My name is Efe. I have been married for three years and still trying to conceive, but my husband prefers porn and masturbation to sex.

After about a year after we got married, he lost absolute interest in sex and I assumed the delay in my conception was the reason. I always thought I was the one who had fertility problems until we took some tests and it was revealed that he had low sperm counts, even though he refuted the test result.

Even when we try to exercise our conjugal rights, it is always frustrating, because he can hardly maintain an erection.

I have been hiding this shameful secret and I have also tried justifying his action by thinking that all men are into pornography. He has stopped sharing our matrimonial bed with me all together.

My self-confidence has suffered a terrible blow by blaming myself for my husband’s actions. I feel I have failed and my heart is really broken.

He came begging for forgiveness after I discovered his involvement in pornography, with a promise never to do it again, but he keeps doing it. I need your advice on what to do please.

Pornography myths

Pornography helps spice up your sexual life.

Watching porn isn’t the same as cheating.

Pornography is common amongst men and that makes it okay

You can’t get pregnant from pornography and masturbation, and you can’t transmit STDs

Our society values women beyond their reproductive capabilities. Men are visually stimulated in a way that most women are not, however that does not make pornography any less moral.

That pornography consumption is increasing amongst men also does not make it right. Pornography leads to the objectification of women as sexual objects, and it’s a behavior that is not worthy of emulation.

In our increasingly sexualised culture, it is women who are increasingly devalued in our porn-saturated culture, as they are constantly rated for their size, shape and body parts.

The main stream media and pornography, portrays women as willing accomplices to used and objectified. Pornography desensitizes us to sexual violence and conditions the mind to trivialize rape.

It is estimated that 1 out of 8 internet searches are for erotic content. Many men who are struggling with pornography were exposed to it at a young age. With the advent of Internet, more men were exposed to Internet porn before the age of 18. This early exposure inevitably leads to a struggle with pornography into adulthood.

We now see the increased desire for pornography playing out especially among the younger generations who have taken up the habit of “sexting” and sending racy photos or videos of themselves to others. While pregnancy may be curtailed by engaging in porn and masturbation, the negative effects are more destructive in the long run.

Decreased sexual satisfaction with your spouse

Pornography shapes our believes and sexual expectations. Negative effects of porn and masturbation include decreased sexual satisfaction with your spouse, by enabling people to gratify themselves instead of finding fulfillment with their spouse.

There is also every tendency for people to feel less satisfied with their spouse’s physical appearance and sexual performance when addicted to porn.

Pornography can have negative impacts on relationships, from ignoring loved ones in order to spend time with porn, to destroying intimacy, which can lead to divorce. It alters the way men think about romantic relationships.

The glossy magazine pictures or pixels on the screen do not have any sexual or relational expectations of their own. “This essentially trains men to desire the cheap thrill of fantasy over a committed relationship”. Pornography trains men to be digital and cyber predators, constantly seeking for images of women to devour instead of seeking genuine intimacy.

The habit of pornography often reduces sexual potency, including premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. Men’s dependency on porn is a behavioral addiction.

Similar to drug addiction, men who are entrenched in pornography are willing to sacrifice anything for a quick fix. Some men are also able to indulge in pornography and still pursue sex with their wives.

Brain chemicals and porn addiction

When having sex or watching porn, dopamine is released into a region of the brain responsible for emotion and learning. It gives the viewer an increased awareness for craving. Dopamine provides a great sense of pleasure, and every time pornography is viewed by an addict, small packets of dopamine are released in the brain, reminding the viewer of where to seek pleasure.

This process helps couples build sexual intimacy in the context of a secure marital relationship, while also achieving a different effect altogether in the context of viewing pornography.

Pornography works like a powerful drug and rewires the brain of those who consume it regularly. The imbalance caused by pornography in the brain leads to fatigue, impotence with your spouse, lack of motivation, inability to concentrate and weird tastes for more bizarre porn. Eventually, many men get to the point where they can no longer perform without imagining themselves in a pornographic situation.

Pornography works on the brain in a similar way like drug by giving it an unnatural high. Instead of a deep connection to a person, your brain ends up bonding to a pornographic experience. “When men look at porn, they experience surge after surge of dopamine in the brain.

The brain eventually fatigues, stopping the production of dopamine, leaving the viewer wanting more but unable to reach a level of satisfaction “explains Psychologist Gary Wilson.  Everyday pleasures stop producing the usual excitement and the viewer seeks out more novel and intense pornography to reenact the same feelings as before.

Overtime the brain of a man becomes hyper sensitive to sexual triggers, because neural paths that set the course for pleasure anytime an erotic image is viewed are formed. Overtime these neural paths become wider as they are repeatedly traveled with each exposure to pornography.

Rebuilding trust

Dear Efe, please note that recovery is possible for both you and your husband. The addiction to pornography has similarity with any other feeling like gambling, smoking, drinking, drugs. That learned behavior needs to be unlearned. He cannot just wish or pray away a behavior that was learnt.

Your husband needs to first take responsibility for his own behavior. His addiction to porn is also not your fault and this should not alter your self-worth in any way. You can’t blame yourself if he is seeking sexual gratification from other women through images. Your husband is responsible for developing new behaviors that you deem trustworthy and trust-building. You cannot do this for him.

Your emotions may be dominated by altering feelings of anger and learned helplessness. Wives dealing with a husband’s betrayal may experience post-traumatic stress disorder. These symptoms include nightmares, fear, depression, anxiety, and obsessive thinking. Anger and bitterness are common responses to betrayal. Naturally it may take a while to get to the point of forgiving him.

You will also need to seek counseling and support to help you recover from the trauma his actions have caused your marriage. Your husband will need to take whatever steps necessary to break free from pornography.

There is a positive intention behind every behavior. A person may have a need and will uses a substance or activity to meet it. When the positive intent is understood, then healthier alternatives can be identified.

Neuro Linguistic programming (NLP) strategies which include swish patterns also allows a person to replace a negative image (porn visual images) with a more positive, motivating one.

Behavior can be changed by identifying the part of the mind influencing it, identifying the problem behavior, determining the positive intent of the behavior, and brainstorming new ways to accomplish the positive intention (for example, pleasure), eliciting new choices and conducting an ecology check to know if the new choices feel comfortable.

Ify is a Life, Emotions and Behavioral Change Coach who is passionate about heling couples and families navigate their path to wellness, fertility and parenthood. Please send your emails and enquiries to [email protected]



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