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Should Wives of Porn Users “Just Get Over It”?

Last Updated: September 8, 2021

porn userThis comment is a whopper. Earlier this week a man was reading through the comments from wives on one of our popular posts and left his own criticisms. I’ve posted his thoughts below and my own response to him.

Let me say this, there is a huge difference between a casual watcher of porn and someone who ‘uses’ it. If your husband is ignoring your sexual needs, ignores you, etc., etc., and chooses porn instead of you, or spends hours watching the stuff then obviously there is a problem.

But I’d say that most men who watch pornography are in no danger of this. They turn it on, do their business, turn it off, and go about their day still loving their wives and showing them attention.

Most of the posts on this forum are from jealous women, who are upset their husbands don’t sit around all day fantasizing about them. If you took away the pornography (which is a whole other issue) men would just close their eyes and use their imaginations, and it’s probably not going to be starring you. So as long as the man isn’t an actual addict, just get over it. There is nothing wrong with it.

Most of the problems the women have described come from their own low self esteem and intimacy issues. Do you think that if your husband found you watching porn he would be upset you were lusting after other men? Or would be excited? Be honest.

Also, I find it very very amusing that all these “Christians” are posting about how they are upset that their boyfriends look at porn or that their second or third husbands look at porn. If you’re so high and mighty to have a religious-based moral issue against pornography, what are you doing having premarital sex or getting divorced?

My Response:

First, thank you for your comment. I appreciate your honesty.

Second, you’re really not in a position to call the commenters hypocrites. Hypocrisy is pretending to be what one is not. Honest Christian believers know full well they are desperately imperfect. The fact that any of the commenters here have sinned in the past is not in question. We all have.

Third, you really have hit the nail on the head: the difference between these women and you is that their expectations about marriage are utterly different from your own. When these couples vowed to “forsake all others,” these wives really believed this meant striving to channel all their affection, romance, and sexual energy within their marriage. For some of these women, that expectation was made clear from the get-go, and their men chose to keep their obsessions with virtual women a secret. For other women, that expectation was left unstated and both walked into marriage blind.

Either way, the solution is not changing their ideals. Christian ethics around this issue, or about any topic for that matter, are not merely based on a rigid principle of “God says so.” The same God who commanded men not to lust after other women is the God who created marriage and the human sex drive. When He commands something, it perfectly aligns with how we are designed to work as human beings.

The point is this: these women want their husbands to stop fantasizing about other women because they firmly believe this is how marriage was designed by God for experiencing the greatest blessing.

It is precisely because sex is so good that they don’t want to see it cheapened by lust. It is precisely because marital intimacy is so rich that they don’t want to see their marriage lose out to the fantasies that drive solo-sex.

Lastly, I agree with you about one thing: Not all men end in the trenches of addiction when it comes to porn. Many do not. But more and more men and women—even many non-Christian men and women—are coming to the same conclusions: porn is the enemy of intimacy because of how to reshapes our minds and sexual beliefs.

Abstaining from pornographic fantasy is not a shackle. It is freeing. When I was young I never said to myself, “When I grow up I want to be the kind of man who masturbates to pixels on a screen instead of using my sexual energy to please and serve my wife.” Making the choice to love and serve my wife is a blessing to both of us.

What are your thoughts? Should women just “get over it”?

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/s-t-r-a-n-g-e
  1. Trusting God

    Have been going through this site. And I can’t just explain how I feel. Was supposed to be getting married soon but discovered along the line that he reads hardcore sex stories and views pictures of poorly clad ladies. He attends Christian fellowship and in my naivety(thats the only way I can explain this), I never ever thought of pornography being an issue with my relationship with him. The time he spends looking at pictures of indecently dressed ladies was just suprising. Don’t know if its something I should have just overlooked. Just confused. And the thing now is that he came to the point of denying it (this was after initially accepting he was wrong going to those sites), maybe because he doesn’t want people to know. Right now I’m just sooo sad and down. Wandering if there was anything I could have done. I really trusted him.

    • Kay Bruner

      Pornography use is so widespread these days; it’s almost impossible to find a man who hasn’t been exposed to it. The real question is, how does he choose to deal with it? Is he able to take responsibility for his behavior, be honest about what’s going on, and do the work to be healthy within a relationship? Sadly, it sounds like your ex is denying what’s going on, which is a shame. There is healing and hope, but it never comes through denial! It’s really important for you to know that this behavior is his choice. You can’t do the right thing for him; he has to choose that for himself. The healthy option is good boundaries, and being responsible for yourself, your personal education, and your emotional processing in all of this. You may never find a man who is “perfect” when it comes to porn, but you can find men who are responsible for themselves. And, you can continue to be responsible for yourself, just like you’re doing here by educating yourself and deciding what’s healthy for you. If you want to find a group to help you process things, check into Celebrate Recovery or online at xxxChurch. Blessings, Kay

  2. foolmeonce

    What if the husband doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong? I made the mistake of marrying a non believer. I’m struggling. This is the 3rd time in 13 years that he has promised not to do it again. I am beyond devastated. He is not seeking any help nor does he think he needs any. He just flat out admits to loving looking at “explicit material”. Is there nothing for me to do but accept this? I am really struggling. I found this website while searching for ways to curb my own jealousy. I love my husband but I do not know how long I can live with this broken heart.

    • Kay Bruner

      That’s so tough. I think there’s a lot to consider in a situation like this. I think you have many options beyond simple acceptance. Those options may be painful and difficult, but they are do exist. Here are some questions I’d want to think about as you consider a way ahead.

      How is the relationship overall? Is he helpful, respectful, loving, kind? Or is he dismissive, rude, hurtful, mean or even abusive? Could you ignore the porn use and work on your own healing by yourself? Or is he behaving in ways (besides the porn use) that cause serious strain on the marriage? What healthy boundaries could you put in place to help make the marriage a healthy place for you? Or will his behaviors make the marriage unhealthy, no matter what you do? If he’s not going to stop doing something that is hurtful and offensive to you, where does that leave the rest of your relationship? Where are you finding help and support for YOU, no matter what he chooses?

      Those questions get answered in different ways in different relationships, because each situation is unique. Here’s an article Ella wrote about boundaries just recently that might be helpful. You might also want to read Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. And here’s a link to our most popular posts for wives.

      You’ll probably need help processing through your emotions and deciding what’s healthy for you in this relationship. I think personal counseling could be helpful, and groups can be great too: Celebrate Recovery, S Anon, and xxxChurch are places to look for something that might fit for you.

      Don’t struggle alone! Find good support and a safe place as you decide where to go from here. Blessings, Kay

  3. Laurie

    “Just get over it” comes from an ignorant place. I have dealt with my husband’s porn addiction for 20 years, and he has had it for 40 years. Porn is how he, beginning at age 17, formed his view of women and sex. Porn is a LOT more than looking at other women. As mentioned, it rewires the brain. It commonly leads to shame, which leads to deception and lying, which erodes trust in all areas. It changes how a man views women in general and makes real intimacy extremely challenging. I do understand that it doesn’t have anything to do with me personally. But knowing that one’s husband lusts after other women is not an easy thing to live with.

    My husband is a good, good man whose struggle is real. He and I are strong Christians now, but even when we weren’t, porn presented the same problems. It leads the (male) viewer to objectify women. I can’t count how many times I’ve said to my husband, “I felt like a piece of meat” after sex. It is a horrible, rotten feeling for a woman that men probably just can NOT relate to nor understand. My strongest desire is to share the deepest intimacy possible with my love, that bond that sex was intended for. To have a strong desire to connect with my husband met with objectification and attention only to sexual body parts has been damaging to soul – that may sound cheesy, but it’s the best way I know how to describe it. Porn kills love.

    We are still fighting it, I am still trying to trust him, I ‘forgive and forgive’ (as opposed to ‘forgive and forget’), but it will probably always be there in some capacity. I don’t know I am allowed to share here, but my husband has been using Candeo.com, an online program that treats this addiction, and it is the best thing we’ve seen in all the years of fighting this. It gets down to how porn actually changes the brain, teaches you practical daily things to do to combat it, provides support and includes relationship and intimacy modules to help with spouses. Very comprehensive, ongoing approach that I highly recommend.

    In my opinion, porn is straight-up evil. All it does is destroy.

    • Kay Bruner

      Thanks for this, Laurie. I agree with your assessment of how porn leads to the objectification of women–totally without the user realizing it, I think. In fact, I can almost always tell where a person is in recovery, based on how much they blame the object of their addiction! When a person is truly in recovery, they will take responsibility for their choices, and I think that’s a sign that there’s a more healthy ability to see people as people without the lens of objectification, denial, blame, shame, etc. Thanks for the Candeo recommendation–it’s always good to know of more resources! Glad it’s helping you both so much. Blessings, Kay

  4. Leanne

    How can you turn down sex saying you’re too tired or stressed to think about that, but then go behind my back and do porn, look up sexy pictures, and nude news of celebrities. I just don’t understand.

    • Kay Bruner

      Hey Leanne, I know. It’s hard to understand. I think the key is that “real sex” requires making a connection, and that can be challenging when you’re tired or stressed. On the other hand, pornography requires nothing of the viewer, and provides a hit of chemicals to the brain that–at least temporarily–gives relief from stress. That’s how we use all kinds of brain-altering substances, right? I’m not saying it’s healthy, I’m just saying that’s what happens. Of course there are a ton of other factors, which vary from person to person. Luke, our blog editor, recently put together a list of our top posts for women–maybe some of these articles will help as you sort through what all is going on with your guy.

  5. Leanne

    I caught my husband been using porn and lusting over other women the day after we got married and walked down the aisle. He would turn to porn more and more especially when one of us out of town. I just don’t understand how can you be talking to me and telling me you love me while you’re looking at other women in that way. When I confront, he said Christianity was my belief not his. He said I was too pushy in my belief and how he did nothing wrong. He said it’s not like he’s going around sleeping with other people. He would just shut me off when I try to come to a resolution. He continues to lie and delete his history. Telling me I shouldn’t be checking history in the first place and just trust him. Telling me he can look at whatever he wants bc if God gave him eyes it’s meant to be used to look at whoever whatever. He constantly compares reality and me with the pornstars. I’m sorry but I dont have fake boobs and butt to meet up to that standard. He constantly contacts his ex about everyday life things even the things he shares me. All this emotional abuse is just destroying me as a person.

    • Kay Bruner

      Leanne, I am so sorry for what you’re going through. It’s interesting to me to look at what’s coming out of the non-Christian research world about the effects of pornography on relationships. I saw a TED Talk a while back about it. I’ve seen stuff in Psychology Today about it. It’s not just Christians who are saying, “Wow, porn has negative impacts on relationships.” The thing you’re describing, that sense of entitlement you’re seeing, where he thinks he can just do whatever he wants, no matter how you feel? That’s a really common side effect of pornography addiction. Researchers actually can measure that! It’s a thing that happens.

      We write quite a bit about boundaries here on the blog. I wonder if you’ve seen the free download, Hope After Porn? It’s stories from four different women about how they dealt with this issue in their relationships. I know it can be so hard to decide what to do in a situation like this, and I hope those stories might help you feel less alone as you make those choices.

      I just want you to know that there is hope, there is healing. I hope you’ve got some good support around you, family and friends who can walk you through? If you’d like to find a counselor at some point, I like the American Association of Christian Counselors, because they have lots of counselors in lots of places around the country.

      Blessings
      Kay

  6. RJ

    Kay Bruner, Thank you so much for the encouragement. I just now read what you wrote. I couldn’t remember where I saw this blog. I’m not too good navigating the internet. My husband says he doesn’t look at porn anymore and doesn’t need counseling or anything. I’m not sure what to think. I have no desire for intimacy I guess mostly because I’m afraid that might make him start thinking about all those other women to which there’s no way I could begin to compare. We haven’t done anything like in so many years because of him, I guess it won’t really matter. He says he’s ready for the intimacy whenever I am but he’s not rushing me. Don’t know if I’ll ever be ready. Not sure what to do. I’ve talked to our pastor’s wife about all this but I think it would help a lot more to talk to someone who know’s what I’m going through. I just don’t know anyone like that. It has helped to be able to “talk”to you. Thank you so much for caring!

    • Kay Bruner

      You are so very welcome! However you got here, I’m glad you did. It sounds to me like you have a lot more healing to do, and if you’re wanting someone to talk to, I’d suggest searching at the American Association of Christian Counselors. They’ve got counselors throughout the country. If it helped this much to chat with me, think how much it would help to talk to a real person in the same room with you! Blessings on your journey.

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