Pornography and Marriage | How Porn Affects Relationships
Recent advances in technology have made pornography remarkably available; the days of X-rated theaters, adult bookstores, and video cassette rentals are long gone. What does this mean for our relationships? Many people have come to terms with porn, concluding that it is just part of society and brushing it off as if it is not a big deal at all. Others, on the other hand, feel distraught about this addictive, self-esteem shattering “hobby.”
The truth, like most things in life, it is neither black nor white; pornography can have negative or positive effects on a relationship. Here are a few insights on why people turn to pornography and how you can use porn to improve your relationship instead of destroy it. You may want to think twice before hiding your secret stash to avoid being caught by your significant other. According to recent studies, people who are upfront with their partners about watching pornography have better, happier relationships. According to Dr. Fran Walfish, “Being honest about pornography use with a partner indicates that the person is comfortable with their own sexuality and the things that sexually titillate, stimulate, arouse, and turn on their excitation.”
In relationships, honesty and openness between partners is what brings them closer together and helps to yield a happier relationship. On the other hand, when one of the two members choose to hide their porn use and keep it secret, Walfish explains that this could be seen as “betrayal and raise mistrust, suspicions, and put a wedge of distance between the partners.” Disclosing your secret porn use to your significant other is certainly not easy.
Partners who want to come clean about their use of pornography may not know how to begin to approach it.
Here are a few questions that Dr. Walfish suggests asking yourself:
1. Why did you keep in secret in the first place?”
2. Is it because your partner is inhibited and might judge you for this type of behavior?
3. Do you feel shame about your pornography usage?
The responses to these questions will help to assess if it will be easy to talk to a partner or spouse about these issues. In addition, while not everyone is the same, men and women tend to hold different views about pornography. According to Psychology Today, “Men and women tend to disagree on two issues: How porn is watched (alone, in groups, with a sexual partner); and how often it is watched.”
If you are in a relationship where you and your partner do not agree about the use of pornography, the following questions can help you understand your partner’s point of view. The partner who is in favor of porn, ask yourself…
1. Does watching porn cause trauma in my partner?
2. How does watching porn influence my day-to-day emotions and how does it cause me to approach my relationship.
3. When does watching porn harm my relationship?
The partner who is against porn, ask yourself…
1. Why does my partner’s participation in watching porn trigger trauma in me?
2. Why do I experience trauma from porn while others may not?
3. How do my feelings about my partner watching porn affect my relationship?
It is very important that both partners understand how the other feels about the use of porn and arrive at a mutually acceptable conclusion. The alternative can create significant problems. Among other things, partners who object to their mate’s use of pornography often experience fear, anxiety, a feeling of not belonging, and feeling emotionally on edge. The other partner, who wants to view porn but feels compelled to stop, may experience feelings of depression, anxiety, and loneliness, which lead to unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
If your relationship is stuck in the middle of this quandary, what can you do?
1. Two is better than one Couples who participate in viewing porn together and who come to a mutual agreement of what is acceptable and what is not, have much more satisfaction in their relationship because of the high levels of communication and honesty. According to Walfish, “When both partners are equally open sexually and emotionally pornography can be an ‘exciting wonderful foreplay’. Often, watching can stimulate ideas, themes, and scenarios that can elicit spontaneity and adventure for the couple.”
2. Honesty is the best policy Many of the negative feelings experienced by those who do not agree with watching pornography stem from the idea that doing so is akin to infidelity. According to reseachers Marley N. Resch and Kevin G. Alderson, “Female partners may find pornography to be a source of competition in that they may not be satisfying their partners’ needs.” Opening up the lines of communication can help address these concerns. However, it is important to address these issues as early as possible. Later disclosures about previously hidden porn use can not only affect trust, but also affect one partner’s sense of who it is they are with.
3. Ask For Help All these questions and feelings can be extremely hard for couples to navigate on their own. More often than not, it takes a skilled professional to assist with these issues by doing a thorough background history with each partner to help them assess both themselves and each other, preliminary to bringing them to a happier, healthier place in their relationship.
If you’re in New Jersey, call Maplewood Counseling at 973-793-1000 to help you and your partner begin this journey.