Some sources may tell you pornography is harmless, But it can be deadly to a marital relationship.
I'm grieving the loss of my young womanhood and the countless nights I went to bed wounded in heart and frustrated sexually. It's hard to look at my face in mid-life and wonder how my husband rejected me when I was at my best--I was really pretty.
I went through the stages you did. I was obedient, submitting even over tiny issues. I ministered to his needs and enjoyed it, even when he was oblivious to mine. For years, I've suffered from exhaustion--afraid that if I went to bed before my husband, I'd be neglecting his sexual or emotional needs. I did try saying, "I'm tired," but he felt rejected, and it took days to build him up again.
In the process, I was punished by his lack of involvement in our home and our children's lives. Worse, he'd spend days picking at me until I exploded. Looking back, I realize that I was so hungry for an emotional connection with him that I was willing to get it through anger if that was the only way he would hear me.
Meanwhile, I suffered terrible guilt from the increasing breakdowns I was having due to exhaustion. When I fell apart because I was overly exhausted or confused by lies, I was viewed as "the problem."
Once, when I ran out of a Bible time he was having because I was upset that he was demeaning me, my husband shoved me, tore the keys out of my hand and swore at me. I was afraid to tell him how I felt. I thought that would be unsubmissive since a good wife should like everything her husband does and not suggest any changes.
Afterward, I ran to all his counseling books. Not a single Christian source I checked told me these "minor" abuses not only weren't minor but were repugnant to God. I had to go to a secular book to find information on abuse.
It seems Christians assume the wounded must be under some sort of judgment or discipline from the Lord. It's almost a Hindu approach to life--fatalistic, instead of a good, clean anger after a wrong done.
I constantly wonder what I could have done differently. The question absolutely hounds me!
I was living within the context of a lie. I wasn't responsible for that lie. The false data gave me wrong clues as well as wrong ideas about myself, the Lord and my husband. Looking back, the one thing I should have done is pray more for truth.
Are you as moved by that letter as I am? It came from a woman who eschewed the feminist philosophy of self-fulfillment. She "came home" from the workplace to give herself to her husband and children.
Highly respected by both their church and their community, her family appeared to have it all together. Her husband, a well-known speaker on family issues, seemed to be a godly man.
But the truth was, the husband was hiding a secret life filled with pornography and sexual betrayal. The guilt accompanying his deceit showed up in the form of mind games that he played on his wife.
THE TRUTH ABOUT PORNOGRAPHY
Hurting's letter is only one of many hundreds of letters that poured in after the publication of my book, An Affair of the Mind, which explores the devastating impact pornography has on marriages. I am saddened to discover that so many others have experienced the betrayal that pornography brings to a marriage.
My letter writers and I are not alone. Studies show that 40 percent to 50 percent of Christian men are involved in pornography. Wondering if your husband is one of them is scary.
But, some of you already know. Some of you have friends who are suffering through this. Some of you are wondering what you should tell your teens about why they should avoid X-rated Web sites.
Whatever your situation, the truth will set you free to be a healthy wife, supportive friend and loving mother. So let's look at some of the truths about pornography.
Pornography is addictive. Dr. Mary Ann Layden, Director for the Center for Cognitive Therapy, says that an addiction to pornography is harder to break than a cocaine addiction and that recovery from it is more likely to result in relapse than any other addiction. Why?
When you view pornography, a powerful mix of hormones is released in the brain. Two hundred times more potent than morphine and more addictive than cocaine, endorphins and enkephalins bring on a "rush." The brain is just as driven to want this "rush" as a drug addict's body is driven to want drugs.
Pornography causes sexual dysfunction. Many people believe that pornography, especially "soft-core" erotica, is simply a depiction of normal, healthy heterosexuality. Nothing could be further from the truth. Pornography contains much false, misleading and scientifically inaccurate information about sexuality, especially female sexual nature and response.
For example, pornography portrays an endless round of thrilling sexual escapades with an endless bevy of breathless, hot-blooded babes and stud-muffins. The not-so-subtle message is that these babes and stud-muffins are more breathless and hot-blooded if you're not married to them. This is more fantasy than fact.
"Couples not involved [sexually] before their marriage and faithful during marriage are more satisfied with their current sex life and also with their marriage, compared to those who were involved sexually before marriage," says Dr. David Larson of the National Institutes of Health in an unpublished manuscript entitled "Behind Closed Doors." Dr. Larson and his associates also found that women who feel secure and loved and who trust that their man is around to stay are twice as fulfilled as women who are promiscuous.
There are physiological reasons why this is so. In healthy sexuality, two special parts of our nervous system, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) work together in harmony to bring about sexual arousal and release. If you give a fearful, guilty or embarrassed meaning to a sexual experience, the SNS will over-react, blocking normal sexual arousal.
Recently, I held a sobbing woman I'll call Jane. Jane stammered out her shame over things she had done in her marriage bed. Her husband stood nearby, hanging his head, saying he had asked her to perform those acts.
He thought they were OK--after all, the women in pornography enjoyed them. But in real life, those sexual practices cause pain. Jane's nervous system overloaded on the shame, fear and pain she was experiencing. As a result, she became sexually dysfunctional.
Pornography can cause sexual dysfunction in other ways. Those who use pornography often develop "sexual anorexia." This means they are unable or unwilling to enter into a sexual relationship with their spouses.
Sometimes this is because shame about the things they have done in secret make them want to hide from their spouses. Other times it's because they are angry with their spouses for not agreeing to act out a pornographic fantasy. Either way, sex is infrequent, and the innocent spouse wonders why he or she is no longer desirable.
Finally, pornography usage can lead to sexual dissatisfaction. Being compared to some unrealistic standard is a real turn-off. Women who clean bathrooms, make lunches and kiss boo-boos can't compete with women who are pumped up, tucked up and air-brushed.
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