Wives Denying Sex and The Porn Firewall

Here’s the situation…
After several months or a few years of his wife denying sex, the husband ends up seeking some kind of sexual solace in using porn to masturbate to. Typically he carefully hides this activity from his wife, because he knows the reaction it will get.
Sure enough though, eventually he slips up and she discovers the porn. Whereupon she reacts just the way he knew she would – with a huge explosion of rage. Porn, it will be explained to him, is demeaning to women, disgusting, immoral, wrong, disappointing, revolting and hurtful. It’s also very likely to be explained to him that his use of porn has now put the relationship back several steps, just as she was starting to feel like she could open up to him, but of course now she can’t, and it’s all his fault.
Thus The Porn Firewall is created.
Now I’m not mindlessly for or against porn. I can see benefits and concerns about it, and I do understand that many people have acute moral and religious concerns about it. But lets’ save the debate on the ethics of porn for another day and focus strictly on the direct effect The Porn Firewall has on the sexless relationship.
In a sexless relationship where the wife denies the husband, she’s reneging on the core agreement of the relationship and thus defrauding her husband. The defrauded relationship will only continue for as long as the husband allows himself to tolerate the situation. The primary unmet need of the husband is for sex, and this is typically drip fed to him by the wife with the express minimum to keep him engaged in a relationship with her. In short, he acts like a drug addict, and she acts like his supplier.
The unmet need for sex is a powerful impulse, and to keep a physically healthy male in an intimate relationship, but deny him sex, requires a heavy hand of control. Him actually sleeping with another woman and ending the relationship is a serious concern, but it’s also a big bold step for him to take. When he uses porn though, it’s a smaller less serious event, but it’s easily seen as a stepping stone to ending his sexual reliance on her, so she smacks it down as hard as she can. After all, if she lets him get away with using porn now, maybe in a few months he’ll be bold enough to push the limits a little further and visit a strip club, or meet someone for coffee, or start fantasizing about kissing someone else. After that it’s all a slippery slope to him meeting someone really serious and an affair starting, or him just leaving and filing for divorce.
It’s an old behavioral technique to smack down hard on a person making a minor infraction, to intimidate then into never even considering a major infraction. It’s exactly why when I went to high school most teachers would routinely yell at you to tuck your shirt in and straighten up your uniform. Late to class wasn’t even really an option, let alone talking back to a teacher.
Thus while The Porn Firewall will be framed as a moral issue, but the purpose of the Porn Firewall is to control the partner that wants to have sex through shame and intimidation.
So the question becomes what do you do when faced with with a screaming ball of feminine rage over possession of a small supply of rather vanilla boy-girl porn. I’m thinking something along the lines of “Take your pants off or shut up.” about sums it up the response. That will of course make her go absolutely ballistic, but then that’s what people do when you start breaking free of their control. So mission accomplished.
But importantly, before you push something like this to a showdown, make sure you’ve started the process of making yourself the best version of you possible. Ideally your Sex Rank should be higher than hers to do anything like this. If you’re a 5 and she’s a 7, the lack of sex is directly related to your lack of hotness relative to hers. A 5 husband sparking a porn showdown with a sexually denying 7 wife is going to end up a loser in the debate every time. Work your way up to a 7 or an 8 and it’s a much different set of outcomes you’re looking at.
If you don’t think “Take your pants off or shut up.” is going to work for you, try this one. “No.”  Then just let that hang in the air like a zeppelin of awkward.

Comments

  1. dannyfrom504 says:

    my only experience with this was having my most recent ex deny me sex because she was upset with me from the night before. after my second shoot-down, i was PISSED. i jumped out of bed and turned the volume up on the computer, found a nice clip, and began to scrap.

    eventually she walked into to the bedroom door, saw me and asked what i was doing. DERP!!!! "what does it look like, go back to bed and leave me alone, you're screwing up my concentration!" she looked at me blankly, then i paused the video, looked at her and said, "seriously, if you aren't going to help me get this done, i'll do it myself, so go back to bed. i'm busy."

    when i finished i went back to bed. and she started on me immediately. "i can't believe you did that." i answered, "i just had a superb orgasm and you had nothing to do with it. i survived a LONG time without you. so with-holding WILL NOT work for me.

    ok, i know i'm coming off kind of like a dick, but i tried to talk with her about the issue that upset her and she shut down. she was down to cuddle that morning, but when i escalated she declined. THAT is what pissed me off.

  2. Shannon Bradley-Colleary says:

    Relationships certainly can be messy. It's been my experience that a healthy sexually active marriage can use a little porn from time to time. Any woman – or man for that matter – using sex as a means of controlling their partner has no moral ground to stand on.

  3. Anonymous says:

    And if she threatens divorce if she finds you using porn (and you have children)? Has happened in the past.

    FYI, I am on Chapter 11 of your book. Been reading your blog for a yr plus.

    Or what if you are no longer sexually attracted to your wife? Only really in the last year I have found this to be the case. On a 10+ yr marriage.

    Both our sex ranks were 7s, both fell to 5 or so because of weight gain. 30lbs for me, 60+ for her. Over the last year I have dropped 20lbs and put on quite a bit of muscle. She appears to like it so do many of my female friends and other females who now start conversations and flirting with me. Anyways…

    She has started to workout w me but not enough to make a difference. I workout 5-6 times a week she works out 1-2 a week and has not changed her diet either. She says she is going to workout more but has said that for 10 yrs now.

    She has actually initiated more in the last few months then in the last 10 yrs. But still frequency of sex is 1-2 a month. When I was also initiating it was 4 times a month max, basically once a week. According to her I was a pervert (goes along with the porn, I guess) for wanting sex more then once a week.

    I am not really initiating anymore as the last few times have been awkward, she was never that great in bed (although she believes she is) and never interested in learning or even taking loving suggestions. She gets mad when I tell her she makes me feel so good when she does X to me. She says that it is controlling. Anyways my "response" to her initiating has been hrmmm, not as hard as usual and she has taken great offense at that. Health wise, just had a Dr. visit and am in very good shape per the doctor. so she just doesn't

    It is all frustrating and a bit depressing.

    And I was the classic Nice guy, jumping through the hoops trying to keep her happy. I worked so hard at trying to keep her happy she needed to have an emotional affair, two times. It would have turned physical except I found out, both times. I forgave her both times, still haven't forgotten though. I've upped the Alpha and that seems to work sometimes but to be honest, I think if there were no kids, I would be gone. Beta comes naturally to me and I have come to realize that I didn't do that great of a job at picking my wife (no duh). But I was under the assumption that when you married you both work at it and are best friends, etc.
    She has changed some for the better in the last year. But I don't know, sometimes I think it is too little too late. I wish I had known / been taught all this info when I was a teenager.

    Sorry for the novel, just had those questions.

  4. Agree with our host. Call her on it.

  5. Looking Glass says:

    @Cindyrella:

    http://www.marriedmansexlife.com/p/sex-rank.html

    It's basically comes down to: is his "value" higher than hers, to the point he could get another woman that's "better"? If yes, then he's higher, if no, then he's lower or equal. It's just assigning numbers to that.

    @ Anon 1:13am:

    Have you emailed Athol? He might be able to offer some more concrete thoughts than in a completely open forum. You can be a "nice man" without being a supplicant. It just takes practice to correct the issues.

  6. Anonymous says:

    "Work your way up to a 7 or an 8" from a five? So you've got to put up with it and / or not get caught for about three years?

    Too much like hard work for what are, after all, only theoretical gains.

    And "take your pants off or shut up" is likely to get you hit with a frying pan.

  7. alphapersona says:

    I feel the problem here is that women don't understand that men need sex. If you were to be emotionally cold and distant to your wife, she would probably end up cheating and then justify it by saying she "needs" the connection. She needs to feel loved. She needs an emotional outlet, and Craig gave her that.

    What women don't understand a lot of the time – I personally feel – is that in the same way they need that emotional outlet, men need sex. We need sex like we need food and water. Its something we have to have and its something we're going to get, either from our wives or elsewhere.

    When you marry, you agree to meet each others needs. Him to meet her emotional needs, and her to meet his sexual needs.

    But what do I know? I never went to college.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hey, if you need help getting turned on, no need to call on the computer. Just borrow one of her romance novels..some of them are pretty hot!

  9. Cindyrella,

    The thing about sex rank is that it's not rational – it is what our subconscious hindbrains do, almost their entire purpose in fact. When we see someone, we evaluate their sexual fitness without thinking about it, and this influences our actions because we may or may not want to pair our genes with that person's. We do this even with the same sex, as it determines how the pecking order works.

  10. Miles Anderson says:

    This stuff is all coupled. The best way to deal with this situation is to not get into it. And the best way to not get into it is to balance your life. But if you do get into it the best way not to have the porn talk is to be open about your porn usage. It is pretty wimpy to hide your porn from your wife and sex partner (or any of your kink cards). Of course then if you are that wimpy then you probably are going to have a hard time dealing with the screaming ball of crazy chick.

    I think it is pretty odd to get that far down the wimpy road and then push back. But then everybody has their moment I guess.

  11. LadyGrace says:

    "I've never understood why some women feel threatened by porn…it's just a fantasy."

    Wow, you are so lucky! As a formerly “batshit crazy” wife on this subject, I can tell you that the core thought for me (after much soul-searching) was that he “needs to look at this stuff” in order to get it up with me. Once I realized that this was my biggest fear, I was able to move past it fairly easily. When we met, I was good with it – we would look at Penthouse together and read the letters, etc. But after I had kids, the baby hormones kicked in and I was no longer a rational human being. I cannot describe the feelings I experienced as I dropped into bed hoping to get (at the most!) 3 hours of sleep before the baby woke me up only to feel hubby’s hopeful hand come groping…if I had a machete close by, I am pretty sure the outcome would have been bloody. Anyway, I did a lot of work on my own attitude and self-esteem and the baby graduated to solid food and sex moved back on my radar. One of the things that helped for me was to explain to hubby that I needed things to move along a little quicker (just do me baby and let me roll over and go to sleep). He always felt like he needed to spend “x” amount of time to get me “in the mood” when I was really just hoping for a quick dirty fuck. I no longer worry about porn, in fact I have purchased 90 percent of the porn we have. When I was scheduled for a hysterectomy and was expecting to be out of commission for 6 yo 8 weeks, I bought hubby a “sleeve” type toy and told him to go for it. He was shocked, but appreciative, and we have since incorporated the toy into couple-play. I am embarrassed and ashamed of my past histrionics regarding porn, but I just had to work through it and get to a better place mentally and sexually. I am glad my husband stuck by me and was willing to put up with my crazyness. Maybe Athol is right and I was smacking him down, but I really think I was just trying to get some sleep!

  12. Cindyrella,

    If you and your husband are both taking care of business, then I'd expect the whole topic doesn't apply to you. For whatever reason, you still find your husband attractive. Maybe he does the right things, is "alpha" enough to keep your interest and still beta enough to be an excellent comfort in your relationship. In any case, congratulations. It seems to be a rare thing these days.

    In this case, something is broken in their relationship. Maybe (and the more I think about it, the more it seems true) it is entirely the husbands fault for not doing "the right things" which causes his wife to turn off, and turn off hard which becomes an absolute torture for the poor husband. (let's assume that kids/tiredness is not the reason for this couple, as that's a completely different, and understandable matter)

    Our host has an explanation as to how and why these things happen (man does not act as a man, woman becomes gradually repulsed by man who tries to please her by submitting to her will, etc, etc) and his book and blog is all about how to avoid and hopefully reverse that course.

    Meanwhile, this poor SOB is in his own living hell. Honestly, without sex, most healthy males get frustrated, angry and volatile. And his wife, the source of his fustrations because of what she denies him now tells him that even his small measure of relief has to stop? Not good.

    At this point in their relationship, trying to appease her while frustrating him further will achieve nothing good. Athol's advice to call her on it cannot do any further harm, and in fact may start to change things for the better.

    It's up to him though.

  13. Looking Glass says:

    @Anon 4:47 AM:

    If you can survive the Frying Pan attack without serious injury, that actually works. You can have her put in prison for assault with a deadly weapon. It gives you a good chance for keeping the kids and having full custody.

    Yeah, kind of sad, really.

  14. Strong Man says:

    Good description of what is happening, but for an actively religious couple, your advise is so extreme as to not be practical. everyone in both her and his support network will most likely take her side.

    I do feel even religious men should lighten up and stress less about this issue, and pit real energy I to being honest about their real needs and being firm enough to get those needs met.

    But I'm still looking for an actual practical solution that is realistic if deep down both you and her feel porn is not right.

  15. Athol Kay says:

    Hi Cindyrella, you're more than welcome to have an opinion and join the conversation, just realize that it's a very long conversation we've been having here and this post relies on some assumed knowledge.

    In most situations where the husband wants sex and the wife is denying it, the husband has gone crazy trying to emotionally connect with her and be nice to his wife trying to get her to open up to him.

    There's often no problem with the communication at all. She just isn't sexually interested in him. The topic of MMSL is getting men to do what does sexually interest women.

    It sounds like you and your husband are doing it right.

  16. Athol Kay says:

    But I'm still looking for an actual practical solution that is realistic if deep down both you and her feel porn is not right.

    If you feel porn is immoral then you shouldn't use it. Creates too much internal conflict.

    I assume that if the bible is fairly clear that a wife is meant to have sex with her husband, and she still refuses him constantly, the religious approach will never bear fruit.

  17. Ian Ironwood says:

    Professor Kay, you hit the proverbial nail on the head. If you don't mind me expounding a bit on a subject that I'm considered "expert" upon, I believe that porn (art designed to inspire an erotic response) is an essential element of a well-built male sexuality. But it also provides a foil for females who are using sex to control a relationship, a means to shame a man into submission, and a fulcrum for emotional leverage in the power dynamic.

    I'm pro-porn, for a variety of reasons, but a very significant one is that porn introduces novelty into a man's sex life without the risk-taking associated with pursuing it on his own. Women exercise this part of their sexual brain through romance novels, supernatural thrillers, and soap operas where situational sexual context, as opposed to explicit sexual content, is the factor injecting novelty into their sex lives.

    But porn also provides a man an opportunity to resist a woman's attempt to control the sex in the relationship, and establish his own sexuality independent of their mutual sex life. Ideally a woman should be familiar with her man's whacking habits long before they wed, but if they come as a sudden surprise the scenario you relate happens. And it can get ugly. When a woman has been conditioned to view porn with moral repugnance and condemnation, without any actual knowledge of the medium or (apparently) her own husband's sexuality, that cultural outrage piggy-backs on her self-esteem issues and her visceral desire to chase away competitors, and the man in question rarely comes out of it in good shape.

    I actually covered this topic in-depth on my own blog a few years ago, (http://thesexnerd.blogspot.com/p/how-to-talk-to-your-girlfriend-or-wife.html) and lay out a step-by-step 12 point plan about how to talk about your porn hobby with your wife in a calm, mature way . . . but I have to admit, I think your response, in light of what you set forth in your book, is an ideal one.

    But every man should have a right to whack in peace using the legal fantasy material of choice, even if he's in a highly successful, highly-sexual marriage. Gentlemen, I urge you to fight for your right to do so in your relationships. Because if you're utterly dependent upon her for your orgasms, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, then you are setting yourself up to be her live-in chump. And when one of us is a chump, it hurts us all.

    Thanks again, Athol. I'm preparing a review of your book on my blog even now.

  18. I have to disagree with Ian just a bit. I certainly agree that controlling women will be controlling about porn too, but my feeling is, why fight the little battle when you can win the big one? The approach Athol outlines, of saying "Hey, if you don't want me to have porn/masturbate, then take care of business" is winning the bigger battle.

    And of course one need not lay it out quite so harshly; if women knew how much of their needs we would gladly meet if/when ours are met (for most of us), they would go to town. I find the situation I am in (not having used porn for over a year, by my own choice/lack of need) to be preferable to one where I'm "allowed" to use porn.

  19. You nailed my life on this one… living in a sexless relationship (both in our early 50's, 20 yrs of marriage, young kids still at home), the porn firewall is like the Berlin Wall. It is a living hell.

    I found your blog a few months ago and have started the process of boosting my rank (my wife is still a solid 8, and I probably dropped to a 7 over the years) so I'm in a better position to play your suggested response.

    I too have been the classic nice guy for far too long, have tried to meet all of her needs, and its been a one way street. If she ends up walking out the door, so be it. I'll know that I did everything to try to make it work.

  20. Ian Ironwood says:

    I suppose that my contention is that even in a healthy sexual marital relationship, there is a place for porn and masturbation in the lives of both parties. Sure, when we get "hooked" on someone chemically, porn pales in comparison to glorious warm glow we get having sex with them . . . but after a couple of years of married life, even the warmest glow needs augmentation. Porn — both male and female varieties — can provide the novelty without providing the "danger" of infidelity. It can also inform and expand the knowledge and (importantly) the fantasy life of the individual.

    Downside, it can be taken too far, by either party, and be an obstacle to winning the war in some cases. As much as I enjoy porn, I know where the limits are, and so does my wife. She respects my need to look at big boobs (or whatever) recreationally, and I respect her need to read about uber-potent wealthy, immortal vampire dudes and their gorgeous psychic girlfriends who everyone lusts after. In both cases we can appreciate what the fantasy-fodder is for, without seeing it as a threat to the relationship. But then Mrs. Ironwood has a much greater intuitive understanding of male sexual psychology than 99% of the wives out there, too.

    The "bigger battle" in my opinion is to find a comfortable way for both husband and wife to explore their individual sexualities, as well as their combined sexuality as a married unit. If your "bigger battle" is a distinct shortcoming of sex frequently enough in your life, then yes, Athol's response is appropriate — love it, in fact.

    But I'm arguing for men in general to push back about the issue of porn when they come up against strong resistance, as a matter of maintaining an independent masculine sexual identity. One which we are happy to share with our wives, but which is, strictly speaking, our own to develop. I think this is very important as a culture and a society right now, believe it or not.

  21. Anonymous says:

    There are some problematic aspects to porn use that is covered here: yourbrainonporn.com

    Athol, I have a request for a future post. I am curious about your take on relationships with women who require very high levels of dominance and being "controlled". What spiked my interest in this was reading on PUA sites how Russian women(and a fair share of latinas I think) want husbands who are very, very dominant and control more or less everything. They also said these women also view any minor sign of weakness from the husband as a serious turn of. I have seen some eastern european men display types dominance over their women in a very rough, brute and rather primal way that just is not done in my culture. Rarely even by local top alphas or badboys. It is a form of behavior that has just disapeared from my feminist culture. Although I am starting to like the idea of leadershio and dominance in the MMSL and manosphere sense the level I am talking about here is beyond that and seems bothersome to me. It also seems like to me you get a lot more slack for showing a little weaknes in a western woman. Part of the reason I am pondering this si that I really like latinas and to some extent eastern european women physically and in many aspects of their personalities but I am concerned that I would have to step up to a level of alpha I never will be comfortable with in order to asume I am not just their rich western plan B but get as much dopamine response from them as the eastern european or latin guys they met in the past.

  22. I agree that for a wife to continually refuse sex is immoral. I also think that porn is immoral, and that using it builds a wall against the intimacy that a husband and wife should be developing in their marriage. Even if a couple doesn't have moral objections to porn, most women do object to it. Porn makes them feel like they can never measure up, in terms of body and technique, to the images their husband is viewing. It reinforces the negative body image and limited view of their own sexuality that plagues most women. I encourage men in sexless marriages to put all their energy into working Athol's plan, rather than investing much time/effort in porn.

  23. I seriously can´t even begin to fathom how you can call these "roommates" in your situation a wife & husband.

    They are roommates at best, if she would actually shut up about his fapping habits. And are infact mistress and slaveboy/ATM machine.

    What I almost find more disturbing is Men apologizing and feeling bad for taking control over their body like the first commenter.

    When women whine about it they are allowed to kill their own unborn children and the white knights yap at their feet defending it.
    But they themselves aren´t even allowed a healthy wank.

    Ridiculous.

  24. Brett Stevens says:

    You're right: that situation should be pushed to a showdown. If the man is not having his needs met, he's a fool if he allows the wife to shut down the compensation.

    I'm not a huge fan of porn, which ends up being destructive (as separate from "erotica," I guess, or still photos of attractive women naked in interesting surroundings) but I see this situation play itself out time and again.

    The passive-aggressive female seeks to maintain dominance by demanding that he cannot have sex, and he cannot have any surrogate, thus he remains her slave, in effect. He should tell her that she gets to refuse one, or the other, but not both.

  25. I am a wife that discovered that my husband viewed and masturbated regularly to porn in secret for all 10 years of our marriage. I, of course, made the discovery by accident and was shocked, hurt and pissed all in one. I have come a long way since the discovery and have realized that a lot of my problems with his porn usage were because of the secrecy and because I was unaware of his sex drive being higher than I knew. I never turned him down for sex and thought he was coming to me when he wanted it. I also was not aware of the importance of sex to men. Shouldn't a man bear the responsibility of approaching his wife if his needs aren't met? My husband never said a word…just turned to porn in secret. Maybe my reaction and hurt was over the top but you feel how you feel and it was real and hard to go through. We have a great marriage in every other way so it was also very unexpected. The discovery made me feel like I didn't know who I was married to and I started questioning EVERYTHING.

  26. Muslim sources are more and more railing against pornography, so expect these things to happen in Muslim marriages, too.

  27. What about sexually lonely men like me who are unable to have sex with a partner? My wife stopped having sex with me years ago. I remain faithful and don’t want to get a divorce and breakup the family. We get along fine despite there being no sex. So my only sexual outlet is masturbation and porn.

    I’ll tell you one thing. If I gave up the porn and masturbation the chances of me cheating on my wife out of sexual desperation are about 100%

    So in a way porn keeps my family together and keeps me from straying from my marriage. I don’t like the situation but my family is more important to me than affairs or paid sex.

  28. The more intelligent sex says:

    Silly silly boys. Husband told me he would “try” to give up porn if I had sex daily with him. Seriously? “Try”??

    BTW….sex is on average twice a week. Maybe three. We have five kids. I work almost full time. It’s usually about him. Men think hands in your privates = satisfied wife. Probably because they spend so much time with their hands down their own pants. News flash porn hounds….sex is soooooo much more than JUST manual manipulation. A GOOD (not even great) lover would know that. If sex was just diddling…..we’d have evolved to be asexual. We wouldn’t need a partner, duh.

    Oh, so okay—That “try”. It put probably the last nail in the coffin of a 28 year relationship. A 28 year old relationship that was otherwise pretty healthy an envied by friends and family. I bet when you read “try” you got sick too.

    Let me tell you I get plenty of attention from the opposite sex. I ALWAYS have. I don’t need a silly rating scale. But. “Try”. Ewwww. Ick.

    You guys keep telling each other you have the upper hand. Keep pretending its a power struggle. Keep adding another “ex” to your list. It’s nothing more than saying you’ll “try” to give up cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, spending, whatever. The only thing trying to “control” you is your own addiction and weakness. Your in denial and it will destroy a part of you, if not everything precious to you just the same. You won’t be able to get it up if porn was a Vulcan mind fuck and you were a tribble. Your wife isn’t the bitch….karma is. I’ve definitely noticed a decline in his ability to get it up as his porn use has increased, despite excellent health.

    He’s upstairs surfing right now pretending he’s balancing his accounts online. Sad thing is I’m in the mood, but feeling hurt and too bitter to straddle someone imagining being orgified by the gutter trolls and drug addicts the porn industry typifies after being a most decent and sexy wife/emotional companion for nearly three decades. I want a devoted lover. Someone present mind AND body. Not just an outlet he plugs into. Sounds more and more like porn addicts are the sexually impoverished and not visa versa. Sounds like they never got past the basics and are trapped in stifled repressed adolescent sexuality. I’m not denying him…..I just cant stomach sharing my life partner with whores and deviants, even if not in person. Really not a healthy place relationship wise to put your wife in.

Trackbacks

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  2. [...] her power over him.  This means not just denying him the sex which is his due as her husband, but ensuring that he doesn’t have any other outlets of release.  And what of her own culpability for creating sexual temptation in her husband contrary to [...]

  3. [...] problem with pornography;  it weakens the power the wife holds over her husband in the form of withheld sex, interfering with her ability to civilize him.  He illustrates this by offering a contrast.  [...]

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