This post is part of a series called the True Life Series, where we share stories written by Milwaukee area moms, but posted anonymously. By and large, these stories are more sensitive in nature or cover topics that may be triggers for some readers. Publishing the piece does not suggest an endorsement by MKE Moms Blog.
However, we want to give these writers the chance to share their stories in a safe space, in the hopes that someone else might resonate and realize they are not alone. Topics in the True Life Series are likely to draw a lot of opinions, but we want to be clear that, out of respect for the writers of these pieces, we will be monitoring comments carefully and deleting anything that is shaming, hurtful, derogatory or otherwise abusive.
You’ve heard it said, “opposites attract.” I never fully understood this until about six months into my marriage. Before then, my biggest concern about our relationship had been that we might be “too” similar. But six months into wedded bliss, my husband dropped a bombshell:
“Honey, I need to tell you something. I’ve been addicted to pornography.”
Now, I get that everyone has a slightly different, though generally strong, opinion of pornography. Generally, in North American culture, it’s accepted as a normal part of adult behavior. It’s laughed about; celebrated, even. Others consider it wrong. Sinful. Unfaithful.
For me, it just hits a little too close to home.
You see, I was a victim of sexual abuse beginning when I was five years old. My first sexual experiences were not what one would consider “normal,” but left me feeling cheap, worthless, dirty, and vulnerable. The man who took my innocence did not love me, but rather chose to use me as an object for his own pleasure and self-fulfillment. And while I’ve worked through much of the residual baggage that comes from being a victim of sexual abuse, it still took a lot for me to make myself sexually vulnerable to my husband on our wedding night. Sex was not just an act to me, but rather a sign that, despite my insecurities, I completely trusted my husbands intentions, that he loved me, and that he had my best interests at heart.
So you’ll understand, when I heard my husband say “I’ve been addicted to pornography,” it was hard for me not to question if everything I’d come to believe about our relationship was a lie. I felt cheap, worthless, dirty, and vulnerable. I wondered, if he felt the need to find satisfaction through images of beautiful strangers, was our time together just another way for him to get his “fix”? Our time in the bedroom no longer felt safe and sacred. It felt as though there was a third person in the room, mocking me. And although he repeatedly assured me that his pornography addiction had nothing to do with me, it was very hard not to take it personally.
I feel extremely lucky that I’ve been given a husband who really does have my best interest at heart, and he listened very intently as I explained, through tears, my personal history and the way his relationship with pornography made me feel. He wanted to change, but wasn’t sure how, so he sought counseling. Likewise, I started seeing a counselor to deal further with my own issues toward sexuality. It was an extremely painful journey, and we still have a ways to go both individually and as a couple, but working through through these issues has actually brought us closer together as a couple and increased our intimacy on the whole. I’m so glad we were both able to be honest with each other about this issue and the impact it has on our lives back then.
Statistics tell us that 1 in 5 girls have been a victim of sexual abuse. Ironically, 1 in 5 mobile internet searches are for pornography.
I am not, by any means, saying there is a direct link between sexual abuse and pornography statistics. However, in my marriage, there is a link, and the link is us. My husband’s pornography habit clashed directly with my history of sexual abuse and brought pain and heartache to our marriage.
Looking at the statistics, I know I can’t be alone in this. As my husband and I continued to discuss how pornography and sexual abuse impact our marriage, it became increasingly clear to us that this issue really is interrelated in our culture. Through encouraging (or even just accepting) pornography, we are implying it is appropriate to find sexual satisfaction whenever, wherever, and however you can.
You might be quick to argue, “But it’s not your husband’s fault you were sexually abused!” And while that is very much true, when we married we made a commitment to love and support one another, and love is putting another’s best interest ahead of your own. For that reason (among others), in our house, pornography is a no. He shows me he loves me by choosing to say no to something that may satisfy his desires, but hurts me at a very deep level.
Beyond my own marriage, I want to open up a dialogue where it’s safe for people to disagree about this topic. Just because one is anti-porn doesn’t make them a prude. Further, I want to challenge the notion that pornography is innocent. I want to challenge the notion that pornography is a safe and easy way for someone (male or female) to get his/her “release” or “fix”. I want to suggest that pornography takes something meant to be safe and valuable and intimate and exposes it as something cheap and impersonal. I want to suggest that pornography encourages our cultures twisted perception of sexuality in much the same way my childhood sexual abuse impacted my feelings toward sex and intimacy. I firmly believe (and know): pornography hurts.
As it turns out, there is science to back up my feelings. I encourage you to visit this site to see more statistics about the negative implications of pornography on individuals and relationships.
Whatever your feelings about pornography and sexuality, I encourage you to open the can of worms on this topic with your significant other. It is essential you be on the same page about this sensitive issue for your marriage and relationship to thrive. Be honest. Be vulnerable. Isn’t that what intimacy is about, anyway?
Why should we care about pornography?
The average age that a child is first exposed to Internet pornography is 11 years old.
As parents, this issue is something that CANNOT be ignored. Yes, it’s a grown-up issue, but it is also something that is affecting our kids. A fantastic resource that seeks to spread the message about the harmful effects of pornography using science, facts and personal accounts is Fight the New Drug. You can also check out Digital Kids Initiative for more information about parenting kids in the digital age. We also acknowledge that porn doesn’t just affect men, but that women can become just as addicted and the effects on relationships can be equally as destructive.