Guest Post by: Mike Taylor
It is a frequently accepted fallacy that pornography use while in a marriage or a committed relationship can help “spice things up”. In reality, pornography and the effects of an addiction can do more to harm the relationship than almost anything else.
In 2002, the annual meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported that “an obsessive interest in Internet pornography” played a significant role in 56 percent of their divorce cases during the previous year. Worldwide, the pornography industry brings in over $97 billion each year.
However, the cost to the institution of marriage is much higher.
Although pornography addiction can claim both men and women, it is statistically most often the husband who is involved. While the offending party in the marriage may claim that their pornography use is simply recreational, the other spouse often feels differently. The discovery of pornography use can feel very similar to an extramarital affair.
For wives, it shatters the comfortable notion that they are the only one that their husband would want to be with physically. All of a sudden, the woman on the screen becomes “the other woman” leading to a betrayal of trust and the resultant devastation.
While the unrealistic physical attributes and actions of porn stars may leave wives feeling old, unattractive and undesirable, the husband is training his brain to think the same things, sometimes unconsciously. Even a man who swears that what he sees on the internet has nothing to do with his love for his wife, he is slowly desensitizing himself to what used to be normal. This affects how he views his wife and eventually will affect his sexual performances and appetite as he moves away from a natural sex life.
Pornography subtly undermines a man’s respect for his wife by reducing her to a commodity rather than a person to be valued for features in addition to her body.
Pornography creates the impression that deviant sexual practices are more accepted than they actually are, with many researchers considering pornography use as a stepping stone to extramarital affairs. Social Science Quarterly published a study in 2004 finding that internet users who had an affair were 3.18 times more likely to have abused online pornography than internet users who had not engaged in an affair.
A study conducted by Susan Fiske, professor of Psychology at Princeton University, analyzed the brain activity of men viewing pornography via MRI scans. The research concluded that after pornography use, the control group looked at women more as objects than as human beings.
Excessive pornography use is quickly becoming an accepted addiction. While not all pornography users will end up addicted, all are at risk for the negative effects it can have on a relationship. Because of the convenience and popularity of the internet via multiple mediums, it is easier than ever to access pornography without anyone noticing and therefore harder than ever to keep a marriage safe.
Married couples should make pornography use an open discussion and do the research needed to understand that it has no more place within their marriage than an addictive drug. Accountability to each other will help keep the relationship safe and in the event of infractions, counseling may be useful in order to process the feelings in both parties in a healthy way.
Focusing on what is both natural and real is the best way to achieve healthy marital intimacy.