Porn 101: Marriage Edition

Recently, during a class break, I was chatting with one of my students. Our previous hour I had been teaching about porn. He clearly had some urgent thoughts he wanted to share.

Confidently, he said, “I have struggled with porn, but I am soon getting married so it is no longer an issue. Once I get married I will be having sex with my wife, she will satisfy me, the porn will be a thing of the past.”  I calmly listened, not sure whether to laugh at the absurdity of what he was saying or cry at the tragedy of his deception.

But so many of us are saying, “Porn is terrible, that’s why I’m so glad our marriage doesn’t have a pornography problem!”  Here’s the deal. Unless you are actively talking, communicating and acting on the reality of porn then you, quite simply, are deceiving yourself. Too many of us have a fantasy world that simply is not reality (read my post on the reality of porn).

By “porn problem” I do not even mean that one or both of you is regularly engaging with porn. I simply mean you have a big bulls-eye on your marriage in this area.

Even if neither you nor your spouse has ever looked at porn (which is unlikely), we need to humbly say, “that could change tomorrow.”  All of us are tempted sexually. Even Jesus was tempted sexually (Heb 4:15). I’m guessing you and your spouse are not more pure, holy or stronger than God himself.

With this in mind, here are 4 ways I think we can practically protect our marriages:

Start Talking:
This is the hardest part. If you’ve never had this conversation with your spouse, then it won’t be easy. Perhaps the topic is embarrassing, you both avoid deeper issues, are afraid to be honest or hear your spouse be honest. It may be painful, embarrassing or scary… but do it.

Today, go to your spouse and say, “I read this crazy lady’s blog and it got me thinking… we should make sure that we are protecting our marriage against porn.”

My friends, if I had one prayer for you it would be this, “Lord, let them talk”. That’s it, just start the conversation. Stop being passive and living in a dream that porn is an issue for every marriage but ours. Stop thinking, “I will never look at it again”.  If you need help because of what you might hear or what you have to say, get a trusted friend to help… but do it. Talk.

Keep Talking:
Once you have started the conversation, keep it going. This is a conversation that should be happening for the rest of your married life. You should both agree to actively protect your marriage, in this area, as long as you both shall live.

Remember, this isn’t based on your past or if one or both of you have a problem with porn. It is based on humble wisdom: “We live in a porn-filled world and we are both tempted sexually. Therefore, we will walk in a way that assumes we are susceptible at any time.” Check-ins don’t have to be daily or weekly but they should be regular. There should be the freedom to simply ask one another, “how are you doing in this area?”.

Take Action:
After you have the conversation going, talk about practical safe-guards. These are steps which will bring safety and build trust in your marriage.

Each of you can tell the other two things:
1. Knowing my own weaknesses, these are steps I should take.
2. It would bring me peace if you did this.

So, you are both saying things you need to do for yourself. But, you are also telling the other person what you would like from them.

At a minimum, you should both be putting safe-guards on all devices that have access to the internet.  X3Watch.com  has free and paid apps for all computers and devices.  You can also turn on SafeSearch for Google on all devices.

What are other practical steps? Perhaps one of you sets a self-imposed limit on the types of movies you watch because it’s just not helpful. Or maybe if you are traveling alone, more strict steps are put in place. We had a friend who asked my husband to call him daily while traveling alone, just to check in on how he was doing and provide accountability. Another friend calls hotels before hand and requests that all paid TV is turned off. His wife knows he does this. It’s different for each person, but think of practical steps, communicate them to each other and start taking action.

Make it a Community Effort
I highly recommend both the husband and wife have a friend, outside the marriage, that they are accountable to. Women and men can have different views, experiences and struggles in sexual temptation.

I once knew a couple that were struggling with his porn problem. They were trying to do the right thing, so he was telling her every time he was tempted to look at porn. She couldn’t handle it, it was devastating to her. It would have been so much better if he had another male friend whom he could go to, be honest with and get the support he needed.

Both my husband and I have close friends that we talk to about these deeply personal topics and we know who they are for each of us. It is so helpful to us that we are not alone in protecting our marriage for life!

Start talking, keep talking, take action and make it a community effort.  What other ideas would you add?

*Please be aware that if you have a serious, compulsive and ongoing struggle with pornography I would strongly suggest that you talk to a mature friend, pastor or counsellor, before telling your spouse. Get their help and input on a way forward which gives the support that will be needed for both you and your spouse.

Lindsey