Some couples use pornography for sexual stimulation or educational purposes, to “spice up” their sex life. But while their intentions may be good, instead of helping, pornography can ruin a marriage.
In a married couple’s life, the sexual relationship is part of a complex of factors responsible for happiness. Due to several pressure factors, experts say, especially at the beginning of their relationship, partners can become so preoccupied and stressed out by the “right techniques” that they lose their naturalness and spontaneity.
Statistics reveal that this dysfunction also occurs in the case of those who have been together for many years. Routine, housework, raising children, and bad habits can bring any couple into this situation. In this context, inhibition is often the result.
Inhibitions: between normalcy and abuse
Sexual inhibitions can be temporary or permanent. Some are valid and healthy, while others may be due to ignorance, lack of sexual education, or myths. Minnu Bhonsle, psychotherapist and counsellor, and Rajan Bhonsle, MD, senior consultant in sexual medicine and a counsellor, run a couples therapy centre together.
The two counsellors say it is perfectly normal for a couple to be free from inhibitions such as those related to undressing in front of their spouse, involvement in a normal sexual act, sincerity towards the partner, or the idea of being proactive in the intimate relationship.
However, the counsellors continue, partners should have inhibitions regarding harmful sexual acts, such as anal sex, sadism, masochism, the use of abusive language, the involvement of someone other than your partner during the sexual act, or the use of pornography before or during sexual intercourse.
Throughout their counselling experience, the Bhonsles have noticed that most sexual problems stem from the use of pornography in a couple’s life.
Although pornography can disinhibit men from the norms of a relationship and society, it inhibits women. They can no longer be open to their husband during intimate contact because they no longer feel adequate, proper, or good for what men want.
For many, pornography is seen as harmless fun. However, Mary Anne Layden, PhD, a psychotherapist and Director of Education at the Centre for Cognitive Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania, points out that since she started treating victims of sexual violence, she has not treated a single case of sexual violence that did not involve pornography.
Sexual abuse, just a click away
Ever since the 1980s, there have been studies that show that pornography predisposes or intensifies the predisposition of some men to rape women because it’s undermining their inner or social inhibitions that would prevent them from committing such acts. The main reason why pornography manages to reduce the inner inhibitions that would stop men from committing rape acts is that it causes them to perceive women as sexual objects.
If men think that women like to be raped, as they often see in pornographic movies, then they have no constraints about raping. Sociologists Diana Scully and Martha Burt have shown since the 1980s that most rapists believe in rape myths: about 65% of the rapists involved in the study believed that women deserved to be raped because of the way they dressed, and 60% of the perpetrators believed themselves innocent.
A man asking his wife to engage in all sorts of sexual activities because “everyone does it these days”, or under the pretense of “you’ll like it, I’ve seen it in movies”, also means turning a woman into a sum of her body parts, readily available to the man. In other words, again a perception of women as sexual objects.
The best sexual experience is when one partner protects the other’s privacy
Case studies have shown that lack of communication is the only cause of most inhibitions that occur in couples and communication is the best remedy. For anyone in a relationship at any stage, communication is the lifeline. Many counsellors ask their clients to tell each other what exactly they enjoy or what bothers them until the psychological barrier that gets in the way of their communication disappears.
Busting the myth that “pornography solves the couple’s intimate problems”, experts say that sexual freedom does not mean accepting sexual acts that cause physical or mental discomfort or cross the boundaries of self-respect.
The best sexual experiences happen when each partner protects the other’s privacy, when there is mutual respect, modesty, love, care and fidelity. Otherwise, sex becomes, as the English writer Aldous Huxley describes it, “a maniac struggling in the musky darkness with another maniac.”