What One Husband Wants You to Know About Your Husband’s Struggle With Pornography - Ben Warnock - A Wife Like Me

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What One Husband Wants You to Know About Your Husband’s Struggle With Pornography – Ben Warnock

October 24, 2018

What One Husband Wants You to Know

About Your Husband’s Porn Addiction

My name is Ben, and last Sunday was my six month purity anniversary from porn and masturbation, praise be to God.


Somewhere between the ages of four and six I became aware of masturbation. When it first started, there were no thoughts of women or sex as I hadn’t made that connection yet. I just knew if I rubbed or touched a certain way, it felt amazing. There was not only a physical release but an emotional release as well.


Around the age of six, my dad sat me down and explained sex to me. I began to see the connection between masturbation and attraction to girls, and I soon discovered that thinking of women enhanced this experience.


In some very formative years, lust was given fertile ground in my heart. Though my struggle with porn is of course very sexual in nature, I believe it goes much deeper than that. Masturbation became an idol at a young age that I ran to that allowed me to escape, albeit temporarily, from reality.


This means that whether or not I wanted to admit it, porn was not only about sexual gratification but also about control. In moments of stress or anxiety, I could turn to pornography, where I chose exactly what I wanted to see.


As I grew older, I began to look at underwear ads in magazines and newspapers and other images of scantily clad women I could find, including late night television shows. By middle school I started to have access to the Internet, which was beginning to explode with pornography.  It was sometime in middle school that my masturbation reached a point where I did it once a day at a minimum.


I remember feeling as if a whole new world was opening to me. My parents knew of my struggles, and they did all they could to put a stop to my lustful behaviors. But time after time I found ways around their strict rules.


In high school, I still struggled mightily, but I began to feel shame and had periods where I wanted to quit. However, I never put many plans in place, and as the old adage goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.


College brought an even more intense level of porn addiction as I had Internet access 24/7 and no one to monitor my activity. I was very active in a church college ministry and had a discipleship group with a few men. As part of this group, I finally began to put plans into action.


I fought, I prayed, I confessed, I cried, and it was a battle. Fail after fail, I eventually gave up and let myself do as I pleased. Also around this time, I developed a powerful alcohol addiction, which took eight years of battling to overcome.


As alcoholism took the forefront of my attention, I put any fight for purity on the back burner. Occasionally I would make a push for purity, only to fail and regret even trying. It was a sin very few people saw, and if I could just get sober, then I figured I could tackle pornography. That was the lie the enemy continued to feed me, and I was happy to buy it.


Pornography was a part of my body that was slowly killing me. I hated it, but I did not know how to live without it. A big part of me wishes I had conquered this a long time ago, but God also had a beautiful redemption for me in my wife, Stephanie.


Before I go any further, I want to say that there is no formula. There is no step-by-step plan we can give that will guarantee victory.  There is a journey that Stephanie and I have been on, and there are things we learned that we believe can be helpful. But every person is different, every couple is different, and God’s plans for us are all unique.


I would like to share probably the biggest moment of breakthrough for me, which came through Stephanie.


The Shift

Our first seven months of dating we set clear boundaries – we were not physical in any way didn’t even spend time alone. We were intentional about being vulnerable and really getting to know each other. I had recently been making a push for purity, but as usual was slipping again, despite strong male accountability. Stephanie knew I was struggling with pornography.


One night we were talking on the phone, and I confessed that I had looked at porn the day before. I shared that I really wanted to watch porn again this night. I could hear in Stephanie’s voice that she was hurt, but said, “I love you more than I ever have before because you’re willing to be vulnerable and share your struggles.” And I knew she meant it.


I broke down and wept. This was grace as I had never experienced before from another human being. In a moment of shame and desire to quit trying, she saw my heart and accepted me for who I am.


She saw through my sin when my sin was all I could see.


I was defining myself by my temptation and failures, yet she saw me as a good man with incredible worth.


Isn’t this what Christ has done for us? He has seen us at our lowest point and said “I choose you, I love you, and I will lay down my life for you.” In that moment, my desires completely shifted, and I didn’t even want to look at porn anymore!


I wish I could say that I have not watched porn since that day, but I can say that my wife’s response of love was the beginning of a different kind of fight.


I was no longer fighting from a place of legalism or guilt/shame, but from a place of grace.


This was the beginning of a kind of exposing that had previously been foreign to me. I thought I was vulnerable in the past, but I never wanted to bring people in during the fight. I was happy (sometimes!) to confess when I fell, but rarely would I call an accountability partner before I sinned. Asking for forgiveness was much easier than asking for help. And I discovered through Stephanie that the more I expose, the easier the fight is.


The Fight

The reality of fighting porn in a relationship is that it cannot be done by only one person. If your husband is in a battle with pornography or masturbation or lust of any kind, he must be willing to fight. If he is not, your efforts to fix or change or genuinely help him will likely be in vain. Please don’t hear me saying to give up – prayer is powerful. God can and does touch men’s hearts through fervent prayers.


Whether or not he sees it this way, pornography is unfaithfulness. Let the Holy Spirit guide you in how best to work through this difficulty. In the same way, if your husband is fighting, but you are not willing to come alongside, he will find his battle to be significantly harder.


The way you come alongside your husband can look many different ways. Stephanie and I have found that her being my primary accountability is the most effective way for her to come alongside my addiction. I remember one day when I chose porn during our marriage. She came home, and we talked about it. She had committed in her mind to pursuing me that day because she knew I would feel like I didn’t deserve it (which I didn’t).


So after we talked, cried, and processed together, we made love, despite my hesitation. But that was such a profound way for her to come alongside me. Just like that day when we were still dating, she was choosing me and seeing the real me apart from my sin.


Please don’t hear me saying you should have sex with your husband whenever he messes up.  Sometimes a period of abstinence may be the best course of action. Coming alongside may mean giving him an afternoon to be alone or getting together with some guy friends.


Coming alongside means putting aside hurts to reach out in love. This can be excruciating at times, but also could make a world of difference. Again, coming alongside can look a thousand different ways, but it means calling out the good in him without enabling the sin.


A Key to Combatting Pornography

Stephanie and I relocated early on in our marriage, and so I lost some significant male accountability in my life. This put us in a situation where she was my main accountability as I built friendships in a new state.


I would not recommend this as a blueprint to follow for every couple, though I think regular openness with your spouse is essential. I would recommend that every man get Covenant Eyes for filtering/monitoring for all devices/computers. You can get their program by clicking here. The key is vulnerability, honesty, and bringing people into the fight before falling.


For me, it’s been Stephanie, but a man who your husband trusts and who is walking in purity can also be fantastic. A huge lie that often perpetuates porn addiction is that having your wife know every slip is only going to hurt her, and so it’s best to keep her in the dark. Certainly, she must be in a place to receive those kinds of hurts, but I think very often this is used as an excuse to keep sin hidden.


Often the pain we cause with our sin is the very means by which God means to purge it from our lives.  Every detail in every circumstance might be helpful to the marriage, but to shut out a wife to sin for fear of causing pain is also a very dangerous road.


I would be lying if I told you that porn didn’t have any enticement or promise of excitement. It does. But it’s short lived and immediately followed by shame.


Wives, it is important to remember that your husband’s struggle and possible addiction may have started long before you entered the picture. Whether or not that is the case, his choices to continue deeply hurt you, but they are not directed at you, and this will be an important part of learning to fight together. He should know how directly his porn hurts you because a lie I believed for many years is that pornography was somehow separated from my spouse. The reality is that his struggles directly affect you because you are now one flesh. While this may seem like bad news, we have found that this has been a powerful part of our victory. Recognizing our connectedness has opened doors of honesty, vulnerability and true change. Guilt and shame rarely bring meaningful change, but grace-filled truth has on our journey.


As our sex life has begun to flourish in both of our walks with purity, the rush of sexual excitement and pure joy that our marriage has is something that pornography cannot touch. I love my wife with all my heart. She is not only a huge reason I am walking victoriously today, but also my strongest motivation outside of Christ, and it truly is my joy to be on this journey with her.


To all wives, pornography is a powerful weapon trying to steal your husband’s love. But God’s love for both of you is stronger by far! I pray you would speak truth to him in love, call out the good in him, and take a stand against the enemy working on your husband through pornography.


-Ben Warnock

Ben was born in Kenya to missionary parents, is now married to his beautiful and hilarious wife Stephanie and they live in North Dakota. Ben battled an eight year alcohol addiction and has battled pornography addiction for most of his life. He graduated from teen challenge and has recently experienced victory from pornography.

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