We live in a sexually-saturated culture. Everywhere, we’re bombarded with risques. So-called “sex appeal” is used to market everything from cereal to perfume to automobiles.
Most of the time, we can ignore these examples of the ways humans have perverted God’s holy gift. Sometimes, though, the problem hits close to home. Learning that your husband is involved with pornography or some other kind of sexual sin is devastating. It rocks the foundation of a marriage. It shatters trust. It generates a host of painful feelings: shock, anger, fear, and sadness.
What do you do? Where do you turn for help?
If you’re faced with your husband’s inappropriate sexual behavior, you are not alone. Hundreds of thousands of men in this country — including Christians — struggle with sexual sin. Experts estimate as much as 6-10 % of the adult population is sexually addicted. Conservatively, around 50 percent of men admit to viewing online pornography. The Church is not immune. A survey of attendees at Promise Keepers events revealed that 2/3 had been or were involved with pornography. Christianity Today reported that a survey of Christian pastors revealed 1/3 were involved with online pornography. Because of the availability, anonymity, and affordability of the Internet, sexual addiction has become the addiction of choice among many Christians.
You should know that there is reason for hope. Your husband can achieve and maintain sexual integrity. He doesn’t have to remain enslaved. Help is available. If he chooses, he can take advantage of tools that will help him guard his heart and change his behavior. I know this to be true. I was addicted to pornography, and by the grace of God and much hard work, I have been free for over 15 years.
As distressing as this may be, it can also be the beginning of a journey into the intimate marriage you’ve always wanted. Remember, pinpointing the problem is the first step to finding a solution.
If your husband has been acting out sexually, he’s obviously been impaired, as the spiritual partner God wants him to be. Jesus is clear that even thinking inappropriate sexual thoughts is adultery (Matthew 5). Addressing this secret in his life can remove the barriers to intimacy between you.
My wife and I have experienced new levels of intimacy that we never dreamed possible. We’ve also worked with hundreds of couples who have grown from the brokenness of sexual sin into a relationship blessed by honesty, vulnerability and genuine connection.
Consider getting help for yourself, even if your husband is not willing to pursue help personally. You can enter recovery, regardless of his choices. The first step is to realize that the problem is not about you, your personality, your appearance or your sexual availability. We have worked with wives who were fashion models and Hollywood actresses, and their husbands were sexually unfaithful.
The next step is to realize that you are totally powerless over your spouse’s sexual sin. You are the only person you can change. You can’t change your husband, but you can learn how to set appropriate boundaries against inappropriate and sinful behavior. You can choose to take actions that are helpful for yourself and your marriage. You can find support and fellowship with others who are on a similar journey. You can rest in God’s faithfulness to provide for your needs.
A variety of good resources are available for the escalating problem of pornography. Learn all you can about sexual addiction and the recovery process. Take advantage of programs that assist spouses of addicts. Break the silence and ask for help today.
Copyright © 2006 Dr. Mark Laaser, used with permission.
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*Mark Laaser, Ph.D., is the director of the American Association of Christian Counselor’s (AACC) Institute for Healthy Sexuality. He and his wife, Deb, help many couples through the Bethesda Workshops Ministry in Nashville, TN. You can contact Dr. Laaser through AACC, or click onto Resources Available at the website for the workshop ministry, www.bethesdaworkshops.org.