Skip to main content
AddictionBetrayalDepressionMarriage

Shame is #1 Followed by 9 More Painful Outcomes of His Porn Use

By September 30, 2021No Comments
painful outcomes

Discovering your husband’s porn use feels devastating and shameful.

What have you done wrong?

What should you have done differently?

What’s wrong with you?

So many questions flood your thoughts. I call this the “spin cycle.” As the spin cycle continues, your mind goes round-and-round, spinning into a mind-numbing vortex. Thoughts spill over and over one another. The shame feels suffocating. You try to convince yourself it’s easier to ignore it and hope it will go away.

It won’t go away on its own. And it’s not just that!

If you ignore it, you will begin to experience other painful outcomes of his porn habit.

Starting with shame.

  1. Shame.

    It feels demeaning when you discover his porn use. Instantly you sense you can’t tell anyone else about it because you’ll look like a failure and a part of you still wants to protect him. What will people think? Of him? Of me? Of us? We all want to protect our reputations. The instant shame sears our reputation. And it hurts.

  2. Distance.

    Depending on how you found out about his porn use, you might be shocked, disgusted, disbelieving, or a myriad of other emotions. The last thing you want to do is be close to him. Or at least you think you don’t. But then you think…maybe you should have more sex? It’s so confusing. Your confusion about why he’s looking at porn creates conflicting thoughts. You feel betrayed and unloved. And you want distance. So, the gap between you widens just a bit more.

  3. Strained friendships.

    His porn habit hurts your friendships. You find yourself withdrawing (maybe ever so slightly) from your friendships because you fear you might slip and say something inappropriate. The support you need most feels too difficult to manage right now.

    If you have a very close friend, you might dare to tell her. But what if she responds negatively or doesn’t believe you or judges you or laughs that you’re upset about this? In your raw emotional state, you don’t know if you can handle any such rejection. Maybe it’s better to be quiet and stay away. This emotional conflict deepens your desire to withdraw. Soon you find yourself turning down friendly invitations, delving deeper into isolation.

  4. Lose self-respect.

    Discovering your husband’s porn use triggers thoughts like, “I’m ugly,” “I’m not lovable,” “I’m invisible,” “I’m a failure,” “I can’t please anyone ever,” “I’m not enough,” and more. Your pain turns inward in unhealthy ways. Instead of realizing that your husband’s porn use is his choice and struggle, your mind twists the information to inflict personal harm. The effort to come to grips with this discovery takes you down a self-destructive path.

  5. Physical pain.

    Unresolved internal wounds or traumas eventually manifest in physical pain. If the source of the trauma isn’t resolved, it’s common for the person to experience chronic pain. Psychology Today describes chronic pain as “prolonged physical pain that lasts for longer than the natural healing process should allow.” Such symptoms could be stomachaches, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, and other stress-induced ailments. The longer the person lives with this unresolved trauma, stress hormones like cortisol can increase blood pressure and blood sugar, depleting your immune system’s ability to heal.

  6. Depression or other mental health issues.

    Many wives of porn addicts exhibit depression or PTSD symptoms. Many women tell me they can’t think. You feel suspended in shock, which often turns into a depressive mindset. You struggle to get out of bed. Nothing feels essential any longer. You might find yourself enduring a deep sadness in your soul that you can’t explain to anyone else. I remember these thoughts and feelings. It’s a deeper mental and emotional state than just having the blues.

    According to Dr. Robert Weiss, Dr. Jennifer Schneider, and Dr. Charles Samenow’s study of betrayed partners of sex addicts, many women experienced acute stress and anxiety symptoms characteristic of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Some manifestations include increased need to control, emotional outbursts, easily triggered, brain fog, obsessing about the betrayal, detective work, and more.

  7. Anger.

    One thing I experienced was rapid swings between anger and rage. I found myself wanting my husband to feel the pain I felt, so I found ways to lash out at him. I didn’t understand that this emotional roller coaster resulted from the betrayal of his porn use. I lost all sense of trust in him and anyone else. If I couldn’t believe the man I married, then who could I trust? I was so mad! This tearing in my soul deepened my anger toward God as well. He could have stopped all this. But He didn’t. Why? So, in anger, I thought, God must not love me either.

  8. Control issues.

    When life explodes around you, the desire is to control anything we can. Studies show that emotional eating issues like bulimia, anorexia and binging are all attempts to control something. Dr. Dan Allender says control is a common symptom of betrayal or sexual abuse. So, it’s not surprising that you want to know everything about your husband’s activities every moment of the day. This discovery triggers what I call “mommy mode” in a wife. The energy focused on this inappropriate role covers up the wife’s desperate need to control.

  9. Can’t be yourself.

    Living a lie exhausts you. When you choose not to confront your husband’s porn use, you make excuses for his behavior—with your children, friends, and even yourself. You may not verbalize them, but your actions reveal the pain. Often you can’t see this until you look back. You seek to maintain the appearance of a “good” marriage even though you know your dark secret. This type of secret destroys you from the inside out. How can you be authentically you when you must maintain a façade? You can’t.

  10. People pleasing.

    Another common expression of sexual betrayal involves being the “good girl”—making sure everyone around you is happy. The danger in this comes when you allow your porn-addicted husband to continue his damaging habit. You believe that by having more sex, changing the way you dress to be more provocative like the women in the porn he chooses, and making sure he’s always happy, he’ll have no reason to get angry with you. You think you’ll salvage your marriage and protect your relationship. In doing so, you begin to fade away. If you change to “please” him (temporarily), is he married to you or some version of you?

Ignoring your husband’s porn use or addiction won’t make it go away.

But I understand the temptation you face because I did the same thing. However, statistics tell us porn use progresses unless it is confronted. As much as we want to, we can’t run away from or slap a band-aid on this addiction and trust it to heal on its own.

Fourteen years ago, I faced the monster of porn addiction head-on because I didn’t know what else to do. However, nine years earlier, I ignored it. But God, in His mercy, didn’t allow me to ignore it any longer.

Why do I say mercy? Because God’s plan for my husband and me included joy, deep love, and freedom from porn. To live that plan, we had to confront the monster and learn to live life authentically. It took both of us working separately and together to conquer the damage of porn. The good news is that you can experience the same victory that we live in every day.

Don’t know your next step, but know you don’t want any of these ten painful outcomes in your life?

Let’s talk.

  • Kirsten D Samuel

    I empower Christian wives to discover they are seen, loved, and heard. These women find the freedom to be who they are beyond their partner’s struggles, and find hope that there is a life worth living.