A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

A Journey Through the Pornography Sinkhole (Part 2 of Wendell’s Story)

Once again we thank Wendell and his wife for sharing their story with us.    In this post, Wendell describes how the Lord raised him out of the pit of addiction to porn.  (See Pt 1 Wendell’s StoryPorn, as we have discussed in other articles, is often an element in the abuser’s life.  In this case, it is the story of a genuine Christian’s repentance and battle against sin.

Trigger Warning: This post may be difficult for victims of pornogrpahy abuse and should be read and interacted with cautiously.

Jeff C. asked me to write a follow up post as to my own struggle with pornography and how I overcame it.  This is a challenging thing to do for a number of reasons.  First, many of my early experiences are very personal, embarrassing and are hard to explain without being too graphic.  The issues are often complex and take much time to resolve.  For this reason, it is hard to write one article that will cover the bases for everyone, but I can give you insight into my situation in hopes that it will help someone.

Let’s start with where I think the roots of my addiction began.  Please understand that I am not making excuses here for my own sin.  These things did not cause me to get into porn, but I do believe they set up the psychological precursors that made it easier for me to take the steps into this mess.

As I have mentioned before, I grew up being emotionally abused by my mother.  It was common for her to tell us she hated us, we were stupid, should never have been born, etc.  My father, though a gentle soul, was not around much.  He was a firefighter and had a business on the side that kept him from home a lot of the time, so he wasn’t there to moderate my mother’s influence.

In addition to the abuse, I had a number of medical issues, though not life threatening, were embarrassing and debilitating in some respects.  The first was my extreme near sightedness, coupled with amblyopia from a lazy eye.  I wore the traditional coke bottle bottom glasses and had no depth perception to speak of.  The lazy eye was caused by the fact that my eyes were crossed for the first 12 or so years of my life.  So, I grew up not being able to play sports, sitting at the front of the class so I could see and being mercilessly ridiculed by the other kids.  All of this was a double whammy to my self esteem. Then you add chronic bedwetting to the mix.  Though it was finally found to be a sleep problem and was corrected when I was 13, I was socially isolated and believed I could do no right.

Another contributing factor was that I did not have a good role model to help me channel my budding sexuality when I was a teen.  I did not know how to control my passions and attraction to girls.  For the most part, I kept it in check, but began regularly engaging in self stimulation.  Even after I came to Christ, I struggled with that aspect.  Porn wasn’t an issue in this, as I think it began mostly as a physical release to relieve stress, but it over sensitized me to the point that when I was 18, I became way too involved with a girl down the street.  We did not go as far as full intercourse, but it was very close!

That almost destroyed me, making me doubt even my own salvation.  Even though I had poured my heart out to God, begging for His forgiveness, I could not forgive myself.  I felt that a true Christian could not do what I had done.  My poor pastor kept telling me that God had forgiven me if I was truly repentant, but I was the man of “yeah, but’s”.  I would always counter what he said with a “yeah, but …..”.            During this time of counseling, I met the woman who is now my wife, and over the next year or so, they teamed up on me and helped me resolve the guilt.  I am glad to say that we kept ourselves pure for each other and I have never been involved with another woman; however, even in marriage, self stimulation would be a problem for me from time to time.  Again, not with pornography, as it still wasn’t easy for me to get.

Over the years, we built our marriage.  We had our ups and downs, raised kids, etc.  I started a career in IT, though I knew that at some point I wanted to be a pastor.  In 1989, I left the branch of IT I was in and essentially started over so I could go to Bible College.  I was active in church, licensed to preach and moving along in my studies.  I had taken a huge hit financially and things were a horrible struggle, but we were making it.  I got back into IT, but at a job that didn’t require the horrible hours of my previous specialty, so I could pursue my studies.  This was during the 90’s, about the time the internet became widely available.

It was also at this time that my wife started going through an early menopause and with all the stresses, I started to become chronically depressed.  The self stimulation began to get worse, though I kept it a secret.  Shortly after that, I found out how easy it was to access porn.

At first, it started out downloading pictures from internet newsgroups.  Then later I found out about free sites on the internet to get porn (yes, they do exist).  Now, I didn’t have to use my imagination as I had ample visual stimulation to grease my slide.

To my shame, I started doing this while in church leadership and it was tearing me up inside.  Like David and his sin with Bathsheba, that he kept secret for a time, I kept this very secret.  I would preach, teach, sing and do all the things I was expected to, but was leading a double life.  Over time, as my intimacy with God plummeted and my intimacy with my wife suffered, I was reduced to being even unable to sing our normal songs in church.  All I could do was cry, at least on the inside.

I told myself over and over that I would stop, by sheer force of will.  I begged and tried to make deals with God to deliver me.  I would have some success for a short time, but always would fall.  The temptations were too great.  I had fantasized and ritualized so much that I was now paralyzed and demoralized (more about the cycle later).

I looked for excuses to be alone.  I would let my wife and daughters go out to do things so I could indulge my lust, and be ashamed by the time they got back.  This went on for some time, though I am not sure exactly how long, but as time went on, my shame became unbearable.  I finally came to the realization that if I didn’t get some help, I would get to the final stage of a seared conscience and would lose everything that was important to me.  I would be turned over to a reprobate mind.

Finally, I confessed to my wife what was happening.  I told her that it was not because of her or anything she had done.  I still loved her dearly, but I was now trapped in a prison of my own making.  I would not have blamed her if she had decided to divorce me right there, but she didn’t.  I can’t say she was happy, but she was very supportive and decided with me that we would stand together as a team to battle this addiction.

Next, I went to my pastor and confessed to him.  He also was understanding and agreed with me that I should step down from leadership in order to heal.  I was scheduled to speak that next Sunday and he allowed me to go on, knowing what I was going to do.  I believe I preached on Psalm 51 and David’s sin with Bathsheba and at the end, tears in my eyes, I called the senior pastor up to the front and I confessed to the congregation my sin.  I did not go into detail as I did not wish to lead anyone else into temptation.  I openly submitted myself to the discipline of the church and its leadership and took an indefinite leave of absence so I could be counseled and examined to see if I was really repentant or not.  One thing that happened on this Sunday was my daughters, who had no idea, came up to me to comfort me, but when my youngest asked me why I had not told them, I really broke down.

My pastor and I started having weekly meetings with accountability built in.  He had me read a book by Don Crossland titled, Refocusing Your Passions:  A Christ Centered Approach to Overcoming Addictive Behavior.  Slowly, we worked through a number of issues, including my past, hurts, the addictive cycle I was in, forgiveness and eventually restoration.

Over time, I learned that the porn was a symptom of a much deeper problem in my life and until I had addressed that, this behavior would continue.  In essence, I felt spiritually and socially isolated with my background.  I did not have healthy relationships and had a big emptiness.  My sin was in how I chose to deal with that emptiness.  Rather than seek out those relationships and become closer to God, I sought to fill my life with instant gratification in the form of sexual lust, which eventually resulted in my pornography addiction.  Rather than letting God take the unworthiness I felt due to my physical problems and previous abuse, I turned to other things that gave me immediate, but only temporary satisfaction.  I had to learn to deal with these through the gentle but firm tutelage of my pastor, through my wife and others.  I had to learn to forgive my mother for the abuse and even God for “making me” the way I was.

The next thing I learned was the cycle of addiction that I was in.  Starting with the self stimulation as an early teen, I learned to keep secret my behavior, though at first it started out as simple experimentation, it quickly turned into fantasizing, driven by a lust that was just beginning to develop.  The fantasizing was joined by ritualizing the fantasies.  I had a pattern that I would normally follow and the more I engaged in the ritual behavior, the more set it would become.  Eventually, the rituals morphed into something closer to realizing  the fantasies, through the addition of viewing porn.  After a time in the porn, I became paralyzed, feeling like there was absolutely no escape from it, which demoralized me to the point of almost wanting to just give in fully to the lust.  I was slowly desensitizing myself to it and but by the grace of God and the strong conviction of the Holy Spirit, I would have seared my conscience.

In learning about this cycle, I learned that the cords that were binding me were of a three strand nature.  First there was the physical addiction.  Doing what I was doing was releasing powerful brain chemicals that gave me a sense of well being, temporarily.  Temporarily is the key.  Like all addictions, you need more and more of the addictive substance/behavior to get the same high, and you need it more frequently.  The second was emotional.  You see, we all have certain emotional needs and when we feel these needs are not being met, we can look for them to be met in either healthy or unhealthy ways.  I chose the latter.  The sexual addiction I was building was a salve to my damaged self esteem and my perceived failures.  Instead, I had to learn how to let God supply the emotional needs I had through His spirit and through building positive relationships that affirmed me as a person.  The final chord is spiritual.  Now I am not saying the devil made me do these things.  I take full responsibility; however, the enemy does come in, whispering in the ear and raising doubt about God and His sufficiency, love and strength.  Simply, I had done the same thing that Adam and Eve had done and listened to the lie of the serpent, trading God’s perfection for candy coated sin.

It was this cycle that I had to work to break, by going back and replacing key components of the ritual with healthy attitudes and behaviors.  It wasn’t easy.  In fact, it was probably the hardest thing I had ever attempted!

Over the course of a year, my mentor helped me realize these things and I slowly, but surely started to rebuild relationships, starting with God and extending to my family, friends and church.  I was very slowly allowed to return to leadership, eventually becoming Associate Pastor, but I had to build trust again and maintain accountability.

To any man who is going through this, I can tell you that the earlier you seek help, the easier it will be, but you have to absolutely want help.  Denial will only further damage you and your relationships.  It will be embarrassing and shameful to you as our sexual nature is so core to our beings in this life.  It must be done though.  You cannot go it alone!

Seek out someone you can trust with this issue.  There are many people in the church who will not forgive and will use these things against you, but there are also many who sincerely want to help.  I had to get to the point that I would endure any punishment or treatment for the sake of freeing myself from this sin.  It is a risk, sure, but it is that important!  If you have a pastor that you know you can trust, go to him.  Find a Christian counselor.  Look for a sexual addiction support group.  Get help.

I know that some may disagree with this, but at some point, you will probably have to tell your wife.  Believe me, it is a lot better to go to her first rather than waiting to be caught.  I sincerely believe that one of the big reasons my wife was able to forgive and work with me was because I came to her in humility.  Your circumstance may be different, especially if your wife is an abuser.  In those cases, you might wish to seek wise counsel as to how to proceed.

Be aware that there will be days you will fall.  Like any addiction, you will need to be constantly on your guard against the triggers in your life that will cause you temptation.  Know them and take steps to avoid them.  Like an alcoholic who needs to stay away from the bars he used to frequent, stay away from the things and places you used in your rituals!

Face it, some days you just aren’t as strong as others.  If you do fail, it is not the end of the world.  It does not mean you are doomed to repeat the same mistakes for the rest of your life.  Pick yourself up, look at what happened and learn from it.  As you proceed down the path toward wholeness, the times of falling will become fewer and fewer.  With God’s grace and being diligent, you can overcome.  God’s forgiveness will still be there for you when you slip.  The important thing is to keep moving forward.

Finally, I pray that for anyone trapped in this way of life, that you will listen to God’s Holy Spirit and begin the journey back into the light.  I pray that God will give you strength and the love of Christ will do a healing work in your heart.  I pray that you will soon know fully the healing power of God’s love and that you will be able to put behind the old things and walk in the truth that all things certainly are becoming new.

Editors’ note added 7 Feb 2014:  “Pornography: Lies, Truth and Hope” is a helpful booklet by the Mennonite Central Committee Canada.  It can be downloaded for free as a PDF.  

61 Comments

  1. I think you are right about confessing the problem to your wife. In my husband’s case, I can’t believe he is truly repentant because he wasn’t bothered by it enough to confess it to me, I had to catch him, more than once, and one time he was looking at an underage girl with my kids right there in the next room. He now says he isn’t using it anymore, but I am pretty certain he is. He has a cellphone with full access to internet, which he hides away in the basement with every night alone, and without any accountability or restrictions. That, to me, doesn’t look like a man who’s repentant.

    I guess it’s just a good thing for me I don’t care anymore.

    • Wendell G

      Wow, Desley! All I can say is that you are in my prayers about this. I pray for your protection and that of your kids as it sounds like he is pretty far down the porn path. I never got into child porn (thanks to God), but by the time someone does, it is very, very serious and could have far reaching consequences not only for them, but for the family as a whole.

      • I can only hope that you’re wrong about that, Wendell. He said he didn’t know how old she was. I hope for the sake of the kids that he didn’t do it purposely and wouldn’t do it again.
        I am still disillusioned that he would even take that kind of risk with the kids. I’ll tell you one, thing – I have never felt so disappointed in anyone my whole life as I did right then. I can’t even explain that feeling…when you realize the father of your kids won’t protect them and would even put them in harm’s way. Abandonment maybe? Insecurity? I can count how many times I’ve had nightmares about someone or something attacking my kids and when I scream for him to help me save them, he just sits there indifferent to what is going on. That horrible feeling…

        I wish men could see the devastation they leave behind in the wake of their porn use. A man might repent and change, but trust and respect isn’t that easy to get back once it’s gone. I think your wife is a courageous woman and I am happy to hear that you realize that and honour her all the more for it. Not very many men would grasp the gravity of what they have done.

  2. Wendell G

    Ooops, forgot the check the little box!

    • Desley, I too have had so many dreams where I was being threatened or in danger and the STBE just stood there, doing nothing. It was the worst feeling. One time it was him and my father just standing there .

  3. Wendell I like the way you describe it as a three-fold problem: physcial, emotional and spiritual. That is really good, and you explained those three aspects very well.

    It was this cycle that I had to work to break, by going back and replacing key components of the ritual with healthy attitudes and behaviors. It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was probably the hardest thing I had ever attempted!

    That sounds to me very much like what they are finding in neuro-psychology and brain science: that the nervous system and brain can be re-wired, can re-wire itself with dedicated effort and repeated practise of new pathways. And the rewiring, once achieved, is a real change, a real solution to the problem, not just a ‘try harder’ thing all the time.
    Norman Doidge’s book “The brain that changes itself” comes to mind. I would guess that when you descended into porn, the neurons in your brain got habituated to firing off in certain pathways and sequences, that brought that temporary pleasure or relief. But then, when you decided to renounce porn, you had to habituate your brain to fire in new pathways, and starve out (atrophy) the old porn pathways. That’s the way I understand these things anyway, from my lay reading in brain science. But then there was the emotional thing too: all that abuse from your childood that had left you unhappy, needed to be faced and you needed to undo the negative self-concept your mother had drilled into you and learn real love in genuinely intimate and caring relationships, I imagine.
    And you couldn’t have done all that without the help and power of God.

    Am I on track here? I’m only trying to re-phrase what you said, to understand and embed it more in my mind. Tell me if you think I’ve put something wrongly. 🙂

  4. I also have two questions.
    Wendell, how did you find that mentor? Was it difficult to find him? Did he have credentials or qualifications in treating porn addiction? Can you comment on how other porn addicts might go about finding suitable mentors to help them escape the addiction?

    My other question is to Wendell’s wife: How was all this journey for you?
    I know that’s a vast question, so feel free to answer it any way you like. But I think our readers at this blog would be particularly interested in the effects Wendell’s behaviour (both in his addiction, and his recovery journey) had on you, and most important, how YOU handled it. Do you have any tips for our female readers who have had partners who were addicted to porn?
    I know it is different for you in that Wendell is not abusive, so you were able to discuss things with him without being abused, but you still might have some tips that our readers (who have been abused) might be able to learn from.

    • MeganC

      I am ticking the box because I am very interested in Barb’s question number two for Wendell’s wife.

    • Mama Martin

      I would like to hear from Wendell’s wife as well.
      When my husband ‘came home’ and confessed the pornography, the abuse escalated in all areas, particularly spiritual. I believe he exchanged a pornography addiction for a religious addiction (a religious addiction much as Not A Fairy Tale spoke of). I don’t think that I have dealt with what my husband chose to do because I was and still am dealing daily with abuse and the consequences for me. I would like to hear of her journey as well as Wendell’s.

    • Wendell G

      Barbara, yes, your assertions seem to be correct. I don’t understand a lot about brain science and chemistry, but from what I do understand, you seem to be on track. Probably the hardest part of this whole thing was trying to overcome the sheer negativity about myself, both from my childhood and then piling the shame of the addiction on top of it. To this day, it is easy for me to get really down on myself. I had ritualized very negative self talk about myself growing up, and when I am down, I can slip into that very easily. I have to try to guard against it, because I know that if I indulge it, I could start walking down the path of destruction again.

      As to how I found my mentor, I was fortunate (blessed) that he was also the same pastor I ministered with. He had experience in dealing with this kind of addiction, and was a loving, older man (well about 14 years older than me), whose wife had been sexually abused as a child. . In fact, the book he gave me by Crossland was his personal copy with his notes and annotations in it. I still have it and read it again when I need a refresher or have the opportunity to help someone else.

      How to find help? Well, I’m not an expert on it. I do know there are some excellent ministries out there that work in the area. For those in the states, Focus on the Family also has counseling resources for immediate counseling and has a good referral network to help someone find a local counselor.

      Another thing one can do is to look for addiction support groups run by local churches, but you do have to be a little careful with those. Also, it is probably better to find a support group specifically geared to sexual addiction, and one where the men and women are not mixed. Some of the larger churches have counselors on staff who oversee the support groups, which I think is ideal. It keeps them from going too far afield and keeps them focused. I have heard of some “support” groups, that are so unstructured that they end up enabling the addiction rather than helping it. Further, I can see situations where a predator could invade the group to look for victims, so a qualified facilitator is really a must.

      I did not have a professional counselor during this, but a couple of things I have learned about finding one is to not be afraid to ask questions. I always try to find one with a Biblical worldview and doesn’t just tack Christian onto their resume to attract the church crowd. I also try to find out how many people they have helped with sexual addictions, and their method. My personal preference is Cognitive Behavior Therapy.

      Finally, on the question for my wife. It may take her a little longer to respond. She is a special education coordinator/diagnostician and this is a very busy time of year for her. She was doing paperwork almost to bed time last night, and didn’t even have a chance to look at the comments. I let her know of your question and she will try to get back to you as soon as she can. She did look at the post though, and her comment to me was, “I didn’t even remember a lot of this!”. Anyway, I will try to remind her tonight while I am doing laundry :-)!

      • Thank you for that considered and informative reply, Wendell, and please tell your wife there is no hurry! I used to be a teacher, so I empathise with her plight.

    • Zelma

      Hi, Barbara! It’s a bit hard to know where to start. I guess, first, I really didn’t know exactly what the problem was until Wendell told me what was going on. I knew we had lost the closeness we once had (and currently have again), but didn’t know why. I thought it was related to my early peri-menopause (about age 34) and Wendell going though a low period. In the past, one of us tended to be in a place of strength and could help the other. This time, we were both going through rough times. I was worried – because of the distancing – but didn’t know why it was happening from Wendell’s side. When he’s struggling with something, he tends to withdraw into himself and it is very hard to draw him out. Especially if it is something he feels is unacceptable, as this was. I’m the opposite – talking about it helps me deal with things. Anyway, during this time – for the first time, I felt scared we would stay distant from each other. When Wendell told me, it was a shock; but at least it was out and we could work on the problem as a couple. It was a relief to know and to not think our estrangement was all because of my peri-menopause issues. I mostly tried to support what he was doing to recover, keep the lines of communication open and trust him as much as possible. Openness helped. A joint faith in God helped. Him not blaming me helped! We both came from families that at least one parent was emotionally abusive, at least to the children, (his mother and my father) and strive for that to not happen in our family. We were friends before lovers and treasure that. I guess we always have tried to be there for each other, imperfect as we are.

      • Thank you Zelma. May I ask you one more question? Did you feel ‘defiled’ by your husband’s behavior? Did you feel it somehow made you unclean? If so, how did you deal with that?
        The reason I ask is that my first husband committed a different kind of sexual sin, and when I found out I felt defiled – even though we had long cease to live under the same roof. The thought that I had slept with him and he then committed such vile acts, it somehow affected me in my own body and soul and made me feel defiled and repulsed about the fact that I had slept with him and shared his bed.
        I don’t know how the ‘one flesh’ thing relates to all this, but I suspect it does somehow or other.

        If this is too hard or too personal for you to answer, just say so. There is no pressure to answer. Bless you and thank you for sharing what you have shared. 🙂

      • Zelma

        Thanks, Barbara! 🙂

    • Zelma

      “Barbara Roberts
      February 14, 2013 – 8:15 pm
      Thank you Zelma. May I ask you one more question? Did you feel ‘defiled’ by your husband’s behavior? Did you feel it somehow made you unclean? If so, how did you deal with that?
      The reason I ask is that my first husband committed a different kind of sexual sin, and when I found out I felt defiled – even though we had long cease to live under the same roof. The thought that I had slept with him and he then committed such vile acts, it somehow affected me in my own body and soul and made me feel defiled and repulsed about the fact that I had slept with him and shared his bed.
      I don’t know how the ‘one flesh’ thing relates to all this, but I suspect it does somehow or other.
      If this is too hard or too personal for you to answer, just say so. There is no pressure to answer. Bless you and thank you for sharing what you have shared.”

      I don’t mind answering! Not defiled – I didn’t feel he did it to me. I always felt he hurt himself, not me. I have had to deal with being a bit behind him in being willing to be as open. Felt/feeling embarrassed on some level – and, yes, I think it is a “one flesh” thing. I had to calm myself down and realize it was important that Wendell share. Even now, I have to remind myself it will help others and I need to be open – let him be free to be open. I’m pretty good at being open about me; but, for some reason, embarrassment I guess, this is harder for me. Also, sometimes he provides a detail I either didn’t know or had forgotten – it has been 15 years or so – and I react emotionally, like a trigger, I guess and I have to deal with it. I suppose it gives me a bit of a view of what abuse victims go through.

      • Thank you, Zelma. Sending you a cyber hug ((hug)) now.

  5. Jeff S

    “I would not have blamed her if she had decided to divorce me right there, but she didn’t.”

    I think this is a REALLY critical sentence here, because it may be the singular difference between Wendell’s story and so many other stories where men were guilty of Pornography and “repented” only to keep “struggling”.

    If the sentence truly reflects the heart (and I believe it does or Wendell’s story would not be posted on this site), then it demonstrates the opposite of entitlement- it shows how a sinner takes responsibility for the consequences of his actions. And it is through his wife’s mercy, not required nor necessarily emulated, but certainly something to be celebrated, that their marriage was able to mend.

  6. Yes Wendell, I am interested in the mentor/accountability partner issue as well. What do you suggest to someone who lives in rural areas and would like to find a mentor to be accountable with but the options are not as they would be within an urban setting.

    • Wendell G

      Sherry, that is tougher, but not impossible. There is always email/skype, etc. A friend recently asked me to contact a relative of his who lives far away concerning the issue. We are conversing in email, but the built in limitations make it a little harder.

      The most important thing is finding someone you can trust, even if they aren’t local to you. Some of the online ministries can help there as I am sure they deal with this all the time. Your local church pastor may be able to find an accountability partner, even if they don’t feel qualified to mentor. Again, Focus can probably help too. I will try to do a little research and see what is out there for these situations.

      • Thank you Wendell for you input, and I just want to note that this person stopped the use of internet, therefore researching different organizations for assistance isn’t possible.
        Also, I want to say that you are to be commended for your honesty. I don’t know what else to say but thank you for your willingness in wanting to help others navigate through this very difficult situation.
        Currently, I am helping a friend whose husband has admitted to using pornography for the first couple of years of their marriage, newly married, and I do not sense the same humility and brokenness from him toward his wife as you have described of yourself. I have been researching this, and am disturbed by his anger at her wanting to discuss the matter with him, and he states she is unforgiving which causes more problems. Is it expected for a wife to be forgiving and move on after a few months? Is it possible for him to be broke from his addiction yet to act so cruel and demanding? She said that he is frustrated because he hurt her so much and wants to put it all behind him and move forward, that when she forgives him, he can then start the process of forgiving himself. I don’t know if this is true, but empathize with her and want to offer her wise counsel.
        I would appreciate any insight on this matter.

      • Mama Martin

        Sherry, the response of your friend’s husband set off alarm bells for me. If he truly has repented, there will be a humility to accept whatever decisions his wife makes and the desire to give his wife the time and space to heal. Since he is responding in anger to her desire to ‘discuss’ (possibly express how she has been hurt, explain how she is processing what has happened, reveal what she is learning) I would wonder if he does not feel entitled to forgiveness – and that entitlement is the core of abuse. Because he feels entitled, he will abuse – and not allowing his wife to talk is abusive. She is on this journey to wholeness because of his sin, not hers.
        The demand from him that your friend forgive is also abuse. If he is truly repentant, he will see forgiveness as grace – a gift he does not deserve. By accusing her of unforgiveness, he is revealing that he feel entitled to her forgiveness (he is telling her clearly that she must (if she is to be Christian, godly, etc,) forgive and is trying to dictate the time-frame. Unfortunately, words alone do not show sorrow, repentance, apology, humility. These must be shown by actions – and the actions of your friend’s husband do not show these. They show abuse – the mindset of entitlement.
        If your friend is confused by his response, in a fog, I would strongly suspect abuse – possibly abuse in a spiritual form since it may be cloaked in God’s words and Christian ‘shoulds’.

      • Sherry, Mama Martin’s reply to you is excellent. Thanks MM!

  7. This took immense courage to share and also immense character. The key to your experience is that you finally admitted your issue publicly, repented, sort accountability and changed. Your heart was good and is good and that is clear. My question is, how long does it take to forgive yourself?

    • Wendell G

      Thanks Mark. Wow, that is a tough question to answer as it varies with each person. I think the key is when you really, experientially know God’s forgiveness. Until you have experienced that, and understood that God no longer holds your sin against you, then you can have the freedom to forgive yourself. It is then that you can begin to let go of the shame.

      In my case, it probably took between 1 and 2 years, but I have never really thought that much about the timing. I do know that having a loving, supporting community and family helped reinforce to me that I was truly forgiven. On the other hand, to this day, I still hold regrets about those lost years, but I don’t wallow in it. I’ve come to accept the fact that I can’t change it, just try to use it to help others.

      • Wendell, would it also be true to say that as your entire self (your brain, nervous system, body and mind) got healed and re-wired by Christ, you were more able to experientially know God’s forgiveness?

        And did your healing journey include revelation of the fact that when Jesus became sin for us and suffered the outpouring of God’s wrath of God on the Cross, one of the sins he was bearing was your sin of self-stimulation and porn-indulgence? Did you see and ‘know’ that, in your spirit?

        I ask that because once God gave me a revelation of how, when Jesus was on the Cross, he took on himself the most heinous sins – homosexual perversions, child sexual abuse, vile perversions that I won’t even name on this blog – and became all those sins. So because he became that sin, he knows by empathetic resonance (mirror neurons?) how vile and degrading it is to be enslaved and given over to the practice of those sins. He knows all that sin from the inside, so to speak. And that makes his forgiveness all the more astonishingly personal. And because he became that sin, and can forgive it, I, as his grateful adopted child, can forgive that sin in others, knowing that Jesus ‘gets it’ fully, and took the sting and horror of it himself.

        This revelation helped me feel love for homosexuals, which was one of the things I was struggling with at the time, because in a town near where I live there is a homosexual festival once a year where they go all out to display and ‘celebrate’ homosexuality.

        Hope I am making sense here. It’s hard to convey revelations like this, without sounding either trite or abstruse. . .

  8. Barnabasintraining

    What is ritualizing?

    • Wendell G

      Barbara, yes, I think that the rewiring had a lot to do with learning to experience Christ’s forgiveness. One thing I have learned through all of this is how powerful a hold that sin can have over us, even as Christians. When Paul said to flee sexual immorality, I always think back to Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. He didn’t give himself time to indulge in any fantasies about her. He recognized immediately what the stakes were and literally ran from the house. If he had given in, there would have been a time of pleasure for sure, but a process would have begun where he would have slowly and surely delved deeper and deeper into the sin, training and altering his brain to continue in it.

      It took me a long time to get into the mess I was in, and I am not surprised that it took me a long time to get out. Christ’s forgiveness was immediate. Positionally, and in a legal sense, God would no longer hold the sin against me; however, overcoming the actual addiction would take time, serious work and constant resubmission of myself to the lordship of Christ.

      Your take on Christ becoming sin for us is interesting and I had never thought about it that way. I have always looked on it as Him taking the guilt of our sin, just as the sacrificial lamb was to symbolically take the guilt of the people. On the other hand, we are told that He was tempted in every way we are and thus is a high priest that can sympathize with our weaknesses (The interpretation of that alone has spawned many, many arguments). Now I don’t know if that is talking about general categories of temptation or specific ones, though I tend toward the former. In any case, I don’t know exactly how it occurred, I just trust in the fact that He knows what I am going through.

      I’ve also had to remind myself that, except for blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, there is no sin that is unforgivable. It does take a truly repentant heart though, as being sorry for getting caught and truly wanting to turn one’s life around are completely different things! The former will only be a band-aid on a festering wound, while the latter will require the cutting out of the infected material and applying the proper medications and disciplines to truly become whole again! It is that process that is time consuming, painful and hard, but worth it in the long run.

    • Wendell G

      Barnabus, a ritualizing is simply developing a sin pattern. We essentially train ourselves to sin by repeating the same pattern over and over again.

      In Don Crossland’s book, he gave an excellent example of a minister who had come to him because of an affair he had with a parishioner. While he claimed that it “just happened”, Crossland helped draw him out to see why it happened.

      It turned out that the minister had a pattern, or ritual that had actually led him to multiple affairs, all coming out of counseling sessions. His particular ritual started with a female parishioner coming in to him to tell him about trouble in her marriage, usually stating that her husband didn’t understand her or they were not communicating. The counselee would talk about her great respect for the minister and the session would end with a quick embrace. In future counseling sessions, the discussion of the emotional needs of the counselee would become more personal and intimate, the embraces at the end would become longer. The minister would then start to open up about problems in his own marriage, and over time an unhealthy emotional attachment would form and they would usually end up in a full blown affair.

      This sequence happened enough with many different women that it became the norm, thus a ritual. You could predict the order of things, just as one can predict the order of their Sunday worship service!

      In my case, my rituals started out simply going to places where I could see girls in short skirts, etc. Often, I would get my lusts so inflamed, I would need to find a place to “relieve myself”. That kind of waxed and waned over time, but eventually, I had so trained myself that I was like one of Pavlov’s dogs, that almost any sight of a “sexy” woman would trigger that same response in me, or at least the desire for it. When I got into porn, my usual ritual was to wait until my wife and kids went shopping or out with friends and then get on the computer, downloading the material and acting on it. It was essentially a conditioned response and I would just long for and wait for those times I could be alone. I had the same sites/newsgroups I would visit and there was a particular order to the way I did things.

      Essentially, I was in a self reinforcing cycle.

      Does that help?

      • Barnabasintraining

        Oh. I see. Thanks. That does help, I think.

        So basically a ritual is a series of events that inevitably ends in disaster and the trick is to interrupt it somewhere along the line, the earlier the better, in such a way that picking up where you left off is not a viable option. Then, I guess, the temptation fades and you’re in the clear, until the next trigger hits. Whereupon you have to interrupt again…until you are reconditioned. Basically?

      • Wendell G

        Yes, the ritual needs to be interrupted and the underlying reasons for the ritual (usually fantasizing) must be addressed to help keep the ritual from recurring.

        Maybe it will be helpful to understand where the ritualizing comes from. Usually the first step leading to addiction is to take our legitimate needs and secretize them (or maybe a better word is deny them). Addiction begins with unmet needs, and substituting how God intended for those needs to be met, with unhealthy ways to meet them. When we don’t expose the needs we have in life to light, we put them in a secret box inside of us, where no one can see them. We guard that box jealously lest we be embarrassed that we even have the needs. We become the Lone Ranger, isolating ourselves from others and from God.

        When we are in denial of our needs and God’s ability to supply them, we begin to try to take on the task ourselves. We begin to fantasize about how we can meet those needs. In the case of porn addiction, the addict thinks he needs sexual gratification (that isn’t his actual need, but it is what he tells himself) and he begins to fantasize about it. He will look at the woman in the bikini, and begin to fantasize about jumping in bed with her, having great sex that would rival the best sex scenes ever. The fantasizing gets ever more pervasive and graphic until the addict finds a way to not only continue to fuel the fantasy, but even to act on it.

        That is where the rituals start, the actual carrying out of a plan to meet those needs one has been fantasizing about. It is where the thought life actually morphs into actions, which reinforce the fantasies, and then spur on more actions.

        It is the outworking of what James told us about sin: 14But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:14-15 ESV

        Interrupting the ritual at this stage isn’t enough. Interrupting it should be the beginning of trying to work out the root cause and issues that led to the fantasizing in the first place. What is the desire? Some versions call it lust, but in any case, it is always the desire to have our perceived needs met, whether or not they are really needs and despite whether God really wants something for us. Alternatively, it could be a legitimate need, but instead of letting God fulfill it in His way, we say He doesn’t know what He is doing and take it on ourselves.

        Until this core issue is taken care of, we will still feel unfulfilled, will begin to fantasize again and eventually begin to ritualize. Yes, there will likely be a number of interventions/interruptions required until we completely deal with the issues, but hopefully they will occur earlier in the process and the rituals will be played out less often as the basic matters are taken care of.

      • Barnabasintraining

        That makes a whole lot of sense, Wendell! Thanks!

  9. Wendell G

    Sherry, that is a tough one. I agree with Mama Martin, but the problem is that something needs to happen in his life that will get his attention. I suspect the anger may be misplaced frustration about having to stop the behavior with no replacement outlet for it. In other words, he has not, nor may be be willing to, deal with the core issues. In any case, it is certainly very wrong for him to react this way, and it does show a lack of true repentance on his part. There is a basic lack of brokenness there from what you describe and it is that brokenness that needs to happen for true change to take place.

    You said he lives in a rural area and has given up the internet. While I understand this as a valid method of avoiding the temptation, it may be overkill on his part as it may be socially isolating him and contributing to the frustration. Again, it is a tough call. I could not give up the internet because of my work in IT, but I had to do other things to guard my heart and mind.

    There is one idea you can float to them. Some people have found it to be a good compromise. There are filters out there that will either intercept and block porn sites (and malware sites as well). They can install it on their computer and only let the wife have the password to bypass or disable it. Now, if he is tech savvy and can get into the operating system, he could figure out a way to bypass it, but it might be something to consider. The software can create a report of all websites visited too, so she could become his accountability partner. That way, he could still use the internet for other things and have some level of accountability.

    It isn’t a perfect solution, but it might work. Otherwise, he will need to find a local or nearby pastor or trusted man to help him deal with this. I fear that many pastors in rural areas may not be equipped or prepared to deal with sexual addiction, but having someone to talk to and be accountable to would be better than floundering alone. Also, he will need to read up on it. Crossland’s book is good, but out of print. I think Amazon may still have some copies. I think Jeff might have a couple of other suggestions too.

  10. Katy

    Oh yes – the church simply has no answers on this one. No one tells me that I’m not whole without a mate -So I’m lucky. The problem is just garden-variety loneliness and the hardship of “doing life” without companionship or help. That’s not easy. And maybe the church has no answers because God doesn’t swoop down and take those hard feelings away.
    But on the whole, me and my single mom friends all feel this emotional void – we say things like “I need to stop eating that/spending money on that/drinking/feeling sad/” – and then one of my friends actually said “I know that I need to stop trying to satisfy myself with snacking – I need to find satisfaction in God” –

    but then we don’t find this elusive “satisfaction” ever. So where is it? an interesting question…

  11. Anna

    I know that even mentioning the Pearls might be a trigger for some, but I really like the way they inoculated their kids against porn. They told them about the victims, about how the women had been abused, about how there is no way to know if the people in the pictures are being held captive and brutalized and that to take pleasure in viewing it would be to take part in oppressing them. Reading that changed my perspective. I don’t get mad at the people in the images that I know are out there. I feel sorry for them. I hurt for them. Husband doesn’t. He once told me that my shoes were probably made by oppressed children in an undeveloped nation. So obviously, I’m a hypocrite for making the comparison between porn and victims if I’m not willing to go barefoot…

    • Does he have reason to believe your shoes are made by oppressed children? You kind of have to back those things up with evidence. All shoe stores are not guilty of selling merchandise made through child exploitation. If there is reason to believe a particular shoe store is guilty of child labor, it would definitely be a moral issue to patron that store. But ALL pornography is inherently exploitative and abusive to those making it. And ANY use of pornography fuels a global sex market that commonly enslaves and exploits the young and vulnerable, as far as I am concerned.

  12. Anna

    His point is that we don’t know which shoes were made by kids and we don’t know which porn has oppressed victims in it, so we shouldn’t make the comparison if we’re not willing to go barefoot and we should just shut up about it. I don’t think it makes any sense. I think he’s willing to go to absurd lengths to justify his sin and act like I’m the true oppressor since I’m not barefoot.

    My shoes are made in Germany. Do they even have children in Germany? I thought Germans had quit producing offspring and a part of that negative population growth problem or something.

  13. KingsDaughter

    Thank You for sharing this, Wendell! I’m sure your journey probably mirrors many of my husband’s experiences, with many exceptions (as far as defensiveness and covering his sin with agression/abuse). I thought as I read this, that it might help my husband to read your story, until I got to the “Your circumstance may be different, especially if your wife is an abuser” part. My husband has convinced just about everyone we know that I am the one with the problem, that our issues and his ensuing “frustration” are a result of my “rebellion” (that’s what he calls anything that disagrees with him). He calls his sex addiction “temptations and struggles” and says that he sometimes “slips but picks himself back up”. He has friends who he does accountability with, but I am not allowed to have any knowledge of this and it has effected no change. He will not talk to me about his struggles, and I have stayed far away from this issue because of his defensiveness and wanting to trust him and God. I do not go looking for tresspasses (at one time I tried, but realized it was just making me more suspicious) but continue to find evidence on our computer despite not looking for it. Also, his behavior is incredibly telling (he is more aggitated and lovemaking will fluctuate between abstinence and hyper-interest). I knew from the beginning that things were “off” as our intimacy was never “intimate” instead it was clinical and cold.

    Because of his defensiveness and deflection, I’m afraid he would only use your closing remarks to escape accountability.

    Right now that is my prayer, for him to accept full responsibility, that God would break through the blinders and he would see and repent so that he could be healed.

    • Wendell G

      KingsDaughter,

      I’m truly sorry that the ending to my story is actually a stumbling block to it being used in your situation. I certainly don’t want anything I say to be able to be used against the innocent party. That statement was put in there because I know that there are some abused men here, and no two situations are ever exactly the same.

      On the other hand, it seems like you have a good handle on things. You have set boundaries and are not just being a passive victim in all of it. I hope that my story, even if you can’t show it to him, helps you understand and deal with his behavior. In all cases, it will be God who will have to do the heavy lifting with him. We can stand firm and hold to truth, but the final choice will be his as to whether to accept or reject that truth.

      I pray that your prayers and efforts will produce good fruit in his life. If not, at least you know you have tried and been faithful.

      Blessings,
      Wendell

      • KingsDaughter

        Wendell,
        There is absolutely NO reason to apologize! I’m sure that comment will indeed help the one it was meant for! Your post IS so helpful, it confirmed so much that I felt God was already speaking to my heart about this situation (things my husband is still to bound to address). It also encourages me to know that you were able to recognize what was going on in the midst of your struggle and that through true repentance God was able to deliver you! THAT is a beautiful TRUE testimony of the power of God in the lives of those who will seek Him!
        As with anyone who has prayed for a lost loved one, the fact that God is gentle and will not force Himself on anyone, leaves me on my knees in faith praying for the scales to fall and The Holy Spirit to be heavy on this situation. It is a great blessed mystery, this salvation of God!
        Thank You for so honestly sharing your testimony and for the courageousness of your wife as well!
        “They conquered him
        by the blood of the Lamb
        and by the word of their testimony,
        for they did not love their lives
        in the face of death.”
        Rev 12:11

    • Hi KingsDaughter, and welcome to the blog. 🙂

      I think it might be appropriate to re-name your husband’s so called “defensiveness” and “deflection” and call it what it is: He is fighting and resisting making any substantial changes in his defective character. That is not defensiveness, it is aggressiveness. How can I be so sure? Because he is blaming you for HIS bad character and conduct. . . “if you were not rebellious I would not be doing such and such.”
      That is blame-shifting tactic on his part, it is a tactic of deceit and lying. It sounds to me like he is a full blown abuser. I suggest you read widely on this blog and see if it rings bells.

      And BTW, it was Dr George Simon Jr’s books that taught me to call the “defensiveness” of abusers what it actually is: aggression.

  14. KingsDaughter

    Thank You for bringing out the three-fold bondage! I definitely see those three at work in my husband and do believe he is under demonic influence. Not trying to shift accoutability from him, he chooses to let sin dominate and that is his responsibility (and I am holding the line, being separate until there is true contrition and change), but he is not so far down the road where he is without conscience, so I have hope. His mistreatment of me is from believing lies and defending/protecting the lies and addictions that have been permitted (by him) to reign in his life.
    (For any victims reading this; I am in no way excusing or condoning his behavior. He is fully responsible for his choices. Even if he doesn’t understand that fact, I do and we are separated until there is true change. Understanding the truth of the influences in his life allows me to accurately confront them and pray more effectively. I am called and committed to love him as my brother in Christ -or at least giving him every opportunity to demonstrate his true spiritual state. That includes not permitting him to abuse me, forgiving him, holding him accountable, speaking truth and doing good to him. Sometimes doing good does not feel good, I’m sure confrontation and accountability certainly do not feel good. I hold out hope for change, not for my desires to be met – it would be easier to turn my back-, but understanding as Wendell’s testimony shows, that one regenerated/repentant/forgiven person does more kingdom good than 100 rejected sinners.)
    We are in the very beginning stages of confronting this behavior and while the patterns of abuse hold many similarities, each sinner is different. So, as long as I am safe, I will give him every opportunity to turn… that doesn’t mean I will hold on for endless opportunities. I will trust God to show me where the line is.

  15. Mary

    I am dating a wonderful man who I am suspicious is addicted to porn. Do you think this is an automatic relationship ender? Get out before it gets more serious? We are Christians and not being physical. There are so many great things about this man. Thanks.

    • Yes, Mary, I think it is a deal breaker. If a man is addicted to porn the wiring in his brain and body will have become configured to things that no healthy marriage could ever hope to replicate, and he will have taught himself to see women as lesser, as primarily objects for his pleasure.

      He may seem like a really great guy now, but abusers typically and cleverly lay on the charm early in the relationship to suck their tarkget in to bonding with them. But if somethings seems too good to be true, it usually is – i.e. it is not true, it is a phoney veneer being presented with a nefarious motive. The guy may have deceieved himself and believe his own lies, so he may not admit to any of thing things you might confront him with. But trust your gut feelings; if you have suspicions, you have them becacuse of some small things that have hinted that he has this problem, and other small things that have shown that if you interrogate him about it or say “NO” to something he realy wants, then a nastier side of him might show a flicker thru the veneer. Pay attention to those little hints and flickers. They are important!

      To undo the damage that porn addiction does to a person’s mind is not a quick and easy process. Habits die hard.

      • 7stelle

        “if you interrogate him about it or say “NO” to something he realy wants, then a nastier side of him might show a flicker thru the veneer. Pay attention to those little hints and flickers. They are important!”

        TRUTH! This is what happened to me. And I merely *asked*, not interrogated if he looked at pornography. He EXPLODED in anger and said there was nothing wrong with it. When I said “it is wrong” and hung up the phone he called back apologizing, crying, and changed his tune. Isn’t that amazing–30 seconds ago he was trying to use anger to get me to back down and just like that he has an epiphany it’s wrong!—yeah sure—and I know a great bridge for sale that you must buy!

    • 7stelle

      Mary,

      My husband didn’t tell me about his porn addiction when I was dating him, I figured it out.

      RUN! and don’t look back!!!

      I foolishly believed because he said he was a Christian and said he was sorry and wouldn’t look at it anymore. I caught him again after that and I still married him, because he went to counseling for 5 months before the wedding. Once married he never went again. I didn’t know an abuser and porn almost always go together. Porn viewers already have a mindset that women are objects so abusing them & using them is no big thing to them. They feel entitled. It takes years of counseling and strict accountability for the rest of his life. Please don’t ask him to do that. If he has this problem he should be seeking that help on his own. Otherwise he could be giving you lip service until you’re married then return to his sin.

      He may very well be nice about some things—they all are, BUT porn addiction doesn’t go away with a confession of it and unless he is pursuing serious help you will be in for a world of hurt. *You* cannot save him, you can’t love him enough out of it. Please don’t even try.

      Walk away before he tries to guilt you into staying with him or some other form of manipulation.

  16. Mari

    Hello, thanks for sharing your story and providing some tools to help navigate this rocky course. One thing I have experienced, is so many of these signs but no clear cut evidence. When I have asked, I get scolded for being so insecure, not trusting him and he says he has never cheated or looked at porn sites.I want to believe him but the ongoing signs make my gut tell me otherwise. He is also very tech savvy and would know how to hide it all, locking files, password protected profile, etc.

    Today with the “incognito mode” and “private browsing”, a video, chat, or pornographic page could be open one second and then vanish with the click of the mouse! no trace of evidence to be found in the history or cache. This is alarming or should be to most people who have mates online a lot. It is a huge temptation and can be easily done for free (free adrenaline & serotonin boosting drug) without leaving a trail. Sinister really. The perfect tool to lure souls into deception and addiction, consequently ripping relationships and families apart. Very sad. Similar to drug and/or alcohol addiction, it wrecks havoc on lives with no remorse. Pornography is even more insidious with the secret online searches in stealth mode with unsuspecting “loved” ones in the next room. Parents and schools even, need to be as concerned with pornography addiction prevention as they are with hard core addictive drug prevention, in my opinion. They both have the potential to ruin lives due to their addictive and brain-altering natures.

    How is a concerned spouse or parent supposed to compete with today’s technology? What is the best way to catch this behavior so that it can even be honestly addressed? if covered up and then discovered, how can the one spouse just forget about being deceived for so long and trust again? Because what they are doing isn’t right or okay and it does hurt people,not just the addict. It seems your wife did not know until you confessed whereas in my situation I am almost positive by behaviors over the years, yet I don’t have the concrete evidence. It is grueling to live this way, let me tell you.

    • And welcome to the blog, Mari!
      You may like to read our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

    • Mari, Wendell’s voluntary confession is, I would imagine, a fairly rare situation. I would suggest that you trust your gut feeling. Obtaining actual and irrefutable proof is likely to be impossible or immensely difficult, and even if you DID obtain it, that is unlkely to make your husband reform. The hardened heart of the abuser and the porn addicted man (and often these two categories overlap) is such that even if you or the authorities in the justice system slam the proof of the man’s heinous sins on the table, the man will escalate all his tactics of responsiblity-resistance.

      So rather than hanging your hopes on getting proof and thinking that proof will push him to change, I suggest you accept that your gut feeling may be all you ever have, but that gut feeling is enough. Enough for you to take it as on balance of probabities truthful — an accurate and reliable warning sign that your husband is indeed addicted to porn… and then make decisions for your wellbeing and safety from there. You can’t make him take the path of righteousness, but you can work on carving a life for yourself, maybe one free of him, which is righteous and holy and safe.

      Wicked men who fight back when admonished are most unlikely to reform. The don’t change just because someone else pressures them or exposes them.

  17. ZYX

    I appreciate this post because I’m in an odd situation where my husband is not an abuser as defined by this website, but still addicted to porn. There’s several things that make me think I should stay with hopefulness and several things that make me uneasy. The “one flesh” thing makes sense to me because I’ve gone through times where I felt disturbed without a clear reason and later found out that he was using during the time that I felt disturbed.

    Things that make me think I should stay.
    *He’s not controlling and never asks me to act like a porn star.
    *He confessed this issue before marriage so I married with knowledge of it. I was completely wrong in thinking that he would quit after we had God-approved sex, but I still knew about the porn when I made my vows. Why should I rebuke him now if I didn’t do so before marriage?
    *He’s meeting with an accountability partner.
    *He still tells me when there’s a relapse without being caught in the act.
    *He’s apologized without prompting after the times that he blamed me for his habit. (When I said he’s not an abuser I meant the general pattern. Blaming isn’t the most common pattern in his case).

    Things that make me uneasy.
    *During the latest relapse he admitted to not feeling guilty and having stronger temptations.
    *He hasn’t told me how he got around the accountability software.
    *He’s been relapsing for years — how many is too many?
    *If I didn’t catch him in the act, how do I know that he confessed to all episodes or just some episodes?
    *I just have a bad feeling and I don’t want to have children while having this uneasy feeling. Not that he would show it to them, but they could find it by accident.
    *It’s still hard to talk about with him — after how long should it be less hard to talk about?

    One of the reasons that I’m not at the point of leaving is that it’s hard to rebuke something I didn’t complain about for years. In fact, if I’m harsh on him I ought to be harsh on myself for consenting to the marriage (I want to be a fair person). I read the other ACFJ posts about the other horrible abuses that guys do and compared to them I have nothing to complain about. At the same time I’m still posting because he doesn’t have to say anything negative for me to feel disconnected. I didn’t feel that bad at the start, but I’m gradually getting tired of the relapses. And coming out of denial about the gradual buildup of sadness.

    This didn’t happen because my church failed to mention the dangers of porn, but it happened because I was tired of them “ruining my fun and being judgmental” (meaning I didn’t want to restrict my dating/marriage pool). If I could talk to my past self I would say that I’m not judging instead I’m trying to protect you.

    • ZYX, one of the really good things about being a follower of Christ is that, even if we made a decision we feel was wrong as far as our life direction is concerned, we do not have to be bound by that decision forever. The best thing that I can tell you is that you are free to change that decision and go into a new direction, especially considering the multiple relapses you describe have happened and still happen. While it may be admirable on the surface to confess to you his failings, there comes a point where one has to wonder if he is doing so only to make him feel less guilty and knowing that you will forgive him, he continues into the sin.

      The fact that he is feeling less and less guilty is worrisome as it is showing signs of a hardened heart. Continued sin sears the conscience and that is a very dangerous place to be as that is where God will give someone over to a reprobate mind to let the natural consequences of the sin take over. Further, you don’t know when he will snap and begin to treat you in ways that he has thus far avoided.

      Only you can tell if he has irreversibly crossed the line for your marriage. Whichever way you decide to go, then I would encourage you to not let your acceptance of his behavior early on affect your decision. You did so in hopes that he would change and he has not, even though you gave him ample opportunity.

      • Very well said, Wendell, I agree.

        ZYX, the principle that Wendell has outlined here is correct — you do not have to hold yourself bound to the decision you made years ago, especially when the situation is now changing or has already changed. Your feelings and your moral sense of the whole situation have changed: your discomfort with his use of porn has grown, his use of porn now seems more problematic, and your growing discomfort about it is a factor you can’t ignore. I honour you for being aware of all that, and for recognising that it is not a situation you are all that willing to go on tolerating or sweeping under the rug.

        And no doubt you are considering whether or to what extent your continuing tolerance of his behavior would be possibly (tactily) enabling him to remain entrenched in it … or become more entrenched in it. Because, as we all know, porn use tends to intensify and the user of porn often finds he needs harder-core stuff to give him the same endorphin hit which he craves or which he uses to self-medicate, so to speak, rather than becoming a more mature character who solves his problem and deals with his emotions in an honourable way.

        It is not an easy predicament you are in. And none of us want to tell you ‘what to do’. But I do want to encourage you that you do not have to hold yourself straight-jacketed by some former decision you made in your life.

      • ZYX

        Thank-you both. I thought I found this site to help others……but then one day I realized “oh……me too……oh……” Right now I feel peace in the sense that I made the right decision to stop tolerating it so easily, but at the same time I also feel sick about the fact that both staying and leaving are hard. It didn’t feel hard to stay until this week when I started to consider how long the cycles were repeating. Coming out of denial hurts my stomach which I know is a symptom of depression (been depressed before for unrelated reasons).

        But at the same time, I will get through this to the other side of the tunnel like many other readers have. And it helps me be more understanding of when other victims don’t just leave at the first chance they get. At the moment, I feel that the right thing to do is to look for a professional counselor for myself and see whether or not husband does the same (without pressuring him).

      • ZYX — ((hugs))

      • ZYX

        After an honest discussion in which he remained calm (that’s a good sign for me) I felt better enough to not make any big decisions. He said his “worse” relapse wasn’t worse in amount of time just that he felt really upset with himself. I said that I could handle it if the general pattern is less each time but I got upset that I heard it was “worse” and I’m not going to know what that means if you don’t tell me. There was a lot of other honest but calm discussion. After that I felt good enough to eat, sleep, and not rush any decisions other than watch, pray, and be honest. Then my stomach felt better too. It also brought to light some issues within my own self as well. I expect it to take a long time to figure out the issues in my life but I also feel a zillion percent certain that I’m in the right direction.

      • That is good to hear! I am relieved for you. 🙂

      • Abrona

        Thank you so much Wendell for being transparent. My husband stated that he stopped pornography. Something in me refuses to believe him. From time to time I ask him, “how are you doing with the porn staff?” Do you think a blunt approach is the way to check? I told my husband, “if this is the lifestyle you chose, then please tell me because I want to honor God, and I want to be clean.” I guess I lost my trust in him and feel mad with myself that I reconciled with him quickly. I wish I had taken more time away from him physically to put my thoughts together. Thanks Wendell

  18. ZYX

    So far my only concern with Pure Life Ministries (recommended by Wendell) is that on the wives page it seems to imply that reconciliation can be guaranteed rather than maybe-if-he-chooses-to-change.

    • ZYX, You raise a valid concern. I have to admit that most of my interaction with the site has been in the context of helping men overcome the addiction. I will have to look at what you raised a little more. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Abrona

    Barbara, you wrote “The thought that I had slept with him and he then committed such vile acts, it somehow affected me in my own body and soul and made me feel defiled and repulsed about the fact that I had slept with him and shared his bed.”

    What helped you feel less defiled and repulsed? Thanks Barbara.

    • twbtc

      Hi Abrona,

      I’m not Barb, but I wanted to say ‘Welcome to the blog’

      We like to encourage new commenters to read our New User’s Info page as it gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog.

      Again, Welcome – and I’m sure Barb will be reply to your question soon.

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  1. Signs Your Husband May Be Addicted to Pornography – By Wendell | A Cry For Justice

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