Your Questions Answered: An Interview with Vicki Tiede
As promised, here is my interview with Vicki Tiede. I would like to take this opportunity to thank her for graciously going along with my idea to wait for questions from my readers. That did not give her much time to work on a response. But as you will see, she put much care into answering your questions. Thank you to those who submitted questions for the interview.
Thank you for inviting me to join your blog today. It's a little like visiting someone's home for the first time. I get to meet new people, share a little bit about my book, and hopefully make some new friends.
I appreciate the thoughtful questions you asked about When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography: Healing Your Wounded Heart. Though it's not the same as curling up on your sofa with a cup of coffee and having a dialogue about the book, I'll do my best to answer your questions here.
1.What can the reader expect to gain from When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography? Will it help to fix her marriage?
Right out of the gate I tell the reader that this book is not meant to give her tools and skills to fix her husband. It is for and about her, not her husband.
I’ve met too many women who tell me that after their husband revealed his addiction, he went to counseling, joined an accountability group, used filtering software … in other words, he did all the “right” things, but she was still hurting, didn’t trust him, felt betrayed, wouldn’t let him touch her, was angry … There are great books that will help a woman understand her husband’s addiction, but I wrote my book to help her deal with her heart and these issues.
Now, I’m not a counselor. I am a wife who has lived through this experience who has a deep love for the Wonderful Counselor. As a woman who’s been there, I’ve earned the privilege of walking with other women to the foot of the cross where she will find hope and healing.
Will it help her marriage? When she has hope and healing regardless of her husband’s daily choices, then she’s in a better position to help create an environment of healing, which contributes to restoration in her marriage. It takes one to hurt, but two to heal a marriage. Both the husband and the wife need to do their part, but they can’t do it for each other. In the end you are only responsible for yourself and the choices you make. This sounds self-centered, but it’s not. It’s Christ-centered. You see, when you feel the need to get involved in someone else’s business … when you think you can fix situations or people … then you are communicating loud and clear that you do not trust that Jesus can handle this task. The wife’s responsibility is to walk in obedience to the Word of God. The choices she makes reflect the degree to which she’s doing that.
I also want readers to know that they can expect to find solid, biblical teaching in When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography. Though I don’t usually include endorsements in answers to questions, I think it’s important for your readers to hear what these respected readers had to say:
“A porn plague is raging in homes across the world today, and for every addicted husband there is a brokenhearted wife. While there is an abundance of powerful, biblical resources to help men overcome addiction, their wives have largely been overlooked. I am grateful that Vicki Tiede has filled that void. In a book that is sensitive, biblical, and conversational, she comes alongside hurting women as a friend and guides them to the hope and peace only the gospel can give.” Tim Challies, Author; pastor; blogger
“Women whose husbands are ensnared in pornography often live isolated lives, feeling powerless to solve the problem, with few if any good options. Too often they are also burdened by false guilt and feelings of responsibility for the actions of their spouse. Vicki Tiede experienced this in her first marriage, but found healing as she relied on Scripture and the body of Christ. This book tells her story and provides specific helps for women to understand their situation accurately, respond biblically, and rely on Christ and his people as they seek to deal with their husbands with integrity and love. Her thoughtful, searching questions allow readers to explore their own hearts with the Lord. Tiede is honest, compassionate, realistic, faith-filled, and Scripture-saturated. Anyone facing this situation–or trying to help those who are, like pastors and elders–should read this book." Dr. Ron Lutz, Senior Pastor, New Life Presbyterian, Dresher, PA
2.Does this book address the husband’s accountability? Does it speak to how a wife is to respond to her husband’s sin as far as the boundaries that she should put in place? Should she be the one to hold her husband accountable?
As I said, this book isn’t about the husband as much as it’s about the wife’s heart. I address six themes in the book: hope, surrender, trust, identity, brokenness, and forgiveness. I’ve reiterated this, because I don’t want anyone to get the idea that this is a manual for fixing your husband. It most definitely is not.
BUT … (Did you see that coming?) I do talk about a man’s accountability and the fact that she should not be his accountability partner. It’s very important that the reader and her husband identify safe support for each of them and I talk the reader through how to identify those people. Near the last third of the book I talk about how to create an environment of healing for your marriage and that certainly includes boundaries, expectations, and standards. I also address boundaries regarding sexual intimacy, but I’ll address that more in the next question.
3.Is the wife’s sexual availability to her husband a factor in his indulging in pornography? Should a husband’s sin ever cause the wife to look at how she may have contributed? Is this completely one-sided? Does the wife ever contribute to the sin in other ways, such as enabling?
I can’t emphasize this enough; a husband’s use of pornography is not about the wife. I hope he has told her this, but I suspect that even if he did, she isn’t sure. She should believe it. Pornography is a selfish act meant to meet his own perceived needs. That means she is not in competition with digitally enhanced images of other women. This is not about her appearance, her sexual availability, or her competence in the bedroom. She does not need to be a size 8, get a tummy tuck, or engage in sexual acts that make her uncomfortable.
The sexual availability question is trickier than you might first think. In an extremely small number of cases, I hear a woman admit that she almost never has sex with her husband, so he turns to porn because he’s frustrated. Note: It’s still wrong! However, Scripture is pretty clear on this one. In such a situation it would appear that both of them have sin issues that need to be addressed. Counseling is probably in order. Answering this question requires me to walk a fine line as those who want her to share the blame for the pornography are going to read this differently than those who want to understand what might be contributing to her choice to withhold intimacy. This is not the subject of my book and therefore I do not spend a great deal of time on the issue. Again, this scenario is very rare. Having said that, on more than one occasion I let my reader know that it’s not biblical to get into a pattern of withholding intimacy from her husband or using the gift God has given her as a means of wreaking vengeance on her husband.
What I usually hear (and research supports this) is that women are more than willing to be intimate with their husbands, but their husband isn’t interested because of the porn. You see, when men regularly engage in porn use, their interest in real relationships decreases and their appetite for more porn increases. In fact, more than 50% of people involved in cybersex eventually lost interest in intimacy with a loved one.
As far as contributing to the sin … I’m not interested in playing the blame game in my book. How would that promote healing in the name of Christ? I want to quote directly from my book (p. 67) on this one. Before you read this, I want you to know that this comes directly from the chapter that addresses surrendering guilt. When you read this out of context, it may sound like I’m shaming the wife. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I hate to break it to you, but you have not been the perfect wife. The truth hurts, doesn’t it? Before you let this revelation get you all worked up, I want you to know that it was unrealistic to assume that you always had to be the perfect wife. There. That feels better, right? However, it doesn’t let you off the hook. You still need to do some constructive self-examination to determine if you have done things to contribute to your husband’s addiction. (Remember, he is still ultimately responsible for the choices he makes. You are not.)
If you are being honest with yourself, there are certainly things you may have done that contributed to the problem you are dealing with today. Every time you make a decision to act or react to your husband’s addiction, you are choosing to feed the problem (pornography addiction) or feed the solution (actions that promote healing).”
4.Do you address a woman’s temptation to sexual sin?
Yes, I do. Sexual sin is a slippery slope, isn’t it? Though my readers will choose to read When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography: Healing Your Wounded Heart because of his addiction, she must not presume that she’s safe from a fall herself. “Feelings of rejection and betrayal have landed more than one Christian woman in the arms of a man other than her husband” (p. 117). The caution in Proverbs 5:15-23 about drinking from your own cistern is no less true for women.
5. Have you heard of the work of the XXXChurch and its ministry toward sexual healing? How does your approach differ, how is it similar, and what do you think of the growing missional field within pornography? How do you address the progression of addiction, as it relates to pornography and other sexual sins?
There are many outstanding ministries for men who are addicted to pornography. Some of them are beginning to minister to wives as well as to women who are struggling with sexual addictions. God has opened the door for me to partner with several of these ministries. I’m a regular blogger for XXXChurch (spouse blog), Freedom Begins Here, Harvest USA, and am going to be a guest blogger with Covenant Eyes. (I also blog at my own site: www.vickitiede.com)
I hope this answer doesn’t sound redundant, but When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography is not about healing a sexual addiction. It is about healing the heart of the wife who is married to the sexual addict. That difference is what makes my partnership with these ministries work. I’m not trying to do the same things they are doing. We’re in the same battle, but on different fronts, if you will.
I’m not sure I completely understand your question about the growing missional field within pornography, so forgive me if I’m interpreting this wrong, but I think you’re referring to ministries like 3XChurch, which not only reach out to sexually broken men and women and their spouses, but also minister to those who have participated in the porn industry. I’m so grateful that God has equipped and called others to take on the many facets of pornography. You’re probably aware that sex trafficking factors into pornography as well. There is the proverbial question of whether we need to stop this at the consumer or distribution level. The answer is that we have to do both.
There are four levels of sexual addiction:
Level I: This is often considered “acceptable” by mainstream society and includes lust, fantasy, masturbation, and pornography (magazines, video, cable/satellite TV, Internet).
Level II: Fulfilling sexual desire with live porn: strip clubs, nude dancing, massage parlors, physical affairs, and fetishes.
Level III: Criminal behavior including voyeurism, exhibitionism, phone sex, inappropriate touching, and prostitution.
Level IV: Violent criminal behavior including sexual assault, rape, and child molestation.
My book is for women whose husbands have engaged in level 1 sexual behaviors. However, if a husband has engaged in levels 2-4, this book is also for that wife because nearly 100% of men started at level 1. The feelings the reader has, the ramifications of these behaviors on her relationship with her husband, and the needs she is experiencing are addressed in this book.