A Letter to Porn-Loving Men: 3 Essential Ways to Help Your Wife Trust You Again
Tuesday, June 30, 2015 | Written by Dann Aungst
You’re probably thinking, “Is it ever possible to earn her trust again?” Especially after she said, “How can I ever trust you again?! ”
Well, I’ll tell you it is possible. But—and it is a big but—it depends greatly on you. It’s not easy and it’s not going to happen overnight. As men we must understand the wounds we caused run deep. Statistics show that over 70% of wives of porn addict suffer from PTSD (post dramatic stress disorder). Your wife may show signs of depression, behavior disorders (eating, drinking, etc.), and in many cases I’ve seen physical symptoms such as migraine headaches, ulcers, digestive issues and other physical ailments.
I tell you this only because I want you to understand the severity of the damage caused. In marriage, we are joined as one flesh under God, and when one part of this union is not true to its original purpose and design (purity), it hurts the whole union. You can’t smash your arm in an accident without excessive trauma to the rest of the body.
You want to change as a man right? You want a better marriage right? When these questions are unwaveringly in undoubtedly “Yes,” then it’s possible.
There are three mandatory life changes that facilitate this trust.
3. Gift of self.
Let’s dive into each of these.
Porn is secret. Your life cannot be—at least to your spouse. Here are some non-negotiable practices that you must make available to your wife.
A. Come clean. You got caught once, maybe twice. You have to reveal with humility and honesty all sexually related history and practices: porn (including all mediums: Internet, DVDs, etc.), strip clubs, massage parlors, prostitution, affairs, etc.
This could get ugly, but trust me, it will come out eventually. Keeping “some secrets” will actually cause more damage than coming completely clean. If anything is kept secret it will have power over you and your ability to become free. If you confess “most” of your activity, then something—even something small—dribbles out later, it will destroy all trust you have established thus far and severely inhibit and possibly prevent any future trust. Also, keeping secrets, even if not related to inappropriate sexual behavior, will prevent you from being a man of integrity. I will advise, however, that you may want to confess this in the presence of a qualified counselor, especially if you get into areas of adultery or matters concerning other women directly.
B. Do not delete computer browser history and e-mails. Do not, under any circumstances delete your browser history and do not empty your deleted e-mails. Make sure your wife knows this. This way, when she is feeling down (and it will happen a lot), she can inspect your browser history on your computer and check deleted e-mails. This is a big transparency step and is a good start in beginning to build trust.
C. Intimacy. I’m not talking about sex here. It is important to learn about the building blocks of intimacy: physical (non-sexual), proximal, emotional, intellectual, professional, recreational, spiritual, and finally sexual. The practice of these will not only allow your wife to know your heart, it will improve your marriage and significantly help your recovery. You can learn more about the building blocks of intimacy.
Understanding what true authentic intimacy is is paramount in your marriage, your recovery and your relationship with God and other people.
A. Make your computer in the house public. If at all possible, put your computer in public or open areas of your home, or at a minimum leave the door open to the office or den, and most importantly arrange the office so the computers monitor is visible from the door. This way all of your activity is open and transparent.
B. Always reveal your whereabouts. This is a big one. You can easily do this by installing an app like “find friends” on your iPhone® or similar apps for Android™ phones. With this app on both your and your wife’s phone, she can always see your location. Using the app is transparent to you, so don’t worry about it bothering you. This will generate comfort for her knowing that you are not engaged in any inappropriate activity because she can tell where you are.
Yes, this may seem intrusive and a violation of your privacy. However, your actions in your marriage were a much bigger violation to your wife and your relationship with God. Besides, a good marriage is all about transparency and trust. Allowing your wife to have this access will definitely help rebuild that trust. Personally, I have been in recovery for over 8 years and my wife and I still have the apps on our phones. It just gives her a peace of mind and I’m good with that.
C. Block private settings. On your phone there is a way to password protect the private mode for iPhones or incognito mode for Android devices. Tell your wife that it is there and allow her to set the password to it. Yeah, I just took the wind out of your sails didn’t I? But if you’re serious about recovery and earning her trust, you gotta do it.
D. Covenant Eyes. You need to put Covenant Eyes on all devices, and if possible even on your computers at work (maybe even tell your HR director that it is a statistic that two thirds of HR professionals have found pornography on employees computers and encourage them to put Covenant Eyes on all company computers).
E. Accountability. This is a big one. You must join a sexual integrity or accountability group like sexaholics anonymous, Romans Six, etc. Also join an Internet accountability program. This gives you more frequent access to help as well.
Accountability is an absolute must. You cannot, I repeat cannot do this alone if you try you will fail. I have worked with many clients on this and I know this to be an absolute fact, don’t try to take a shortcut. Satan wants this in the dark, so don’t let him do it!
E. Pray together. Praying together should be a foundation within your marriage. After you read the part about intimacy in roadtopurity.com you will see that spiritual intimacy can be a foundation of your relationship. This intimacy and transparency you will discover will actually feed the core of what you’ve been looking for and substituting pornography for. It is not easy, it’s risky, and even scary, but that’s where the reward comes in and even the power of grace. Seek true authentic intimacy rather than false intimacy.
3. Gift of self.
Man is created in the image of God: love, mercy and sacrifice (1 John 4:8, Ephesians 2:4-5, Romans 5:8).
As a man in the image of God we must practice being a gift of self rather than a gift to self. We must practice selflessness rather than selfishness. Porn is a gift to self; it is self-centered; it is about us. The bottom line is pride. Our goal as much as possible is to eliminate pride in our lives. Here are several foundational behavioral rules that we can practice:
- Practice openness instead of defensiveness.
- Practice forgiveness instead of vengeance.
- Practice apology instead of blame.
- Practice vulnerability instead of strength.
This behavior change may not be something necessarily noticed by your wife, but practicing this behavior will change focus and desires in your life. If you are focused outward, it is much more difficult to be focused inward. Remember the scripture, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand” (Mark 3:24).
You cannot be selfless and selfish at the same time. You will destroy yourself—porn will destroy you.
This type of selfless behavior must infiltrate your marriage. Behavior such as
- Give her a back rub or foot rub, even when you’re tired.
- When eating out at restaurants let her have the steak while you have the hamburger.
- She gets the new iPhone first, and you wait.
- When she screws up you show her mercy and forgiveness. Whether she doesn’t do your laundry, wrecks the car, or has an affair—you show mercy and forgiveness.
When this behavior becomes “natural” rather than a “I should do this” mindset, you will be making progress.
I promise you, if you practice these three essential steps, changes in your life will happen. You won’t be earning her trust because you worked at it, you will earn her trust because you changed as a man.