By Sarah P. 

how porn addiction affects your marriage

We all know that pornography has negative affects—but can pornography use be considered a form of infidelity?

In this blog post, I will address the social impacts that are occurring due to the proliferation of pornography, the affects of pornography on the brain, how porn addiction affects your marriage, and whether or not over-use of pornography constitutes a type of infidelity.

For this article, I am going to use the approach of res ipsa loquitor, which in Latin means “the thing speaks for itself.” Thus, I will be using a lot of research that demonstrates the negative findings about pornography. I will also use a case study about the effects of pornography on someone who was willingly to speak openly about it.

Before starting, I would like to warn you about how this article could serve as a trigger for some.

This is a topic that lends itself to strong reactions. It is also a topic that is highly controversial because there are usually two camps. In the first camp are the die-hard defenders and consumers of pornography (who don’t really have research findings on their side.) In the other camp are those who despise pornography for various reasons who can be triggered by talking or reading about it. The group that despises pornography can look to current research to validate their concerns about pornography.

On the other hand, this article is also informative for those who are struggling to stop pornography use.

If you are a consumer of porn, this article is not meant to attack you, but rather to enlighten you about the negative consequences of pornography use. If you are a consumer of porn, you may disagree with me because you are not ready to give up the habit—and that is okay. All I ask is that you hear me out. For the sake of your wives, husbands, parents, siblings, and children, I hope that you consider the information instead of outright objecting to it.

My own view on pornography tends toward disliking it. I have never seen a situation where pornography adds value to either society or relationships.

I despise the way women are used and abused in hard-core pornography. Pornography really denigrates women and makes a farce out of true love. After all, love does not engage is acts that abuse others and someone who considers himself loving to his wife cannot really be loving if she feels insecure and unloved because of her husband’s porn use.

My Experience With Pornography

When I was in elementary school, my male next door neighbor would get into his parent’s porn films and they never figured it out. He would always say the most disgusting and horrifying things to me and eventually I stopped talking with him.

His male cousin, who lived across the street, and who was 15 years old, would also get into his dad’s pornography. One time when I was in fifth grade, I was over there playing with dolls with his little sister who was my age. His parents left and he showed up in my friend’s (his little sister’s) room.  He was naked, holding a Hustler in one hand and a knife in the other hand. I got up and ran out the door and didn’t stop running until I was locked inside my house. I told my mom and she confronted his father, who was a police officer. His dad laughed and said, “Boys will be boys.”

On the occasions in college when someone would pop a ‘porno’ film into the VCR, I would leave. Anytime a third party exposed me to it in college, I felt physically ill. I will disclose that I did not come from a home where I experienced any kind of abuse, whether it was emotional, physical, or sexual. So, I am not triggered by hard-core pornography because of abuse at home. There could be an argument for despising it because of the two neighbor boys. But, I don’t believe even that accounts for it fully.

I despise hard-core pornography because my intuition says that it is wrong on so many levels. Hard-core pornography is not about love, it is not romantic, it is not sweet, and it is not about mutual satisfaction. Hard core pornography often depicts demeaning women in violent ways and it depicts women as objects for use.

On the other hand, I know of one couple where the woman brought pornography into the relationship. In this case, I have a live and let live attitude toward it. In this case, since both adult parties willingly consented, it is not my business.

Social Impacts of Pornography

Before I jump into the social impacts of pornography, I wanted to present you with a case study. I located comments and an interview by a man who was willing to discuss in great detail how pornography harmed him. I believe what the man has to say and I believe that he is correct when he describes the overarching social affects of pornography. The man in this case study is famous, but before I tell you who he is, I want you to read his words.

He provided his comments on pornography just hours before his execution by lethal injection. There was nothing in it for this man in telling his life story. His fate was sealed, there was no going back, but hours before his execution he felt compelled to tell others about the deleterious impact pornography had on his life. I present you with his life as told from his perspective:

mom-with-son
Image of man in question as a child. First photo is with him and his mother. Second photo is of him dressed up as a cowboy.

“I grew up in a wonderful home with two dedicated and loving parents, as one of 5 brothers and sisters. We, as children, were the focus of my parent’s lives. We regularly attended church. My parents did not drink or smoke or gamble. There was no physical abuse or fighting in the home. I’m not saying it was “Leave it to Beaver”, but it was a fine, solid Christian home. I hope no one will try to take the easy way out of this and accuse my family of contributing to this. I know, and I’m trying to tell you as honestly as I know how, what happened.

boy-as-childAs a young boy of 12 or 13, I encountered, outside the home, in the local grocery and drug stores, softcore pornography. Young boys explore the sideways and byways of their neighborhoods, and in our neighborhood, people would dump the garbage. From time to time, we would come across books of a harder nature – more graphic. This also included detective magazines, etc., and I want to emphasize this. The most damaging kind of pornography – and I’m talking from hard, real, personal experience – is that that involves violence and sexual violence. The wedding of those two forces – as I know only too well – brings about behavior that is too terrible to describe. 

boy-as-tween
Image of man in question when he was a tween.

Before we go any further, it is important to me that people believe what I’m saying. I’m not blaming pornography. I’m not saying it caused me to go out and do certain things. I take full responsibility for all the things that I’ve done. That’s not the question here. The issue is how this kind of literature contributed and helped mold and shape the kinds of violent behavior.

In the beginning, pornography fuels a kind of thought process. Then, at a certain time, it is instrumental in crystallizing it, making it into something that is almost a separate entity inside. Once you become addicted to it, and I look at this as a kind of addiction, you look for more potent, more explicit, more graphic kinds of material.

murder-victim
An adult murder/rape victim of the man in question.

Like an addiction, you keep craving something which is harder and gives you a greater sense of excitement, until you reach the point where the pornography only goes so far – that jumping off point where you begin to think maybe actually doing it will give you that which is just beyond reading about it and looking at it. I was dealing with very strong inhibitions against criminal and violent behavior that had been conditioned and bred into me from my neighborhood, environment, church, and schools. I knew it was wrong to think about it, and certainly, to do it was wrong. I was on the edge, and the last vestiges of restraint were being tested constantly, and assailed through the kind of fantasy life that was fueled, largely, by pornography.

Another fact I haven’t mentioned is the use of alcohol. In conjunction with my exposure to pornography, alcohol reduced my inhibitions and pornography eroded them further. Even all these years later, it is difficult to talk about. Reliving it through talking about it is difficult to say the least, but I want you to understand what happened. It was like coming out of some horrible trance or dream. I can only liken it to (and I don’t want to over-dramatize it) being possessed by something so awful and alien, and the next morning waking up and remembering what happened and realizing that in the eyes of the law, and certainly in the eyes of God, you’re responsible. To wake up in the morning and realize what I had done with a clear mind, with all my essential moral and ethical feelings intact, absolutely horrified me. 

There is no way to describe the brutal urge to do that, and once it has been satisfied, or spent, and that energy level recedes, I became myself again. Basically, I was a normal person. I wasn’t some guy hanging out in bars, or a bum. I wasn’t a pervert in the sense that people look at somebody and say, “I know there’s something wrong with him.” I was a normal person. I had good friends. I led a normal life, except for this one, small but very potent and destructive segment that I kept very secret and close to myself. Those of us who have been so influenced by violence in the media, particularly pornographic violence, are not some kind of inherent monsters. We are your sons and husbands. We grew up in regular families. Pornography can reach in and snatch a kid out of any house today. It snatched me out of my home 20 or 30 years ago. I know people will accuse me of being self-serving, but through God’s help, I have been able to come to the point, much too late, where I can feel the hurt and the pain I am responsible for. I hope that those who I have caused so much grief, even if they don’t believe my expression of sorrow, will believe what I’m saying now; there are those loose in their towns and communities, like me, whose dangerous impulses are being fueled, day in and day out, by violence in the media in its various forms – particularly sexualized violence. What scares me is when I see what’s on cable T.V. Some of the violence in the movies that come into homes today is stuff they wouldn’t show in X-rated adult theatres 30 years ago.

I’m no social scientist, and I don’t pretend to believe what John Q. Citizen thinks about this, but I’ve lived in prison for a long time now, and I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence. Without exception, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography – deeply consumed by the addiction. The F.B.I.’s own study on serial homicide shows that the most common interest among serial killers is pornographers.” (1)

man-with-girlfriend
The man in college with a college girlfriend. The man graduated with high Honors from the psychology department at his university.

So who was this man who told the above story?

The man’s name was Theordore Robert Cowell. Ring a bell? Probably not—the name you know him by is Ted Bundy.

I don’t know about you, but those pictures of Ted Bundy as a child look rather innocent. He looks content and happy. But, here is the kicker– everyone who knew Ted Bundy personally would tell you that he is the nicest man you have ever met.

I happen to live in an area where Ted lived as an adult and by a stroke of luck, I know several people who knew Ted personally. One of the gentlemen who knew Ted served in a state government position in the 1970’s and worked with Ted in government. Ted was pursuing a law degree at the time.

This gentleman who knew Ted told me recently: “You know, I will never believe that Ted Bundy laid a finger on anyone. He was the nicest guy you could have ever met! But Ted said he did all of those things and I guess I have to believe him, but part of me never will.”

Then, there is the woman who worked at the rape crisis center with Ted in the 70’s. She said: “Sure, I remember Ted. The crisis center didn’t have lights in the parking lot and so after dark Ted walked each female volunteer out to her car and made sure she got in safely and locked her doors behind her. He was like a big brother who watched over us.”

Ted also volunteered for a national suicide hotline. Volunteers who worked with Ted said Ted had successfully helped many people overcome suicidal thoughts and get help. A third person told me: “He was the sweetest person and I trusted him.”

In addition to that, while in jail Ted Bundy contacted the detective trying to find the infamous Green River Killer. He helped the detective understand how psychopaths operate and allegedly, Ted assisted with providing information that led to eventual breaks in the case.

The media has rightly portrayed Ted Bundy as a cold-hearted psychopath. But, other times Ted Bundy was an older brother figure who watched over people he knew. I think the reason people are still interested in him today is because of this idea (from a nursery rhyme): when he was good, he was really good; but when he was bad, he was terrible.

Coming back to the point. Do you believe Ted Bundy when he says pornography sent him down the road of destruction? I do.

I watched the last interview Ted Bundy gave to Dr. James Dobson. I have watched his body language, listened to his voice inflection, examined his motive and used my gut instinct. Ted Bundy got nothing out of asking James Dobson to be the last person who interviewed him. If you would like to see for yourself, I encourage you to watch it. Here is his last interview, which was granted to Dr. James Dobson:

The most disconcerting thing for me in watching Ted Bundy’s last video is that I found him to be a very logical, sincere, and seemingly genuinely remorseful about his past exploits. Prior to watching the video I was extremely cynical. I was convinced he was a cold-hearted psychopath and an adept manipulator who could fool even the best judges of character. I went into watching the video with a bias against Bundy and I was looking at body language, mannerisms, and attitude toward Dr. Dobson. I was listening to the words he said and trying to pick out manipulative phrases and language. I was listening for denial of crimes committed and deferral of blame. Unlike the women he was able to charm while he was in jail, I do not find Bundy physically attractive and so I am not influenced any attraction to him.

But, my view changed after watching the video. He admitted that alcohol and pornography came together to create a monster. By the time this interview had occurred, he had been on death row for a long time. He had no access to alcohol or pornography, he had been studying the Bible and repenting for his horrendous and monstrous acts, and he had a lot of time to gain insight into what had happened. He had nothing to gain by inviting Dr. James Dobson to be the last person to interview him. He did not try to make excuses for himself. He was able to talk about what he felt led him down the path but he did not outright blame pornography and alcohol for causing him to act. I do believe Ted Bundy was telling the truth but most of all I believe that we as a society must heed his warning. Even if you don’t believe Ted Bundy, time and psychological research have proved him to be correct.

 

 

What Does the Research Tell Us?

Now let’s see what researchers have found. Robert Jensen says, “My own studies and reviews of other examinations of content suggest there are a few basic themes in pornography: (1) All women at all times want sex from all men; (2) women enjoy all the sexual acts that men perform or demand, and; (3) any woman who does not at first realize this can be easily turned with a little force, though force is rarely necessary because most of the women in pornography are the imagined “”nymphomaniacs”” about whom many men fantasize. Contemporary pornography will make use of any relationship of domination and subordination — a power differential between people that can be sexualized and exploited…  my interviews with pornography users and sex offenders, and various other researchers’ work, have led me to conclude that pornography can: (1) be an important factor in shaping a male-dominant view of sexuality; (2) be used to initiate victims and break down their resistance to unwanted sexual activity; (3) contribute to a user’s difficulty in separating sexual fantasy and reality; and (4) provide a training manual for abusers.” (2)

Affects of Pornography on the Brain

Madline Davies says, “Both having sex and watching porn causes dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for reward and pleasure, to be released. But repeatedly causing this surge in dopamine – by regularly watching pornography – means the brain become desensitised to its effects. A study published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2014 found regularly viewing pornography seemed to dull the response to sexual stimulation over time. This means the brain needs more dopamine in order to feel the same ‘high’, which causes a person to watch more porn, German researchers found. And a 2011 study, published in Psychology Today, found that these dopamine spikes mean porn-users start needing increasingly extreme experiences to become sexually aroused. After being exposed to so many lurid images in films, men have become de-sensitised and are increasingly unable to become excited by ordinary sexual encounters. Pornography is creating a generation of young men who are hopeless in the bedroom, the report concluded. Men who watch pornography may be shrinking their brains, the German researchers described above discovered. The striatum area of the brain, linked with the motivation and reward response, shrank in size the more porn a person viewed. The study marked the first time researchers found a possible link between regularly viewing pornography and physical harm.” (3)

Affects of Pornography on Marriage 

“Porn promises a virtual world filled with sex—more sex, better sex. What it doesn’t mention, however, is that the further a user goes into that fantasy world, the more likely their reality is to become just the opposite. Porn often leads to less sex and less satisfying sex. And for many users, porn eventually means no sex at all.  It doesn’t take much porn for things to start heading downhill. In one of the most comprehensive studies on porn use ever conducted, researchers found that after being exposed to softcore sexual material, both men and women were significantly less happy with their partner’s looks, willingness to try new sex acts, and sexual performance. Even being exposed to porn just once can make people feel less in love with their significant other. Why? Because when a person is watching porn, the sexual roadmaps in their brain are being redrawn. So when a person starts looking at porn, they first create and then strengthen brain pathways linking feeling aroused with images of porn. Meanwhile the pathways connecting arousal with things like seeing, touching, or cuddling with their partner aren’t getting used. Pretty soon, natural turn-ons aren’t enough, and many porn users find they can’t get aroused by anything but porn.  Thirty years ago, when a man developed erectile dysfunction (ED), it was almost always because he was getting older, usually past 40, and as his body aged, his blood vessels would get blocked, making it harder to maintain an erection. But those were the days before Internet porn. These days, online message boards are flooded with complaints from porn users in their teens and 20s complaining that they can’t maintain an erection. But for this kind of ED, the problem isn’t in the penis—it’s in the brain. Erections are powered by chemicals in the brain’s reward center that are released when a guy sees, hears, smells, or feels something that turns him on. The problem for porn users is that they’ve hijacked their reward center by using porn to get it to overload on these chemicals. When chemical levels are too high, the brain fights back by blocking some of the flood of chemicals released. Due to their lowered sexual response and altered brain pathways, many porn users find they just can’t get excited enough to maintain an erection without porn; and for many users, over time, even porn isn’t enough.” (4)

The Family and Pornography

Mary Anne Layden, PhD Director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program Center for Cognitive Therapy has found that:“Rape is not the only form of sexual violence perpetrated against women affected by the use of pornography. Many women will be sexually harassed on their jobs and elsewhere. The likelihood of sexually harassing another is significantly correlated with the volume of past exposure to sexually explicit materials. Domestic violence is another form of violence against women, and like the others it is increased by the use of pornography. The violence may typically be physical and emotional, but these are often combined with sexual violence. Battered women experienced significantly more sexual violence than women who were not battered. For example, 39% of the battered women said that their partners had tried to get them to act out pornographic scenes they’d been shown, as compared to 3% of other women. The batterer’s use of pornography and alcohol significantly increases a battered woman’s odds of being sexually abused. Pornography alone increases the odds by a factor of almost two, and the combination of pornography and alcohol increases the odds by a factor of three. Forty percent of abused women indicated that their partner used violent pornography.” (5)

I find it interesting that 39% of battered women were asked to act out pornography whereas only 3% of non-battered women were asked the same thing. This is statistically speaking an enormous difference.

But, sexual violence is not the only impact that pornography has on marriages. Dr. Patrick Fagan PhD notes that:

  • Married men who are involved in pornography feel less satisfied with their conjugal relations and less emotionally attached to their wives. Wives notice and are upset by the difference.
  • Pornography use is a pathway to infidelity and divorce, and is frequently a major factor in these family disasters.
  • Among couples affected by one spouse’s addiction, two-thirds experience a loss of interest in sexual intercourse.
  • Both spouses perceive pornography viewing as tantamount to infidelity.
  • Pornography viewing leads to a loss of interest in good family relations.” (6)

porn-is-cheating 

Does Pornography Use Constitute Infidelity?

Before we can answer this question, we have to settle on a definition of infidelity. If infidelity is defined solely by physical contact with another human being, then no, viewing pornography is not infidelity.

Patrick Fagan also noted above that pornography serves as a type of gateway drug to actual physical infidelity. I believe this can be accounted for by the fact that porn viewing causes an individual to seek more and more deviant pornography to get the same high. It seems only logical that at one point pornography might stop achieving the same type of high from the women or men onscreen and so a person moves his or her actions into the physical realm with other women or men.

However, the general definition of infidelity on this blog includes both physical and emotional infidelity. The view of infidelity on this blog also takes into account how a certain sexual behavior or emotional behavior impacts the marriage and the betrayed spouse.

Since pornography causes people to lose both emotional and sexual feelings for their spouses and since pornography constitutes a sexual behavior external to the marriage, then I believe use of pornography qualifies as type of infidelity.

This is especially true if a wife or husband has told their spouse more than once that she/he believes use of pornography constitutes infidelity. After all, pornography use is sexual behavior which does not include the spouse but that includes other women or men. Because of mirror neurons, the person engaging in the pornography experiences the situation as if he/she were in the situation himself or herself. This is especially the case because of how pornographers shoot their films. For instance, the films often involve close-ups of women but tend to shoot the male actors in ways that reinforce the idea that the male viewer is in the place of the male actor. (This is what my female friend told me since she has watched many videos.)

When a person gets married, he or she enters into a legal, social, and spiritual agreement that states he/she is wedded to one woman or man for life. Within the Christian church, a marriage is seen as a relationship between God and the church body. Therefore, a marriage is placed into the realm of the sacred. When a Christian violates these principles, it is very serious indeed. This goes both for Christian men and Christian women. If a Christian woman commits adultery on her ever-faithful husband, it is just as serious. But, I am speaking of general adultery in this case.

But, don’t believe me. Let’s listen to a man who discovered pornography when he was only 6-years-old and who was free from it by the time he was 17-years-old. He has an even more vehement stance than I do. Here is an excerpt of what Eric Simmons says:

“Porn is like a narcotic, it hijacks the brain, it redefines human sexuality, and in the meantime ruins lives, destroys families, and destabilizes ministries. And honestly it’s a problem that makes me tired — tired of the devastation Satan is causing to children, women, families, pastors, churches, and the world with this tragic evil.

Porn became a problem for me when I was only six, and by the grace of God that problem ended when Jesus saved me at age seventeen. But I know it rarely happens so cleanly. It is still a temptation, yes; temptation abounds living in the city I do, and with the heart I have, but grace abounds all the more in Jesus Christ. Friends, I hate porn. And here’s why.

  • I hate porn because it is a perversion of what God created in man and woman.
  • I hate porn because it exploits women made in the image of God into an image made for a man’s lust.
  • I hate porn because it objectifies women into a consumable product instead of a glorious image-bearing creature of God.
  • I hate porn because I love women — in particular my wife and three daughters.
  • I hate porn because it takes the soul-satisfying experience of sex with a covenantally-committed spouse and turns it into a twisted soul-shrinking experience of self-sex.
  • I hate porn because it turns sons and daughters of God into slaves of sex.
  • I hate porn because it turns potential missionaries into impotent Christians.
  • I hate porn because it destroys marriage, many before they even begin.
  • I hate porn because it extends adolescence and keeps men boys.
  • I hate porn because it lies to men about beauty and leads men to look for a porn star instead of a woman who fears the Lord.
  • I hate porn because it fractures trust between a husband and wife.
  • I hate porn because it teaches a distorted view of sex to children before it can be explained by loving parents.
  • I hate porn because I am tired of sitting in my living room with sobbing, confused, devastated wives and broken, embarrassed, condemned men who got caught.
  • I hate porn because it leads to rape, molestation, and perversion that can devastate people for the rest of their lives.” (8).

 

Pornography use seems to be a male affliction within marriage. As I have said before, I know a woman who has brought pornography into all of her relationships and it has always been a mutual decision. But, interestingly enough, she still ended up having a bad experience with pornography with a particular boyfriend and they broke up because of it.

While she saw pornography as something exciting they could occasionally bring into their relationship, her boyfriend ended up becoming obsessed with it. Watching it was all he ever did when they were home together. Pornography ended any intimacy between them and she broke up with him. So, interestingly, even when the woman agrees to it, pornography use can still get out of hand. That makes sense because the scientific studies on the topic demonstrate that porn changes the brain, motivations, and drives.

I also find it interesting that pornography use can reduce the desire to have a loss of interest in good family relations. So, not only does porn appear to be a type of infidelity, pornography impacts all corners of a person’s life and his or her family life.

Utah has been the first state to resurrect the anti-porn debate. Instead of disputing its status as being covered under the first amendment, they are calling it a public health crisis. The Washington Post says:

“Today’s anti-porn advocates have largely dropped the free speech and morality debate in favor of talking about porn’s ubiquity which gives them an opening to tie it to headlines of sex gone wrong. Teen sexting. Tales of porn addiction. Campus sexual assaults. Divorce. Hypersexualized teens. Barely clothed pop stars. Sexual violence. All these problems can be tied back “young men [who] have been getting a regular diet of rampant pornography since their adolescence,” Hawkins says. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation started prominently making that link two years ago, and so far it seems it’s getting some traction. Utah is the first state to pass a resolution declaring it a public health crisis. Tennessee is considering as similar one. This fall, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops decided to take a more proactive approach to combating pornography, calling it a “widespread problem.” Dani Bianculli, the director of the law center at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, helped draft Utah’s resolution. She said community activists from 10 other states have already asked her for help to draft their own. “We’re very confident it’s going to move beyond Utah,” she said.” (7)

I believe that hard-core pornography is a public health crisis and I am encouraged to see that some states have drawn the line and said ‘enough is enough.’ If such a bill comes to my state, I will ask to testify in front of our state legislature.

Unhealthy views on sexuality have become a plague in this culture and its reach is far and wide. I am not concerned with actual plagues that afflict the body. I am concerned with the plagues that afflict the mind and deaden the soul.

man-on-laptop

But, it’s only a computer screen!!

Those who disagree with the far-reaching harm of pornography might plead, “But it’s only a computer screen! There is no harm in the real world when porn is just a casual activity that a person does to decompress in front of a screen.”

As we know, lots of porn viewing causes lots of tolerance and people must up the ante to get the same ‘high’ from it. When boys and girls have been raised on a steady diet of porn and when it’s all they know, bad things happen. For example, let’s consider the affects of an international porn ring started by teenage boys and young men. Let’s consider this recent development:

“More than 70 Australian schools are targets for a perverse pornography ring of teen boys and young men secretly swapping and exchanging graphic sexual images of female students and other non-consenting women.

Here’s how it works: young men use the site to nominate the specific high school or region they are phishing for nude photos from, along with the full names of girls they are “hunting”. Hundreds of individual names have appeared on “wanted” lists, including the names of sisters and entire high school friendship circles. Once a girl’s name appears on a list, other members of the group then “contribute” by posting identifying information about the intended victim, such as her full name, face, school, home address, and phone number, along with directives like, “Go get her boys!” Any “wins” (the term used for the nude photos) of the nominated target are then uploaded or offered in exchange for a trade.

So far thousands of explicit, nude images of teen girls and young women have been uploaded or traded on the swap-meet site. Some high school girls are pictured performing sexual acts while wearing their school uniform. Other images on the site include graphic close-ups of victim’s genitalia and bodies, and photos of young women engaged in sexual acts. The site has been reported numerous times to police for child pornography, but so far they say they are unable to act because the site is hosted overseas.

Since its creation, multiple victims have also posted on the site, pleading with the young men to remove their images. Their requests are mostly ignored, laughed at, or in some cases, men retaliate by calling on their “bros” to unearth and upload even more images of the victim. One young woman who begged for images of her friend to be removed, then had her own name added to the wanted hit-list as punishment. Another young woman who stated that some of the victims might be “suicidal” was told that it was her fault for behaving like a “slut”, and that her images now belonged to the internet.” (9)

But, that is in Australia, some might say. Consider this: the United States has an equally pressing problem in the form of revenge porn. Various men have taken either consensual or non-consensual videos of themselves engaging in sex with their girlfriends. After the couple breaks up, the men post these videos on revenge porn websites (always without the ex-girlfriends consent) along with her name, address, employers, and sometimes the names of extended family.

You see, the use of pornography is not as simple as being an act between a person and his/her screen. Hard-core pornography has far-reaching effects. Last month, a beautiful woman in Italy committed suicide because her ex-boyfriend posted nude images of her along with her name and contact information.

In Summary

I do believe that when a person uses pornography and his wife or husband voices vehement opposition, it is a form of adultery. But, that is only one of the many problems that pornography brings into a family.

I always like to say that things which would destroy us are the ultimate tricksters. Like alcohol and cigarettes, pornography is something that some people find too “good” to pass up. Because they don’t want to pass it up, they rationalize that it does no harm to anyone and they carry on down the path of destruction.

For Christians I use the analogy of the devil at the door. Let’s say the Devil himself were to show up at your door. If you opened the door and the Devil said, “Hello, I am here to destroy your life and your family,” would you let the Devil in or would you slam the door in his face? Anyone who is halfway reasonable would slam the door in his face. Let’s say the devil goes to a different door and when the person answers it he says, “Well, hello, I have a truck full of hard liquor, all the cigarettes you can smoke, and unlimited, free streaming pornography. Are you interested?” Well, a lot of people would take the bait and let the Devil in, thinking they are simply having fun. And they would think that they are hanging out with a really fun guy who knows how to relax.

But, any one of those items offered can lead to destruction. Smoking kills, too much alcohol kills and destroys families, and pornography kills marriages and families. I do not drink, smoke, or watch pornography and so I can look at them objectively. I am not persuaded by the desire for any of those things. People who do desire those things, rationalize them, no matter how much harm they end up causing.

I do believe that pornography is a public health crisis. I also do not believe it is covered under the first amendment, but the Supreme Court seems to think so. I do not believe that anything that portrays sexual violence, sexual degradation, or portrays women as objects merely for consumption should be covered under free speech. That includes all hard-core pornography. Yet, I am not opposed to artistically and thoughtfully done nudity, which does not involve degrading sexual acts. For example, a Playboy from the 1950’s does not resemble today’s hard-core pornography. It was sexist material, no doubt, but it in no way encouraged violence against women. Thus, I am 100% against hard-core pornography. I do not think it adds an ounce of good to individuals, marriages, or families.

According to my definition of an affair, I also believe it counts as infidelity and I have no doubt about that. Pornography affects men and women in much of the same way as infidelity affects them—and it also affects their wives or husbands in the same way.

Pornography is a real danger to marriages and society. There needs to be a non-judgmental dialogue going on between husbands and wives about pornography use. Men or women who use it against their spouse’s wishes need to step up to the plate and listen. Pornography can no longer be brushed aside as something harmless.

Pornography Helpline

(1-800-583-2964)

People whose lives have been harmed by pornography are offered a Toll-Free Help Line that connects callers with a live therapist. Services include assessment of the caller’s needs, printed resources, counseling referrals in the caller’s community and multi-session brief therapy. In addition, the Victim Assistance Program offers consultation to other professional organizations, clinicians and pastors regarding sexual compulsivity and abuse.

Sources

(1)  Excerpted interview between Dr. James Dobson and Ted Bundy. From http://www.pureintimacy.org/f/fatal-addiction-ted-bundys-final-interview/

(2) Jensen, Robert. Pornography and Sexual Violence. From http://www.vawnet.org/sexual-violence/print-document.php?doc_id=418&find_type=web_desc_AR

(3) Davies, Madline. Revealed… how watching porn really affects your BRAIN. August 14, 2016. From http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3196809/It-induces-addiction-makes-men-hopeless-bed-discover-porn-affect-BRAIN.html 

(4) How Porn Damages Your Sex Life. August 8, 2014. From http://fightthenewdrug.org/how-porn-damages-your-sex-life/

(5) Mary Anne Layden, PhD. Pornography and Violence: A New Look at Research. From http://www.socialcostsofpornography.com/Layden_Pornography_and_Violence.pdf 

(6) Fagan, Patrick, PhD. The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Marriage, Family and Community. From http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF12D42.pdf

(7) Phillips, Amber. Porn has been declared a ‘public health crisis’ in Utah. Here’s why. From https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/04/22/anti-porn-advocates-are-changing-the-game-and-it-starts-with-utah-declaring-it-a-public-health-crisis/

(8) Simmons, Eric. October 15th, 2013. From http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/i-hate-porn

(9) Massive Porn-Sharing Group Using Nudes of Girls at School. August 23rd, 2016. From http://fightthenewdrug.org/boys-from-70-different-schools-create-massive-porn-sharing-group-using-nudes-of-girls-at-school/

 

    47 replies to "Silent Infidelity: How Porn Addiction Affects Your Marriage"

    • Hopeful

      This is a continued topic of discussion for our marriage. You have a lot of different information on here that is helpful. I have continued to not use any of the faith based information as my husband does not see that as valid. My husband has come around and seen more my side I guess you could say.

      I just feel like there has to be a strong connection between usage and moving towards and acting on an affair. He still holds that they do not have any connection and that most men utilize pornography but do not have affairs. Then we get into a statistics discussion. It is hard with his professional knowledge. His opinions have evolved though. AT one point he said that like your example playboy or underwear ads were no different than today’s porn. Well that did not last one second with me. That is where he loses his credibility. Where we stand now is that he realizes that our marriage is strong with as little of it as possible. That is so vague though. He has also said that he feels he should tell me every time he uses it since he feels that would be a deterrent. I do know he is using it significantly less than before dday and even after dday. I think the overall attitude he has is this is a normal boyhood thing that is something you are taught to do in private and is a secret. To me I see parallels to affairs. No one knows about his affairs and he did everything he could to keep them a secret. He is embarrassed by both. But he sees nothing wrong with the porn.

      I think when I told him recently that it feels as if he is cheating on me when he watches it that did hit home with him. As I told him now with the history of infidelity in our marriage it feels the same to me no matter how it seems to him. And I have concerns regarding it leading to more permissive behavior with other women.

      This is a topic that we will continue to discuss I know for sure. I feel good that he has moved from dismissing me to opening up and showing a willingness to talk about it.

    • Sarah P.

      Hi Hopeful,
      I am so glad that he is being more open to your point of view. I agree with everything you have said about pornography leading to infidelity. Also, don’t allow his professional knowledge to intimidate you. Therapists are the same as anyone else in that they don’t know a body of research or knowledge unless they take the time to explore it. It is interesting that you mention his idea about this being part of normal boyhood and being done in secret. I have heard that from a lot of other men too. Some seem to view it as a right of passage.

      • Hopeful

        Sarah,

        I think it is seen as “normal” among the guys. In college it was just the way guys were. He said too it is something that is never discussed among friends. And he said based on the people he sees it is not discussed in marriages and relationships. To me that seems like all the more reason to discuss it. But he said growing up this is not something you did together as boys and it was on the down low. They see the materials are hidden away etc. I am not sure how it would affect us or feel if he had never had any affairs.

        What stands out to me is he uses similar words to describe watching porn and this affairs. He says it is an escape, distraction, does not feel good or better when he is done. He maintains it is two different things to him but to me that is a defense and excuse. He maintains that watching porn is very different than having physical sex. He goes all into the details and he knows about all of the assessments. He said there is no deviant, inappropriate nature to what he is watching. I challenged him and his self assessment. He said with this stuff it is something he would know. I then challenged him that he had these affairs and look at his training. And he said yes he knew the that it was wrong before, during and after the affairs. He never thought any differently. So this is where we get to the point of in the end no matter how he or I see it what matters is how it makes me feel and affects our marriage. My guess and I told him this is that it affects a lot more marriages than anyone ever knows about similarly to infidelity. He is coming around and understanding this perspective. I think his professional knowledge and experience is good and bad. He has all of this background and has seen a lot of patients but also he is numb to so much. He also sees really bad cases of everything so what he did seems minor. But again he is seeing that in a new way. He knew and knows what a marriage should be and how a husband should treat a wife. I think his skills to compartmentalize are really good which makes him good at his job.

        I have found in the end no matter the topic I have to be very open with how it makes me feel. It is hard though he asks me very direct questions and a lot of it I would have not said in the past. Much of it sounds like I am judging him. But he says it is good to hear and gives him insight. It is hard for me to think about what he does for a living and he has not thought of some of the things I have brought up. The good thing is he is being more insightful and he sees what he was like and does not want to be that or go back to that way of living his life. Baby steps…

    • Sarah P.

      Hi Hopeful,

      Here is something by Kevin Skinner, PhD:

      “In a 2004 testimony before the United States Senate, Dr. Jill Manning shared some interesting data regarding pornography and relationships. In her research she found that 56 percent of divorce cases involved one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites. Another source, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, polled 350 divorce attorneys in 2003 where two thirds of them reported that the Internet played a significant role in the divorces, with excessive interest in online porn contributing to more than half such cases. If these numbers are accurate, here’s a very sobering statistic. Every year for the past decade there have been roughly 1 million divorces in the United States. If half of the people divorcing claim pornography as the culprit, that means there are 500,000 marriages annually that are failing due to pornography.”

      From https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/inside-porn-addiction/201112/is-porn-really-destroying-500000-marriages-annually

      I also read one time that 90% of men who have computers also use pornography. Of course, that doesn’t mean all are addicts. Some use it one in a while whereas others use it for hours each day.

      If it is true pornography is causing divorces, pornography should be dealt with more harshly. Marriages have enough problems without the influence of pornography.

      Here are some questions– does your husband see a therapist? (They say even therapists should see other therapists and I agree.) Does he have insight into his own failings or does he believe that it is ok to be in denial? Have you ever asked him why indulging in pornography is so important to him and indeed why it is more important than the fact that it is hurting you greatly?

      Your husband is not alone– that is for sure. I know of a psychiatrist whose first marriage ended because his porn use turned into many extramarital affairs. It devastated their family and even though they share custody they are not on speaking terms. I think pornography is probably the most dangerous ‘drug’ of the time because it plays on men’s inherent sexual desire.

    • Hopeful

      Sarah, That is good additional information. We have been going around and around what is too much? Another thing is he can never quantify how often he uses it sort of like he could never quantify how often he met with one of his ap. I know he does not see it this way but for me i see parallels every way I look at it. I am sure he uses porn less. We spend a lot more time together and do a lot together. He is more accountable and checks in with me more than ever now at his own choice not my request anymore.

      I honestly think porn is a bigger issue than anyone knows and the information detailed above. Just like infidelity is not talked about in most circles. My husband never told anyone about it and never would. He was ashamed of his affairs. He said they do not talk about porn either. Who knows what anyone does. And with technology I feel it is more accessible and also more enticing than ever before. There is never an end to newness and variety unlike the old playboy or the one video tape. This troubles me too it seems so obvious to me all of these points. Why have I had to drag him to this point of understanding/acceptance of my perspective.

      My husband has never seen a therapist. Recently he agreed if I wanted to go to couples therapy he would do that with me. I have not acted on that. I am almost for sure my therapist would make us see someone else since we have been working together for too long. It feels overwhelming to find someone new. And it will involve travel time as we would not see anyone where we live. And honestly I struggle with going with him to therapy. It is hard for me to understand if this will be good for us. Maybe I am protecting and enabling him but I know that therapy can be tricky finding the right therapist. I feel so lucky that I found such a great fit for me and wish we could have both gone together from the beginning. I cannot change that but I struggle with that.

      He feels like he has a lot of insight and thought a lot (daily) about what he has done. I think his perspective has evolved and he has become more honest and open about who he is. The other day I basically said to him I was not sure we are meant for each other based on the fact that his friends are never going to change and they live a fast and out of control immature life overall. He gets invited to do things with them of course. Well even he does not want to do much of it but for me I am almost repulsed by them. And nothing affair related but the drinking, late nights, out of town trips, rarely any inclusion of family or spouses. My husband has tried to create more spouse and family involvement and it has gone no where. I feel like maybe who he is at the core is just too different from me and how I have always lived my life and want to continue moving forward. This floored him. I have never been close to saying or feeling anything like this. But I do wonder. I think a direct reflection of you is who you surround yourself with. But on the flip side where will he find new friends, many of these people are friends from grade school etc. He stands by the fact that he has not done one inappropriate thing words or action since dday that I could not hear or read. As far as porn goes he sees it as a totally different thing with no connection to the affairs. He does not see watching porn as a failing. He sees it for what it is. I do see concerns I am not sure what qualifies as an addict and I don’t think he is but when I look at him why is there a dependency on friends, alcohol, other women, porn? I am no professional but to me they seem to feed into the same issue whatever that is. I think it is hard to know since all of these dependencies in his life have been or are sporadic. He does not drink daily or even weekly. Even at the height of his going out. But when he did it was a major binge. With the women he never saw them often sometimes he would go 6-12 months with no contact. Porn who knows how much is used but at this point he would have to be really sneaky and creative to be using it often based on our time together.

      He has become understanding of my perspective of how it makes me feel in our marriage and as a person. He has basically said it is a habit that he has been doing forever. And is it when I am out of town or vice versa or is it sneaking away. It is all fuzzy. I feel like there is no pattern so hard to pin him down. Our last discussion I think hit home with him more and he sees it hurts me a lot. He is seeing my perspective.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Hopeful,
        I think that common sense should guide you here. If you have the feeling the porn could be addictive to him, then it probably is. Personally, my intuition is that more men than we could ever know are addicted to porn– especially the younger generations. I would be hard pressed to find a man, if he were being honest, who has not seen it at one time or another. I am pretty sure 100% of men have seen it at one time or another.

        There was a move with the DSM to remove sexual addiction as a diagnosis and I strongly disagreed with removing it. So, sexual addiction is not in the latest edition of the DSM. However, regardless of whether or not the authors of the DSM believe in its existence, they are not the final say. I believe it was removed due to the idea that too many people don’t want to be held accountable for their behavior– including the mental health professionals themselves!

        Here is a question: Does your husband ever intimidate you due to him being in the mental health field? (I am referring to the thought of being intimidated due to his job– not that he actively intimidates you.) Because I don’t think it can be said enough that even the smartest, most famous ‘doctor’ of psychology is still human. They have blind spots just the everyone else and don’t have it all figured out. I am reading this book for class by a famous therapist name Irving Yalom. Dr. Yalom has a chapter on how he (sometimes) intentionally builds up the idea that he has all the answers or has access to some kind of special knowledge that no one else has access to. He said that many patients don’t want to know there is a ‘man behind the curtain,’ they want to instead see the magic and mystery that is Oz. They have told him as much. He also said many patients equally play in to it and have gone as far as to say that they don’t ever want to see behind the curtain. How does this relate to your life? Well, it boils down to that your husband is still a person and people have failings. Many people don’t want to see their failings, especially if it is a failing they feel they cannot give up. Your husband has training in an area that has taught him to be very adept at stepping around the point instead of meeting it head on. My husband is the same way about his field. He is a doctor and he is always on it when a patient has high cholesterol or depression. But, the moment he has it, he tends to pretend it is not there so I have to remind him to take medicine. He can be very stubborn about not taking medicine when it is needed even though he would not tolerate the same in a patient!! So, my point is, with doctors, therapists, and other healing/helping professionals, they are still people like the rest of us and often have a double standard when it comes to themselves versus their patients.

        Personally, I would be hesitant to see a couple’s therapist with him. He will know how to manipulate the session (if he wanted to) and I don’t know if he would get much out of seeing a therapist with you. It would be great if he could find an individual (male) therapist who has a strong BS meter and who is not afraid to call him on bad behavior.

        As for his habit he has been doing forever, I cannot tell you how many men I have heard of saying such a thing. I think it is one of their standard excuses that all men use when they don’t want to give up this habit.

        • Hopeful

          Sarah,

          This has always been an issue in our marriage. I do feel like he has an upper hand when discussing matters related to our lives, ourselves or others. He talks with authority. He will let me disagree but I really feel like when he does not want to he does not see the logical side.

          For example our entire lives he has always seen the best in others. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Like a friend lying to a wife that he is working but going golfing instead. He says this guy is a moral guy and does not mean any harm. Well I do not and have never seen it that way. But he will defend that to the end.

          Also once we had kids I would ask his professional advice/insight about issues related to them. He would come back with our kids are fine I see so much worse in my office. Well that was not what I was asking. Something as simple as by a certain grade is it normal for them to mix up two letters when writing.

          As far as the affairs go he has said he knew it was wrong from the second he did it. So he from what he is told me did not justify it in any way. The only thing he said is he felt like if something was presented it was fine for him to partake. He never pursued these women supposedly. He describes himself as immature and a taker. And he acknowledged he used me too during this phase.

          As far as contact with other women via the internet through FB or IM’ing he calls it nonsensical. So in a way I feel like that is minimizing it. There was no long term relationship created or even long term contact. But he basically thinks since there was no physical contact and it never went anywhere it is nonsensical. That sits poorly with me.

          As far as porn goes he pushed back hard for a long time. He diminished it. I really had to press him. We have been talking about it for about 15 months now. Initially I did not even bring it up. I was caught up in dealing with the other stuff. But to me it seems obvious the connections. He acted totally clueless. He at one time told me that porn now is no different than underwear ads/catalogs from sears or something like that. That sent me over the edge. I do wonder if he avoided reading or learning more about porn. It is defiantly a more current topic. On the cover of Time magazine etc. I did not relent and did my research. I did tell him I was troubled that as a layperson I seem to be finding research information that contradicts everything he was telling me. So then it was yeah I probably used it too much for too long. Then it was our marriage seems better with as little as possible. He has heard me that it hurts me. I cannot tell him what it would be like if he never cheated on me. Or if he wanted to have sex every day and it was too much for me that is a different discussion. But that is not his situation. He has extensive training to treat sex offenders. He says he knows the tests and nothing he is doing is an issue. As far as it not being in the DSM I get all that but to me it is does it affect your life negatively. Not everyone is an alcoholic where alcohol affects their life.

          My therapist also agrees it would be a waste of time to go to anyone with him. He feels like with the level of training he has that he would know exactly what to say and get through it or shut down. He is unsure if an individual therapy would be any different.

          In the end it does anger my husband when I bring up his professional training and background. He almost hides from it. I am not sure if this is a defense mechanism. Through this process it has been irritating. I looked to him and thought he would provide me some guidance since he deals with this every day. Well I realized a couple months in he was protecting himself more than me or us. That was a good realization to have. It was hard but in the end I have to realize I have to watch out for me. It has been hard feeling like the expert. My therapist said I have been his most advanced patient and most insightful. I have been around this mental health field a long time and read a lot. I am someone who pays attention to details and does not just ignore or not see things. I have a feeling I have read more about infidelity and relationships than my husband has.

          • Sarah P.

            Hi Hopeful,

            It sounds to me like you have as much or more knowledge than your husband on certain matters in psychology. Don’t feel like he has something over on you due to his education and training. Psychotherapy is not like medicine in that (in medicine) there are concrete, actionable skills that someone learns. A layperson could not go in and do surgery. But, a layperson who is insightful could successfully counsel someone and help that person get better even though the layperson has no psychology credentials.

            So, the thing I have noticed about some therapists is that their training is completely useless when it comes to themselves. They have legitimate tools to help others and they certainly help others. But, sometimes those same tools are not used when dealing with their own lives. So, I think you have more expertise than your husband in the areas of infidelity and also in pornography. That is because you have researched the topic thoroughly and that’s what you would do in a graduate degree in psychology. Anyone can put in the time and do the same research and have the same knowledge base, if they want to. So, you kind of have a leg up on your husband in this respect. You know more about these specific topics than your husband. Carry that confidence with you and know that you are already an equal to him in what you know. Don’t let him get away with trying to side-step things.

            So, what would he do if you pointed out to him that his training did nothing to give him the practical skills needed to avoid an affair? Or that it did not teach him how to repair the marriage with you after the affair? That would probably be a sore point for him. But, it might get him thinking.

            • Hopeful

              Sarah,

              Your questions at the end are interesting and I have stated those same ones to him numerous times. The first time was around 5 months past dday. I knew that he was not telling me the truth. Nothing concrete but my gut told me and things did not add up. I do fault myself since I think I allowed myself to trust him from a professional perspective and at 5 months I realized he did not have my best interest in mind. And I told him there was no way if i was a patient in his office you would have found his communication with me post dday acceptable. It caused me to back off and isolate from him more. It took several weeks but more details came out. And I am not talking about as I call it a list of time and date stamps but when did the affairs begin, when did they end really basic information.

              Lately we have talked more about I guess you would say decision making and character. I brought up the idea are we a good fit based on our character and what we stand for. Based on his friends and who he surrounds himself with I question it. Granted he is much more distant and does not enjoy his friends like he did pre dday. However he just sees things with a more relaxed moral compass and as my therapist says he really likes to cut corners. And he will tell me how he tells couples they need to talk more or what he says to them. And I think he is really good at what he does. He never tells me but people come up to me all the time telling me how he has changed their lives for the better. He has admitted that he knew before and during everything he was doing was wrong. When asked why he did not stop or seek out a resource he says that he felt like he lost everything already. He figured the second I knew that I would leave him. What he had (not sure what that was) and our kids would be out of his life for the most part. He also has talked about how he was selfish and had more of a taker mentality. He was all about what can you do for me.

              I agree with you he is someone who as I have told him lacks personal insight. He is not able to apply what he knows and does professionally to himself. I have learned that I have to advocate for me, our marriage/relationship and our kids. I do stand up to him. This entire experience has taught me to not back down. I think a lot of his lack of dealing with all of this is based off of what he does. In some ways it helps. He is a great communicator and does think deeply He is really good at expressing himself. I did have concerns in the beginning is he just saying what I want to hear. But my therapist at this point thinks that 19 months is too long to pull that off. I do think there is some injury there. I also think and wonder that he at times probably did not feel like what he was doing was that bad. He has never said that or admitted to it but he hears what other men do regularly and I think it minimized what he was doing. And in his mind he was not doing this for love or to leave me. I also am pretty sure in his mind he would think about how he was very successful and providing a great life for me and our kids. He was missing it all. It really is sad but he seems like he is in a better place now.

            • Sarah P.

              Hi Hopeful,
              I am glad that you are not backing down and that you are asserting what you need from your husband.

              It’s interesting that he remarked he has a taker mentality (and was being the type who was looking for what was in it for him.) Rather, it is interesting he works as a therapist while admitting to being selfish. There is a real ‘split’ between his identity as a therapist and his identity as a husband. On one hand, others/clients can attest to the fact that he changed their lives. That would have required a lot of giving. And yet, he behaves in selfish ways. The giver is juxtaposed against the ‘taker’ and the giver and the taker both co-exist is the same person. What does it mean? I don’t know. I am simply making an observation, which could be incorrect.

              Some people in the psychology community believe a couple of things about therapists and therapy. 1) That each therapist should be ‘fully analyzed’ before practicing so that they can sort through the seemingly opposing parts of their personalities and 2) That therapists themselves should have a regular therapist that they check in with from time-to-time.

              I get the impression that your husband has never been fully analyzed and that he does not have a regular therapist to work with. I believe there is a lot of stress in the job and therapists have to compartmentalize in order to prevent themselves from being swallowed whole by the grief and challenges of others. But, there is a balance and if there is too much compartmentalization, then that can absolutely flow over into personal lives. Some therapists can exist in the now and be fully present, without compartmentalizing. But, it takes practice and confidence and stability within one’s self. And I believe that confidence partially comes from being fully analyzed and looking at the dark corners and clearing out the cobwebs.

              So, I am talking a lot about what might be going on in your husband’s experience. Basically, once again, his actions come back to his decision. Something within him made him act out. The more I study infidelity, the more I realize affairs are NOT about physical intimacy, even if it sometimes seems that way. Affairs are something that can help hide depression, brokenness, extreme boredom, or a giant empty hole within. When a person does not have wholeness within himself or herself, that is fertile ground for an affair. I don’t know anyone who is completely ‘whole’ who battles with thoughts of infidelity because that person is replenishing themselves from within. Because of that, they don’t get bored with their lives or have to look outside of themselves to another person for what they believe are ‘their needs’ that they also believe can only be met externally.

              Another example of a whole person would be (Abraham Maslow’s) self-actualized person. A self-actualized person would have a humanitarian perspective, would have no need to argue superficial matters, would not need luxury or brand name trappings to feel relevant, would act from selflessness, honor their agreements with others, develop deep, loving monogamous bonds, and act in ways that create win/win situations for all. … And yet, how many people does that describe? Some people, but definitely not all people. Herein defines the human struggle. So many have to overcome so much to get to that point. I believe that Infidelity is an outgrowth of not being a whole person, despite what other theories might say. In fact, I have written something like that in my next article.

              I am glad that your husband is in a better place and one day I hope he can start looking within to figure out why the selfish part of him continues to be selfish and meet that part head on. I believe everyone has a ‘script’ in their heads that plays like a noisy record all day long. Someone who appears to have it all together could have self-talk that sounds something like: “I am not enough, I am unattractive, I wish someone would validate me… people and things outside myself validate me and they are the final authority…’ Now, these thoughts flit through all day and the person thinking them barely notices them, but their actions demonstrate the inner thought. Someone who has that self-talk script might drive a brand-new luxury car, have the latest gadget before everyone else, only wear designer labels, and live for the days when they can show off their new outfits at social events so that they can put photos on Facebook. They live for ‘likes.’

              That person might look like they have ‘everything’ and might appear to be happy because they have everything, but the their self-script is pure inner turmoil. So, I would like to know what your husband’s self-script is so that you might be able to determine the thoughts that have caused selfish behavior. Do you have any inkling as to what they might be? I believe behavior is always an outgrowth of thinking.

            • Hopeful

              Sarah,

              All good points and you make so much sense. My husband continues to say he was selfish, a taker, escaping his life while he was acting this way. None of this happened until he was highly successful too. I think a lot has to do with his identity growing up and then how it changed once he was an adult. I would love to explain all my thoughts here but I feel it would be too revealing. Since the day I met my husband he was always confident. Well I have come to learn it is a front and always has been. Here I thought he was so much more in many ways than I was and now I see it has always been the reverse. And he has said that is what was appealing to him and what made it easy for him to do this to me in a way. I do think it makes sense to be assessed/analyzed and also see a therapist from time to time. At this point my therapist thinks it would not be that helpful. My husband said he would go but again at least our discussions are high quality and in depth now. I think his internal narritive is turning around. I find it confusing and hard still since he was the one pushing for us to get marriaged young and then pushed me to have kids. I find that hard and confusing. He says he always wanted that but didn’t deal with the transitions well. My therapist feels it goes back to his childhood identity. He is troubled how my husband was able to be so successful yet cut corners in so many ways. He also finds it odd how me and our kids were the lowest on his priority list for so long. I think my husband puzzles him in many ways.

            • Sarah P.

              Hi Hopeful,
              I will venture to guess that when your husband was a child, he experienced some kind of trauma and this caused him to compartmentalize aspects of his life. The compartmentalization caused a “fractured self” and he has not re-integrated that self that was lost or compartmentalized due to trauma. But, trauma always finds a voice and it usually ‘speaks’ through some kind of acting out. The person who is acting out believes their acting out is about sex, or letting loose, or wanting to have fun, or a million other reasons. But, the real reason is that root issues have been hidden. The person may not even be consciously aware of such issues because they are so deeply stuffed away.

              When I speak of trauma, I speak very generally. In its broadest definition, I define trauma as something that causes a part of the self to fracture off. The person does not successfully integrate traumatic experiences and through integration heal these experiences. The fractured part of the self becomes a great influence in the background. A child can receive many different experiences as traumatic: an alcoholic or drug addicted parent, an emotionally unavailable or narcissistic parent, bullying by peers or siblings, physical abuse, sexual abuse, social failure with peers, separation from a parent due to work or personal issues, even things like feeling as if he or she is not ‘fully accepted’ by his family and must perform for approval. (The parents only offer conditional love and the child must work to earn the parent’s love.) That is just the beginning. There are so many things that a child perceives/feels are abusive. (And when I use the word perceive the child is correct in his or her perception, but often in these situations adults either minimize, invalidate, or ignore a child’s feelings.) Early childhood trauma physically changes the brain too.

              I have been studying trauma in great depth since around 2006 and should probably write my dissertation on it when the time comes.

              I am going to throw out a radical suggestion in terms of what is going on with your husband. Of course, feel free to review it with your therapist. Now, you are probably going to think this comes out of left field, so think about it for while.So, here is my thought:

              I have done in-depth study on every aspect of trauma and have come across dissociative identity disorder as a common side effect of childhood trauma. There are several areas of this: dissociative amnesia, depersonalization disorder, and regular dissociative identity disorder (DID). There was one particular book that got me thinking about it.

              The book is The Myth of Sanity by Dr. Martha Stout. She is the author of The Sociopath Next Door and she has been on the staff at Harvard Medical School for the past 20+ years. Before I read her book, I thought I had a solid understanding of DID, but I was wrong. I was unaware that people with DID can be psychiatrists, successful businessmen, and any other number of highly functioning people. I stress the highly functioning part. People with DID seem to have a ‘shadow self’ that is completely unlike themselves and sometimes this shadow self comes out.

              Here is the description of the book from Amazon:

              “Why does a gifted psychiatrist suddenly begin to torment his own beloved wife? How can a ninety-pound woman carry a massive air conditioner to the second floor of her home, install it in a window unassisted, and then not remember how it got there? Why would a brilliant feminist law student ask her fiancé to treat her like a helpless little girl? How can an ordinary, violence-fearing businessman once have been a gun-packing vigilante prowling the crime districts for a fight? A startling new study in human consciousness, The Myth of Sanity is a landmark book about forgotten trauma, dissociated mental states, and multiple personality in everyday life. In its groundbreaking analysis of childhood trauma and dissociation and their far-reaching implications in adult life, it reveals that moderate dissociation is a normal mental reaction to pain and that even the most extreme dissociative reaction-multiple personality-is more common than we think. Through astonishing stories of people whose lives have been shattered by trauma and then remade, The Myth of Sanity shows us how to recognize these altered mental states in friends and family, even in ourselves.”

              https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Sanity-Divided-Consciousness-Awareness-ebook/dp/B002YURMUA/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1478045424&sr=8-2-fkmr0&keywords=dr+martha+stout

              The thing that stunned me the most about the book was a story of a loving psychiatrist and his wife. He was a gentle person, top in his career, and had the respect of everyone. One day he started to become extremely emotionally abusive, literally out of nowhere, and he was like a different person. My description does not do the book justice. I would recommend that you read it. The takeaway that I had is that everyone who had experienced trauma learns to dissociate but sometimes that dissociation takes on a life of its own.

              It is something to think about because I have gotten the impression your husband can be like a Jeckyl and Hyde in his behavior. Please note that I mean no offense by this comment. I am hoping that you can gain some insight into what might or might not be going on with him.

              And I will say that I recognize it in the description of your husband because I have encountered people with mild forms of DID in response to trauma. Before I read the book, these highly functioning people were conundrums and I would not have recognized it. But, I read her book and it was the ultimate light bulb moment. Life with it is workable and it is best to have knowledge about it. Knowledge is power, as they say. Once something has a name, it can be dealt with. Let me know if any of this rings true or if I am way off base…

            • Hopeful

              I will check it out. My therapist has been helpful and considering he is just getting his information from me of course I keep that in mind. I feel like I am pretty objective when sharing information with my therapist. I want honest objective information from him. I have talked at length with my therapist regarding the idea of my husband’s personality and not necessarily a personality disorder but I guess could he be calculating and knowledgeable enough to fool me or getting me to think he is someone he is not. My therapist is very confident that there is no way his recovery has not been genuine. I have thrown out to my husband the idea of some type of personality disorder and he said those terms are not to be throw around lightly. Which of course I understand. I do think his upbringing and identity in very early young adult life has something to do with this and his insecurities. Whether that is viewed as trauma I am not sure. I would love to share the details but I worry they would be too identifying. I can see that by the way he was raised, his identity as a child and young adult and then that all changing that it would have a great influence on who he is. I also have brought up to him did he surround himself with people that cut corners or are more passive and not call him out when he does. Has he surrounded himself with people that make him look good and build him up. It is a chicken and egg discussion though did he gravitate to those types of people or did he select them on purpose to fill a need. He will say he has always loved me but he has said that I made it easy for him to do all he did. I am so solid and dependable. These other women are way below educationally and in all aspects of their lives. They are not stable like me. He said he never wanted anything with them or anyone to know. It was all so recreational, sporadic and lacking meaning.

              I will check out this info you posted for sure. Thanks

            • Sarah P.

              Hi Hopeful,
              It seems common for some men to choose the low-lifes. I think they choose low-lifes for a reason. If the other woman is not as ‘good’ as the wife, then there will be less temptation to leave the wife. A man can see it as more of a fling. I also understand this thing with dependability. I think deeply insecure men choose dependable and stable spouses in order to have a stable home.

              I agree that the idea of personality disorder is not to be thrown around and I am glad that your therapist reiterated that. Usually a therapist needs to see the person and evaluate them over several sessions in order to determine if there is a personality disorder. I don’t think your husband could be honest enough with himself to have a valid evaluation. He knows the right answers and probably hides his deficits because of shame. A lot of people hide their deficits because of shame. I have noticed that only the most emotionally stable can look within and recognize their own deficits without first being overcome by shame. So, in your husband’s case, if he does have a personality disorder, the diagnosis could not necessarily be validated. But, it still kind of needs to be considered. Once I get my email associated with this blog up and running again, I will let you know. You can email me there, if you wish.

    • antiskank

      Hi Sarah,

      Great post, thank you!!

      I have asked my H to read it as it hits so many of the issues that I have identified related to his porn use. The religious points will be ignored which is fine as they are not needed to get the point across.

      I know that early in our marriage, he was a porn fan and I didn’t think it was a huge issue. When I think back on the early years, I realize that even before I was of a legal age, his favourite “date night” destination was the adult theatre over 2 hours away that showed strictly porn movies. As the years passed, I would get a little annoyed that he seemed to frequently get excited by watching or even reading porn prior to sex. Needless to say, there was no foreplay and it was very impersonal. Our sex life deffnitely suffered as did our emotional intimacy. At the time, I didn’t directly connect the problems to porn. Even though I saw pornography as demeaning, exploitative, and unrealistic, it didn’t stop him from partaking. He was never really willing to discuss it as he insisted that all guys did it.

      I know that during his EA, he fantasized about the super fantastic constant hot sex he would have with his skank. After DDay 1, his fantasies about her and porn did not stop. I was compared unfavourably to porn – the frequency, the excitement, the enhanced bodies of the “actresses”, the constant willingness to accommodate, etc. The list goes on.

      During his stage of blaming me for his affair, he told me that he wasn’t happy to have to wait to have sex only when I wanted it, which actually was extremely often compared to most people I have spoken to. I explained to him that if he were to go ahead when I was not agreeable was referred to as RAPE. He wasn’t happy to hear that and it seemed to surprise him. Again, too much porn!

      Although there have been may promises to quit using porn, he has not done so. Now he says that he hasn’t viewed it for at least a month. Not sure I believe it as I have been lied to more times than I can count.

      I completely agree that pornography is detrimental to a relationship. When a spouse uses porn to get excited and dulls their senses to real life, they distance themselves from their partner emotionally. Obviously their physical intimacy can also suffer. I think this leaves the partner feeling less desirable, less loved, and cheated out of a great part of marriage. I had never thought of a porn addiction as an affair before but it does have many of the same elements. Thank you for a thought provoking perspective!

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Anti-Skank,
        Everything you said is right on!!

    • Hopeful

      Another point I have read that it becomes a bigger issue at middle age. I know many young men suffer from issues related to porn use now. But when our husbands were young it was totally seen as a thing guys do. Well once they hit is it past 40 physically they do not have the same physical capabilities that younger men have typically. So here these men have this porn habit but their sexual desire/needs are decreasing. From what I have read this is an issue. And for men to just go to porn it is easy. As you said no foreplay, jump around to as many scenes as you want, whatever you need. No worrying about anyone else. It is all about you and your needs. Sounds just like an affair to me.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Hopeful,
        Personally, I think that porn is responsible for creating a lot of middle age “sexless marriages.” I have been reading that such marriages are on the rise– 20-30% of women live in them and it is not by choice. I believe it is because of the perfect storm of lowered testosterone, too much pornography, and decreased physical stamina. What I don’t understand is how men can get to a point where they prefer porn to the real thing. Why would they want to touch themselves when “their fingers can do the walking” and “they can reach out and touch someone?” (Remember those commercials from the 1970’s?) I don’t understand how they can have an experience that it so limited in its scope. It really is a limited experience. One person, one screen, and one part of the body. B-O-R-I-N-G! It is not something I personally find enticing so I cannot put myself in another’s persons shoes (or chair) in this case. I think porn is made to hijack the male brain. Men are more visual. Men need visual variety. Apparently, many men can be happy with a solo visual experience.
        I would really like to know how many marriages are struggling because of this.

        • Hopeful

          I totally agree with you that it seems to be very connected to the visual need men have. I think it boils down to being intimate with a person especially a spouse take effort. Most women want or need some form of foreplay. How much has been written about foreplay starting in the morning with a kiss goodbye and everything else the husband does verbally or through actions not just the bedroom. I think men are hurt if they get turned down or if the wife is too tired. I think they are way more sensitive than then let on. Some women like to talk before, during, after and that really does not appeal to most men. Overall I think most men really want to orgasm and climax themselves but do not want the work or disappointment of the wife not being satisfied or feeling like they have not satisfied her. With porn you can access any time and any type you want. Very little effort and 100% satisfaction for them. I have also read a lot about most men are on medications before women are. Most men are in worst shape as they age. All of these factors affect the man’s performance and create insecurities. It is never ending!

    • TryingHard

      Sarah

      I couldn’t even read this whole article it made me so ill. I believe in the addiction of internet pornography and I think it is scary. as. hell!!! I don’t know but this is right up there with drug, alcohol, and gambling addiction.

      A few months after my h moved back home and we were in MC I was looking at his Nook and I noticed you could search the internet on it. Well I went the innocently and I found porn. Now my h has never been a porn person. Way back in the day my father actually gave him a subscription to Playboy and once I caught one of my sons looking at the magazine I cut that off. I’ve always been vigilant about magazines and strip clubs with him. I also don’t tolerate those golf outings with strippers so when I found the porn to say I lost my shit is an understatement. I told him “well I guess since you can’t have your real life fantasy and still be in a marriage with me now you resort to porn?” Of course he lied and gaslighted and tried to change the subject but I was having non of it. So of course that was just one more thing to look for. Now I have it set up on my computer to check ALL his internet searches, thank you Google 🙂 , and I haven’t found one porn site.

      I hate porn and always have. Sometimes he will pause on some bs porn station on cable and I will just look over at him and say “seriously???” and it’s turned off. I’ve never tolerated porn and I’m not talking bare breasts in a movie or even a steamy scene in a good movie, I’m talking deliberate movies about sex. So for me a porn addiction is a def deal breaker. I’m pretty useless with people with so called addictions. I think most are bullshit. Heck I’m addicted to donuts so guess what I stay the hell away from donuts. Donuts of ANY sort, don’t even look at them because well is that donut really worth it??? You decide!!

      I so feel for my sisters here that are dealing with this. Some boundaries just cannot be crossed and internet porn is one of them.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Trying,
        You are so fortunate that your husband listened when you took a stand. But, I am guessing that he knows when la femme francaise stands her ground, it is time to listen up! 🙂 (Wise man, he is.)

        I agree 100% with your view on porn. There is a difference between a steamy movie and hardcore pornography. I have always been repulsed by hardcore stuff, but I am no prude. It’s just so degrading and dehumanizing and there is no fun in that. All women know that the way women are portrayed in porn is completely false. It does a real disservice to men if that is where they are getting their education. It teaches them all the wrong things. But, the thing that alarms me the most us the hardcore stuff that is being produced. I read articles on it but did not view it. In fact, I chose not to put it in my blog post for fear of offending readers. But, the stuff that is being produced today involves extreme violence, gangs on one woman, and often choking. And there is worse, but I it is too gross to write about. I believe these types of films should be outlawed because I do not believe they are covered under the first amendment. I believe that pornographers have wrongly used the first amendment as their loophole for too long. And what an affront to our constitution. I know the forefathers would not allow hardcore pornography to be covered under the first amendment. It makes such a mockery of the foundation of freedom our forefathers fought so hard to win. The data shows these films are devastating to society as a whole, so I think it is time to get rid of them. I hope more States follow Utah’s lead.

    • TryingHard

      Indeed I did take a stand Sarah. He knows my feelings about strip clubs and porn. What I found interesting is that he did it in the first place. It was almost as if he needed that image to get an erection for me. I took it personally and I know I shouldn’t. He was having a problem with erection but he said he had that with the OW as well. For the first time in his life with her he was taking the little blue pill. Of course he would have been too ashamed and I gather he was because it happened with her very often. Maybe there was too much pressure to perform and he had to look like a real stud at least in his own mind. As I said there were performance issues on his part in the beginning of our reconciliation. But there was a whole lot of hysterical sex going on too. Of course and things deflated I took it personally. I wasn’t sexy enough or exciting enough or he didn’t like me. He would know I was hurt si that put even more pressure on him. He made all kinds of excuses like fatigue, stress, back pain you name it. But when it came down to it I know it was guilt and shame and fear of letting me down. We talked about sex a little with the MC but never much details about the sex with the OW other than yes at first it was exciting but that Dion wore off and was very unsatisfactory as all he wanted to do was get the hell away from her and home to me. I can’t imagine a more living hell or unsatisfactory sex life.

      So yes I do think his short lived poem viewing was so he could have a fresh fantasy so he could perform for me. This is when I started to curb the hysterical sex and relaxed a bit. After that there was and have been issues for years but sex isn’t iften enough for me. And our lives are hectic and stressful with business and family and we aren’t spring chickens anymore so sex is only a couple times a week now. And it’s always satisfying for both of us. I think?

      I agree internet porn is frightening to put it mildly. I don’t even want to know about it. And trying to mandate it would be monumental task if not impossible. Porn could be mandated in the US but the internet is global and impossible to mandate and control. And besides mandating morality only drives it further underground. And those who want it will find it. It’s sick

      So yes I take a strong personal stance on the subject. Even some shows on TV like Ray Dinovan on HBO has violent suck sex scenes. I leave the room. I make it known I don’t approve or like it. And my h hates it when I don’t enjoy the same shows he likes. So my leaving the room makes a big statement to him. It challenges his own personal morality and I question his character as to why he watches that crap. I think some women rationalize that if he’s “only” watching porn at least he’s not out with another person. Well in my view it’s a slippery slope and one I believe is def not ok

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Trying,
        Like you said at the end, porn is a slippery slope. If there is a beast to tame, the wrong thing to do is to feed it. Sexual desire needs to be redirected back into marriage and not out at porn and other women/people.

        I have often wondered what marriages would be like it each couple lived on their own desert island, just the two of them, for a period of time. Yes to the radio and music, but no internet and no TV. Seriously, I would like to try that for a month to see how it would change my relationship. If a couple were stuck on an island, just the two of them, they would be forced to rely solely on each other and communicate, share their hopes, dreams, struggles, insecurities, fears, and aspirations. They would be forced to work together to build a simple shelter and gather food. I would totally be up for that if there was guaranteed food and decent shelter and a way to call whomever to call off the experiment if someone got ill. Most of all, there would be no porn and no other men/women around, real or imagined, so that a couple would have to focus on each other. This would be a great test of compatibility and could deepen a relationship. I do not say this from a codependent perspective either because I don’t think anyone wants to be that isolated. But, it would be fantastic to do for a period of time to really challenge the boundaries of a relationship and bring out the potential of a marriage. Sign me up!

        Back to the topic. I am sorry that it has been so rough with intimacy and the repercussions of everything. So is twice a week often enough for you or do you prefer more? It’s all individual but I was say twice a week is pretty good considering how busy you guys are. Anytime I am out with a group of women and someone pours the wine, I hear from women that some have not had contract in months. It always surprises me because all of these women are able bodied and nice looking. Something seems to happen to many men once they hit 40 and above. I have heard about it from a lot of wives. I don’t have an answer for it either except just for women to communicate and keep trying. On the other hand, I think if a woman has been in a marriage and it has been over a year and there is no reason for it, well then, it is time for ultimatums. There was one woman that someone told me about where her husband had not touched her in 10 years and the woman was obsessed with the pain of being shut out. It consumed all of her thoughts and it’s just about all she talked about. Her husband was ‘able,’ he just refused to. When I heard that story, I was surprised she stayed. There is only so long someone can live in a painful situation where the other person refuses to do their part. And that can apply to a lot of situations in relationships, not just the bedroom. But I think pornography has certainly added to the general problem of men developing sexual issues. When I was in my late 20’s, I was talking to a coworker who was in her mid-20’s. She told me that her boyfriend had issues with stamina and performance. She figured out the guy was watching porn all the time. She made him give it up and a couple of weeks later he was like any guy in his 20’s should be. That made an impression on me. Her boyfriend went from no interest and losing his erections to being hot to trot. As usual, it was not a problem with her or anything she was doing, it was a problem has a terrible impact on a marriage.

        • Hopeful

          This is so true what you are saying. On dday when my husband told me everything and then said he was surprised I did not know since he thought we were not that close. But what is interesting is even before dday our marriage was more intimate and higher quality than most of the friends either of us has. So many couples do not sleep in the same room, barely see each other or talk, do not go out together as a couple or with couple friends, focus only on the kids… I could go on and on. And yes it can be hard with kids, jobs, life etc to stay connected but we were always in a much better place. I think the majority of couples we know live their lives as roommates not as if they are in a marriage. And I think most people just resign themselves to this since it is “easier” than dealing with or facing anything going on. I feel like for us our recovery has been easier since we were always close on some level. And some days we talk about that we wish we could just go off the two of us away from everyone. We get along so well and when we can and have time to focus just on us things are great. We both feel stress when we are busy and pulled in multiple directions. Now we just work extra hard in those times to connect however we can.

          • Sarah P.

            Very interesting comment on your husband’s part about not being close. That was just another part of the mindset that the wayward spouse develops to assuage his or her conscience. Hopefully one day you and your husband can have someone watch your kids and you two can go rent a house in Europe for a couple of weeks. That would be fun. I have been looking into the French and Italian real estate markets in the past two weeks. (The economies are suffering so much that you could pretty much buy a European vacation home as a permanent hideaway!)

            As for the couples who are just roommates, it is such a sad situation and I am sure the loneliness is unspeakable. There is a fabulous Meryl Steep movie called Hope Springs about such a couple. It is almost painful to watch, but I would recommend it to everyone because it does have a happy ending. But, the couple in it almost has to come to the moment of divorce before anything can change. Also, the movie is about intensive couple’s therapy and I think everyone here could benefit from it.

            http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1535438/

    • Rachel

      My ex use to go to strip clubs too. After work when our kids were really young.
      I couldn’t understand why a man would have to do this? My dad never did. Actually never heard of any man doing this. Why spend time doing that when you have young children at home and you haven’t seen them all day?
      He claimed it was “fun”!
      Then came the internet.
      Just another memory of what an ass I was married to.

      • Sarah P.

        Rachel,
        Wow, I am so glad that you are out of that one. I had a serious bf in college who was in to strip clubs. He was not from a home that indulged such behavior. His parents would extremely conservative in all ways. He could never understand why I found it to be a problem. I think the last straw was when he had a guy’s night out when his friends from out of town visited. He came back to my apartment and told me how “impressive” the stripper was because she (allegedly) was able to take his glasses off with a part of her body other than her hands. (BARF!!) Yeah, he couldn’t understand why I did not see that as a ‘real talent.’ And that was the beginning of the end for us.

    • TryingHard

      Sarah P.–Me too. Well not Italy but France. There are some real bargains and charming cottages in the Normandy region but dang it’s pretty rainy and chilly there. I still love it as it’s by the sea. Don’t hate the Loire Valley either. I’d love an apartment in Paris though. It could be tiny and doesn’t have to be in the 7th but……sigh…..

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Trying,
        Here is one of the sites I have been using for France:

        http://www.french-property.com

        There are some incredibly good deals in Brittany too. Love the Loire Valley as well. Have also been looking in L’Occitaine. Somewhere between Carcassone and the beach would be great. Do you think you will go for it?

        • Hopeful

          Yes I would go in a heartbeat! I love Europe and have spent some extended times there many years ago. We do love to travel. Right now with our kids the ages they are we tend to get away for weekends at most 3-4 days. We have decided to go away for much longer just the two of us is too much until they are in college.

          Yes Hope Springs is exactly like it is for so many couples I know. It was a good movie but hard to watch at times. Interestingly enough my husband would not watch it. Too close to home and work I am guessing.

          • Sarah P.

            Europe is fabulous for sure. Where did you spend time?

            I would like a house in France so that I don’t lose my French. I also want to expose my kids to the country. It’s so much different over there. I want them to speak French too because it will broaden their horizons.

            Hope Springs was a hard movie to watch. I find it interesting your husband doesn’t want to see it. I think it must bring up feelings in many people.

            • Hopeful

              I lived in France. But based from there traveled to Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Germany. It was all amazing. And with their train system it was so easy. I cannot wait to get back to Europe.

            • Sarah P.

              Hi Hopeful,
              So we have three women here who are francophiles. What region were you in and was it a study abroad program or an internship that took you there? Do you speak French? I used to be fluent and looking at houses there is also a bid on my part to become fluent again.

    • TryingHard

      Seriously, francophiles?? I am squealing with joy! Ok so the three of us should buy a house and we name it Sarlinhope!! LOL get it??? We could go to flea markets to furnish it 🙂

      I love France and I’ve pretty much decided that at my age I need to concentrate on countries I really love so that would be Italy and France. But to be honest I could go to France twice a year and still not see everything I need to see there. We are planning a trip in 2018 because the Ryder Cup is in Paris. I am planning 2 week stay and will be renting an apartment in Paris. I think you two should plan to go too, especially if your husbands like golf or don’t like golf doesn’t a matter it’s a fun event. I will be concentrating on markets, shopping and museums.

      Actually, Sarah, I dream in French sometimes. My mothers family was from the Limousin region in France. The houses there are very affordable, but may be a little too rural for my taste.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Trying,
        I think that is just about the best suggestion I have heard in YEARS. I love interior design and European antiques. Markets are great because of the fresh ingredients to be had there. (I love cooking.)

        I was looking in Brittany and found a 10 bedroom manor house thay was restored and made into three separate apartments. It was on a lake too. The best part was it was about 210 euros for the entire thing. When the exchange rate goes in our favor it will be a real deal.

        One of my friends is a talented genealogist. She found several families on both sides of my family that were originally from France. I always felt a pull toward France for as long as I can remember. It must be partially in the genes. I don’t want to lose my fluency but there is no one around here that speaks French. Trying, you are the luckiest because you are half French 🙂 🙂

    • Sarah P.

      Trying,

      PS- going to museums is a given too!

      I lived in France for three years in my 20’s, but not all consecutively. One year was a year abroad for school, and there is another almost 2 years after my first Masters degree. I left One of the roads not taken In France. I was being heavily recruited for a faculty position at a university in the south eastern region. I would’ve been on the English faculty and it was paid quite well. But, there would have been major life complication if I had taken the job. It was not a good life complication and something I did not want to deal with emotionally. It’s really too bad because it was the chance of a lifetime. It’s one of those juicy stories that I would tell to you ladies if we ever met in person one day. 😉 😉

      I brought my best friend on the year abroad since we were both French majors. She was only there for the one year but it was such a pivotal experience for her that she actually wrote and published a memoir about it. Her life was changed in every aspect, but that was to be expected. For example, her entire life up to that point had been lived in a small, insular town surrounded by cornfields. She had never left the state. I met her in high school when my dad had to move to the town for a job at the university. The first couple of years there was the worst time in my life. Anyhow, I met her and we became fast friends. Fast forward to college and she decided to major in French with me. I spent a year wearing her down so she would go on the year abroad with me. I didn’t want to do it alone. She cried the whole plane ride there and then cried the whole train ride to our city. We got to our dorm and she took a nap while I went looking for the folks who would be our new friends. I found a group of Brits and crowded them Into my dorm room. When she woke up she came to my room to see a group of 12 Brits staring back at her. She took one look at one of the British guys and never cried again until the day he had to go back to the UK. There’s more to it and the experience changed her at her core. France is just one of those places. What can I say?

    • TryingHard

      Sarah P
      I used to own a store and we went to Europe to markets to buy stuff. It was the best fun. We didn’t buy precious antiques but interesting stuff and we’d repainted, sandblast or age them. I had a great artist painter for this. I will take some pics of the stuff and email them to you. I love brocante shopping in France. Plus I know how to bargain with them:)

      I live the Bretagne. Great butter, oysters, cheese you name it. Plus not that far from Paris!!

      That is indeed a good price for that home. I wonder how much work it needs.

      • Sarah P.

        You shop for antiques and then refinish them? Me too! Send me some photos and I will send you some of mine. The last piece I did was for a charity auction. It was a broken, solid wood chair that had a longgevity symbol carved on it. Picked it up for $5 and then fixed it and refinished it for an auction that benefitted the homeless. I did a 12 layer process using different paints and finishes. Also did a lot of detailed brushwork. I hand sand and hand paint everything. No stencils or distressing tools because it’s more challenging and authentic without them. My palette was black, dove gray, gold, platinum, red and burgundy. The chair fetched $300 at the auction. All the hours spent on it were WORTH it.

    • Hopeful

      I love where this discussion has gone. I also have a French degree. But so true it is hard to keep up the French since it is just not used very much. I should have moved to Quebec at least. I love all the ideas above. And your furniture items sound amazing!

      • TryingHard

        Hopeful and Sarah P

        I didn’t do the refinishing I had a great woman who did it. Now the sandblasted pieces came from Belguim ( a great place to source pretty good replicas) and France. The furniture has to be sandblasted not with sand but something softer and I can’t remember what it is, and hard to find people doing it here at least in the midwest. But this is the look I love. I’ll send you some pics. LOL I would never have the patience to paint something like furniture. My ex-employee did it in the time I was thinking about it. What I am good at is know the look I want. So we worked well together. Your piece sounds amazing. Yes we shopped for those “antiques” and then what we called crap them up 🙂 But honestly if you can find great pieces with good bones in Goodwill or other thrift/consignment stores it’s amazing what a little chalk paint, black wax, white wax, gold rub, bronze rub etc. can do.

        Hopeful, French was my second major in college! My first major was business–quel horreur!! I loved my French classes both grammar and literature. Business classes not so much. Mostly I cried in those 🙁 I should have been a Liberal Arts/History/Art History major, anything but business, but that’s what we did back in the day, right? Well, Big mistake for me.

        I have never been to Montreal or Quebec. Would love to go someday. Maybe next summer.

        • Hopeful

          I also had a liberal arts degree. Made it hard for a job search once I decided I did not want to pursue law school. But I also did not want to go back and take two more years to change my major. It all worked out but I miss that side of life. It felt somewhat creative without being an artist.

          I have not been to Quebec or Montreal either but have done some consulting work there. The people I worked with were great. And what I have researched it looks cool almost European like.

          You both need to post some photos!

          • Sarah P.

            Hopeful,
            Sounds like we took a similar path. 😉 The woes of a liberal arts major. I started as an art major and then chickened out. Got a double major in French and English and took all of the psychology and art electives I could find. Got a graduate degree in English. Got married a few years later and then did a year of law school. It was supposed to be career #2. I realized I did not like being on the end of things after everything fell apart. Went back to corporate work and worked in non-profit and then a well-known finance/investing firm. Goldman Sachs was associated with one of my projects and I was on the inside when the 2008 meltdown occurred. Child #2 was born with a lot of health issues so I stayed home and started writing. (Writing has been a hobby since I was a little kid.) But, I wanted that psych degree and finished an accelerated Master’s degree in clinical psych and then enrolled in a PhD in clinical psychology. I am still working through the PhD on and off. It takes more work than any human can possibly accomplish while also building a writing business and being a wife and mom. So, I have been working through it slowly.

            Hopeful, do you have any particular artistic/creative endeavors?

            • Hopeful

              Crazy sounds like similar paths. I was so determined and thought law school was for me but realized there was no way I wanted to do that. Since all of this my husband has pushed me to get my masters and join him. Just not so sure about that. I do think I would have a lot to offer but the amount of training is a lot. And then not so sure I want to have my career tied to his and I would feel like I am under him. I have my own thing going right now. I took a back seat for his career but have recently pursued up mine and have been surprised how easy it has been to find great work. I think in the end it is best this way. It diversifies our income and also I think it is good for me to have my own thing.

              My biggest interest creatively is photography. I feel like if I get a book read I am lucky. What I probably enjoy the most is cooking. I love to be in the kitchen and enjoy it so much. Since dday I really have gotten into cooking. It has been a good outlet for me. I love to workout too.

            • Sarah P.

              Hi Hopeful,

              You and I sound very similar 🙂

              As for getting a Master’s, follow your heart on that one. I have no doubt it would be extremely easy for you to achieve, but you need to follow what you believe it best for you.

              If you have found a great little niche, I say pursue it!!

              What is your favorite thing to photograph?

            • Hopeful

              I love to photograph nature and architecture.

              Thanks for your advice! Also not that it is a major factor but I feel like the money and time spent on a degree is not worth it based on my age. I want to spend time with my kids a lot in these years before college too. With what I do currently it is working out well and I have a great situation. If I had not other career opportunity it would be a good option as I would have an instant place to set up. I have encouraged my husband to write related to what has happened since he is talented in this area. But he is resistant to this. Part of me feels like if people could learn about this in a larger scale that would be so powerful. And infidelity is really kept secret and not discussed at all. We are contributing to that now ourselves.

            • Sarah P.

              Hi Hopeful,
              I know what you mean about spending time with kids before they go to college. Mine are still relatively young but I waited a long time to have kids. My second one was born when I was approaching 40. I am glad you and your husband are talking about infidelity. It really is something that most people keep secret and it is so sad. It seems many betrayed spouses are so ashamed that they bottle it up. But they are the ones who have nothing to be ashamed about.

        • Sarah P.

          Hi Trying,
          I understand why you chose a business major. When I was in school, there was a lot of pressure to do a business major or minor because it was so easily transferable to the job market. I still believe it is a great degree and I am telling my kids to do double majors in business and computer science.

          But, I did not do it because I had a business to work in. Even though my dad was a prof, my parents had a side business and they still have it. I worked in every aspect of their business to help build it. Their business is on auto-pilot now and my mom is the subject matter expert in what they do. They work in a very specialized field that is related to law.

          So, I guess that it why I was not a business major. I wanted to major in a topic that I loved because a 4-5 year degree is a LONG commitment. At that age I had a million other things I wanted to do. But, my dad pointed out that my college had a study abroad program where you ended up paying the same tuition (or less) to study at a European university for a year and all of the credits were transferrable. That was the carrot for me.

          That is cool that you know all about furniture refinishing. I have always gotten pieces at Goodwill or other charity-based resellers. I totally agree with that you say about refinishing and chalk paint in and of itself works miracles. Tell me about the antique replicas that you find. They are from Belgium?

          I can tell that all of the men and women here have full and multi-dimensional lives aside from life challenges. The thing that has always been a life-line for me during challenging times is pursuing my many hobbies. If I were to give one word of advice to the men and women here it would be to find external hobbies that you alone can master. Ensure that it is something that is yours and that can be done whether or not your spouse follows.

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