Why Being Married to a Husband With a Porn Problem Is Incredibly Painful

Shelley Martinkus self

There were six of us in the room, our chairs in a circle so that we could see one another fully.  The woman across from me was in so much pain. In fact, she didn’t quite know how much more she could take. She desperately wanted the rest of the group to understand what she was experiencing.

“For me, it’s every woman I see. Every billboard. Every magazine. It’s everywhere. I can’t escape it.”

Her husband had a pornography addiction and she was crumbling from the triggers all around her.

What I’ve come to realize as I support and help women affected by all forms of betrayal — lust, porn, emotional and physical affairs — is that the pain from betrayal is no joke, no matter how you slice it.

Pornography addictions can be especially tricky because oftentimes the people around us (our husbands, friends and culture at large) are screaming that it’s really OK. They’re saying with their actions and words “looking at pornography is normal.”

In fact, a recent study by the Barna Group showed that “teens and young adults rank not recycling as more immoral than viewing porn.”

Yep, you read that correctly.

I personally find this so maddening!

Clearly, for a lot of wives reeling from the knowledge that their husbands’ are looking at porn, the pain is minimized or it goes unnoticed. When we hear “it’s normal” and “everyone does it” — how do these words validate what we are experiencing as wives?

It doesn’t.

Not only does our pain get dismissed, but to add insult to injury, betrayal is extremely personal.

When we know our husbands are expending their sexual energy on an image instead of with us, we can’t help but wonder what the image has that we don’t? We start to look at our bodies and pick apart areas that we never dreamed were an issue before.

“What’s wrong with me?” 

“Why am I not enough?”

Pornography corrupts our self-worth, which causes incredible pain and confusion.

And don’t even get me started on the pain that accompanies being sexually intimate with a husband that is viewing pornography. How can a wife feel safe and secure sharing the most sacred parts of herself while knowing her husband is objectifying and idolizing that sacredness elsewhere?

It’s impossible and incredibly painful.

Sisters, I am here to tell you — your pain is valid. Don’t let anyone tell you what causes you pain and what should not. No matter your story — whether your husband has given away his sexual energy to the image on the screen or the person at the office, the pain is real.

It’s something that must be acknowledged.

It’s something to grieve.

It’s something that with a lot of hard work you can move beyond.

The first step is to take off the mask and acknowledge the pain.

Go ahead and say it, “This is causing me pain.”

The second step is to share this with a friend or mentor that you feel safe with.

This takes courage, strength and vulnerability.

I know you can do it.


Shelley Martinkus

Shelley Martinkus loves to encourage women and has a special place in her heart for women with a similar story to hers.  She is a blogger, speaker and writer.  Her first book, Rescued, was released in 2015 and is a guide to help women survive and thrive after sexual betrayal.  She is proud to call Denver home where she lives with her husband, Jason and their three young boys.  Some of the things that help Shelley survive are comfy pants, running around Wash Park and long talks with Jason after the boys are in bed.  You can connect with Shelley at rlforwomen.com.


Read more about Jason’s porn addiction and Shelley’s battle with anorexia in this honest interview. You can also read more from Shelley about how she faced the realization of her husband’s porn use and infidelity, then how she bravely confronted the issue despite fear and uncertainty. 

 For more resources check out:

Redemptive Living for Women: This is my website where you’ll find a helpful workbook, weekly blog posts and support.

Redemptive Living: My husband Jason’s website where you can find the book he wrote about his journey, free resources for men and more.

Kitchen Convos: This is a series of conversations that my husband, Jason, and I put together to help couples find redemption after betrayal. There is a fee associated with this, but if you choose to participate, we will donate 15% of the proceeds back to MOPS International.

Fight the New Drug: An edgy non-profit that advocates for the fight against porn.

This Christianity Today article shares eye-opening recent stats on porn use in Christian circles.