talking about porn

Talking About Porn with Your Wife

You’ve been working on your marriage because you want your relationship to be healthy. Date night? Check. Serving her needs before your own? Check. Listening well? Check. But it’s time to look deeper because healthy marriages don’t keep secrets. Even in our marriages, we can present a calm cool and collected exterior while our hidden wounds lay buried beneath the surface. Hidden infection that remains secret and never receives treatment can have a disastrous long-term effect.

So you want to move in a healthy direction? Take the step of simply saying the truth out loud to your wife, no matter how difficult. [Tweet This] You’re moving toward love and wholeness even when it’s a messy conversation. Which means you’ve got a tough task ahead of you: It’s time to talk to your wife about porn. You might think this is ridiculous or that survival is the best possible outcome from talking about porn. But at All Pro Dad, we think this can be both a wise and a redemptive conversation to have. There are, however, better and worse ways to handle hot topics. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Be proactive.

It’s better to bring it up yourself rather than wait until she catches you and is angry. Proactivity says, “Babe, I’ve been thinking about us. I want us together and healthy as possible so here’s a topic I don’t like bringing up, but we should talk anyway.” On the other hand, waiting until she discovers you leaves the burden of responsibility on your wife to initiate difficult dialogue. Waiting until your wife is hurt or angry infuses extra levels of high emotion and defensiveness into an already uneasy conversation.

Know your game plan.

What are you hoping to accomplish in this conversation? Are you confessing something and apologizing? Are you seeking understanding from her as you face the temptation to use porn? Are you initiating the conversation in order to reach out and better understand her perspective and her hurts surrounding porn? Are you looking for an ally who can help you see yourself and understand why you do the things you do? Let her know as early in the conversation as possible why you want to talk about this difficult subject.

Balance courage with sensitivity.

It’s always going to take courage to talk about porn—or anything else that could cause conflict. But just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about it. Use courage, be bold, and pursue the hard topic. But balance your approach with sensitivity. This topic isn’t any easier for your wife. She’s likely to be surprised or embarrassed or hurt. You probably aren’t at your best when surprised, embarrassed, and hurt, either. So how would you like to be approached? With gentleness. With a recognition of the cost being paid simply to engage in the conversation. To have this conversation, you pay a cost in courage; she pays a cost in self-sacrificing love, patience, and likely, emotional exhaustion. Honor the cost she pays.

Determine mutually safe boundaries for how specific you’ll be.

Being specific when you apologize is a good thing. Being overly specific with every single gory detail can cause additional wounds. Find out how much detail your wife needs from you. Share what she needs to hear and make sure it’s enough so that you are not hiding. But once you find the appropriate level of detail, take care that your words aren’t causing unnecessary hurt.

Don’t do all the talking.

It is easily possible to build a wall with words. You can end up talking over the top of another person. Yes, communicate. But your wife is sure to have a reaction and response to what you’re saying. This involves her too. Make space for her to talk, and listen with your eyes and your ears.

Following these steps doesn’t guarantee your talk will go the way you wanted. Any conversation about porn is likely to be tricky and involve emotion so allow room for the unexpected. But remember that you are leading your family toward health and your marriage toward honest connectedness. If you can start this conversation in a way that aims proactively to benefit your marriage rather than trying to reactively appease an upset spouse, you’re off to a good start.

Sound Off

What else does a husband need to consider when initiating this discussion?

  • I would suggest talking to a couple guys in person about this before talking to your wife – and remember that your wife will likely not identify with any inclination you have to view other women sexually.

  • Single Dad

    Good info as always. Was just thinking that these steps could be used in opening up about any secrets being kept, not only those relating to porn. It takes two willing, strong people to have these communications, imo,

  • Erik

    Don’t forget to involve the Lord. Pray before, during and/or after as needed to invite the Spirit into your heart and into the discussion. He is as interested in the success of your marriage as anyone and will help guide you.

  • kyboy45

    Also, prior to the conversation, have an action plan ready on how you are going to attach the issue (if you’re admitting a problem/addiction). This may help the conversation because it will show you’re dedicated to seeking change. This is not ground breaking advice, but the action plan could include internet monitoring software, an accountability partner, professional counseling for both as individuals and as a couple, support groups…etc

  • Freethinker02

    I’d like the next article to be, “How to talk to your wife about her adulterous relationship with food.”

    Let’s face it. One of the temptations that drives men to porn is that women let themselves go, put on tons of extra fat, and lose a bunch of their physical sexual attractiveness. Since society in general approves of being obese or overweight, there’s almost no respect for the fact that a big part of a man’s sexual needs are fulfilled through his eyes.

    The contract is regularly violated, but only men are held accountable. Not even the church will address the problem (hence my moniker).

    • Sandyjeanie

      Just another useless, superficial guy who sees women (including their wives), as objects. And, if the object doesn’t shine quite as brightly as it once did, than it’s time to toss it aside, to look for a new one…albeit porn or an affair. If a man can’t excuse a few extra pounds after his wife bears his children, I think that’s pretty sad. Also, I see many good looking women whose husbands have big beer guts. And, their wives don’t turn elsewhere for sexual satisfaction. I stayed in shape, until I grew old. And still, my husband turned to porn instead of me. I was often alone, desperate to give my husband one hell of a night in bed. But for him, the pull of variety in porn was just too great, and I remained alone. The virtual girls and my husband’s hand had all the pleasure. A man or a woman who has true love for their spouse, doesn’t even notice a few extra pounds. Complaining about a wife’s weight is just one of many reasons that men use to justify why they watch porn. And why would the church address that? Does the Bible tell men to turn to porn if their wives gain a few extra pounds? No! In fact, the Bible tells men to continue to see their wives as beautiful, and to continue to desire their wives, even after she bears their children, and eventually grows old. With true love, men will always see their wives as youthful and beautiful. That’s what true love is all about. But unfortunately, too many men are simply useless and superficial.

      • Freethinker02

        “I stayed in shape until I grew old.”

        Exactly. You violated your side of the contract. Instead of doing the very best with what you had and trying your very best to fulfill your husband’s natural needs, you let yourself go. Just a few extra pounds.

        How is that any different than just a few extra gazes at naked women on the computer?

        It doesn’t excuse his behavior, but stop pretending like you didn’t make it harder for him.

        Husbands don’t expect their wives NOT to grow old or NOT to have stretch marks after bearing children or NOT to have grey hair. They expect them to do the very best with what they have. THAT is where beauty resides. Even a wife whose face is disfigured in a car accident would be absolutely beautiful if she did the best she could with what she had. Putting on a “few extra pounds” is not “doing the best with what you have.”

        And demanding that men just forego one of their primary natures–sexual stimulation through the visual–is just ugly and mean. That would be like your husband expecting you to just forego your need for emotional connection.

        • Sandyjeanie

          I stayed in shape until I grew old means….I am now old, still in shape, and I don’t plan to gain weight anytime soon. I have never violated any part of my marriage contract. The only person who did that was my husband…with his porn use…throughout our entire marriage. The whole point of my previous post is, men will always think of a reason to blame their wives for their porn use, and the most common is that she gained a few pounds, even when it’s not true. My husband has actually asked me if I gained weight when I definitely had not. When men watch pornstars who are perpetually 18 to 20 years old, and skinny as a rail, you don’t think that warps his view of his wife’s body? I can attest to the fact that it does. But, the same guy with his warped perception of his wife’s body, doesn’t notice that he’s sporting a beer belly that grows larger every year. Now, I may not have a man’s visual needs…but…I don’t find a beer belly to be my biggest turn on either. I weigh exactly the same as I did when we got married, always lost the extra baby pounds within 2 months, and worked hard at it. But, he still found reasons to blame me for his porn use. Examples: “You fall asleep too early”, when I’m up all night with our baby. Or, “You’re always at your mother’s”. I was there for 2 weeks when my mother was deathly ill, and that was it. My husband was not able to use the usual, “You’re too fat” excuse (because it did not apply to me), so he came up with a half dozen other excuses. And…you know what? This is the typical man/husband. I know many women in the same boat as me. And…men want their women to be perpetually youthful looking too…like their fantasy porn stars. So, don’t tell me that a man doesn’t care if his wife ages, as long as she stays in shape weight wise. Many an aging woman will tell you that her husband is only interested in looking at young women, and pays no attention to his wife. My husband wants a young porn star to turn him on, not a slim, aging woman like me. I repeat: useless, superficial men who come up with whatever reason they can think of to blame their wives for their porn use.

  • Ed Longshanks

    I have a different take on this. I have a post about how to talk to your wife and get her to understand that you have and will always use porn because you are a man who God created to like women.
    http://wp.me/p8KqzZ-2v

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Huddle up with your wife and say, “I don’t know how to do this perfectly, but I love you. I read this article today about porn. Can we talk about it?”

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