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My husband is into porn and I feel cheated - please help.

heart to heart The questioner's philosophy
I believe in God but not religion. I don't attend church but I pray.
The questioner's hopes and aspirations
I'm a family woman at heart - all I want are a bunch of children and a loving husband.
I am 23, my husband is 32. We have been married for three years and I just had a baby girl 2 months ago. When I first met my husband he was really into pornography and had a trash bag full of tapes and magazines. Of course, he got rid of it and for three whole years he's never looked at this stuff (as far as I know).

Two days ago I looked on his personal computer and found pictures of naked women. He lied to me when I confronted him about it, giving me 3 different stories. I feel so insecure now - I don't understand why he needs to look at this, he tells me I'm all he needs. How can I overcome this? I feel so much love lost towards my husband. How do I know he won't do this again? I thought about divorce because I feel cheated on, please help me.

Wallace's reply
I am very pleased to take this question and you have shown great courage in sharing it with me. The issue for you both is how best to share your sexuality. I would like to explain first of all that the way men fantasize sexually differs from the way women fantasize. When woman wish to engage in sexual fantasy they imagine thrilling romantic liaison, full of atmosphere and exotic settings. When a man engages in sexual fantasy he is more focused on seducing a woman and on the beauty of a woman's body. That is why woman can be stimulated by reading a certain kind of romantic novel whereas a man gets turned on by looking at the pictures of naked women.

The problem with pornography is twofold, it degrades the women and men who exhibit themselves through it, because they are portraying themselves as human beings who are sex objects to be manipulated and conquered and it encourages such fantasy in the men who view this material. Having said that, there is probably not a single man in this world who has not fantasized about seducing women and dreamt about beautiful naked women. At a certain early stage this can be understood as the awakening of a man's sexuality and can be seen as healthy and natural - the problem occurs when a man gets stuck in this early adolescent phase and is unable to advance his sexual feelings by expressing them with exquisite tenderness in a physical relationship with his wife.

Sexual desire expressed as tenderness in an exclusive relationship promotes intimacy between husband and wife. Sexual desire directed outside the marriage relationship, either as fantasy or adultery, takes away intimacy between husband and wife. It is this loss of intimacy that you are experiencing now. That is why you feel cheated.

When a man becomes an habitual sexual fantasist and does not grow beyond this adolescent stage it is harmful in two ways.

Firstly it is natural for a man to expand his world outward as he gets older, away from himself and toward serving other people. The person who is in the best position to teach him this is his wife, because she needs her husband to attend to her own needs (including her sexual needs) and the needs of the family. Later, as a man matures, this outward expression of service can be extended beyond wife, family and career toward service to his local community and the world at large. As a man expresses his power in this way, it gradually sublimates his sex drive until eventually it is transmuted into powerful creative expression directed outwardly as service to wife, family and society. When that point is reached sexual desire fades and is replaced by powerful creative expression and great levels of inner peace and contentment. It really is true that sex is a life force, not only in its power to create children but also, as a man or woman matures, in its power to release abundant creativity and selfless service.

Secondly if the sex drive is not used for expansion of the person into marriage, family life, work and public service and remains at the level of fantasy, this energy, (because sex is an energy), remains within the person, does not flow outward and, as a consequence is not shared. Holding on to this energy and not moving it outward reinforces the ego, which is all about me, myself and I - this in turn leads to loss of relationship, isolation and despair. Sexual fantasizing is a solitary occupation and does not lead to happiness.

The best advice I can give you is to explain these things to your husband and at the same time share with him how his interest in pornography is affecting you. Tell your husband that you need his love and ask him to share himself physically with you alone and not with fantasy women. In turn ask your husband how you can best meet his physical needs for sex and intimacy. When you approach him do not have blame in your heart. Please understand that for a man to become master of his sex drive and to put it to the use nature intended, as explained above, is not easy.

Please do not think about divorce. Do not run away from these issues you have with your husband by fantasizing about leaving him. Instead face the problems and open up discussions about them with your husband. The problems you are having around sharing yourselves sexually may have been compounded by the pregnancy and arrival of your first child. Such problems are common. In married life husbands and wives meet a series of hurdles they need to overcome. This is natural and normal.

I feel sure that with good intentions, love, understanding, knowledge and the passage of time, you will be able to make sex a constructive force within your marriage. When that happens, you will have realized your aspirations to have a bunch of children and a loving husband.

Further Help and Resources
If you would like help in talking these issues through with your husband take a look at the Communication and Relationships Course on It will guide you on the skills you need to talk things through. Alternatively you may wish to seek the help and support of a marriage counselor in your local area, to help open up communication between you on these delicate issues.

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