For Men Addicted to Porn: 8 Ways to Rebuild Trust with Your Wife

Men a woman discovers her husband has been watching porn behind her back, it can feel absolutely devastating. It is a traumatic discovery in the truest sense of the word—the wife undergoes terrible trauma. These women often begin to doubt themselves, caught in the immense insecurity of feeling the need to compete with her husband’s secret world of fantasy. She feels trapped in a relationship where her husband professes commitment to her yet seems incapable or unwilling to put porn behind him.

Women in this situation are, not surprisingly, angry, lonely, exhausted, and despairing.

Men, if this describes your wife, what can you do to reassure her of your love and devotion, despite the fact that you haven’t gotten to the bottom of your pornographic obsession yet?

I want to give you eight real, concrete ideas about what to do and what not to do.

Keep in mind: building trust takes time. These aren’t quick fixes, but they are steps in the right direction.


There might be many factors that play into your porn habits. Perhaps you were exposed to porn when you were very young. Perhaps you received very little sexual education from your parents and explored porn as a way to learn. Perhaps you believe your habits have escalated to something like an addiction, and you feel hopelessly out of control.

Your wife should hear these things, but she should also know that you don’t for a minute treat them as excuses. Regardless of how outside forces or biological factors have played a role in your life, you are responsible for your own actions. Tell your wife you take full responsibility for your actions and for your recovery.

2. Acknowledge that you know but don’t fully know your sin’s impact

Your wife should hear you say—out loud with words—that you know your actions have impacted her and your marriage. Tell her, “I know I have crippled your trust in me. I know you probably won’t believe what I say, at least for a while, and I don’t blame you. I know you may not feel like being nice to me, and you may not even feel safe with me, and again, I don’t blame you.” She needs to know that you get that she is in pain.

At the same time, she should also hear you say that you can’t really comprehend her pain. Say to her, “I won’t pretend to really understand how difficult this is for you, but I want to understand it better.” Promise her that you will listen to her—uninterrupted—and let her vent her unfiltered shock, fear, confusion, and anger. Then really listen to her and resist the urge to be defensive.

3. Remind your wife she is not to blame

It is common for women to feel as if your problem at least partially rests with them. If they had only been more _____, you wouldn’t have gone down this path of fantasy. You must remind your wife that this is a lie.

4. Purge all access points to porn

Make sure you do everything in your power to close the doors of temptation and let your wife know what you are doing.

This is important for two reasons. First, it is an important way to check your pride. It is easy to feel like you are treating yourself like a child, like all the safeguards you could put in place are a bit overboard. But remember, the exact opposite is true. It takes a mature man to acknowledge where he is weak. Bypurging your life of potential access points, you are taking responsibility for yourself and your marriage.

Second, it shows your wife exactly what she needs to see: that you are taking this seriously—that you love her more than your iPhone, more than unmonitored time online, more than your route to work that passes the adult book store, more than your private e-mail account, more than your secluded life where no one knows the real you or the real temptations you face.

5. Find man-to-man accountability

Your habit of pornography has thrived in the darkness of secrecy, and it will be killed in the light of accountability.

Here’s what I mean by accountability: an accountability relationship is one where you not only discuss how you are struggling, but also give someone permission to remind you of the kind of person you want to be. Accountability is not so much someone else calling you out on your faults, but someone else calling you up to the kind of man and husband you want to become.

Please, don’t put all of this on your wife. Of course, your wife might want to be supportive of you, and that is wonderful, and of course you should be honest with her, but you need other men to support you. Another man will be more likely to understand the nuances of your struggle. He will be more likely to see past your pretenses and excuses and give you the kind of advice you really need.

The last thing you wife really needs, in addition to being your wife, is being your mother, your counselor, and your accountability partner.

6. Don’t have a secret recovery life

It is easy for men who have been in the habit of secrecy with porn to develop a habit of secrecy when it comes to their recovery from porn. Don’t do this to your wife.

How can your wife ever trust you again if she doesn’t know what you’re doing to change? Tell her what your triggers have been in the past and how you plan to deal with them in the future. Tell her about the books you are reading. Tell her about the advice your counselors or mentors are telling you, and tell her how you are living out that advice.

7. Encourage her to seek advice and help

Encourage your wife to talk to someone else about her feelings of hurt, betrayal, and confusion. You might have this gut instinct to guard your precious reputation and dissuade your wife from talking to anyone about how she feels. The opposite should be true: you should be your wife’s biggest supporter when it comes to her getting outside help.

Often women don’t want or feel they need any help—after all, you’re the one with the problem, right? Wrong. Your problem has spilled over into her life and caused her great trauma, and no one should have to face that kind of trauma alone.

8. Be ridiculously patient with her

You might easily get frustrated with how slow it seems the trust building is going. You might be thinking: “I don’t get it. I told her I was sorry. I am making changes. Why doesn’t she trust me yet?” From your perspective, your longtime secret is out and your life is different now, but you need to stand in your wife’s shoes. For some men, they’ve spent years hiding from their wife. For some men, they’ve spent years consuming countless hours of porn. One decision to change or a short track record of changed behavior doesn’t easily erase that. Forgiveness can be given in a moment, but trust takes time.

Be patient with her. Don’t expect her to “be over this” because the secret is out. Your behavior over time will be your wife’s trust barometer.

If you want help really understanding your wife’s perspective, download the free book, Porn and Your Husband. It will give you and your spouse proactive ideas about how to move forward.

Written By Matt Fradd

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