My Husband's Addiction Ruined Our Marriage

Tara Blair Ball

What may start out as an occasional indulgence can rot your relationships from the inside out. 

I stood and stretched and then turned to my then husband and said, “Are you coming to bed?” 

He glanced up at me. “No. I’ll probably stay up a little longer.”

I sighed and walked to our bedroom.

Our intimate life had never been great, but it’d been better early on in our relationship. After years of marriage, it had nosedived considerably. I didn’t understand why. He was always tired, he told me. He had to get up early, he reminded me.

His excuses were nearly always the same, but they didn’t explain anything for me. I was tired, yet I was still interested. Ihad to get up early, but I was willing to have it at other times, even early in the morning to make it happen. But he only wanted to have it at night, yet he never made time for it to happen at night. And if we did, he often couldn’t perform. 

A couple of weeks later, I opened his iPad to look up something on Google. His web browser showed a video. This surprised me because he’d always told me he didn’t watch it. 

“I watched it when I was younger, but I don’t care for it anymore,” he’d told me. 

Well, that wasn’t true at all.

He actually had a porn addiction, and that’s what had ruined our intimate life and one of many things that ripped apart our marriage. 

For many people, there’s nothing wrong with watching porn, just like there’s nothing wrong with eating sweets. It’s fun. It’s pleasurable and enjoyable. It gives us a rush.

But if we watch and watch and watch it just like if we start binging sweets, we’ll start to deal with negative consequences. 

My first marriage was a perfect example of this. What started as a fun occasional thing for my ex turned into an obsession. He’d make sure I was in bed so he had time alone with it, and all of the trappings of his addiction eroded our intimacy and connection from the inside out. 

When Does Watching Porn Become an Addiction?

Just like an alcoholic taking their first drink, it’s rarely the first drink that leads to their downfall. 

It’s only when their drinking starts to impact the rest of their life, when it balloons and pushes everything else out of the way. It’s clear someone has developed an addiction when a pattern of behavior or desire to consume a certain substance interferes with one’s daily life and causes negative consequences, like problems at work or school, strain on personal relationships, or financial difficulties. 

You likely have an addiction to porn if you deal with a negative consequence and yet still struggle controlling your watching. It’s like the alcoholic who gets a DUI, yet pushes their friend to drive them to the bar. 

If watching porn is impacting your quality of life, hurting your job, relationships, etc., then it’s turned into an addiction. 

Negative Effects of Porn Addiction

As humans, we crave connection. We need relationships — romantic as well as friendly — to live happy and successful lives. 

Yet porn addiction can corrode our connections, leaving us alone and unfulfilled. We become filled with shame, secretive, and distrustful. We keep the person who should be closest to us (our romantic partner) at a distance and lose our chances of true intimacy. 

It also hurts us where many of us have the most anxiety: in the bedroom.

Porn isn’t real. People’s bodies don’t generally look and move like that. They don’t even make noises like that. It’s performative to hook you, but because it lacks a basis in true reality, we become desensitized. Real-life intimacy and all of its weirdness starts to seem less appealing and stimulating. We have trouble getting aroused by real intimacy and a real person because our expectations fall short. We crave and want the fantasy, not the reality. 

Porn is created for us too. It gives us a way to explore our fantasies, like total dominance, a partner that finishes with just a couple of touches, or having a partner who seems to exist solely for our pleasure. But in real life, we have to have consent, and our partner may be into being our slave a few times, but they probably want to finish too and they may not be able to do so just from a few touches. 

That disconnect can lead to more problems, like a lack of desire for real intimacy with real partners or an inability to get or stay hard or wet. 

61% of married adults in research report that a good intimate life is “very important,” so a lack of one can be… the end of that relationship. My first marriage ended for many reasons, but our poor intimate life made it easier to leave. Why fight for something when my most human of needs couldn’t and likely wouldn’t ever be met? 

If your or your partner’s porn addiction is impacting your/their physical health and your relationship(s), look into getting professional help. Watching porn can seem innocuous, but it can turn from an occasional indulgence to relationship-ruining when it begins to consume you and you face negative consequences. Porn is just a fantasy while real-life is where it’s truly the most fun. 

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Tara Blair Ball is a Certified Relationship Coach and author of Grateful in Love: A Daily Gratitude Journal for Couples, A Couples Goals Journal, and Reclaim & Recover: Heal from Toxic Relationships with a 7-Step Guided Journal. She has a Master's from the University of Memphis and is accredited by CTAA. You can find her on Tiktok, Instagram, or YouTube at @tara.relationshipcoach.

Memphis, TN

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