How to Rebuild a Marriage Ravaged by Porn! Part 1

By Biz Gainey

I am not a counselor, nor am I a psychiatrist.

I am not a therapist who works with those addicted to porn or other life-draining addictions.

I am a man who has walked and continues to walk his way out of porn addiction into the joy of and struggle for a porn-free life.

As such, though I have read and studied dozens of books and resources related to porn addiction, nearly everything I write is birthed from my personal journey out of porn and into freedom.

Over the next few weeks, I am going to build a series of posts related to the steps that I, along with my family, have taken that have led me out of porn addiction and into my truest self.

It is, I hope, a message that provides both encouragement and equipment for those who deeply desire to have intimacy restored in their home and to flourish together in their marriage and relationships.

I began my marriage rebuilding process nearly two decades ago.  I have learned much through a multitude of failures and a host of victories.  Each failure stemmed from an unwillingness or inability to live by established convictions related to freedom and hope.  Each victory has been birthed in the vibrant soil of these core convictions and produced an ever growing and always maturing plant deeply rooted in the goodness of life and graciousness of God. 

While I do not assume my personal convictions to be normative, I suspect they may be helpful for others who hope to rebuild their marriage from the brokenness of porn.  As such, this post will lay the framework for some core convictions that are central to one’s journey into a porn-free life.

Core Convictions as We Rebuild From the Brokenness                                          

1.       Porn is bad.  This sounds simple, but it is, unfortunately, a conviction not shared by all.  Many are convinced that porn consumption and addiction poses no real threat to themselves or those around them.  If you are going to rebuild from the brokenness, then you need to affirm this core conviction: Porn steals life and, as such, brings death!

2.       Playing the victim Will Never Lead to Victory.  The choice to play the victim is an easy one for an addict to choose! And, honestly, it's partly correct. Indeed, an addict becomes a victim of his/her behavior. An addict often feels like a victim: as if there is no other choice but to consume porn and feed the sexual perversion. Playing the victim usually means, however, that one is refusing to own up to one’s behavior. This response is a dead end and could ultimately lead to the death of all one loves and holds dear.  If you are going to rebuild from the brokenness, then this default response must stop.

3.       Self–Preservation is Not the Place to Stay. This choice is but one step removed from the previous one. When I would enter a self-preservation pattern, I usually did so before I got caught. I would hide all the evidence, delete the history, pretend I was somewhere I wasn't, etc. Self-preservation tends to become the default orientation of those trapped in pornography. There is a subtle danger to this response. The practice of self-preservation leads us into patterns of isolation, deception, and mistrust. Once trapped in this world, we find it is very hard to break free. In fact, this is what I call the compounding shame phase of the addiction. Already shamed by the addiction, we compound our shame by entering a self-preservation pattern.  This pattern is designed to continually hide the addiction. Shame, invariably, moves one back into the first response of playing the victim.  If one is to rebuild from the brokenness of porn, then openness, accountability, and confession will need to replace this common practice.

4.       Don’t Swim in the Cesspool of Guilt and Shame.  Guilt and shame are not friends of the addict seeking recovery.  You will, however, experience guilt when you act out.  It’s easy for the addict to feed this beast because he or she feels so overwhelmed by the outcomes.  I find it helpful to bring my guilt to a trusted friend and ask him to help me process where I am on this journey.  Often, after a time of meaningful sharing and reflection, I am able to see how far I have come even as I realize a long journey lies yet ahead.

5.       Authenticity and Accountability Must Become the New Normal.  I am always going to be a recovering porn addict, or a porn addict in recovery.  By that I mean, I must always be on my guard against a relapse or falling back into the pull of porn’s power.  I learned early on that ongoing and deeply authentic accountability is now the new normal.  There is never a time when I will be outside of accountability.  I have installed software protection on every device and screen I own.  I allow my wife access to my calendar, schedule, and daily routine.  She also has all the passwords related to my accountability software.  I routinely meet with men who struggle and engage in authentic relationships designed to nurture wholeness and health! 

6.       Though Porn Ends in Death, it Will Not End in MY Death.  For those who are rebuilding a marriage and family from the brokenness of porn, hope is an indispensable gift of a loving God!  As long as one has breath in the lungs, there can be redemption in the heart!  The more I experienced freedom from porn, the more I discovered hidden talents and gifts I did not know I had.  As you discover your own talents and gifts - hope will prevail!  When feeling trapped by or pulled into the lure of porn, go out and utilize your talents and gifts in a productive and life-affirming way!

If you are a hoping to rebuild your marriage, home, and life from the brokenness of your addiction, these responses or default behaviors will never take you where you most truly long to go or allow you to be the person you most truly long to be!  These responses are, more importantly, not the only options from which the recovering porn addict has to choose!

There is another response that will lead to other options and more redemptive outcomes.  We will begin there in our next post.

Until then, why not take this blog to your spouse and work together on building from the brokenness in the hope that wholeness is on the way.

Remember, as ones who have been there and done that, we are here to walk with you and assist you on your long journey home.

If you find our resources to helpful to you and those you love, we ask that you share them with your friends, neighbors, and communities.

Together we can experience a porn-free life and help usher in the end of porn addiction in our lifetime!