’s back was to the door. Kaylee had a full view of his computer screen. The sexual images she saw on his computer screen shocked and nauseated her.

“Jackson!” she gasped.

Instantly he hit the close button, whirled around and shouted, “Why are you sneaking up on me?”

Kaylee whispered, “I only wanted to see if you were OK.”

“Don’t ever do that to me again!” he responded (as if the incident were entirely her fault).

“I’m sorry,” she murmured as she quietly closed the door.

If you can relate to Kaylee’s experience, you’re not alone. Many women’s husbands have secret sexual lives. This discovery overwhelms the wife like a tsunami smashing into a peaceful shoreline. The unforeseen revelation of a husband’s lies sweeps away any remaining illusions of a secure and happy marriage.

Aftershock

A tsunami isn’t a single wave. It's more accurately described as a “wave train.” These waves are vast, unpredictable and capable of collapsing the damaged buildings that survived the initial shock. Similarly, relational disasters often get worse before they get better.

Some husbands wait weeks or months after the first revelation of a secret life before they admit to additional destructive behavior. Many men, through years of internally rationalizing and minimizing their compulsive behaviors, have coped by suppressing their sexual history even to themselves. As a result, they don’t initially understand or remember all the things they need to confess. Some men in recovery fully confess clearly and quickly; however, most take numerous weeks to grapple with the entire reality of their behavior and gain the skills it takes to disclose everything. Or perhaps in spite of their cover-up efforts, new evidence gets exposed. This staggered disclosure process is usually more hurtful than getting the entire truth upfront.

Staggered disclosure

Here are several examples of staggered disclosure:

  • My husband, Connor, emphatically claimed he only viewed pornography and nothing more. Following a routine ob-gyn exam, the doctor said I had an STD.
  • My husband was still on probation for viewing pornography on his workplace computer when his employer found new evidence. He was immediately fired, and we lost everything we saved for.
  • I was offended when Cooper confessed to going to strip bars, but he assured me that he had stopped years ago. He was supposed to be on a business trip, but then he had a heart attack at the home of his secretary just 20 miles away.
  • When my husband was in seminary, I was proud of him for getting help for his pornography addiction; he said he was cured. We are pastoring our third church, and his assistant found pornography on the church computer. She told the elders, and now everybody in church knows.
  • I was sick to my stomach when I found my husband’s regular (heterosexual) pornography. But then I found his homosexual porn. He later said that he didn’t think it was necessary to talk about his childhood sexual play with other little boys; he considered it “in his past.”

Couples can overcome sexual addiction, but they can rarely do it alone. I'm explaining this phenomenon because aftershocks may be on the way, and I want you to be braced for this possibility. The majority of women stumble through the early weeks of their trial as they try to squeeze out all the details from their husbands with little or no objective guidance. Getting professional help with recollection and disclosure early on is critical.

Adapted from material created for future publication in book form by Joann Condie, licensed professional counselor, with Geremy Keeton, marriage and family therapist.

A variety of issues can fuel habitual pornography use. Understanding the deeper needs of individuals affected by this common problem is important. Reach out to well-trained helpers, and if you are a married couple do so together. Change is possible! We can guide you as you seek a referral and take your first steps toward recovery. You can contact us Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Mountain time) at: 855-771-HELP (4357) or
help@FocusOnTheFamily.com
www.FocusontheFamily.com/FindaCounselor

 

© 2018 Focus on the Family.

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