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Can Married Couples Enjoy Pornography Together?

Last Updated: May 19, 2020

Luke Gilkerson
Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

When it comes to pornography, women have differing opinions. For some wives, if their husband watches porn, it is seen as an assault on their marriage. For other wives, they join their husbands and bring porn into the bedroom.

Can married couples enjoy pornography together?

Certainly many couples do, but is this what is best for their relationships?

The Psychological Impact of Porn

In her hearing before the U.S. Senate, Dr. MaryAnne Layden asserted that when men spend so much time in “unnatural sexual experiences with paper, celluloid, and cyberspace,” they find it difficult to have sex with a real human being.

Is this an overstatement, or does the research bear this out?

  • Researchers James Weaver, Jonathan Masland, and Dolf Zillmann have watched how after being shown only 26 photos and one six-minute video of attractive nude females exhibiting sexual behavior, men routinely rate their partner’s attractiveness lower.
  • Dr. Dolf Zillmann and Dr. Jennings Bryant have also observed how after watching only five hours of pornographic videos over six week period, both men and women experience a decrease in sexual satisfaction. Study participants said they felt less satisfied with their intimate partners’ physical appearance, affection, and sexual performance.
  • In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Sex Research, for men, frequency of viewing pornography was correlated with a lower satisfaction with sex and relationships.
  • Neurologist Serge Stoleru has found that overexposure to erotic stimuli exhausts the sexually responses of healthy young men.
  • In a 2006 study among college men, Todd Morrison and other researchers concluded there was a significant correlation between exposure to Internet pornography and levels of sexual esteem.
  • In 2007, a study of more than 2,300 adolescents found a correlation between viewing Internet porn and greatly increased uncertainties about sexuality and the belief that women are sex objects.

How much more is this effect experienced today among men and women who routinely watch porn every week?

Porn ≠ Intimacy

In his book The Centerfold Syndrome, Dr. Gary Brooks explains why a porn-trained mind finds it harder and harder to make love. Porn, he says, promises (and delivers) a rush of sexual excitement without all the mess of actually connecting with another human being. It trains a sort of “voyeurism” in men, where we find it easier and more satisfying to just look at women rather than interact with them.

Brooks says pornography consumption creates in men a greater fear of intimacy. Porn exalts man’s sexual desires over the desire for real connection: it develops his preoccupation with sex and handicaps his ability for emotional intimacy.

Porn, he says, trains a man to both objectify women and feel validated in his masculinity by trophy women. More and more he rates women by the size, shape, and harmony of their body parts. More and more, in order to be aroused, he has to imagine himself being validated by women with porn-star bodies and attitudes.

In short, porn changes a man’s sexual expectations.

  • Comments on: Can Married Couples Enjoy Pornography Together?
    1. SAPK on

      Just wondering how a man that’s been married for 21 years and has used porn and other woman to satisfie his self for most of that marriage can just stop and want his wife in those ways??? With out any help or counciling.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Well, I doubt that a man who’s been using porn long-term can stop without help. He should probably find a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist if he wants to change his patterns.

        However, a wife can make healthy choices for herself, even if her husband refuses. Here, here, and here are some articles in BOUNDARIES that can help. The online resouces at Bloom for Women are wonderful. There are groups and therapists available for a wife, even if her husband does not take advantage of those resources.

        Women get to choose what kind of life they want to have, no matter what their spouses choose. NO woman is required to be a slave to the abuse and addiction of her husband.

    2. Elyce Leines on

      What about a husband who is left by his wife? Where are the resources for the men who are devastated?

      Reply
      • Moriah Bowman on

        Elyce,

        Although many of our resources are for women who are married to men struggling with porn, I think the same principles apply! A couple of our ebooks are written to these women, but again, they could easily be read by men.

        Blessings,
        Moriah

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