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Your Boundaries With Your Sexually Addicted Husband – Karla Downing

November 28, 2018

Your Boundaries With Your Sexually Addicted Husband

If you’ve found evidence that your husband is dealing with a pornography or sexual addiction and has been hiding it from you, you might feel shocked, appalled, disgusted, and fearful – along with feeling less attractive. You aren’t alone.


While men may tell their wives that “all men do it and it’s no big deal,” it is a big deal to their wives. When a woman’s husband looks at other women—even if he never touches them—it feels like he has been cheating.


While your first instinct may be to tell your husband that he must stop, you cannot make him stop and you cannot do enough policing to make sure he never does it again.  You can decide what you need to do to take care of yourself.


Here are some questions you will need to consider:


  1.  Under what conditions will I stay with him? Will you stay if he gets in a 12 Step Program, goes to counseling, has a sponsor, puts locks on the computer, gives you his passwords, reveals everything he has done, takes a lie detector test, or changes jobs? These are all things women often need to feel secure. Remember, you aren’t demanding he do these things. You are coming to terms with what you need to stay. It is about you; it is not about him.
  2. What will I do to find out the whole truth now and later? Will you check the computer, email accounts, financial records, and other records to find out about the past?  How long will you continue to check these? Generally, it is best to check them to find out the truth about the past and to let go of checking them obsessively in the future.
  3. Understanding that slips are part of recovery, how will you react to them? If your husband continues to work a program and is committed to his sobriety/recovery, will you forgive and understand his slips? Setting a firm boundary of no slips ever again is comforting because it feels like a way to make sure it doesn’t happen, but it is unrealistic especially at the beginning of recovery. Instead, get into a program of recovery yourself so that you are surrounded with other people/women who understand the addiction recovery process and can help you determine whether your husband is still committed to his recovery after a slip. True repentance includes being honest and remorseful and recommitting to sobriety.
  4.  What proof do I need that he is abstinent and is continuing to get healthy? Sex addicts need to participate in both individual therapy and a 12 Step group to heal and to maintain abstinence. The wife also needs individual counseling and a 12 Step group for wives of sex addicts. Later, couples can do marital counseling together. In addition, there are signs that the husband is getting healthier and they include a willingness to show his wife proof that he isn’t acting out without getting angry, openness about his past, humility and grieving over the pain caused to his wife, and a desire to establish intimacy in the marriage through a new level of vulnerability and honesty.
  5.  Who will I tell and how much? You need to decide if you are going to tell your friends, family, children, pastor and other church members. This depends on how much people already know, what it takes to get accountability for your husband, the age of your children, and what you need to get support for yourself.


Don’t worry if you aren’t ready to set these boundaries. It takes a while to get clear enough to know the answers to each of these. In the meantime, get support for yourself because knowing how to deal with your husband’s sexual addiction takes wisdom which comes from those who have been here before you.


If you’re done allowing pornography to rule your mind, try for free for 30 days or purchase the safeguard that Covenant Eyes provides, here.


To read what one husband with a pornography addiction would like to tell you, read this. Here are scriptures to pray if pornography has been a part of your marriage. If you’ve found out that your husband has been viewing pornography, read this, and this. 

Wife Step:

  • If you suspect your husband has a sex addiction, what will you do to find out the truth?
  • If you know your husband has a sex addiction, will you get support for yourself?
  • If you already have support, will you begin to work on these boundaries for yourself?  

Karla Downing, the founder of, offers Christian marriage help and Christian relationship help as a speaker, author, counselor, and Bible study teacher. Karla grew up in a dysfunctional family and then found herself struggling with Christian codependency in her own difficult marriage. Through her personal struggles, she discovered biblical and practical principles, which she now teaches to others. She also trains counselors, pastors, women’s ministry leaders, church leaders, small-group leaders, non-profit ministry leaders, and individuals to minister to Christians in difficult relationships. Karla’s passion is to see individuals, marriages, and families set free from the chains of dysfunction, misunderstanding, and emotional pain through a correct understanding of what the Bible teaches about relationships.

Karla Downing is the author of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association 2004 Silver Medallion Award winner, 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages. Her second book, When Love Hurts: 10 Principles to Transform Difficult Relationships, applies the same principles to all family members. Her third book, The Truth in the Mirror: A Guide to Healthy Self-Image, offers a unique and life-changing approach to looking at self-image.

She holds a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from Hope International University. Karla also holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Communicative Disorders from California State University, Fullerton. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a licensed Speech Language Pathologist. Karla was also the director of Friends in Recovery, a Christ-based, Twelve-Step recovery program.

Karla lives in Southern California. She has been married for over thirty years and has three adult daughters.

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