“Imagine a drug so powerful it can destroy a family simply by distorting a man’s perception of his wife. Picture an addiction so lethal it has the potential to render an entire generation incapable of forming lasting marriages and so widespread that it produces more annual revenue — $97 billion worldwide in 2006 — than all of the leading technology companies combined. Consider a narcotic so insidious that it evades serious scientific study and legislative action for decades, thriving instead under the ever-expanding banner of the First Amendment,” This is how an NPR article, written by a woman with a story to paralleling my own begins.
Sex. Pornography. Divorce. These are prevalent issues in society, but often taboo to bring up in conversation. In my personal experience, those who ARE willing to discuss sex and pornography do so with an off handed ‘it’s not that bad, everyone does it’ mentality, or in a self-righteous religious way, condemning the sin.
I’ll be the first to admit, I used to think porn could “spice up” a relationship, and I saw nothing wrong with its consumption (as long as the pornography showed willing participants). Then I became married to a man who had a problem. A serious problem. The origin of the issue could easily be debated, as I promise, I’ve examined every angle possible – but ultimately my marriage ended only two and half years after it began, and I’ve learned since what a huge role pornography addiction played in it’s demise. I will also tell you that my ex-husband’s understanding of both emotional and sexual intimacy was strongly shaped by pornography addiction that started in his early teens.
I did not have sex on my wedding night. In fact, I woke up on my first morning as a wife naked (because I was still hoping for some honeymooning action) and alone in a hotel room bed while my husband was on his phone and watching TV in the living room of our suite. In 2015, my marriage included a total of four sexual encounters, all initiated by me, with several initiations through the year rejected. One night, after reading about trying to have sex different times of the day, I had on lingerie in our candle lit living room when he got home from work, and he flat out said he wasn’t in the mood, was hungry, and wanted dinner (which was already cooked and staying warm in the oven).
I’ve tried, and failed, to find words to describe what that does to a person.
Our internet history looked like an inventory list of any adult video store – even though most of his viewing was done incognito. Many nights I watched TV or worked on things around the house while my husband sat with the laptop in his lap, watching or looking at porn. Yes. Right in front of me, but turning it or closing tabs when I was close enough or walking past.
I asked for “us” to get help multiple times, and used my own counseling training to bring up the topic in non-threatening ways. My requests were usually met with the same attitude that my sexual advances were met with. I was told multiple times it “wasn’t that bad”, that he “promises to stop doing it so much,” and that “it has nothing to do with you, you are beautiful and I love you.” The latter would keep me “off his back” for a little while, and the cycle would begin again. And that was my “marriage.”
Unfortunately, although it is somewhat personally comforting, it turns out that I’m nowhere near alone in the situation I experienced. In the digital age, and ease of access to YouTube-like pornography websites, the issue is growing and it’s affecting the way adolescents develop healthy ideas of intimacy and sexuality, ultimately resulting in adults who struggle to find healthy intimacy.
So, how can something so common and such a huge part of society be detrimental to your marriage? It’s not “cheating”. Your spouse isn’t leaving the house or even touching another person. Honestly, in Tina Turner terms, its got nothing to do with “love”, either. Or morals. Or an uptight spouse. However, it DOES have a lot to do with science of behavior, the brain, and addiction.
More and more studies are being done on the effects of pornography consumption, both from a sociological point of view as well as a biological and neurological point of view, and these studies are showing that what’s happening in your very own home can be destroying the relationships within it. Below are some summarized statistics of findings.
- A 2013 study cited in an American Psychological Association article explains that “researchers at Brigham Young University and the University of Missouri surveyed heterosexual couples who were married or living together and found that men’s use of porn was associated with lower sexual quality for both men and their partners.”
- The same study continues to say that, “When one partner uses porn at a high frequency — typically the men in the heterosexual couples Bridges has studied — there can be a tendency to withdraw emotionally from the relationship. Those men report “increased secrecy, less intimacy and also more depression.”
- A Medical Daily article reports that “Greater use of pornography by men [in a study] was associated with a decreased volume of brain matter in areas related to reward and motivation, say researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.”
- “Researchers in Italy released study results that suggest when men become addicted to pornography, especially Internet pornography, they build up immunity to the pictures over time,” as stated in this Recovery Ranch article.
- The Recovery Ranch article continues to say that, “A survey of 28,000 men in Italy, conducted by the Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine, said that several began an addiction to pornography early in their teen years, by age 14. When they reached the middle of their 20s, the men showed signs of a condition called “sexual anorexia” where they had actually experienced a damaged or non-existent desire for sex.”
Please beware that although there are more statistics and studies done on men, I found several accounts of female addiction as well.
As with most statistics and studies, several factors go in to what might be considered a pornography addiction. In fact, debate surrounds whether to even consider it an addiction. Almost everyone even agrees that pornography can be consumed by some without any of the above problems occurring. Still, look at the statistics. Would you shoot up heroin because you might not become addicted? Shoot it up again because it wasn’t “that bad” the first time around, and it felt good? Many of us would say no. So, do yourself, your spouse, and your marriage a favor. Just take out that sexual frustration on each other. It’s so much more fun that way.
By Anonymous Contributor