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Christian Marriage Advice: 5 ways porn will hurt your marriage

Last Updated: July 19, 2021

“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.

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 effects.

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

  1. Taylor

    I have been married to my husband for 14 years and have 4 children. I accepted him watching porn early in our relationship, before children, and our first was born in the first year. I figured by being open about it and allowing to be present would keep things honest between us and show that I am in no way a “control freak”. Keep in mind I would watch it with him by it would be on for extended periods of time almost ever sexual encounter we had. I know my husband loves me however I feel as though it has ingrained unrealistic expectations over the years and it causes him to NOT really hear my point of view on how it’s bad for a marriage period. I created this monster, sort of, but it can and will get worse. My husband was in a serious accident 2 years ago that has left him with PTSD and now he has serious trust issues with me and I have never lyes, cheated, or dishonored him in any way. I was the ONLY one there for him after he almost died and left me here alone to raise our children. I took care of him as it is my job yes but I can’t leave the house by myself for 10 minutes and he is creating bad things in his head that I may have done while gone! REALLY! I don’t have a cell my 13 year old daughter doesn’t have a phone now cause he broke it. It has become a constant battle that convince him of who I am when he KNOWS. But he was n no way thinks porn is bad for us. I pray and God will help! Fingers crossed

    • Kay Bruner

      Clearly this is a complex situation, when you have PTSD on top of a life long porn habit. I would just want to make sure that your husband is getting good medical and therapeutic care for his PTSD. And I would say that even though he does have complex problems to work through, this in no way means that you are required to give up on your boundaries! Here, here, and here are some articles to read through. HOpefully you’ve got a counselor who’s helping you through all this? You might also appreciate the online resources at Bloom for Women. Whatever’s going on with him, make sure you take good care of you! Peace, Kay

  2. Emmy

    I was diagnosed with chronic mylogenous leukemia 2 1/2 years ago. Two months after moving 1200 miles from my family to start a new life with my husband of five years. I had met my husband 30 years earlier and when my second marriage ended I came to be with him once again. It was like coming home.
    I was happy at first. I had never stop loving him. Every song on my iPhone, 542 of them, were about unrequited love, about him. I sang for him, danced for him, lamented for him for nearly 30 years .
    We are married just over five years now. We’ve been together nine years total. The cancer has caused me to lose my hair and caused a lot of other health problems. It was quite unexpected and devastating.
    The move 1200 miles from my family also proved disastrous. The climate is harsh for me. The neighborhood is tough, dirty, dangerous and most people have weapons, specifically guns. This is the far cry from my bucolic country home on a dirt road in the mountains.
    Our new home is a family owned property and we agreed that if I did not like it we would move. That turned out to be an untruth.
    In the 2 1/2 years we have lived here I have learned many things about my husband. None of them I would’ve believed. Few of them are positive in my eyes. I feel he has been dishonest with me about himself. Obviously pornography is one of them or I wouldn’t be in this forum.
    I am not a busybody. He has his computer, I have mine. I trust him, or rather, trusted him. I would never try to get into his phone or his computer or look at his history; never. But I noticed some odd behavior. I found some odd things on other computers. I found that when I would walk into the room he would be frantically trying to back out of and close windows. Because I thought we were honest and open with each other I asked “what on earth are you doing on that computer that you are worried I will see?” So confident was I, I almost meant it jokingly.
    “I just don’t want to disappoint you,” was his response.
    Right then and there I knew. I knew it was far worse than I had thought. Prior to this moment I didn’t see any harm if he happened to look up a beautiful girl. But now I knew that it went much deeper. I also learned that I didn’t trust him anymore. I learned I probably never should’ve trusted him and this was quite devastating to me as well. I had been completely comfortable in the trust that I had in our marriage. I believed that he loved me and I believed that he found me attractive. I believed we were meant to be together; that we were two pieces of a puzzle that fit perfectly snug, together. No one else has ever made me feel that way.
    I’ve never really worried about such things; the visual, pornography, being attractive myself. Even when the cancer medication began to effect my hair and I had to wear more makeup, dress nicer to compensate I still believed he found me attractive and loved me.
    Now, the pornography and the cancer changed all of that. To find him secreting away, viewing and I believe interacting with the girls pornographically is a deal breaker for me. I find him in the back room at 6 o’clock in the morning. I caught a glimpse of what looked like the video screen closing on that day I asled what he was doing.
    I tried to initiate a conversation about it twice. I invited him to talk about “the giant wedge growing between us.” He just looked at me and sighed. I asked again a second time and got the same response. He acts like it never happened. Certainly he must know by now at 57 years of age that women forget nothing. We remember what time of day it was, what he was wearing and what the weather was doing. We forget nothing.
    So today it all came to a head and we had a blowout. It had been brewing in me for a long time; several weeks.
    I struggle with my illness and the effects of the medication. I will be on them for the rest of my life. There is no remission for this type of leukemia. Although I know I am still attractive, I feel less so and no longer feel comfortable in front of him unless my body is covered. I am embarrassed for him to see me without make up on or my hair a mess. These were never issues before. I am what I am, I am who I am; a good human being and I certainly didn’t ask to become sick.
    I resent his behavior at this juncture in our marriage and in our lives.
    I sold two houses to be here so he can be near is aging parents. He controls all the money, this home belongs to his father and I have no place to go. I don’t know how this will go and, to be quite frank, I am frightened. I long to feel joy and serenity; Love. I feel only fear and anger.
    Thank you for listening to my story. Thank you for your support as well.
    .

    • Kay Bruner

      I am so sorry. My heart just breaks for you. I would encourage you to find a counselor just for you, someone who can help you process emotions and create healthy boundaries. You would probably also appreciate the online resouces at Bloom for Women, where there are forums, classes, and other resource for support and encouragement. No matter what your husband chooses, I hope you’ll choose to find help and support for yourself so you can make healthy choices for yourself going forward. peace to you, Kay

  3. Max

    So I have an honest question. I am a married man, and I do struggle with porn. I have been thinking that the problem, more than watching it, is not being open about it with my wife from the start. Perhaps if I told her to watch porn with me, we would both de-mystify it and, who knows, perhaps she’d enjoy it.

    Look, I watch porn mainly because my wife is never available. If watching porn and masturbation are infidelity, denying your husband sex should be also infidelity.

    Yeah, let’s say watching porn is wrong, but it’s not my vocation to be a monk… and every time I tell my wife I want to have sex she tells me to stop ‘begging’ for it (which makes me feel like a pervert). So:
    – If I watch: bad.
    – If I ask for it: bad.
    – If I don’t ask for it: bad.

    All these articles address the wrongness of watching porn, but no one cares about the obedience and submission that a wife owes to her husband.

    Ephesians 5:22–24?

    1 Corinthians 7:4?

    Hello??

    • I am that wife

      Hi Max

      I am that wife. Just as a woman as an intuition of cheating this is the same for porn. I have no desire to have sex bc I KNOW this is what he is doing. I feel unattractive and I view him as a dirty old man. I didn’t intend on this but it happens. He flirts with me just like we are on a porn flick 🤢 Coincidentally he is on his phone 24/7 and his search is ALWAYS deleted. I went in his phone to add his google account and he takes it off again. He lies all the time. He even believes his lies. From what I gather the next step to porn is cheating. I learned a man doesn’t really need porn because he can undress a woman with his lies.
      With your scriptures there are misconceptions ppl don’t realize. Sometimes we (including me until I checked myself) only want to read SOME of scripture but not all. We can go in a scripture war but we both would be wrong. Have you spoken to God about this. Or did you just look at the Bible with the scriptures what a wife is suppose to be or do. Submission isn’t just for a spouse to lie on her back to submit to her husband. There is always an underlying cause for this.
      I feel guilty about what I do but he does not want to admit to it so how do I know he doesn’t think of these women while he is having sex with me? I do not trust him at all. One time when I caught him by accidentally seeing on his phone about 6 years ago he said he has needs too. I even found those pills you get at a gas station there is so much I can say. I encourage you to be transparent with her and admit to your shortcomings ( we ALL have them) to build that trust again. Porn is NOT healthy and it’s a crack allowing other things to explore. Some men do not realize that a lot of these porn sites and videos have women (not all)who are in sex trafficking. So you are watching a woman being raped multiple times. I pray that you and your wife find healing we have to many marriages that are failing due to porn.

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