Pornography In Marriage: Exposing The Truth
By Kirsten Fowler
Internet access is growing and access to pornography is coming right along with it. Pornographic genres that were once hard and shameful to obtain are now easily accessible in the privacy of home. In today’s world, many married men and women involved in pornography have been using it for years. According to a Deseret News article, kids have their first run-in with pornography by age twelve. Just think, if a man or woman starts viewing pornography at the young age of twelve, how will this affect his or her marriage ten, fifteen, or twenty years later? Unfortunately, you might know the answer.
What Do I Do If My Spouse Is Involved in Porn?
If you just found out that your spouse is involved in pornography, it may seem like the whole world- and your marriage- just came crashing down. Whether your spouse has been involved heavily for years or just beginning, the hurt is real and the effects on your marriage are, too. You may wonder if you can ever trust your spouse again, or if you will ever be able to get over the pain.
Are My Feelings Normal?
Most likely your feelings are very normal. It is common to feel shock, anger, guilt, shame, depression, and isolation. In Rhyll Croshaw’s book, “What Can I Do About Me?” she talks about several different reactions you may have to your spouse’s pornography use. I have adapted these to the following three:
Can I Tell This Secret?
Many may feel that in order to stay loyal to their spouse as well as save themselves and their family from outside shame, the secret must be kept hidden. This often is where the feelings of isolation start. You may feel all alone in your suffering. You may think that no one around you could possibly have problems like those in your home. The truth is, there are probably many that know and feel your pain.
Although it is true that you do not want to tell the whole world that your spouse has a pornography problem, sharing the secret means opening the doors of love and support as well as further healing. However, it is extremely important that you tell only those that you trust and those you know will not share with everyone. Croshaw’s book suggests sharing with a therapist you trust, a religious leader, or trusted family member/friend. She also encourages individuals to find connections with others who have similar experiences.
Is Divorce My Only Option?
Learning that your spouse has been viewing pornography can be devastating and will leave its mark in pain. Sometimes this pain comes because pornography doesn’t stand alone. It is often paired with masturbation, sexual addiction, or infidelity. These are heavy loads for a marriage to carry. According to a new website, http://fightthenewdrug.org, “porn increased marital infidelity by 300%.” If your spouse’s pornography use has led to other issues that does not mean that divorce is the only option- just one option. Moving forward in your marriage can be difficult, but it is possible. However, it is important to mention that in situations where sexual abuse or harm of any kind is involved, especially if you have children, it is important to separate from your spouse and get help. You should also know that it is possible to move forward in your marriage.
Why Are Boundaries Important?
There is an important thing you need to do in order to move forward: Make boundaries and stick to them. In Croshaw’s book mentioned above, she suggests implementing boundaries in these six areas: mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, financial, and sexual. Basically you need to know what you want and need as an individual and then stand up for your personal belief system. This is especially important in sexual boundaries.
Many individuals feel uncomfortable or even victimized by the actions their spouse might impose upon them in the bedroom. The spouse using pornography may also invite you to view pornography to “enhance” the relationship. In a book called “A Lasting Promise,” research shows that negative impacts can be seen when viewing pornography as a couple. In fact, research shows that infidelity rises when couples or individuals choose to view pornography. It is important to learn to say “no” and stick to your boundaries, even when it is difficult.
Do We Need To Go To Therapy?
In order to help set marital and personal boundaries, as well as find healing and hope, it is important to consider therapy. This is especially true if your spouse is deeply involved in pornography, infidelity, sexual addiction, etc.
You can encourage your spouse to attend recovery programs/workshops to help overcome the use of pornography, but be careful not to push them until they are ready. He or she must want to stop and realize that it is potentially ruining his or her personal life and the marriage. It is important to be aware that some programs allow and encourage spouses to attend together, but others discourage it. However, research on pornography recovery by Spencer T. Zizman has shown that appropriate therapy sessions together as a couple can help restore trust and confidence within your marriage.
Appropriate therapy can also help you personally. No matter what your partner chooses, it is important to choose forgiveness in your own life for complete healing. This does not mean that you trust him or her with anything and everything, but it means that you accept his or her apologies, have a peace within yourself about the situation, and you do not harbor anger.
Is There An Easy Way To Get Over This?
The pain, internal conflict, marital conflict, and all the messy things that may come from a spouse’s pornography use will not go away overnight. Both you and your spouse will need ample time and much effort to get past this upheaval in your marriage. Sometimes it is just taking things one step at a time. This is especially true if your spouse is further into pornography use. Often times when it has been going on for years and years with no signs of stopping, therapists, religious leaders, or others will suggest some type of addiction recovery program. In fact, some suggest a 12-step program to overcoming the serious use of pornography. Some of these can be found at www.recovery.org or addictionrecovery.lds.org. But instead of looking at what you may perceive as a hard and dreadful future, think of the positive things around you in the moment.