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Is Porn Affecting Your Marriage?

Porn is everywhere in this culture. It’s even on the side of buses. And so, we’ve got to think about how it’s affecting our marriages in a much more careful way than we have before.

Porn is Everywhere

It was Wednesday afternoon and I stood at a bus stop in the city. Having just missed the bus I needed, I stared blankly ahead and reminded myself that missing a bus is far from a big problem and that perhaps the extra time could be used well by listening to a podcast, or reading a book, or… anything but sulking about the bus. Another problem very quickly faced me though. My vision was filled with the side of a bus that had stopped, and the advertisement on the side was for the latest installment of the 50 Shades series. It was strange how quickly my mind reacted.

“What’s going on in that?” I wondered.

Then, “Oh, I remember that series being something people liked.”

“That looks a little like porn, huh?” was my final thought as I uncomfortably looked at my feet until the bus whirred away. This was the first time porn had taken me by surprise… but thinking about it now, perhaps it shouldn't have.

Porn is everywhere in this culture. It’s even on the side of buses. And so, we’ve got to think about how it’s affecting our marriages in a much more careful way than we have before. We’ve got to consider how a husband may engage with porn, how a wife may engage with porn, and consider a way forward from here.
 

Husband

Conversations in the church about a man’s struggle with porn have occurred for a long time and today it’s considered normal in society for a man to watch it and abnormal that anyone would try to resist the urges that seem to be naturally embedded within them. God’s call to have pure minds and bodies for the sake of our love for Him and our love for others is hard to ignore, though. This battle carries over into marriage in two main ways: expectations and lapses.

My husband struggled against a porn addiction through his teenage years and into his twenties. As we dated and moved into engagement we began to work through what it meant for him to confess those sins to me, to work through the hurt together, and to reconcile well. He did not want to bring that addiction into marriage but it had shaped something of his expectations within marriage.

Husbands, have you ever found yourself desiring your wife to do something, say something, or look in a way that your imagination has derived directly from porn? That’s an example of porn’s affect on your marriage. This isn’t simply a matter of the bedroom, but can seep into other areas of your life together too as you expect your wife to maintain a certain appearance, to be willing to do all you desire to please you, and even simply the way you look at her with pure eyes of lust rather than eyes that see all she is beyond her sexuality.

The fact of addiction is that there can be relapse, and it does happen. It is these moments where the raw reality of sin is laid bare to us as we sit within our marriages and accept that we will sin against each other. These relapses can be kept secret and turn into festering sores within a marriage, or can be put forward for hurt to be dealt with and grace to be given.


Wives

If the 50 Shades phenomenon has shown us anything, it’s that women are susceptible to porn as well. Statistics are telling us that almost the same amount of women have seen porn as men, and many of those women regularly engage in viewing or reading pornographic materials. This isn’t spoken about openly often yet, but it must be if we are to see the whole picture of how porn affects marriages

Women’s engagement with porn is laden with shame in a way that it is hard to explain. It has been, helpfully or unhelpfully, assumed that all men will have struggled with porn, and that women simply do not experience this same problem. Women are afraid to speak up lest they be seen as dirty. This level of shame prevents any type of real conversation and movement forward. This was my own experience as I found myself caught in a sexual addiction as a younger woman, and even to speak about it now is a level of vulnerability that is quite confronting.

For women, it is often images that captivate their imaginations and craft moments for them. The connection isn’t as fleeting as men’s visual engagement. It’s an emotional connection with an imagined moment, and when this has made its way into a marriage there is idealism that comes with who a man is that is unhelpful. In the same way a man expects porn star behaviour from his wife, a woman expects gold star porn treatment from her husband with gallant romance and selfless seduction, or perhaps another sort of experience such as the one implanted into so many minds by 50 Shades.

Wives, do you have an imagined version of your husband derived from your reading, viewing, or imagining of porn? Perhaps this version does not even share the same face as your husband. This shows that porn has affected your marriage, and it is time for some conversation around it.
 

A way forward

Shame loves silence and darkness, but confession brings freedom and light. For my husband and I, this means the awkward conversations around porn have become almost comfortable as we work out what’s helpful in our bedroom, what is helpful in our viewing and what is happening in our imaginative lives. It isn’t a one way interrogation, but a two way conversation about where our expectations and our hearts are.

It is simply part of our marriage that we speak about these things, and that we have people we speak to about it as well. We have people who walk alongside us as we work out how to have a faithful marriage in a world constantly tugging us towards unfaithfulness. We have people who we can grieve with if we find ourselves hurting and we have people we can confess to and be held accountable by if we find ourselves stumbling.

There is a way forward when porn has affected a marriage, but it must begin with dragging the shame into the light and taking away its power so that we can be reminded of the goodness of the gospel. No marriage affected by porn is beyond healing, if both parties are willing to wade through the hurt to find solace in the endless grace of the Father together… but the walk will never be an easy one. It will lead to healing, though.
 

In conclusion…

Do you remember the bus I saw that day? I do. The image is still in my mind as I think back to the day I saw it. I remember the nights when I was younger indulging fantasy after fantasy. I remember the hurt of hearing that my husband had looked at porn. I remember the hesitant embrace as we found comfort in knowing that while our marriage was bruised, it wasn’t broken…

The bus advertisements will keep coming, but they don’t have to define us. We simply need to work together to find a way forward in this world, as a church, and within our marriages, as a united team seeking to show what it is to have a gospel shaped relationship, faults and forgiveness and fleeing from sexual immorality and all. God is still God and He is good, and these godly marriages are worth the fight - because He made them, and He doesn’t make mistakes.


Tamara is a God delighting, tea filled, colour loving woman who dwells in the beautiful suburb of Earlwood. She spends her time serving as children’s minister at Earlwood Anglican, enjoying life with her husband, The James, and pursuing a newfound love of sewing clothing in an effort to slow fashion down. Her greatest joys in life are Jesus’ ridiculous love for His people, adventures with The James, time spent among God’s people, and a few hours alone with tea and a book.

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