A recent study presented this week at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association reported on the effect starting to watch pornography has on a marriage.
This study surveyed thousands of American adults at three time points over four years. They asked about pornography use at each stage of the survey. The researchers particularly wanted to focus on changing pornography use and marital status.
The study found that those individuals who started to watch pornography during the survey time period (who were not watching pornography the first time they were surveyed) had a higher likelihood of being divorced at a subsequent interview point. Younger Americans were more affected by the start of pornography use than older Americans. The authors suggested that this may be the result of two things. First, the fact that younger Americans view more pornography than older Americans and second, the fact that younger married Americans tend to have relationships that are not as stable, both emotionally and financially, as older Americans.
One study finding that goes against previous research involves religiosity. This study found that the more a couple attended church (as a measure of religious involvement) the less of an effect pornography viewing had. The authors speculate that with couples who are highly religious, the pressure to stay married outweighs the effect of pornography use on the level of satisfaction in the marriage.
The authors also looked at the effect of initial marital happiness and pornography use on the divorce rate. They found that couples who initially reported being very happy in their marriage were more seriously affected by one partner starting to watch pornography and their divorce rates were higher. In contrast, for couples who reported low marital satisfaction from the start, there was no effect of one partner starting to watch pornography on the divorce rate. The authors postulated that these happy marriages were more affected by the pornography use because the disclosure of pornography use can rock a previously happy marriage to the point of divorce.
It should be noted that the study is not definitively saying that pornography use causes divorce. When looking at research studies, one needs to look at all factors. Yes, this study is saying that when one partner in a marriage starts to look at pornography, the likelihood of divorce increases (from 6% to 11%). They are not saying that it is inevitable. The study also did not look at any number of other factors which could have influenced the divorce or, more importantly, the factors that influenced the partner to start watching pornography in the first place.
This study was presented at the ASA meeting this week. It is entitled “Til Porn Do Us Part? Longitudinal Effects of Pornography Use on Divorce.” Samuel Perry from the University of Oklahoma is the lead author.
For more information on Dr. Weeks, please go to our website at www.sexualaddictiontreatmentservices.com Also, find Dr. Weeks’ new book The New Age of Sex Education: How to talk to your teen about cybersex and pornography in the digital age on amazon or bookbaby.