Danielle Bean, a wife and mother of eight, is editorial director of Faith & Family magazine and author of My Cup of Tea, Mom to Mom, Day to Day, and most recently Small Steps for Catholic Moms. Read more of her blogging at Faith & Family Live and DanielleBean.com.
Over the weekend, Zenit ran an interview with Peter Kleponis, a Catholic psychotherapist who specializes in marriage and family therapy, men’s issues and pornography addiction recovery. The questions and answers, focused on about the prevalence and effects of pornography.
What I found most disturbing was Kleponis’ description of the pervasiveness of pornography, even among very young people, and its devastating effects on males and females. About males, he notes the addictive nature of pornographic images:
When a man looks at a pornographic image, there is a chemical reaction going on in the brain. Dopamine is released, there is euphoria, and, when combined with sexual arousal and orgasm, it becomes what I call the “perfect recipe” for an addiction.
About females, he points out:
“There are a number of younger women who are forced into this because their boyfriends insist that this be part of their relationship. They fundamentally don’t want it, and that’s a different issue. This gets into the issue of what pornography has taught young people. ... What this teaches young women is that in order to get a boyfriend and keep him, they have to be sexually active and participate in pornography. Right now it’s a popular thing for women to use their camera phones to take nude pictures of themselves and email them to their boyfriends. They feel that this is what they have to do. Do they like it? No. If you ask them, deep down inside they feel that it is degrading, and they’re very angry about it. But they feel that they’re stuck, that it’s what they have to do.”
Further in the interview, Kleponis describes ways that marriages are hurt by the use of, and addiction to pornography. He lists ways men can determine if they have a problem and has suggestions for wives who discover that their husbands need intervention.
“We recommend that when a wife discovers pornography use, she correct her husband by describing her betrayal pain to him. We also encourage her to try to master her anger by entering into a forgiveness process that often is initially spiritual, by praying, “God forgive him” or “God take my anger.” Strong correction should be given with an expectation of change and fidelity to the marriage and children.
The response to such correction varies. Some men are grateful that the darkness in their lives has been exposed, while others respond: “There’s nothing wrong with it; it’s not a problem; everyone’s doing it.” If the later response persists in spite of proof of pornography use, wives should insist on the couple discussing this problem with a third party such as a trusted relative or friend, a priest or a counselor. Most married men with pornography conflicts we work with are in our offices because their wives demanded treatment.”
As uncomfortable as this topic makes some of us, we don’t do our families or our marriages any favors by pretending it doesn’t exist. Modern technology makes easy access to pornography an everyday temptation, whether we like it or not.
Some resources that can help families combat this sinister reality:
If you know of others to recommend, please do so in the comments.