by Cathi Bond

There is a never ending stream of soft pornography creeping into our daily lives. It is no longer a matter of if you and your children will encounter hard core porn, but when. This multibillion dollar industry permeates all forms of media. With internet access in our pockets and purses, it’s imperative not to become desensitized to its presence. But rather continually fight to prevent its devastating effects.

Healthy relationships are built on trust and realistic expectations. Yet men with a pornography obsession come to believe that their unlimited sexual expression on the screen is more exciting and satisfying than their real life caring human relationship. Often used as a maladaptive coping strategy for underlying issues, internet porn consumption becomes a predictor of distressed relationships. Hundreds of betrayals distort intimacy with immediate self-gratification, poisoning a relationship. Effects are sexual, psychological, relational, financial, and physical.

The wife experiences a range of emotions, especially when her husband relapses. Her sense of self becomes damaged. She worries that she isn’t enough. But the underlying cause isn’t about her physical attraction or performance. It’s about what is driving his high risk behaviors that can lead to real life or cyber extramarital affairs, ravaging marriages and tearing families apart.

I have friends who have divorced over their husband’s pornography use and ensuing entanglements. I also have friends who are striving to work through these sensitive and ominous issues in their marriage. They hope to rebuild trust and intimacy in their relationship by seeking healing through professional help, recovery, and forgiveness.

This isn’t just a guy’s issue. Increasing numbers of women are being lured into online sexual activity to escape boredom, stress, and anxiety without emotional investment. Romance novels, movies, and cyber-sex chat rooms entice women, affecting family life and carrying intense feelings of shame and guilt. Women are not only victims of pornography, but they have also become consumers and producers of seduction. This is going behind enemy lines, since women typically act as gatekeepers of the hearth and home.

Children and adolescents are most vulnerable. While teens are extremely savvy with technology, unfortunately the erotic world is only a click away and they know how to circumvent filters. Youth are one of the largest groups of pornography consumers even though their brains are not ready to process the debauchery of porn. Viewing this content can deform their healthy sexual development. Parents are their children’s first line of defense from the tsunami of explicit, toxic, and intrusive hyper-sexualized media.

Talk to your children now, before it’s too late. They can learn about sex from you or they can learn it on the computer, it’s up to you. Sex and sexuality is not a one-time talk. Start a dialogue early. Have open, honest discussions with your spouse and communicate with your children and teenagers about the dangers of pornography. Do everything you can to prevent getting hooked on deplorable pornography and reduce its destructive effects.

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