Is Porn Addiction Valid Grounds For A Divorce?

    wife-wondering-if-his-porn-addiction-is-reason-for-divorceFor many women, knowing that their husband frequently watches porn feels as much like a betrayal as if he were actually in bed with another woman. After all, he’s experiencing the kind of physical pleasure with strangers that he should be experiencing with you, even if he’s just doing it through a screen and with his hand. But as painful as this situation can be, is porn addiction really grounds for divorce?

    Well, that’s a more complicated question than it seems. Much of the answer depends on the context of the question.

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    Are you asking if porn addiction is legal grounds for divorce? Actually, many states are “no-fault divorce,” so in those places getting a divorce doesn’t require a stated reason. If a couple desires a divorce, then so be it.

    But if you’re looking for legal ways to leverage a porn addiction in a divorce settlement you should know that, although porn can feel like actual cheating -- legally speaking because porn is not a sex act with another person it's not considered adultery (one of the traditional grounds for divorce). These legal nuances around divorce can be complicated though and so seek the guidance of a legal professional if you want to get this detailed.

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    Or are you asking if his porn habit gives you a way to justify the fact that you want your relationship to be over and allows you to feel that getting a divorce is the right move? In this context there are a number of things to consider and the answer could be yes or no depending upon what you’re willing to do.

    How PORN Could Spell DIVORCE

    While porn addiction may not be a legally necessary to decide to divorce, it can be a huge indicator of other problems within the marriage that may make divorce seem like the best option. Frequent porn watching is directly associated with:

    • Emotional abandonment.
    • Lack of intimacy.
    • Poor communication.
    • Lies, deception, and loss of trust
    • Affairs

    All of these are reasons that can lead to a marriage failing and ultimately divorce. If you’re a guy it can be hard to believe what seems like some harmless viewing of attractive women and self-pleasure can have such destructive consequences isn’t it? I mean all guys watch porn, right? Well, actually no, they don’t, but that’s a different article.

    As for the above, consider the following scenario.

    Jerry likes to watch porn. His wife Lisa is busy with work and kids and they don’t have sex as much as he wants to. Besides, some of the women on the internet and what they can and will do is insanely hot. No harm, no foul – Lisa sleeps while he takes care of business.

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    Lisa, on the other hand, knows Jerry does this and hates it. She’s asked him to stop and even though he says he will he doesn’t. She’s caught him, found it on his phone and seen it on his iPad (lies, deception and loss of trust). Because of this she looks at him differently and she feels inadequate. Why doesn’t he want her? Why are those women more interesting to him than she is?

    They never seem to have sex any more and she’s not even sure she wants to knowing what he likes to look at – she’s nothing like those women (lack of intimacy). Lisa feels like they’ve grown apart. She tried talking to him about it but it’s weird and he won’t listen. He doesn’t seem to get how this is affecting them (poor communication). So, they’ve just kind of stopped talking. They don’t even really say “I love you” anymore, it just doesn’t feel the same (emotional abandonment).

    As a result of all this Lisa met Steve. He finds her attractive, smart, funny and he listens. She didn’t mean to, but she suddenly found herself engaged in an emotional affair with a man that seems to value her in a way her own husband doesn’t (affair).

    Or it could occur like this.

    As a result of all this Jerry feels estranged from Lisa. He’s tired sex with himself and really wants a partner and Lisa doesn’t want anything to do with him at this point. So, when Gwen seems willing and adventurous, he figures, why not? He’s still young and virile – why should he have to be celibate? If his wife won’t have sex with him, he’ll find someone who will (affair).

    So, what’s next for Lisa and Jerry? In all likelihood (if they don’t seek help) it’s divorce. This is how porn addiction can snowball and create grounds for divorce.

    Not buying it? Dr. Kurt works with couples like Lisa and Jerry all the time. According to him,

    People often come to marriage counseling not with the intent to see if they can fix their marriage, but to finalize their decision to get divorced. They want an authority figure (therapist, attorney or judge) to tell them they're right to get divorced. So, getting asked if a problem like porn addiction is grounds for divorce is common. However, deciding to divorce is an individual and personal decision that each person needs to make for themselves - you're the one who has to live with the decision the rest of your life, not us professionals. Most jurisdictions today don't even require a grounds for divorce. You can divorce him because he watches too much porn or too much football. Ultimately, it shouldn't matter to anyone but you. Although, I strongly recommend that you get some professional help to try to fix it before you make the life changing decision to end it.”

    Keeping Porn Addiction From Causing Divorce

    Although not uncommon, Jerry and Lisa are the worst-case scenario. A porn addiction doesn’t have to mean divorce if you are able to put some safeguards in the relationship. This does not mean accepting porn and making it okay in the marriage. Porn addiction is almost never a benign, harmless form of entertainment or sexual release. It will ultimately cause all the problems Jerry and Lisa faced.

    But there are somethings you can do to prevent porn from becoming your grounds for divorce.

    Talk to Him Immediately

    Talking about porn can be awkward for sure. It may feel like an embarrassing topic for one or both partners. But this may be the most crucial step in keeping your marriage intact and keep his porn addiction from meaning divorce. Some of the points that should be discussed are:

    • Why porn? Does your husband want more sex, different sex, or was it a choice based on opportunity? Often porn addiction starts as a curiosity. Maybe a buddy sent a video, or there was an advertisement for a site that was too tempting not to click. Whatever the “why,” address it together and make sure that there’s not a ready void for porn to fill.
    • How porn makes you feel. Most women don’t behave (or look like) like the women on the screen. Let him know that feeling like he wants them and what they do makes you feel like you’re not enough (assuming this is how you feel). Afterall, if he can’t swing from a helicopter while saving a small child and taking out all the bad guys with a bow-and-arrow, he can’t expect you to reenact a flying trapeze act naked.
    • Feeling left out and alone. Masturbating and watching porn is a solo activity. The person doing it is focused on their own pleasure and nothing else. Sex between two people involves the pleasure of both and no one person is in control of the experience. Porn addiction can cause a man to forget this and ultimately make sex with his spouse dissatisfying because it’s multifaceted and requires his being selfless, something he may become unaccustomed to with sex.

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    Consider Talking to a Professional

    This can also fall into the awkward category, but if it’s clear that your husband (or you – women can become addicted to porn as well) is unable to resist the temptation of porn there are counselors who specialize in porn addiction that can be of help. Much like ingested or injected drugs, porn has a chemical effect on the brain. The more you see the more you want to see. This can make it really hard (no pun intended) to stop on your own. So, before you allow porn to be the grounds for your divorce consider speaking to a professional – a counselor, not a lawyer.

    Try Not to Judge

    As distasteful as porn can be to many women, if you love your husband and believe him to be a good man, don’t allow porn by itself to change your opinion. When my dog killed a bird, I had a hard time looking at him or petting him. I was disgusted and could only picture blood and feathers in his mouth. But killing the bird didn’t make him a bad dog and watching porn doesn’t make your husband a bad man. Yes, an adult man has far more ability to control his actions than my fluffy, golden retriever who somehow believes that he saved me from that menacing dove, but it’s a fair, parallel analogy.

    Porn addiction is tricky. Many couples struggle to talk about intimacy, sex and romance in their marriage as it is. Add porn to the equation and it can feel like standing on hot coals while you’re trying to have a meaningful discussion. But a marriage requires the ability to talk about the hard, ugly topics in order for it to survive in a happy, healthy way. So, before you let porn addiction to be the grounds for a divorce, consider taking the necessary steps to try to save your marriage.

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