Why Porn and Marriage Don’t Mix by Patti Maguire Armstrong
Even the non-religious world is coming to understand that pornography is not good for anyone. In the [TED] talk The Great Porn Experiment, Gary Wilson presents studies and images of the brain to clearly show how damaging it is. In spite of these revelations, it’s being promoted in unexpected circles as a good thing for couples in a committed relationship.
For instance, The Huffington Post, a popular, news source, ran an article that promoted pornography for couples. “Before we consign it to the relationship deal breaker dustbin, perhaps we should re-examine our prejudices about porn to see if it’s really as bad as everyone says it is,” the reporter stated. Several psychologists were then quoted claiming that since pornography is very popular, perhaps it’s not really so bad. Their conclusion was that watching pornography together could be good for marriages.
Dr. James Link, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Bismarck, N.D, noted in an interview that he differs with a lot of his secular colleagues who claim pornography in marriage is fine. He is a husband and father of seven young children and also has a Master’s in theology. “The majority of counselors would say pornography is not a big deal if it’s not causing a problem in your marriage,” Link said. “I disagree.”
It’s not always just a male problem, according to him, and sometimes a couple does not want to give it up. “I don’t force them to talk about it, but I let them know that at some point, it’s probably going to cause problems,” he said. “What I find is that, sooner or later, frustration sets in because it ultimately reduces people to objects for pleasure. Pornography, and from what I’ve heard about 50 Shades of Gray, looks at sex as just something you indulge in so it distorts sexuality.” In such cases, Link asks: “What is your view of sex?’ If it’s only about pleasure, then it’s about lust, not love.”
Peter Kleponis, assistant director of Comprehensive Counseling Services in West Conshohocken, PA, has been a clinical therapist specializing in marriage and family issues and pornography addiction for 18 years. He is the author of a new book, Integrity Restored: Helping Catholic Families Win the Battle Against Pornography, and the website Integrity Restored, which helps people overcome pornography with a Catholic perspective.
“Even for spouses who think viewing pornography together is okay, it is still wrong because both are using other people (porn stars) for selfish sexual pleasure,” he said in an email interview. “In addition, the way women are portrayed is exploitive which can lead to husbands using their wives in sexually aggressive or violent ways.” In his experience, Kleponis said that women often consent reluctantly simply to please their husbands.
According to him, since men are more visually stimulated than women, they are more likely to become addicted and experience problems associated with addiction. “The pornography consumes the husband’s life leaving his wife and children feeling rejected, neglected and abandoned,” Kleponis explained.” Wives also often end up feeling compared and the men come to judge beauty by what they see in porn, according to Kleponis. “They are unable to appreciate the true beauty of their wives at every age.” He pointed out that pornography cannot be good for a marriage because it cannot strengthen the self-giving, intimacy or chastity in a marriage. “Instead of growing in love and intimacy, one or both spouses will simply end up feeling used.”
Experience also tells him that it is very difficult to keep pornography use a secret, so children often discover their parent’s pornography “stash” and become addicted themselves. “Teenage sons come to believe that viewing pornography and using women is okay. Teenage girls come to believe that in order to be considered beautiful and desirable to men, they must look and act like porn stars,” he said.
The Catholic Catechism (CCC) warns against pornography regardless of one’s state in life.
“Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense” (CCC, paragraph 2354).
Teresa Tomeo, EWTN radio and television host, has done a series of programs on the harm of pornography to individuals and society. Recently, she has particularly called out the insidiousness evil of the sadomasochistic movie Fifty Shades of Grey.
“I continue to hear from women across the country; women who have had their marriages or relationships greatly impacted by pornography,” she said in an interview. “I don’t think enough of us, especially in the Catholic Church understand as one listener said ‘the vise grip’ type of hold porn addiction has on one’s life and the life of those around the addicted.”
She said the same listener shared with her, the painful story of her husband’s struggle and the affect it had on her; It is not only the addict that is in pain and bondage but entire households.”
Woman that have escaped from abusive relationships have called Teresa’s radio show and commented on her Facebook page, warning people not to take the make-believe story of Fifty Shades lightly. “Many of these women were involved with men who were entrenched in the world of violent porn, and the way their stories played out was anything but make-believe. It was a real-life nightmare.”
Below are resources to Counter Pornography and specifically Fifty Shades of Grey:
- National Center on Sexual Exploitation
- Catholic Therapist Dr. Peter Kleponis: http://peterkleponis.com
- Covenant Eyes-Internet Accountability and Filtering: http://www.covenanteyes.com/
- Old Fashioned, The Movie: http://oldfashionedmovie.com/
- “Extreme Makeover; Women Transformed by Christ Not Conformed to the Culture” by Teresa Tomeo: http://www.ignatius.com/Products/EM-H/extreme-makeover.aspx
- Catholic Apologist Matt Fradd’s book Delivered: http://mattfradd.com/new-book/
- Bought with A Price, Bishop Paul Loverde, Diocese of Arlington, VA. http://www.arlingtondiocese.org/purity/index.aspx
- Catechism of the Catholic Church on Pornography Paragraph 2354 (see above).
- Dr. Miriam Grossman, a child and adolescent psychiatrist has written “A Parent’s Survival Guide to Fifty Shades of Grey” and her letter to young people [also in Spanish here] about the dangers the film poses.
About Patti Maguire Armstrong
Patti Maguire Armstrong and her husband have ten children. She is an award-winning author and was managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’s Amazing Grace Series. Her newest books are: Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families, a collection of stories to inspire family love, and Dear God, I Don’t Get It and the sequel, Dear God, You Can’t Be Serious, children’s fiction that feeds the soul through a fun and exciting story. Patti’s Blog http://www.pattimaguirearmstrong.com. Facebook. Twitter.