watching porn

Understanding the Why of Watching Porn

Just for the sake of argument, let’s change the keyword for a minute. Let’s say we’re talking about something more harmless – like donuts. Imagine for a moment you’ve got a friend who hates his job, is miserable in his marriage, or just has the sense his life is out of control. Let’s say your buddy, looking for a little bit of relief while life unravels, tries to cope with his stress by eating donuts. Sometimes he just nibbles at one, sometimes he gorges on two dozen. In either case, he feels pretty guilty about it because he’s read a few articles recently about the negative effects of glaze and chocolate. And he’s been keeping donuts a secret.

So he wakes up one day, deciding it’s time for change. He goes all out: eats egg-white omelets for breakfast, shreds his Discount Donut membership card, even changes his driving habits so he doesn’t cruise past any Hot and Fresh signs on his way to work. Let’s say your friend never eats another donut for the rest of his life. He’s the new poster boy for how donut eaters can change. Here’s the question: If he makes the positive step of staying away from donuts, has he dealt with the underlying issues in his life? If he conquers donuts, is he done?  Has he dealt with the core issues in his job, his marriage, or his life? The answer is not necessarily. Because this isn’t really about donuts, is it?

As we continue to think porn and marriage, we’re addressing two dimensions of a difficult topic: the external behaviors and the internal desires of the heart. It is vital to consider both. It’s just that many times discussions about porn center on quitting itand stop there. That’s hugely important. But husbands who are trying to be wise want to love their wives with their hearts, minds, and affections (internal) as well as with their observable behaviors (external). So why do men look at porn? Here are a few of the more typical reasons men are enticed by porn. Check if you see yourself in any of these.

Coping with stress.

Life often is beyond our ability to control. In the middle of uncertainty, porn can feel like a small island where a man can make things turn out exactly the way he wants, providing an artificial sense of strength, assurance, and control. But using porn this way can only fabricate the illusion of control based on a mirage.

Avoidance of an issue in marriage.

Marriage, emotional intimacy, and sex take difficult work. [Tweet This] Sometimes it can feel easier just to avoid a tough topic altogether and bury yourself in porn. But this leaves unaddressed issues in your marriage.

Sense of entitlement.

You don’t know how hard I work. My marriage is different and broken. At the end of the week, I deserve some “me” time. Each of these mindsets say that based on exceptional circumstance, porn is earned or deserved. But this mentality is self-centered, acting as if self-gratification is the most important thing.

Medicating pain.

In place of long-standing hurt or disappointment, for a few minutes, I can have something that makes me feel good. But using porn as an antidote for pain treats only the symptom, masking the underlying problem—like taking a shot of cortisol and sending a badly injured player back into the game.

You might find you have different answers than these. Depending on where you are in conversation with your wife about porn, she can be an exceptionally insightful ally to help examine what’s really going on inside you.

So what’s your why? You need to know the answer. You want your marriage (and your life!) healthy on the inside as well as the outside. The last thing you want is to get your external behaviors under control but have untreated, internal issues crop up again in a different area of life. Doctors know about this. They treat both symptoms and the underlying condition. Get some good medicine by seeking to understand your own why of porn.

Sound Off

How important do you think it is to consider both the external behaviors and internal desires of porn?

  • Aaron Gillies

    Definitely a good post that needs to be written. My struggle with porn is long and fortunately I have begun to address the “why.” For myself, much of it was control and medication. I think for a long time I had issues that I didn’t know were there.

    However, I have come to the realization that I am a somewhat passive person. I used to think passivity was a virtue. It allowed me to get along with others, I wasn’t much of an arguer, and I was easy going. But when you don’t have an opinion, you have no control. I think this passivity was a result of how I was raised – not allowed to say no; when a parent says jump you say “how high?”; So I was afraid to have an opinion, afraid to say no.

    But deep down, I wanted to have an opinion, be a leader and have some control. Porn gave me that control. Now that I’ve realized this and have begun to be a leader in my home, porn isn’t even on the same solar system as being a husband who leads his family and having control. By no means am I a controlling husband and father. But now I have an opinion, I can say “no” and have a reason why I say no and have an alternative.

    When the urge to watch porn comes on, I ask myself – “What are you being passive about that you need to voice your opinion on?” I don’t have to get my way, but at least I need to share my thoughts with my wife. I’ve conquered the why and now not only are the “Donuts” mentioned in the article above not calling my name, but when they do call, I have a strategy as to WHY they are calling and I can do something about it!

    I hope this helps some of you guys who grew up with dictator parents like I did.

    • BJ_Foster

      Way to go Aaron. Glad you have had these insights in your life and been able to make the changes needed. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Paul_Sp

    Anything on porn is probably good to put out there.
    I seldom look at porn, but the only reason why I can see is that I just like to see what a woman looks like nude sometimes, as I haven’t been married in many years and don’t ever see it live.

  • Brian Bachelder

    He isn’t going to let someone down if he only has to please himself would be another reason.

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