Men often seek help in dealing with their porn use, yet many times their wives do not seek their own help. Though the issue with porn is not a new problem, the access with technology has made it so much more available in it’s different mediums. Here are the 4 things women need to know about their husbands porn use:
1. It’s not about the wife.
In young marriages, women need to know that their husbands porn use is almost always something they brought with them into marriage. It’s less about the wife “not being enough” and more about the man’s inability to have an intimate and close relationships with a women (or an outright addiction). Porn is easy because it requires nothing from a man beyond what his body is naturally programmed to do.
It is hard for men to develop a healthy view of women that is apart from the notion that women are sex objects. Over and over again the modern culture tells both sexes that women are sex objects. It’s why so many men are unable to have close relationships with their daughters as they go through puberty — it’s difficult to see a woman as anything other than an object. They don’t want to view their daughters sexually, so they distance themselves emotionally. Porn perverts and distorts the reality of a woman’s value.
2. Porn use is about shame.
Shame is the root cause for porn use. Shame says “I’m not enough” which can easily be felt sexually and non-sexually alike. Porn use causes shame, but the real challenge is that it promises an escape from shame. Men can use porn and fantasy as a way to “be enough” for the fantasy on the screen. The porn stars never reject the men. They always tell the viewer, “yes, yes, yes, whatever you want.” The cycle starts over when a man needs to be enough, and can’t get that in the real world, so he resorts back to the fantasy world.
Shame doesn’t last very long in an environment with grace and empathy. But here’s the problem: Wives often can’t give the gift of grace and empathy to their husbands because of their own stories. These young women have been sexually abused (to varying degrees) and they have their own wounded sexuality. Without doing her own work of recovery and healing, she will not be able to offer empathy and acceptance because the husbands use of porn will always make him like “all the others who have harmed me.”
3. Having more sex can cause more harm.
This is a delicate topic as withholding sex can be harmful just as the use of porn is. Some errant advice given to wives of porn addicts is that they need to make themselves more available sexually and this will keep the husband from acting-out. This is (almost always) harmful advice because it invites the fantasy life of porn into the marriage bed.
Women do not need to be more sexual for their husband to keep him from fulfilling his needs elsewhere. This can be enabling an addiction. Most would not want an affair partner in their marriage bed with them, but this is exactly what the advice to “become more sexual for him” is doing. It’s bringing a fractured sense of intimacy into a sacred space meant to be shared only between husband and wife.
There needs to be hard work and conversations about the harm that porn has caused in a relationship before sex can be trusted as an expression of love and commitment. This does not mean that couples need to stop having sex altogether if porn is present, rather that the purposes of sex be talked about, perhaps with a professionals help, to establish healthy boundaries. Limitations with sex need never to be used as a form of punishment or control.
4. Porn use is cheating.
Though men are resistant in accepting this, porn use is an affair. It is taking the most trusted and vulnerable act that a couple can share together, and giving it to someone else. Yes, it’s a “one-way” relationship as the images provide no relational feedback, but it is still taking the sexual embrace outside of the marriage bed.
All affairs are a result of a breakdown of trust and intimacy. Affairs are a passive “screw you” stance to the spouse. Instead of working out the issues of the relationship in the context of the relationship, fulfillment of sexual needs are being done outside the context of the relationship.
It’ll be helpful in dealing with these issues to seek the guidance of a counselor or pastor. It’s not an easy topic to address, but it’s not impossible to heal from. Be patient, take your time, and work hard to find reconciliation.
(For some sobering statistics about porn, check out http://www.covenanteyes.com/pornstats/)