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Do I Tell My Wife When I Fall?

by Mike Stonehill on June 27th, 2017 in Men

tell-my-wife“Honey, I forgot to stop at the store and get milk.”

“Sweetheart, I know I have been trying to eat better, but I had two Big Macs for lunch
because they had a deal.”

“Ummm… when you were at work today, I spent 3 hours surfing porn and masturbating.”

Which of the above scenarios would you be most afraid to tell your wife?

Rather easy to say it would be the struggles with pornography. Addictions and different degrees of struggle with porn are unique in that they, whether intentional or not, communicate a very negative message to your spouse.

“You do not satisfy me, and that hot looking brunette with the big _____ gets my motor running.”

Your confession hits right at the heart of your relationship.

So, does that mean you shouldn’t confess to your spouse? No, not at all.

In my opinion, you should, possibly. But not every time you fall.

Face it, if you are having a struggle with porn your spouse already knows or at the very least thinks something is up. It is healthy if you have a struggle and you have been confronted by your spouse to admit it.

We have a tendency to walk in denial when first confronted. That is our natural self-defense mode kicking in.
We know we are engaged in an unhealthy activity, yet we can’t stop.

I’m not going to assume that because you are reading this you are in the process of changing things.

But I believe it is very healthy to confess to your wife and start recovery. That being said, I think it is unhealthy to confess to her your frequent struggles. That is best done with an accountability partner.

Let your spouse know you are tired of the bad choices and are in an accountability relationship and love them enough to fight it through and stop the bad choices.

We rarely are immediately victorious and to keep going to your spouse and telling them you looked at porn today, or saw that cute girl walking at the mall and then couldn’t stop thinking about sex and went home and masturbated is not going to help your recovery. It will keep reinforcing to your spouse that they are not satisfying and insufficient for you.

If your spouse asks how you are doing, be honest and tell the truth. Not every exact detail, but accentuate the positive and offer them some hope that you are in fact walking a path to freedom.



  • Patrick

    If you have kept this struggle from your wife at all, that also blows up the trust in the relationship too, though, and once that’s been done, will your wife be content to only know SOME of the detail while you keep the rest? I think most wives will demand to know the full truth, all of it, in as much detail in order to not have a secret kept from them any longer.

    This is why I think it’s best not to tell but instead to run to accountability from guys and pursue that with relentless discipline and confession.

  • JON

    the best decision i made was to confess to my wife. It truly helped the lord restore my relationship with him and her. Guilt and fear are not from god, he wants to wash our sins away and mend our hearts. Ever since i confessed, it has been easier to talk with her and express my struggles. we actually work together, and its been amazing to see the grace that god demonstrates through my wife. Believe me it was hard at first for the both of us, but it has payed of tremendously. 11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give to the future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen 13 If you look for me wholheartedly, you will find me 14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord. Jeremiah 29:11-14

  • mikestonehill

    Let me clarify a bit. If you are struggling, confess it. She knows or at least strongly suspects things are going on. If you don’t confess, she can come up with all sorts of scenarios that may or may not be true. Give her the facts and share your heart to stop. As you struggle to gain victory, it is important to maintain communication and reflect the hope of victory. She needs to know you are doing your best. I don’t believe it is healthy to confess every step backward in detail. If she asks for a “progress report,” share truthfully and lovingly. But if you confess every time you see a good looking woman that turns you on, or every time you struggle with a sexy picture it will not encourage hope. Especially since men in particular are visually stimulated more so than women. Our culture puts a lot of temptations in front of us that we don’t even need to look for. The objective is to share truth while also reflecting teh hope of progress and victory.

  • Dan

    I think you should tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. To keep back even one little detail is called deception. Deception is a lie. How will your wife view your deception? As a lie, of course. And everyone knows that you can’t trust a liar. The truth may hurt, but not near as much as a deceitfulness. Satan works in darkness through lies and deceit, always bring the truth to light.

    • mikestonehill

      I will respectfully disagree with you Dan in that you need to reveal every detail. The objective is to encourage hope and the strong desire to change. If your spouse asks you about anything related to this you need to tell the truth and answer the questions. But by detailing the exact complete details it has a tendency to overpower the other person. It is a balancing act. I believe it comes down to what does the spouse want to know. If they ask, “Have you looked at porn, (.etc)”, answer honestly. TO not do that is deception. To not give every detail is not deception unless they are asking for specific details then you need to answer honestly. If you always detail every instance and detail of each instance that usually is counter productive and does not encourage hope but becomes overwhelming to all involved. It basically boils down to answer what your spouse is asking, offer up honest hope by being honest and not deceiving, but don’t overwhelm with minutiae.

      • sarah gardner

        After feeling with this particular issue for almost 20 years, I can most definitely say that this “advice” is probably the worst I have read on the subject! Absolutely awful! It is a wolf in sheeps clothing. Your encouraging deception, in men (or women) who already CLEARLY have a problem! Not being completely honest, is NOT being honest at all. Coming from a site, that purports to teach from a “Godly” approach, I find your advice much more harmful than possibly even minutely helpful. A partial confession will only drag out their spouses pain, leaving the most unsavory for another day. Holding the worst from her, disguising the truth, in essence lying about “who” you are! This coming from a site to encourage Gods view on marriage! This is worse than the sites that say “it’s normal”, “men will be men”…

        Don’t fool yourself, or these other men, your not protecting your marriage, your wife, your family, you are only protecting yourself (and your dirty mind). This entire article encourages men to be honest, only don’t tell her anything. Why? Should your wife not have the choice to make up her own mind? Decide if “you”, the real you, not the one you pretend to be, is the person she wants to spend her life with? Obviously, from your article your answer would be a resounding “no”. What a disgrace to your wife.

        • Dan McGuire

          I could not agree more Sarah, complete honesty is the only way that true healing can come.

  • Andrea

    I am a wife that is dealing with this from my husband. My heart breaks to know that for 11 1/2 years of marriage he was doing this everyday. He would go to work and masterbate. He would not have sex with me very often. So many times when I would say that I wanted to have sex, he would shoot me down saying that he was too tired. My heart is broken. For so long, I have not been good enough, and now that he is working on the problem, it is like I am not supposed to ask questions about it and I am not supposed to hurt anymore. How do I heal? Am I not allowed to ask questions to better understand him or to know if I am good enough?

    • Eugene

      Mike said you have every right to question and ask your husband about these behaviors and that he should answer all your questions. You need to realize that it’s almost never about a man not wanting his wife, but an unfortunate debilitating habit that began before marriage which has led to his selfish behavior in not giving you the love you deserved. You have a right to divorce in most states and under the Law of God as well, a man was required to provide for his wife’s physical and sexual needs and if he did not, she was allowed to leave him. But, I hope you won’t do that but stay and eventually forgive and help your husband break free. It isn’t easy, but love and forgiveness from you to his undeserving self will be a huge factor in his progress. If there is an environment of shame and judgment, then it could hinder any progress. So, yes, lots of communication and an open dialogue on this topic, in a helpful spirit, I think will assist his recovery greatly. Just realize that a porn addiction can get very twisted, due to the nature of the thing as well as the dulling effect and the promotions that porn sites make to the user. These twisted things aren’t pretty, often shameful and don’t make good conversation.

    • mikestonehill

      Andrea yes you are allowed to ask questions. My advice is that if the spouse asks questions answer them and be honest. However, I dont feel it is healthy through the entire process to keep bombarding your spouse with every detail of the failures, unless they ask, then honesty is the best policy. It is not conducive to your health to constantly be bombarded with ever detail, it only furthers your negative feelings and loss of hope. Your husband needs to be aware of the need to reverse the negative feelings you have, and to constantly be encouraging you with the good news of his progress and hopefully his accountability relationships.

  • Ed

    I am a husband of 10 years about 3 years ago I kissed another girl and I did tell my wife..that was horrible! I was brought up in a home where my dad had porn videos and magazines in the home. I did look at them. Just the other day I looked at nude pics of women on twitter…not a good idea. That has been the first time and the only time I will do that. I call myself Christian but I do nothing to live it! I am very scared to tell my wife…I do have accountablity partner..I am very afraid that my wife will not trust me anymore..I need prayer and help

  • tucsondaddy99

    If you assume that the
    slip was something like “I watched porn for an hour,” coming
    clean should result in a slap on the wrist. I promise never to do it
    again and find an accountability partner to help when my urges are

    What it I French kissed her sister? Or I kissed my best friend, Don? You think that wife is going to giggle and say, “Don’t do it again and all will be OK.”

    No matter which of the above I did, I’d tell my wife I slipped. If she pressed me, I want to know details, I wouldn’t. Ask her to trust me, that I was getting things under control and it wouldn’t happen again.

    When a woman wants to know serious salacious details, she has a problem too. Get a referee.

    If you think the question, “Do I look fat is this?” is bad, this is far worse. What she doesn’t know can’t hurt you.

  • Joshua

    I am a christian and I have struggled with porn all my life. I would agree that in most cases you should tell your spouse. I have held myself accountable to accountability partners for the last 2 years and that has helped a lot and my porn watching has went from everyday to once every week or two for 10-15 minutes at a time but only while masturbating, not just to look at the girls. In my sex life with my wife I try to make love to her every chance I get but usually she’s not interested. We make love maybe once a week or two if that. The is another thing to. My wife has undiagnosed schizophrenia and is obsessive compulsive as well as overly dramatic. She stirs up a lot of contention between the two of us with the words she accuses me of and her constant slander of me. She knows she has a problem with her tongue and we are going to seek counseling for it but she refuses to admit any mental illness. I know that if I tell my wife about these things that her worst fears will be realized and she will start believing other things that aren’t true to like sometimes she thinks I’m trying to poison her when I cook, or that I hide her keys from her on purpose and that someone sneaks into our house at night and moves things around. I know also that I will get a violent reaction too. She will probably hurt me forcing me to call the police on her. And her family is an issue as well she will tell all of them including everyone at church too. Mostly we will probably end up in divorce but I have a hard time taking her abuse as it is. I don’t know what to do. But I my accountability partners agree that given the situation that it may not be best just yet to tell her but maybe after she gets some help with her problems and her mental illness that in the future I should confess. I agree maybe in the future when she isn’t so abusive but under the circumstances I just can’t right now. I pray God understands. And I hope you do to, to whomever reads this, but please give me some feedback, I am open to any constructive criticism or opinions. Thank you and God Bless.

  • Brian C

    Your spouse’s subjective view of you must match objective reality.

    If your spouse thinks: “My husband would never look at pornography.” and you do look at pornography, then your love and marriage is on the line. If your wife thinks you would never gain a sexual thrill by looking at other women and you have, then you have the same issue. Matching what she thinks of you to who you really are enables intimacy/candor.
    If your wife knows that you watched pornography and you recall a specific time when you watched pornography previously, then informing her of this will not change her subjective view of you, nor will her subjective view come more into line with the reality of who you are. This definitely would bring truly unnecessary pain, but consider also that we will tend to use this as an excuse.

    If your wife thinks you only watched a certain type of pornography that she finds more acceptable than others, when actually you watched ‘worse’ pornography (whatever that is), then telling your wife *will* make her subjective view of you better match the objective reality of who you are. That will pay off.

    Basically, if you are hiding something from your wife because it would make her think less of you, you need to think very carefully about whether you are withdrawing from your covenant with God.

    Approaching it from another direction, your wife needs to forgive you for your sins which have harmed her. If she doesn’t know the extent/depth of your sin, then she doesn’t have the capability of forgiving you.

  • Forrest Greyter

    More times than not, after I confess looking at porn or masturbation, in turn, my wife commits the same act within a week. I have used this to justify not telling my wife in the past. What are your thoughts?

    • Dan McGuire

      I think that only in realizing that both of you are in the wrong can real and lasting intimacy return; having a “well she did it too” mentality still does not change the fact that it is not just her taking part in sexual perversity. My suggestion would be to follow what Jesus commands in Matthew 7:5: “Hypocrite! First cast out the beam from your eye, and then you will see
      clearly to cast out the splinter from the eye of your brother.” I love your honesty Forrest, I’ll be praying for you and your wife bro.

      In Christ

  • Dee

    I could not agree with this more. My husband feels that “honesty is the best policy,” but I feel like I’m being asked to referee a boxing match where I keep getting punched in the face. I really don’t want this job anymore. I tried to crawl out of the ring this week – to keep the metaphor going – tried to ask him to stop telling me everything. He asked me this morning to try one more time. He wants accountability from me, but I really wish he would find a new ref. I want to cheer him on from the sidelines. Let someone else keep score.

  • Mark Sanford

    Many different views and opinions. What course of action will cause the least amount of permanent damage and result in freedom with integrity for both husband and wife? I may be tempted to tell her explicit details because of her “demand” to know out of curiosity or feelings of violation, which are very legitimate. Or tempted to spill the beans out of my own guilt and need to get it off-my-chest in the name of being “honest”. Remember once she’s heard the details, she will likely never forget them, which could cause longstanding damage to her mental and emotional well-being (always being suspicious), which is a terrible burden for a wife. The most practical approach seems to be the husband or wife who, struggling with porn and masturbation, takes the initiative to find solid and tangible support for the addiction FIRST–I found XXX Watch AND Sexaholics Anonymous meetings (with sponsor and program) to start disassembling the longstanding issues around the addiction. AND then, going to the spouse and explaining the struggle–honey, I’ve been struggling with something I hate about myself and have felt terribly ashamed to talk about it. I know it affects our relationship with each other, and my relationship with the Lord. I’ve taken responsibility to find the support I need for the use of internet pornography. I’ve struggled with this for ____ years, since I found a stash of porn on the job site as a teenager and I’ve never known how to talk about it. I’ve taken decisive action to heal from this problem that affects our marriage and our relationship. I need a season to heal from this issue. There seems to be a difference between (1) taking the initiative to find help before getting “caught”–shows responsibility, OR (2) getting caught in the act and finding support to appease the spouse. In the process of healing, the truth will come out along the way and perhaps a stronger relationship and better communication will develop. Men in my group who have “told the WHOLE truth” in one sit down meeting have REGRETTED it down the road. In time, the truth does come out with the possibility of creating a stronger and more honest marriage.

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