Technology has allowed easy and free access to pornography. Many people who would not purchase pornography if they had to do so in a public place feel free to access it in the privacy of their own home. There have been numerous studies on how the increase in pornography has been damaging. Marriages can be negatively impacted and in some cases, divorce results from one person’s interest in online pornography or from their online sexualized behaviors.
Statistics about Divorce and Online Sexualized Behaviors
Statistics show that online pornography plays a large role in divorce. A recent study polled divorce lawyers about the reasons why their clients were getting divorced. The results showed that 68% of the divorce cases involved one party meeting a new love interest over the internet. Over half of the divorce causes involved one partner’s obsessive interests in online pornography. One partner spending excessive time online accounted for 47% of divorce cases while excessive chat room conversations were cited in 33%. (Manning, 2006)
The statistics are astounding. It’s clear that online pornography causes many marital issues and can break down the marriage in several different ways. The internet makes it easier to engage in behaviors that lead to marriage problems.
Decreased Sexual Satisfaction
Viewing internet pornography tends to lead to decreased sexual satisfaction within the marriage. Numerous studies report that when people frequently view pornography, the experience decreased emotional and sexual intimacy with their spouse. Their views of sexuality tend to change and their sexual desires are impacted.
People who engage in cybersex often report that they feel free to say and do things they wouldn’t normally do in real life. Talking and acting out fantasies starts to fulfill their sexual desires and takes place of real life sexual activity. They may continue to exclude their partner from any sexual activity and only look forward to pornography and cybersex.
The partners of people viewing online pornography sometimes report decreased sexual desire as well. They often report feeling repulsed by their partner’s habits. Sometimes the partner feels unable to compete with the online images as well.
Addictions Can Develop
Research is indicating that people are becoming addicted to the internet. Sometimes people are addicted to social media sites, other times it is chat rooms, and frequently it is pornography. Any sort of addiction can lead to marital problems, but internet addictions can be especially problematic.
Sometimes people turn to the internet as their primary coping strategy to deal with real life problems. This can cause them to neglect social activities, work and their families as well as other responsibilities. Instead of spending time living their life people sometimes start to live a fantasy life on the internet.
Is it Cheating?
Sometimes people justify their online sexualized behaviors by saying it doesn’t count as cheating. However, research shows that online sexualized behaviors can have significant consequences. When one partner engages in online sexual activity, the partner often feels just as betrayed as if a real life indiscretion occurred. The anger, betrayal, and grief related to online sexual behaviors reflect the level of hurt that online sexual activity can cause. Sexual behaviors online can decrease the amount of quality time a couple spends together. It takes away from a person’s ability to be as emotionally and sexually available to their spouse as well.
If you do anything online that you wouldn’t want your partner to see, hear, or read, it constitutes cheating. Even if you aren’t meeting for in-person chats, talking to people online with private conversations can be just as damaging to the marriage. Viewing pornography also has negative consequences to the marriage and if you continue to do so despite the problems it is causing, it can be very damaging.
Get Help for Your Marriage
If your marriage is being negatively impacted by online sexualized behaviors, consider getting help. If you have a problem, seek help for yourself. Just like other addictions require treatment, online addictions can be helped with therapy. If your partner has a problem and doesn’t want to address it, consider seeking therapy for yourself. Therapy can help you gain support and learn what you can do to help your marriage.
Manning, Jill. 2006. The Impact of Internet Pornography on Marriage and The Family: A Review of the Research. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 13:131–165.