3 minute read

Should I be upset that my husband watches porn?

Last Updated: August 24, 2020

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

“Should I be upset that my husband watches porn?” Whether asked explicitly or just inferred, we get this question a lot. And our answer is always, an emphatic, “Yes!”

“Should I be upset that my husband watches porn?”

The fact that we get this question at all illustrates a point. Pornography has become more and more culturally acceptable. Popular movies and shows like 50 Shades of Grey or The Game of Thrones make content with heavy nudity an acceptable topic of everyday conversation. Or jokes about porn use in comedies make it seem like watching porn is no big deal. Today’s entertainment encourages women to answer the question, “Should I be upset that my husband watches porn?” with a strong, “No, and actually, you should watch it with him too to spice up your sex life.”

In a presentation given at the Witherspoon Institute, Dr. Jill Manning spoke about the impact pornography can have on wives. “It has been troubling and intriguing to me,” reports Dr. Manning, “how many times I encounter derogatory beliefs about this group of women, beliefs that dismiss the magnitude of the issue and the legitimacy of it, by framing them as pathological, overreacting, and frigid women who need to lighten up. ‘After all, he’s just looking?’”

Some women, in fact, have “lightened up.” Not all wives react negatively to their husbands using pornography. Ana Bridges from University of Arkansas’ psychology department says in her own research she has met many women who have justified their husbands’ behavior. “All guys look at porn.” “It’s better than him having an affair.” “At least he’s not always coming to me to get his needs met.”

Bridges labels these rationalizations as “permission-giving beliefs:” things we tell ourselves that make certain behaviors seem normal or healthy. Ironically, it is pornography that often teaches and reinforces these beliefs in the first place. If we receive a steady diet of media that portrays illicit sex as the norm, it is easy to get the impression that “boys will be boys.”

Our Perspective of Faithfulness Often Impacts Whether or Not We’re Upset

When we think of “being faithful” to our marriage partner or “cheating” on our partner, often our minds jump to black-and-white examples. When I have sex with someone who is not my spouse, I’m being unfaithful.

While this is true, the spirit behind our marriage vows is far deeper than this. Faithfulness is not so much an all-or-nothing achievement as it is movement in the right direction. If I intentionally drown my life in hobbies to avoid romantic interactions with my wife, flirt with the cute woman at work, or masturbate to porn, I am moving in the wrong direction.

When you promised to “forsake all others,” there was no fine print that said “except for digital prostitutes” (i.e. porn).

Many men will say pornography is only fantasy—it isn’t really “cheating.” Is ogling the cover of Maxim tantamount to hiring a prostitute? Well, no. The ramifications and consequences are vastly different.

But whatever we might say about FHM or Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, the supposed fantasy vs. reality distinction breaks down entirely when we think about the high-definition videos available now at the click of a button. Ross Douthat, former senior editor of The Atlantic, observes that over the past three decades, one technological innovation after another has made pornography more immediate, visceral, and personalized than ever before. “Nothing in the long history of erotica compares with the way millions of Americans experience porn today,” he writes, “and our moral intuitions are struggling to catch up.”

The hardcore video pornography at the heart of the porn economy blurs the line between fantasy and reality to the point where the line becomes invisible. “The whole point of a centerfold is her unattainability,” says Douthat, “but with hard-core porn, it’s precisely the reverse: the star isn’t just attainable, she’s already being attained, and the user gets to be in on the action.”

If you limit your definition of faithfulness to the black-and-white examples, you may not be upset if your husband watches porn. However, if you have a healthy perspective of faithfulness, one that focuses on movement in the right direction rather than a specific action, you’ll start to see porn’s negative effect more clearly and allow yourself to have an appropriate response for your husband’s porn use.

5 Myths About Porn Every Wife Should Reject

A wrong perspective of faithfulness isn’t the only thing contributing to the cultural acceptance of porn use–there are so many other misconceptions about how porn impacts our health and relationships. We put together a video of five common myths about porn we either hear from wives or directed to wives. These myths often confuse us about whether or not we should be upset by porn use. Take a look, and let us know below in the comments if there’s one myth you’ve heard more than others.

Remember these five myths the next time you ask yourself, “Should I be upset that my husband watches porn?” You definitely have every right to be upset that husband watches porn.

  • Comments on: Should I be upset that my husband watches porn?
    1. Josh Harrison on

      Here is what I have learned about America. It is totally devoid of personal responsibility. Everyone is a victim of everything there — especially women in America. They are victims of everything. The porn issue is simple. If you don’t want to watch it, don’t watch it. If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. But in America, the problem really is choice. One group of people do not like the choices another group of people make then they assign blame and create victims.

      Let us also not be naive about our moral institutions. The churches in America once advocated slavery just go look at the cause of the civil war. Our court system is biased and corrupt as can be. Our police kill people often and are doing more dirty things than you can imagine. Our politicians lie. Moral institutions? Please. What did Christ say about good people — there are none and he was exactly right. Live in a dream world if you want, but go behind closed doors of your “moral institutions” and you will see a completely different story.

      Then the ultimate hypocrisy is that we think women aren’t watching porn. Give me a break. They watch it and they are the ones doing most of it. Go look for yourself. That is what is so funny about porn. If the women just didn’t do it — there would never be any of it. Again, personal responsibility. It is kind of hard to take pictures of women with no clothes on when there aren’t women taking off their clothes.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Hey Josh,

        While I resonate with some of what you’re saying here, I’m not sure where your comment lines up with the message of this video.

        When you say, “One group of people do not like the choices another group of people make then they assign blame and create victims,” are you talking about wives of men who have promised to be faithful to them? If so, I disagree with your sentiments entirely.

        I’m also not sure why you are bringing in our “moral institutions” into this discussion, but I’m willing to hear your reasoning.

        I agree with you that a lot of women are watching porn (a constant theme we have on this blog as well), but your “Give me a break” makes me wonder if you think this video somehow undermines this belief. If so, that wasn’t the intention.

      • Anne on

        First you say “if women didn’t do porn, men wouldn’t watch it.” Then you say, people blame others for their faults and they don’t take responsibility. You’re contradicting yourself.

        Whether it’s a woman watching porn or a man, they themselves are at fault for watching it. THAT is personal responsibility.

      • K on

        I pray you never experience the pain of someone you love suffering from a sexual addiction of any kind. It is a real problem. Read. Educate yourself. Before commenting on this or any thing else, try to be knowledgeable on the subject, or keep your ignorant comments to yourself.

      • Tracy on

        I totally agree with Josh in this far as Luke is concerned whether this expressed opinion gels with his notion about the view as expressed in the video or not is totally irrelevant what is relevant is that people watch p*** regardless of their religious affiliation and I am one of them and my wife knows about it I have asked her whether she objects to it not only has she not said that she did she has also watched it with me and number of times and I really have a problem with your assertion that it immediately means a serious problem to the relationship you really need to get a healthy dose of reality before you come off as some kind of an expert on this

    2. anita bryant on

      Luke, you started your blog with a few key opinions, sharing that women were victims in this porn industry. But in your conclusion, you stated “. If the women just didn’t do it — there would never be any of it.” Really??? Are you denying a multi-milllion dollar industry of women trafficked around the world? Are you serious when you state…If they didn’t take off their clothes there wouldn’t be Porn to watch? Get in touch with the many organizations that I get involved with that help women out of forced prostitution and sex slavery, and it starts with being groomed and abused as a young child. Do they have any say in this?? No! Please don’t tell me it’s the women’s fault. Shame on you!

      Reply
      • K on

        AMEN

      • Tracy on

        Gee I don’t know Anita last time that I watched Paris in or couples in p*** there were women and men both participating in it and in the credits there are men and women both mentioned as involved in the production there are women who owned those production companies and the fact that the industry makes money is not by itself a reason to particularly criticize it since the petrochemical industry also makes quite a lot of money and arguably does a lot more damage to the environment and to our paramilitary and political motivations in this country so let’s say that I’m very skeptical about the substance of your argument

    3. anita bryant on

      Sorry the above comment should be directed at Josh not Luke, my apologies

      Reply
    4. Jay on

      I’m in several sex addict groups through my church and SAA. I am determined to show my fiance that I am committed to her and to not trigger her in regards to my addiction! Is there a follow up or precursor to this video on how to nurture fiances/wives so that they don’t get triggered? My fiance mentioned that in the past that I “don’t sync up to her” when we kiss/be physical. I believe that I have been getting better through my road to recovery, but I’m wondering is there anything that I can do to practice loving her more?

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Hi Jay. I’ve been thinking about your question for a while, and I wanted to offer you this thought:

        WORK ON BEING EMOTIONALLY TRUSTWORTHY.

        By “emotionally trustworthy,” I mean pay attention to how she’s feeling. Not just about sex. About anything, everything, all the time. Notice if she seems sad, mad, scared, happy. Ask her about it.

        Then:

        LISTEN TO HER WITHOUT TRYING TO FIX IT OR TELL HER WHAT TO DO. JUST LISTEN.

        Here’s an article I wrote a while back about emotional trust. Hope it helps! Kay

      • Tracy on

        The obvious counter question of course is whether your fiance is in one of these sex addiction groups as well apparently she has some kind of an aversion and you don’t so did you discuss this before the two of you got engaged and if so why are you considering going head and getting married if you have this serious a disconnect in your sexual expressions

    5. Tracy on

      I very much agree with the view implied by K Bruner in this case she is implying that there should be Communications between couples especially those contemplating some kind of a permanent relationship and this does not limit itself to sexual expression that is also my view of intimacy in general you do not keep secrets from your primary relationship partner no matter what they are I am in therapy for some of this however and the upshot of the therapy is that sometimes some of the things that I’m struggling with maybe I shared too much about and it became something of a stress for the relationship and no just to answer the question before you ask it it’s not about p***

      Reply
    6. Tracy on

      While we’re on the topic, I also have a problem with the title of this webpage argument article.

      it implies that a woman would be automatically objectified or automatically a victim of the interest in pon on the part of what I presume to be a male primary relationship partner.
      There are so many hidden assumptions in that phrase I can’t even begin to describe

      It seems rather disingenuous that anyone presumed to be an expert in this topic would encourage a woman who has a husband who apparently likes p*** who is not already herself offended by it that she should contact some kind of external Authority to tell her how she should feel about it.

      Reply
    7. Tracy on

      I gather whoever it is who does moderation on this webpage is part-time faculty

      Reply
      • Chris McKenna on

        Hello, Tracy – I’m curious about your comment?
        Chris

    8. Eugene W. on

      Involving one’s self in any aspect of porn is a choice, whether you are a man or a woman. There is no cut and dried answer. I was exposed to porn around the age of 13, and now I am 60. Women are not to blame, and neither are men. It is the choices we make that determine the quality and degree of success in our lives. Though I am tempted by porn, and sometimes fall, I serve a loving, all powerful, kind, compassionate God who picks me up and sets me in a large place, as the Bible says. The battle is the Lord’s, ladies and gents. You will have victory. It is God’s gift to you if you will accept it. Pray, pray, pray.

      Reply

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