What's beneath the use of pornography?

What's beneath the use of pornography?

by Greg and Erin Smalley


Q. My husband enjoys looking at pornography. He says it's what other normal men do and that I shouldn't make a big deal about it. He says I should know he loves me, and besides, he's just looking. I try to keep myself attractive for him. Am I crazy for wanting my husband to look only at me naked?

A. You are not crazy! Pornography is one of the biggest issues marriages face today. There are many angles to address your question. We could focus on the mountains of research documenting the damage pornography causes; we could show how turning to pornography causes some people to withdraw from relationships; or how guilt, mistrust, and anger resulting from pornography can tear a marriage apart. But we want to go in a different direction.

Instead of focusing on getting your husband to stop looking at pornography, we want to encourage you to focus on the deeper underlying issues.

We've worked with hundreds of couples who've dealt with this, and the fundamental problem is never pornography itself. The real issue is what needs your husband is trying to meet. Don't be fooled by his excuses or by dealing with the surface issues. First, try to understand what's driving his behavior. Make it clear that your goal is to understand him. If your husband feels judged, he'll probably shut down or continue to defend his behavior.

Second, seek to understand what's going on with you. How does his behavior make you feel about yourself? Do you feel devalued, rejected, helpless, inadequate, or unloved? Those are concerns worth talking about. Again, if you focus on surface issues like trying to keep yourself attractive, you'll miss the underlying issue.

The surface stuff is debatable, but your feelings are not. The fact that you may feel inadequate or unloved is worth talking about. And hopefully, it's worth you and your husband caring about - caring about what is really going on down deep for both of you.

If the two of you need help sorting through these deeper issues, find a trusted counselor who can help.

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