by Kyler & Britt Nixon

5 Ways to Overcome Porn Before You Get Married

This post was written by our friend Chris Wheaton at Fully Known.

As you prepare for marriage it’s wise to take inventory of what you, as an individual, are bringing into the relationship.

Each person brings their own positive traits and attributes as well as their own baggage.

If you’re struggling with porn while dating or engaged, if you don’t deal with it, you WILL bring this baggage into your marriage. There’s a common myth that getting married will take care of your porn problem because once you’re married you get to have SEX! While it’s true you’ll get to have sex but, as we will discuss in this post, watching porn actually has very little to do with sex.

How Porn Affects Your Marriage

Porn has damaging effects on the person viewing and consuming and those effects will play out in your most intimate relationships, especially marriage.

Here are a few examples of how porn will affect your marriage:

  • a lack of trust from your spouse
  • a distorted view of sex and the proper role it plays in marriage
  • inability to cultivate emotional and spiritual intimacy
  • erectile dysfunction (in men)
  • objectifying and oversexualizing your spouse
  • trauma for your spouse
  • and sexual dissatisfaction for you and your spouse.

Wow, that’s a heavy list!

5 Ways to Overcome Porn Before You Get Married

So, let’s talk about 5 ways you can overcome porn before you get married.

1. Be honest and break denial.

This is where it all starts. In order to start healing and overcoming a porn problem you have to be committed to honesty and reality at all costs. That means, even if you categorize your porn use as “infrequent” or “not a big deal”, the truth is that any PORN use is damaging on you, your brain, and your relationships. It is crucial to share your struggle (NOT IN FULL DETAIL) with your future spouse and also what your plan is to address your struggle moving forward.

2. Share your story with a trusted ally.

You CAN’T overcome porn alone. Porn use thrives in shame and isolation and continued use creates more isolation and shame keeping you stuck. By finding a trusted friend, pastor, counselor, elder, leader, etc. who can meet you with grace and truth, you will start to break the shame and isolation that are fueling your porn use. Shame is so devastating because the message of shame is “I’m a BAD person.” This is a toxic message that can escalate porn use.

3. Identify your porn cycle.

Porn use operates in what’s called an “addictive cycle”. This is unique to each person but also has similarities to others who are struggling with porn.

Here is an example of a typical “Porn Cycle”: Alone with my phone late at night –> Cruise social media to numb out –> see triggering images (sexual or nonsexual) –> look at more sexual pictures and videos –> escalate to porn sites –> find the “perfect” video and masturbate. This is just an example, but you can see how someone with this “porn cycle” could make some changes.

  1. Don’t be alone at night.
  2. Don’t have your phone late at night.
  3. Delete or set limits on all social media applications Just to name a few.

Using this template, you can do some investigating on the last time you looked at porn and write out your porn cycle to see where you can make some changes. As you do this, make sure to share this with your trusted ally that we discussed in tip #2!

4. Identify your triggers.

Developing self-awareness and situational awareness gives you the ability to stop porn use before it happens. The first step in developing these tools is to identify what your personal triggers are. These triggers can be people, places, sounds, words, smells, emotions, etc. Your triggers are what begin your personal cycle of porn use that we discussed in point #3.

As you investigate the last time you looked at porn, you can see which triggers were present. It could’ve been stress/pressure at work, family issues, a place like the gym or mall, just to name a few.

As you identify these triggers, you will see the negative emotions and feelings that are attached to them. Porn is ultimately used to numb the pain of these negative, painful emotions and feelings. Use this chart below as a guide and list as many examples as you can think of.

Trigger: Stress at work.
Past Actions that led to Porn: Procrastinate by cruising social media sites for sexual images.
Future Actions to Prevent Porn: Call a trusted friend, go on a short walk, put my phone away for an hour.

5. Create a safety plan.

A safety plan is going to help you create an environment of trust and safety for yourself and ultimately for your marriage. A good safety plan will list the things in your life that are directly related to your porn use and an agreement to avoid them.

You will also identify what a “relapse” looks like for you and what natural and logical consequences will take place if you do relapse. If you’re engaged or married, this is a great document to create with your partner. This will help them feel safe and also show you how your porn use will directly affect your relationship. Here is an example of a good safety plan, use this as a blueprint but be sure to personalize for your situation and the safety of your spouse.

Step 1: Identify your relapse—This is the place you promised yourself, God, and others you would not return to. IE: Porn, Masturbation, Strip Clubs, Social Media Apps, etc. This list should be re-evaluated at least every six months.

Step 2: Determine who you need to share your relapse with, and in what time frame. This step ties into step #2 above. Share with your trusted ally, counselor, pastor, etc, and do it within 24 hours of the relapse. You also need to decide with your fiance or spouse how to share the relapse with them. Remember, ISOLATION fuels porn use, and sharing your relapse will keep you from being isolated and ashamed!

Step 3: Write out all the natural consequences of your relapse. Here is a list of possible natural consequences:

  • my relationship with my fiance/spouse is damaged because I have betrayed them
  • my relationship with God feels distant because I am ashamed
  • I am objectifying others
  • I am distracted and unproductive at my job
  • I am furthering destructive pathways in my brain

Step 4: Write out a list of logical consequences Here is a list of possible logical consequences: (remember to get input from your fiance/spouse on these!)

  • delete social media apps
  • no phone use after 7pm
  • install Covenant Eyes or internet monitoring software
  • pay money to an anti-porn or anti-sex trafficking organization
  • schedule a counseling appointment
  • loss of internet access or a specific device that the relapse occurred on
  • allowance of access to social media, email, phone, etc for your fiance/spouse

Step 5: Review your Trigger Table from step #4 above. After a relapse, it is so crucial to review what happened to see what changes you can make to avoid further relapses. A relapse is NOT a good thing but it can be an amazing opportunity to learn and heal. Investigate what happened and list out any new insights in your trigger table.

Step 6: Have a goal and desired outcome. Write out the purpose, goal, or desired outcome of this safety plan. Be detailed and consider all the benefits you and your relationship will experience as a result of your sexual health and integrity! This final piece is powerful and key to keeping your eyes on what it takes to achieve long-lasting health and freedom.

We all want to experience the joy and fulfillment of the marriage that Christ died for us to have! As you courageously overcome porn, your marriage will be a safe place, and you will have deep, rich friendships where you are FULLY KNOWN AND FULLY LOVED! 🖤

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