Monday, September 27 2021 - 5:49 AM
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Dependent On Porn

Dear Nancy: My husband and I enjoyed sex until he reached his fortieth birthday. Then he said he felt “old and not able to perform as quickly.” He has suggested that we try some of the acrobatic sex acts he has seen in some magazines and videos. I am hesitant about this. He also says he wants to spice things up by watching some sexy videos with me. I know he’s getting some of his ideas off the Internet. I really want to please him, but I don’t want my husband to be dependent on pornography for sexual arousal. How far should a wife go in pleasing her husband’s sexual desires?

Dear Wife of Slowed-Down Husband: It sounds like your husband is searching for the ultimate sexual experience. Might he have reached some midlife crisis where he feels that his masculinity, virility, and sex life have gone over the hill? Many men just like your husband use pornography as a sexual stimulant even within marriage. Having a regular sex partner doesn’t remove their need for pornography because they’ve established a habit. People may turn to pornography to satisfy curiosity or to revitalize a sagging sex life, but they tend to become habituated to its stimulation.

A New Era of Addiction

Unfortunately, the Internet has opened a new era of pornography and sex addiction. No longer must seekers cruise the seedy side of town. Now they can cruise the Net and indulge in porn or “cybersex” or even have an affair online. The accessibility to inappropriate sexual activities creates problems for many wives. Weak, struggling men, including Christians, become deeply entrenched without ever leaving their home or office. This leaves wives calling addiction counselors in anguish, not knowing what to do about their husbands’ involvement with Internet porn. Some men try to defend their actions by saying they don’t see that they’re doing anything wrong as long as they don’t have physical sex with another person. But infidelity begins at the point when a person makes a strong emotional connection. This means it doesn’t take a physical act to betray one’s marriage vows.

Porn Destroys Intimacy

Pornography destroys intimacy because it introduces a third person, or more, into the relationship. A man’s dependency on it not only hurts the man himself and the couple’s sex life, but it devastates the wife’s self-esteem. It undermines her sense of safety within the marriage and damages her trust in her husband.

People can break sex addictions such as this, but only when they admit their problem and get into a program designed to break it.  Spend much time on your knees, and then hold the line wherever your good judgment tells you not to follow him. No counselor can settle where that line is for you—only you can do this. God gave you a brain and a conscience. You have sought Counsel. Now, through prayer, you will have to make up your own mind about what is right and what is wrong. God will guide you.

The use of porn often escalates into even worse sexual practices.

Dear Nancy: My husband is into pornography big time; I don’t know how to handle it. At first, it was only magazines, which he tried to hide from me. He started with relatively mild stuff but, over time, graduated to hard-core stuff. I suspect he is going to X-rated films. He wants to watch porn movies before we have sex and sometimes when we are making love. Now it seems like we can’t make love without some stimulation from an outside source. I can’t stand watching that stuff. My self-worth is about one inch high, and I don’t know how much more I can take. This is really getting me down.

Dear Tired of Porn: Some men turn to porn to restore lost interest or revitalize a tired sex life. They may also use it because of early conditioning, as a way of satisfying curiosity, or improving performance. Whatever the reason, they tend to become habituated to its stimulation, which continually diminishes their gratification. Consequently, as in all addictions, they need increasingly stronger stimulation. Eventually, several sex experiences every day still leave them unsatisfied.

Sex addicts typically begin to live a double life. They must hide from their spouses and others their masturbation, porn-shop visits, prostitutes, etc. because they are consumed with shame and afraid of being discovered. And they lack intimacy. They become very self-absorbed and can’t develop relationships outside of sexual ones. To addicts, sex becomes a mechanical process that involves another person—but that person isn’t really a partner, only an accessory to fantasy, a means of indulging their obsession.

Levels of Addiction

Like all other addictions, sexual addiction becomes progressively worse. In his book When Sex Becomes An Addiction, Stephen Arterburn identifies four levels of sexual addiction:

Level 1: Fantasy, pornography, and masturbation. Arterburn calls pornography the “gateway drug” to most sexual addictions. Society views pornography as harmless, yet it is the fuel that burns in the fires of lust gone out of control. Through the use of porn, the addict can masturbate while fantasizing about sex with another woman, a child, multiple partners, or while inflicting pain or violence. To state it bluntly, pornography is about masturbation because that’s what people do when they use porn. Porn is an aid to masturbation. Compulsive masturbation is a quick escape from intimacy and becomes a one-sided process of self-gratification.

Level 2: Live pornography, fetishes, and affairs. In level 1, the addict’s only contact with another person is through film, video, or paper. In level 2, the addict makes contact with another person. Activities at this level include frequenting bars that feature nude dancing, having an affair, indulging in phone sex, and in fetishes—such as clothing—that become erotic stimulants. Addicts functioning at this level may also practice perverse forms of sex, such as bondage, masochism or sadism, multiple partners, and sex with prostitutes. All these sexual encounters are devoid of intimacy.

Level 3: Minor criminal offenses, prostitution, voyeurism, and exhibitionism. When sex addicts reach this level, they cross the line to minor criminal behavior. Some will engage with multiple prostitutes in one night. The voyeur who spies on others and the exhibitionist who enjoys exposing his genitals in public functions on level 3. These are illegal acts, though they bear relatively minor consequences.

Level 4: Molestation, incest, and rape. Child molestation, incest, and rape are included in the fourth level of addiction. Addicts who are arrested and convicted for these offenses will serve time in jail. Victims pay an even heavier price and may begin to victimize others.

Time for Confrontation

Your husband exhibits all the characteristics of a sex addict. Your description of his addiction points us to level 1—however, you may be aware of only the tip of the iceberg. Even if he hasn’t indulged in level 2 activities yet, it’s just around the corner.

It’s time for a major confrontation. Carefully think through and write down what changes you must have if the relationship continues. And do your homework before confronting him—call Sex Addicts Anonymous* and find out what programs are available in your area. (While you’re doing so, see what support groups they offer for you, too.) Insist that he follow through or else. If he refuses, you must follow the “or else” you’ve set up. There’s no other way to handle this unless you want to settle for allowing him to continue his destructive addiction.

*Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) Phone 1-713-869-4902

For Internet accountability: Covenant Eyes

If you liked this, you might also like The Heartache of Addiction 

Nancy Van Pelt wrote from Bakersfield, California.

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About Nancy Van Pelt

Nancy Van Pelt

wrote from Bakersfield, California.

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