A Candid Look at a Spiritual Battle
Addiction to pornography, lust, and masturbation are often a taboo topic left publically unaddressed in the church. While there are many resources for those actually struggling with addiction, the resources for those suffering from a husband’s addiction seem fewer. The pervasiveness of porn addiction in both the culture and churches makes it a topic not only for preaching and men’s accountability groups, but also for female biblical counselors as they journey with the spouses of porn-addicted men coming through our doors.
When Your Husband Is Addicted to Pornography: Healing Your Wounded Heart by Vickie Tiede is a blessing to the Christian community as it addresses the raw emotions and spiritual battle that are part of the partner’s struggle with lust, fantasy, masturbation, and pornography. The author takes the reader on a six-week journey where key reactions and emotions like stages of grief, betrayal, and the examination of one’s own heart are addressed.
This book is not only a personal story of Tiede’s own painful experience of her ex-husband’s porn addiction, but also includes the testimonies of twenty-five other women throughout the book sharing personal insights related to the chapter’s topic for healing and growth. The book’s topics include:
- Week 1: Hope
- Week 2: Surrender
- Week 3: Trust
- Week 4: Identity
- Week 5: Brokenness
- Week 6: Forgiveness
Each weekly theme contains a 5-day study that addresses sub-topics like grieving losses, letting go of control, fear, guilt, and anger. While engaging with Scripture and heart-examining questions, the reader is able to assess her own actions and responses in light of God’s Word.
The author is careful to warn the reader of the potential for sinful responses to the husband’s sin of porn addiction. She also reminds the reader that the wife can only be responsible for her own reactions before the Lord, and that only God can change her husband’s heart. Tiede writes,
“Acting like a full-fledged member of the porn police never gains the desired results.”
She reminds readers to trust God who tells us that what was once hidden in secret has now been brought to light—the truth has been unveiled (Ephesians 5:13). Thus there is hope because God is sovereign and nothing is too hard for the One who made the heavens and the earth (1 Chronicles 29:11-12; Jeremiah 32:17).
A marriage embroiled in one partner’s porn addiction can bring great distress resulting in a feeling of helplessness and defeat. Tiede explains how Satan seeks to destroy one’s hope in the midst of such pain and suffering with a paralyzing hopelessness, yet reminds the reader that God truly is our only hope for restoration and reconciliation with each other and with Him.
The efforts of people-pleasing, control-obsessing, fear, guilt, and anger will not bring true freedom and relief. Only when we can surrender all these things into the Lord’s care can true healing begin. By God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s work in the believer, hope and surrender take place—they are restored.
Tiede succeeds at forcing the reader to ask the difficult questions about their own relationship with God and with their own spiritual security:
- When Satan threatens your trust in God because of the betrayed trust by your husband, do you believe God has left you to suffer alone or that He is present with you to carry you through this journey?
- When your security and identity are threatened and you are tempted to compare yourself to the images your husband has been viewing, can you cling to the promises of God’s Word to see yourself as His beloved and beautiful child?
- When you are broken before the Lord, do you let Him in to bring restoration to your broken heart and soul?
Throughout the book, the biblical lessons translate beyond to other areas of sin and to other relationships as well. At the end of the day, the reader must decide, “Can I trust God? Is God trustworthy? Is God really out for my/our good?” In other words, “Am I standing firm on the Solid Rock amidst a broken foundation (marriage), or does the voice of Satan win at discouraging my heart, believing that there is no hope for change and healing?
Again and again, Tiede challenges her readers to view their painful situation through God’s perspective.
- What redemptive work is He out to accomplish through this embarrassing and painful struggle? How does God see me? How does God see our marriage? What hope does God give me for the present and the future?
The reader is guided through passages of Scripture to engage with the Word of Truth for encouragement and reminders regarding God’s character and His promise of redemption in this life and the life to come.
Lastly, the reader is exhorted to forgive her husband. Tiede is wise to clarify to the reader that forgiveness does not mean that the sin committed has been forgotten and that the act of forgiving is done so with a flippant or passive ease.
Forgiveness also does not mean that the wife gets to throw her husband’s sin in his face any chance that she gets. Forgiveness is a supernatural work that includes an ongoing trust in the Lord for the future of one’s marriage and the heart change that needs to take place in one’s spouse.
On a special note, the author does not ignore the possibility of marital separation as an action sometimes potentially needed to bring about the context of reconciliation in a broken marriage. She encourages the reader to obtain and continue solid biblical counsel from one’s pastor and trusted friends within the body of Christ throughout this process and especially in assessing whether separation and even divorce may be necessary. This book highlights the ongoing need for God’s Spirit of grace to be at work in the lives of individuals and in our relationships with one another.
What If This Happens Again?
Tiede is not naïve to think that once a husband may go through a season of “sobriety” that a slip up or relapse may never happen again. How should the wife respond?
What is a “slip up” versus a true relapse back in to porn addiction? Tiede addresses these questions by encouraging women in the same process already outlined and the importance of community, counsel, and accountability to assess the next steps for both the husband and wife.
Counselor’s Tool Box
Whether used for individual study, individual or group counseling, When Your Husband Is Addicted to Pornography: Healing Your Wounded Heart by Vicki Tiede is a recommended resource for wives in the healing process of a husband’s lust, masturbation, and pornography addiction. Written in a conversational style, it is a valuable tool for individual or group counseling. Although it could be completed independently, using this resource with a counselor or mentor would bring about the most benefit.