Pornography and infidelity

My husband and I have been married for twelve years and we have six children. We have always had a good intimate relationship and experience the marital act whenever we can, (given that we have six small kids and are currently trying to avoid pregnancy,) about three or four times a week three weeks a month. We never argue, maybe once a year or less. We have what I have always thought of as a really great marriage, in other words.

My husband usually awakens before I do. The other day I woke up earlier than usual and he was not in the dining room or kitchen, so I went to his home office to say good morning. I opened the door and could see a nude woman moving on the computer screen as my husband scrambled to cover himself. I said “What are you doing?!” and he said, in a small voice, “looking at porn.” I closed the door and walked off in shock. I came back a minute later and we had the first of a few conversations about it.

He says he has done it maybe two or three times and that he knows it is wrong, and he is very sorry. I am so incredibly hurt and I feel so betrayed. He was doing it while I am fertile, he says, and that’s the only times. He told me he was thinking of me, not the women on the screen. I find all of this difficult to believe.

The worst part is the feeling of being hit out of the blue. I am absolutely available to my husband in an intimate way whenever i can be, I am attractive, and I am fit. I am not shrewish. I swear, I thought we had everything right!

I love him so much, and our life, and our family together. How can I trust him again? The rollercoaster of emotion is awful. I think I am kind of past it and then I’m not.

I know many non Catholics might thing this is not a big deal and I should just be uncaring. But to me it is like he committed adultery. I know the pain of adultery must be lke this but so much worse, I don’t mean to liken my pain to that of a betrayed spouse, but it is that way in kind.

I don’t even know why I posted, or what I’m looking for here. I’m just so hurt. I hope this is not too explicit a topic for this forum but I was unsure of where to go.

Thanks for pouring out your heart at such a vulnerable time. You must be suffering immensely and I pray that the Holy Spirit will comfort you in this difficult time.

My few pieces of advice are:

  • Your husband’s love for you is not affected by this. Porn is not the same as adultery, there is not another woman. He is looking at it for gratification, sexual pleasure, but not to “be with another woman”. If that makes sense.

  • He is ashamed of himself. He was embarrassed. Sometimes our temptations get the better of us, and it is difficult for some men to resist. Again, it’s not about you.

  • Good men normally don’t have an affair, but a lot of men struggle with porn, maybe half. I’m not sure the stats.

  • Don’t hate him. Continue to be his life partner.

  • Take up this cross.

  • I think you must try to first love yourself. Your life should be based on Christ’s love for you, and not on any fallible human being, like your husband. Make sure you love yourself, then you can deal with the other stuff.

  • God loves you.

Speaking as someone who’s been on the other side of the fence, so to speak, I can tell you that you have every right to feel hurt and disrespected by what happened. Short of actual adultery, it’s one of the most disrespectful things a spouse can do. The fact that he did it demeans you and cheapens your relationship. It also skews his views on normal sexuality and his image of you (and all women). He said he’s only done it two or three times before, but it’s likely closer to 2-3 times per week (and, no, not just when you’re fertile). No matter what he tells you, he’s not thinking of you while he’s doing it (he wouldn’t need the videos if that were the case), and he’s more than likely (as in, definitely) thinking of the women on the screen when he’s with you.

Now, all that being said, it doesn’t mean he loves you any less, or that he’s even a bad person. It’s not something he has to do (even if he says otherwise), and giving it up will certainly be beneficial to both of you. Talk to him and explain how hurt you are. Tell him that it’s disrespectful to you and your children. He may not think it’s a big deal, but it really is. If he doesn’t quit, it will not get any better. I have a friend who has a long-term pornography addiction. He convinced his wife that it’s not a big deal and even managed to get her watching it with him. They’re seldom intimate without it anymore.

Plenty of people (possibly even your husband) will tell you it’s normal and not an issue. “Everyone looks at porn!” No, they don’t. Even discounting the sinful aspects of it, it has a detrimental influence on anyone who watches it. It sets up unrealistic expectations and perverts your sexual outlook. It doesn’t just objectify the women on the screen but every female your husband looks at. Ask him how he’d feel if your kids found him “enjoying” his porn, or if they found the links, pictures and videos on the computer (which, let’s face it, he’s likely downloaded plenty, if not purchased movies, magazines, etc.).

I may be coming across a bit harshly, but it’s not something you want in your life. If your husband was willing to admit to doing it two to three times, I’m certain beyond words that he’s done it a vast deal more. Giving it up and changing his outlook may be a struggle, but it’s one that’s worth it. He’ll cherish and respect you more, and he’ll feel better about himself. Good luck.

Contrary to what Gordon Sims says, I would give him the benefit of the doubt when he says he’s thinking about you when it comes to watching porn.

Because he love you, he won’t demean you, and thus he turns to simulated sex to relieve himself over. Even if he does get carried away with the actual women on screen, he probably is thinking about you all the time he does it, because it’s not exactly the most guilt-free thing to do.

Nevertheless, it is something you need to talk to him everyday with, and support him in withdrawing from. Right now, he most likely believe’s it’s just sexual relief. Pretty soon, it will descend into disfigured sexuality and his views of you will certainly change, not for the better. Not to say he will run away from you, but you want to be seen as his God given wife, not an object of sex.

Help him rediscover true sensuality and sexuality, that is both body and mind, heart and soul.

And pray. Pray constantly. You will get there =).

Liquid47, to be clear, if he was thinking of her while he did it, he wouldn’t need the porn. I’m just as certain that he’s not thinking of her as I am that he doesn’t view it as demeaning to her. That’s one of the ways pornography affects a person–especially men who are much more visually-oriented than women. It could be that when he started (assuming he actually didn’t start until after they were married :rolleyes:) he had no intention of thinking of the women on the screen, in the magazines, etc., but it’s really not possible to watch something on a screen with the intent of having it stimulate you, yet block it out of your mind at the same time.

I do agree that prayer will help her through this, but her husband needs to be involved, too. If he’s not willing to make a real effort, then things won’t improve. She needs to be clear and forceful when she tells him about how it makes her feel. For years, my wife would tell me how much it bothered her, but she wasn’t clear or forceful, then never pressed the issue because she was afraid it would upset me. I don’t know that it would have changed much, but I think it’s better to get it out in the open than to let it slide. As you said, she needs to talk to him about this every day and not let it go.

OP I am sorry that this has happened to you and your husband. From the sounds of it you have done everything right and didn’t in anyway bring this on. In some ways it is like adultery. It certainly hurt very very much. In others it is very far from adultery. The step to go to a hotel room with a prostitute or whatever is (I can only imagine thank God) a huge soul destroying decision.

As far as your dh, I recommend reading 1 corith 7 (whole chapter). St. Paul describes this situation from 2000 years ago.

  1. Paul says it is better that one is like him (celibate) But those who can’t do it should get married to avoid sexual sins sending them to Hell. Your husband rightly choose marriage.

  2. St. Paul said do not deprive each other except by mutual agreement for a time of **prayer **lest you fall to temptation. Your husband obviously fell to temptation during the abstain time of NFP. It seems that you are using NFP prudently (6 kids!), however I recommend you take St. Paul’s advice/command/warning and make the off week a time of prayer to strengthen your husband against temptation.

One other thing you can do to help your husband is don’t let him be on the computer when everybody else is asleep! It could have been much worse, it could have been one of you kids that caught him. I suggest moving the computer to the bedroom or password protecting its use between 9pm and 7am, or getting a good filter. I don’t care if it is hassle for him, it is more important than just about anything else right now. Mortal sin is worse than death, it is eternal. Porn is so invasive and destructive, it is an attack on your family thru your husband. If it helps think of the devil attacking your dh and help him fight it off.

I really like the advice put forward by phil8888.
I believe your husband needs you now more than ever before. If he is ashamed of what he is doing and really wants to change, then you can show your love for him by helping him overcome this sin. It’s unfortunate that he didn’t tell you about this problem he is facing but some men are ashame to admit that they commit this sin.

Again, as phil8888 said, it’s not about you. This is something that most men start doing as teenagers. Then it becomes a habit that is difficult to stop.

If I were a married woman and I discovered that my spouse is engaging in such an act and is willing to stop, then I will love him even more and help him to overcome this sin.

This is the best and most succinct advice.

It is sad for you to discover that your husband is less perfect than you thought. But try to recognize that - just as he is not as perfect as you maybe once thought - he is also much more than just that person sitting in front of that computer screen.

It’s understandable that your emotions are in an uproar and that it will take time for both of you to work things through. But while all of this is going on, try not to lose the bigger picture of who he is. A good man, good providor, good father, caring husband.

Do not permanantly condemn him for this one problem. If you have always trusted him before, and not been disappointed, then trust him now when he says it has only happened a few times. After all, God trusts us and forgives us when we confess and return.
I know it’s hard but we must try to do the same.


I don’t have any advice, but just wanted to let you know that I understand your feelings. I would (and have) felt betrayed by this same issue. It’s a hard one to deal with for sure. His problem may be very serious or it may not be. Either way you are shocked and that is certainly understandable. I will say a prayer for you.

Foolish to say to a person whose spouse cheated :Its not about you.
Of course it is. He is one body with his spouse and he has been committing adultery, and who knows how long he would continue if he hadn’t been disvovered.

The question is whether he is repentant or he will keep taking prostitutes into the house
through the sceeen. What if one of his children had seen their dad in this circumstance?

His behaviour is unacceptable. It has nothing to do with the OPs appearance…
His betrayal is more nasty because they have severel kids and seperation is unlikely to be even possible. So his wife has to live with his cheating.

To the OP. I hope you demand that the computer is got rid off or put in a open place in the house where there is no door.

Indeed. After all of the shock and tears have passed, this is the big question. Is he repentant.

His behaviour is unacceptable. It has nothing to do with the OPs appearance…
His betrayal is more nasty because they have severel kids and seperation is unlikely to be even possible. So his wife has to live with his cheating.

To the OP. I hope you demand that the computer is got rid off or put in a open place in the house where there is no door.

I disagree with this. He is not a child and her making such a demand would be counterproductive at this time.


This is true, her discovery (and pain) may be the thing that ultimately saves his soul. It could be divine intervention that she discovered him.

Excellent point.

Yep, absolutely unacceptable.

Although I understand and empathize with your strong feelings about this, I don’t think this will be of much help for the wife. These types of statements can make it more difficult for her to forgive him and help him change. This attack on the family often comes through the dad. It is an outrage that these types of temptations are allowed by law. There is not an equivalent attack on moms (their challenges are often in other areas). She needs to focus on getting the behavior stopped. If he is unwilling to stop, then that is another matter.

Again, excellent advice!

I am sorry that you are going through this. Of course it feels like adultery - those women on the screen are not you and they are arousing your husband while he masturbates! It may be virtual adultery because the relationship is one-way, but it’s your husband who initiated the contact. That is a betrayal akin to going out to a strip bar or making a contact in any other way, with another woman. It will definitely interfere with your sex life - your husband cannot help how viewing porn objectifies the act of sexual union into a one-way experience. Fantasizing is a solitary activity which takes a person out of the moment and into their own mind. It is the opposite of the sexual union between a husband and a wife. I think it’s very difficult to explain this to a man who has used porn all his life - he cannot imagine having sex in any other way. Sex is and can’t be holy to such a man unless he can get away from the porn and get with the Holy Spirit to eradicate that attitude from his life.

I feel for men these days, they practically have porn shoved under their noses thanks to the internet. God made men visual so they could appreciate their wives, but Satan takes that God-given quality and twists it into sickness and perversion, to entrap men and cause their destruction.

I hope your husband is really willing to get porn out of his life. Like Gordon, I seriously doubt if he’s only done this 2 or 3 times. That is a cover story that any addict would recognize. He needs support and he needs to put screening software on the computer that he cannot hack through (give the password to a man in his support group only). No software is 100% foolproof but some can give you strong results and the rest will be his willpower and the Holy Spirit’s power in his life.

I will add you to my prayers, going to Mass in about 10 minutes.

As a wife who has been through the same thing the OP is going through, the above from the RealJuliane is totally on-spot accurate and excellent advice. I also doubt he’s only done this 2 or 3 times. Porn addicts use many excuses to try to hide their actions (and likely their shame), and unfortunately the lies can continue for a very long time unless serious and open communication occurs - along with a sincere effort by the husband to cease the porn and self-gratification. The wife can try to assist him in many ways, but in the end, it is the husband who has to WANT to stop, and in my experience, that doesn’t always happen. Satan does everything he can to try to get men to continue using porn (and he succeeds all too often), but there is hope.

Note to InTheKitchen and any other wives who have felt the horrible hurt this brings to marriages: There is a support group here at CAF called, “Women Suffering Because of Unchastity,” that deals with this specific issue if you wish to join. You might find it as beneficial as I have.

It’s not your fault AT ALL as a wife that your husband does this, and you are truly not alone. Please also know that you will be in my prayers. May Our Lord bless you and keep you and your family in His care every step of the way.

As a presenter of the “my house” initiative in my diocese,some things you say are not true. There most definitely IS another woman involved…the woman on the screen. They are real people too.

use of pornography is a violation of marital fidelity.

(CCC §2396, CCC §2354)

Every person bonded with over sinful behavior (drugs, pre-marital sex, adultery, porn) creates soul ties that are brought into marriage if not renounced.

I meant that sex is NOT and cannot be holy with porn in the relationship.

Thank you so much.I read your reply last night and I thought of the Holy Spirit’s divine love wrapped around me like a warm, soft blanket. It helped.

He does love me, and our family, so very much. He works hard for us. And we all love him!

The first time it happened, he says he did not view pornography, but masturbated alone because he wanted me. I have much less trouble with this, and feel it is an understandable human failing, and is between him and God. But it opens the door in the mind to further acts, which he said began with salacious, but not pornographic, photographs, (when he was already mildly aroused), which led him to seek out pornography.

I love him. I don’t hate him. I feel hurt and betrayed and dismayed, but not hateful. I thank God for that. I know that hate would be my open door to sin. Right now I am fertile, and that makes this all the more difficult because we have not been intimate! Sigh. It would repair a lot of damage, I think.

I’m not sure how to love myself, as you say. I will try to specifically focus on Christ’s love for me when I pray. I think of how people have gotten past sin in marriage before, how it has strengthened their marriages. I think of how Peter denied Jesus, and how Jesus loved him still. How He loves us all.

I think there is much truth in what you write, even if it is harsh. However, I do believe him when he says this has just started and has been infrequent. To do otherwise with no evidence would make me go crazy! He has not tried to shift the blame to me or imply that he needs this or any other behaviors like that when we have talked. He seems genuinely remorseful and filled with regret, shame, and pain. He says it was perverted, and that he was wrong, and that it was a sin against our marriage, and so on.

He is doing all the right things, in other words.

I think in time I will be able to trust him again because of his response now. He is such a good husband and father. I have put him on a pedestal, which is hard for me to admit to. He’s my hero. He’s my husband!

I hope you are correct. This is what I am trying to believe.

How do I continue to talk to him about this with the least amount of pain for all parties? At this point, discussing it makes me feel like twisting a knife in both of our guts. I recognize that it will not be pain free, but how can I minimize it? I want to move forward, to not sweep this under the rug, and to not linger unnecessarily on it. All at the same time.

We need to pray more. It is true.

He should be talking to you, explaining what he is going to do to make sure it doesn’t happen again. As in any other type of betrayal, the guilty party must make amends and show the other spouse that they can be trusted, which means that he needs a PLAN to deal with what he’s done and the possibility that he may in fact be addicted. He needs to acknowledge your pain and assure you that it won’t happen again, and then have A PLAN to make sure it doesn’t.

I do pray that this is a new behavior for him. I am jaded when it comes to addictions or compulsive behaviors, and it doesn’t lead to a lot of trust. It sounds as if you two have a very strong marriage.

What I would suggest is that the 2 of you speak to a counselor who specializes in this addiction. That way, you two would be working on the problem TOGETHER on the same side, against the porn, not you on one side and him and the porn on the other. Many times, it squares off that way, with the wife or husband who has been wronged feeling all alone on one side of the issue, and the betraying spouse on the other side, defending his/her actions as if they are at war with each other…They should be united at war with Satan who is trying to destroy their marriage.

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