CYBER-PORN - The Silent Destroyer of Marriage
Pornography is commonly thought of as harmless, no-one gets hurt. There only seems to be a universally accepted 'crossing of the line' when child pornography is involved.
With the advert of the World Wide Web, pornography can easily and anonymously enter any household; cyber-porn is only one or two clicks away in any home that has an internet connection. What eventually motivates a couple to seek marriage counselling is driven more by the tolerance level of the person who is opposed to pornography in any form.
Women typically do not welcome the use of pornography by their male partners particularly when they experience the negative impact that the consistent viewing of pornographic material can have on their marriage.
Men on the other hand commonly believe that viewing pornography has minimal or no negative effects on a marriage or relationship. As marriage counsellors however, we have come to learn the devastating impact that pornography brings to a marriage.
In our marriage counselling clinics, we have learned that the occasional viewing of cyber-porn can quickly turn into a type of sexual addiction. From our clinical experience in marriage counselling, sex addiction is considered one of the most destructive and difficult of all the addictions to overcome.
"sex addiction is considered one of the most destructive"
Whereas other addictions such as gambling, alcohol or drugs, one may be able to abstain and still function normally....these activities are not a fundamental requirements to living... a person can move away from locations and people who may be supportive of these behaviours.
Aspects of sexuality and sex however, invade nearly all parts of a persons day-to-day life. Additionally this person is still going to seek sexual interaction at some point.
Our research in marriage counselling with couples where cyber-porn addiction is an issue has shown that there are two common deeper causative factors - the first is a history of childhood sexual abuse; and the second is premature exposure to sexuality (the timing is typically prior to early or mid-adolescence).
In marriage counselling, we have found that cyber-porn addiction may have the following negative behavioural impacts on the marriage:
Increased negative emotions such as anger
Reduced intimacy and affection
Reduced sexual interaction
Higher frequency of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety
Consistent infidelities and affairs
Out-of-control sexual behaviour such as persistent viewing of pornography
despite distressed caused to the spouse
"there are two common deeper causative factors"
From our research in marriage counselling, we have found that the frequency and severity of cyber-porn gradually increases over time largely because the present level of sexual acting out is no longer satisfying, and additionally, a tolerance develops around the type of cyber-porn being viewed and again over time there is an increase in the type of sexual activity and graphic material viewed.
In our marriage counselling sessions, we have consistently found that when pornography is discovered by the partner and they have strong feelings of being deceived and betrayed intense feelings of hurt, anger and conflict occur between the couple.
This person has either for the first time just discovered their partners use of pornography, or until this point, there has been a reluctant acceptance of their partner's use of pornography.
Their partner's behaviour is beginning to significantly effect the marriage in terms of negative feelings, severe mood swing, an increase in conflict, depression, emotional distancing and disconnection, and reduced sexual contact and intimacy.
Marriage counselling provides a couple with a safe place and professional assistance for them to learn about and understand the complexities of how pornography influences each person's life and the impact on the marriage itself. Marriage counselling provides couples with the best opportunities for them to recover from the negative effects of the pornography, and to build a strong and healthy marriage.