How YOU React to Porn Matters

Last week Gary Thomas wrote a great article entitled Pornography: The Digital Assault on Marriage.

Gary starts by affirming that it’s “a legitimate and realistic desire for a wife to be married to a man who doesn’t look at pornography.” He also says something I’ve said before, that your husband’s porn use is not about you.

What I want to focus on is this: “Most all of the experts agreed, however, that the wife’s initial response to her husband’s use is crucial […] A too-soft response could lead to re-occurrence, or the husband not taking the struggle seriously enough. A too-harsh response could lead the husband to shame and to start hiding, eventually making the problem worse.

This is the exact thing I’ve heard from experts, and it’s what I have learned by talking to men who have been caught with porn or have confessed porn use to their wife. I don’t mean to put it on the wife, but the reality is how a woman reacts either significantly improves or greatly reduced the chances of her husband dealing with the issue and getting free of porn. Yes, it’s on him, but your first reaction is going to make a huge difference.

The best approach is full of love and grace while still drawing a hard line. Porn is not acceptable. Porn is sexual sin. Sexual sin is the one reason Jesus said a person could divorce and remarry. Tell him you won’t put up with it. You will do whatever you can to help, but he needs to find a way to end it because if he doesn’t it will end your marriage.

If a man knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that ongoing porn use will end his marriage, he tends to find a way to stop. No amount of anger, shame, hurt, complaining, or saying no to sex can do the same thing. Saying “Stop or I leave” is both right and effective. Anything else is less effective and far more questionable from a biblical standpoint.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I’m going to catch it for this post, but right is right.

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What and How You Ask

Questions can be powerful tools. They can also be weapons. Sometimes questions are intended to hurt others, sometimes it’s an unintended result of two people thinking in different ways. And some of the latter can be because of gender.

One common problem question from both sexes is something like “Really” or “Are you sure?” If you think about it, this is questioning the other person’s integrity. It’s asking “Are you lying to me?” I know this is often just a habit throwaway answer, but it’s rude at best. 

How we ask a question can be huge. Something like “Are you going to _____” can come off as an accusation. It’s also not actually asking him to do something. “Would you _____” is much nicer, and it’s you asking him to do something for you. 

When you ask also matters. If he’s just fallen into his chair it’s a bad time to ask him to do anything that’s not an emergency. If you happen to think of it then, you could say “Not now, but when you have a chance, could you ______.”

Another issue for many men is they feel they are asked too many questions. She is being naturally curious, but he feels like he’s being interrogated. This one is easy to fall into because men tend to give less information than women give. He shares the overview, she wants the details. If you have a lot of questions ask the important ones first, then back off when he starts to look like he’s done.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and my wife asks great questions.

Survey: Our current survey is about Premarital Sexual Experience, both with the man you married and anyone before that. If you can spare about ten minutes I’d really appreciate your input on this one.

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Childhood Sex Play

We recently did a survey on childhood sex play. The results are eye-opening and important for a couple of reasons. Let me give you some data, then discuss what it might mean to you.

The survey was not about abuse or coerced sex, it was about mutually consensual sexual activity between children of similar ages. Seventy-five percent of women and 71% of men said they engaged in child sex play at least one time before the age of 15. Much of this occurred among children of school age, with a slim majority of men and women saying they engaged in some form of consensual sex play between the ages of 6 and 14.

The activities ranged from looking at each other’s sex organs (more than 70% of boys and half of girls) to touching sex organs (two-thirds of boys and half of girls), to masturbating together (20% of boys and 15% of girls). Orgasm occurred for 17% of the boys and 14% of the girls. Boys were more likely to engage in sex play with a girl (60%) while girls were slightly more likely to choose another girl (52%). In most cases the children involved were close in age; 68% said the other child within one year of their age, and only 15% were with a child 1 to 3 years older or younger. More than half the time the other child was a friend.

So with those facts out, how might this relate to you?

If you engaged in sex play:

Some of the women expressed shame, guilt, and ongoing sexual problems because of their sex play as children. This is something we don’t talk about in our society, and most of those who did it assume they are the rare exception. They worry there is something wrong with them. The truth is the majority of kids do this. I’m not telling you it’s right or good, but it’s not the rare aberration you may think it is. Most of your friends did something like this, and most of the folks sitting with you on Sunday morning did too. 

If you engaged in any kind of willing sex play as a child, please forgive yourself. If you’ve never told your husband, I suggest you do so. Odds are he will respond by telling you his story of something similar. Talking about it will probably make you feel better about it.

If you have children:

Please be aware that the majority of children do this. Also, know that most manage to keep it hidden – 70% of those in our survey said no parent ever had a clue. I’m not suggesting you can prevent this as what it would take to do so would be harmful for all concerned. Instead, talk about privacy, modesty, and sexuality with your children starting at a young age (25% of the children said their first sex play was before age 6).

If you catch a child engaged in sex play or find out it has occurred, please remain calm. Freaking out could cause your child long-term sexual harm. Explain that what they did is inappropriate, but don’t say or do anything that will make them think their sexuality is inherently wrong.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I’m sorry this needs to be said.

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Yeah, He’s Got Moods Too

Men are usually quick to complain about women’s moods, and usually to blame it on her hormones. We then assume that since our hormones don’t ride a rollercoaster we don’t have moods.

Of course, you know better, and I’m going to admit on behalf of mankind that we have moods too.

Yeah, He's Got Moods Too

Pointing out a bad mood can make it worse, but making him aware is a reasonable thing to do. Something like “I’m sorry you’re feeling bad/down/sad/pissed at the world” is a somewhat less confrontational way to tell him he’s in a mood.

You are not, of course, to blame for your husband’s moods, but you can certainly impact them. One common cause of a bad mood is interrupting him when he is concentrating or doing something he enjoys. We don’t multitask as well as you ladies, so what you see as a minor interruption may be a much bigger deal to us. Another common mood influencer is sex… or lack of same. Without discussing why this is so or intending to justify it, the reality is less sex than he wants results in most men being grumpy/distant/angry.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I know the “I’m sorry you’re feeling…” line because my lovely wife has used it on me!

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Do A Little Parking

Now that the weather is getting better, find some opportunities to do a little loving in the car.

Do A Little Parking

I’m not talking about anything that could get you arrested here. Kiss at stoplights. Make out lightly for half a minute in the (dark) driveway. Or if you park in a garage do just enough to get his engine going and then suggest shifting to the bedroom.

~ Paul – I’m XY, I know most guys are into cars.

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