The Catholic Letter

Pornography Addiction and How It's Damaging Catholic Society

How To Help Your Husband Overcome Pornography Addiction


The question comes up often-sadly, more often than the question, "How do I break my own porn addiction?"  The simple fact is, it's a lot easier to help someone who wants to be helped.  If your husband is addicted and unwilling to admit it, then your chances of helping him are pretty small.  If he wants help, on the other hand, your chances (and the support you can give him) jump drastically.  So let's go through a couple of different scenarios.

Scenario 1: In the first one, a man is hopelessly addicted but refuses to admit it or seek help.  The wife, in this case, doesn't have a whole lot of recourse.

The first question to tackle is whether or not to separate.  I know women who have done it, and I know women who have had this work.  But it doesn't always work.  In fact sometimes it makes the problem worse.  It could literally tear the family in half without hope of ever mending it again.  The whole question of separation because of a porn addiction is something that simply cannot be answered here.  It will take a lot of prayer and openness to consider it properly.

As for staying together-you should set some strict rules regarding the media that enters your home.   He might not be willing to admit that pornography is wrong, but that doesn't mean you have to enable him.  Nothing should come into the house-not even R rated movies that contain nudity.  You yourself should also refrain from watching shows that are going to tempt him more.  Even something as innocent as figure skating.  And any printed pornography should be trashed.

You also have a right to refuse intimacy if your husband looks at pornography.  And even more so if he refuses to stop.  You can't control his actions, but you can control your own body and demand respect in your marriage.

Scenario 2: If your husband acknowledges he has a problem, but can't seem to break from it, your approach will be a little different.  In this case, he's not refusing to quit, he's just failing.

Support goes a long way with addiction... but so does accountability.  I know one couple who agreed to a period of abstinence every time the husband fell.  30 days the first time, 60 days the next time, and so on.  This might seem to contradict some common beliefs.  Many men will claim that if their wives would only give more in the bedroom, then they'd be less tempted by pornography.  Nothing is further from the truth.  A man must learn to master his passions, and only then can he break from the chains of vice.  Especially when it comes to lust.

At the same time, a man and a wife should come together on a fairly regular basis.  It is part of marriage.  And it does, to a degree, lessen a man's sex drive.  Every 2-3 days, a man's body becomes full of certain hormones-thus giving him more drive.  A release will come naturally during the night (wet dreams), so it's not like he physically needs sex.  But having sex will stifle the natural drive more than a wet dream will.

You should also urge your husband to join a support group-one with other men.  Yes, you can hold him accountable.  Yes, you can be supportive.  But you will never be able to give him the fellowship he needs.  That's something that can only come from other men.  And it needs to be there if he's going to succeed.  Get him to the meetings, and don't ever give him an excuse to skip a night.  Often, it will be easier if he doesn't go.  He can help with the kids or finish a project.  But skipping that one night is always a doorway to skip another night... and another and another.  Pretty soon, he's back in his old habits again.  Even if he seems to be better and hasn't had a relapse in a while, make sure he goes every week.

As with the first scenario, make sure you have a clean home.  Throw away anything that might tempt him.  Do not let any pornography come through your door.  If there's a problem with the internet, make sure all of your computers are in a well traveled area, where everyone can see what's on the monitor.  If that doesn't help, it might be time to get rid of the internet.

Also, if your husband is willing to admit he has a problem, then he should have a solid plan on fixing it.  I don't know of a single man who was able to simply 'stop' without having a very well defined strategy.  Fortunately, I've spelled out such a plan... to the smallest of details.  I've included everything from Church teaching on pornography to how and why to quit.  This book is unlike anything on the market today.  There's also a disguised version.  It looks like an ordinary SciFi book on the cover.  This is for men who might have to read in public (on the subway, etc.,) but would be a little embarrassed to let people see what he's reading.

But believe me when I say, this book is for men... not for women.  Do not buy the book with the intention of reading it yourself and then being able to give the information to your husband.  It doesn't work that way, and the contents will probably create more misunderstanding in your mind than what you have now.  Get the book for your husband, and make it available for him.  Eventually, he will page through it... and hopefully read it.  He will get more information from this single book than he could get from anywhere else.  The strategies I go over have helped hundreds of men come clean and stay clean.  Click here to get more information.

Scenario 3: You think your husband is doing well, but you suspect he's fallen and not told you about it.

This is tough, because a man can only overcome such an addiction if he's honest about it.  Dishonesty puts his behavior in darkness, and it worsens there--growing and escalating.

The best way to handle it is to be upfront and tell him exactly how you are feeling.  Tell him what you are worried about and why it worries you.  But give him an open door to walk through.  Encourage openness and honesty.  Give him the chance to confess to you without being afraid of your wrath.

All in all, there's no real way to end your husband's addiction to pornography.  He must deal with the problem and end it himself.  You can only be there for him and try to guide him throughout the process.