The Pornography in Marriage Debate

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If you discover your partner looking at pornography on the internet, you may have a variety of emotions that can range from indifference to curiosity to rage. For some people, there is a sense of "what is the big deal?" when discussing pornography. Others view pornography as insulting, degrading, repulsive, and as a form of virtual unfaithfulness.

Since sexually-explicit material is perceived differently by individuals of both sexes, there is a debate as to whether or not pornography can hurt a marriage. Not only is pornography perceived differently by gender, but also by religious and cultural background. It doesn't stop there. Mental health professionals and clergy have their comments as well.


  • Guilt, mistrust, and anger about pornography can tear your marriage apart. 
  • Turning to pornography may cause your spouse to withdraw from your relationship because he receives instant gratification from his fantasies.
  • When your partner views porn you may feel disrespected, take it personally, and believe that you aren't enough. This can create a wedge in your marriage.
  • Pornography could make it difficult for your partner to see sex as a loving form of communication. As a result, pornography can decrease sexual satisfaction within your marriage.
  • Porn can, but not always, become an addiction if it interferes with work, hobbies, and other relationships as well. 
  • Frequent porn watching, along with frequent masturbation, may impact a man's ability to enjoy sex and maintain an erection, known as erectile dysfunction (ED).
  • Watching porn may cause someone excessive guilt, shame, and negative feelings due to religious upbringing, current religious beliefs and other family values taught in the family of origin.


  • A wife may think, "How can he say he loves me and look at this smut?" Looking at a pretty woman doesn't mean a man doesn't enjoy making love to his wife. It is an entirely different part of their lives that is separate from their marriage.
  • Some sexual experts believe a sexual relationship can be enhanced when imagination is allowed to run free. In fact, sex therapists may recommend mutual porn watching to help with sexual desire problems or other sexual dysfunctions.
  • Many believe if your sexual intimacy with one another is not being replaced by your partner's porn viewing, then it should not be an issue in your marriage.
  • Many people contend that if your partner is viewing porn, it can only hurt you if you allow it to. If you aren't insecure and have a good self-image, your partner's porn use shouldn't hurt you.
  • It will likely not hurt your marriage if the person viewing porn maintains a close intimate and sexual relationship with you, maintain responsibilities at work and home and so on.
"According to research by the late Alvin Cooper of the Silicon Valley Psychotherapy Center, people engaged in any kind of online sexual activity for less than an hour a week said it had little impact on their lives; people using it for 11 or more hours a week said it affected both their self-image and their feelings about their partners. Anywhere between one and ten hours a week is ambiguous terrain. It may just be a way to release stress, but as Cooper has pointed out, 'the Internet is ... a very powerful force that people can quickly develop a problem with, like crack cocaine.'" Liza Featherstone on

Talk With One Another About Pornography

Discussing this issue with trust and honesty without accusing one another is the first step in dealing with pornography. Sexual therapists suggest that partners not try to censor one another's thoughts or to force one another to view offensive material. Whether or not pornography will add to or lessen a couple's sexual enjoyment is up to each couple.

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