How to Help Your Husband Succeed at Purity

I've had more than one woman wonder how to handle the stories and statistics used on Sunday. I've been sarcastically "thanked" for making them super-paranoid. Their natural thinking is – If 60% of Christian men have been exposed to pornography in the last year – how can they know for sure that their husband is in the 40% who haven't been exposed to it? And they want to do know how to handle that stat and what to do with their fears. It can quickly turn into suspicion and lack of trust.

Here are some suggestions for wives:

  1. You must choose to take a position of support and encouragement rather than suspicion and discouragement. There is little that could be more discouraging to a husband than to be in a fight for his purity and feel like his wife is looking over his shoulder just waiting for him to blow it rather than rooting for him to succeed. Wives, you must change your position and convince your husband you are FOR him – not against him.
  2. Pray every day for your husband's purity. Every day. Are you spending more time worrying and being suspicious than your are talking to God about your fears and declaring your trust in Him?
  3. Make sure you are available sexually to your husband and don't be afraid to pursue him. You showing sexual interest in him is enticing to him. I would imagine very few women understand the impact that it has on her husband if she is sexually attracted to him. If he is being "starved" sexually at home, his temptations will likely increase. It never excuses his sinful choices, but feeling admired and desired by his wife is one more piece toward likely success in his purity.
  4. Occasionally, ask him questions, but ask in a way that doesn't make him feel judged and let's him know that you are on his team. He needs to be sure that he can answer your questions without you overreacting. If he is sure you are on his team and is comfortable with your past reactions, it will help him with his purity. For example, after Sunday I would tell him, "I would like to know how your battle has been recently in this area and how I can help you succeed. Can I ask you a few questions?" Then choose your questions and your responses very carefully. I don't think you need to know everything. You need to know where he is in this battle, where he is headed, and who is helping him.
  5. Encourage him to have accountability partners that speak frankly about their pursuit of purity. During the moments of biggest temptation – that accountability can be a great help!
  6. Finally and most importantly for those struggling after Sunday's sermon – you need to trust God – not your husband. This type of thing can make a woman very insecure and that likely says more about you than your husband. That is a trust issue for you. Ask your husband if he has appropriate guides in place and if he is being honest with you and/or his accountability partner, then you must trust God that if there is something you should know, God will bring it to your attention or his accountability partner's attention.

 

How you handle these questions and doubts will have an impact on your husband's purity. Obviously, if he has continual failure in this area and recent failure (in the last year), then more protective guards need to be set up, but I'm not sure you (as his wife) should be the one to set those guardrails. That should be done through an accountability partner, small group leader, or pastor. You can be aware of them but probably not the best person to hold him accountable on a weekly basis.

OK wives, so tell me – what do you think? What else am I missing? Do you think these six things are on target?

Husbands, what am I missing? How can we best help them and how can they best help us to succeed? (feel free to post comments on blog or reply and comments can be posted for you)

Breaking-the-chains

9 comments
  1. I love this post. I think it’s spot on. I wouldn’t change a thing. I think men live in fear of what their wives would think if they knew how hard and continual this battle is for us.

  2. I agree with the things you said, David, but would like to add a few as well.

    First is a recommendation: If your husband is struggling with sexual purity, I suggest reading “Every Heart Restored” by Stoeker. This is a great resource for wives, especially those who are hurting due this issue (which is completely understandable). It encourages understanding and healing for the wife and the marriage, as well as guidance on how to support your husband and even understanding how your husband is wired.

    Other thoughts: Seek to understand your husband and how he’s wired (which is different than you as a female). Also, wives, understand that a majority of the time this sin has nothing to do with you. And what I mean by that is that it’s not your fault. Your husband has probably been struggling with sexual purity way before you came on the scene, and although you can make his battle easier or more difficult, it ultimately wasn’t about you in the first place. And, believe this, your husband can still love you genuinely despite this battle. You may wonder if he does, but he can. It’s just another way he’s wired and able to separate things in his mind. (these thoughts are clearly explained in “Every Heart Restored”)

    Lastly, a challenge: Are you going to be the wife God called you to be? Notice it’s not a question of what your husband deserves or what you want, it’s an obedience issue. God has called you to be a helper to your husband and respect/submit to him. In this area, you can flourish in your role as helper. God called you to be your husband’s wife for a reason, and chances are part of that is because you’re the best wife he can have in this battle. God wants to use you to help your husband succeed and break free of this sin. Are you willing to partner with God to do this?

  3. Great post. I too would recommend that women not turn a blind eye to this issue. I think often Christian girls (I was one of them) grow up to into wives who believe that this is an issue “other people” have to deal with and it’s never going to affect them. The best thing we ever did in our marriage is face this issue head on and proactively fight against it even in seemingly harmless forms. I recommend that wives read Every Man’s Battle just to gain an understanding of how men’s minds work (because it is SO very different than ours) and how we can play a crucial role in protecting our husband’s purity. Before I read that book I’m not sure I fully understood it, and I know I turned a blind eye to even the hint of it’s presence myself at times. Thanks for being open about this topic. I think it’s one that people are ashamed of and hide, and yet everyone has to deal with it to varying degrees.

  4. As a woman I find suggestion #3 offensive, as it lays partial blame on woman for their husbands tempations. The only suggestion we need to make sure to do is pray for our husbands, and ourselves. God will take care of the rest.

  5. Jodi –

    I am sorry you find #3 offensive. Although I agree prayer is crucial, I disagree that prayer is all we should do.

    I have read #3 several times and I’m not sure what I would change. I am sorry it offends you, but I still think it is true.

    I think #3 is clearly taught by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:3-6. It clearly talks about being involved sexually on a regular basis (vv. 3 and 5) and the purpose is to help avoid temptation (v. 6).

    I also said in #3 that it doesn’t excuse a husband’s sin. If a wife refuses to have sex with her husband – and he sins through lust and pornography – there is no excuse for his sin. But there is a way to help him avoid the temptation (1 Cor. 7:6).

  6. I too found #3 offensive, for a while…as a wife of a man addicted to porn/masterbation. There has been so much pain in our broken relationship that I was finding it impossible to even allow him to touch me anymore…let alone be attracted to HIM in any way. Then I was convicted by the same verses that David already mentioned. I was trusting my “feelings” more than God and I was in rebellion really, by avoiding having sex with my husband, I was allowing my hurts to control me and I didnt WANT to have to love my husband in THAT way, at least until he stopped his sinful habit. But that is not how God loves US. Recently God changed my heart and my mind toward my husband and his sin. The book mentioned above, “Every Heart Restored” by Stoeker, has been exceedingly helpful as well to allow me to see my husband with God’s eyes…to see that he is caught up in something that defeats him, binds him, blinds him and keeps him from God’s best. I now have a renewed compassion for my husband and I can begin to respond to him in healthy, helpful ways…instead of responding in suspicion and hurt all the time. This doesnt mean my husband is off the hook for his sin…he still needs to be accountable for it and the broken trust still needs to be earned back….but at least I AM SET FREE to love him as God is calling us to love all broken people. I just need to keep my own heart willing and trust God.

  7. I recommend reading Your Sexually Addicted Spouse by Barbara Steffens. 10 years in to my marriage, I found out that my husband had a 20 year long addiction to porn. His addiction started before me, not because of me. There is nothing that I can do to cure it and nothing I did to cause it. In order to truly help him, I must pray for him, call him to repentance and accountability, set boundaries to protect myself emotionally and physically so that I can heal, and detach in love.

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