He Uses Porn!!

Q: My husband has admitted (under duress) that he has been in the habit of using pornography, (Internet, magazines, etc.) for a long time, and he has kept it a secret because he was afraid I would judge him harshly. Is this a serious problem? How common is the use of pornography among "normal" men in relationships? Should I see this as "infidelity"? More than the pornography, I mind his dishonesty. -- Carla, 32

Dr. Susan: Your hubby's porn habit would only be a serious problem under certain circumstances. One is if you're not getting your sexual needs met in the marriage, and the other is if you judge him harshly about it, confirming his fear. I once knew a woman whose husband liked to dress up in her clothes while masturbating, and when she found out, she was so livid that you could understand why he hadn't dared to confide in her. I'm not saying you have to accept behavior that is truly abhorrent to you, but you owe it to an intimate partner to openly discuss whatever needs you each have without fear of judgment. After all, you've sworn to love, honor, and allow one another to pursue happiness. Or something like that.

Virtually all men masturbate (and most women, too). Since men are such visually stimulated creatures and porn is so readily available, it's a match made in heaven -- from their point of view. If the marriage is a good one, it doesn't have to take anything away from you. Are you having enough sex? Does he pay attention to you in other ways or does it seem like he's always locked in his study studying other women's bodies? If he were masturbating but only picturing other women in his mind, not on paper or a computer screen, would that bother you the same way? Would you believe that was infidelity?

If, above all, you want an honest and open relationship, make it safe for him to be real around you. We have our fantasies, so of course our mates are allowed to have their own. I just don't necessarily want to picture his fantasies (though some women do exactly that). In my book, Loving in Flow, I talk about how we learned to set boundaries that I could live with for my husband's porn use. I went from feeling threatened by it to realizing it was no big deal. I hope you can make that switch too.

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