Managing Marriage When Your Spouse Watches Porn

The issue of spouses watching pornography is one that can tear a marriage apart. For some couples, pornography is acceptable, while for others, watching porn is a deal breaker.

When a wife who is against porn discovers that her husband is watching it, she often has feelings of rage, repulsion, disappointment, and mistrust. Her feelings of anger and hurt can even be intensified if he prefers looking at porn over having sex with her.

The Porn Problem

While many wives consider pornography to be insulting, degrading, and a form of cheating, many husbands don't understand their wives' anger about the use of porn or how it makes them unfaithful. In Is Pornography Adultery? Ross Douthat expands:

"The attention paid to the connection between porn and infidelity doesn’t translate into anything like a consensus on what that connection is. Polls show that Americans are almost evenly divided on questions like whether porn is bad for relationships, whether it’s an inevitable feature of male existence, and whether it’s demeaning to women. This divide tends to cut along gender lines, inevitably: women are more likely to look at pornography than in the past, but they remain considerably more hostile to porn than men are, and considerably less likely to make use of it. (Even among the Internet generation, the split between the sexes remains stark. A survey of American college students last year found that 70 percent of the women in the sample never looked at pornography, compared with just 14 percent of their male peers; almost half of the men surveyed looked at porn at least once a week, versus just 3 percent of the women.)"

Corey Silverberg expands even further in his piece Is Watching Porn Okay? He says that the question and concern of whether porn is all right is common. Furthermore, he states that there's nothing unhealthy or abnormal with watching legal adult movies with consent. However, Silverberg does admit that some people use porn in unhealthy ways, and watching too much of it or becoming obsessed can be detrimental. He goes on to compare it to drugs, work, and sports, despite there being a significantly less taboo associated with these activities.

The first step to take is to talk to your husband without being judgmental. See what he likes about porn and if it's the fantasy, or if he just wants to see what's out there. Perhaps there are things he wants the both of you to try, or maybe watching porn for him is just out of boredom or habit.

The Pornography in Marriage Debate

Defining Porn

Pornography is difficult to define because it's different things to different people. Plus, not all porn is illegal.

Pornography is generally defined as a material, such as magazines, pictures, videos, movies, and internet websites, that depicts individuals in sexually explicit ways.

Although porn is also described as adult entertainment and a harmless habit, it's also seen as a "gateway drug" that can lead to betrayal and infidelity.

In her work titled, Can Marriage and Pornography Get In Bed Together?Shannon Bradley-Calleary shares how porn can be beneficial to married couples:

"Some of my favorite aphrodisiacs include True Blood, Spartacus, Hung (which sadly was canceled), Girls, and Game of Thrones. Oh sure, sure, the storylines are compelling, the dialogue whip-smart, the worlds rarefied, but let's face it, these shows are all soft porn. Soft or hard (yes, a pun), I think pornography can help keep a marriage fresh, vital, funny, and ever-evolving if it's not used as a replacement for actual sex with your spouse." — Shannon Bradley-Calleary

Warning Signs of Harmful Porn

The obvious sign of harmful pornography use is lack of sex in your marriage. There are additional ways that your spouse can show that he crossed the line:

  • Continual denial in the face of obvious evidence
  • Excessive masturbation
  • Inability to stop viewing porn
  • Neglect of family, spouse, job, hobbies, and other important responsibilities
  • Refusal to discuss the issue
  • Loss of sexual intimacy with a partner
  • Lying about pornography use
  • Lack of caring about your feelings on the issue
  • Moodiness
  • Staying up later at night to spend time on the computer
  • Frequently changing computer passwords
  • Demanding unusual amounts of privacy and personal time on the computer
  • Allowing easy access to pornographic magazines, videos, and computer files to other family members

When Your Husband Won't Stop Watching Porn

When your marriage has obviously been hurt by pornography, and your husband won't stop watching porn, you have to face the reality that you may not be able to change this behavior. However, taking back control of the relationship and exploring some strategies can get you two back on track.

The first thing to do when you find out his pornography habit is hurting your relationship, is to sit down with him and have a talk. Share your feelings and consider having a counselor with you if you can't resolve the issue. You can also participate in marriage counseling to see if there are other problems in your marriage leading to the excessive pornography use.

Marriage Help for Issues Over Pornography

A Word From Verywell

When you're thinking of ending your marriage, feelings of self-doubt, low self-esteem, and blame or guilt may be rampant. Don't let your husband's use of pornography negatively impact other parts of your life. If things are generally good between you, try to relax more and keep up with the healthy aspects of your life. Otherwise, a professional may be needed.

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