How Should You React to Your Spouse’s Porn?


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Mac vs. PC © by Ed Yourdon

If your spouse watches porn, does that mean that he/she isn’t attracted to you?

Your spouse’s porn habit probably does not mean that he or she no longer finds you attractive.  One of the most important things to remember about pornography use or any other infidelity is that this behavior is absolutely not a reflection on you.  It is not caused by any shortcoming on your part, it is not your fault, and it has nothing to do with you, except for the fact that it hurts you.  Your partner has an illness and has made some unhealthy choices, but you are okay.

Although there are female porn addicts, the majority of the couples we see on Feed the Right Wolf involve an addicted or recovering husband (so please forgive the gender bias in this post).  Men are more visually-oriented that women, in general, and they are drawn to novelty and variety in images.  This is why pornography is such an effective trap for so many viewers.  It is not about you.

Why does your partner use pornography?

It might be helpful to understand the addiction cycle.  This behavior typically begins with boredom.  Most pornography users initially believe that their habit is an acceptable and healthy way to deal with boredom or loneliness (most of their partners feel otherwise).  The variety and easy access offered by internet pornography, in particular, makes it very easy for an idle click or two to escalate quickly into an unhealthy habit which is very hurtful to you as a spouse.

For many people, pornography can become a way of attempting to cope with sadness, loneliness, stress, anxiety, and other negative feelings.  As described in the addiction cycle, viewing pornography (or engaging in other addictive behavior like drinking, gambling, or drug use) can give the user a good feeling that temporarily replaces the negative ones.  This is because viewing sexual images produces a feeling of pleasure and excitement caused by a chemical in the brain called dopamine.  Over time, this causes the brain to develop a tolerance, so the user needs more and stronger stimuli (more porn, or more hard-core porn) to get the same feeling.  This is called addiction.

Should you be angry at your spouse for viewing pornography?

You have every right to be angry at your partner, and you should not tolerate this behavior in your relationship.  Pornography is a form of infidelity, and it is not acceptable in a relationship if the other spouse is bothered by it.  Even if your partner’s behavior is the result of an addiction, which is a legitimate mental illness which requires treatment, he or she is still responsible for his or her actions and their effect on you.

However, being angry at your spouse does not mean that you have to- or should- leave.  Only you can make that decision.  Much will depend on how your partner responds to your feelings.  Here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • Is he or she willing to admit that he or she has a problem?
  • Is he or she willing to seek treatment (usually counseling, therapy, and/or a recovery program)?
  • Is he or she willing to work toward giving up pornography?
  • Does he or she seem to care about how you feel?
  • How does he or she behave in other aspects of your relationship?

 

Call (916)259-3827 For Professional Help

P.S. Recommended Resources:

  • Sex Addicts Anonymous
    I cannot imagine my recovery without this program.
  • Free Podcast and Mini Course from Candeo Can
    I owe my first 90 days of continious sobriety to this program and highly recommend it.
  • Internet Accountability Software
    Using this software allowed me to get trully honest with my internet usage for the first time in my life. For some reason knowing that my every step was being observed and reported on, made it really easy to use internet only in a healthy way.
  • Treating Pornography Addiction by Kevin B. Skinner Ph.D.
    I have read over 15 books on Pornography and Sexually addiction and this trully is one of the best books on the subject. The reason is I recommend this particular book is because it is full of excelent actionable steps. Other books do a good job describing the problem, but don’t really offer a realistic solution.
  • Your Sexually Addicted Spouse – How Partners Can Cope and Heal by Barbara Steffens Ph.D.
    I know that about half of visitors to our site are spouses of people who might be suffering with pornography and sex addiciton. To the best of my knowledge this book is one of the most helpful books for the partners.
  • Free Consultation from Coach Craig
    Coach Craig has been a good friend and supporter of this site since January 2013. He has worked with people form all over the world, including famous musicians and other high profile individuals. Yet, he is only a phone call away and would be glad to give you a free consultation. Call him anytime, with any question you might have, and I am know he will be extremely happy to help in any way he can.

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Comments

  1. NA says

    My husband is overworked! at night has no energy for intimacy. He frequently turns me down at night and says “I’m to tired”. His actions lead me to check his phone, and I noticed that he has been frequently watching porn. Shockingly, on the days he has pushed me away from being intimate. We have two children and have been married for 6 years. Let”a just say I can still fit in my wedding dress! I’m
    Still the same woman he married and even I was a different size, I find this
    Kind of behavior to be intolerable. This discovery has caused me stress and anxiety.

  2. jaybo says

    No,porn is not the same as infidelity, and unless it results in a spouse ignoring the other spouse’s needs and desires, it isn’t a problem.

    It’s the ADDICTION that is the problem.

    • NA says

      My husband is overworked! at night has no energy for intimacy. He frequently turns me down at night and says “I’m to tired”. His actions lead me to check his phone, and I noticed that he has been frequently watching porn. Shockingly, on the days he has pushed me away from being intimate. We have two children and have been married for 6 years. Let”a just say I can still fit in my wedding dress! I’m
      Still the same woman he married and even I was a different size, I find this
      Kind of behavior to be intolerable. This discovery has caused me stress and anxiety.

  3. SP says

    I have read your posts about your husband’s porn addiction. I dont think I fit this category. I mean, maybe I have an addiction, or maybe not.

    I struggle with my sex drive – and my wife basically hasn’t initiated sex for months, and sex has been scarce, probably once a month.

    As a male, I cant just ignore it. Its like hunger – the more you go without food, the more you think about food. Porn is merely the only way I know to get that release – but I dont do it compulsively – I generally do it to arouse myself enough to then go and give myself a release so that my sex drive diminishes. Its less than once a day, probably only a couple times a week…but I’m fighting to stay in control and wish I didn’t have a “need” for sexual release. I’m sure some guys can go without it but I have never been able to.

    There have been times in the past where my wife would want sex a couple times a week and things were great – and during those times I had no desire to masturbate or view porn. I allowed my wife to meet that need and I had no need for more (although more sex would’ve been welcomed – 3 times a week seems to be my sweet spot).

    I’ve not mentioned anything about the porn to her, but I have raised the issue of sex at least 3 times over the last 4 months, and she says she understands but its always a difficult issue because she just doesn’t feel like sex ever and says I’m just making her feel like she cant do anything right. So I feel ashamed for making her upset and go back to ignoring my own feelings just to keep the conflict out of our marriage. its not a solution, I know that – but what choice do I have?

    If we didn’t have kids I’d be seriously considering leaving at this point. I feel like I’m living with someone who claims she loves me but isn’t willing to follow through with that – ie. she loves me how she wants to, but with no regard to whether I feel loved.

    But I love my kids, and I’m not walking away from them. So I’ve resigned myself to staying around and being miserable every night just so I can be their daddy. I’m getting so depressed – I’ve been bipolar before.

    It sucks.

    • will says

      SP

      I too have the addiction. It sadness me that you fill alone and that you feel that your only way out is acting out. I have found that there is a great deal of therapy in talking with men that suffer from the same addiction. Seek out a support group like the Samson Society or just talk with friends that you trust with this information. There is freedom out there, even if your wife does not satisfy you sexually.

      Will

    • DepressionAddiction says

      SP, I’m in a situation somewhat like yours, except I’m already divorced. But, just like you, I have no access to an intimate marital sexual relationship, and no realistic hope of such access happening.

      I’m trying to determine whether there’s any resources out there for men as sexual beings who are not in an intimate physical relationship with a woman (i.e. a marriage with sex).

      There seem to be two separate sets of problems caused by porn addiction — one in which a man’s porn addiction interferes with his sexual relationship with his wife or significant other; another in which a man’s porn addiction is just generally a problem due to overuse/extreme use, but he has no other legitimate form of sexual activity.

      It seems like these two problems lead to two very different “recovery” scenarios under the normal religion-based sex addiction programs. One involves an active sex life with a spouse. The other, apparently, is just pure celibacy.

      I want recovery from compulsive porn over-use more now than when I was married. When I was married I was full of pain and resentment, and hated my relationship. Porn was a form of escape I really wanted to keep handy, and because my wife was very controlling, I wasn’t able to use it regularly, so it was a fantasy to get it. Now I have access to it all the time. I have no problem recognizing I overuse it, and have no desire to preserve anywhere near my current level of use. I’d like to reduce it a lot.

      Now that I’m divorced, I personally (and now, with no pressure from a grouchy, jealous spouse) want to improve my quality of life by reducing my dependence on porn use to make me happy. I use it too much. I turn to it as a primary means of dealing with stress and unhappiness, depression, or even boredom. It just works so well (temporarily, until I’m done) that it’s very hard not to turn to so much.

      However, I don’t want to get married again. I have two kids, and they are my family. I am not interested in trying to build a bigger family just so I can have some kind of a sex life.

      What I’d like to do is significantly reduce my porn use (or possibly eliminate porn and just masturbate occasional, and/or have a casual sexual relationship or two). But that’s because I’m over-using it, not because I think that every minute of porn use is hurting me. I’m not cheating on anyone, or hurting a marriage. I’m just hurting myself with the unhealthy levels overuse.

      But there doesn’t seem to be any guidance that even considers moderation an option. Any sexual activity outside of marital sex is defined as a “relapse.”

      I have to completely abandon my sex drive, according to religious-based programs, unless I’m going to get married again and have marital sex.

      It seems to me that’s close saying someone with a food addiction problem should solve their problem by staving themselves. Granted, it’s not exactly the same thing, since you won’t starve to death if you don’t have sex. But the human sex drive is a biological drive that can be almost as strong as hunger. Do we really thing the only solution to porn addiction is to starve that drive completely?

      • j says

        Unlike all of you, I have sex with my partner 10 times a week. Yes more than once some days. But the day I don’t he watches porn. I have to wonder if what I’m giving him will ever be enough.

        • @j says

          @depression addiction; if you could effectivly communicate with your partner b4 it was too late & decided to divorce; what would you say? coz the angle your coming from seems similar to my disgruntled partners current situation…
          ….@J how does that make you feel? 10 times week is a nice amount & yet not enough for your partner? im not nearly engaging in that amount, due to letting life distract me with stressors, but still would love to be invited to participate,as sometimes just dont think of it… and perhaps with his suggestions we would be happier;me that he chose to engage me rather then watch porn; him that im happy to engage sexually. I worry that his behaviour/expectations will change; there is some HC porn out there that is so easy to stumble onto..and the more you see, the more desensitized you become mentally & physically….mmm tricky one not to be a “fuddy duddy” but also retain respect & dignity.

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