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Porn damages the brain and marriages

Pornography does not save or strengthen marriages.
Pornography does not save or strengthen marriages.
Image: 123RF/ Bartolomiej Pietrzyk

A friend of ours recently invited us to form part of a focus group to assist in her thesis for her doctoral studies.

The theme was broadly on the effects of pornography in marital intimacy.

One of the focus group members, a neuropsychologist, gave input on the brain functioning of  a person who is addicted — which we will expound on later.

However, first we’d like to address the myth that using porn is normal in marriage.

For those using porn, there’s a natural desire to justify their behaviour and overlook the negative effects it has on their marriages. Here it is:

Myth: Porn will spice up our sex life

Porn’s effect on marriage is anything but sexy. In reality, porn makes one think that what you see on the screen can and should happen in the bedroom too.

This is an unrealistic expectation, and trying to make it happen may lead one down harmful paths you never thought you would embark on.

The lust in porn is of a totally different substance than the sex God designed within marriage.

Porn is a smorgasbord of unlimited, perfectly shaped bodies who have no problems and who “want” you.

But your spouse is not going to be a smorgasbord. They are one unique and imperfect person.

They probably don’t have a perfect body and have problems. And they will not “want” you every day.

In other words, your spouse is a real-life human being who lives off-camera.

Furthermore, many men who regularly watch porn develop porn-induced erectile dysfunction, meaning their spouses no longer excite them.

So much for spicing up your sex life.

Others believe if “my spouse were available, sexy enough, and/or adventurous enough, I wouldn’t be struggling with porn”.

These are lies. The truth is your struggle with porn has nothing to do with your spouse.

The science behind porn use shows that it’s very addictive and has little to do with all the “not enoughs” above.

The primary issue at stake here is viewing marriage as a transaction that is focused on “taking” instead of “giving”.

If you entered marriage with the primary objective of “taking” something from your spouse to fix your brokenness, then you’ll have a fractured relationship with your spouse.

It’s not so much about your spouse’s non-availability, but more about your lack of self-control and failure to negotiate with your spouse to reach middle ground where your physical intimacy is concerned.

Oh! It’s also about your perverted mind, by the way.

How porn affects your brain

According to the neuropsychologist referred to above, porn physically changes your brain scans to look like those of drug addicts. 

Just like other addictive substances, porn fills the brain with dopamine.

Dopamine is the same neurotransmitter that makes you feel good when you’re rewarded for an achievement, or when you get a pat on the back for a job well done, or when you get likes and positive comments on your social media update.

Dopamine is a motivator. It’s what makes you want to do it again.

Porn-induced orgasms release dopamine, and dopamine wires you to want to do it again and again.

And the more you view it, the more desensitised you become.

And here’s the scary part: the more porn you view, the more severe the damage to your brain becomes and the more difficult it is to break free.

Your brain can’t tell the difference between viewing porn and physically having sex with your spouse.

Of course, you can, but your brain can’t.

So the same mechanics that happen when you have sex with your spouse, happen when you watch porn. This is very important.

When you watch porn, the part of your brain that’s responsible for logical thinking and rational decision-making shuts down.

Though you always have the option to shut it down, you don’t, because you aren’t thinking logically.

Furthermore, porn is a little different to other addictions.

Most alcoholics want more and more alcohol. But porn addicts don’t just want more porn, they want different porn.

What was once exciting and arousing, no longer satisfies them, and they look for harder and harder core porn.

That’s why porn is so addictive, and never satisfies.

Often porn users venture into progressively perverse content, which is why porn is linked to violence, crime and even abusive behaviour towards a spouse.

In addition, one can develop an emotional attachment to porn.

Your brain literally thinks you’re in a relationship with those porn stars. That’s why when you’re stressed, anxious, depressed and lust for another fix, you watch porn.

You turn to your fake “relationship” for comfort. You turn to that “relationship” not necessarily because your spouse isn’t available.

But you do so because the porn stars do it better — and you feel like they understand your adventurous sexual intrigue and fascinations better.

Not only does this make it harder to break a porn addiction, because by doing so you’d be “breaking up” with your emotional safe haven, it makes it harder to connect with the real human in your life  because of your emotional connection to porn.

Your addiction literally forces you to pick porn over your spouse — even if you don’t want to.

Porn is not your friend. Don’t embrace it. It’s a stronghold. It’s deadly, not just for you but your marriage too.

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