How do I rewire my thinking in terms of my husbands past porn use?

    A struggle I’ve had throughout my marriage was knowing that as a teenager and young man my husband had an issue with pornography. I was under the impression the porn had stopped long before me because he 1. Told me so, and 2. Had just finished his degree in christian ministry!, 3. This was the guy who, while we were dating, would avert his eyes if he saw any woman scantily clad on tv, movies, or otherwise, and 4. I had made my beliefs about porn use VERY clear from the moment we got engaged.

    I’m painfully insecure, which is my own issue to deal with, but his history did not help my overall image of myself. I struggle with comparing myself to others and I know this is sinful. I was raised as a pageant girl. I was not allowed to go to high school without my makeup perfect and hair curled. I went to etiquette classes and was always reminded “beautiful young ladies don’t have much to say, you speak with your presence” by my mom. Everything that people valued in me was in my outward appearance.

    So I left for college and rebelled in my own way. It wasn’t drinking or drugs, it was going to class in my pj’s. It was putting my hair  in a bun and wearing zero makeup. I eventually found my own happy medium. At my current age, I feel no shame that the only thing in my makeup bag is mascara and lip gloss. I could stand to lose about 5 pounds, but no one can ever guess my actual age. But the comparisons (and I always see myself in the negative) continue despite prayer, christian based therapy, discussing it with close friends, literally on my knees begging God to forgive me and heal me for being so negative about something he lovingly created.

    So my husband and I have a policy, there’s nothing private on the internet. Anything he does I have access to and vice versa. I found out late last year that he had been watching shows that go outside of our set boundaries. Then I found out he was listening to highly suggestive songs about sex and promiscuity by obscure female artists.

    It never once occurred to me in 15 years of marriage to actually look at his past internet use until the recent discoveries. That’s when I found out he had been viewing hardcore porn during and after my 2nd pregnancy. Then it was scaled back to nude photos. By 2015 it was simply google searches for “girls in yoga pants”. After that it stopped. But it was replaced by the netflix shows.

    So I know I’m projecting my comparison problem onto him but all I can think about is that he’s comparing me to either every woman he’s ever seen or every woman he can easily recall. This happens when I feel him looking at me (fully clothed), when we take showers together, during sex, when I happen to be the one wearing yoga pants. And the recent discovery of all of his internet use has only ramped it up. I don’t know how to stop assuming he’s doing it. He says he doesn’t, but I simply can’t see how he couldn’t to some degree. We have discussed this, new boundaries were put into place, others were reinforced. I’m monitoring his internet and tv use less and less as he has been really making an attempt to honor my wishes and has said he can see the slippery slope he was on considering his past issues with porn.

    So I’m not perfect either.  Despite having a high drive, I was a “No” person some of the time. My answer was determined by how strong my insecurities were that day. I used his desire to my advantage. I only allowed certain positions, etc, etc. For the past 2 years I’ve been a yes person unless I have a REAL need to ask for a rain check. We use toys now, we explore, we change locations. But I still can’t bring myself out of the constant battle in my head with the fear that every glance or long hard look is a moment he’s comparing me to women on tv or women in porn.

    Any thoughts from either wives or husbands would be helpful. I’m SO for rambling!

     

    King bed Asked on July 24, 2019 in Pornography .
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    9 Answer(s)

      As a pastor, I would second what SC said, and would also add that you need to understand the the Enemy is using those thoughts against you and against your marriage.  A Christian home is a very real spiritual battleground.  It sounds like your husband is trying hard to make things right.  I applaud you for the boundaries that you both seem to have set, and would encourage you to now let God work in both your heart and his.  We have all been forgiven much by grace, and much grace is what we need to give to each other–especially in marriage!

      California King Answered on July 24, 2019.
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        I don’t know if this is encouraging or not, but I know many people struggle with similar thoughts of being unfairly judged or compared to others. As you’ve mentioned, the spouse’s history and the individual’s own self esteem can combine and drive this. So, the thing I have to say is this, talk to him about it. Ask him if he is making these comparisons, with tact, of course. Because, unless I’ve missed something in what I read above, I would hazard to say that he sees you above the others and above his past. I don’t know the man, but I know me, and I know other dudes. If he is a good man, and I get the sense that you’re telling us he is, even if flawed, when he looks at you, his wife and queen, he doesn’t just see an object of desire. He doesn’t just want to have sex. He wants to have sex with YOU. He wants YOU to be at his side. He wants to YOU to conquer the world with him.

        Let me ask you this. Are you willing to forgive him for the porn use? Do you trust him? Even whole understanding his imperfections? If so, trust him enough to listen to your insecurity. Tell him you need his reassurance to get past it, and then BELIEVE him when he gives it, and let your fear go. It isn’t easy, but worth it.

        King bed Answered on July 26, 2019.
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          I believe to rewire your thinking is to do some  praying and seeking the Holy Spirit and then doing some deep introspection, in order to go back to identify the root of your insecurities….which means way before your husband was in the picture.  What emotions or fears were instilled in you way back then, that the circumstance of your husband’s porn use makes that manifest in insecurity?  Is it feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, unlovable, abandonment if you aren’t a certain way….those are just a few to crack the door.   

          Seek healing through the washing of the Word and by the blood of Jesus.  Who does Christ say you are? 

          When you find those answers and find that healing, the lens with which you view your husband (and his weaknesses) and your relationship to him, will change.

          Under the stars Answered on July 24, 2019.
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            This is not directly related to your question, but it occurs to me you might want to look into confronting your mother (in a healthy way) about:

            “I was raised as a pageant girl. I was not allowed to go to high school without my makeup perfect and hair curled. I went to etiquette classes and was always reminded “beautiful young ladies don’t have much to say, you speak with your presence” by my mom. Everything that people valued in me was in my outward appearance.”

            As one who always felt my outward appearance was rather DE-valued, (which is really just the opposite side of the same coin), I know how much damage that kind of thing can do and how long it can last. I’m glad you’ve had some therapy; I hope you still have that resource available. Childhood wounds often cut the deepest and cause the most trouble in later life. You and your DH are in my prayers.

            Under the stars Answered on July 24, 2019.
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              That’s a difficult question. Prayer and familiarizing yourself with God’s Word would be first. We are to renew our minds (Rom 12:1-2)

              In addition, it would seem to me that it is vitally important to seek to understand the nature of sin in human life and in relationships and the beauty and bounty of God’s salvation. Also, try to believe afresh how wonderfully and fearfully you are made and how deeply you are valued and loved by God.

              Under the stars Answered on July 24, 2019.
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                I appreciate all  your input and valuable reminder of the gift of grace. A few years ago after church, a woman I can barely picture, but I do remember she had blazing red hair, she stopped us leaving our seats to tell us that she had been given a word for us. She said she felt that God was very pleased with our marriage bond and that he was “delighted in our silliness”. It was an interesting message because my DH and I do tend to be silly and always look for ways to make each other laugh. We rarely act our age where appropriate. I have never seen that woman again. Maybe she dyed her hair differently? 🙂

                I do know that I have held my DH on a pedestal and that was unfair to him. I was like the girl with hearts for eyes every time I looked at him. I trusted him without a question in my mind. When I found out everything, it was like I went numb, there were more fears and emotions than I could process. I am working through how this made my own issues and insecurities overwhelm me. In the process I think I have forgotten to appreciate the changes he has made to be accountable. I need to be more vocal about these things to reassure him. Thank you for the reminder of grace.

                I also appreciate the input regarding watching porn and comparing. I do believe porn can alter someone’s thinking when it comes to their expectations vs reality. I also believe part of him giving in to his temptation lies on my shoulders because I said no. This is something I need to forgive myself for.

                With regards to my mother and upbringing… that is a whole other ballgame. I know that the face my mom shows the world is one of independence, beauty, and poise, but she is actually extremely fragile, shallow, and dependent on other people’s approval. Confronting her might do me a world of good, but it would definitely shatter her. The thing that gives me hope is that she became a believer and was baptized a few years ago. I can see the changes it has made and I’m hoping that God will continue to reveal things to her. One of the only compliments she has ever given me that did not revolve around my looks was that I am a better mother than she was ever capable of being. This was very recent and only after she explained to me that she realized she had failed me in many ways, that she can see so much more clearly now. In her case, I think I’ll allow God to call her out on her stuff and hope that she forgives herself and moves forward.

                Through therapy I have begun to understand how my past makes initial trust and broken trust an uphill battle for me, my goal is not to make it an uphill battle for DH. I do need to allow more room in my head for what God says about me rather than listening to doubt and fear.

                I genuinely appreciate everyone’s comments. I am refreshed by all of them.

                King bed Answered on July 25, 2019.
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                  I think you are doing a lot right by the sounds of your closing paragraph. I think any man would really appreciate the changes you’re making and the realization of your own imperfections. Us men are wired with very strong desires that can be hard to control. I struggled most between the births of our second and third children, and I fell into a period of porn use during that time. I never thought to compare with my wife, it was simply coping with my own desire. It only added to my pain because my true longing was for my wife, but she showed very little interest in me. More than ten years later we are still mending. Look to Jesus. He forgave us when we didn’t deserve it. When we are reconciled to God we are brought very near as His children, and as far as the east is from the west, so far are our sins removed from us. He calls us to follow Him. Forgive, do your best to put it far from your mind, and enter into the closest relationship you can ever enter this side of heaven. It’s not deserved, it’s 100% grace. It is wonderful to receive grace from God so that we can give grace to others.

                  California King Answered on July 28, 2019.
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                    I know I’m a little late to the discussion, not on the Board very often. I affirm you for several things, seeking the support of community, pursuing your own health and healing through therapy and other means, focusing on your stuff more than his stuff.

                    I am a recovering porn user. It’s has been 35 months since any porn use. I’ve learned a great deal in recovery. 1) I didn’t have a porn problem, I had an identity problem and an intimacy problem, 2) my wounds from early life (trauma) and lies that they produced in me were creating emotional pain (exiles) that created my need for porn as a Protector of the still vulnerable hurt places within me, and 3) I had to desire freedom and my own integrity more than I desired the emotional pain relief that porn offered in order to live free.

                    It’s been a journey but for your husband, I recommend lots of reading and finding an IFS counselor. Reading: Wild at Heart, Passionate Marriage, Unwanted, Surfing for God, The Body Keeps the Score, et al.

                    For me and my wife if 40 years, the disclosure of my porn use to her has been the most painful and the most beneficial thing to occur in our marriage. It has created the opportunity for growth in each of us that nothing else could do.

                    Cot Answered on November 25, 2019.
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                      Let me add that for me, and for my many friends who are also recovering from porn, it was not the nature of our porn use to compare what we saw in porn to our wives. My wife’s beauty and her glory did not diminish in my eyes. My porn use had nothing to do with her though it took me a long, long time to realize that. It had everything to do with me, my woundedness, and my inability to handle emotions well.

                      Cot Answered on November 25, 2019.
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