Inside Porn Addiction

The path to healthy intimacy.

Is Porn Really Destroying 500,000 Marriages Annually?

Is porn really the cause of 50% of all divorces?

In a 2004 testimony before the United States Senate, Dr. Jill Manning shared some interesting data regarding pornography and relationships. In her research she found that 56 percent of divorce cases involved one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.1 Another source, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, polled 350 divorce attorneys in 2003 where two thirds of them reported that the Internet played a significant role in the divorces, with excessive interest in online porn contributing to more than half such cases.

If these numbers are accurate, here's a very sobering statistic. Every year for the past decade there have been roughly 1 million divorces in the United States. If half of the people divorcing claim pornography as the culprit, that means there are 500,000 marriages annually that are failing due to pornography.

I am sure that many people will argue that there are other underlying issues in these marriages and that pornography is the symptom and not the root cause. I get it. It can't possibly be the porn because porn wasn't the reason given in the late 70's and early 80's when the divorce rate hit its peak. Back then wasn't it sex, money, and the kids? So it's not really the porn, right? It has to be the lack of sexual intimacy in the marriage or that the women are too cold and frigid. Or maybe it's because some women are overly sensitive and feel so threatened by it that they are putting their foot down and saying "me or the porn." There just has to be another reason besides the porn.

Wait...wait...what if it actually is the porn?

If so, wouldn't we benefit by asking ourselves some difficult questions. . .

1. How does obsessive porn use influence the one consuming it?
2. How should a spouse respond to their partner's excessive use of porn?
3. Can couples learn to discuss "the porn issue" in an effective way?

As a researcher and clinician who deals with couples whose lives have been turned upside down by pornography, I have had to face these questions head-on so I could better understand and help my clients navigate through them. I don't think porn is "always" the cause of divorce. In fact, I have a hard time imagining that the 500,000 divorces in the United States each year are because of porn. Nevertheless, if even 25% of the 500,000 divorce cases are due to porn, that is 125,000 marriages each and every year that are a direct result of pornography.

That's too many broken homes. That's too much hurt and pain.

Is it okay to suggest that pornography might not be good for our society? Sure a majority of people who view porn aren't obsessed by it, but what about those whose lives are out of control because of it? There is a tremendous cost to society whether we acknowledge it or not.

My heart hurts for individuals caught in the web of pornography. When you see grown men crying in your office because they can't quit and when they tell you that porn is costing them everything, you quickly realize that pornography is not just a leisurely activity. Then, when you meet a woman who feels rejected, not good enough, and unloved by her partner because of porn, you want to change something about the way things are being done.

I am convinced that relationships do not have to end because of pornography. The problem is individuals, couples, and our society does not know how to deal with porn yet. It has entered our lives and our homes like a tsunami and we are ill-prepared to talk about it in a meaningful way. We need to leave behind the blame and accusations, the discussion of whether it's right or wrong, and seriously consider how to reduce the negative consequences of pornography on our society.

If you are interested in sharing your experience regarding pornography in your relationship, I have prepared a short survey to further our understanding of this topic. Please click on the following link and take a free 5 minute survey titled, "Pornography and Your Relationship."

Reference:

1. Manning J., Senate Testimony 2004, referencing: Dedmon, J., "Is the Internet bad for your marriage? Online affairs, pornographic sites playing greater role in divorces," 2002, press release from The Dilenschneider Group, Inc.

 

Kevin B. Skinner, Ph.D., is a licensed marriage and family therapist. He is the author of Treating Pornography Addiction: The Essential Tools for Recovery.

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