6 Common Questions Asked By Wives of Porn Addicts

The following is an excerpt from our free e-book, Porn and Your Husband: A Recovery Guide for Wives.


Why does he look at porn?

There are a few things you need to understand about your husband’s heart and his use of porn. The first is simply that men are visually stimulated in a way most women are not. Men like to look at naked women, and pornography offers unlimited access. Pornography also offers a fantasy world where they can imagine themselves being desired by eager and seductive women. Over time, as he watches more porn, his virtual harem can seem more appealing than face-to-face intimacy with his wife.

Questions Asked by Wives of Porn Addicts

Psychological scars frequently contribute as well. Many men struggling with pornography use were exposed to it at a young age. For example, men often report having stumbled across a copy of Playboy in their father’s dresser. With the advent of the Internet, more men than ever before were exposed to porn as children. One study reports that 93% of boys are exposed to Internet porn before the age of 18. This early exposure almost inevitably leads to a struggle with pornography into adulthood.

It’s also possible that your husband is experiencing what Mark W. Gaither of Redemptive Heart Ministries describes as a sense of “toxic shame,” or the belief that he is horribly broken and beyond hope. (Normal shame, on the other hand, is the sense that he has done something wrong that has broken your relationship.) He may think he is unlovable, and fear that if he allows you to draw close, you will notice his flaws and lose respect for him. Rather than run this risk, he may have turned to the always-willing, always-happy girls of porn. Retreating to pornography can then make him feel even more of a failure, feeding into his toxic shame, and causing the cycle to continue. Eventually he builds up internal defenses to justify his use to the point that he no longer notices the shame.

There are likely other contributing factors (including in some cases sexual abuse as a child). A counselor will be able to help him identify and work through these. What you need to remember is that your husband would struggle with pornography regardless of whom he married. His use of pornography is not your fault.

How can he watch porn and say he loves me?

Compartmentalization comes more naturally to men than women. To him, different parts of life—work, you and your children, his hobbies—don’t necessarily interact. He may believe that viewing pornography in secret protects you from the consequences of his actions. He might even rationalize that hiding his actions or lying about it is the best way to love you in the midst of a bad situation.

As you recover, he will need to learn that this is not true.

Why does he prefer porn to sex with me?

Some men seem to prefer looking at pornography to intimacy with their wives. There are a few reasons for this. First, men crave respect and measure their own worth in terms of adequacy. Sometimes they fear really being known because it will result in you discovering his defects. Because of this, at the beginning of your relationship he may have overemphasized just sex instead of focusing on intimacy. For the same reason, porn and masturbation feel like safer alternatives to him. Even if you’ve made yourself sexually available to him, he knows that porn girls will never say “No”—never discover his inadequacies—and he never has to worry about meeting their needs.

There’s a neurological side as well. Pornography rewires the brain, training him to desire the hormonal rush from porn instead of sex with you. The chemical vasopressin, which is released during the sexual act, bonds the man to his sexual partner. With repeated pornography use, he is bonding himself to images on a screen. Given that many men were exposed to pornography during childhood, he may have chemically bonded with the women of pornography long before you entered the picture.

Some men become so dependent on porn that it becomes a behavioral addiction. Much like a drug addict, men entrenched in pornography will do anything for their fix, including sacrificing what should be most dear to them.

Read the e-book Your Brain on Porn for more details about how pornography has rewired your husband’s brain.

Keep in mind that not all men show this symptom of addiction. A man might regularly use pornography and often pursue sex with his wife.

Why am I not enough?

During sex, natural opiates are released, along with dopamine, creating a pleasurable experience. However, repeated stimulation, particularly through porn and masturbation, eventually builds up a resistance. It’s like a drug; the more he gets, the more he needs.

In simple terms, you’re “not enough” because his repeated porn use has vastly accelerated his tolerance for these chemical rushes, far beyond the levels of monogamous sex with you. In particular, pornography has trained him to be turned on by variety, which no single woman can provide. It also explains why he may have turned to harder porn or acted out through an affair—he’s looking for the rush that you, through no fault of your own, can never provide.

Is this my fault?

Often men have the tendency to blame-shift, claiming that if you were prettier or thinner or more open to sex or less of a nag, that they wouldn’t need to turn to the fantasy that pornography provides. Even if men don’t say these things, their wives will often wonder such things about themselves. Often wives will tie their own self-worth to their husbands’ opinions of them. A drop in self- esteem is common after a betrayal.

If your husband is telling you such things, he is trying to rationalize and justify his desire for porn by shifting the blame to you. By blaming you, he protects himself from shame and avoids any suggestion he is not adequate. If he is not ready to take responsibility for his own behavior, “he will say anything to convince you, and even himself, that he does not have a problem. Blaming you is an easy way to save face,” explains Ella Hutchinson.

You could be the most beautiful, supportive woman in the world and he’d still turn to porn. Remember, even Tiger Woods cheated on his supermodel wife.

Is this it for our marriage?

Unfortunately, many marriages never recover. A survey from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers states that 56% of divorce cases involve one party having “an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.”

Porn and Your Husband: Free E-BookHowever, countless marriages have recovered in spite of the husband’s use of pornography, or even adultery. This will require significant work from both you and your husband. You will need to set boundaries that will reestablish your sense of safety and security during this time. When he violates one of these boundaries, be prepared to follow through on the consequences you have promised. You will also need to seek counseling and support to help you recover from the trauma his actions have caused to your marriage. Your husband will need to take whatever steps necessary to break free from pornography. This will likely involve putting Internet accountability software on his computer and smartphone, as well as seeking counseling and personal support for himself.

Photo credit: james_sickmind


Download and read the rest of the e-book, Porn and Your Husband: A Recovery Guide for Wives, for free.

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