Husband and pornography

I’m sure that this is a frequent issue here but need some help/advice. I found my husband masterbating late at night and he doesn’t know that I saw him. He was in our basement and he appeared to have his phone with him so I can only assume he was probably also watching porn. I’m pretty shocked by it as well as devistated. We just found out I’m pregnant but it’s not like I’m not around for him. I’m also upset because while it was late at night, it could just as easily have been one of our kids (toddlers) that saw it.

Again, he doesn’t know that I know but I’m going to have to address it and I don’t know how. It’s been a couple days and I can’t look him in the eyes and really have no desire to be with him physically now after what I saw. I don’t get it. We practice NFP but haven’t been abstaining at all and actively tried to conceive. How do I approach him? Do I just ask him if he has been watching porn and take the conversation from there?

Thank you for your help!

Edited to add: I did do a search and have reviewed similar posts, I just need to know how to open up the conversation without him shutting down on me, which is how he tends to respond if he feels attacked. I also don’t want to embarrass him, I want to find a solution to it

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“I went down to the basement about 1 AM on Tuesday, so, we need to talk about it.”


Sunshineseeker, it’s natural that you went looking for him when he wasn’t beside you in your bedroom.

At this moment I’m just feeling for you, and will be praying that you can deal with this, and that your husband will honestly face the matter and be prepared to respect you and your marriage relationship.

He needs to overcome this and fully commit to you and your marriage,
but you have had your trust betrayed and need help and need recovery regarding your ability to trust him again,
Additionally, your self-esteem as woman and wife has taken a heavy blow.

I ask our heavenly Mother to intercede for you, your husband, you marriage relationship

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To be honest I wouldn’t bother tip-toeing around it. He must know this would hurt you if you discovered it.

I’d just say: I saw you masturbating the other night. It really hurt me that you’d do this.

You could just leave it at that. The ball is in his court then.

Presumably he is ashamed of his actions himself and he will then come to you to try to make it up and talk about it.

I did speak with him and he told me he wasn’t looking at porn, but rather YouTube videos of women in swimsuits. I do believe him on this, not that it makes things much better. He was very remorseful and is beating himself up about it. But it’s been going on for a long time, since before we met. He knows it’s a mortal sin obviously and doesn’t receive the Eucharist until going to confession and that’s the big thing I’m worried about, his soul. But also where to go from here? Counseling? Together or individually? can anyone recommend an online/virtual Catholic counselor? thank you for your help!

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I think you should both face the possibility that he may be addicted to this behaviour and over time has basically relied on this to “sort him out”. Perhaps he believes you aren’t available. (not that that’s an excuse).

Possibly you should see a Catholic counsellor. It’s also possible you could try to tackle the behaviour together first. Perhaps he would install an accountability app on his devices and agree to talk to his SD or confessor in more detail about the temptations he has to do this.

If it is a habit, built up over time, you may take some comfort from the fact that it may not be in the realm of mortal sin right now, as habit can be a mitigating circumstance.

As well, if he’s beating himself up about it, it’s likely because he realises he screwed up big time and he really wants to make it up to you.

A word of advice to help in this area, I personally find that nothing reduces temptation like an active lifestyle with very little idleness. A bit of exercise and a full schedule is the best thing to keep the mind from wandering toward sexual thoughts.

You’ll be in the prayers.

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Thank you! He definitely knows he screwed up. He was worried I wanted a divorce, etc, which I don’t. I’d like to try tackling this on our own first, then counselors if we don’t make progress. Exercise is a great idea. I run to relieve stress/anxiety but he is pretty sedentary, so it would be good for him in more ways than one. I don’t want to babysit him and I don’t want to be looking over his shoulder, I want him to change for him and for us. It’s really out of left field for me, I feel like a failure and just need to wrap my head around everything.

For your husband, women in swimsuits is his porn. For some people it is women in high heels, for some it is various other arousal things.

I’d really suggest that both of you read this book: The Porn Myth: Exposing the Reality Behind the Fantasy of Pornography by Matt Fradd. It is available on Amazon and even as a Kindle book. It is a secular work written by a serious, orthodox Catholic.

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thank you, I ordered the book and look forward to reading it!

Covenant Eyes is a reasonable measure for every man, woman, and family.

The Great Porn Experiment video on YouTube.

He knows it’s a mortal sin obviously and doesn’t receive the Eucharist until going to confession and that’s the big thing I’m worried about, his soul.

Let’s not make assumptions on his soul since only God can do that. Yes, masturbation and pornography are serious sins however we do not know the level of freedom his brain has to choose to these things (see the above video for more info). If it is a deep addiction, his soul may or may not be mortal danger. Leave that between him and his confessor.

john1513, you are completely right and I don’t want to give the impression that I’m making judgments about his soul! I know I cannot do that, but it’s difficult not to be concerned about something like that when it is someone that you love. I was poorly catechized and am a ‘re-vert’ myself and he was the one who explained Humane Vite to me… so I feel even more lost about this whole thing. There is a compulsive/habit aspect to his behavior for sure and I’m just trying to reconcile this whole thing with what I thought our marriage was about and it’s tough. I will check out the resources you mentioned, thank you!

Be concerned, but remember mercy. Internet porn is relatively new and we do not fully know the effects it has on the mind. Some say the neurochemicals released can rival illegal drugs but unlike drugs, internet porn is free, easily accessible, socially acceptable, and in infinite supply. As Gary Wilson points out, modern man can see more naked women in 15 minutes than all of his ancestors combined. Nothing could have possibly prepared the adult brain (let alone the adolescent or child brain) for internet porn (average age of exposure to porn is now 11 years old).

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We found it impossible to find a councilor that agreed that pornography viewing was harmful for a marriage. At best even supposed Christian councilors viewed it as an issue only because we felt it was not because it was in anyway unhealthy. At worst I was, essentially, called uptight and controlling. Awesome. Even our priest wasn’t very helpful at explaining how to go about changing behavior.

So, what worked for him/us?

First, we read (listened via Audible) Worthy of Her Trust it discusses situations that were far FAR worse than what we were dealing with but it helped my husband understand just how hurtful his actions were to me. This may or may not be helpful to you; it would depend on how betrayed you felt.

Second book, Every Man’s Battle, this one was the key for my husband to understand what visual stimulation did to him, why it was difficult to stop, and gave him concrete ways to both avoid temptation and what to do when he did feel tempted. It also helped me to listen to the book as it further affirmed what my husband had been telling me, specifically, that it wasn’t anything I had done or didn’t do that was contributing to his behavior.

We went with Accountable2You software and then locked down his phone and tablet from being able to use any other apps to access the net and deleted social media apps from his phone.

My husband had a similar habit as yours and I had a similarly awkward discovery. He had been introduced to porn at a young age but had reduced and eliminated the harder stuff. The “not really porn” images were the hardest to resist as they were SO available; he didn’t have to hunt for that stuff.

Anyway, we are still rebuilding trust. I still get anxious at times but working together on this has actually strengthen our marriage.

Sunshineseeker, it looks like you are off to a good start with the advice on this thread, your good communication with your husband, and your love and compassion.

I don’t have a lot of advice except to keep it positive. Rather than dwell on what’s wrong and feel disappointed, look toward the better future you desire, and take steps to get there. You are already thinking like that, and that’s great.

It’s like climbing a mountain. You encounter obstacles, but the summit can still be attained by a different approach.

Let us pray! May the Holy Spirit strengthen and guide your husband and you always toward faith, hope, and love… and virtue.


In my haste, I forgot to elaborate on this:

You can have future goals that are negative, like no porn, not supporting the porn industry, no masturbation, and avoiding mortal sin. These are surely good goals, but they fix the mind on the evil that you are trying to avoid.

It is better to envision and articulate positive goals, like respect for women, giving yourself fully to your spouse, building trust in your marriage, doing the right thing, finding true happiness, being right with God, … and what else? You and your husband could talk about your hopes and dreams, whatever they may be, and make them the goals that you work toward. :two_hearts:


JetteZ, Thank you for sharing your experience and the resources that helped you. I’m wary of therapy because of the difficulties you mentioned along with the fact that with a few toddlers and another baby on the way, therapy would be hard to fit in. We’d make it work if we had to but I’d like to try the things you tried first and see how it goes.

Id like to try the accountability software but would it work for G rated YouTube videos? My husband says he watches women in bathing suits, that he will be fine but then YouTube will show him lists of suggested videos that send him into a spiral. I guess just stay off YouTube?

I know that experts or books will say that there is little I could have done to prevent this or it’s not a lack on my part but it’s so tough to actually really believe that. He says he doesn’t want anyone but me but how do I actually believe that?

Edited to add: and I’m so sorry that you had so much trouble being taken seriously! i live in an extremely liberal area where moral relativism rules all. I’m sure I’d be called controlling just like you were (how awful for you!). It’s difficult to explain the issues our faith has with masterbating/porn to our culture, and until I came back into the faith myself I never would’ve seen the issue with this

Thank you RandomAlias. I will try to focus on the positive, moving forward instead of dwelling on it. I don’t mean to punish him by being hurt and upset by it. He is genuinely sorry… he seems to completely understand the gravity of it all (which almost makes it worse in a way? He knowingly had been damaging our relationship etc., but I digress). I hope that this brings him closer to God somehow, that he learns to rely on God when tempted. I’d love to see his faith strengthened and hope I can facilitate his spiritual growth by being whatever he needs instead of being angry… I just need a few more days!!

Sorry. Take your time. It’s easy for me to tell you to be positive; easier said than done. I don’t even practice what I preach at all times, but I’ll keep working on it!

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Don’t apologize, your advice is sound! I’ll be upset but showing it won’t help, focusing on the positive is the way to go :slight_smile:

The software we used technically doesn’t block anything; it requires all phone internet browsing be done through it’s app and then I get a report for all activity and alerts for any questionable activity. We deleted independent apps for anything that could access questionable material.

We also turned on, essentially, the parental controls the iPhone and iPad come with to disable private browsing, inable filtering and turn off the ability to download or delete apps. I’m the only one who has the password. My understanding is that iPhone has a lot of security features that cause monitoring software to not work for other apps which is why we deleted them. If he has an android device it may work better.

Regarding not being down on yourself, yeah, it is REALLY hard to not take that personally. Every Man’s Battle really helped me to get it and release some of the hurt. I can try to explain… so, whenever a guy sees an attractive woman they get a rush, a hormonal high. They feel good. Through a lifetime of seeing women and feeling good it becomes a crutch whenever they feel bad (for my husband this was times of stress). It doesn’t make it ok, it’s still hurtful, but it really isn’t men thinking their wives are unattractive. They really aren’t thinking about us at all. They just want to feel good and the internet is rediculously available. It’s not always an addiction (though it can be and I’m sure you can see the similarities).

I hope that helps. I also don’t want you to think I’m trivializing your pain. It is painful. I cried a lot, he cried a lot; but, we survived and our marriage got better. He feels better not carrying around lies and guilt. He does worry sometimes about messing up and has some other books in line to read specifically about this topic. He has found the reading about overcoming sexual impurity and other religious marriage books to be a powerful deterrent.

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