About the Guest
Pornography is hurting a lot of marriages. Vicki Tiede knows. Formerly married to a pornography user, Vicki recalls the confusion she felt over her husband's disinterest in sex, beginning on the honeymoon. But after finding inappropriate magazines, and concerned about the amount of time he was spending on the computer, she finally put two and two together. Distraught and pregnant, she sought help from her pastor and recommitted her life and her marriage to Christ.
Vicki recalls finding her former husband’s inappropriate magazines. Distraught and pregnant, she sought help from her pastor and recommitted her life and her marriage to Christ.
Bob: Vicki Tiede remembers clearly the day she found what no wife wants to find—pornography on her husband’s computer.
Vicki: I was devastated! I literally cried until I made myself sick. Then, I told him what I had found; and he just twisted it all. He told me he was doing research for a book; you know, that I was blowing this up; it was much smaller than I was making it out to be; I was making such a big deal.
He somehow was able to twist my thinking. I think, when a woman is told that they are wrong, that they’re not sane, that they are crazy—when you’re told these things enough times—you kind of just start to question yourself: “Am I crazy? Am I making a big deal out of nothing?” It wasn’t until a little bit later in my pregnancy that I was gone for a week, doing some work. While I was gone, he took a trip with someone else.
This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, January 21st. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Vicki Tiede joins us today to talk about how she responded when she learned that her husband was addicted to pornography. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. We are going to dive into a pretty heavy subject today.
But let me start off by saying, “Congratulations!” to our friends, Brian and Sharlyn Sipe, who live in Fayetteville, Pennsylvania. They listen to FamilyLife Today on WCRH. They have been married 32 years today. “Congratulations!” to the Sipes on their 32nd wedding anniversary.
We’re all about anniversaries, here at FamilyLife Today.
In fact, we’re celebrating our 40th anniversary as a ministry this year. But what really matters is, not our anniversary—it’s your anniversary. That’s why we exist—so that more listeners will have more anniversaries. So, “Congratulations!” to the Sipes on
32 years of marriage together. They have been to four Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways during their marriage. Maybe that’s one of the things that helped them get to 32 years together.
A quick reminder for our listeners—that this weekend is the last opportunity you have if you’d like to sign up [at a reduced price] for a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway for this spring. If you pay the regular rate for yourself, your spouse can come at no charge—comes free—but that offer is good through this weekend. If you’d like to take advantage of the special offer, be sure to get in touch with us ASAP. You can get more information or register online at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Or you can call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” We hope to see you at an upcoming Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.
One of the things we talk about, Dennis, at the Weekend to Remember, is the subject of marriage intimacy. Whenever I am in that setting, where I’m talking about intimacy, one of the subjects that we have to address is the subject of pornography because that is affecting marriage intimacy in a lot of marriages. In talking to the couples at the Weekend to Remember, I will talk to the guys about how to confess if this is an issue that’s a struggle for them; but I also talk to the wives about what they need to do if their husband comes to them and comes clean with his struggle with pornography. It’s never an easy situation or circumstance. It’s always hard for a wife to hear that kind of news from her husband.
Husbands and wives have got to make a decision about whether they’re going to work through the storm together or whether this is something that’s going to send them into different corners; don’t they?
Dennis: Bob, that’s one of the most powerful reasons why a couple ought to go to the Weekend to Remember. There are going to be storms in their marriage and in their family that they have to have a rock for their house to be standing on. The Weekend to Remember will give them that rock. It may not be pornography, as we’re talking about here today, but you will experience storms. If you haven’t been to a Weekend to Remember, I would encourage you, sometime this spring, go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and check out the locations for the Weekend to Remember near you, and make plans to attend.
We have a guest with us on FamilyLife Today—Vicki Tiede, who joins us—who is, unfortunately, a former wife of a man who was addicted to pornography. Vicki, welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Vicki: Thank you so much for having me.
Dennis: Vicki is a Bible teacher/speaker. She leads the women’s ministries at her local church. She and her husband, Mike, have been married since 1999. They have three children—one from a previous marriage and two from your marriage to Mike. She’s written a book called When Your Husband Is Addicted to Pornography: Healing Your Wounded Heart.
Take us to the first time you had any hint when your first husband had any problem with pornography.
Vicki: You know, I was a young bride, early in our marriage. I don’t think I knew that it had anything to do with pornography, but I knew within three months of our getting married that things weren’t right. Of course, I thought it must be something about me—that I didn’t have this wife-thing figured out—so I sought counseling. I went to my pastor first and he—
Dennis: Well, now; wait a second. When you say, “Things weren’t right,” what do you mean by that? What was the hint at that point?
Vicki: You know, the hint for us was that there was no intimacy—almost none. I thought that I was inadequate or not attractive enough. So, I was trying to figure that out. I would talk to my husband. He would say: “No, it has nothing to do with you. You know, I’m just tired. I just don’t feel like it.” That just seemed contrary to what I expected! I thought it was going to be the opposite—that he would want to be intimate and I might not—at least, according to what the books and people were saying before. So I was surprised by that. I thought, “Okay, then, there must be something about me that’s not right; and I’m not understanding this.”
Bob: This is something that faded from the honeymoon. I mean, it wasn’t like, at the very beginning, you thought, “This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.”
Vicki: You know, almost from the beginning, I knew it wasn’t right.
Vicki: Yes, even the honeymoon itself—something wasn’t right.
I remember just praying and asking God, “Will You show me what I’m missing here?—if there’s something about me I need to fix?” I had lost a lot of weight. I thought that might be the issue. I did a lot of different things—keeping the house up differently, or fixing his favorite meals, or, you know, just being sensitive to his likes and dislikes. But then, it came to the point where I just said, “Lord, You’ve got to show me if I’m missing something here.” I remember praying that distinctly before walking into the office that he used.
I feel like now, in hindsight, it was kind of booby-trapped so that I wouldn’t want to go in there. His one task was to take the garbage out around the house. Instead of taking it out, he would pile it just inside of the office. I think it was so that I wouldn’t go in, but I went in one day. I pulled out the filing cabinet drawer. It was filled with documents and pictures that he had downloaded from the computer. I was sick. I was just sick when I realized what I was seeing—conversations—internet chat room conversations—that he had. There was no question—it was his name/username that was being used.
Dennis: You said there was garbage?
Vicki: Garbage—bags of garbage.
Dennis: Physical garbage?
Vicki: Physical bags of garbage.
Dennis: Like how many? You think he was doing that because it smelled so bad you would stay out of there?
Vicki: Yes. Five or six—seven bags—it would be a week or so that he wouldn’t take the garbage out in order to try to keep me out of that room. It didn’t have a lock on the door—it was just a little bi-fold door. So, I think that was his way of keeping me out.
Dennis: The symbolism of that—
Vicki: Yes! Ironic; isn’t it?
Dennis: It really is. I want to be careful about saying something here, at the beginning of this story. We’re not saying that just because a man may have a lower sex drive than his wife that that necessarily equates with a problem with pornography.
Dennis: It could.
Vicki: It could. It’s one of the flags that you might be aware of, but it’s usually one of many flags. The reason for that is—if you engage in much pornography, you’ll want more pornography.
It tends to draw people toward the pornography as opposed to real intimacy with their loved one. So, that’s one sign. I think women are aware of that. When you’re going to bed alone, night after night—and that was my case—you know, there were many, many mornings I would wake up, in the middle of the night—two o’clock in the morning—and he wouldn’t have ever come to bed.
I would go looking for him, and he would be on the computer in the office. Most of the time, I snuck back to bed, and would curl up in the fetal position, and cry myself to sleep because I knew something was going on.
Bob: So, there was a time when you found out there was something going on. That didn’t bring everything to a head and turn the tide for you?
Vicki: Right; no. Each time something new came to light—you know, I was going to bed alone. He was on the computer; he’d flip it off; I wouldn’t know what it was.
Bob: Well, now, hang on. I’ve got to go back because you, undoubtedly, had a confrontation after you found what you found in the drawer.
Bob: He comes home from work. You say, “I have to talk to you.”
Vicki: Yes; yes.
Dennis: “I found the garbage.”
Vicki: “I found the garbage.” Yes, the real garbage.
Bob: Take us to that conversation.
Vicki: You know, I remember, especially after that time—this was at least two years, I guess, into our marriage. I was in the early stages of pregnancy—so hormones were added on top of this. I was devastated. I literally cried until I made myself sick. Then, I told him what I had found; and he just twisted it all. He told me he was doing research for a book, you know, that I was blowing this up—it was much smaller than I was making it out to be—I was making such a big deal.
He somehow was able to twist my thinking. I think, when a woman is told that they are wrong / that they are crazy—when you’re told these things enough times, you kind of just start to question yourself, you know: “Am I crazy? Am I making a big deal out of nothing?”
It wasn’t until a little bit later in my pregnancy, that I was gone for a week, doing some work. While I was gone, he took a trip with someone else. I was devastated.
Bob: How did you find out about that?
Vicki: He actually told me he was taking the trip, but he said he was going to visit a friend from years’ past. When I returned home and started calling that friend, that’s not where he was. We didn’t have cell phones then. So, you know, it wasn’t like I could track him down. All I had was the hotel number. I just remember calling, and calling, and calling, all night long, and not getting him—then, later, finding evidence that he was on this trip with someone else.
Dennis: Did you confront him about that then?
Vicki: Oh, yes! Oh, yes! Again, it was: “It was platonic. It wasn’t anything.” I was blowing this all up. He never, at any time, owned the addiction. He never said, “I have a problem with this.” That term, pornography addiction, wasn’t well-used at that time.
Dennis: Spiritually-speaking, had there been any discussion between the two of you, as you dated and were engaged, about: “What does God have to do with our marriage, and with our family, with our values? What about the Scriptures?” Had there been any of those conversations?
Vicki: You know, it’s interesting—I was active in our church, and he was less so; but he proclaimed himself to be a strong believer. I knew his family to be. We didn’t—we didn’t sit down and have those conversations. We didn’t read the Bible together. We did our required counseling before we got married. We went through all of the prerequisites / answered all of the questions, but it was really kind of just going through the motions more than it being something meaningful and talking about how God was going to work in our lives. Right after we got married, I was going to church alone on Sundays.
Dennis: I want to make a comment about that because we discussed the Weekend to Remember, Bob, at the beginning of the broadcast—talking about married couples who come to our weekend getaway to get the blueprints for building their marriage.
They may, in the process, discover there are issues in their marriage that need to be dealt with, there, that weekend. We give them the tools to do that.
But I think one of the best things we do at the Weekend to Remember is for those who are contemplating engagement—single people or those who are already engaged who get the Weekend to Remember as a wedding gift and go before they get married. I wonder—you know, you can’t answer that question now—what would have happened if, Vicki, you and your fiancé, at that point, had attended something like that? There would have certainly been some warning signs, at that point, if he showed no interest in God or in Him being the Builder and Maker of your marriage and family.
Bob: Well, I just have to say, because some people may be listening and thinking, “I don’t want to go to one of those weekends you’re talking about because it sounds like all of the issues are going to be laid out and your marriage, that is functioning fine, is going to get turned upside down.” That’s a little bit like saying, “I’m not going to take my car in for a check-up before the long trip because they might find something wrong with it.”
Dennis: “Let’s just let it break down, and then we’ll try to find a—”
Dennis: “—find a solution.”
Bob: That’s the point. This is a part of how you do healthy, preventive maintenance on a marriage—is by digging in and finding out: “What are the issues? How are we doing? Where can we use some help? Where are we doing okay?”—to do that, as an engaged couple / that is a healthy thing to do—to do it when you’ve been married for three years, or for thirteen years, or for thirty years.
Bob: It’s always a healthy form of preventive maintenance for your marriage. So, again, if folks want more information about the Weekend to Remember, they can go to FamilyLifeToday.com and look on our website for that.
But I want to go back. You made the statement that the first time you came across magazines—your husband talked you out of it: “Somebody must have left this here at our house.” I’m thinking to myself: “Vicki! You’re a smart woman. Come on!” Then, the second time, it was, “I’m doing research on a book.”
Vicki: I know.
Bob: And then, the third time, “It was platonic.”
Vicki: Oh, trust me! By the second and third time, I did not believe the stories any more. I knew that if, in fact, if he was doing research for a book, it would only be available in an adult book store.
Vicki: There’s no question. You know, I knew that was the case. I did make some ultimatums, at that point, and set some boundaries, and said: “You need to get help with this! We need to go to counseling and get help.”
The thing is—that’s only helpful if you admit that you’ve got a problem and you’re willing to tell the truth to a counselor. That’s the thing about these pornography addictions—they’re shrouded in lies. His entire existence, he’d been lying. He never was honest with a counselor. It never lasted more than two sessions because they would get too close to the truth, and we’d be out of there. He wouldn’t go back.
Bob: He’d just say, “I’m not going to that guy again.”
Vicki: That’s right. Yes.
Dennis: So what would you say to the wife, who’s listening right now, who’s going, “You have described what’s taking place in our marriage,”?
Bob: “I’ve caught him a couple of times. I’ve found clues. I’ve confronted him. He’s told me things—”
Dennis: “He’s done the same thing to me that he did to Vicki.” What would you say to a young lady?
Vicki: Yes. I think you have to have the hard conversation and tell them what you suspect. If you’re not being told the truth or you don’t believe that you’re hearing the truth, then you need to get yourself some support. You need to go and talk to a pastor. You need to get some counseling. There is absolutely nothing like being in a support group with other women, whose husbands are going through the same thing because you never know what it’s like to be a widow until you’re a widow; likewise, you don’t really know what it’s like to be married to someone addicted to pornography until you’re that woman. A support network is profoundly huge.
I want to say one thing, though. You talk about, “if she has discovered these things.” My prayer is always that she never has to discover these things—she won’t walk in on something, or open a filing cabinet, or turn on her computer and be bombarded with things.
Rather, my prayer is that men will tell their wife what is going on because, when you don’t, she is always left to wonder if you would have ever told her. Are you really sorry or are you just sorry you got caught? That will plague her. It does slow down the recovery process. As painful as it is to have to go to your wife, and tell her what’s happening, it’s the kindest thing you can do.
Bob: What you’re talking about is what’s talked about in II Corinthians as the difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow because godly sorrow is that internal motivation, brought on by the Holy Spirit—the conviction that comes—that causes somebody to say, “I can’t live this way anymore,” and to come clean on their own. The person who gets caught—it’s a little hard to tell whether they’ve reached a point of conviction or whether it’s just, “I’m sorry I got caught; and I’m going to try to either hide it better, or stay clean for a while and let this thing blow over.”
Dennis: And what I would want a man to hear, who’s listening to Vicki right now: “Listen to this woman tell you what your wife would want to happen in your heart. She would want you to repent on your own—not have to be confronted.”
Dennis: “Don’t put it on her or on a group of other people to do that. Step up, be courageous, and face your bad stuff. It may mean you’re going to have to admit some weaknesses, and flaws, and faults; but that’s what repentance, ultimately, deals with.”
In that situation, Bob—back to the repentance that is truly provoked by a desire for godliness—that’s where hope, healing, reconciliation, and restoration in a relationship can occur.
Bob: So the guy, who’s listening, and says: “Okay, if I go to my wife today, tomorrow, or this weekend, and I say, ‘I need to come clean about some stuff,’ Dennis, you don’t know. I’ve seen my wife get angry. I don’t think our marriage will survive it.”
Dennis: Well, I think, first of all, I would not instruct him to go to his wife first. I would instruct him to go to a man—hopefully, a godly counselor / a pastor—to whom he could confess what’s taken place and help put together a game plan for going to talk to his wife. Have that other man help establish a support group that—after the detonation of an atomic bomb occurs and all the nuclear waste is out in that relationship because there will be fall-out / there’s going to be hurt that occurs here—
Dennis: —you begin the process of building the relationship as it should have been in the first place.
Bob: Vicki, you and I have talked about the fact that some women you’ve talked to, who have gone to pastors—some of them have gotten what you said was poor advice / poor counsel.
Vicki: Right. You know, I think pastors often aren’t prepared to handle this situation. So, they want to fix it for her. Their counsel, sometimes, is askew. It’s like Eli with Hannah. Eli sees her praying and crying. Her lips are moving, but he can’t hear anything. He makes the assumption that she’s drunk and that she needs to get away from the wine. You know what? He couldn’t have been further—he missed the mark by a mile.
I think, sometimes, when these women come in, the pastor thinks, if he tells this woman, “We’re going to get your husband into an accountability group,” and “Here’s some great software,” and “Here’s a book he could read,” that will make it all better. The thing is that, just because the habit is taken care of, doesn’t mean the havoc doesn’t continue in her life. So, you need to have a plan for “How is she going to be restored too?” I’m encouraged by Job 22 that says, “If you return to the Almighty, you will be renewed.” Showing her the way to the Wonderful Counselor, who can repair that heart, is going to be tremendous.
But giving counsel like, “Well, maybe if you hit the gym a few more times this week,” or “If you were more available, on a more frequent basis, to your husband, sexually—then he won’t have this problem,” is not the right kind of counsel that she needs to hear at this time.
Dennis: And that’s really why you’ve put together your book in a devotional setting, where a woman could process what she’s feeling, and experiencing, and be led by another woman, who’s been through this and guide her toward her heavenly Father, who can, ultimately, give her the spiritual life / the courage to walk through what may be a long, dark valley.
Bob: The book you’ve written, Vicki, is as if a woman would say, “I wish I had a few minutes, every day, where I could talk with somebody who has gone through this experience—someone who could encourage me, and support me, and help me in the midst of the journey that I’m on.”
That’s what they get in this book because you share from your experience and you share the things you have learned from God’s Word on your own journey.
We’ve got copies of the book. Again, it’s called When Your Husband Is Addicted to Pornography. You can go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, to order a copy of Vicki’s book; or you can call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY,” and order the book by phone. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY,” to order a copy of the book, When Your Husband Is Addicted to Pornography by Vicki Tiede.
Let me just encourage our listeners again—if you’ve never been to one of our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways—you never know when issues are going to emerge in a marriage, whether it’s pornography, or a prodigal son or daughter, or some kind of a calamity that comes into a family / a marriage relationship.
You want to make sure that your marriage is ready for the storm when the storm comes because the storm is going to come in a marriage relationship. The couples who know how to pursue intimacy / pursue oneness in the midst of that storm—those are the couples who go the distance in their marriage.
That’s what we’re all about, here at FamilyLife—is helping couples go the distance. We’d love to have you join us at one of our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways this spring, especially if you’ve never been to a getaway. Make this the year that you attend what is a fun romantic getaway weekend for couples. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and take advantage of the special offer we’re making this week—it expires on Sunday. So let us hear from you now. You pay the regular registration fee for yourself, and your spouse comes free.
That offer is good through Sunday. So go to FamilyLifeToday.com to take advantage of it; or call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY,” and join us for a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.
And we hope you’ll join us again tomorrow when we’re going to talk more with Vicki Tiede about how a wife can respond when she learns that her husband has been struggling with pornography. We’ll talk about that tomorrow. I hope you can be here.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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