Medical Q&As

Pornography - addicted to sex?

My husband seems to be obsessed with pornography. He has been exploring various internet sex sites and occasionally goes to sex shops in Dublin. He has befriended a guy that works in a sex shop and sometimes goes to watch hard porn with him. We have two children and I thought that we were happily married but now my confidence is blown. I am sickened inside. I am not frigid or a prude but I now feel totally shattered. Is my whole life going to be full of lies? I now feel that my husband finds me unattractive and he looks at these pictures to put spice in his mind. Are the women in these magazines what he really wants? I will never look like these women but he gets so turned on by it that I feel my marriage will not last another year. Am I over reacting?

You are clearly very unhappy with the current state of your relationship with your husband. I suspect that your husband is fulfilling particular sexual needs of his own through his use of pornography. It would appear that he has two parallel lives: one where he fulfils his sexual desires through the internet and other sources of pornography and the other life that he shares with you. Pornography can be very powerful in its effects and some people can be drawn away from a sexual relationship with a partner into a fantasy world of sex that can become a form of addiction. Paradoxically a person that is addicted to sex may actually avoid sex with their partner and instead may prefer the world of fantasy where they pursue sex with themselves through masturbation or possibly with others. The internet in particular opens up a Pandora’s Box of enticements that could never be realised in the real world of a relationship with another real living breathing human being. This can create impossible expectations and place great strain on a relationship. Erotic literature and imagery can be enjoyed by a couple and this shared experience can certainly add spice to a consensual relationship. However, if one partner is pursuing the fulfilment of their sexual desires in a fantasy world that is divorced from their relationship with their partner then a relationship can be placed under serious threat. Both you and your husband need to talk about what is happening. I would suggest that your focus ought to be on your relationship with each other. It might be helpful for you both to attend a counsellor to pursue this matter further. If your husband won’t agree to that you should attend on your own. To your final point I would say; no you are not over reacting.