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Dear Emuna: My Husband's Porn Addiction
Dear Emuna

Dear Emuna: My Husband's Porn Addiction

I feel like I have been stabbed in the heart. I can't trust him and I don't know what to do.


Dear Emuna,

I recently discovered some inappropriate sites on my husband's smart phone. I might have looked passed it had it been a one-time distraction, but I felt insecure and I looked at the history on his phone. He had been visiting this site for quite some time and these images must now be imbedded in his head. I am unable to look at him the same way as before.

I confronted him on the issue. He began with denial, but after I told him of my solid proof he could no longer deny it. He became embarrassed, upset and angry, telling me that I am too sensitive. He comes from a less than nice background, involving numerous women and drugs, and I think they are creeping slowing into our marriage. He tried using the defense of the incredibly difficult time men have with this drive and he expressed that he is embarrassed and is trying to fix it.

I don't know what to do now. I feel like I have been stabbed in the heart. I can't trust him, I can't speak to him, I don't know what to do. Please help me move forward. Is there any hope for our marriage, because right now I don't see a future.

-- Despairing

Dear Despairing,

Don’t! There is definitely hope, lots of hope – as long as your husband is sincerely trying to address and change the situation. I’m not in any way trying to diminish this (I know it’s different than forgetting an anniversary) but everyone makes mistakes. The key to a successful marriage – and a successful life for that matter – is not never erring. It’s how you cope with the mistake. It’s acknowledging the flaw. It’s making a real and sincere effort to change.

Since I don’t know your husband, I can’t comment on the impact of his background but, unfortunately, the easy access to these images has led many men, even with more pristine backgrounds, to stumble.

Let’s give your husband the benefit of the doubt and assume that his initial response of blaming it on the power of his physical desire was just a knee-jerk defensive reaction. Yes, all men have strong drives – but the truth is that truly being a man frequently means NOT acting on them.

It as nothing to do with your desirability or attractiveness. It's part of the hardwiring of men and it must be controlled.

Perhaps he was trying to suggest that it wasn’t personal. He’s right about that. Pay attention here. Hard as it is to swallow, it as nothing to do with your desirability or attractiveness. This is a crucial point to recognize. It is part of the hardwiring of men and it must be controlled. That’s why the Torah imposes so many safeguards on the relationships between men and women. That's why there are so many fences and such limited contact. That’s which the beach in LA is not a good summertime activity. It’s not about you or your physical appeal. It’s not about his caring for you or his commitment to you. But it is a problem.

And if he is sincere about trying to fix it, he can’t do it by himself. He needs to see a therapist who specializes in these kinds of issues. He cannot do it alone. Note the repetition. I do believe that the seriousness of the effort is evidenced by the willingness to seek help. Yes, he’s humiliated and embarrassed. But this issue must be addressed – for his own sake and for the sake of your marriage.

Because this problem is extremely common, there are many resources available to deal with it. Do the research in your community to find a competent therapist and other support systems. There is also the website Guard Your Eyes which has helped a number of people.

Issues like this don’t disappear overnight. You may have a long haul ahead. You may need to derive strength from your strong sense of the commitment you made under the chupah – to the marriage and to this person. But there is definitely hope. As long as you are both ready to do the heavy lifting.

-- Emuna

Related Article: X-Rated

Dear Emuna,

My wife and I have been together intimately only a few times in the last couple of years. She says I need to go to counseling. Her list is endless; she is always correcting me in some way. She can be pretty cruel with her words and then act like nothing happened. I do try to be the best I can. I’m not sure what I’m missing. We have been married 33 years have two grown children and five grandkids. She also corrects them constantly. Not sure how much more I can take. Any advice?

33 Long Years

Dear Mr. Patience,

You don’t specify that connection between your infrequent intimacy and your wife’s constant criticism but I suspect that is what you are saying. Her frequent attacks on you impact your ability to get close to her – in all respects. That is certainly painful. But 33 years is a long time to throw away and my guess is that your wife has no idea how desperate you feel. She is so used to that way of being that she has lost touch with the damage it does to all her relationships.

I think your best bet is to try to talk to her – in a loving way, when you’re not feeling frustrated or angry or hurt. See if you can access those feelings of caring you have for her and communicate out of that place of depth and emotion.

“I love you.” “I value our relationship.” “Our family is important to me.” And “It hurts me when you speak to me like that.” “I think it’s painful for the children when you criticize them.” “I’m doing my best to change; please help me with positive comments instead of negative ones.”

I hope this will help. You’ve allowed it to exist for a long time. But I believe your wife doesn’t realize the depth of your frustration or the potential horrific consequences. You need to give her that information and a chance to change and make amends. You owe her that much after 33 years.

-- Emuna

August 20, 2011

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Visitor Comments: 78

(44) Yesmangu, October 2, 2013 11:31 AM


I got engaged to a porn addict. He watches porn at work and everyone's knows about it. How can I deal with this shame? Is there a real path to recovery?

(43) Adam Jessel, December 10, 2012 1:54 PM

Regarding the question whether it's advisable to speak to a therapist, I don't think the answer is the same for each man. Many men find that this problem is like an addiction that resists their best efforts to overcome it alone, or even with the help of a 12-Step group (valuable as such groups can be). Therapy is widely available now by Skype or phone, and you might find one in in another country such as Israel, where therapy is somewhat cheaper. GuardYourEyes has a number of recommended therapists. There are also therapists who can help where the porn being watched is linked to specific attraction issues, such as homosexuality, bondage, or fetishes.

(42) Anonymous, August 30, 2011 3:45 PM

If my wife would come to my office and snoop in my computer, this would wreck our relationship. Years ago I looked at occasional porn when I was feeling down, but now it is under control. It is like when I was in my twenties, I would walk in the magazine aisle and look at the dirty magazines, but I felt bad every time I did this and eventually made a Kabbalah to not go into those aisles. This is a problem I have that will never automaticly disappear, I always need to be on guard to do what is right and not fall into a trap. (It does help that my wife says yes when I want to get into bed with her). In reponse to the other issue in this topic, the answer is wrong, the family needs professional help asap. There is no way that the husband will get his wife to listen, the habits are too ingrained. They need a professional who will teach them to be positive and not negative, who will skillfully point out to each partner what they need to do to improve their marriage. The husband doesn't know how to talk to his wife, so trying to talk to her will get nowhere.

(41) Anonymous, August 29, 2011 9:49 AM

A lion is rarely lethal after he's had his fill.

Avoid treating him like a pet, child or trying to control. You are dealing with a man. Like a lion, once he's eaten- his appetite is filled. Now, if you want a kitty cat for a husband, that's going to require medication and then you'll also probably be dissatisfied with that too. Sex is chemical, hormonal. You're best off taking advantage while you can. Secretly, most women wish they had a lion at home.

C.D.Urbach, February 25, 2013 11:33 AM

Chazal Disagree

There is a line from the Talmud which teaches the opposite; the more one satiates,the's the self-discipline of holding back sometimes that makes the delicacy far more enjoyable.

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