Is Pornography the Key to Marital Intimacy? Possibly … But There’s a Catch

Published: FEBRUARY 26, 2014 | Updated: AUGUST 20, 2021
Talking openly with your spouse - even about porn - can enhance the intimacy of your relationship.

Can porn really enhance married life? The predominant stereotypes regarding pornography revolve around men who can't get enough of it, and women who can't stand it. Traditional thinking dictates that porn-loving men should be hiding in dark corners, terribly ashamed of whatever weakness causes them to want to look at pictures of naked ladies. Women, on the other hand, should never touch porn themselves (no, romance novels aren't porn, they're romantic) and should feel degraded by the very idea of appearing in some. They should also be totally jealous if their own love interest admits to looking at porn because it means he prefers porn to real women.


Of course, the more sex-positive people among us know that today there is a wide variety of pornography out there catering to all kinds of different styles and to both women and men. Pornographic art, film and literature have made it into the mainstream. Heck, we'd probably enjoy pornographic dramas and sitcoms on TV if only they existed.

A new study from Canada's Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy even suggests that porn can positively impact intimacy in a marriage. It's probably not a secret that partners who hide things from each other can experience more stress, anger, and frustration than those who don't. According to the research, women who report that their partner is honest with them about their intake of pornography tend to experience less distress, and be more satisfied with their marriages overall. Before we get too excited, this doesn't mean that if one partner is locked away in an office furiously um … enjoying some porn, that they can claim to be doing it in the name of marital bliss. What it does mean is that talking openly with your spouse about whether you enjoy porn, and what kind(s) you like can be the first step to the kind of openness and honesty that foster marital intimacy. (Learn more about the pros and cons of porn in: Porn: Love It or Leave It?)

Does that mean porn should be considered good for couples? Not necessarily. The key to decreasing stress and increasing intimacy is more likely to be found in open and honest discussion than in the porn itself. Still, it shouldn't be denied that many couples can and do use pornographic materials to stimulate foreplay, encourage role playing, or invite new activities into their established sexual routines. (Read more in 6 Ways Bad Pornos Can Improve Your Sex Life.)


The results suggested by this study seem to indicate that whether or not we use porn is not nearly as significant to our relationship as whether or not we are truthful about it. Speaking for myself, I've never been bothered by a partner who watched, read, looked at, or even masturbated to porn -provided my own needs weren't being neglected. But I've always been bothered by lies, regardless of how trivial or inconsequential the subject might be. So use porn, or don't use porn, it's your choice. The important thing, according to the research, is that we're open and honest about what we like, what we do, and what we want to do.

Wednesday Lee Friday

Wednesday Lee Friday is an eclectic writer of fact and fiction. She has worked as a reptile wrangler, phone sex operator, radio personality, concierge, editor, fast food manager, horror novelist, and she owns a soap shop. She prefers jobs that let her sleep during the day. Everybody knows all the best art and literature happen at night! Wednesday's work has appeared in Women's Health Interactive, Alternet, Screen Rant, The Roots of Loneliness Project and Authority...

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