Every pastor already faces this. Unfortunately, I fear the problem will only become more common in the future; that is marriage counseling as a result of a husband’s struggle with pornogrpahy. The work to restore trust and intimacy within a marriage deeply affected by this sinful struggle is only possible through the gospel and applied most effectively within the local church; having said that, consider six practical ways that husband can reestablish trust and intimacy with his hurting wife:
1) Be patient towards your hurting wife.
Men are known to deal with something, then move on. A wife, especially one sinned against by pornography will not move on so quickly. A wife does not get past this offence in the same amount of time a husband often expects she should. Encourage the husband to be patient with his wife as she tries to find forgiveness and reestablish trust. By God’s grace it will happen—but in time.
2) Understand the seriousness of your sin against her.
Sexual sin hurts a wife more deeply than most other sins against her. A husband needs to realize that the reasons this sin stings so much is that it seems to confirm almost every doubt and insecurity most women already battle within themselves. Understanding the seriousness of this sin and the pain it causes will help cultivate patience and prevent a reoccurrence of it.
3) Look to your wife to play an important role of accountability.
It is easy to seek the accountability of another man when it comes to this struggle because, we say, “only another man knows what the battle is like.” Yet, you do not have to sleep next to that man every night. You do not have to look into his eyes knowing the hurt you caused. You do not have to be as patient and gracious with your buddy through this like you must with your wife. It may need to be in the context of regular counseling for a while, but convince him his wife will be a great asset to establish his new patterns and protection from falling again.
4) Consistently and creatively romance your wife.
A husband should have already been pursuing his wife romantically as a regular practice. Now, he must understand this pattern must be established to restore his marriage. Sexual sin attacks a wife’s confidence and security that her husband loves and desires her. This confidence is a must for a healthy marriage and remains so for one to be restored.
5) Affirm your physical attraction to her.
It should surprise no man that when he looks at other women in lustful ways, it will communicate a sharp message to his wife that he does not find her attractive. Most men would confess that is not what drove them to pornography, but it is inescapable that this is how a wife feels because of it. Encourage the man verbally to affirm his physical attraction to his wife. Then, he must back it up with his actions.
6) Realize the battle never ends this side of eternity.
The gospel is powerful to free men from this bondage and to establish new patterns in their lives, but the fences of accountability must always remain. Most of the men who slip up in this area do so just when they start getting confident that they no longer struggle with pornography (1 Cor. 10:12). The guards come down. The wife has forgiven. The accountability partner has not asked about the struggle for a while. The gradual decline of these forms of accountability should act as a warning sign and a reminder that this struggle in our sex-saturated culture will only end when the perfectly faithful husband, Christ, gathers his bride to himself (Rev. 19:6-9).
Pastors, may the Lord grant you wisdom as you work with husbands who struggle in this way so that the patterns would be broken, marriages would be mended, and the power of Christ would be credited.