Christian Marriage Advice: 5 ways porn will hurt your marriage

“And they lived happily ever after…” Cut! End scene. Movie over. They’re married, what more is there? Happily ever after…

Is that so? I’m not sure how many married couples would explain their marriage as “happily ever after.” Not that all marriages are bad, by no means! But marriage comes with its challenges. It takes work. It takes dedication. It can be great, it can be happy, but it can also be hard.

5 ways porn will hurt your marriage

One growing difficulty in many marriages is the issue of pornography. Everything can seem great until the Mrs. is greeted by a naked image of another woman as she turns on the computer screen or until the Mr. stops showing up to little Jimmy’s games as he sits and watches his computer screen for hours on end. Maybe the Mrs. has gotten into “harmless” romance novels and no longer has the desire for sex, or Mr. finds pornographic messages being sent between his wife and another man via a social network.

It may not be the exact situations above, but if porn is involved anywhere in your marriage (with you, your spouse, or even both of you), then there is no “happily ever after.” Pornography never blesses, it only takes. It never enriches, it only deceives. Porn will not develop anyone, but only put the user (and others) in harms way.

If porn is involved in your marriage, you are not alone. Covenant Eyes reported in their most recent statistics (via MSNBC and a Stanford/Duquesne study): “In 2000, 25 million Americans spent 1 to 10 hours per week viewing Internet pornography, and as many as 4.7 million spent over 11 hours per week viewing Internet pornography.” Of those millions, I cannot imagine how many are married.

I myself have experienced the problem of porn in my marriage. My husband revealed his struggle to me just a few months before we were married and it has been a part of our lives ever since. Not that my husband is actively involved in pornography any longer, but just as alcoholism is a struggle with no cure, so is the addiction to pornography. One sip, one look, and it can be a downhill journey once again.

Worth the Fight

So why try? Does it really hurt your marriage? Is it something worth fighting against if the urges and temptations will always be there and the “happily ever after” doesn’t completely exist?

Yes. One million times, yes! Though this struggle is hard, your marriage is worth it. Just as you would fight hard to prevent alcoholism or drug addiction, fight just as hard against the battle of pornography.

Still not convinced? Here are 5 ways that pornography can hurt your marriage. I pray you take them to heart and know that none of us are immune to the affects.

Way #1:Porn Invites Comparison

Invite anyone into your marriage—past, present, or future—and that person will always be somewhere in your mind. For example: if you have had a sexual partner apart from your spouse, possibly even years before you were married, could sex with your spouse bring that previous relationship back to your mind? Of course it would!No matter how hard we can try to forget the past, it becomes a part of who we are. It becomes an ingrained memory that cannot easily be pushed aside. Are we more than our past? Absolutely. We can change, we can move forward as a new person. But the memories are always there.

Now think of this with pornography. If a man sees an image of a naked woman, what happens when he sees his wife naked in a few hours? Does he not notice that his wife may not have the same computer-generated flawless features? And what about the video he watched of two people having sex? He may begin to believe that sex with his wife is not quite as exciting as the scripted scene he had witnessed before. Romance novels and soft porn can have the very same effects.

I heard once that comparison is the thief of joy. I don’t think it could be explained any better, especially in this situation. Porn invites in comparison. Comparison can take away the joy that we experience in our marriages, specifically in our marriage beds.

Way #2: Porn Encourages Lies

Pornography as a topic is generally avoided. It’s kept behind closed doors (just where Satan likes it) so the habit and addiction can fester and grow. There are marriages where it is freely done and the spouse knows about it (I highly disagree with this as well), but for the most part you will find that the one looking at porn is keeping it under wraps. Lies of any sort can rip a marriage apart, but lies about porn are sneaky ones that often take a while to come out into the open.

Before porn is revealed in a marriage, it can wrap its claws around the aspect of one’s life and cause detrimental harm. Proverbs 12:22 says, “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.” Being trustworthy means honesty with your spouse. Hiding a porn addiction is not only being dishonest, but it’s being untrustworthy. A marriage is built on trust, and without it the marriage will crumble.

Way #3: Porn Lowers Self-Worth

As a psychology and counseling major, I’ve heard the term “self-esteem” quite a bit. It’s thrown around frequently, and while there is truth to it, I like the term “self-worth” a whole lot better. I believe it better encompasses the greater issue. When we don’t feel good about ourselves, it is more of a worth issue than one of esteem for ourselves.

I get into this because I believe porn can greatly mess with the self-worth of both a husband and a wife in a marriage, no matter who it is that is struggling with the addiction. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” God created us in His image, one that is holy and righteous. But when we sin, or those we love sin against us, we rarely feel anything close to the attributes of holiness and righteousness.

This is most often an issue for the wife whose husband is struggling with porn. In my own experience, and in talking to numerous other wives who have been through this, the question rolling through our minds is “Am I not good enough?” If we know our husbands are looking at other women, it must mean that they don’t think we are enough for them. I might think I am not pretty enough, not sexy enough, or not worthy of love and affection. While the struggle with porn is far greater than what the wife may think, the issue of self-worth is still there.

I would also argue that looking at porn is a self-worth issue for both men and women. When one becomes upset with him/herself, going into “another world” can be an easy escape from reality—one that always appears to fulfill and bring pleasure no matter what the real-life circumstances may be. Just as one may go towards alcohol or drug abuse in situations of frustration and low self-worth, so someone else can turn to porn. Porn starts with low self-worth and ends with low self-worth. Without respect for oneself, a marriage will be brought down. Without knowledge of how you were designed (in God’s image) and without living in light of that knowledge, a marriage will suffer.

Way #4: Porn Robs Us of Intimacy

Porn takes intimacy away. Period. On to the next point…

Just kidding, but really, that sums it up pretty well. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” “Undefiled” means “without stain or blemish.” Porn is a stain. It’s that nasty grass stain that will never come out of a white t-shirt. It can be covered, dyed, washed, and cleaned, but it will always still be there. Porn will defile a marriage bed. It will steal from the intimacy that a married couple has the opportunity to be blessed with. Porn will take sex that a married couple has and completely strip away all holiness and intimacy that it once had. It invites someone else into the sexual relationship, which leads to our next point…

Way #5: Porn is Adultery

Ouch. I debated whether to include this one or not. It’s harsh, it’s hurtful…but it’s truth. Porn is adultery. Matthew 5:28 says, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” No arguing with that one. Jesus is pretty clear, and you know He already knew about the sin of pornography before it ever came into existence (though I suspect they already had forms of it during this time period). He knew the easy accessibility that the Internet would someday bring. He knew that 47% of families (via Covenant Eyes and Focus on the Family statistics) would have this problem in their home one day.

Looking at another man or woman in lust is adultery. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Hard reality, but a truthful one. Porn is adultery and obviously, adultery is a problem in marriage.

God is Bigger

This was a hard post to write. So harsh, so dark, so depressing! Unfortunately, it is all true. These are just five ways that porn will hurt your marriage and unfortunately, there are hundreds more. But I can’t leave you with that!

God redeems (Eph. 1:7). God heals (1 Cor. 10:13). God does miracles (Matt. 17:20). God is bigger (Isaiah 55:8-9). My husband and I are a testament to this. While pornography will always be a struggle and temptation that we will seek to conquer, He has blessed us with an incredible marriage despite the evil that has threatened our relationship. He has healed us from comparing or being fearful of comparison. He has taken away the lies and silence that held my husband for so many years before he told me about his struggle. He has restored our self-worth and made us feel like royal children (as we all are!). He has completely brought back all intimacy that was lost and not only that, has made it better! And He, by far, is greater than any sin of adultery. Satan may try to take us down, but God keeps our marriage up and thriving. We give all the glory to Him and are so blessed by the great things He has done.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

Photo credit: titlap


 

Erin Baxter is a blogger of all things marriage. She has been married to her husband, Matt, for nearly 5 years and has two “fur-babies” (Kevin the dog and Ella the cat). Erin holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Counseling. Her goal is to reach out to as many married couples as she can in order to restore marriages and allow God to work through her writing.

Visit her blog at Mystery32.com.