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When a Marriage Mate Views Pornography

When a Marriage Mate Views Pornography
  • “I felt as if my husband had repeatedly committed adultery.”

  • “I felt humiliated, unattractive, and worthless.”

  • “I could not talk to anyone about it. I suffered in silence.”

  • “I felt as if Jehovah didn’t care about me.”

The above expressions show how much a wife suffers when her husband views pornography. And if he has been doing so in secret, perhaps for months or years, she may feel that she cannot trust him anymore. As one wife said, “I wondered: ‘Who is this man beside me? Are there other things he is hiding from me?’”

This article has been prepared for a wife whose husband has succumbed to pornography. a It will discuss Bible principles that provide comfort, assure her of Jehovah’s support, and help her to recover emotionally and spiritually. b


Although you cannot control everything your husband does, you can take steps to lessen your anguish and to experience greater peace of mind. Consider the following.

Avoid self-blame. A wife might feel that her husband’s use of pornography is somehow her fault. Alice c felt that she must be deficient as a woman. She wondered, ‘Why does my husband prefer to look at other women instead of me?’ Some wives blame themselves for their reaction, thinking that they are making the situation worse. Danielle says, “I saw myself as a bitter woman who was destroying our marriage by my anger.”

If you feel similarly, know that Jehovah does not hold you responsible for your husband’s actions. James 1:14 states: “Each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire.” (Rom. 14:12; Phil. 2:12) Instead of blaming you, Jehovah values your loyalty to him.​—2 Chron. 16:9.

It may also be helpful to understand that a husband’s use of pornography does not mean that his wife is deficient as a woman. Experts on the subject point out that pornography creates insatiable cravings for fantasy that no woman can satisfy.

Avoid excessive worry. Catherine said that obsessing over her husband’s use of pornography consumed her entire life. Frances said: “I get anxious whenever I lose track of where my husband is. I’m a nervous wreck all day.” Other wives have revealed how embarrassed they feel in the presence of fellow Christians who might know of their husband’s problem. Still others have admitted how isolated they feel because they think that nobody understands their situation.

These feelings are natural. Yet, dwelling on them will only increase your apprehension. Instead, try to focus on your relationship with Jehovah. Doing so will help you build inner strength.​—Ps. 62:2; Eph. 6:10.

You might find it helpful to read about and meditate on Bible accounts of troubled women who found comfort by turning to Jehovah in prayer. He did not always reverse their circumstances, but he gave them peace. Hannah, for example, had been “extremely bitter” over her situation. But after she “prayed for a long time before Jehovah,” she experienced peace, even though she did not yet know how her situation would turn out.​—1 Sam. 1:10, 12, 18; 2 Cor. 1:3, 4.

Both husband and wife may need to seek help from the elders

Seek support from congregation elders. They can be “a shelter from the wind, a refuge from the rainstorm.” (Isa. 32:2, ftns.) They may even be able to recommend a sister in whom you can confide and find comfort.​—Prov. 17:17.


Might you be able to help your husband overcome his habit of viewing pornography? Perhaps. The Bible points out that in solving a problem or in conquering a formidable enemy, “two are better than one.” (Eccl. 4:9-12) Studies show that results are often good when a couple work together to overcome an addiction to pornography and to restore trust in their marriage.

Of course, much will depend on whether your mate is earnest and determined to overcome his inclination to view pornography. Has he supplicated Jehovah for strength and sought help from the elders? (2 Cor. 4:7; Jas. 5:14, 15) Has he developed strategies that keep him away from temptation​—for example, restricting his use of electronic devices and avoiding high-risk situations? (Prov. 27:12) Is he willing to accept your help and to be completely honest with you? If so, you may be able to help him.

How? Consider an example. Felicia married Ethan, who had become addicted to pornography in his early childhood. Felicia makes it easy for him to talk to her about his recurring urges to return to pornography. Ethan explains: “I talk honestly and openly with my wife. She lovingly helps me put up boundaries and checks on me regularly. And she helps me limit access to the Internet.” Naturally, Felicia feels hurt by Ethan’s attraction to pornography. “But,” she says, “my feelings of anger and pain do not help him remain free from this vice. After we analyze his issues, he is ready to work with me through my own pain.”

Such discussions can not only help a husband to remain free from pornography but also help his wife to trust him again. After all, when a husband is willing to be open about his tendencies, daily activities, and whereabouts, all secrecy is removed.

Do you believe that you can help your husband in a similar way? If so, why not read and discuss this article together? His goals will be to quit pornography and to give you a basis to trust him. Rather than resent your concerns, he should endeavor to understand how the problem affects you. Your goals are to reinforce his efforts and to allow him the opportunity to restore your trust. You will both need to learn what causes people to succumb to pornography and how the problem can be overcome. d

If you fear that your conversations will get heated, consider asking an elder with whom you are both comfortable to sit in and guide your discussions for a time. Be aware that even after a marriage mate has overcome an addiction to pornography, it may take considerable time to restore trust. Do not give up. Look for small improvements in your relationship. Expect that with time and patience, your marriage will eventually become strong again.​—Eccl. 7:8; 1 Cor. 13:4.


If your husband has a relapse, does this mean that he is unrepentant or that the situation is hopeless? Not necessarily. Especially if addiction is involved, he could be facing a lifelong challenge. A relapse could occur even after years of abstinence. To avoid future setbacks, he will need to put up a stronger level of resistance, perhaps keeping his strategies in place even after the problem seems to be conquered. (Prov. 28:14; Matt. 5:29; 1 Cor. 10:12) He will need to cultivate a new “dominant mental attitude” and learn to “hate what is bad”​—pornography as well as any related unclean practices such as masturbation. (Eph. 4:23; Ps. 97:10; Rom. 12:9) Is he willing to make these efforts? If so, his situation may not be hopeless after all. e

Focus on your relationship with Jehovah

What, though, if your mate simply shows no interest in fighting his problem? Understandably, you might experience recurring feelings of disappointment, anger, and betrayal. Seek peace of mind by leaving the matter in Jehovah’s hands. (1 Pet. 5:7) Continue to draw close to Jehovah through study, prayer, and meditation. As you do, be assured that he is drawing closer to you too. As stated at Isaiah 57:15, he resides with those who feel “crushed and lowly,” reviving their spirit. Endeavor to be the best Christian you can be. Seek support from the elders. And remain hopeful that at some future time, your husband may make a heartfelt change.​—Rom. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9.

a For simplicity, we will speak of the husband as the one who is viewing pornography. However, many of the principles discussed in this article will benefit a husband whose wife views pornography.

b Viewing pornography does not provide grounds for a Scriptural divorce.​—Matt. 19:9.

c Names have been changed.

d Helpful information can be found on and in our publications. For example, see “Pornography Can Shatter Your Marriage” on; “You Can Resist Temptation!” in The Watchtower, April 1, 2014, pp. 10-12; and “Pornography​—Harmless or Toxic?” in The Watchtower, August 1, 2013, pp. 3-7.

e Because of the addictive nature of pornography, some couples have made the personal decision to seek professional assistance in addition to the spiritual shepherding provided by the elders.