Help for Spouses

The most basic help for spouses is this truth: if your spouse looks at pornography, it is not your fault! (We’ll discuss this point later.)

As a spouse, you’re here because you know or suspect that your husband or wife has a problem with pornography or some other sexual addiction. This page is for you. It has three parts:

  1. First, we’ll look at signs of porn use and addiction.
  2. Second, we’ll discuss ways to help your spouse overcome porn addiction.
  3. Third, and in some ways most important, we will talk about helps for you. After all, you deserve help, too!

Signs of pornography use and addiction

As we look at signs of possible porn use, don’t automatically assume that your spouse is looking at porn. Some of these “signs” may indicate other challenges, such as stresses at work or changes in health. Also, understand that no one exhibits all of these signs.

  • Staying up late to watch TV or work on the computer after you go to bed.

  • Less time spent with you, the family, or friends.

  • Less affection for you or less interest in sexual relations.

  • Sudden interest in odd sexual behaviors or practices.

  • More demanding during sexual relations.

  • Unexplained purchases on the bank or credit card statement.

  • Sudden, or even gradual, neglect of important responsibilities.

  • Unexplained absences.

  • Mood swings that were uncharacteristic in the past, like being easily irritated.

  • Dishonesty in explanations about activities.

  • Noticeable change in basic demeanor, attitude, or behavior.

If you suspect your spouse is looking at pornography because of these or other signs or evidences, you need to talk to him or her. Be careful not to accuse him or her, but you need to voice your concerns. Ask for help in understanding his or her behavioral changes.

This is the pattern for resolving all concerns in a relationship. Questions or concerns should be asked and discussed openly, without pointing fingers or expressing anger (even when it’s hard!). Remember to really listen and reserve judgment until you understand everything.

Helping your spouse overcome porn addiction

Recovery is possible!

First, you need to know that your spouse can, most definitely, overcome his pornography habits or addiction.

The road to recovery, however, is not easy. It’s not complicated either, but it takes some effort to establish new patterns of thought which lead to new actions and habits. Click here for more on how to change thoughts and habits.

A real addiction

Next, you must understand that viewing pornography can lead to a real addiction. It’s also vital to learn more about the addiction, to understand it. Click here to learn how viewing porn becomes an actual addiction.

When you understand that your spouse is actually addicted to pornography, you learn that there are things that work and things that don’t work.

Stop focusing on the problem

One of the most important things you and your spouse must do is to quit focusing on the addiction. Will power is not the answer.

Those struggling with pornography and masturbation testify that the more they focus on NOT looking or acting out the more difficult it is. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s true.

The path to overcoming porn addiction is centered in the Law of Displacement. Click here to learn about it.

Relapse

On the road to recovery, your spouse may relapse from time to time. He or she may look at porn again and may masturbate. You must not become discouraged. For many it’s part of the process of recovery.

This is not to give your spouse an excuse. However, learning to get up after falling down is important to changing.

If your spouse looks at porn again, it’s important that he or she can talk to you about it. Discuss what can be learned from it, and encourage him or her to keep focusing on positive things.

Remember that focusing on stopping is the wrong thing to focus on. Focus on new and better things as discussed throughout this site. Focus on the positive parts of your relationship. You’ll both receive strength from it.

Whatever you do, don’t take relapse personally. It’s highly unlikely that it’s your fault or because of something you did.

Defining success

Don’t fall into the trap of trying to measure success by number of days of sobriety, or the length of time since your spouse looked at pornography.

True success in overcoming pornography addiction should be measured by his or her ability to function properly when temptation comes along. If more and more often he or she makes the right choice not to look or act out, then success is underway.

As your spouse’s habits turn from addictive behaviors to constructive ones, you’ll notice positive changes. Reinforce those transformations with words of sincere love and appreciation. Encouragement will go much farther than criticism.

Help for you, the supporting spouse

One of the common traps of the supporting spouse is feeling that it’s their fault. Don’t listen to those feelings. It’s not your fault!

Your spouse is responsible for his or her actions. Your job is not to be the policeman. You don’t have to (nor can you) take responsibility to control his or her behavior.

Another trap is that your spouse doesn’t love you anymore. In the far majority of the cases, that’s not true either. Their porn habit is surely hurting your marriage, but a common thread among porn addicts is that they desperately don’t want to hurt their spouse. Your spouse’s addiction is getting the best of him or her in many ways, but he/she still loves you.

Over 75% of the time, the husband is the one with the porn problem. Here are many important ideas for help in Dealing with Your Husband’s Porn Habits, including why he looks at porn, why he hides his behavior, and helps for you in finding inner strength and peace.

If your wife is the one with the pornography or sex addiction, the principles are the same, and I recommend you visit this page.

Finally, work on you. Don’t neglect your spouse, of course, but work on developing yourself into a happier, more complete person. Take time for self-improvement. Here are some ideas:

  • Take a class you’ve always wanted to take

  • Develop your natural gifts

  • Spend time on your interests and hobbies

  • Volunteer at a school or at your church

  • Exercise

  • Read a good book

  • Keep a gratitude journal (one entry every day)

  • Join a choir

  • Start a coin or stamp collection

  • Work on family history or genealogy

  • Learn how to garden and start one

  • Renew old friendships

  • Learn to play an instrument

  • Smile!

Remember, you can’t change someone else, but you can change yourself. As you improve yourself, you’ll be happier and healthier. You’ll feel better about yourself, and you’ll help your marriage to be better.

“You cannot lift another soul until you are standing on higher ground than he is. You must be sure, if you would rescue the man, that you yourself are setting the example of what you would have him be. You cannot light a fire in another soul unless it is burning in your own soul.” –Harold B. Lee.


The best help for you and your spouse

The most important thing of all is to get your spouse on a plan to overcome his or her addiction, a game plan to win.

Here’s a game plan that really works, a proven plan that can set you both up to win. Your spouse can get on the road to freedom from sexual addiction today.


For a host of reasons, many men and women have a very skewed understanding about healthy sexuality. Click here for more information about Healthy Sexuality.

Overcoming negative contributing factors in unhealthy sexuality, such as porn addiction, sex addiction, and masturbation, is an important step in working toward healthy sex.

Click here for information about overcoming porn addiction.

Here’s great help for those struggling with a sex addiction.

Click here for information about sexual addiction recovery.

Return from Help for Spouses to Home: Overcoming Porn Addiction.