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What Do I Do About Husbands’ Solo Internet Activities?

Reader “No Porn” writes:

My husband and I have been married for 4 years. I got married when I was fresh out of high school and he was 28 years old, so we have a 10 year age gap.  He and I are so compatible, but the one thing that throws my energy off with him would be pornography.   I know, I know.. This is common and I do think that pornography is healthy for him right now while we seek better balance. More than anything, I feel like I have to reroute brain pathways to be okay with porn. I feel as though I was trained to be against it.. And I’m not sure how to get past that.   I want realism and honesty of nature.  But I was raised to have a fantasy.

life is not a fantasy
Dear NP,

I applaud you for writing in and for your awareness that it is unreasonable to condemn your husband for watching porn.  Especially because you’re “seeking better balance” which I’m going to read as “you probably just/recently/within the past decade had a baby and you now don’t want sex as much as he does so you’re at like 1-2 times a week max and he wants sex every day.”  Just call me Dr. Psychic Mom.  Or someone who has seen a lot of couples in this situation that use those kinds of euphemisms.

So look, here are some ways to compromise re: pornography.

1. “If you don’t watch porn I’ll have more sex.” Before some woman writes in saying I’m telling women to prostitute themselves in exchange for a man not watching porn, let me just give you this scenario:

You want your husband to stop drinking soda because you watched the documentary Fed Up (was that a good plug?  I loved that movie and everyone should watch it) and now you’re worried about his health.  So he says I can’t stop drinking soda, because you won’t let me drink  enough water.  And you say, No, the point is that you should stop drinking soda and also that I should dole out the water, and only enough water that you’re still always thirsty.

What kind of idiot is going to stop drinking soda if the water supply is cut off too?  Bam, rhetorical question answered.

So maybe you’re like, Okay, but I’m going to offer sex like 2-3 times a week and he still wants it 7 days and I just cannot swing that.  So then I tell you, fine, so tell him, I’ll have sex 4-5 times a week and since that’s a big deal for me, can you just TRY to not watch porn for the other 2-3 days? You can masturbate but no porn because I hate porn because the women are better looking that me and they have bigger boobs and it’s unrealistic and showcases unrealistic male female relationships or whatever else your issue is. Maybe he’ll say yes.

But the down side to this compromise, even if it works, is that overall I think you need to address your repulsion toward porn, and overcome it, because this will allow you to be more openminded and tolerant in general, not to mention more empathic toward your husband’s perspective.

2. “Let’s watch porn together.”  There are plenty of kinds of porn. Some types are better than others.  Every pot has its cover and every person probably has some porn that they find at least a little bit arousing.  Plus if you watch it and enjoy it, even a little bit, you may stop hating the idea of him using it. Also, your husband will think you’re awesome.  An alternative to this is that you watch some porn and/or read some erotic stories alone and when you find something you like, send it to your husband.  He will think you’re super sexy and will appreciate your open-mindedness and may even use your pre-selected porn next time he uses porn.   So at least you’re involved.

3. Go to therapy and/or do some deep introspection about the way that you were raised to think about porn, and sex in general.  You seem to know you were fed a line of BS somewhere along the line, and if you’re insightful enough to realize that, then you’re insightful enough to realize that porn isn’t “bad,” it’s pretty normal.  Men are visual, they like sex, they like novelty, and especially if they are in monogamous relationships where sex occurs at a frequency that they aren’t comfortable with.  You could take the perspective that it’s great he has a high sex drive and you don’t have to worry about him rejecting your advances.

If you were raised to think that nice girls don’t like porn, this is just not true.  66% of men and 41% of women watch porn at least monthly and a third of all visitors to adult websites are women.  So, women like porn too, but you wouldn’t know, because 70% of women keep their online adult website activity secret.

So here are my take home points:

Your husband loves you, I assume, but he also has a higher sex drive than you, so porn use is what he does to cope.  He’s not cheating, and I bet he’d take sex with you over the porn every time (if I’m wrong, there may be other issues to explore).  Even if you don’t want sex, you can offer a hand job or something.  There are ways to increase your libido as well.  Good girls can like porn, so try watching some with your husband.  At the very least it will start to seem boring to you rather than repulsive or “wrong,” and then you’ll just have the same attitude about it that I have about my husband’s fantasy football involvement.  Actually porn is better than fantasy football because he can’t be on the smartphone watching porn while you’re trying to have a conversation with him.  (If he is, get thee to counseling, stat.)

Thanks for writing in, and until we meet again, I remain The Blogapist Who Says Try It Again, Even If You Tried It Like 5-10 Years Ago.  Porn May Have Improved Since Then.

Samantha Rodman

Dr. Samantha Rodman, known to the blog world as "Dr. Psych Mom," is a clinical psychologist. She has a husband, 3 young children, and a betta fish. You may have heard about her from The Washington Post,The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, J-Date, The Millionaire Matchmaker’s site Pattiknows.com, and PsychCentral, among others!

17 comments

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  • I’m coming to this post over a year later I realise. Thought I’d chime in anyway. What I find interesting about this topic is that the word ‘normal’ is used when what we mean is ‘normalised’. Porn has become ‘normalised’. Men are still said to be “visual” even though there is no physical evidence for this – however, they are socialised differently (plenty of evidence for that!) and that includes visual images of sexualised and objectified women. Porn HAS changed a lot in the last 10-15 years. Women DO watch it, however, it seems they watch erotica, rather than what is now called ‘porn’ and in many cases they are coerced into watching it, often because they are told it is ‘normal’. This is something that comes up every week in my practice, and my starting point is always to define erotica versus porn – it’s helpful to do that for both genders. Then it’s easier to figure out what feels acceptable, or a turn on, and also what feels abusive or dangerous. We need to be very careful around using words like normal and contextualising porn because the next generation are genuinely troubled and confused about sex. Both genders are suffering. The need to watch porn can arise from ‘normal’ needs or feelings like lonliness, or shame – most often , in my experience, shame. Shame around sexuality and an so an inability to ask for what we want from our partners. For some the need is pathological and based in cruelty, psychopathy or abuse. I think this is why porn is so scary – all of the needs served by it are ones with which we have an unease.

  • Oh my, I really can’t talk much about this topic. lol. I appreciate the suggestions & tips provided as this might be a good way of counseling as well for couples.

  • This is a touchy subject that woman have a hard time talking about which in turn makes it a good subject to discuss. I think most men watch porn and don’t tell their partner just because it has been a taboo thing as kids. It is actually something that can improve couples sex life in moderation of course. Thanks for sharing.

  • I’m going to remain cagey on the topic because it’s the internet and I don’t want my husband’s relatives to read about his massively kinky porn viewing habits. KIDDING!
    But I will say, this was a well written, insightful, informative piece. I wish you well in
    working out the issues with your spouse. 🙂

  • WOW. I completely disagree with you! Completely! Couples should honor their marriage commitment to one another — and look only to each other for satisfaction. Where does the slippery slope start? Or end? When the porn is no longer enough, does this wife condone his affairs too?

    What about the sex trafficking epidemic in our world? Pornography dehumanizes women to the point that they are stolen as little girls to be used in pornographic films and the sex slave industry.

    YUCK!

  • I can’t relate to this issue personally, and honestly don’t agree with many of the things said here on the topic. But I do empathize with the person who asked this question. All relationships hit a bump in the road once in awhile, and sometimes it’s more difficult than others. I hope that they find a solution that works for them.

  • Great tips and pointers to help couples with this issue. Of course, there is port addiction just like anything else. If your spouse has an addiction, then you should serk help from a professional. I even recommend individual couseling too.

  • Porn may have improved in the past 5-10 years? Hmmm. Definitely something to think about! It’s been about that long since I’ve seen any and I was mildly revolted and a lot amused. Communication is always important!

  • I feel like those are some great suggestions in how to compromise. I haven’t experienced this issue so I can’t relate to what “No Porn” is feeling but think that it’s so important to communicate in any relationship.

About Author

Samantha Rodman

Dr. Samantha Rodman, known to the blog world as "Dr. Psych Mom," is a clinical psychologist. She has a husband, 3 young children, and a betta fish. You may have heard about her from The Washington Post,The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, J-Date, The Millionaire Matchmaker’s site Pattiknows.com, and PsychCentral, among others!