Risk to the family of a father's pornography addiction?


#1

I need help understanding pornography addiction and its effects on a family. Could a father’s pornography addiction be an appropriate reason to seperate or even civilly divorce?

Thanks.


#2

[quote="LongingForLight, post:1, topic:189900"]
I need help understanding pornography addiction and its effects on a family. Could a father's pornography addiction be an appropriate reason to seperate or even civilly divorce?

Thanks.

[/quote]

I think speaking to a Priest would be a recommended first step for a wife going through this in a marriage with her husband/father of their children viewing pornography (I'm not sure if that's what you're referring to...). I believe the wife could then be guided to the next course of action (counselling, support groups, "boundaries" that could be established in the relationship, etc.). Every case seems to be a little different, but that's where the advice of a good and understanding Priest can help so much.
There are also support groups here at CAF that can be very beneficial for both wives who have discovered their husbands viewing inappropriate material (at the top tool bar under Groups: "Women Suffering Because of Unchastity") and husbands trying to break the habit of viewing it ("Impurity Addiction Support Group").


#3

I don't think it's appropriate to seek a civil divorce over an addiction to pornography unless it's an overall addiction to sex. Sexual addiction is a real issue, but it's very rare.

Divorce will cause both parties much harm. It's a tragedy even under the "best circumstances". Pornography addiction, while damaging, is not that kind of circumstance.


#4

From my personal experience, porn can have a devastating effect on family. It distorts how people think about relationships and sex. I ended up being an object for my ex-husband to use and throw away.

Here is something I found on pornography from another Catholic website a few months ago:
frc.org/pornography-effects

THE EFFECTS OF PORNOGRAPHY ON INDIVIDUALS, MARRIAGE, FAMILY AND COMMUNITY

Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Pornography is a visual representation of sexuality which distorts an individual's concept of the nature of conjugal relations. This, in turn, alters both sexual attitudes and behavior. It is a major threat to marriage, to family, to children and to individual happiness. In undermining marriage it is one of the factors in undermining social stability.

Social scientists, clinical psychologists, and biologists have begun to clarify some of the social and psychological effects, and neurologists are beginning to delineate the biological mechanisms through which pornography produces its powerful negative effects.

KEY FINDINGS ON THE EFFECTS OF PORNOGRAPHY

THE FAMILY AND PORNOGRAPHY

* Married men who are involved in pornography feel less satisfied with their conjugal relations and less emotionally attached to their wives. Wives notice and are upset by the difference.
* Pornography use is a pathway to infidelity and divorce, and is frequently a major factor in these family disasters.
* Among couples affected by one spouse's addiction, two-thirds experience a loss of interest in sexual intercourse.
* Both spouses perceive pornography viewing as tantamount to infidelity.
* Pornography viewing leads to a loss of interest in good family relations.

THE INDIVIDUAL AND PORNOGRAPHY

* Pornography is addictive, and neuroscientists are beginning to map the biological substrate of this addiction.
* Users tend to become desensitized to the type of pornorgraphy they use, become bored with it, and then seek more perverse forms of pornography.
* Men who view pornography regularly have a higher tolerance for abnormal sexuality, including rape, sexual aggression, and sexual promiscuity.
* Prolonged consumption of pornography by men produces stronger notions of women as commodities or as "sex objects."
* Pornography engenders greater sexual permissiveness, which in turn leads to a greater risk of out-of-wedlock births and STDs. These, in turn, lead to still more weaknesses and debilities.
* Child-sex offenders are more likely to view pornography regularly or to be involved in its distribution. 

OTHER EFFECTS OF PORNOGRAPHY

* Many adolescents who view pornography initially feel shame, diminished self-confidence, and sexual uncertainty, but these feelings quickly shift to unadulterated enjoyment with regular viewing.
* The presence of sexually oriented businesses significantly harms the surrounding community, leading to increases in crime and decreases in property values.
* The main defenses against pornography are close family life, a good marriage and good relations between parents and children, coupled with deliberate parental monitoring of Internet use. Traditionally, government has kept a tight lid on sexual traffic and businesses, but in matters of pornography that has waned almost completely, except where child pornography is concerned. Given the massive, deleterious individual, marital, family, and social effects of pornography, it is time for citizens, communities, and government to reconsider their laissez-faire approach.

#5

I posted this in a related thread, but it seems appropriate here. I will copy and paste it.

You face an extremely difficult situation. Before I write down my suggestions, I commend the Catechism to you:

2382 The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble.173 He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law.174

Between the baptized, "a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death."175

2383 The separation of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases provided for by canon law.176

If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense.

2384 Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery:

If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery, and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another's husband to herself.177

2385 Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.
Thus, divorce is an extremely grave undertaking. Even in situations like yours where he is committing grievous sins against you and causing enormous harm to your family and to his own soul, that might not be enough to justify divorce. Remember, this is not just about what you and he want, but following the Truth of God, for which we will all be held accountable when we die. Sometimes we are called to suffer with Jesus on the Cross, and that suffering can be really, really bad.

I strongly urge you to see an orthodox priest and discuss your problems with him. It may very well be that to protect yourself and your family separation and even divorce may be justified; then again, it may not. There will be no easy answers and no easy way out.

I'm not just preaching here, I've been there. Before my reversion, I suffered the infidelity of my ex wife to a homosexual relationship. We divorced and later received an annulment.

The divorce was horrible, even though we both at first promised to make it amicable. It solved none of my problems. Instead, I went down a path of deep darkness. Yeah, I went to Church on Sundays, but I was dead inside. Frankly, I didn't have the spiritual strength to endure the trauma of divorce, and it wasn't until I was facing it again in my second (current) marriage that I reverted. I now live with an anti-Catholic, unbaptized wife who has severe anger issues and who wants to cut my family off from me and my children. I am strongly tempted to divorce her at times, but I will not. Instead, I try to daily shoulder my cross and pray for her on the hope that she will convert and find the love of God. I take inspiration from Elisabeth Lesuer, whom others have commended to you. It might be that my sacrifice will mitigate a smidgen of my time in purgatory, and hopefully win her soul for Christ.

So, my bottom line is this: Your suffering, while real and horrible, might not be solved by divorce; divorce might make it worse. However, divorce may be necessary for the protection of yourself or your family. Prayer and discernment with a priest will answer that question.

I commend you to a deeper prayer life, daily mass, daily rosaries, daily adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. If you ask Jesus to send you His Holy Spirit to aid and counsel you in this difficult time, He will.


#6

[quote="bmaj, post:2, topic:189900"]
I think speaking to a Priest would be a recommended first step for a wife going through this in a marriage with her husband/father of their children viewing pornography (I'm not sure if that's what you're referring to...).

[/quote]

This isn't my issue. I'm supporting the wife, as her sister. I need to decide if I am comfortable watching her children when she seperates in one month if he doesn't show enough effort.

I have another thread that I started on the particulars here, although things have moved some since I posted that thread. In this thread, I'm just trying to get an understanding of the real-world effects of pornography addictions - if people could direct advice geared towards the particular situation to the other thread, I would appreciate it, so things don't get derailed here :)

Thanks, Ailina. Great info, especially the part that comfirms that pornography can be actually addictive. I've been talking to my DH about this - withholding details, of course - but he sort of rolled his eyes at the idea of a pornography addiction - which made me wonder if it was a real condition, or an excuse for someone having trouble kicking a habit. I thought it was better for me to bring my questions to trustworthy strangers online than to raise those doubts around my sister - who is also struggling to view this as addiction and not, say, rejection.

Baby is fussy, but thanks to everyone who has taken time to reply so far. I'll read closely through the catechism quotes posted several times before I talk to her this afternoon, too.


#7

Please note that you can find a study on the Internet to support just about any idea you have...

That being said there are some people who view way to much porn and can't seem to get away from it. Is that an addiction? I would probably argue that in most cases it is not... it's definitely habitual though.

It usually goes like this... husband wants sex, wife is too tired or not feeling well, wife goes to bed, husband watches porn and masturbates.

That's a scenario that can be corrected... the husband and the wife need to work on realistic expectations. He has to realize that renewing the marriage covenant is something more than just sex (something that regular view of porn will not help) and she needs to work to better understand his needs in that area. Don't get me wrong, my guess would be that he is failing to meet her needs in many areas as well. The issue though it that men often want instant gratification and porn is an easy outlet for sexual frustration and release.

My suggestion, they need a marriage encounter weekend and some counseling to help them set appropriate goals for their time together. This will make the biggest difference for both of them.

I'm assuming the husband view porn privately, without his wife. In other words they aren't using it as a martial aid to discover new positions, rather he is just looking at it for sexual gratification and this upsets her. Both are bad, just different scenarios. I'm also assuming when I say privately that the children are not aware and his viewing is never in an area where they could be exposed to the filth. The fact that he is homeschooling is bothersome more than anything... hopefully he is locking the door if looking at picture.

However in the other thread you say pictures... considering the amount of free video on the net I highly doubt anyone "addicted" is just looking at pictures. That being said if that is all he is looking at I doubt the addiction even less. As I said on another thread, men are genetically made to enjoy looking at nakked women... this man just needs to learn how to express that appropriately.

What you need to tell your sister, and many other women need to realize, is that it's not about them. It's not about wives looking different, thinner, larger, hair color etc... Rather it is a release of neurochemicals that make people like to experience it again. One of the biggest areas in porn today is wives and mothers... why? Because many of the men who can and would pay for sites aren't looking for someone different in their fantasy, they are looking for someone similar... especially if they love their wife. They just want what they want... when they want it.

So what I'm saying is that your sister needs to realize that he isn't doing it because she isn't good enough, he is doing it because something is wrong with the relationship... and with God's help and some good counseling that can be fixed. Her knowing and believing that will help her resolve this situation.

Prayers for their family!

Joe


#8

Is this couple Catholic? Are they seeing a Priest?

Did he use porn when she dated and married him?

I know that I'd not leave my husband because of sin, unless that sin endangered my child.

Your husband was right, the addiction is to the chemicals released during the orgasm, the porn is just a method to get that release faster.

To say a someone is addicted to porn is like saying a heroin addict is addicted to needles - the needle is just the way to get the drugs into the body.


#9

[quote="jwashu, post:7, topic:189900"]

That being said there are some people who view way to much porn and can't seem to get away from it. Is that an addiction? I would probably argue that in most cases it is not... it's definitely habitual though.

It usually goes like this... husband wants sex, wife is too tired or not feeling well, wife goes to bed, husband watches porn and masturbates.

That's a scenario that can be corrected... the husband and the wife need to work on realistic expectations. He has to realize that renewing the marriage covenant is something more than just sex (something that regular view of porn will not help) and she needs to work to better understand his needs in that area. Don't get me wrong, my guess would be that he is failing to meet her needs in many areas as well. The issue though it that men often want instant gratification and porn is an easy outlet for sexual frustration and release.

[/quote]

Actually, it appears to be almost the opposite scenario; in fact, the counselor has prescribed prayerful abstinence to help BOTH of them deal with an unhealthy reliance on sex. My sister probably requested sex more than he did prior to her discovery that he was still viewing porn, and there is good evidence that she has the stronger drive.

And this is not the scenario where he is viewing porn. Basically, the "when" seems to be "any time he is alone with a computer". According to my sister, he is actually "blacking out" and then coming to and realizing what he is doing?? Not sure what that means or how literal a description. But at home during the day when he is watching the kids (while she works) appears to be the most common scenario. My sister thought he was playing video games with this time. She is pushing for him to start working day shift to eliminate this period of temptation. It is happening at work, too. I don't know how often or any details about that.

[quote="jwashu, post:7, topic:189900"]

My suggestion, they need a marriage encounter weekend and some counseling to help them set appropriate goals for their time together. This will make the biggest difference for both of them.

[/quote]

They've been in counseling for five months. Apparently her husband is struggling to believe that he is actually addicted.

[quote="jwashu, post:7, topic:189900"]
The fact that he is homeschooling is bothersome more than anything... hopefully he is locking the door if looking at picture.

[/quote]

I know the room, and there is no lock on the door. :(

[quote="jwashu, post:7, topic:189900"]
What you need to tell your sister, and many other women need to realize, is that it's not about them. It's not about wives looking different, thinner, larger, hair color etc... Rather it is a release of neurochemicals that make people like to experience it again.

[/quote]

She understood this enough to explain it to me. But that doesn't mean she understands it emotionally. What she sees with her heart is, "He is willing to throw away his marraige so he can fantasize about these women." My sister is a very emotional person - she's smart and able to reason, but she tends to express her emotions rather than her thoughts. Honestly, the way she talks suggests that it is the addiction itself that is hurtful, as much as the form it's taken. I.e., she might have almost as much of an issue if the problem were alchohol, internet use, etc. It's that it has become so unhealthy and yet he is still denying the problem.

[quote="jwashu, post:7, topic:189900"]

So what I'm saying is that your sister needs to realize that he isn't doing it because she isn't good enough, he is doing it because something is wrong with the relationship... and with God's help and some good counseling that can be fixed. Her knowing and believing that will help her resolve this situation.

[/quote]

I think that the issue is that after five months of expensive counseling, she is starting to lose faith. Honestly (and I feel bad for saying this, but I do think it is true), I think her faith was more spoken than lived to begin with :( I think she is realizing this too, now, but rather than fighting for a true faith that can sustain her, she seems to be just giving in. I understand the challenge, but my heart aches that she will likely suffer more in the end, even just in this world, if she doesn't find the strength. Those who divorce without fully fighting for their marriage rarely find the better life (or the better spouse) that they were hoping for. And after talking with her this afternoon, it's clear that she doesn't want to fight. I've worked to steer her in the right direction with my influence, and I think it helps . . . but I'm not the only influence.

I was very careful not to compliment her on her nice new shirt and new jeans this afternoon. I know she bought them while comfort shopping. She really needs to find a healthy way to cope with this. I feel like I just can't use enough ":(" emotes in this email. I know this isn't an uncommon scenario, but I still ache to see her going through it.

[quote="jwashu, post:7, topic:189900"]

Prayers for their family!

Joe

[/quote]

Thank you so, so much for these. I think this is the most valuable thing anyone has to offer them right now.


#10

[quote="kage_ar, post:8, topic:189900"]
Is this couple Catholic? Are they seeing a Priest?

[/quote]

She is, he isn't but has been discussing RCIA (not sure if he will anymore, now that she is talking seperation). The counselor and I have both recommended talking with a priest. I do not believe either of them have done so yet.

[quote="kage_ar, post:8, topic:189900"]
Did he use porn when she dated and married him?

[/quote]

When they dated, yes. She thought he'd quit before they married, but apparently he was just hiding the habit better . . . until it became addictive.

[quote="kage_ar, post:8, topic:189900"]
I know that I'd not leave my husband because of sin, unless that sin endangered my child.

[/quote]

Yeah . . . and it seemed like it might. Now, after talking with her this afternoon, I'm still not sure - it might be true, but I simply am not in a position to have the knowledge needed to guess. My sister's attitude towards her marraige has become so unhealthy that it's difficult to tell how much is just her trying to make herself more comfortable with the idea of walking away. She hasn't quite sold herself . . . and after talking with me, she seems to have waffled back towards hope again.

[quote="kage_ar, post:8, topic:189900"]

Your husband was right, the addiction is to the chemicals released during the orgasm, the porn is just a method to get that release faster.

[/quote]

I can't be certain, but I have the impression that he is not viewing pornography primarily to orgasm - I am reasonably sure that masturbation is generally not involved. I strongly doubt he is masturbating at work, for example, but that is one place where he is apparently struggling with his addiction. I also doubt he would have his pants unzipped in an unlocked room in their house, where the computer is, while the kids are awake. It's a lot easier to minimize a browser window than to zip up one's pants. I don't think I've heard about a single time he browses porn (that my sister knows of) where he would have the privacy to masturbate. He seems to be addicted to the fantasies themselves, not orgasm. However, I would assume that even viewing and fantasizing would bring some sort of sexual hormonal reaction. I guess it is that reaction that he is addicted too?


#11

One more post and then I'm done with serial posting, I promise :)

I just wanted to share how my meeting with her this afternoon went. In short, it was not encouraging.

My disappointment and worry for my sister is so deep that I feel slightly nauseous. She is talking like the relationship's end is a forgone conclusion. I almost laughed when she asked me if I thought that there were any single Catholic men who would be willing to date a woman with three kids. I replied something along the lines of, "No good Catholic man will date a woman who is in a valid marriage. And any man worth dating will want to know that you tried everything to make your previous marraige work. I'm not sure that matches what you are planning to do right now."

I think I was able to let her know what my hopes for her and her marriage are without alienating her. I tried to let her know that I wanted her to have the husband she deserved, but that I wanted it to be the man who was already her DH. I told her that I believed that she had been hurt and that was making her want out, but that I had faith that she would be able to do the good and holy thing once she was in a different place - either more space, or her husband finally working on the issues, or something happening to relieve some of the pain.

It sounds like her husband is in denial about the severity of his problem still. I hadn't understood that before. I had been under the impression that he had accepted that he was addicted and was taking steps to overcome it.

She is going to discuss her plans for seperation from him tomorrow, with the help of their counselor (I am SO glad he will be there for that conversation!!). How that goes will be . . . revealing.

So, in short . . . prayers that good fruit comes from that meeting! I'm hoping that her husband will "wake up" after that meeting. I know I had to mention divorce during counseling before DH and I were able to get back on track with our marriage a couple of years back. However, I was just as upset by the idea as DH was when I realized that divorce was where we were headed . . . my sister is currently fantasizing about it. And her life after a divorce. Still, God works in mysterious ways.

One piece of good news: It sounds like she has moved beyond fantasizing about having an affair with someone at work. She is now realizing that any man that would have an affair with her is not the kind of man she'd want to have an affair with :D It's pretty clear that, deep down, what she craves is an ordered, healthy, holy marraige. She just isn't accepting that (post vows) that marraige can only be achieved by working with her current husband to attain it.


closed #12

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.