I was exposed to pornography for the first time when I was in the third grade. Surprisingly, I cannot remember much about the picture that I was shown. However, I remember vividly my friend’s mom smiling approvingly at her son showing me the pictures. It seemed after that pornography was everywhere: my dad’s closet, the bathroom at a friend’s house, movies and magazines. The consistent theme was that pornography was okay for adults (especially men) and maybe even kids with parents cool enough to allow it.
My teenage years were filled with pornographic images. I knew it was something I should hide. I knew it wasn’t who I wanted to be. I tried to quit hundreds of times and failed. But I didn’t worry too much about it having long-term effects because I believed once I got married and could have sex anytime I wanted, I wouldn’t be drawn to pornography.
I remember a lady even told me, “When you are married, you can have sex any time you want.” I still laugh as I remember her husband responding in shock, “Really?!! I had no idea.” Yet most single guys still believe getting married will end their porn problem.
Unfortunately, many women believe the same thing. If a woman finds out her boyfriend is into porn, they reason that after marriage he’ll have the real thing and will no longer need it or want it. They think, “I’ll be his pornography.” It is a common theme for many many women to think they will change him after they marry him. There is even an old joke that explains this is why the wedding starts with her coming down the aisle, heading to the altar, while the musicians sing a hymn. (Aisle, altar, hymn) or I’ll alter him.
It can be really devastating when he new husband and wife quickly find they were incorrect. Getting married does not cure or replace a pornography problem. Here are a some reasons why:
The purpose of pornography is sexual excitement. Most definitions of pornography will have this as part of the definition. The purpose of marriage is certainly not sexual excitement. The purpose is two people learning and growing and uniting into one being. Married sex can be exciting, but that is not its purpose.
The focus of pornography is selfish desires. When someone indulges in pornography they will go through countless pictures, videos, or stories looking for the one that brings them the most excitement. It’s all about the users pleasure. The focus of marriage is learning to be completely focused on the other person. You learn what is sexually pleasing to your spouse.
The subject of pornography is variety. The pornography user will quickly grow tired of the porn that brings the most excitement. Then the quest is on for the new porn. The process of the search is repeated. Without variety, most pornography users would quit because the thrill would fade. The subject of marriage is one person. There will be variety as you learn the intricacies of that one person and see them grow and develop. In marriages that work, you will be completely enthralled with one person.
Getting married does not cure pornography, but pornography can destroy a marriage.
Pornography can destroy sexual attraction to your spouse. I have talked to many women whose husbands struggle with pornography. Every single one thought if only they were prettier or sexier, he would not choose pornography over the real thing. It’s hard to convince them his porn use has nothing to do with them. But it’s true.
Halle Berry is considered to be one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood. The guy married to her must never be tempted by other women, right? Evidently not. Her husband admitted to sleeping with at least 10 other women, including two of the Halle’s closest friends. He said, “I have made some terrible mistakes but the truth is, I love my wife.” The problem was revealed when he soon sought treatment for sex addiction. If you are married to Halle Berry, the issue is obviously not your wife’s looks. It isn’t love either. Unfortunately, the marriage eventually ended in divorce.
Message to ladies: Not even being the most beautiful woman in the world would be enough to overpower pornography.
Message to guys: Do you really want to get involved with something that can make you sexually unsatisfied with the most beautiful woman in the world?
Pornography can destroy a man’s ability to physically have sex. Men who use porn are finding they are unable to have sex with an actual woman. Porn has raised their levels of sexual excitement so high that no real woman is sexually exciting enough.
Many men don’t realize their brain’s sensitivity is declining toward normal sex because pornography delivers endless dopamine hits—making sex possible where normal encounters would not. In some porn users, the response to dopamine is dropping so low that they can’t perform sexually without constant hits of dopamine via pornography.
An Italian study surveyed 28,000 men and confirmed male sexual performance issues could be connected to porn use. 70 percent of the young men seeking clinical help for sexual performance problems admit to using internet pornography habitually.
If you or your spouse is using pornography or even if you use it together, it is not too late to avoid these consequences. Our brains can go back to “normal.” However, it takes complete abstinence. Complete means not just pornography but all visually sexually stimulating material. Personally, I found that I had to eliminate R-rated movies and even some TV shows and PG-rated movies.
It is difficult work. There may also be trust issues in the marriage relationship that need to be healed. That, too, will take time. Research says theoretically that six months of porn-abstinence and relationship work will get the job done. Some people I have talked with, as well as in my own recovery, have needed two or three times that long.
At Engage With Love, we can help. We can address many of these issues through coaching. In the privacy of your own home via phone or video chat we can customize a plan for you to recover and heal from pornography. You can ask questions and talk to your coach to see if you feel comfortable moving forward. Contact us here for more info on saving your marriage! We do this because we are good at it….and because we care.
For more information on our coaches, click here.