They Do Exist.

Porn, Your Marriage, And Our Lackluster Sex Lives

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is written by Nicole Cottrell, over at Modern Reject. She writes awesome things on culture, sex, dating, relationships – all of it. You might remember her article for us, Christian Dating: Do’s And Don’ts. You can follow her on Twitter at @modernreject. – Lauren

Here’s what they want you to believe:

They want you to believe that pornography isn’t harmful, and even safe.
They want you to believe that it is somehow vastly different from actual physical adultery.
They want you to believe that pornography in no way affects your sex life, except that it enhances it and makes it “sexier”.
They want you to believe that porn can actually jumpstart a dull sex life and bring about renewed sexual desire in a marriage.
They want you to believe that a husband or a wife viewing pornography will look at their spouse exactly the same way even after staring at strangers’ naked bodies.
They want you to believe because they know good and well that it is all a lie, but the more of it you fall for the better.

But the truth is quite different:

The truth is pornography can be devastating to a marriage.

The truth is pornography mimics and mirrors the activities that take place in an adulterous relationship – temptation, lust, sin, cover-up, shame, guilt, regret and the like.

The truth is porn greatly affects your sex life, especially in marriage and can actually decrease sexual desire for your spouse.

The truth is some estimate that 10% of online users will become addicted to porn.

The truth is pornography is one masterfully crafted lie to steal the joy and intimacy of sex between a husband and a wife.

How do I know all of this? Because I fell for the lie. I wouldn’t say I was ever addicted to pornography, but I certainly enjoyed it. I was exposed to porn at an early age and while I knew it was different for guys, I also knew it still affected me as a female.

Pornography, when indulged, becomes a standard for sex that is ultimately unreachable. The reason? Because porn is lust and lust is insatiable. We cannot feed it enough. It is not manageable. It is not controllable. It controls us, despite our best efforts.

Yet, when it came time for me to get married, I didn’t have a second thought about pornography. Those days were long behind me. Since strengthening my relationship with God, I hadn’t seen a sexually arousing photo in years. I felt free.

But I was wrong. Because porn is not controllable, many of the images that I had once viewed rose to the surface upon entering into marriage.

Things I was certain I had forgotten made their way into the forefront of my mind. And there they sat. Hungry. Starving, actually. Waiting to be fed. And what did they want? Those images wanted to strip me of the joy to be had in my marriage bed. They wanted to steal my freedom – the freedom I knew I could experience with my husband.

Suddenly, what was supposed to be the enjoyable, fun, intimate act of marriage became a barrage of images and my past fighting for my attention. I began to emotionally and physically shut down. I didn’t want to be touched at times, let alone have sex.

The problem is, marriage is not the guarantee of a lust-free life. Nor is marriage the guarantee that what you once did will not follow you into marriage. If anything, the struggles we face outside of marriage are magnified within marriage. Pornography is no different. Many people falsely believe that their sexual wanting or sexual lust will be satisfied once they are married, but again, this is simply not true.

Saying “I do” will not prevent you from indulging in the flesh if that is where you found yourself before marriage. Pornography could, in fact, seem even more appealing after marriage. Porn tries to tarnish and corrode that which is beautiful in God’s eyes.

So what do we do? Instead of reliving each and every sexually explicit image in my mind, I decided they would not reside with me any longer. If the flash of an image appeared I would quickly control it, never letting my mind wander or stray. I was also open and honest with my husband about my feelings of shame that were now permeating my marriage bed.

And freedom did come. It did not happen overnight, but it came. The more I trusted, prayed, and allowed myself to enjoy what I had been given now, the lesser the grip my past choices had on me.

Your marriage bed is not the place to allow pornography. Not once. Not ever. It cannot be satisfied and therefore it cannot be managed. Despite what people would have you believe, porn is not a solution to a lackluster sex life. It is the promise of heartache and regret.

Pornography lies and tells us that what we have now isn’t enough. It tells us that we can never experience sexual freedom without graphic images. It lies and says sex needs to be a certain way. It tells us that the marriage bed of two people who love one another isn’t exciting, or sexy, or worth fighting for.

But nothing could be further from the truth..


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8 Responses

  1. FatherOf4

    Who is "They?"

    Pornography in one aspect is safe (for the viewer). One doesn't have to worry about STDs or unplanned pregnancy from pornography. (This is not saying it isn't dangerous in other aspects.) Because of this, it is vastly different than a physical affair. The other aspect is the relational connection. There isn't a bi-drectional relationship porn, but a fling, most definitely has one. Most people (I believe) would rather have their significant other look at porn than have an affair. (This is not saying that either one is good and righteous.) It is possible that porn could enhance one's sex life as a sexual stimulant – there are many women and men who claim this is true, I don't believe this is worth the risk.
    It is also possible to see a spouse the same way after seeing strangers engage in sex, usually this is due to a poor view of the spouse in the first place. I'm not convinced seeing strangers naked in non-sexual situations would affect how one view's his/her spouse in sexual situations. Nor am I convinced they* know or believe their viewpoint is a lie. Just like sinners don't always realize they need a savior.

    I am in no way promoting porn use. I would argue (from my own experience, unfortunately) the problems with porn point to the dehumanization of God's image. Women are portrayed as eager and available objects to be used and discarded. Men are portrayed as easily manipulable and unable to resist the sexual charms of any available woman. If we are made in God's image, then a video of cheap sex is not much different than an unedited National Geographic documentary on Homo sapien's mating habits.

    November 21, 2011 at 5:15 pm

  2. Moe

    Thank you for being so transparent Nicole. Like most men, I too have done my share of porn in my younger days. You are so right on that marriage or "love" will not kill the desire and the lust of this harmful giant. It takes discipline, tears, hope, accountability.

    When both spouses understand the "hunger" for sexual satisfaction, we can beat this. There is a reason why the scripture warns us to not come apart but only for a season, and only in prayer and temptation, so that satan may not tempt us. I wish ALL married couples lived that. It would prevent lots of desires for satisfaction outside of the marriage bed.

    November 22, 2011 at 11:42 am

  3. Joy

    Thank you Nicole.
    For me it is encouraging to read a woman speaking out against porn, to read that someone else who is female knows what it's like to struggle. And to have the heads-up that marriage won't make it go away.
    Thank you.

    November 22, 2011 at 12:39 pm

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  5. Andy

    The article, Nicole, was right-on and filled with so much truth. Having been down that road and even today struggling with it, I can agree there is "nothing" good about porn. If a marriage needs it to "uplift" itself, then the marriage is seriously misdirected. The point you made about "marriage" being a way out is so very true, at least in my case. Like any addiction one has to cast it aside, never "taste" it again for some of us, like an alcoholic, can't even have one glimpse as it brings to the fore all those images we thought had been filtered out of our minds. And it is true that in the minds of those addicted to it, the other sex becomes nothing more than an object to "play" with and discard. I find myself looking at a woman and undressing her as tho she were an object rather than getting to know the heart of that woman within her. Flee from the evil of porn. Perhaps some can resist its tentacles, but most cannot and the marriages of many people are cast by the wayside because of porn.

    November 26, 2011 at 10:15 am

  6. Some guy

    This article is a little hysterical, but it contains some good points. As an experienced porn consumer allow me to weigh in:

    "Porn = Adultry"
    Lol hardly. Not only are you comparing apples to oranges, but "temptation, cover-up, shame, guilt, regret and the like" are also present when an overweight person eats junk food. So does that mean that your greasy hamburger is adulterous? No. Stop being silly. I had one adulterous experience (They cheated, not me. I was single and I don't do that.) and the experience and feelings involved were nothing like porn. Totally different kind of guilt and shame.

    " porn greatly affects your sex life … can decrease sexual desire for your spouse"
    This one is definitely true to my experience and is a real problem. My relationship and sex life is infinitely better when the porn/masturbation is kept to a minimum. I would say that twice a week or less would keep this from having much of an impact, but it would probably still have a little impact on the days you do it.

    "10% of on-line users will become addicted to porn"
    There's no way that number is accurate because it's a highly subjective type of addiction, it's something many people wouldn't admit, and because official sounding people pull numbers that don't hold up out of their ass all the time. But for all we know it could be 50% I do agree that addiction to it is real, but it's not like a drug addiction. It depends on your lifestyle. For example I work at home and I generally can't help but enjoy a ten minute session about once a day. I don't even want to, but it was way easier to stop smoking cigarettes than to stop jerking it to porn so I keep doing it. But on days that my girl isn't working I never do it and I don't even miss it. Just being slightly inconvenient is enough to break the habit. I used to think it was ridiculous to use the word "addiction" for this type of thing, but it's really the best word we have for compulsively doing something that makes your life worse so I use it myself now.

    "masterfully crafted lie to steal the joy and intimacy of sex between a husband and a wife"
    Ok now you just sound ridiculous. Dr Evil is sitting in his lab cooking up ways to make marriages dull? No. That's stupid. Porn is pretty honest about it's purpose being effective jerkoff material. It exists because nearly all (or probably all) guys like to jerk off. Always have, always will. The fact that it has negative effects is incidental.

    "Pornography, when indulged, becomes some standard for sex that is ultimately unreachable."
    I'm not sure I follow your reasoning, but this is an interesting statement. Personally I feel like finding for the right porn is the unreachable standard, I can never seem to find any that are very good anymore. I hear this is normal for anyone over time, and it's common to turn to more extreme porn when this happens, but for me I just deal with the fact that it's boring and relatively unsatisfying (even though I still watch it). I don't have that problem with sex though, even though my porn habit reduces the frequency of sex with my girlfriend, it's still very satisfying and fun when we do it. For me it's apples to oranges again. I consider sex to be like watching a good movie at the theater, and porn is more like watching reruns because there's nothing else to do. But then again, I know that watching porn has changed the way I look at and perform sex. Not necessarily in a bad way, but not necessarily in a good way either. I can't claim that my standard for real sex hasn't been permanently altered – in all likelihood it has.

    "a barrage of images and my past fighting for my attention"
    You mean that you would remember porn scenes while having sex? Ok, that's happened to me too.

    "I began to emotionally and physically shut down. I didn’t want to be touched at times, let alone have sex."
    Well that's a little extreme and dramatic, don't you think? Actually, I take that back. I just realized that for all practical purposes I do the same thing when I overindulge too much, I just don't think anything of it because my girl isn't putting much pressure on me about it. (Also we're both workaholics so it's easy to blame things on being too busy) Never really framed it like that before but I guess you're right.

    "And freedom did come. It did not happen overnight, but it came."
    There are so many jokes that would work here.

    "porn is not a solution to a lackluster sex life"
    90% agree. You might learn a move or two watching it on your own, but that should be your little secret. Watching it with a partner just seems… I don't know, it just seems retarded. This is a little subjective though, I've seen people thrive doing retarded things before.

    "Pornography lies and tells us…"
    Ok you lost me.

    Anyways, I'm not even sure how I got here or why I just spent the past however long wring this. Maybe I can go find some funny videos of cats or something. See ya!

    December 13, 2011 at 11:18 pm

  7. Ben

    I disagree that porn is harmful. If that is the husbands only way to get his jollies off every now again because his wife doesn't put out, then you can't take that way. Taking porn away from men is like taking romantic novels away from women. I should also note that generally speaking the women with the lower sex drive are the ones who have a problem with porn or other forms of free sexuality expression.

    I can completely understand the mindset of some wives, especially the 'have sex even when you are not in the mood' idealology, but there are not many women that do operate this way. If marriage was always accomodating in this way, there would be no great need for porn. I should also point out, that some women do indeed like porn. I used to watch porn with one of my ex's, and the sex we had together really was some of the best sex I have had before.

    August 5, 2012 at 2:32 am

  8. Samantha

    It’s sad to see comments on this article coming from porn users out to defend their habits. It’s easy to see the lies they have swallowed. Great article.

    August 25, 2012 at 10:38 am

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