The Way Porn Affects Marriage
Today we are wanting to talk about porn in marriage. Although we know this is a different topic then we normally address, we feel it’s NECESSARY to stand for what we believe about it and the way it can impact your marriage. I’ll freely admit, we’re a little nervous to venture into these unfamiliar waters. However, as a site dedicated to strengthening marriages, we feel strongly that it’s a topic that needs to be more openly and candidly discussed and studied. That’s why today we’re tackling this (sometimes uncomfortable and awkward) topic.
Pornography and How it Affects Marriage
Pornography is on the rise! Did you know that in 2013 porn sites received 450 million unique monthly visitors? That’s more than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined! In fact, 30% of all data transferred across the internet is porn-related!1
Wanna hear some more staggering statistics? Every second 28,258 people are watching pornography on the internet, and every second $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography on the internet.2
We’ve Heard Your Questions
It’s no wonder then that we seem to be hearing a lot more about pornography. Recently, we’ve had been receiving more and more reader questions wanting to know…
- It is true that ALL men look at porn?
- Is it unrealistic to not want porn in your marriage?
- Do porn-free marriages really exist?
- Why does it matter if my husband looks at porn anyway?
- Is porn a good way to spice up your sex life?
- How do I deal with my spouse’s porn addiction?
Our post today is in response to all these questions. Our intent is not to get on a soapbox or start a debate, but to really look at the effects pornography has on relationships and, specifically, marriage. We all have our own personal moral and religious views on the subject, but for the purpose of this article, we’re going to be mainly focusing on what scientific research, studies, and surveys have discovered about the link between pornography and marriage.
Why all the Confusion?
So, why is there so much confusion about pornography? If you’re ever on social media you’ve probably noticed that there is a lot of debate and contradicting views when it comes to the topic of pornography. In just the couple of months that we’ve been researching and preparing this post, we’ve been amazed at the different, opposing information that is being shared online.
The truth is, what society is telling us about pornography is totally different from what research is telling us. No wonder there is so much confusion!
What Society Says About Pornography and Marriage
Here are just a few examples of what social media, magazines and newspapers have to say about porn…
- ALL men look at porn.
- Men can’t help themselves, it’s how they were built.
- Looking at porn is normal and okay.
- If he says he’s not looking at porn, he’s lying.
- You should never ban porn from your relationship.
- Women’s feelings don’t matter.
- At least he’s not cheating on you.
- If you don’t sext your man, he will look at pornography.
- He’s watching pornography anyway, so you should join him.
- You should join him so he doesn’t feel guilty for doing something wrong.
- Porn is harmless.
However, as we looked at the real research and studies done on pornography, we found very different information!
What Science Says About Pornography and Marriage
The truth is…
Porn is NOT harmless! Porn is destroying marriages.
10 Ways Porn Puts Your Marriage in Danger
I don’t think anyone wants to put their marriage in jeopardy. In fact, we’ve heard from several readers that the only reason they “allow” porn in their marriage is to try to save or enhance it. They don’t want to push their husband away by putting “unrealistic expectations” on him or they want to “keep things exciting” so he doesn’t get bored. But the truth is, pornography is not saving or strengthening marriages, it’s destroying and weakening them!
Professors Jennings Bryant and Dolf Zillman have been researching the effects of pornography for more than 30 years and have concluded that when it comes to porn use “no rigorous research demonstrations of desirable effects can be reported.”3
Or in other words, in all the legitimate research they’ve studied over the years, they have found NO benefits to pornography- only damage.
Pornography Ruins Relationships
In 2004, Dr. Jill Manning found that 56% of divorce cases involved one party having an “obsessive interest in pornographic websites.”4 Similarly, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers polled 350 divorce attorneys in 2003, where two-thirds of them reported that the internet played a significant role in the divorces, with excessive interest in online porn contributing to more than half of such cases.
So, what is it about pornography that is leading to divorce? Well, it’s ten things actually.
1. Porn Breaks Trust in Your Marriage
According to numerous studies, prolonged exposure to pornography leads to a diminished trust between intimate couples.6
It really is no surprise. After all, pornography and secrecy go hand in hand. Most people who view pornography go to great lengths to keep it hidden. It’s most often watched late at night when their spouse is asleep or when they are home alone. Users are careful to lock doors, erase their internet history, and keep files and videos hidden with passwords.
Spouses are shocked and feel betrayed when they find out because they were so easily kept in the dark. They wonder what else is going on that they don’t know about. Even users who were upfront with their spouse about watching pornography admit that they hide how much and when from them. Deception is a common theme of pornography. In contrast, transparency is a common theme of strong marriages.
2. Porn Hinders Emotional Intimacy
Pornography leads to objectification rather than a meaningful interaction with another person.7
There’s a big difference between having sex and making love. Sex is about pleasure. Making love is about connection. Sex is about the body. Making love is about the person. Because a bonding hormone is released during sexual intimacy, it can be a wonderful and powerful way to feel closer to and connect with your spouse. However, if that hormone is released when your spouse is not present, that aspect of marital intimacy is lost.
3. Porn Destroys Self-Esteem
When men and women were exposed to porn, they were less likely to be pleased with their partner’s physical appearance, affection, and sexual performance.8
Not only does porn affect how users view others but it also affects how they view themselves. Porn users may find that not only do they see their partners in a less than “satisfying” way, but they start to think that they themselves are less attractive as well.8
Men who viewed a lot of porn were likely to say that they became more critical of their partner’s appearance and lost interest in sex with their partner as a result. Interestingly enough, twice as many women reported that their porn-watching spouses became more critical and that this criticism made the women less interested in sex.
Researches have found that porn consumers eventually compare their spouse or partner and themselves to images of porn models. Is it any wonder then that it destroys self-esteem? How can anyone live up to to the unrealistic expectations of porn’s perfectly airbrushed, surgically enhanced, and carefully photoshopped bodies? Some doctors even suspect that increased porn usage is the cause of the rise in women seeking plastic surgery to change their bodies!10
4. Porn Causes Selfishness
Pornography promotes selfishness. Seldom did I think of bringing sexual pleasure to my wife. I thought only about getting, not giving.11
Pornography, at its core, is all about selfishness and immediate gratification. The user focuses solely on getting and taking when he wants. In contrast, true marital intimacy is a giving of oneself. A relationship where one spouse is only interested in taking usually does not last very long. People who use porn regularly often have a hard time being gentle during lovemaking. Sex tends to be impersonal, rushed, and “forced.” There’s no foreplay. There’s no waiting to arouse someone. It’s just taking what you want.12
Here’s a little fact you probably don’t know – the least popular day for Americans to view porn is Thanksgiving Day.13
Interesting, considering that gratitude and selfishness are opposites.
5. Porn Demeans Women
Results showed that the more porn a man was exposed to, the more likely he was to prefer that women be submissive and subordinate to men.14
Pornography also changes the way men view women. Research has proven that just two sessions of one-hour exposures of R-rated sexual entertainment change men’s attitudes toward women. They begin to objectify women and no longer see them as individually unique or valuable because of the demeaning manner in which women and sex are portrayed.15
And that’s not even mentioning the porn that portrays women being dominated, abused, and enjoying it.
6. Porn Impairs Your Sex Life
Porn can lead to decreased sexual performance. A recent NoFap survey of pornography users found that 19 percent suffer from premature ejaculation, 25 percent are disinterested in sex with their partner, 31 percent have difficulty reaching orgasm, and 34 percent experience erectile dysfunction. After committing to no masturbation/porn, 60 percent of those on NoFap felt that their sexual functions had improved. And 67 percent had an increase in energy levels as well as productivity.16
So many people say that they use porn in an effort to “spice up” their sex life. However, research shows that it actually wrecks your libido. Not only is porn leading to bad sex, but some studies show that it’s taking away men’s ability to have sex at all. Recently, porn-induced E.D. is becoming more of a “hot topic.” In fact, about 60% of compulsive porn users reported erectile dysfunction in a brain scan study last year.17
7. Porn Leads to Marital Dissatisfaction
Research has found that after men are exposed to pornography, they rate themselves as less in love with their partner than men who didn’t see any porn.18
Here’s the thing: not only is porn a fantasy, but it also makes it harder for users to have real loving relationships.19
Pornography warps views about sex and relationships. It distorts views of men and women and changes sexual attitudes and behaviors. Because pornography is portrayed as easy and quick, marital sex is then viewed as complicated and too much work. As a result, romance dwindles.
8. Porn is a Gateway to Infidelity
Porn increases marital infidelity by 300%.20
Watching porn diminishes relationship
Porn-free relationships are stronger, with a lower rate of infidelity. Their rate of infidelity was at least half of those who had watched sexual material alone and with their partners.22
It’s interesting that society tells us that if you don’t “allow” pornography in your marriage, you’ll push him away and drive him to infidelity. When in reality, pornography is linked to infidelity. That’s not even mentioning the fact that many people view pornography as infidelity in itself.
9. Porn is Linked to Depression, Stress and Anxiety
Men who have cyber sex have “alarmingly high” rates of clinical depression, stress, and anxiety.23
Recovering porn users continue to report a reduction in social anxiety as one of the most common improvements when they stop using Internet porn.24
We’re not saying that pornography is the primary cause of depression or anxiety. The truth is, there isn’t enough research on the subject yet to draw clear conclusions. However, there is a very clear correlation and link being discovered between porn usage and depression, stress and anxiety. These are three issues that can have a big impact on, not just yourself, but your marriage as well.
10. Porn Alters Your Brain
Porn physically changes your brain. And here’s the really scary part: the more porn a person looks at, the more severe the damage to their brain becomes and the more difficult it is to break free.25
Yes, porn actually alters your brain. Scientists at Cambridge University recently studied the brain scans of porn addicts and found that they looked exactly like those of drug addicts. Just like other addictive substances, porn fills the brain with dopamine. And the more you view pornography, the more desensitized you become.
However, pornography is a little different than some addictions. Most alcoholics want more and more alcohol. But porn addicts don’t just want more porn – they want different porn. What was once exciting and arousing no longer satisfies them, and they look for harder and harder core porn. That’s why porn can become so addictive and that’s why porn never satisfies.
Often pornography users venture into progressively perverse content, which is why pornography is linked to violence and crime. This can be seen in the extreme example of Ted Bundy. (If you don’t know the story of Ted Bundy, I highly suggest watching his interview.) No, we’re not saying that every porn user will become a criminal, but we do think it’s important to understand the nature and danger of pornography.
The facts are pretty sobering. So… is it a lost cause?
NO – Not All Men Look at Porn!
Despite what the magazines and TV shows would have you believe, there are a lot of happy marriages out there without pornography. The idea that ALL men look at pornography or are lying is totally false! Chivalry is not dead. Men who are standing against pornography and totally devoted to their wives DO still exist. (Don’t believe us? Just read some of the comments from our readers- real men and women who are saying no to pornography.)
In fact, when we sent out an anonymous survey, we heard back from lots of men who shared their thoughts on pornography. Here are just a few…
“I find it offensive when people say ‘Men can’t help it.’ Of course I can help it. I’m not an animal. I have my own choices. I can absolutely control myself and my actions. Why don’t women give us more credit than that?”
“Yes, I was exposed to pornography as a child and I did struggle with addiction. However, I hated the way it made me feel. I hated the way it made my wife feel. After a lot of hard work and communication, we’ve overcome it together. It has been over 10 years since I’ve watched pornography and I have never been happier. We have an amazing sex life and the thought of porn honestly disgusts me. So to answer your question, no not all mean look at porn.”
“There’s no room for porn in my life anymore. I’ve filled it all up with love for my wife. I’m not saying it was easy, but I’m so glad that I made the change. I honestly feel sorry for men who think pornography makes them happy. They don’t know what they’re missing.”
“No, I have honestly never intentionally watched pornography. I know people will say that I’m lying and won’t believe me, but it’s the truth. I was taught from a very young age of its dangers and I’ve always stayed far away. I’ve watched my best friend go through a divorce because of his pornography addiction and how it’s torn his family apart.”
“Pornography has no place in our marriage. It is just the two of us. I don’t need any other woman.”
We need to spread the message loud and clear that it’s okay to have higher expectations- it’s not unrealistic. And, for the sake of your marriage, you should!
Use Other Ways to Spice Things Up in the Bedroom
Using porn to spice up marital sex is self-defeating. Instead of being more attracted to and engaged with your spouse, the porn user will actually become more drawn to porn. You don’t need porn to make your marriage exciting, anyway! Fidelity and commitment are sexy. (I don’t know why society tells us it’s not.) Looking to add some excitement to the bedroom? Pick a new Bedroom Game or browse through our whole collection of Sexy, Intimate Ideas.
Now, let us be clear- we’re not saying that all marriages with pornography are doomed to failure! And we’re not saying that pornography isn’t a very real struggle for many men and marriages.
We know that there are many wives, husbands, and marriages that are hurting because of pornography. And we know that change is not easy or immediate. But we know it’s possible. And we know it’s worth it.
How to Overcome Porn Addiction
If pornography is a struggle in your relationship, here are some wonderful resources to get you started…
Permanently Overcome An Addiction to Pornography – FREE Mini Course
Resources for Wives of Porn Addicts
Marriage Recovery after a Pornography Addiction
Rebuilding Trust After Pornography
For Christian readers…
Overcoming Pornography through the Atonement of Jesus Christ
Do you know of more resources? Please let us know in the comments below!
If you liked this post, you’ll like Our 12 Favorite Marriage Books and 10 Things Husbands Wish Their Wives Knew!
1 “Porn Sites Get More Visitors Each Month Than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter Combined.” The Huffington Post. 4 May 2013. Web.
2 “Internet Pornography by the Numbers: A Significant Threat to Society.” Webroot. n.d. Web.
3 Zillmann, D. (2004). Pornografie. In R. Mangold, P. Vordere, and G. Bente (Eds.) Lehrbuch der Medienpsychologie (pg.565-585). Gottingen, Germany: Hogrefe Verlag.
4 “Is the Internet Bad for Your Marriage? Online Affairs, Pornographic Sites Playing Greater Role in Divorces.” PR Newswire. 14 Nov. 2004. Web.
5 Skinner, Kevin B. “Is Porn Really Destroying 500,000 Marriages Annually?” Psychology Today. 12 Dec. 2011. Web.
6 Gilkerson, Luke. “Get the Latest Pornography Stats.” Covenant Eyes. 19 Feb. 2013. Web.
7 Corey. “How Pornography Impacts Marriage and Family Life.” Simple Marriage. n.d. Web.
8 Zillmann, Dolf and Jennings Bryant. “Pornography’s Impact on Sexual Satisfaction.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology. 13 Jul. 2006.
9 “News Flash: Watching Porn Leads to Bad Sex & Low Self-Esteem.” Fight the New Drug. 16 Jan. 2015. Web.
10 Davis, Rowenna. “Labiaplasty Surgery Increase Blamed on Pornography.” The Guardian. 26 Feb. 2011. Web.
11 “Inside the Mind of a Sex Addict.” All About Love. n.d. Web.
12 Sheila. “Top 10 Effects of Porn on Your Brain, Your Marriage, and Your Sex Life.” To Love, Honor, and Vacuum. 18 Mar. 2014. Web.
13 “79 Little-Known Facts About Pornography.” Random Facts. n.d. Web.
14 “Burns, R.J. (2002). Male Internet Pornography Consumers’ Perception of Women and Endorsement of Traditional Female Gender Roles. Austin, Tex.: Department of Communication Studies, University of Texas, p.11.
15 “The Dangers of Pornography in Marriage.” Marriage Today. n.d. Web.
16 Christian, Scott. “10 Reasons Why You Should Quit Watching Porn.” GQ. 20 Nov. 2013. Web.
17 “Porn-Induced ED Diagnosis Receives Medical Legitimacy.” Your Brain on Porn. 12 Jul. 2014. Web.
18 Bridges, A.J. (2010). Pornography’s Effect on Interpersonal Relationships. In J. Stoner and D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs of Pornography: A Collection of Papers (pg.89-110). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute.
19 “Porn Kills Love.” Fight the New Drug. 8 Aug. 2014. Web.
20 “Internet Pornography by the Numbers: A Significant Threat to Society.” Webroot. n.d. Web.
21 Streep, Peg. “What Porn Does to Intimacy.” Psychology Today. 16 Jul. 2014. Web.
22 Maddox, Amanda, Galena K, Rhoades, and Howard J.Markman,” Viewing Sexually-Explicit Materials Alone and Together: Associations with Relationship Quality,” Archives of Sexual Behavior (April 2011), 40, no. 2, 441-448.
23 Gitlin, Jonathan. “Internet Sex Makes You Sad, Anxious?” Ars Technica. 2 Nov. 2008. Web.
24 “Is Porn Making My Social Anxiety/ Confidence/ Depression/ OCD worse?” Your Brain on Porn. 14 Mar. 2011. Web.
25 Angres, D.H. and Bettinardi-Angres, K. (2008). The Disease of Addiction: Origins, Treatment, and Recovery. Disease-a-Month 54: 696-721.
I do not feel I was addicted because I watched some, I stopped. I watched more when I felt neglected and not listened too. Some times porn may be a sign of a losing marriage and not the cause. I am not saying I was right in watching porn, I am just saying it may be a symptom of a bad marriage instead of a reason sometimes.
Yes! It is true that pornography is often used as a method to cope with pain. (All kinds of pain- not just marriage related. Ie. trauma from childhood, etc.) Most don’t realize that they are using it to numb emotions that are hard to deal with. However, it can be very destructive and is not a healthy way to resolve the underlining problem. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Thank you for this article. This is something that I’ve been struggling with for a decade, with my spouse. Now that we’re parents, I’m even more turned off. We are not intimate anymore, I have no desire to try to capture his attention over that of porn, he watches porn every single day and just lies about it. I’ve become so numb to the negative feelings I have for myself, because of this obsession he has, that I recently realized I am just deeply unhappy. I cook for our family, host holidays, care for my son and I am the provider as well. I have an elderly parent I care for and I have nothing left to give. I finally let him know that I’m no longer going to pretend that he is not a porn addict, a liar, an overall terrible husband. I’m not going to try to figure out how I can be more interesting for him, how I can be better than the porn he watches. I’m done. I’m looking for a therapist and I don’t know what it means for our marriage, but I can say that thinking of either, possible, marital outcome, brings a feeling of utter indifference to me.
I am so so sorry Lindsey. That’s just heart-breaking. If you’re looking for a therapist who specializes in this area, we really recommend Sam Tielemans https://healingcouples.org/
The problem I have is that my husband don’t think he is doing anything wrong and that he needs it to help him get in the mood for me he says that well we have been together for a long time (34 years – 9 years) cause I divorced him but was stupid and got back with him almost 5years ago which I have spent the majority of the time depressed and in tears it hurts because he can’t get in the mood for me very easy he doesn’t seem to be interested in me and when we do do it he can’t get an erection or keep one without Viagra and he still has a problem but he goes to do his thing and has no problem and he tries to say he does but I know different for a fact because I’m not proud of this but I have spied on him but that is what his habit has forced me to do to spy on him and to not want to leave him home alone and I make sure if I have to go out someplace I make sure I get home Before he does but he can get in the mood for that at a drpo of a hat in fact I had to go out of town for a week to 2weeks long over the last month and a half and found out he watched porn every night I was gone and had masturbated like every other night and he don’t do that for me (have sex) I’m lucky if I get it once a week and if he can’t get it to work he gives up and leaves me hanging for 3,4,5,6 days in a row till he kinda gets in the mood again he says I’m the one that is obsessed with his porn habit not him ectectect it is heartbreaking and very hurtful help me to be stronger cause I do love him so much
I’m sincerely sorry, Stephanie. That is just so heartbreaking. If he is open and willing to hear more of your perspective, we recommend this free 4 module mini course by Sam Tielemans: https://trust.healingcouples.org/access
Porn has ruined my sexual desire for my husband. Each time I discover it, I put up more bricks in the wall. I’ve been married for nearly 35 years and my desire for any intimacy has disappeared.
Unfortunately it is now a vicious cycle. He enjoyed porn (probably since before we were married, unbeknownst to me) which turned me off, so he looks at more porn which turns me off even more etc. Its been going on for too many years…I’m done with it.
I’m so so sorry, Joyce! It’s just heart-breaking what it can do to a marriage. Have you heard of unashamedunafraid.com? They have so many resources and even a podcast about sexual addiction recovery. We actually did a podcast with them last month: https://unashamedunafraid.com/blog/2021/2/12/ep48-with-the-dating-divas
Thanks for sharing this article. Love so many of your date ideas too! For Christian readers, one website which helps people who struggle with porn is called : Covenant Eyes. You can set it up so it tracks what websites you go to, and can choose one person (recommend not your spouse) to have access to your web history and then they can help keep you accountable to not watch porn. They recommend not your spouse because they expect you to tell your spouse and the spouse may be recovering from the surprise/knowledge. There is also a porn blocker option there I believe. There are not a lot of resources for women who struggle with porn, but one Christian based one is called “Dirty Girls” by Crystal Renaud.
Thank you for the additional resources!
This blog is a must read. You really have to confront these topics head on and the Divas do a great job. If you’re married that there is a good chance you are a mom and dad or will become one. Pornography is creeping into your kids lives at a younger and younger age. Dads, you are the watchman at the gate. Protect you family from something that will do nothing but break down the family and the love story you’re trying to tell.
Thanks for your comment Randy, we absolutely agree!
First I want to say that you did a great job writing this post. You spent hours researching. Second thing is that I really needed this post. Going to read to my partner bc we are struggling with this horribly bad. I feel so hurt at times that it feels like my heart aches. I am hoping if I share this than he will understand what am saying about porn and how is effects me also not just him.
I’m so glad you found this helpful! Tara is also doing an Instagram Live at 2 pm mountain time on this same topic with a professional marriage counselor. He’ll be sharing a free resource that you mind find helpful. You can join in at 2:00 here: https://www.instagram.com/datingdivas/#
This was a really helpful article! Thank you!
You’re welcome! I’m so glad you found this helpful! Tara is also doing an Instagram Live at 2 pm mountain time on this same topic with a professional marriage counselor. He’ll be sharing a free resource that you mind find helpful. You can join in at 2:00 here: https://www.instagram.com/datingdivas/#
THANK YOU for addressing this topic!! I discovered my husband’s porn addiction 10 years ago and the damage it did to our marriage is still not entirely fixed. The hurt and feelings of betrayal are still very raw. I find it impossible to completely trust him. Many of the things you addressed – lack of interest in sex with your partner, erectile dysfunction, loss of trust – were all present in my marriage just before his addiction was discovered. Thank you for bringing awareness to this epidemic.
I’m so sorry Tracy! I’m so glad you found this helpful! Tara is also doing an Instagram Live at 2 pm mountain time on this same topic with a professional marriage counselor. He’ll be sharing a free resource that you mind find helpful. You can join in at 2:00 here: https://www.instagram.com/datingdivas/#
FYI, women are addicted to porn and are made to believe sex should be “different” than God’s design. Just sit back and look at how many women are turning to women for sexual and intimate satisfaction. Being a lesbian/bi-sexual woman is the “thing” to do in today’s culture. Porn is a 50/50 issue in our world. It’s killing men, women, and marriages equally. Its not just a man’s issue. Just my 2 cents.
Most of the emails that we have received have been from wives affected by their husband’s addiction. But you are absolutely right, some women are addicted too- and the advice goes both ways.
I have been dealing with my husband’s porn addiction for the three years of my marriage and one way I have coped with it is fact checking things and researching it and writing about the affects of porn on marriages, how do I get permission to use this article for my book? It is so well sourced and I find a lot of articles that talk about the truth behind porn don’t give their sources and it has become quite a problem.
Hello Kaitlyn! Thank you for reaching out! You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can chat about your book! 🙂 Thanks so much!! XO
I survived infidelity in my marriage twenty years ago, no one is more surprised then me that I made it! That being said, I recently found out that my husband was viewing porn after a disgusting photo showed up in my iCloud photos. After being so naive and gullible thinking that it had to be someone else’s photo , I of course was told by the phone carrier that it most definitely came from his phone. I was devastated! I’ve been married to this person for 39 years, survived infidelity, but never imagined that he was that guy. He of course says all guys look at porn, it’s no big deal, I only do it every now and then, I can stop at any time.I have told him that it will end our marriage if I find out that he has continued to watch, I’ve put restrictions on his phone, filters on his work computer etc. I realize I cannot police him twenty four hours a day but I need at least that! This occupies my every waking thought, I truly think I’m going crazy! I feel just as betrayed as when he cheated on me but almost think this is worse because of the availability of free porn. I really am not sure I can EVER get past this!! Advice Please, CL
Oh carrie, I am so sorry. Your story is heartbreaking. You might find this article interesting- https://www.covenanteyes.com/2009/04/02/rebuilding-trust-in-a-marriage-after-pornography/ At the end of the article there are also some recommended books especially for husbands and especially for wives.
I absolutely love this article. It is terrifying to me that women keep being told that porn is normal and they’re being prude and unreasonable when they expect their partner not to partake. WE keep being told porn is okay despite the overwhelming evidence that says it’s not. Many cultures tell women rape is okay. Others that female circumcision is an honor. Just because culture says it’s okay, it doesn’t make it okay. It hurts our feelings and makes us uncomfortable (just like being slapped on the but or catcalling), but we are repeatedly told those feelings are invalid. Don’t women have a right to feel the way they feel?! It’s maddening. And believe it or not, teen boys (and even younger) actually get pressured into looking at porn even though they don’t want to! It’s a huge problem, and even though I live in a pornless marriage, I don’t want to stand on a soapbox and preach how amazing it is because it might embarrass my husband and it’s a private matter. BUT women Andy men should know the truth: porn is bad and lots of people don’t look at it. .
Amen! We agree with you whole-heartedly, Kara. It’s become such a devastating problem for so many marriages.
I appreciate you bringing up such a hard topic!! Pornography is so dangerous and such a huge issue in our society today!
What a wonderful and much needed article and discussion. I love how you used the view of society vs science. Thank you for your research and for sharing!
It was very interesting to see how the science research compared to what society says. Thanks for your kind words, Amy!
Thanks for sharing this!! It’s a topic that needs to get talked about more & the harmful effects!
Thank you for sharing your article! I’m sure you touched the hearts of many women! Your article said to please forward any resources on to you. Ours Facebook page is UnashamedByGrace. I work with spouses of the men going through porn recovery, and my husband works with the men. Thank you for giving us a shout out! It would be greatly appreciated. I will also profile your website to our followers as well!
Thank you so much for sharing another great resource, Joann! And thank you to both you and your husband for what you are doing to strengthen marriages!!
Thank you for your excellent article.
My 17 year relationship was destroyed by my partner’s obsessive and abusive (he told me that knowing I didn’t want him to do it, made him want to do it more) use of pornography and online sexual activities. We had several years of sex addiction therapy all at my request although he did not accept he had a problem and would not follow the treatment plan recommended. To cut a long and excruciatingly painful story short, one day in the midst of what I thought was our recovery journey and while on holiday at a luxury resort, he suddenly ended relationship. Just like that! Now he is with a woman he met at the local Thai massage parlor where he went for services. She is an immigrant and barely speaks English. So I can agree fully with everything you’ve said above from my lived experience. It is an insidious obsession that breaks hearts and robs souls and destroys relationships. Extremely sad.
Thank you for your care in putting together such an informative article. A couple of resources I have found helpful are the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group and the work of Dr Omar Minwalla. Their services and knowledge is outstanding.
Oh, Janine. I am so sorry for your heart-breaking experience. No one should have to go through that. Thank you so much for sharing your additional resources.
Porn has been in my marriage for more years than I care to comment. I first found my husband’s stash when I recently found out I was pregnant with my son. That was in 2002. Then I saw the cookies in our computer browser in 2006… then again in 2008. A social worker told me because my hubby was going to Iraq that I should let him have his porn. The big D day was 2013. It has killed my self esteem. He said he stopped, we went to a marriage counselor… she told me he was doing well, I should just *trust* him. I told her, trusting him is how and why we are here. He gets a new phone, there’s no block on it. I tell him upfront how this makes me scared and apprehensive… he assures me… I literally catch him with his pants down this past November. It has eroded every last bit of trust and self esteem I have. We searched for another counselor. The VA told me that I am codependent. What a fecking joke. Codependent is what the base social worker told me… I am not his mother, I am not supposed to monitor and watch him like a child. I ammndlready have 2 children. I am so lost. If I could walk off a cliff, I would. But I have kids and it wouldn’t be fair to them. I feel trapped. I am so sad. I already have ptsd from and more violent upbringing. I was managing this. Now I’ve been told that my ptsd is back.
We are SO sorry to hear about your struggles and everything you’ve been through, Raine. We are well aware of the dangers of pornography on marriage and it truly is heart breaking. We have some resources we would love to pass along and we will email them to you!
Hi! First of all, love that you went after such a, “Hot topic”. This post was recommended to some girls in my support group for women with loved ones who struggle with addiction and I’m so glad to have read it! On a science level, you’re right- porn is exactly like a drug addiction and just as neurologically damaging. On a personal level- I know all too well how porn can affect a marriage. A few things you sort of touched on but didn’t talk to much about is that porn can also be used as an abusive, manipulation tool and it’s also the cause of the ongoing rise in sex trafficking. On the black market the top three things sold are: Guns, then drugs, then people. Porn, and the entire sex industry, is so dangerous. They took a very good (super fun thing!) and made it into a perverse, addictive, dangerous thing. Thank you for your well-researched and well-thought out article! 🙂
It really is such a sad and dangerous thing. Thank you so much for sharing your added insights, Leah! We’re sorry that you’ve personally felt the effects of it, but we’re so glad you’re a part of a support group for women and shedding light on it for others. Wishing you all the best! XOXO
Thank you for writing about this. Honestly I’m surprised that you didn’t receive a lot of backlash from those who think porn is fine and even healthy. I don’t think porn is OK, not to watch individually or even as a couple. And I completely disagree with the person who said women watch porn but just won’t admit it. I don’t watch porn and neither do most of my close female friends (and yes, they are being 100% honest). I would like to say that I know firsthand what porn and porn addiction can do to a marriage. My husband and I have always communicated easily. He knew my feelings about porn and although I had caught him a couple of times in the many years we were married I tried not to make it a huge deal. Little did I know he had an addiction that had begun from his early teens into his adulthood Now tell me, if someone has an addiction to something, anything, do you think it’s easy to openly communicate about it? No. It’s not. And I had no idea he had a problem. He was that good at hiding it.
Here is where the problem comes in with porn (and I”m sorry this is a long comment but I had to share in case someone else is going through this too). My husband was finally caught but it wasn’t until our marriage was nearly destroyed. It wasn’t just the porn either but an affair. When he finally opened up about everything, after being caught and facing divorce and the possibility of losing his children, here is how he explained it. He said it was an addiction and he knew he had a problem but he thought he had it under control. It wasn’t like he had to look at porn night after night or even to become aroused to be with me. But I knew that porn had taken my place as his wife. He said he would go through periods of time when he didn’t need to watch it and other times when he felt completely out of control. He said it was a darkness that he didn’t know how to get out of. He also explained that he watched things that he would never want to do to me…but it was exciting nonetheless, the fantasy of it all. But then porn just wasn’t enough anymore and one day a much younger coworker began flirting with him and within a matter of time the flirting turned into a sexual affair that lasted for months. But he also said that the affair wasn’t fulfilling either. He was trapped in this darkness – and had fallen into pure temptation and it wasn’t until he was caught that he really woke up. He has been porn free for two years and now he has a code word in the event he feels pulled to watch it. We go for a walk. We snuggle. We talk. But he stays away from the computer until the urge has passed. I believe we are the lucky few who have survived an affair. I was able to forgive him but I will never forget that it all began with pornography that led to an almost destruction of our marriage. It is evil and I don’t care who you are, you can say it will never happen to you (what happened to us) but I said the same thing…. Believe me, it’s only a matter of time.
Katie, we were (pleasantly) surprised at the lack of backlash, too! 😉 Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story. I’m so glad that you two were able to pull your marriage back together. It’s refreshing to see a couple willing to really fight and work for their marriage together. Wishing you all the best!! XOXO
This is all so TRUE! I’m so glad that there are people bold enough to write a post about this! Not only that, but you provided FACTS! I was actually a wife who suffered from porn addiction myself and I introduced it to my husband as well. I suffered with porn addiction for almost 10 years and all I can say is thank you because everything about your post was truth. I was able to overcome it with Jesus Christ and my husband also walked with me. We have a happy marriage now and focus on how to satisfy each other instead of satisfying our own needs. Our marriage has never been better. There is a way out of it. You just have to be willing to change yourself for the better. Thank you once again. God bless you.
Thank you so much for sharing your story, Heidi! So happy for you and your husband. 🙂 God bless!
Thank you for being courageous enough to not only approach this subject, but to state the facts…the fact that pornography is devastating to marriages and we shouldn’t tolerate it.
Thank you for your kind comment, Stacey. It definitely not an easy topic to talk about, but it’s such an important one!
Thank you Becca so much for doing this article!! It needs to be put out there and with the statistics just going up higher and higher. I’m a wife who’s husband suffers with an addiction and at first I wanted to leave him for it because it lead to other issues as well. But I prayed about it and I made the vow to my husband through sickness and health and we’re still working on it.
Good for you for working through it! The trials we go through together can make our marriage even stronger. God bless! XO
What a great article! I love that you did so much research to present the facts and separate them from the myths we often hear. Thank you for also having a message filled with grace for anyone who may be in the midst of the struggle and for providing helpful resources. Wonderful job!
Thank you! Your comment made our day. It’s such an important topic!
I applaud you all for the amount of research and time you’ve put into this article. This is clearly a topic which means a lot to you and one with which you hope to help others, and I love that bloggers are willing to educate themselves for the greater good of all us readers! The only thing you might want to double-check is your use of the Ted Bundy interview. Many religious entities use this video without knowing the background or knowing Bundy’s full story, including his history of pathological lying. This article https://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1989-02-05/features/8901070504_1_bundy-interview-ted-bundy-pornography and even the “Pathology” section of the Ted Bundy Wikipedia may give a clearer picture of what may have caused Bundy to blame pornography for his behavior. During his trials, Bundy was examined multiple times by multiple psychiatrists and was found to have issues far beyond “pornography addiction,” and in fact didn’t mention pornography as a factor in his violent actions until Dobson came into the picture at the end of his life. Anyway, the video has been used for years as anti-porn propaganda and it seems that the facts behind it are pretty muddy and it may not be a good resource. I definitely commend you all for the amount of work that has gone into this article. Thank you for being willing to educate yourselves in order to better educate your readership!!
Thanks for sharing that Kayla! It’s definitely worth looking into more.
I’m so thankful that you addressed this on your site. When we believe the lies the world tells us that porn is normal and everyone does it, it makes us think that we should accept it. No one should accept their spouse looking at porn anymore than we should accept them being sexually active with someone other than ourselves.
Thank you for taking the time to put together this research. More people need to be made aware of what porn is doing to us as a society.
Thanks Keelie! We totally agree!
Dr. Doug Weiss has a lot of great books, DVDs, and other materials for addicts and theirs spouses. I realize your organization may not be able to promote/endorse his material, but from one spouse to many others, my husband and I have found his material VERY helpful and useful. (Hopefully, coming from a reader, my comment can stay!) We were first introduced to Dr. Weiss through a church group for men that my husband participated in. You’re right, not all men look at porn, but the number of them who do IS staggering – it’s definitely an epidemic – and I thank you ladies for this article – believing it will help many!!!
Thanks for sharing! We’ll have to look up his books and DVDS.
Matt Fradd and catholic answers.
If you haven’t heard of him look him up … he’s amazing and has launched a huge campaign bringing the trauma of porn addiction to light. He’s had interview podcasts with former porn stars etc
Really interesting stuff
Thanks for sharing Heather, we’ll have to look him up!
This is such a great post! So informative and hopeful! Great job Becca!
Wow Becca! You tackled a tough topic that is so important to marriages. Thank you for sharing!
I LOVE everything about this post! I’m so glad to see this and get people talking about it. Porn is so dangerous! GREAT read – really!! I can’t say enough good about it!
Awww- thanks Amanda!
My husband is a marriage and family therapist who specializes in pornography addiction. Another source is LifeStar. It focuses on the husband and wife’s recovery.
Thanks so much for sharing Deneigh! We’ll add it to the list. (And thank your husband for all he does for marriages and families for us!)
I agree pornography can be a major issue in relationships, however a big part of the issue is that watching it is done secretly. Both men AND women watch porn, although many women don’t like to admit it! I think that the problem is a lack of openness and acceptance in marriages, not that all porn is evil!
One thing you wrote is “We know that there are many wives, husbands, and marriages that are hurting because of pornography”. It’s easy to blame porn, but really, the issue is how people handle the problem. Open communication and honesty goes a long way, which is something The Dating Divas has advocated for over and over again, but not here.
There is a healthy way to watch porn, even when you are in a relationship. I have to say that I am really disappointed. I thought The Dating Divas would explain a way for women to take responsibility for their uncomfortableness, and open their hearts to working with their husbands. Instead, this post sends the message that women should outright ban pornography in their marriage! If anything, banning porn in a marriage could cause even more evasiveness, lies and secrets. Now, if someone were to talk with their husband about how they feel, and coming to that conclusion together, it would be a completely different story.
Just my two cents! Otherwise, this was a very well-written article and great job on the research!
Thanks for your comment, Estelle. We totally agree that communication and honesty is SO important when discussing this issue (or ANY issue) in marriage. It’s definitely something that you and your husband can come to a united decision on and work on together. We have received many questions and comments from readers who said the only reason they “allowed” porn in their marriage was because they wanted to save their marriage or spice it up. However, many studies have shown that instead of saving or enhancing marriages, porn is weakening and destroying marriages. Our purpose of this post was to show and warn our readers of the real dangers that come with porn. We definitely didn’t mean to imply that women shouldn’t work with their husbands, just that they should be informed and that porn doesn’t HAVE to be a part of marriage like many people assume. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!
Dang girl!! This is AMAZING! While maybe not “fun” to write, this is so important. Thanks for finding all of this research and shedding light on this topic!