effects of pornography

How Your Pornography Use Affects Your Wife

I wonder what he was thinking on the ride home that night. Earlier in the day, he received a call from his wife. She was doing some work on the computer and found a bunch of porn sites in the Internet history. “Have you been looking at porn?” she said as her voice cracked. His silence said it all. As she started to cry, she hung up the phone. He tried calling her back, but she texted him saying she was too upset to talk and that they would talk about when he got home.

That was a story a friend told me about a coworker of his many years ago. I remember being glad I wasn’t him but also not understanding at the time why she was so crushed. As I have talked to women and read many stories similar to the one above, I have come to realize why it is so hurtful. If we think through and know the end results of our decisions, we tend to make better ones. I’m not intending to make anyone feel guilty, but the effects of pornography watching on our wives are clear. Here’s how your porn use affects your wife.

It makes her feel insecure.

She immediately thinks something is wrong with her. Women spend a lot of time beating themselves up and obsessing about their faults. A husband’s porn use validates all of the negative things his wife thinks about herself. [Tweet This] If she only looked different, lost weight, was blonde, sexy, wore better clothes, or fit into the right size are all things that flood her brain, and more importantly, her heart. Ultimately, she feels like she is not enough.

It makes her feel betrayed.

The majority of porn use in a marriage is kept hidden from each other. Even in the small number of cases where the wife says she’s okay with it if they watch together ends with the husband alone in a room somewhere in secret. When a husband and wife hide things (other than surprises), it’s living a lie. It’s a betrayal. Personally, I believe and I know there are plenty that will take exception to this, that it is a form of cheating. Is it as bad or involve the depth of pain and fallout as a physical or emotional affair with an actual person? No. But a husband’s sexual connection is something reserved for his wife. When engaged in porn, he replaces his wife and connects sexually with something else. If a physical affair is the end of the road, this is certainly the beginning. There may be a considerable difference between the two, but it is still highway betrayal. It’s a road to avoid at all costs.

It makes her feel suspicious.

Lies, secrecy, and wandering sexual pursuits is a violation of trust. Once trust is broken, it can be rebuilt, but it is difficult. She will always fight an internal battle of taking his word or not. Her mind will work overtime on what other secrets there could possibly be. She may even question how well she knows her husband.

It makes her feel like a failure as a wife.

In her head, she will feel as though she failed her husband sexually. It is obvious to her that if her husband did not have unfulfilled desires, he would not have turned to porn. Everyone is selfish to some degree, and plenty of women are all about themselves. However, I think most women strive to be wonderful wives and compare themselves to the next person fearing that they fall short. A husband’s porn use will confirm a wife’s fear in her head and heart.

It makes her feel like a fool.

She thought she knew her husband, that they shared everything. Meanwhile, there has been a lot she didn’t know. Right or wrong, her husband isn’t the man she thought nor is her marriage. She’ll question why she didn’t know and, again, if she really knows her husband at all.

Sound Off

What affects do you think a husband's porn use has on his wife?

BJ Foster

BJ Foster is the Director of Content Creation for All Pro Dad and a married father of two.

  • Phil

    Mr. Foster,

    I would have to wholeheartedly agree with your comment about “it is a form of cheating

    “. Jesus was clearly trying to help us understand the effects of imagery on men when he said “but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. As men, we need to understand that Jesus was trying to help us understand what happens to our wives when we look at porn. Let’s call the ‘duck’ a ‘duck’. It’s cheating.

    • Renee Brook

      Thank you my husband is not looking at it that way

      • BJ_Foster

        Sorry to hear that Renee. Prayed for him this afternoon.

  • zhaganosh

    This is something that men with porn addiction should share with their wives also. You have covered so many internal conflicts with in the women affected that they might not be brave enough or strong enough to share with another, including their husbands. I believe if a wive was feeling these things this article would bring her comfort knowing she isn’t alone in how she is feeling.
    Thank you for the article BJ, I hope that it reaches far.

  • Kiddos Dad

    Hi BJ,

    Great post and unfortunately I can relate all to well.

    Porn is evil. It dehumanizes the female and we begin to look at a female as body parts…that’s someone’s daughter you are viewing. It is the pilot light and the igniter into sexual addiction. I speak from experience. My secret took me away from who I am at my core. Not until I hit the lowest point in my life that I realized how much I was hurting those who love me the most and hurting myself in the process. I’m happy to say I’m in a much healthier mind set today than I was two years ago and it’s been a very tough road. Don’t let the evil suck you into this way of living.


    • BJ_Foster

      Thank you Brian! Well said. Glad to hear you are doing well!

  • John Timber

    You make some really good points here. No doubt, women are greatly hurt by their husbands’ porn use.

    There is one thing I’m curious about. Don’t all guys struggle with porn? I know not all admit they do, but I think we all know deep inside that we all struggle, and we all look. So I have two questions that stem from this.

    1. Are women too hard on men for this one sin? Porn is adultery by Jesus’ definition, but anger is also murder. Is too much emphasis and shame placed on porn use, considering basically all guys do it?

    2. Did God make men to be ‘worse’ than women? Did he make half of humanity more sinful than the other from the beginning? It seems much of what we teach and value in church, family ministries and counseling centers shows men to be ‘worse’ or more sinful than women in marriage? Do you agree? Did God create men to sin naturally more than women?

    I appreciate everyone’s discussion.


    • Tedd

      No, not all men struggle with pornography. A very large number do, true. But even if the large majority use it, that does not mitigate the impact it has on women. In fact, it adds to the problem. As a woman becomes aware that most of the men she knows use it, she finds that her ability to trust men is greatly diminished.

      Remember the NotAllMen hashtag? The men who promoted that didn’t understand that, even though, NotAllMen, any given woman couldn’t know if that stranger coming her way was one of those or not. Hence the responsive hashtag YesAllWomen.

      I mention in my post that I work with sexual abuse survivors, mostly female (men don’t admit to it). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I didn’t think there were men like you.” Men, who had the integrity to not use pornography, who respected the experiences of women’s interactions with abusive men or abusive sex or more.

      That has been on of the things that keeps me honest. I would hate to have any of those women say, “I used to think there was one man who was different.”

      When you speak of God creating men worse than women, of course the answer is no. But, in this one area at least, we tend to create the worst of it. 95% of the sexual abusers are men. As are the rapists. 81% of the victims are women. 19% of the victims are men. But even that 19% the 95% figure of the perpetrators are men. Rape is a weapon of war.

      Pornography specializes in showing women as victims and violence against them is huge. Even in the Dominatrix kind of pornography, the woman in the video is doing it because the man wants it that way.

      Men do not sin more naturally. We sin differently to some degree. When God asked Adam what had he done, he blamed Eve. We have our favorite sins and women have theirs.

    • Jeff Brazzi

      To answer your questions:
      Just because the majority of men use port doesn’t make it right or ok. Also, I feel like a big part of the reason men use it so much is because it never gets talked about. I mean, how many people are going to see this article? How many of those are going to be women? I don’t think that God made men more sinful, I think Satan knows us really well. That being said, what does Satan hate? The spotlight. We as men need to talk about this issue more so we can help each other get through it.

    • Maria Taheny

      I think people forget what impact the easy access of porn on the internet has had on families. Prior to the internet, men who wanted to use porn had to go to a store, buy a magazine and hide it from everyone. If they wanted to see a movie, they had to find a xxx movie theatre (which had social connotations of men masturbating in public.) The access increased when videos became available. Now the free and easy access has made the social conscience erode to a nonexistent state but the damage is just as painful. I am convinced this is a key factor to the problem. Take away the internet and men would be forced to confront who they may be for using porn. Sadly those days are gone.

    • Brittany

      70% of men watch porn. And that’s in the church as well! It’s growing because it’s a secret sin, hidden in the darkness, where the enemy can manifest this into bigger and better things. No, I don’t believe God made men “worse” than women. We ALL have free will and CHOICES. And WE ALL sin. No one is perfect. Self control plays a big part in this. When it’s a secret you don’t have to have any self control…but God brings all darkness to light at some point.

      As a wife of someone who is one of the 70% I can tell you it is a big deal. Sexual sin ruins marriages everyday. Porn is evil and disgusting. Sex was made for man and wife. It’s the deepest part of intimacy they can get, and when someone betrays you by watching some nasty naked chick, it takes that meaning out of it. The one thing that is meant to be just us, is out the window.

      I’m 32 and my husband is 37. We have a very healthy sexual relationship…but that has diminished since this came out. It’s REALLY hard to want to get that close to someone who broke your trust in such a hurtful way.

      Sexual sin can be broken. Sex addiction is easy when porn is everywhere. But it can be broken. So that’s what I pray for. If he chooses not to work to be free of this, we will not be married anymore. That’s the reality of porn use in a marriage.

    • John Cassidy

      With infidelity and porn use among women on the rise, I don’t think it’s necessary to ask this question.

  • Tedd

    Several years ago, I was taking a psychology of women course as part of my Master’s Degree. During that course, I wrote a paper on the effects of pornography on the spouses of the men who used it.

    One of the women I talked with told me of how she worked at night. Over a space of time, she became aware of the fact that her husband was having an affair. She gradually narrowed down to the specific nights the other woman was coming to their apartment.

    So, one night, she got off work on a pretense and headed home. She coasted into the parking lot with the engine and lights off. Sneaking up to their apartment, she burst in and found her husband watching a pornographic video.
    In fact, there was no other physical woman. It was always pornography. I was stunned to realize how much it felt like an actual affair to the woman as she tried to understand what her husband was doing.
    I think that we men are totally clueless about what sex is for a woman, particularly intercourse. Women have a sense of sacredness or holiness that place in her body. Even a prostitute I’m familiar with felt that. She’d do almost anything else but intercourse was just too invasive, even sickening (see the book Paid For, by Rachel Moran). In my experience with sexual abuse survivors, that sense of the sacred is often marred, broken to pieces, but it is felt as a horrible loss.
    We men blunder in without a thought. If she finds that we prefer the two dimensional version to her actual presence, it is a loss of immense scale. To have given us the privilege of entering that most deeply personal place and then to find out it is nothing to us, it is a blow to relationship at the very deepest level.

    Pornography degrades the men that resort to it. And, in doing so, it degrades all women. The same is true of prostitution.

    • Jessica Bradford

      Thank you.

  • Ken Harris

    This article makes a lot of assumptions. It assumes that men must hide it from their wifes and it assumes that porn is for men only. It also assumes that porn is somehow a surrogate for sex. Masturbation is normal and healthy and can even be done together. I think the article is mostly dealing with a dishonesty issue. A healthy marriage should be as open and honest as it can be.

    • Jessica Bradford

      The article is explaining how deeply the betrayal is for the wives who are NOT ok with their husbands looking and lusting after other people. He can’t be open to her about something that will break her heart, and he for whatever reason wont let it go either, so he picks committing the acts in secrecy. Which ultimately will ruin them anyway, it just takes longer than if his wife walked into a room and literally caught him physically having sex with another person.

    • Tedd

      Sorry, Ken. Current research is demonstrating conclusively that pornography damages relationships even if the spouse is unaware of its presence.

      In fact, it damages relationships even if the spouse approves. That is, at least in part, because the user is increasingly aroused by the fantasy of two dimensional sex as well as having a greater and greater propensity to adopt the attitude toward women and sex as portrayed. We know conclusively that, in the long run, the male can very well find himself impotent with a real woman.

      Your note is purely male-centric and is not supported by actual research.

      Yes, some women use pornography. But the substance of pornography is increasingly misogynistic and includes greater and greater violence against women.

      And, yes, dishonesty is a barrier to a healthy relationship but that is only part of the impact of using pornography.

      Try an honest read of the research found on the Fight the New Drug website.

    • Robert Johnson

      It’s ridiculous what some people will make an issue ..me and my wife of 34 yrs have had real struggles.. porno are u kidding me..this is the devastating one ? .what are you people going to do when life throws real impressive tests hardships struggles pain trials ..are u kidding porno is devastating??no wonder people are divorcing like 40 go in west .they struggle over b.s. than when real hard life issues happen they don’t have a clue

      • Whitepine63

        Because often this problem is either adding to the real life issues, not helping, or they are marriages of such love and trust and the wife is still neglected, it is devastating.

  • Reverse The VIctim

    Yeah I agree with this. The bible is clear. Pagan mentality may disagree. Guys are more visual with appearance and women are more emotional and like the trashy shows and
    novels. Its all a twisted diversion. Sin is fun, but then has a baby, death!

  • Alternate_View

    Notice how you never see articles entitled: How Your Abstinence Affects Your Husband

    I’m happy for the people posting here that have happy and healthy sex lives with their wives. Kudos to you! Please refrain from judging others who may not be as fortunate as you are. It is like walking up to a paralyzed person and saying “wheelchairs are evil, walking is God’s way”. It is self-righteousness, pure and simple.

    The fact is that there are many good husbands that are keeping their commitments and staying in sexless marriages. They do this because they truly love their spouses and their children, and perhaps a little porn use here and there keeps them from ruining their marriage.

    I agree that there should be not secrets. If my wife asks me if I watch porn, I say ‘Absolutely’. She’s changed and is flat out not interested in sex anymore. End of story.

    Okay. Now is your turn to judge and criticize. Before you do, please be sensitive to others who are not as fortunate as you. It gives you credibility and makes you seem less cruel.

    • BJ_Foster

      First, I’m not judging or criticizing. Like I said above, I’m not intending to make anyone feel guilty. It’s difficult and frustrating when there is a lack of sexual intimacy. It’s painful and I’m sorry to hear you are experiencing it. I’m assuming you have talked about why. What has she said are the reasons she is not wanting sex?

      Second, I would use a different analogy than you used because I don’t think it’s helpful like a wheel chair is to a paralyzed person. In my experience it is more like drinking poison because you are thirsty and don’t have any water. It doesn’t solve the problem of thirst. There’s an intimacy problem and going to a source other than directly to your wife to resolve it will only increase the distance. Porn is an unhealthy substitute because watching other people simulate what you are desiring and not getting is a recipe for bitterness. It won’t endear you to your wife and I assume that your porn watching won’t endear you to her either. It’s not judgment or criticizing, just a relational reality.

      Finally, today’s featured article on our iMom platform that speaks to wives and mother is “4 Ways Wives Take Their Husbands for Granted” and not having sex is specifically covered. However, we do not have an article discussing how a wife’s abstinence affects her husband. Thank you for the idea! We are going to start working on that for our iMom platform.

      • Alternate_View

        Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post. I appreciate it.

        In response to your first point, yes we have talked about the reasons why, and the answer is ‘she doesn’t enjoy it anymore’. We enjoy a lot of other things together, and she feels safe with our relationship (she has trouble sleeping when I’m traveling somewhere), but she’s just not interested in intimacy anymore. She doesn’t know what to do about it, so it gets put off, and then months and years pass.

        To your second point, or your analogy, that porn is like poison someone would drink when they are thirsty. Let’s assume that you’re correct here. What would be a healthy outlet for a married man, who still has a strong sex drive, and who is married to a woman that is not interested in sex anymore? Sure, a man can focus on other passions (sports, fitness, cooking, music) but eventually the man realizes that he’s just distracting himself. He comes to the overwhelming conclusion that he no longer has something that he naturally craves. And to top it off, all of the articles seem to be about how the husband needs to work harder at rekindling the romance, at reestablishing the connection.

        Watching porn will not solve the problem. This is very true. Stopping it won’t solve the problem either. The All Pro Dads article mentions that lack of sexual frequency is only a problem when one partner desires it much more than the other. I wonder if there is a medical procedure that can kill or greatly diminish a man’s sex drive. I’ve heard that SSRIs and statins can help. Perhaps that’s the only real way to bring balance to my relationship.

        • BJ_Foster

          Hmm. Does she know why she doesn’t enjoy it anymore? Has she considered counseling or taking steps to raise her libido? Sounds like she would like things to change which is a good sign. I would rather go that route than you killing off your libido. I’m sure you would rather go that way also. It’s tough.

          I did want to respond to your point of being without something you are naturally craving. A different analogy would be being stranded in a life raft in the middle of the ocean for a long time. You naturally crave water, but drinking the ocean water will make you quickly die of dehydration. Watching porn is like drinking the ocean water when you naturally crave water. My point was not solely that porn does not solve the problem. My point was that it makes it worse. On that life raft you need to figure out a survival plan and how to get food, water, and shelter. Now where the analogy breaks down is that water is essential for survival. It’s a need. Is sex a need for man to survive? No. Is it a desire? Yes. Is it a passionate desire? For most of us, yes.Is it a need for intimacy in marriage? If your answer is yes then you want to work on it instead of putting it off, distracting yourself with other passions (I agree with your point there), and definitely not distracting yourself with porn. Again, porn will just give you a momentary thrill, but speed up your sexual and intimacy dehydration.

          Reminder, not judging. I would just like to see you and your wife get to a better place and porn will lead to the opposite. Finally, to your point of the articles being about husbands working harder. I wouldn’t look at it that way. This is a site that speaks to men. We have a platform that speaks to wives and mom’s called iMom.com. There are a lot of articles to women about what they can do to rekindle the romance with a husband. It’s not one sided. Here’s one applicable to your wife. http://www.imom.com/4-things-you-can-do-when-youre-not-in-the-mood/#.VztUX_krKM8

        • Jayne says…

          Have you read any of the married “red pill” philosophy (married man sex life, the family Alpha)? They will assert that unless your wife has a verified medical/mental problem, then the problem is that she is not sexually attracted to you and the only person who can fix that is you. Many dead-bedroom-husbands deem this too much work and settle for the porn.

  • Nelody

    My husband is currently hiding his porn use. I found out because he was acting as if he was having an affair. When I called him out on my suspicions he denied anything was going on and that it was all coincidence or my imagination. Swore to me there was nothing. I got up in the middle of the night and looked thru his phone. Just by chance there was a notification that he needed to do a security scan. I ran the scan and found 72 adult websites. I decided to click on a few to see what was so much better than me. What are the chances that the one picture I pull up would have a guy that looks exactly like my husband with some lady? So I did some more research on where that pic came from originally to see if there were more pics of the guy. Something had to prove it was or wasn’t him. Bingo. A belly shot. 2 moles on his belly that my husband nvr had. Unfortunately, the pictures are planted in my head regardless that it was not him.
    It’s been 2 months since that night. I still haven’t confronted him because we’ve had other family things to deal with. This morning I looked again (I’ve looked several times since then) today I found the same link to that one picture. He looked at it again! I don’t know what to do. I know I have to confront him but timing is always bad.
    He has nvr been a porn watcher. When we met he knew from the beginning how I feel about porn. If you need it then I’m not good enough for you. We’ve been married over 15 years. Why this sudden interest? Sex had always been about his satisfaction and not mine. Now I feel like I’m just there for his satisfaction when porn isn’t enough.
    I’m grateful for this article. Thank you.
    I’d like to add that it isn’t the fact that he’s hiding it but the fact that he needs it that is really effecting my feelings and insecurities. I’m pretty sure this will be a deal breaker.

  • Dave Harmon

    All I have to say is BULLSH*T. This is nothing but BOO HOO Liberal Feminist with their Neutered little boys for so called MEN.

  • Robert Johnson

    Me and my wife and friend of 34 yrs never seen this as a issue alone or together .anyone who is hiding something is already causing someone to be alarmed .me and my wife have tried to be open and honest even when it’s uncomfortable. We never say what works for us will for you but many times I think our insecurities cause non issues to be ridiculous. Just be honest don’t lie and make sure he or she is your friend and dont sweat small stuff like porno ..life has plenty of real hardcore problems far more exhausting and devastating…and if this issue is giving you trouble what will you do when life really test your relationship..and give her or him a break they are supposed to be your best friend stop hiding crap freaking out the other .Just love him or her and realize nobody is perfect and the big stuff is coming so lay off the stuff that one day when ur 70 u will say was nothing

  • Brittany

    I found out a year ago my husband was watching porn. I knew something was up when he couldn’t perform sexually. I asked him if he was watching porn. He looked me right in the eyes and said no…so a week passed and things weren’t changing. I thought he was having an affair. Nope. He finally admitted to watching porn. My heart sank. I wanted to run away. He knows better than that. As Christians, we are to be the example.

    Trust was broken. I was broken. I felt ashamed, ugly, worthless, betrayed, angry, alone. So alone. In the Bible porn is infidelity. You are cheating on your wife.
    He made a promise not to watch porn or masturbate for that matter. (Didn’t believe him).

    Fast forward a year, he’s acting weird again. I know my husband. I know when he messes up. Asked him if he’s doing wrong…”no, I’m doing good.” Liked right to my face again. Asked him a day later and he admitted to masturbating. So now I have a lie. A broken promise and BECAUSE he lied to me I believe he was watching porn. Why lie? If you told the truth from the start I could have something to go off of! I have nothing now. Your word means nothing.

    I feel so disconnected from my husband. I have no desire to talk to him, be around him, I just have nothing to communicate about. Is my marriage doomed? I’m praying. I’m chasing Jesus. My husband did join a lifegroup called the conquer series. I pray this helps us.

  • alexandra De Anda

    my husband and i discussed on the matter of him watching porn. He said he would stop watching it but when i got on the computer he accidently left it on the tab, i had poured out my feelings toward why i don’t like him watching porn. This article is right on top of it i feel like im not satisfying him anymore or because i still have the baby weight that i’m not attractive enough. But what really hurts me is that he already knows i feel about it and how it makes me feel and he just went ahead and watched it, that just shows that he doesn’t really care how i feel. Am i overreacting ? This does make me cry alot and i cant help but think if he doesnt care how i feel about this small thing then he doesnt care at all and i should be with someone who does.

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