For most young men and women, getting married and starting a family is a life goal. Unfortunately many who are regular users of Internet pornography and/or cybersex aren’t aware of how this could sabotage their plans. Research has shown that pornography is tearing apart marriages and families, leaving many victims in its wake.

How Men and Women Use Porn

Men who use pornography/cybersex may simply consider it harmless “adult entertainment.” Women who use pornography/cybersex may believe they are finally “liberated.” They feel if men are allowed to view it, so should they. Whether it’s a husband, wife or both, pornography/cybersex for the past two decades has been having disastrous effects on marriages and families.

Because men are visually stimulated, they are naturally attracted to visual pornography – pictures and videos. They may feel it is harmless because they are just “images on a computer screen.” However, to wives, they are not simply images, they are other women. They feel deeply hurt and betrayed by this. To them this is cheating/adultery. They may also feel ugly and undesirable because the women in porn are so much younger than they and have “perfect bodies.” The feel they cannot compete with the women in porn. This is traumatic for women.

Women are relationally stimulated. While some may view visual pornography like men, most get involved in cybersex: chat rooms, video cams, sexual blogging, etc. Through these venues, they are engaging in virtual and/or real sexual relationships outside of their marriages. When a husband discovers this, he can also feel deeply hurt and betrayed. For him this is cheating/adultery. This is traumatic for men.

Damage Beyond the Internet

For both husbands and wives, the discovery of a spouse using pornography/cybersex is deeply wounding. However, the damage can extend beyond the computer. Those who engage in viewing Internet pornography and/or cybersex tend to be more sexually promiscuous than those who don’t. They are also more likely to cheat with a real person. Such marriages experience less intimacy and sensitivity. They experience more anxiety, secrecy, isolation and dysfunction. This prevents them from experiencing true healthy intimacy.

For these couples, exposure to pornography has changed their view of sexuality. They have no understanding of God’s plan for sexuality. For them sex is not an intimate exchange of love that is both unitive and procreative. It doesn’t mirror the love of God in the trinity and his love for humanity. Instead, it becomes a recreational activity whereby each spouse uses the other. The sex can also become violent and physically and emotionally dangerous. Thus, it can never be truly fulfilling.

Damage to Families

In addition to harming marriages, pornography use and cybersex also damages families. Because these activities can be so time consuming, children miss out on spending time with their parents. It robs them of precious family time where they can bond with mom and dad. These activities can also cost a family hundreds and even thousands of dollars, this leaving a family in debt. For parents who view pornography at work the risk of losing a job heightens. The loss of income could leave children wanting for the necessities of life.

Children who are raised by parents who view Internet pornography and/or engage in cybersex are far more likely to be exposed to such activities at an early age. This can affect their developing brains and make them more susceptible to becoming sexually active at a young age and to becoming sex addicts themselves. These kids also never learn about God’s beautiful plan for sexuality, so the wounds perpetuate through the generations.

The biggest risk posed by Internet pornography use and cybersex to families is divorce. Studies have shown that pornography plays a significant role in over fifty percent of all divorces. This is no surprise when one considers the deep sense of hurt and betrayal spouses experience because of these activities. In addition, because of the secrecy and isolation they feel, these couples can never experience healthy love and intimacy in their marriages. This can lead to divorce because they believe they simply “fell out of love.” The fact is they never had a healthy relationship from the start.

The breakup of a marriage, for any reason, is traumatic for children. While our society may downplay the effects of divorce on children simply because it is so prevalent, parents need to understand how damaging it is. Children often struggle with deep depression and anxiety. Their ability to trust is damaged, which can lead to difficulty in relationships when they become adults.

Protecting Marriages and Families

The first step in protecting marriages and families is for couples to educate themselves on the dangers of pornography/cybersex to them as individuals, couples and families. There must be a commitment to never allow the use of pornography or cybersex into their lives. They must also educate themselves on healthy relationships and sexuality as God designed them. They must not only live this in their own lives, but also teach it to their children. Finally, parents must do everything in their power to protect their children from dangerous content and activities on the Internet.

While the Internet is full of sexual enticements that can harm marriages and families, couples can arm themselves with the truth and the tools to protect themselves and their families. This can help ensure a long and happy marriage with healthy children.