Does Porn Hurt Marriages?

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I frequently receive emails and prayer requests from men and women who recently discovered their partner views porn. Some are heartbroken by this discovery. Others feel that if the pornography use is only occasional, they can work through this. And then there are those who accept the betrayal and look the other way.

However, I know from the stories we receive at Growthtrac Ministries that relationships are forever altered by pornography. Pornography impacts not only the hearts of those betrayed, but also the hearts of those who view its images.

So, does porn really hurt marriages? Let’s take a look:

Porn Hurts Your Partner

Here’s an inconvenient truth: Two of the most respected pornography researchers, professors Jennings Bryant and Dolf Zillman at the University of Alabama, have studied the effects of porn and media for more than 30 years. They report that when it comes to porn use, “no rigorous research demonstrations of desirable effects can be reported.” In other words, in all the serious research on porn, no one has found it has any benefits. What several studies have found, however, is that partners of porn users often report feeling loss, betrayal, mistrust, devastation, and anger when they learn that the other half of their committed relationship has been using porn. Many partners show physical symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Studies also show that even casual porn use can cause users to feel less attracted to their partners. And frequent pornography use is more likely to cause participants to feel less satisfied with their partner’s looks, sexual performance, and willingness to try new sexual acts.

Porn Ruins Your Sex Life

Porn promises a virtual world filled with sex or more sex, better sex. What it doesn’t mention, however, is that the further a user goes into that fantasy world, the more likely their reality becomes just the opposite. Porn often leads to less sex and less satisfying sex. And for many users, porn eventually means no sex.

Porn Hates Families

Marriages in which one person has a porn problem often are plagued by less intimacy and sensitivity, as well as more anxiety, secrecy, isolation, and dysfunction. And since many porn users end up losing their jobs as a result of looking at porn on a company computer, these marriages can end up with less financial security as well.

In fact, many women, regardless of their religious beliefs, see porn usage as a serious threat to the health and longevity of their marriage. Why? For one thing, when a partner uses porn frequently, it takes away time the spouses could be spending together. On top of that, many partners consider the use of images of someone else’s body to get aroused as cheating or close to cheating. As a result, divorces related to porn use have “exploded”, says Dr. Gary Brooks, a psychologist who has been working with porn addicts for 30 years.

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Whether or not a porn user’s marriage falls apart, their spouse isn’t the only one affected. Children are often victims too, either by being directly exposed to pornographic images or by being neglected by a parent who uses the time they could be spending with their kids to sit alone in front of their computer.

Porn Affects Your Behavior and Your Faith

Many porn users find themselves getting aroused by things that used to disgust them or that go against what they think is morally right. And once they start watching extreme and dangerous sex acts, these porn users are being taught that those behaviors are more normal and common than they are.

Porn Is Addictive

It wasn’t very long ago that physicians and researchers believed that in order for something to be addictive, it had to be ingested physically, such as cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs.

Once they got a peek into the brain, however, their understanding of how addictions work changed. It turns out cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and pornography have more in common than you might think. Alcohol, tobacco, and drugs do the same thing to the brain: flood it with a chemical called dopamine. That’s what makes them addictive. And porn does the exact same thing to the user’s brain chemistry.

Porn Addiction Escalates

According to the organization Fight the New Drug,Because of its addictive nature, an individual usually needs an ever-increasing dosage of porn in order to feel some sense of normality. The material that they seek out also evolves. Over time, their appetite pushes them to more hardcore versions to achieve the same level of arousal.”

So what should you do if you discover your partner views porn and might have an addiction? We encourage you to seek help.

We recommend the following faith-based organizations.

• Also, please see our Porn Resource page.

Portions of this column adapted from and credit to: fightthenewdrug.org

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