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I wrote an article last week about a husband’s great need, and right, to be respected by his wife. The article went fairly viral, so I was inundated with hundreds of emails in response to it. To my surprise, and for a refreshing change of pace, most of them were not angry or vulgar. But one theme seemed to emerge from many of the messages I received: a lot women have trouble respecting their husbands because their husbands spend so much time watching porn.

I maintain, porn or no porn, that husbands should still be treated with respect in their homes. But that does not justify porn, nor does it mitigate the impact it has on a marriage.

A man who laughs at the very idea that he may be hurting his wife by watching porn only proves the point. He has become so intensely self-involved that his wife’s needs are a joke to him. Even when she tells him that she is hurt by it, still, he blows her off and returns to the naked people on the screen. In this way, porn is even more insidious than a traditional, in-person affair, because it not only robs the wife of the fidelity and honor she is owed, but it even robs her of the right to feel angry and forsaken by her husband’s infidelity.

Few men, unless they are outright sociopaths, would scoff at their wives for being upset at them for sleeping with the secretary. They are more likely to apologize (whether sincerely or not) and cry and beg for forgiveness. Neither party will deny that the issue is a big deal. But a man who watches porn, though he has committed a form of adultery, is much bolder when confronted. He will defend his actions and actually get outraged at his wife for being outraged. She is left feeling betrayed — and crazy for feeling betrayed.

But she is not crazy.

Her husband is turning — not just once, by the way, but every day — to other women to satisfy his sexual urges. He is cheating on her. There is no nuance to it. She’s right: it’s adultery. He whittles away hours a day sitting in a darkened room pleasuring himself while strangers have sex in front of him. He imagines himself in the place of a naked man on the screen so that he can have vicarious sex with a woman who is not his wife. It’s a big deal. A very big deal. He is not really having sex with her, but so what? Perhaps he would if he had the chance, but he doesn’t, so he settles for the closest thing to it.

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