Pornography addiction affects a marriage deeply. When a man becomes addicted to pornography he is training his body to become aroused to visual stimulus. As the addiction takes hold he requires more and more specific visual images in order to be satisfied. If he notices a tiny imperfection he can discard the image or video and move onto the next one. These trends are not conducive to real life sexual encounters. The pornography addict often loses the ability to become aroused unless he visualizes pornographic images. This sexual disconnect is extremely hard to bear, and may cause emotional distance between a couple. Addicts also suffer from a host of emotional problems, such as a short temper, or low self-esteem. These emotional problems serve to drive the couple even further apart.
It gets better.
After an addiction comes into the open it is possible to start the healing process. This process must be undertaken both separately and together. An addict must learn to break the cycle of compulsion and become trustworthy again. His or her spouse must be willing to trust again. This process takes time, and patience, but it is possible.
As trust rebuilds a couple can rebuild their sense of emotional and physical intimacy in their marriage. Emotional intimacy comes through complete honesty, from both sides of the relationship. Honesty comes with vulnerability, this vulnerability can be uncomfortable, but leads to feelings of emotional intimacy. Marital intimacy is also dependent upon being available to the other person when together, not simply spending time watching TV together.
It is important to become reacquainted with true intimacy in marriage. It might help to spend some time not having sex. Instead slowly explore each other again. Take some time to be naked together, to talk, to kiss, and to touch each other. Take baths together. It is important to take this step slowly because it is likely that the addict has come to rely on sexualized images to become aroused. If a couples sexuality is pressed too quickly than the addict may fall back to fantasizing these images to “complete the deed”. With time, it is possible to become aroused simply through the erotic nature of being close someone he or she loves.
There is often the compulsion to compete with pornography. To be sexier, and more exciting so that the addicted spouse does not need it anymore to be satisfied. This practice tends to feed the addiction rather than cure it. This is because it reinforces the cycle of needing erotic images present in order to become aroused. The erotic high associated with relational intimacy needs to be restored, not simply orgasm without fantasizing. This means that it might be helpful to forgo lingerie for a short while during the recovery period, because it is associated with the erotic imagery that has become addictive.
Through hard work and counseling it is possible to restore a marriage after pornography addiction. Trust can be restored, as well as emotional and physical intimacy. The process is arduous, but worth it.