Marriage And Pornography, Playing Devil's Advocate

Just suppose, for a moment, that I play "devil's advocate" and say that there is nothing wrong with husbands viewing internet pornographic images? Playing "devil's advocate" means something like, "For the sake of argument..."

The Problem:

In response to some articles previously published on Mental Help.Net, countless numbers of people E. Mail me about how pornography has affected their marriage. Most of the E. Mails and posts are from women who are angry and worried about their marriages. This happens with couples who are together anywhere from a few months to decades. A large percentage report that they are contemplating divorce over the problem.

The problem of marriages being negatively affected by husbands who view pornography continues to be a very troubling issue, sometimes ending in divorce. It is understandable that many wives become incensed when their husbands continue to secretly view internet pornography after they have discussed it and asked them to stop.

Many wives feel offended by pornography for a number of reasons. These reasons vary from feeling betrayed, cheated on, devalued, and being lied to. It is not unusual for wives to believe they are no longer sexy enough for their husbands or that they  have lost their attractiveness. There are also worries that the children will discover the porno that Dad has been viewing on the computer.

Let's Stop and Think:

In discussing the issue of marriage and internet pornography, it's important to delineate the real issues causing all of this pain.

Therefore, this discussion is limited to husbands who:

1. View internet pornography without engaging in any actual contact via E. Mail or Instant Messaging. In other words, they are passive viewers.

2. Are not avoiding sex with their wives, despite the interest in porn and are not substituting porn for marital sex.

3. Are willing to jointly view the material with their wives, if they are interested.

4. Are not spending unlimited amounts of time on the computer in order to view porn. In other words, they are not addicted. Their viewing is "occasional."

5. Are not wasting household money on internet porn.

6. Are not viewing child porn or pedophile behavior or porn involving violence.

The Wives:

Virtually all of the women who posted about this topic report that they enjoy sex and are willing participants in sexual experimentation within the safety of their homes. In other words, they are not people who refuse sexual relations or having fun with their husbands in the act of foreplay and sexuality.

"Playing Devil's Advocate" - For The Sake of Argument:

What worries me, as a psychotherapist and behavioral expert, is the willingness of people to rush to divorce over this issue as delineated above.

Therefore, and for the "Sake of Argument:"

1. These men are not cheating on their wives.
Please understand that the anger women feel over this is justifiable. However, passive and occasional viewing of porn does not equal having an affair.

2. It appears that, built into the male libido is the need to look at, or view, nude women. Why is the wife not enough? That is unclear. However, if the husband is sexually stimulated by viewing these images and then uses this stimulation to enhance sexuality within the marriage, why not?

3. Why not have husbands and wives jointly view the porn and become mutually stimulated so that there is no secrecy between them?

4. Why not allow the issue of internet pornography to become a topic of open and frank discussion between spouses, much like other topics, such as money and vacations?

For the sake of argument, let us say that the real problem is not pornography in and of itself. Rather, the problem is symptomatic of difficulties in the communication process within the relationship.

Secrecy does not facilitate positive marital relations. It damages trust and mutual understanding. My concern is that anger over the topic of pornography drives it further into the dark shadows, where it threatens to poison every aspect of the marriage. Should pornography be allowed to have that power?

Cautionary Note:
In no way do I support internet, or any type of pornography. I want to make that lucidly clear. However, if kept within the confines of a marriage between two consenting partners, then why not? As it's been said many times, "If you can't beat 'em, join, 'em."

Your comments are strongly encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD