Boulder Recovery Blog

Preparing to Talk to Your Partner

If you feel your partner slipping away from you physically or acting differently around you intimately, they might be cheating. But what if they weren’t going out and committing the act physically but rather viewing it? Whether it’s your partner’s first time watching porn or addiction has blossomed, it is crucial to understand how men become addicted and how it affects their life and yours. It may be time to talk to your partner about watching porn.

Why Do Men Watch Porn?

Living in a digital age where everything is readily available at your fingertips, it is no surprise that porn addiction and viewership have increased. Porn has even begun to trickle its way onto social media platforms. An estimated 91.5% of men consume pornography, and Christian men aren’t exempt.

But while most men watch pornography, it’s not safe, said Matt Wenger, Clinical Director at Boulder Recovery. He said it should be avoided at all costs, whether a person is Christian or not.

“Studies have repeatedly shown that porn is not safe for empathic and frontal lobe development, regardless of one’s moral view,” he said.

The consequence of chronic porn use is neurological rewiring that results in viewing intimacy as purely sexual behavior and vice versa, Matt said. 

“As a result, we lose the ability to be truly intimate,” he said. “We lose connection with ourselves and others. We lose connection with God as his image bearers.”

Matt said viewing pornography also tricks the brain into thinking that what a person wants out of porn is purely sexual. 

“When in reality, we are now going to porn for a form of (false) intimacy and hoping to get the fruits of it in fullness — peace, comfort, safety, worth, validation, affirmation, etc.,” he said. “But neither porn nor sex can provide these things. They are only found in authentic, vulnerable, and emotional relationships with God and others.” 

Understanding Why Porn is Difficult to Discuss

Sex and porn are taboo topics, and discussing them may be difficult for you and your partner. Your partner may feel caught off guard or embarrassed by their actions. They might even go as far as denying it ever happened. Regardless, it’s vital to understand why viewing porn is difficult to discuss.

Reasons viewing porn is difficult to discuss include:

  • Acts the person thought were secret are exposed 
  • Fear of being judged or abandoned
  • Acknowledging sinful behavior is challenging
  • Vulnerability requires trust

Preparing to Talk to Your Partner

Creating a safe space and using strategies like open discussions and active listening can help everyone involved in the conversation feel more at ease. Seek resources online that may help you prepare for the discussion or give you facts to support your case. Think about how it makes you feel and how you can express that thoroughly. 

Ways to prepare to talk to your partner about watching porn include:

  • Do Research. Understand how common porn viewership is, yet how bad it is for people. Also, understand precisely why porn goes against your beliefs.
  • Reflect on Your Feelings. Be clear about how your partner’s porn viewership makes you feel and what you want to express to them about those feelings.
  • Know Your Expectations. How do you expect your partner to respond to the conversation? What are your expectations of the conversation?
  • Identify Outcomes. What do you want as a result of the conversation? Do you want your husband to apologize? Do you want him to never watch porn again? How do you want the two of you to be able to resolve this issue?

Once you know what you expect from the conversation and feel prepared about what you need to communicate, it’s time to talk to your partner about watching porn.

Tips for communicating about porn:

  • Find the Right Time and Place. This conversation is important to your relationship. Don’t have it on the way to work or via telephone. Set aside time when you can talk face-to-face for as long as necessary.
  • Have a Calm Conversation. Yelling and accusations are unlikely to result in any positive outcome. Being prepared with what you want to say will help you remain calm, even if your partner initially denies watching porn.
  • Ask Open-Ended Questions. A conversation means both parties are involved. It’s not just one of you hurling accusations. Ask your partner questions and listen to the answers.
  • Understand that Agreement May Take Time. It’s possible that your partner doesn’t think what they did was wrong. It’s vital for them to understand how their action impacts you. Continue the conversation until you agree on next steps.

The most important thing is to be honest with your partner. Truth is the foundation of intimacy and vital to your continued relationship. So, if you’re the partner who viewed porn, admit it.

“If porn use has occurred, first tell your spouse and do your best to sit with them in their hurt and anger,” Matt said. “Then take accountability and do not blame them in any way for your choices.”

Repentance is key after viewing pornography, Matt said. 

“Repentance is the Biblical idea of not just expressing remorse but a turning away from something toward something else,” he said. “It isn’t enough to say sorry and to try to stop doing the thing. Addiction research bears this out as well. Purely trying to stop something is never enough.”

What Kind of Help is Available for Christians?

If you think your partner has a pornography addiction, it’s probably best for them to seek help. A porn addiction won’t go away on its own and is probably indicative of a larger mental health issue. And they likely can’t stop on their own. Matt said:

“Many people battling with habitual or compulsive porn use spend their energy on stopping themselves from using. With well-intentioned vigor and intensity, they create accountability systems, download blocking and monitoring software, and eliminate opportunities to act out. None of this is bad. It is just rarely successful on its own.”

Boulder Recovery Can Help

Boulder Recovery is dedicated to helping men recover from sex and pornography addictions through our 14-Day Christian Men’s Intensive. The program jump starts recovery in a faith-based environment. We also provide a Partner Support Program to help wives dealing with their husband’s addiction. We help them navigate their trauma, feelings of betrayal, anger, fear, and shame. Contact Boulder Recovery together and start the healing journey for you and your relationship.

  • Category: Addiction
  • By Boulder Recovery
  • January 22, 2023

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