does pornography hurt marriage?
February 19, 2018
Our team at The Marriage Place is determined to bring our very best to our clients. In order to do so, we commit to weekly training as a team where we share counseling approaches and new developments in our profession.
This past week we watched a video that reconvicted us all on the the need to address what is often an enormous elephant in the room during sessions. Those of you who have followed my blog for any period of time know I don’t shy away from tough topics. And this one is no exception – pornography.
The prevalence of pornography in our society is pretty obvious. Our social media, movies, and local news are all full of it or full of stories about it. And we get mixed messages. It’s why the #metoo movement and the new Fifty Shades movie can not only coexist, but thrive, often receiving support from the same fan base.
I regularly see pornography’s impact among the couples we counsel. In fact, I’d estimate that as many as half the couples we work with are affected by at least one spouse’s use of pornography, either before or during the marriage.
I will be sharing more with you in the upcoming weeks on this topic, but for now, I wanted to mention a couple of statistics you may find surprising:
- More and more research is proving that porn use within marriage increases the rate of divorce. This makes sense to me. Porn has already been proven to rewire our brains and it certainly changes our sexual expectations in our real-world relationships.
- In one study, porn watching increased the occurrence of divorce for men from 5% to 10% and for women 6% to 18%.
- A matrimonial lawyers’ association reported that 56% of divorces involve a spouse with a pornography obsession.
- Even scarier, our children – not only our sons, but our daughters as well – are being sucked into porn and its desensitizing view of sex.
- 87% of young men and 31% of young women report using pornography.
- 67% of young men and 49% of young women agree that viewing pornography is acceptable.
- In college, 68% of men and 18% of women view porn at least once a week.
- 51% of males and 32% of females report first viewing porn before their teen years.
- Male sexual dysfunction is occurring at younger ages, with research pointing to the high ongoing use of pornography as a contributing factor.
These statistics are sobering aren’t they? And these are just a sampling. (Links to the relevant research are provided below.)
More than just the statistics
If you’re still reading this post, chances are pornography is already more than just a statistic to you. It becomes very personal very quickly when you walk in on your husband viewing a porn video. Or when you discover your wife up late in an internet chat room. Or when your son or daughter tries to quickly hide what they’re viewing on their phone when you walk into the room.
Many of us have been there at some point. The “anytime-you-want-it” nature of online porn has changed how we talk about sex in our homes, from intimate discussions with our spouses to how we have “the talk” with our kids. It’s also impacting when we have the talk, assuming, of course, we want to get to them before the Internet does.
Some would say the prevalence and impact of porn is not a big deal. Or that it’s a done deal and we should accept it and move on.
Others will tell you how bad it is but don’t take a single step to address it in their own lives or the lives of their kids.
That’s not me though. The culture of pornography leaves behind mental, emotional and physical wreckage and to ignore it, is dangerous. I believe it is possible to address the impact of pornography in your family in a healthy way.
In fact, I don’t just believe it, I’ve seen it.
- I’ve seen husbands admit their porn obsession, put it behind them, and reclaim healthy relationships with their wives.
- I’ve seen wives emerge from the fantasy world of online affairs into a richer, healthier sex life with their husbands.
- I’ve seen parents learn how to inoculate their children against the sexualized world through honest, realistic, appropriate conversations.
If pornography is part of your world and you want to start down a new path, we can help you do it. All of our counselors and coaches are trained to address the effects of pornography on individuals, couples, and families and we also have a sexual addiction specialist, Sam John, on staff.
We can help you, if you’ll simply reach out.
- Porn use within marriage increases the rate of divorce.
“Til Porn Do Us Part” (2016, University of Oklahoma)
“The Impact of Internet Pornography on Marriage and the Family” (2010, testimony before the U.S. Senate by therapist Dr. Jill Manning)
- Rates and impact of use among young people
Generation XXX: Pornography Acceptance and Use Among Emerging Adults (2008 study)
- Sexual dysfunction among men under the age of 40
For a detailed academic approach with citations, read A clinical review by the National Center for Biotechnology Information of the National Institutes of Health.
For a more entertaining version, watch “The great porn experiment,” a TED talk by Gary Wilson, author of Your Brain on Porn.
You may also like:
A lot of the therapy work I do is helping couples and partners understand what their contributions to the relationship are, and how they can start making changes for the better, specifically with communication. Specifically, when communicating with your spouse, it’s important to make sure that you are not part of the problem, but part of the solution.
I bet many of you have already seen the recent Brene’ Brown video making the rounds where she calls out the myth of marriage being a 50/50 partnership.
I get asked a lot how to save a marriage when one spouse is leaning out or is contemplating divorce. Everybody’s situation’s different, but what I’m seeing a lot lately is very concerning to me.