How To Restore Trust After Porn Addiction

One of the most damaging effects of porn addiction is the destruction of trust it causes in relationships.

While I do not believe that Porn Addiction itself rises to the level of Adultery or Cheating, it does break the trust established and leads to feelings of betrayal.   Wives are often left feeling broken, hurt, and used.  They often feel like they did something wrong or they are not good enough.  Many wonder how they could ever trust their husband or partner again.  

It’s often said that once trust is broken, it can never be restored.  I disagree.

I believe that trust, especially within the confines of a marriage affected by porn addiction, can be restored.    But it takes hard work.  It takes time.  It takes both a determination to change, and a willingness to forgive.  

Porn and sex addiction will change a marriage forever.  It will never be the same again.  Yet, trust can be restored and the relationship can survive and even thrive.  

I destroyed just about every shred of trust my wife had in me over my years of addiction.  I lied time and time again.  Just when she thought she could start trusting me again, I would throw it all away by relapsing and we’d be back at square one.  

What allowed my marriage to survive was the determination to never give up; from both of us.  I never gave up trying to get better and find sobriety.  My wife determined to never give up on me.  We both had to put in the hard work.  I had to dig deep to fix the issues causing my addiction and she had to work through the heartache and work toward forgiveness.

But we made it.  We fought through the roller coaster ride and made it out on the other side better than ever.  Trust has been restored, we are more intimate than ever, and our marriage has grown closer and stronger having been through the darkness together.

So if your marriage has been damaged by porn and sex addiciton, don’t give up hope.  Fight for it.  Put in the work necessary to put the broken pieces back together.

Here are five things you must do to restore trust in your relationship.

  1. Honesty

You must be 100% honest with your wife.  No more lies!  The damage has already been done.  The wound is already there.  You’re not sparing her any pain by holding back additional information.  This is something I did quite a bit.  I would be about 90% honest, but withhold something each time.  I convinced myself I was trying not to hurt her further, but in reality it was me still trying to cover my own ass and not make my actions seem as bad.  

In my book, Living Porn Free: 10 Steps To Recovery, Redemption, and Renewal, I have a disclosure exercise where you will list out everything you have done in your addiction.  All of it.  Lay it out in black and white.  Confession starts the process of healing.  Do this for yourself first, to get a full grasp of the magnitude of your addiction.  Once you have done this, have a full disclosure with your spouse.  DO NOT do this alone!  Disclosure with your wife should take place in a safe and healthy environment under the direction of a professional counselor, pastor, or coach.

Trust requires absolute honesty, even if it hurts.  There is no chance of recovery if you hold information back.  

  1. Transparency

If you want to restore trust, you must be an open book.  No more secrets.  You lost your right to that when you made poor decisions.  

The Ronald Reagan quote, “Trust, but verify” fits perfectly here.  You cannot just expect your wife to start trusting you again without proof that you are doing what you say you are doing.  You may need to give her the password to your phone.  You may have to install blocking software on your devices.  You may need to give up your right to have your office door closed.  

Yes, it may be a breach of privacy.  Yes it sucks.  But you know what sucks worse? Losing your marriage.  Suck it up and do what you have to do to restore trust.

  1. Accountability

In recovery from Porn Addiction, accountability is everything.  In Living Porn Free, I discuss the importance of having a “Nathan.”  Nathan was the prophet who called King David out for his sin of adultery with Bathsheba.   David needed a friend with the courage to keep him accountable.  He needed a brother to help him realize his errors and seek redemption.

I wouldn’t have made the progress I’ve made in my own recovery from porn addiction if I hadn’t had friends who supported me and held me accountable.   Left to ourselves, we will take the easy route every time.  We need someone to check up on us, tell it to us straight, and push us forward.

However, your accountability partner must NOT be your wife. There are too many ups and downs for her to be your accountability partner.  You need a man, a brother, to be your friend and accountability partner in that battle.  You will be accountable to him, so that you can restore trust with her. 

  1. No Self Pity

When you finally make the decision to break free from porn, you feel a huge weight taken off your shoulders. When you confess, that burden of keeping secrets is removed.  You feel relieved.  You’re finally doing the right thing.  Sometimes, men feel like that should be acknowledged, like they deserve recognition for doing the right thing.  While you should be commended for taking action to quit, you’re just doing what you should have been doing from the beginning.

While you feel great for finally changing your life, you just wrecked her world!  

Don’t be selfish and expect a pat on the back for not doing something wrong.  Don’t get upset because you lost your right to privacy or have to constantly check in with your wife.  These aren’t annoyances, they’re the steps to rebuilding the trust that you damaged.  

  1. Move Forward

In order to truly restore trust and rebuild a marriage, you have to move on.  Deal with the problems, make changes that need to be made, then go forward in a new life.  Instead of living in the past, start building the future.  The fairy tale “happily ever after” marriage is over.  The facade of the perfect marriage is gone. 

This can be a good thing.  You now realize that you’re just two broken people who are determined to stick together no matter what. So start living for the future, improving your relationship day by day, and grow closer together.

I see too many marriages where they seem to want to hang on to the pain.  They want vengeance or retribution.  If you’re looking to get even, you’ll never survive.  

Forgiveness is the key to restoring a broken marriage.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean what the person did was ok.  It means giving up the right to seek retribution for the wrong committed. 

The past is the past.  You can’t change it. Learn from it, fix the problems, and move forward.I’m not going to sit here and pretend that it will be easy to restore trust that has been broken.  There are marriages that cannot survive the damage done by porn addiction.  But if you are willing to put in the hard work, follow the steps I’ve shown, and commit to fighting for your marriage, that trust can be restored. 


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I Offer One-On-One Coaching

If at any point you feel like you need a brother to come alongside you and support you, I’ll be there.  I’d be happy to get on a call with you to provide personal guidance to create a plan to fight your addiction and accountability to keep you on track.  I’ve already helped dozens of men overcome their addictions; all who thought they were helpless.  I’ve discovered that every battle with porn shares the same few threads that, once unraveled, release you from the chains of addiction.  I’d love for you to be the next success story!

Please don’t hesitate to contact me at timothy@intothewildernessblog.com or Direct Message me on Twitter if one-on-one coaching could help in your battle to live Porn Free.

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