Q: My husband blames me for his pornography use. He says that he watches it because I don’t make love with him enough. He says that he knows it’s wrong, and he does believe in the gospel, but that I’m driving him to it because I’m denying him intimate connection. But why would I want to be close to him that way when I feel like he’s thinking of these women or trying things he’s seen in pornography?
A: My heart goes out to you. It’s a heartbreaking thing to know your spouse has been lusting after others. The short version is that, no, you are not responsible for your husband’s pornography use. No matter what anyone else does, each one of us is responsible for our own behavior.
As we read in the scriptures, the Lord’s plan requires “that every man may act in doctrine and principle . . . according to the moral agency which I have given unto them, that every man may be accountable for their own sins in the day of judgment” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:78).
Your husband alone is responsible for his behavior. There may be other issues in the marriage that need resolving, but nobody made him do this. He may feel he’s responding to loneliness or sexual frustration, but there are always ways to get our needs met without trespassing the laws of God. As Nephi taught “I know that the Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7).
Spiritually speaking, your husband watches pornography because he has succumbed to the temptations of the adversary and is following the impulses of the natural man. Psychologically speaking, people turn to pornography as much to relieve anxiety, sadness, loneliness, and boredom as they do for sexual gratification. The answer for your husband is not to blame you but rather to seek healthy and spiritually-sound means to meet these needs.
I don’t have all the information, but if your sexual connection is waning it likely has to do with several factors. Obviously, you feel betrayed and have a hard time trusting him with the most sacred part of yourself right now. I invite you to my free online course for LDS Living readers about overcoming the trauma of betrayal and infidelity. Pornography use is a form of infidelity. As Jesus taught “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery already with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).
For the sexual aspect of your relationship to heal he needs to fully repent, confess his sins, take full accountability, cease the behavior, and allow the Atonement of Jesus Christ to wash him clean. He needs to show that he is worthy of trust again. When he has proven himself, it is then upon you to choose to trust him, but only when he’s proven himself.
If there are other reasons for intimacy struggles in your marriage, even if these came first, they didn’t cause his porn use. Again, we all have agency. Free will means we are more than cause and effect. Viktor Frankl said it best: “In between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”
That said, other issues in your marriage that may have contributed to his loneliness or sadness (and yours) still need to be resolved. Please seek help, from me or from someone else who’s qualified. You don’t have to do this alone. God bless you.