What to do When Your Husband Looks at Porn

Pornography is a multi-million dollar business that exploits people. It demeans who they are. This very premise should be enough to convince us that pornography is not healthy for anyone. However, viewing pornography has been normalized in our society. In our very sexualized culture we want to believe that this can be used for healthy ends. They have tried to convince us that it improves a couple’s physical intimacy. We are inundated with music and movies that promote sexual fantasies.

I know few thoughtful people who say that pornography is beneficial for anyone. Early exposure to pornography can start an addiction that is pursued throughout a lifetime. (Smalley addresses this issue in his later work) Clinton and Laaser (2010) give two startling facts: 47% of Christians say pornography is a major problem in the home and the average age of first internet exposure to pornography is 11 years of age.

It IS an addiction. Once one starts the habit it is hard to break. Many times it promotes other sexual practices such as adultery or multiple affairs. It becomes a search for the perfect sexual experience, which is never fulfilled. Instead of enhancing the couple’s sex life, it actually interferes with it. It makes the partner have expectations that cannot be fulfilled. The offended partner finds out that their mate is looking at porn it is seen as rejection of who they are as a person. It is hard to understand why the partner would prefer looking at others rather than focus on their relationship. It steals intimacy and causes mistrust. Sometimes it is so pervasive that the person who is viewing porn cannot perform sexually with the partner. The person who is being offended feels that the partner IS having an affair despite the fact that the partner might not be actually having physical sex with another person. Rather, this person is emotionally attached to these images.

What To Do:

The question remains, what to do when your husband looks at porn. It needs to be confronted. It cannot be ignored. The negative impact on the relationship is too great. It is better to confront it as quickly as possible so that it can be managed. Generally, those that are addicted to porn will deny that they are participating in it or that it has an impact. This denial allows them to justify their habit. There needs to be an acknowledgment of the problem so that a solution can be reached. If the person is unwilling to acknowledge it despite the proof then the offended partner needs to decide what boundaries need to be in place for their future relationship. Some have chosen to have a separation for a time so that the offender can decide if it merits their investment in the relationship. However, the acknowledgment is only the beginning. The offender needs to be willing to put a censor program on any of their devices so they cannot access pornography. The offender needs to submit to a mentor/ counselor to work on behavior change. There needs to be accountability. Due to the habit of lying about this behavior there needs to be proof that it is changing and not pushed more underground. Often the offender is having sex with other people so he/she should be tested for STDs. Getting an STD is sometimes the first sign that the partner is having an affair. This adds more shame to the situation.

Embarrassment:

This is not an issue that the offended person should handle alone. He/She needs to reach out to a qualified, trusted individual for help. This might be the hardest part of the process. The embarrassment is often so overwhelming that it prevents this. The pain and alienation is just another layer of the hurt.

One of the possible solutions is to go to a counselor and discuss the issue. The offender needs to have frequent contact with a person who is going to call the behavior into account. The counselor needs to be very aware of the behavior since there is a great deal of deception involved. The offended person needs to set boundaries to protect him/her from further hurt. Once there is progress, the couple might need to see someone who can deal with the damage that has occurred and set a plan for possible ways to handle the future. Trust will need to be regained for any relationship to be maintained.

Note: It takes a long time to gain trust that has been lost. If there are Sex Anonymous groups in the community involvement can help supplement in the recovery.

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