Yes, your husband watches porn (and it's okay)!
The woman in my office trying to decide if she should get divorced is telling me about the difficult place her marriage is in. Her husband clearly must be on drugs, has become a sex addict and is having an affair, she says. Why is this so obvious to her? She leans in closer to me, lowers her head and whispers, "I caught him watching porn."
Here's why your man watching porn scares you:
Fear of infidelity runs rampant through marriages. Articles like "How to Catch Your Man Cheating" fill social media. Worried about affairs with co-workers and Facebook friends, women surf their husbands' browser histories daily in search of that dreaded beast — the virtual affair with pornography.
Society tells us that all porn is degrading and has no redeeming value. Our parents teach us, rightfully, to respect the privacy of our bodies. We are repeatedly commanded to only share ourselves sexually in a committed relationship.
Women in adult films and magazines seem to slap us in the face. We assume these women must all have been abused girls or coerced as teens. We assume the men who view porn cannot possibly respect any women. Catching your own husband watching feels like unearthing an affair with the traitor of all traitors, especially if things have mellowed in your own bedroom.
As a single woman myself, I can be as insecure as they come. I know how easy it is to see my man look over at models in a fashion magazine I'm reading, let alone at a full frontals of porn stars, and feel that pang of "Hey buddy! What about me? I'm right here in front of you!"
And here's why your man watching porn isn't a big deal. Honest!
What I find incredibly freeing is coming to accept that men just like to look. Our boyfriends and husbands don't like porn because they are all perverted creeps. Men look at porn because they are genetically wired to do so.
According to ScienceDaily.com, a study by psychologists Stephen Hamann and Kim Wallen of Emory University found that fMRI scans "revealed significantly higher levels of activation in the amygdala, which controls emotion and motivation, in the brains of the male subjects compared to the females, despite the fact that both males and females (self-reported) similar... levels of arousal after viewing the images."
Now that it has been scientifically proven that men don't just like to look, they were biologically designed to want to look, here are five major benefits to accepting the natural fact that your husband or boyfriend watches porn:
- Letting him know you are OK with him watching it creates trust. Trust is built when sharing personal feelings is met without judgment. We expect men to understand that they have to grin and bear our crazy at least one week each month while never making us feel like we are actually being crazy, right? So let him know that you accept his male instincts, even if you don't totally get them.
- Backing off of criticizing men in general shows that you respect him in particular. Men need to feel admiration from the woman in their life. When you criticize him, you deliver a giant blow to his self-worth, his productivity and his positive feelings towards you. This is true even when the attack is an indirect hit. Negative statements about "those disgusting guys who watch porn" are delivered as straight indictments of himself.
- Opening difficult conversations without judgment improves communication. The more he trusts you and knows you respect him, the more likely he will continue to share with you. We expect men to want to spill the beans to us each evening the way we would with a female roommate. But you didn't want a roomie forever, remember? You wanted a husband. A man. A man is not going to talk with you if he is worried about stepping on mines of criticism. Let him know it's safe to share anything.
- Watching porn yourself can improve your own self-esteem — really! Porn is one avenue to visual stimulation. You have the power to provide your own. Men tell women all the time that we judge our looks more harshly than they do. Take a brief glance through the picture galleries on some porn sites. You will see women of ALL shapes and sizes. Guess who cast those women, and guess who is watching them? Men! Because they love to see the naked female body, and your husband chose yours! So turn the lights on and let him look.
- Finding ways to channel the options together can increase both of your sexual satisfaction. Offering to watch together is great, but for lots of people that just feels awkward. No problem! The goal is not to watch porn, but to explore what you each like. Take turns emailing links to fantasies you would like to try. Ask him to send you images of women dressed in something he would like you to wear and go find something similar that feels comfortable for you. Talk about your limits and why you have them.
Why is all of this so important? Because I have yet to see a couple who's still enjoying a mutually satisfying sex life show up in my office thinking about getting a divorce!
Not sure how to get the conversation started? Try dropping casually that you read an article about scientific reasons men like porn. The Emory study states that "there is an advantage for males in quickly recognizing and responding to receptive females through (visuals, allowing them to maximize) their mating opportunities." Ask him what he thinks. Door open.
Men want to see women. Women want to be wanted. It is a biologically gifted win-win!