Why Porn Hurts Marriages

Why Porn Hurts Marriages (and why marital sex is so much hotter than porn)

By Sam Black

porn hurts marriagesPorn argues that variety is the spice of life, but studies show that long-term sexual intimacy with a spouse is much more satisfying.

Porn tries to convince people that more porn and more partners brings satisfaction. But a 2011 study of long-term committed relationships (with a median duration of 25 years) showed the opposite. The study showed that the longer a man was in a relationship, the more likely he enjoyed relational happiness and sexual satisfaction. Women, in turn, enjoyed sex less during the early years of their relationships and experienced greater satisfaction later.

Another study in 2010 showed that couples who delay sex until their wedding night enjoy more stable and happier marriages. They also rated the quality of sex and the satisfaction in their relationships 15% and 20% higher respectively than couples who had premarital sex. The results of these studies are nothing new, says Dr. Doug Weiss, author of Clean: A Proven Plan for Men Committed to Sexual Integrity. Studies and surveys of married couples, he said, have shown positive sexual satisfaction results for decades.

“The research shows that people who have consistent sex inside of a marriage—spiritually connected sex—have the best sexual satisfaction over time,” Weiss says.

Two Pleasure Systems in the Brain

Porn and masturbation is more exciting than satisfying because we have two separate
pleasure systems in our brains: one for exciting pleasure and another for satisfying pleasure, writes Dr. Norman Doidge in The Brain that Changes Itself.

Dopamine is the neurochemical that focuses our attention, gives our brain a little feel-good reward, and helps us become aroused. The exciting system, fueled by dopamine and anticipation, is all about appetite, such as imagining your favorite meal or a sexual episode, Doidge explains. The satisfying system involves actually having the meal or having sex, which provides a calming, fulfilling pleasure. This system releases opiate-like endorphins that provide feelings of peace and euphoria.

Pornography excites the appetite system, Doidge writes, because dopamine likes things that are new and different. But the satisfying system is left starving for the real thing, which includes actual touching, kissing, caressing, and a connection not only with the body but also the mind and soul. Real and meaningful intimacy ignites the satisfying system, and in addition to dopamine, it releases oxytocin and endorphins that provide feelings and emotions of fulfillment.

Sex is for Intimacy

The porn-saturated brain is stuck on sex, but real sex is intended for intimacy, explains Dr. William Struthers in Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain. A brain trained by porn is fixated on multiple partners, images, and sexual scenarios, but real sexual intimacy is designed for exclusive sharing. The neural pathways for porn are built for speed, but satisfying sex is designed for the slow and evolving discovery and appreciation of a loving partner. Porn seeks relief through masturbation, but the effects are fleeting and habit forming to the point of compulsion and addiction. Meanwhile a committed couple can have long and satisfying encounters with unending variety for expressing intimacy that are not genitally oriented.

Unlike a porn video or a magazine, sex with a real-life committed partner has many points of arousal and satisfaction, from words and tones of voice, to touch, to the temperature of skin, and many other interactions. Yes, dopamine likes novelty. For the porn user that means more porn, but in a committed relationship novelty never has to end.

“Fortunately, lovers can stimulate their dopamine, keeping the high alive, by injecting novelty into their relationship,” Dr. Doidge writes. “When a couple goes on a romantic vacation or tries new activities together, or wear new kinds of clothing, or surprise each other, they are using novelty to turn on the pleasure centers, so that everything they experience, including each other, excites and pleases them.”

2 thoughts on “Why Porn Hurts Marriages

  1. Pingback: 9 things you should know about pornography and the brain | agnus dei - english + romanian blog

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