Several months ago I wrote an article about how wives can heal from their husband's porn habit. It had 35,000 views and continues to get more and more each day. But the feedback on the article was...mixed. It had a lot of views but the comments on the Facebook page ranged from relief to mockery. A lot of comments were from women who were glad to have healing tips for them as their husband struggles with viewing porn. And there were also a lot (maybe an equal amount) of people mocking the article stating that it's silly for this kind of article to be written because wives don't need to heal from their husbands porn habit since it has nothing to do with them.
Through reading all the comments, and from working with hundreds of couples on my couch every day, one question keeps coming up from wives over and over again: What role do I play when I catch my husband viewing porn? If you're a wife who continually catches your husband viewing porn and wondering what you can do about it. Here are some things to consider that will hopefully help you understand why he views porn and put your mind at ease that it's not your problem.
His brain works differently than yours
As a wife, you want to be the only one your husband thinks of sexually. So when you catch your husband viewing pornography (again) you can't help but get upset and even feel betrayed that he would even think of another woman - especially sexually. He tells you it doesn't mean anything to him because you're the one that he loves. But you can't see how he could think of looking at another woman if he loves you. And he can't see how you don't understand why it means nothing to him. So you battle back and forth with no end in sight.
Well, it's no wonder you don' understand each other because womens and mens brains are wired differently. For one, men have higher testosterone which is the hormone of libido. And for another, men have a 'sexual pursuit' portion of the brain that is 2.5 times larger than a womans. The combination of these two (among others) make for a cocktail of sexuality that is hard for you, as a woman, to understand his sexual drive. He can't help his sexual thinking anymore than you can help your menstrual cycle. They're both biologically instilled in humans as part of our gender for the sake of reproduction. Getting mad at him for thinking sexually would be like him gettng mad at you for ovulating - you both just can't help it.
The good news is, the human brain changes a lot over time. And mens brains become less sexually oriented as they age. Specifically, men report becoming more relationally oriented and more paternally oriented as well. In the meantime, while his brain develops, you'll see a lot of sexually oriented behaviors (such as looking at other women, viewing pornography, etc.). But his brain is not your problem.
It's his job to develop his sexual libido and bring it within the realms of a loving, monogamous relationship. But it'll be a struggle for him while he sorts it out. You can help him by being understanding and patient while he works through it - while still setting boundaries along the way.
Encourage, but don't police
It's also not your job to be the pornography police. Policing his internet use puts you in the position of being his parole officer instead of his wife. This not only creates problems of its own, but as a wife, you're just not equipped with the resources and information you need to actually help him - aside from making him feel bad whenever he gets caught.
There are counseling classes, online forums and church groups that can help him as he seeks help to get his pornography viewing under control. This can be very liberating for you as you free yourself from the responsibility to help him stop viewing pornogrpahy. It also helps you heal as you free yourself from the disappointment, embarassment, and guilt you feel every time you catch him viewing pornography.
While you can (and should) continue to set boundaries around his pornography viewing remember, it's his responsibility, not yours. And it's his brain that he has to master. You can't do it for him.
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. Checkout his blog for expert information on how to improve your relationship.