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3 Things I wish I had known 10 years ago about porn addiction

3 Things I wish I had known 10 years ago about porn addiction

I tried so hard and so long to fix the problem of porn in my marriage. You name it, I tried it: being understanding, being hurt, being angry, even being more sexual. But nothing I did made any difference. 

Contrary to marital advice I was given, the way to help a husband who is struggling with porn isn’t to gracefully turn a blind eye, nor is it to simply have lots of sex. Porn addiction, along with gaming and gambling addictions, is an example of a process addiction where the “drug" is released by the brain itself, as opposed to being smoked, injected or ingested. Now, if my husband was a gambling addict, I doubt anyone would have advised me to “fix” him by providing him with a large suitcase of cash. No, it is widely understood that gambling addicts are addicted to the thrill, not the cash itself.  Less known, though, is that porn works exactly the same way. 

1.  More or “better” sex is not the answer.

People are not using porn because there is something lacking in their sex life. The real reason they choose porn is to experience the cocktail of highly pleasurable neurochemicals that their brain releases when they watch it. Yes, of course, marital sex can certainly make you feel good, but because of the way the brain responds to the supernormal stimulus of porn, it’s a bit like comparing a satisfying Sunday roast with cocaine. You are never going to be able to compete with the supercharged artificial high of porn. Even porn stars themselves have come forward and admitted that in real life they can’t compete with their partner’s porn habit. 

2. Zero tolerance is the only way. 

The only effective way to help a husband who struggles with porn is to draw a firm line in the sand. Any advice that has you doing anything other than putting up strong boundaries — no matter how “Christian” it is made to sound — is actually enabling the hook of addiction to sink in further. Early intervention is tough love. But to a man in captivity, it is exactly the kind of love he needs. 

3. The sooner you can take action the better.

Heavy porn use not only hijacks the reward center of the brain but it also impairs the prefrontal cortex. In other words, people who are addicted to porn are literally unable to think straight and make rational decisions. Even though a person may dearly love their spouse, and is desperate to stay married, their weakened impulse control cannot compete against the cravings. Waiting for your husband to reach out for help when he is metaphorically drowning in porn is not only hindering God from speaking to your husband through you, it is also dangerous.

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What you need to really need to understand is that porn addiction is a progressive disease. Just like with any other drug, eventually users develop tolerance and are required to take a stronger and stronger dose to achieve the same hit. In the case of porn, this means seeking out darker and more extreme material. This is how porn users end up over their head and sometimes watching or doing things that violate their own values, or worse.  

God created us as sexual beings and knows under what circumstances we will thrive and flourish. He also knows what will happen to us, and those around us, when we stray outside his boundaries and pursue our own desires without limits. The boundaries that God has placed around our sexual behavior are not there to punish us but to protect us. The sooner you can get the porn out of your marriage, the sooner God can restore your husband back to his right mind, and rebuild the level of trust and intimacy in your relationship. And remember, asking your husband to stop watching porn is not you enforcing your will on him, it’s drawing you both back under the protective wing of your heavenly Father.  

With ten years of porn-free married life behind us, my husband and I are living proof that a joyful, playful, and intimate marriage after porn addiction is possible. I just wish I had known how to fight effectively for my marriage sooner. 

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Rosie Makinney is a writer, speaker, and podcaster, who ten years ago entered the fight against her husband’s compulsive porn use. Through her faithful and uncompromising stance and his repentance, counseling, and group work, their marriage is now porn-free. From the very beginning of her journey, Rosie has been bold and relentless about reaching other wives struggling with porn-invaded marriages. There is now a thriving recovery community on the central coast of California, supervised by her husband, Mark, a certified sexual addiction therapist. Rosie is the founder of Fight For Love Ministries, which empowers women with both the facts and the faith to fight against porn addiction and its effects on them, their spouses, and their families. Connect with her at www.fightforloveministries.org.

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