My Wife Won’t Let Me Watch Porn

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Pornography remains a serious point of contention for many, many couples. There’s a whole range of emotional and ethical reactions to it – for some, it’s offensive and has no place even existing, yet other couples view pornographic material because they feel it adds excitement to their sex lives. Still others lie somewhere in the middle, and don’t place too much concern on the whole ordeal – that is, until it becomes a problem.

Regardless of where your opinions may rest, the potential for addiction is real with pornography, and the effects of such addiction create some serious problems for a marriage.

So let’s look at a very real, and very common situation – and try to get to the bottom of two problems at once.

As the title of this blog suggests, the most commonly raised problem with porn usually comes from wives who think their husbands are watching too much, are too interested, etc. They react by telling those husbands that they are “not allowed” to view that kind of material, he likely resists, and the result is not only dysfunction in the couple’s sex life, but also an argument over how that dysfunction can be addressed and resolved.

So, first things first: We’re not here to cast judgment and say whether looking at pornography is right or wrong – that’s a choice you have to make personally and as a couple. However, there’s absolutely no denying that porn – and more specifically, too much porn – has a negative effect on sexual health and the connection between spouses. Here’s why:

1. Unrealistic Expectations

Just like people in other forms of “entertainment,” porn stars and producers are in the business of selling appearance. This means that both the men and women featured in many kinds of pornography are not at all representative of average or “normal” appearances. Their actions, clothing, bodies, etc. are all hyper-sexualized to create a world of fantasy.

If this fantasy version of sex and sexuality starts to seem like the norm, people’s expectations can be drastically skewed. They may feel disappointed in their own bodies or their partner’s, they may have misconceptions about what their partner finds pleasurable, and they may lose sight of “real” sexuality by comparing experiences to what they’ve come to expect from this fantasy world.

2. Lost Emotional Connection

Porn is all about sex, and not about any of the emotional components that accompany the physical act. There’s no place for intimacy, love, and trust in most pornography, but these are some of the most important parts of a healthy sex life in a marriage. By glossing right over these essential, connection-building elements, porn can indirectly teach people that they are unimportant, and that all of the focus should be on sex itself. The results are emotional distance during sex, and perhaps worse, neglecting the other romantic, emotional, intimate connection that should be nurtured outside of the bedroom as well.

3. Changing Appetites

Just as expectations can be skewed, the physical manifestation of this damage has to do with actually changing the arousal process. Almost like a drug, there’s an issue of building tolerance here. Something novel and exciting (one of the reasons many people turn to porn for fantasy fulfillment) won’t stay “new” forever – eventually it also becomes common place, and people need to find something “stronger” to get a “fix.”

This can also happen with in-person sexual relationships, of course, without any negative influence from pornography, but because it’s so impersonal and available at the click of a button, people are much more likely to find themselves indulging – and continuing to seek that next new thing. Unfortunately, this doesn’t quite gel with real people.

Now, there are many other problems that can arise from true addiction to pornography, but the problems mentioned here don’t even characterize an addiction, they are simply some of the side effects of allowing yourself to put too much stock in a fantasy world, and letting it change the way you think about real sex (because as real as it may seem, porn is NOT “real sex”).

There’s a second problem wrapped up in this, though, and as we mentioned earlier, the title of this blog says it all. If you think your spouse is indulging in too much porn, talk to them about it, but this idea of “allowed” and “not allowed” is the wrong way to approach this (and any other) conflict.

Forbidding your spouse from doing, well, anything is an assertion of control and dominance, and that’s not a healthy way for a marriage to operate. It’s not about being “allowed” or “not allowed” to do anything, it’s about making choices based on what’s best for both of you, or if someone has to concede, making choices based on love and respect for your spouse’s wishes.

If you feel like your husband is watching too much porn, telling him he’s “not allowed” won’t make any difference. It will only create animosity and tension. However, if you talk to him honestly, letting him know how it makes you feel, discussing the possible negative consequences he may be facing, and asking that he make the choice to avoid it for your sake (and also for his own), you’re addressing the issue in a constructive, communicative way.

This goes for any problem where you and your spouse aren’t seeing eye to eye. Forbidding another adult from doing something is just asking for resistance, but as husband and wife, you can make your decisions based on what’s good for the marriage, not just individual interests.

For the men out there facing this very specific situation, understand that even if you don’t see the harm in a little pornography, your wife may not feel the same way. And even if you aren’t displaying some of the problems listed above, it’s a very slippery slope. It’s a touchy subject, so you may have trouble talking about it – and that’s a big part of why the reaction by so many wives is to deem it “now allowed” instead of talking through how it makes them feel.

When faced with this problem, regardless of which side you may be on, remember that the key to overcoming these problems is communication – talking about where you sexual needs may lie, what may be missing from the bedroom, how porn affects the way you feel about yourself and your partner, the potential problems listed here, and any other part of the topic that bears discussion.

After you’ve had a chance to truly discuss the issue at hand, agree to make decisions that are the best for everyone involved. It may mean concessions or sacrifices, but you can find a solution that doesn’t involve hurting one another OR asserting unnecessary (and unwelcome) control.

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23 comments

Spike 8 years ago

First:Men look at porn because not enough sex given to them by their wives, and they don't want to cheat. It's that simple. Second: No discussion is EVER made on women's porn. Consider the unrealistic expectations of the Romantic Novel, or of 'Fifty Shades of Gray', 'How Stella Got Her Groove Back', and 'Eat Pray Love'. These fantasies are far more destructive to marriage than men's porn. Third: "Wives cannot compete with porn" is the refrain. Not true. Porn cannot compete with wives: Porn cannot interract, doesn't laugh, doesn't feel, isn't human. These things matter. Porn is the substitute for when wives do not want to have sex with their husbands.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 8 years ago

Hi Spike - You are certainly entitled to your opinions, but I don't think those opinions are true for all people and relationships. I think women and romance novels would be an excellent topic, as there is truth to that as well. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/important-problem/sex-life-yt/

destiny 8 years ago

My husband and I went through a major rough patch about two years ago. When I met him, he was perfect, attentive, unlike the cheating lying men before him. I knew he watched porn from the beginning, and in the beginning, it was completely fine. Then it became not so fine anymore. Late nights were spent jerking off to porn instead of coming to bed to please me. Porn became more important to him than me, in my eyes, and that changed my view from it being ok - to becoming a deal breaker. I gave my husband the dreaded ultimatum - or rather, told him that this hurts me, and that I would work with him to help stop the porn, because it was no longer something I wanted in my life. I also mentioned how if I ever caught him lying to me, while I never said dealbreaker, I did say it wouldn't be good.

wendy 8 years ago

3 weeks ago I found my husband of almost 28 years watching porn on the internet. I think my response surprised both of us. I was shattered, and hugely distressed that he would prefer THAT to a living breathing me. It is disrespectful to me and all other decent women out there (and I'm no prude).

Lisa 8 years ago

I totally disagree. I enjoy sex with my husband and would have sex every night with him. He has chosen pornography over having sex with me. And now he has chosen adultery because the porn was no longer meeting the fix he use to get. Sex addiction is horrible and destroys lives and marriages. I am fighting for my marriage. I workout, I care on what I look like, I love being my husbands wife. I look forward to a day when my husband enjoys being only my man again.

margaret65 8 years ago

Really Spike I am ready willing and able and I am not ugly but my husband probably wants sex every 3 weeks to 2 months and thats if I throw a fit. Like Lisa I enjoy sex he often says he can't keep up with me. There are all these support groups for men whose wives don't want sex but nothing for women whose husbands lose their interest. He is on testosterone replacement and from what I read he should be like a teenager again. Nope not with me.

Sue 8 years ago

After 17+ years of marriage, I can say that my husband's porn-watching has created a distortion of our sex life. I've never asked him to not watch it - but I don't want to watch it with him. I feel like it has created unrealistic expectations for him. He doesn't ever express emotion about "making love," it's wanting only to "have sex" and "he needs that" and "it helps him sleep." No woman wants to feel like that act is nothing more than a sleep aid. I would love to feel wanted and desired and loved - not just a human sex toy.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 8 years ago

Hi Wendy - For many men, porn doesn't really reflect on their feelings toward their spouse. I would encourage you to talk to him about it, when you are in good place and open to listening, to see why he was watching. You may be surprised. If it still bothers you, talk to him openly about why you disagree and would prefer he didn't, keeping in mind the advice above. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/choose-happy-talk-sex/

Mike_Olsen_SMN 8 years ago

Destiny - I think you illustrate an important point, that there is a line between watching for an occasion release, and being addicted and replacing your partner. I hope things are much better between you both. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/is-porn-addiction-jeopardizing-your-marriage/

Mike_Olsen_SMN 8 years ago

Hi Sue - it sounds like it has crossed the line if it is replacing the time you two would spend together. I hope you two are able to talk open and honestly and figure out if there is something more he is looking for that he can get from you. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/is-porn-addiction-jeopardizing-your-marriage/

Mike_Olsen_SMN 8 years ago

Hi Lisa - We wish you the best of luck in trying to save your marriage! https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/is-porn-addiction-jeopardizing-your-marriage/

Mike_Olsen_SMN 8 years ago

Hi Margaret - I think women are overlooked as well. I hope you are able to talk to him to find out if it is a medical issue, or if there is something he needs you can help him with. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/choose-happy-talk-sex/

Spike 8 years ago

Hi Mike - and to all who replied to my message. Thank you for your input and sharing on what is an obviously painful and difficult topic. I think whatever anyone says about this is never the objective truth, but is coloured by our experiences. My own experience is this: I have been married for 26 years. Sex for the first 5-10 years of marriage was good to excellent. Keep in mind, I do not ask for anything beyond the conventional. After that, my wife gradually and almost imperceptibly (to me) began using sex manipulatively - witholding it to get her way in matters, and also began a shaming campaign. This goes to the tune of "How dare you ask...". Meanwhile, she began ordering large quantities of mail order lesbian romances. Frequency has dropped to almost zero. She surrounded herself with female friends I can only describe as unsavoury,in whose company I was belittled, humiliated and patronized. In addition she was a poor money manager despite demanding control of finances (she works in the industry). Her shaming became public and more intense. This pushed me to the point where I gave up trying to do anything at all to please her - nothing would - and my regarding her far more objectively. I began telling her what I thought instead of using any diplomacy. I answered shaming with shaming. As much as I could - without stepping away from my obligations as a husband and father ( I made a promise before all I held sacred and everyone I loved, after all) - I went my own way, taking back my finances, boycotting her friends and seeing my own and paying no attention to what her thoughts on a given family matter were.I began stating intentions, not asking. You know what? IT FIXED MY MARRIAGE! Strangely and perversely, she stopped her shaming, accepted my financial separation and returned to sex, even if it is still infrequent, it is still better than it was. My question is this: why does a good man, an honourable man have to be pushed to such extremes by a wife who has vowed to love and support him? My question to struggling wives out there is an inconvenient one, but one that requires asking: Are you being manipulative/shaming, making sex a high-stakes ordeal? If so, it may explain men's porn habit: for men it is a quick and easy fix that doesn't involve walking through a minefield. I used porn in my low points for just these reasons even though I hated using it. It is, to me at least, a symptom of greater marital trouble than it is a disease.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 8 years ago

That is certainly an unconventional way, but whatever makes you and your wife happy. I hope you both have been able to open up about that period of your marriage so it doesn't return.

Angie 8 years ago

My husband is 43 we have been married 15 yrs he was caught doing the porn thing about 5-8 years ago made all kinds of excuses why then last year he started testosterone injections then went and had a affair with his best friends wife . Lost his 80000$ a year job because of it also . That's a whole nother story but I'm here to tell all woman MEN ARE CHEATERS LIERS AND THEY ALL ARE DISRESPECTFUL TO WOMAN !!!!! PLAIN AND SImple . Now he thinks I'm suppose to just forgive and forget it all !! Lol NOT GONNA HAPPEN -- I told him today I believe we should just move on . We can't even go 5 min. Without arguing .. Why didn't he just be honest when he was with the gal and they could of lived happily ever after !! Why did he have to involve me and our children in his sexual eppisode like it was no big thing.. Just wanted to try something different -- I believe those were his words , she didn't mean anything to me .. But her and him called each other 50 x a day but she didn't mean anything !! Why would I want to even be with someone who could be like that ? I believe he has some major issues going on inside himself and I don't wanna stick around to find out how much longer before it happens again. !! WHAT A JOKE OF 15 yes waisted and then finding out all the lies I've been told .. He even brought this gal to our BED !! Makes me sick

Mike_Olsen_SMN 8 years ago

Hi Angie - I don't think all men are liars and cheaters, though we certainly don't blame you for leaving this relationship. I'm sorry he treated you that way, and I hope you both are able to move on.

margaret65 8 years ago

We have talked. His only answer is he is getting old. Apparently he is under the notion that sex drive dies when we get old. I believe it's a cop out. I do not think he is physically cheating not do I think he has. Is not track him but he calls me several times from work all day and I can always go online to see where he is at. I don't cause I don't feel the need to know. I have caught him in an online emotional affair and one other with some girl at one of his stops. He no longer works for that company and doesn't see her any more. Nothing physical had happened. He thinks he is just being nice. I really don't know what his issue is. We have even tried Viagra. I can't make him want to have sex. Although he tells me all men look and want to see every woman they can naked. I say he is shopping still he gets mad about that. No I don't believe every man has some kind of need to see every single woman every where naked. I think his heavy porn usage came about because of his job and he lost the ability to have erections due to low t. He works as a commercial pest control tech. You wouldn't believe the number of women out there that will do stuff and takes their clothes off in hotels and apartments etc. answer the door in towels or outright come out of the shower naked in front of service people. If women would learn to show some respect for them selves and other women and not act like whores we would all be better off.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 8 years ago

Hi Margaret - It sounds like he has more going on than he is talking about. I hope you two are able to work together to break his dependence and bring your marriage back together. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/choose-happy-talk-sex/

Don 8 years ago

Hi! I want to add another aspect to this discussion, and see the reaction that it brings. I'll admit I enjoy porn, and was an active viewer, even after my spouse decided that it is unacceptable and vigorously complained about it. I really enjoy the visual and aural parts (voyeurism is a weakness of mine) and would so much enjoy sharing the stimulation with my wife. She, however, has her own vice- a "spiritual porn" addiction in my opinion. She listens to only Christian radio, music, and talk shows. (she has them on constantly in her car, and at home) only reads Christian books, and only associates with her friends from church. It has severely changed our social, personal, and sex lives. To me, this has been an awful curse, and a major wall blocking our marriage. Has anyone else experienced this?

Don 8 years ago

I would tend to agree with Spike, wives can surely 'compete' with porn, if they simply become truly a lover. Porn is no substitute for a real lover, only a crutch when your sex life is down and dull. Very few men marry to have a "wife", they are looking for a partner, and lover.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 8 years ago

Hi Don - Can you both find a compromise? Perhaps a little roleplay, or something new that you both enjoy and doesn't go against either of your moral standards. Many women were brought up to view porn as objectionable, but there may be something you both can do together. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/spice-up-your-sex-life/

Don 8 years ago

Well, no compromises yet.... But that is a good point, I'm going to put my foot down and bring out this obvious bone of contention. Any suggestions as to how much compromise I should ask for? Incidently, she considers 'roleplay' as pornographic

Mike_Olsen_SMN 8 years ago

Well, she is your wife, you would know best. But if she is religious, refer her to Song of Songs in the Bible. And learn it yourself. Maybe you two need to connect on other levels before you can in the bedroom. As far as how to talk to her, I'd first direct you to this article - https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/how-to-improve-your-sex-life/ - but in our blog under Sex and Intimacy, we have several options that might be a good choice.

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