My husband really likes to look at pornography, and this bothers me and hurts me. I tell him that it is not good for our home and that it makes me feel miserable [and] think… that I am not enough for him. I ask him why he does it, and he says that all men are like that.
Is that the truth? Is it possible that men cannot control this bad habit?
Your questions are good ones, but they do not have simple answers. Let us explain what we mean.
Your husband says that all men are like that, and you ask us if his statement is true. The answer is yes and no.
Yes, all men (and women) are born with a tendency to do things that are bad for themselves and bad for others. Two‑year‑old children hit each other and take things that don’t belong to them. No one has to teach them to do things to put themselves in danger, or things that will hurt others. It comes to them naturally. We once asked our young son where he learned to do something that we didn’t want him to do. He answered, “I knew it when I was born.” That was a true statement about the origin of sin coming from a preschooler! Yes, we are born with the tendency to sin. So when your husband says that all men are like that, it is true that all men have the tendency to sin.
It is also true that the average man thinks about sex more than the average woman, especially in his younger years. And most men are more influenced by what they see, while most women are more influenced by their emotions. So the prevalence of pornographic images in magazines, on television, and especially on the Internet does make it more of a temptation for men to want to continue looking at the images. If your husband developed this habit before he married you, then it reveals more about him as an individual than it reveals about your marital relationship.
However, no, it is not true that all men have a habit of using pornography as a means of self-gratification. It is also not true that all men think that it is acceptable to look at pornography. And the fact that your husband justifies and tries to normalize his bad habit is the most troublesome aspect of your situation. Because he does not view it as destructive to himself or to your marriage, he apparently has no desire to stop. Until he understands that the use of pornography can lead to a dangerous addiction, he will probably not be motivated to stop.
He is not asking for our advice, so it wouldn’t help to tell you what he needs to do to break the devious hold of pornography on his life. In Case 7, we gave some suggestions to people who wanted to break their addictions.
We completely agree with you that pornography is not good for your home or your marriage. Men who use pornography tend to view women as objects rather than as equal human beings who think and have feelings. They may begin to compare their wives with the airbrushed perfect images that never complain or have a headache. This leads to dissatisfaction in their marriages and a desire to escape reality by withdrawing from their living, breathing companions in favor of virtual relationships. For some men, online or text communication with other women can follow, which is only a step away from adultery, the risk of venereal diseases or HIV, and the leading of a double life.
We suggest that you develop a personal relationship with God, who will give you the wisdom you need to influence your husband. When you pray, He will give you divine peace on the inside and the strength of character you need. And He will work on your husband’s conscience so that your husband will no longer justify his behavior, but will instead want to change.
We wish you well,
Linda and Charles