Relationship Rescue for Wives and Girlfriends of Internet Pornography Addicts

Porn: The Marriage Wrecker
By Mary Beth Bonacci


They say I’m picky. But sometimes I really don’t see any other way.

Case in point. I have a friend who has a membership to a very popular dating web site. She gave me her password and encouraged me to check it out. They say “It’s okay to look,” so I did.

Can’t say that I liked what I saw.

The site can run searches by religion, so I narrowed mine to Catholic men. Within the results, I found a section in each profile called “turn-ons.” It’s set up as a multiple-choice field, so members can choose from a list of things that apparently somehow turn them on. I’m assuming that the term “turn on” was used in the broadest possible sense, because there were all kinds of innocuous options like “sunsets’ and “taking walks in the rain.”

But there were also some options that were much more specific.

Can I tell you how disappointing it was to me that a vast, vast majority of these self-identified “Catholic” men chose “erotica” as a “turn-on”?

So I figured maybe I was missing something. Maybe “erotica” has a meaning I don’t know about. Maybe it’s not what I think it is. So, I went to an online dictionary and looked up the term. (I don’t even want to think about the “cookies” that probably showed up on my computer afterward.) Here’s what I found:

American Heritage Dictionary: Literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire. creative activity (writing or pictures or films etc.) of no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire

But the “Online Dictionary of Computing” summed it up best. It gave a one word definition: pornography.

Yup. That’s what I thought it was.

How incredibly sad is this? Not only are a good 90% of the “Catholic” men on the world’s most popular dating site using porn, but they’re so unashamed of it that they actually announce it to all of the random women who view their profiles.

And people ask me why I’m not married.

Seriously, this so doesn’t work for me. I know porn has gone mainstream. It’s not hidden in plain paper wrappers behind the drug store counter any more. It’s right out there in front of the magazine racks. It’s a mere click away, bookmarked on internet browsers.

But apparently I haven’t gone mainstream. Pornography and I don’t get along.

I get that, as a female, I can’t fully understand male sexual nature. I get that guys are more visually oriented than we are. I don’t get the appeal of porn, nor do I fully understand the battle men fight to resist temptation in a culture where sexual images are everywhere.

But I know a little about the impact pornography has on the brain, and thus on relationships. And I know enough to know that I don’t want porn, or a brain that’s been unduly influenced by porn, anywhere near my relationships.

God created us in such a way that sexual images tend to “burn” onto our brains. And that was really very nice of Him. After all, the sexual images that are supposed to be in our brains are those of our spouses – on the wedding night and beyond. Those are good images to burn on the brain. They help the marriage.

But when other images are burned onto the brain, it isn’t so helpful. First of all, it creates unrealistic expectations. It’s difficult enough for women to measure up to society’s standard of beauty without having to compete with airbrushed porn stars. Nobody looks like those women. Those women don’t look like those women. It’s the miracle of Photoshop. And when a man has filled his brain with these fantasy illusions of womanhood, an ordinary woman is going to seem disappointing by comparison.

But far worse is the attitude that porn creates. God created human sexual union to be an act of unselfish, self-donating love between two persons. Porn is not unselfish, nor is it self-donating. Nor is it about two persons. It’s about one person using a soul-less image to obtain personal sexual gratification. It’s not about loving, it’s about using. And it engenders a selfish, using mentality around human sexuality. Women aren’t persons created in the image and likeness of God with their own dignity and desires and needs. They are “things” to be used, simply means to sexual satisfaction.

I’ve actually heard men say that they’d stop using porn when they got married. They were doing the “right” thing and saving sex for marriage, so they figured once they were married and could have sex with their wives, they wouldn’t “need” the porn any more.

That doesn’t work so well.

Human sexuality is easily “conditioned.” When somebody becomes accustomed to being “turned on” in a certain way, over time they tend to need that particular stimulus. In other words, once a guy becomes conditioned to being turned on in the context of the using, impersonal, degrading sexuality that animates pornography, he loses the ability to respond to real, normal, loving, self-
donating sexual expression. He has conditioned himself to associate sexual stimulation with using. And that can wreak havoc on a marriage. Wives feel used – because they are being used. They often blame themselves, even though they’re not to blame. I once read that asking a man addicted to porn to find sexual satisfaction in healthy marital sex is like asking an alcoholic to find satisfaction 
in drinking more water. They’re just two completely different substances.

If you don’t believe me, look at the letters I’ve received from wives throughout the years. As their husbands’ interest in porn grows, their interest in their wives fades. They don’t feel loved. They’re devastated.

I’m looking for a man who respects me. I’m looking for a man who respects women. And porn does not engender respect for women. These women are created in the image and likeness of God. They’re somebody’s daughters, somebody’s sisters. To (literally) view them as mere instruments of sexual satisfaction is not respectful to them, nor is it respectful to the God who created them, nor is it respectful to me as a woman.

Second, I want chastity in a dating relationship. I want a man who can look at me and say “Look, I’d love to do this. But because it’s not what’s best for you or for us, we’re not going to.” That requires a lot of self-control. That self-control starts in the brain. And a brain filled with pornographic sexual images is going to have an infinitely more difficult time controlling itself.

So yeah, it makes me very, very sad that so many men who self-identify as Catholic also proudly identify themselves as consumers of pornography. I can’t relate to that. I don’t understand it.

And I don’t want any part of it.


This article is reprinted with written permission of 4marks Magazine and is part of the network which offers a variety of online services to Catholics, including our online Daily Catechism program, Catholic Trivia, Temperament Test and single Catholic service. To learn more about any of our services or how 4marks is helping Catholics connect online in order to deepen their faith 
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