My husband was addicted to pornography, no question about it. He maintains it was not an addiction, even though it took a separation to get him to quit. For instance he thought it was okay to look at porn with our infant son in the same room. The baby couldn't see the computer, however.
He no longer looks at porn (without me) but I still feel we will never agree on its harmful effects on a marriage, which is unfortunate. I am interested in your thoughts on this.
Signed, Wishing He Understood
The effect of pornography on a marriage varies tremendously depending upon whose marriage we are discussing. To many people the whole concept is completely abhorrent and any involvement would be a deal breaker. Given the financial success of adult films, magazines and web sites, other people are obviously more comfortable with this type of material and choose to partake. Some of the material is even designed specifically to be viewed by couples. The most relevant question, though, doesn't seem to be how porn might impact marriages in general, but instead how the issue should be treated in your specific marriage.
For some the difference between acceptance and revulsion might be a matter of personal taste, while others have strong moral and ethical views on the subject. I am not going to focus on these types of issues for a couple of reasons. For one, whatever opinions I might have are no more valid than the next person's. I don't consider this to be a forum to expound on my personal views. Second, these issues need not be settled in order to address the matter at hand. Instead I'll approach this from a practical viewpoint: How does this issue affect the relationship between these two people? What might be done about it?
The impact here is obvious; you hate it. Your husband's behavior is so upsetting to you that you separated for a while because of it. Even now, despite a supposed resolution of the matter, his attitude bothers you enough that you have sought advice from an outside source. You have obviously argued over this issue and your feelings remain hurt, badly it seems. The bond of trust and closeness between the two of you is no doubt weakened, which must affect everything from the general mood in your home to how you feel about being intimate with your husband.
From your husband's point of view, he probably resents the fact that your relationship is strained. He has undoubtedly said things to you like, "It's no big deal. Everyone does it." He wishes you would relax and stop treating it like the crime of the century, and he's probably frustrated that you don't.
Let's start with his assumption that all guys look at porn. Well, no, they don't. Plenty of men do, otherwise the porn industry wouldn't be raking in multi-billion dollar revenues, but that's a long way from "everyone." Let's go out on a limb, though, and suppose for a moment that your husband is right. Let's assume that every other man on the planet is a regular viewer of pornography. Does that mean it should be okay for him to do the same?
I feel like asking for a cell phone so I can talk directly with this guy. I want to say, "Listen up, buddy. What don't you get about your situation? Your marriage is in trouble. Your ... wife ... isn't ... HAPPY!" That alone should be enough to get any loving, supportive husband to sit up and pay attention.
As for him viewing porn in the same room as your infant son, you'd have to search hard and long to find many people who think that one is okay. Would you make love in the same room with your baby? I didn't think so.
It doesn't take much head scratching to understand how porn can be immensely threatening for many women. You want to feel like you are the most special person on the planet to your husband. Your relationship is supposed to be monogamous, which means his desire for intimacy should be satisfied by coming to you, not by turning to other women. When he is getting his jollies by looking at others, the implication is that you are not enough for him, that these other women are superior or more fulfilling. Worse than that, even pictures of other women are somehow preferable, when you are right there in the flesh. I could go on.
It doesn't really matter which of these many reasons applies to you; your dissatisfaction is clearly justifiable. He needs to come to the realization that your pain is real and, as long as his attitude stays the same, you will continue to hurt. It doesn't matter if he thinks porn is okay. What matters is that your marriage will never be right until the two of you are on the same page with this issue, and there is no way you will ever have a pain-free existence on his page.
Your husband must choose which is more important to him, your love and happiness ... or his belief that the nudie pix are no big deal. He must choose because it is impossible for him to have both. You will never be happy if he continues to exhibit the same sort of attitude, nor will the loving bond you feel for your husband be as close as it can and should be.
More than that, he must quit looking at porn. Period, full stop. He must swear off the stuff and say, "Honey, you are way more important to me than those pictures, or anything else for that matter. You are all the stimulation I am ever going to need." It's time for him to leave that chapter behind and start rebuilding your relationship by showing you how special you are to him.
Here is why I bring this up even though you say he has already quit. His desire was so strong it took a separation to get his attention. Your obvious unhappiness was not enough to do it. That's a powerful desire in my books. Now that you're back together, you say he only looks at porn when he is with you. It's pretty obvious you don't like the stuff, which means it was his idea. He wants it so badly that he has talked you into some sort of involvement, even though he knows it is an extremely touchy subject for you. He still has the computer, so he has the opportunity to indulge whenever you leave the house.
But he chooses not to do so?
Hmmm. That's theoretically possible, I suppose, but highly doubtful. I suspect you still have doubts too. If he were truly reformed, he wouldn't still claim it is okay and it wouldn't bother you enough to write to me.
I suggest you discuss with him the points in this article. You might even ask him to read it if you are comfortable doing so. Hopefully his love for you will be enough to steer him in the right direction.
I wish you all the best,
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