A critical part of having a happy family is a healthy respect for human life, for our bodies, and freedom from addiction and addictive behavior. Experimentation with drugs of any kind is NOT ok, and is not a normal part of being a teenager. Experimentation with these types of things does not have a good track record in producing healthy happy people. The same goes for ‘less harmful’ legal substances like prescription drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, or indulgence in any other thing that causes dependency.

FREEDOM is a huge part of being happy. Why use something that can take away our freedom of choice and cause us to become dependent? I believe that we all understand the dangers of drug and alcohol addiction, and the ravages it brings to families world wide. These are among the more obvious dependency forming substances and cause the most deaths combined, both directly and indirectly than any other thing know to man. Why should we EVER make any concessions of ANY kind when it comes to the use of drugs and alcohol?

On the same token, experimentation with illicit sex or sexual material of any kind is NOT ok, and is not a normal part of being a teenager, and it is not a normal part of being male. Experimentation with these types of things does not have a good track record in producing healthy happy people. Illicit sex with multiple partners is known to cause many different types of painful and incurable diseases, and behavioral problems that can permanently cripple a person’s ability to have a healthy intimate relationship.

A more subtle and deceptive argument is that sex is a natural and normal part of life, and so we should be able to indulge in as much of it as we like, and that because pornography is just a picture, you cannot get a disease by simply looking. Sex is a natural and normal part of life, but research has shown pornography to be just as addictive as drugs like heroin. The difference is that once the images are in the brain, they can be instantly recalled at any moment, and can never be completely erased or ‘detoxed.’ Pornography may not be able to give you an STD in the ‘traditional’ sense, but it can cause mental illness ranging from mild personality disorder to obsessive/compulsive and predatory sexual behaviors.

Others argue that pornographic images can be used as educational material for couples who want to enhance their sex life or who a more exciting sexual relationship. The problem with this argument is that this is like trying to learn collegiate wrestling from the WWE Smackdown. Pornographic movies or images do not portray realistic sexual activity between loving married couples. They display only the sexual side of the act and none of the emotional exchange. They debase the participants by reducing sexual intimacy to the act of sex, objectifying human beings. In his testimony at the May 19, 2005 summit on pornography and violence against women and children, Daniel Weis pointed out that “pornography turns people into commodities. Men and women become sexual objects to be bought, sold, used and discarded. The last time the United States recognized human beings as consumer goods, it took a civil war to end it.”

When a man begins to see his wife as an object, bad things begin to happen to their marital relationship, whether she knows about his use of pornography or not. The fact is that pornography can destroy a marriage without the wife ever knowing anything about her husband’s use of it, because pornography causes several significant behavioral changes in those who view it. Let me illustrate how this can happen:

First of all, there is a seed of anger planted because of the simple fact that pornographic depictions of sex are unrealistic; creating sexual expectations or fantasies that cannot be met. The husband who views pornographic images looses his ability to be satisfied sexually in his marriage relationship because of his desire to fulfill an unrealistic sexual fantasy. He will often become obsessed with sex as it is displayed in the images and try to pressure his spouse into sexual activities that she either cannot duplicate or that are uncomfortable or distasteful to her. Because he has objectified her, he may have little regard for her feelings, and become angry with her when she does not wish to participate even if her participation causes pain or injury to her. If she does participate he soon loses interest and moves on to another sexual fantasy.

Husbands who look at pornography also become more and more critical of their wives. Because they are dealing with feelings of embarrassment, guilt, and self loathing, rather than stop the behavior, they will try to place blame on the wife for her imperfections. If she weren’t overweight, unattractive, nagging, etc., then he would not feel the need to look at pornographic material. The imperfections in his wife’s body will be magnified when compared to the airbrushed images of a pornographic model. He will become more and more irritable and less patient and loving. His outlook will become more and more selfish as his focus shifts to obtaining an unattainable sexual fantasy.

He will spend more and more time on the computer and less and less time with his wife and children. He will become more secretive and demand more privacy. He will be defensive and get angry and possibly even violent if you question him about what he is looking at on the computer. In his article Dealing with Internet Addiction, Stephen O. Watters cites Dr. Kimberly Young, a pioneer in Internet addiction research. If you suspect pornography addiction, “she encourages spouses to look for changes in sleep patterns, demands for privacy, evidence of lying, personality changes, a loss of interest in sex and a declining investment in your relationship. One way to determine if your spouse’s activity is drifting off into inappropriate areas is to simply ask them, “What are you doing while you are online?” If they seem defensive or deceptive, you may want to get a more accurate idea by reviewing the history files on your browser.”

Other things to look for are if he password protects his computer and is reluctant to tell you the password, or only gives it to you after he has had a chance to erase any incriminating evidence; he may carry external storage devices with him, such as an extra hard drive, an ipod, a thumb drive, digital camera with a removable storage card, or other external mass storage device, even if he doesn’t need them for work. He may spend more time after work, coming home later and later than usual, or he may even go in to work earlier. He may lose interest in intimacy, or he may have a sudden increase in sexual desire.

You may notice an excess of spyware, malware, or virus infection on the computer, where the computer’s internet connection may seem slow or bogged down, and/or you may be inundated with all kinds of advertising pop-ups for sexually related products, virus protection software, gaming sites, gambling, or even pornographic websites while you are online.

If he isn’t very computer savvy, you can check the history in the browser, but often he is skilled at covering his tracks, using browsers that do not cache images, such as Firefox, or he may install some type of shredder that completely destroys any evidence of his browsing habits. You may find folders containing random images, the same image over and over again, or even just black squares with added noise. These could be encrypted files masking other files, images, or even movies.

If pornography continues to affect him in this way, it WILL destroy the marriage and if you want your marriage to last, you need to get help FAST! He may eventually have an extramarital affair, but not necessarily. The wife may never be able to quite put her finger exactly on what went wrong, and she may blame herself for the failure of the marriage because from her perspective, he simply lost interest in her and nothing she ever did was ever good enough, she was never perfect enough, never able to satisfy some need that he had.

But pornography is more than just a silent destroyer of marriages. According to Daniel Weis, “pornography is also a significant factor in sexual violence. The FBI reports that the most common interest among serial killers is hardcore pornography. Another study found that 87 percent of child molesters were regular consumers of hardcore pornography.” Ted Bundy admitted that pornography fueled the fire that led him to murder several women. Pornography creates serial killers, rapists, child predators, and sexual deviants. The earlier in life that a child is exposed to pornography, the more likely it is that he will have sexual problems as a result of pornography.
According to Pornography’s Impact on Marriage & the Family by Jill C. Manning

“The research indicates pornography consumption is associated with the following six trends, among others:

Increased marital distress, and risk of separation and divorce
Decreased marital intimacy and sexual satisfaction
Increased appetite for more graphic types of pornography and sexual activity associated with abusive, illegal or unsafe practices
Devaluation of monogamy, marriage and child rearing
An increasing number of people struggling with compulsive and addictive sexual behavior.

“These trends reflect a cluster of symptoms that undermine the foundation upon which successful marriages and families are established. While the marital bond may be the most vulnerable relationship to Internet pornography, children and adolescents are the most vulnerable audience. When a child lives in a home where an adult is consuming pornography, he or she encounters the following four risks:

Decreased parental time and attention
Increased risk of encountering pornographic material
Increased risk of parental separation and divorce and
Increased risk of parental job loss and financial strain

“When a child or adolescent is directly exposed the following effects have been documented:

Lasting negative or traumatic emotional responses
Earlier onset of first sexual intercourse, thereby increasing the risk of STD’s over the lifespan
The belief that superior sexual satisfaction is attainable without having affection for one’s partner, thereby reinforcing the commoditization of sex and the objectification of humans
The belief that being married or having a family are unattractive prospects
Increased risk for developing sexual compulsions and addictive behavior
Increased risk of exposure to incorrect information about human sexuality long before a minor is able to contextualize this information in ways an adult brain could
Overestimating the prevalence of less common practices (e.g., group sex, bestiality, or sadomasochistic activity)

Pornography addiction, just like any other addiction, devalues human life and promotes self serving behavior. A person who is selfish and who does not value his own life, or the lives of those around him cannot be happy. There is no place for pornography in a healthy happy family life.

Some other more subtle things that can cause addictive behaviors and unhappiness in family life are excessive computer use, gaming, and television viewing. While not necessarily bad activities, these need to be limited, as research shows that excessive amounts of these activities can lead to patterns of addictive or antisocial behavior and excessive violence, insecurity, or depression. According to How TV affects your Child in KidsHealth, “in one year, the average child spends 1,023 hours in front of a TV.” That is 4 or more hours a day, or most of the remaining time after school. “despite its advantages, too much television can be detrimental:

Research has shown that children who consistently spend more than 4 hours per day watching TV are more likely to be overweight
Kids who view violent events, such as a kidnapping or murder, are also more likely to believe that the world is scary and that something bad will happen to them.
Research also indicates that TV consistently reinforces gender-role and racial stereotypes.

About television violence, the article states “the average American child will witness 200,000 violent acts on television by age 18.” And that “many violent acts are perpetrated by the ‘good guys,’ whom children have been taught to emulate.” This gives a skewed perception that problems can be solved through violence, and even if you teach your children not to hit, the TV is telling them it is ok to hit “if you’re the ‘good guy.’” See the link to the article below for more information on this, and tips and tricks for limiting your kid’s viewing time.

As far as video games go, I strongly discourage them with my children. Devices like game boys, and game consoles such as the X-Box and the Nintendo Game Cube bring out addictive behavior problems with my boys even with playing as little as a few minutes a day. For some reason, my daughter doesn’t have this problem with video games, and research verifies that this is more of a problem for boys than it is for girls. There is so much we do not know about human development, and I feel like this is one that falls into the category of “it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

According to CBS news article Detox For Video Game Addiction? Experts Say Gaming Can Be A Compulsion As Strong As Gambling, “too much gaming may seem relatively harmless compared with the dangers of a drug overdose, but Bakker [Keith Bakker, certified interventionist; and director, Smith & Jones Addiction Consultants] says video game addiction can ruin lives. Children who play four to five hours per day have no time for socializing, doing homework, or playing sports, he says. “That takes away from normal social development. You can get a 21-year-old with the emotional intelligence of a 12-year-old. He’s never learned to talk to girls. He’s never learned to play a sport.”

“In older addicts, compulsive gaming can jeopardize jobs or relationships. Howard, a 33-year-old project manager who asked to be identified only by his first name, started playing an online role-playing game about six months ago. He plays for three to four hours almost every day — more on weekends — occasionally putting off meals or sleep.”

Kimberly Young, PsyD, clinical director, Center for On-Line Addiction; professor of psychology recommends that parents watch their kids for signs of video game addiction, carefully observing their reactions to limiting gaming time and problems that result from video gaming. If they object to limits and constantly obsess over when they can play to the point that they can’t think of anything else, they may be addicted to video games.

Keith Bakker states that “because video game addicts can’t avoid computers, they have to learn to use them responsibly. Bakker says that means no gaming. As for limiting game time to an hour a day, he compares that to ‘an alcoholic saying he’s only going to drink beer.’” If your kid is an addict, you may need to take steps to eliminate video games from your home. Get your kids out of the house and expose them to lots of fun, healthy activities, such as geocaching, sports, art, photography, or other physically active or mentally creative activities.

Whatever choices you make, the most important thing to remember is that life is a gift, our bodies are special, and if we want to be happy, we need to respect that. Human beings are more than commodities, and we need to keep ourselves free from addictions of any kind or behaviors that depreciate the value of human life. This is a critical part of happiness and if we are truly seeking a happy family then this is an absolute must!

For Further Reading:
Drug Abuse and Addiction: Understanding the Signs, Symptoms, and Effects at HelpGuide.org
Talking to Your Child About Pornography at focusonyourchild.com
Talking to Youth about Pornography By Dan Gray, Licensed clinical social worker
The Impact of Internet Pornography on Marriage and the Family: A Review of the Research by Jill C. Manning, M.S.
Pornography: Harmless Fun or Public Health Hazard? Testimony by Daniel Weiss at the May 19, 2005 summit on pornography and violence against women and children.
How TV Affects Your Child at KidsHealth.org
Detox For Video Game Addiction? Experts Say Gaming Can Be A Compulsion As Strong As Gambling by Sherry Rauh, CBS News, Web MD


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