A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Pornography destroyed my marriage

The hidden perniciousness of pornography in a marriage. (Author’s name withheld.)

I was married for a long time to a man addicted to pornography. I am now divorced.

I became aware of his addiction early in our marriage. I found the ‘girlie’ magazines hidden under the bed, read, he said, for the articles. I wanted to believe him. Every time I found them, I felt nauseous, violated. Intuitively, I knew that this was a distortion: a violence against himself; against me and against the women portrayed.

It explained some of his behaviours – real human intimacy was never sufficient nor satisfying for him. I blamed myself. In my naivety and desire to please, I complied with his requests. I wish I had known better.

His idea of a holiday with his new bride was to visit a city where he could prowl the peep shows and strip clubs. He argued that it was ‘harmless’. I could never bring myself to join him. So what should have been a sacramental sign of love became a wedge.

His addiction to pornography seemed to anaesthetise any feelings he had for women as human beings. They were objects to be used, discarded, discussed, passed around, used, abused. He delighted in passing me around to other men to hold or to kiss. My discomfort merely increased his excitement and pleasure.

As his addiction to pornography evolved, it grew into a search for power and domination. He controlled with fear, interspersed with protestations of love and devotion.

Child bearing shattered his world. My body changed. The family dynamic changed. No longer was he the centre around which the world spun. His son he tried to raise to denigrate women (and other races, cultures, religions and body shapes). I still catch a glimpse of this residual dross. His daughters did not fit the centrefold profile. He ignored them. And me.

Now his secret ‘other life’ blossomed. Serial affairs, internet chat rooms, strip clubs, X-rated DVDs – always looking for the next erotic fix. The more pornography he saw, the more he desired. He immersed himself in this dark underworld: increasingly disturbing pornographic images on his computer, hard drive and TV, none of which gratified him for long. All night he surfed the net for sex. He divorced the need for sexual intimacy from its human context.

Increasingly, he became distant, remote. He communicated less and less with me. He created new ‘life stories’ with each successive sexual partner.

He used emotional and psychological weapons to keep me shackled. He relied on my Catholic faith to keep me from divorce, for he needed a respectable family face to cover his addiction to pornography and sex.

Eventually his house of cards collapsed. He had a nervous breakdown. He fled.

A postscript.

You may ask why I stayed.

Firstly, out of ignorance. I did not understand my gut reactions, nor how to act wisely upon them. Secondly, I valued a stable family life. Thirdly, I could not envision  life as a single parent.

But here we are, here I am. Free of the perversions that corrupted my world view; delighting in the inherent goodness of the people around me; and embracing the challenges and gifts ahead. I am grateful. I am blessed.

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