Hubby's Porn Habit
Q: I have walked in on my husband looking at porn on the internet on numerous occasions and it always upsets me beyond belief. I feel it's a direct competition to my sexual relationship with him because I'm unhappy with our sex life. It feels as though he would rather look at porn than have sex with me, his wife. Our differing levels of libido has been a problem ever since we got married five years ago. My fear is that if it's this bad now, what will it be like in 15 years when he is 50 and I'm in my forties (there are seven years difference between us)? It has been a struggle for me to understand my husband's point of view. I'm somewhat resentful because I feel if the roles were reversed I would be expected to give my husband more sex. Is it wrong of me to have expectations of him? I would love to have sex with him every day, so I feel I have compromised already by asking to have sex two or three times a week. How much more do I need to compromise?
Dr. Susan: Ouch. I do know how you feel, at least so far as the competitive feeling goes. Here we are, real flesh and blood women, and our mates are hooked up to an endless stream of two-dimensional, digitally-enhanced fantasy bimbos. The first thing to determine is whether your husband is addicted to internet porn -- addicted to the extent that no matter how appealing you are, no matter how sweet, loving, down-and-dirty agreeable you try to be, he's going to go with the artificially induced thrills. I can't tell you exactly how to find the answer to that, but you might begin by asking him whether he would LIKE to use less porn. If his internet use seems beyond his own control, then he has to deal with that, and you have every right to expect him to do something to change the situation, perhaps getting professional help.
It very well may be the case, though, that he seeks out internet babes because it's so easy. Most men really dig variety and novelty, and if they can get it without any effort at all, who can compete with that? That is, if all he wants is sexual release. Because what he's NOT getting from porn that he WOULD be getting with you is a fully human emotional connection. So you both need to try to work out what you could both do to make your sexual relationship more varied, more exciting, and also more low-key, easy, and all-around more fulfilling.
You don't actually have to compete with those two-dimensional women regarding how you look. What you do have to do is, one, be available without a lot of conditions, and two, ensure that the entire sexual experience you share leaves your husband feeling great about himself. And what HE has to do is recognize that you have needs too, and that if he doesn't even make the least effort to see things YOUR way, he's going to lose you, one way or another. And then he can sit alone with his internet porn, under a swinging bare bulb, eating food out of the can, and wondering how he could have let the best thing in his life slip away. (Oops! I got a little carried away there, but I don't want you to think the onus is all on you to be a more enchanting sex kitten. He has to pay attention to you, too. The biggest payoff sexually for both of you is when you're BOTH satisfied.)
And don't forget to examine the rest of your relationship, because a common reason men don't make the effort to tune into their wives' needs is that they're deep-down annoyed and withholding is one of the few things they can do. I'm talking about withholding warmth and affection, in particular. Just like women do when they're not pleased with their mate's behavior out of the bedroom.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.