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Protecting your marriage from porn during COVID-19

The invisible threats inside and outside our home

Protecting your marriage from porn during COVID-19

(Courtesy of Rosie Makinney)

As a wife whose marriage was taken to the brink of divorce because of my husband’s addiction to porn, I read with horror as the internet reports a rapid global increase of premium porn subscriptions. On March 12, 2020, Pornhub offered its premium service for free to the whole of Italy to “help” them deal with the nation-wide quarantine. Over the last few weeks, porn traffic in Italy has increased by a staggering 57%. Beginning March 16, the offer was extended to Spain and France, and in one day, subscriptions were up 38.2% and 61.3% respectively.[1] On  March 24, Pornhub further extended their free subscription service to the entire world for 30 days.

On the surface, it seems almost unkind to talk about more things for us to worry about. After all, what’s the big deal with anxious house-bound people using porn to soothe and distract themselves? If there ever was a time to turn a blind eye to a spouse’s porn use, this would be it, surely?

Actually, this is the very time you need to double down on your resolution to keep your household porn-free. Internet porn is not called the “crack-cocaine of sex addiction” for nothing. This is not something to dabble in. It doesn’t take long to become addicted to the supernormal stimulus of internet pornography, and believe me, it will continue to negatively impact your marriage long after this worldwide pandemic has subsided.

As so much research has made clear, pornography addiction rewires the brain and impairs real-life, human relational connections with loved ones. It doesn’t help the situation — it actually harms. It doesn’t aid boredom — it makes it worse. Porn creates a desire that is never satisfied. Users find they need to progressively increase the amount of time they watch it, or seek out novel or more shocking content to achieve the same high as last time. Consuming porn doesn’t help you let off steam, it creates irritability, unavailability and defensiveness. Just like any other addiction, porn addiction devours the attention, affection and energy of those in its grip. 

In a 2004 testimony before the United States Senate, Dr. Jill Manning shared revealing data regarding pornography and relationships. In her research she found that 56% of divorce cases involved one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.[2]  If this statistic was accurate fifteen years ago, I can only imagine what the actual percentage is today.

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Every year for the past decade there has been roughly 1 million divorces in the United States. If half of the people divorcing claim pornography as the culprit, that means there are 500,000 marriages annually that are failing due to pornography. And remember, these figures were before COVID-19 — before we were isolated in our houses for weeks on end, anxious and bored, with 24/7 access to free, unlimited, hard-core porn. As of March 17, global traffic on Pornhub was already up 11%.

I don’t highlight these sobering statistics to scare you, but simply to give you the motivation to act. We all need to apply the same diligence and determination to protect our loved ones from invisible threats inside our houses, as we do from those outside. This is a time to shore up all our defenses. In our haste to close the front door on COVID-19, we must not forget about the back door being left wide open to porn.

I know everything seems overwhelming at the moment. We are worried about our loved ones, worried about our financial future, the kids are driving us mad, and there is no end point in sight to help us manage our expectations. But, as a wise friend said to me recently, all you can do is focus on the things that are within your control. Be a good neighbor. Get your work done the best you can. Clean your house. Make memories with your kids. Love your spouse. And if you know or suspect that your spouse (or you, or one of your children) is struggling with porn, it is more loving to get this issue out into the light where you can begin to deal with it, than to ignore it. This is a time for pulling together, for cleaving together as a couple, not drifting apart and medicating with destructive artificial substitutes. 

Over the last ten years, I have walked alongside hundreds of wives going through recovery from their spouse’s porn addiction, and every one of them said that drawing a firm line in the sand against porn was the turning point of their relationship. In a porn-free marriage they discovered a level of trust, intimacy and security they never had before.

Take a deep breath and fear not; however deep your husband may be into his porn habit, it’s never too late to turn things around. Arm yourself with the facts, clothe yourself in strength and dignity, and stand firm against porn.


[1] https://www.pornhub.com/insights/corona-virus

[2] Manning J., Senate Testimony 2004, referencing: Dedmon, J., "Is the Internet bad for your marriage? Online affairs, pornographic sites playing greater role in divorces," 2002, press release from The Dilenschneider Group, Inc.

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Rosie Makinney is a writer, speaker, and podcaster, who ten years ago entered the fight against her husband’s compulsive porn use. Through her faithful and uncompromising stance and his repentance, counseling, and group work, their marriage is now porn-free. From the very beginning of her journey, Rosie has been bold and relentless about reaching other wives struggling with porn-invaded marriages. There is now a thriving recovery community on the central coast of California, supervised by her husband, Mark, a certified sexual addiction therapist. Rosie is the founder of Fight For Love Ministries, which empowers women with both the facts and the faith to fight against porn addiction and its effects on them, their spouses, and their families. Connect with her at www.fightforloveministries.org.

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