When visual pornography makes a wife feel devalued

On this thread about the misery of a wife whose husband uses pornography, Good Girl wrote:

It is not my place to tell my husband what he can and can not do. It is my place to respect him for who he is.

There is a difference between accepting a man as your “master” and actually respecting him, and between simply acting in a respectful manner and admiring a man who has earned your respect.

In a Taken In Hand relationship, it is indeed not your place to tell your husband (who should be a leader and not a narcissist) what he can and cannot do. But it is your place, and your responsibility, to him as well as to yourself, to tell him how you feel and what you need.

Different women have different needs as a result of the combination of how they are “wired” and their life experiences, and that is why it can be almost impossible for a man to “just know” what his particular woman needs, unless he is psychic or she loves him enough to tell him. And trial and error is such a poor and unfulfilling substitute.

It is not your place to dictate to your husband, but it is his place to care about your emotional as well as your physical well-being. And why would you want to be with a man who didn’t?

A good leader will take your needs and desires into account, and then make the decision that he feels would be best for your relationship. And a good man will value your needs and desires, your happiness and quality of life, at least as much as his own.

I would rather know what he is doing than make him feel like he needs to hide it from me. It is the need to hide one's interest from your partner that tears couples apart. Being open, honest, respectful, understanding and non-judgmental of each other's differences is important.

I agree with you. But doesn’t being open and honest require you to tell him about yourself?

And before being “non-judgmental” can be beneficial and good, the two people involved in the relationship must first have a fundamental compatibility. The specifics vary from person to person, but tend to be subconsciously non-negotiable, in the sense that compromise can create a festering resentment.

For example, for me, absolute exclusivity and loyalty are at the very top of the list. We would have to be willing to work on satisfying our sexual needs between only the two of us, and without diluting our connection or devaluing each other by inviting the second-hand participation of visual pornography.

I am not saying that this is the “one true way,” or that it is important or even relevant to everyone. But when it is relevant, it tends to be very, very important.

I limited my example to “visual” pornography because stories can be a great way to communicate, become enlightened and get new ideas. Stories allow you to picture your partner in those scenarios, while expectations remain somewhat vague.

But, when you watch a performance, you are engaging mentally with the actors in some way, and at least subconscious expectations are being created. And if only one partner finds this type of interaction appealing, it can create feelings of inadequacy and of not being valued. And expectations can become inhibiting.

Within a few essentials, such as my example, I would give my woman unconditional acceptance, understanding and support, while remaining in control and continuing to lead our relationship.

But what I would actually be doing is judging that the core characteristics that make her who she is also represent my highest values, and then making the conscious decisions that:

1) I wouldn’t allow myself to fall into the bad habit of automatically and unthinkingly nitpicking differences that were trivial and unimportant to me, because my doing so wouldn’t be trivial or unimportant to her.

2) I would appreciate what I had in her every “one more day” that I was lucky enough to have her around, and would never take her for granted. And then her habits and quirks would become endearing qualities, and the jungle of drying pantyhose would only reassure me that she was still there.

3) Home would be a place of safety and a source of energy for both of us. Since I would be in control, guiding it to become a place of security and warmth would be my responsibility, and a big part of that would involve bringing her to the point where it no longer occurred to her to feel self-conscious.

One way of doing this would be to consistently reassure and show her that her core characteristics made her irrevocably perfect for me; that I was fundamentally neutral about anything that I wasn’t “wired” to appreciate; and that since I was fundamentally crazy about her, it made me happy to be accepting and supportive, even when I didn’t understand her needs from personal experience.

Because of her enduring value, whatever made her happy or was important to her would become meaningful and important to me.

But if some of her inclinations were bad for her or for our relationship, acceptance, understanding and support would include abundant reassurance that she was still as loved, respected and valued as ever, along with insistence on change and spankings whenever necessary.

There is a huge difference between forcing yourself to be non-judgmental, in opposition to your nature, needs and knowledge, and recognizing when being judgmental isn’t appropriate and would simply be self-indulgent.

But this becomes very serious when differences in perspective make a woman feel inadequate and unworthy, or not loved and valued, because this can cause physically destructive stress, in addition to emotional damage.

In such a situation, a life-affirming relationship doesn’t exist. And, at least by this point, she must explain the situation to her partner, but she should never fall into the trap of trying to justify why her feelings and needs should have value.

If he loves her, he values her and will change his behavior permanently to protect her and help her to heal. But if he decides to disregard her well-being by demanding that she devalue and suppress her essence to satisfy his whims, she is in a destructive and self-destructive situation and should leave him and find a true partner.

Isn’t taking care of each other and enjoying each other’s happiness the point of a life-affirming relationship?


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John, I completely agree. Re

John, I completely agree. Relationships, whether they are Taken In Hand relationships or not, are a two-way street. As a Taken In Hand wife, I do feel a tremendous responsibility to my husband, but it is mainly because he shows me every day that he feels an equal responsibility to me.

My husband doesn't really seem interested in pornography, fortunately, but I've told him on many occasions that I'm willing to try it, if he thought he'd find it stimulating, so long as it was something we could share as a couple. He has shown me some old magazines that he had when he was in college (we had to dig them out of a storage space he had been keeping in the state he used to live in), because I was curious and wanted to learn more about his fantasies. To us, the use of pornography is that it helps to express fantasies or desires that perhaps we're embarrassed or don't know how to express on our own. Just as I pointed my husband to the Taken in Hand website when I wanted this kind of relationship, but was having trouble expressing my needs. What I'm trying to say is that there is nothing really wrong with porn (IMHO), so long as it is something that is bringing you together instead of keeping you apart.

So instead, what we do now, is make our own porn, so to speak. We don't take dirty pictures or anything, that's not really our thing. But, for example, I've been known to send my husband an email describing one of my fantasies in the middle of the work day. He'll whisper his into my ear when we're curled in bed together at night...

Just as a husband and wife have a responsibility to tell each other what their needs are emotionally and physically, they also have a responsibility to tell each other their sexual needs and desires. Early on, I pointed out to my husband (he used to have trouble describing his fantasies, hence the digging out of old porn from a dusty storage space) that if he doesn't share his fantasies with me, he is depriving me the opportunity of trying to fulfill them. And fulfilling his fantasies just happens to be a fantasy of mine...

Difference of opinion.

John, I think it is great for a man to honor his wife by not doing things she does not approve of. I just found out that I was disapproving of something that in the end I do not really disapprove of. I hope that makes sense.

Can it be stopped gently?

Hi John,

I've been in a relationship with my man for 5 years now and in the beginning he came to me of his on volition with no prompting from me and told me he wasn't going to use porn anymore. I truly warmed my heart to see him valuing me and finding me the sexiest of all. This was also before we became intimate.

We hit some rough patches in our relationship and he turned back to porn...I have wrongly pestered him to give it up over the past 5 years by trying to explain to him how it makes me feel and how hurt I am about it.

Nothing gets trough to him he just gets mad that I'm "trying to control him". Finally I gave up and just asked that he keep it off of his computer and don't talk about it with me. Even that he is mad at. I however to agree with you for the most part about stories: I am perfectly ok with them. It is the visual pornography that bothers me.

How do I make him understand what it is that I feel so that he will stop making me feel so debased...?

Re: Can it be stopped gently?

Hi Megz,

Your description of how this relapse evolved, and the fact that he gave it up voluntarily before and on his own initiative, makes me think that he isn’t connecting with the porn in any meaningful way.

He is probably using it as a stress release and mental diversion that is no more significant to him than any other “reality show,” and it is probably a symptom that will disappear when the underlying condition is corrected.

Of course, that doesn’t change how you feel, and you are not wrong in trying to explain the effect that this is having on you (I talked a bit about this in Should love be willing to share?). But doing so will accomplish very little, until your relationship is healed to the point where he is again focusing on you.

So I think that you should simply set this issue aside, for now, and concentrate on rebuilding a healthy relationship, from the ground up (I have a few thoughts about that in Is there any way to turn this into a Taken in Hand relationship?).

Best wishes,


Re: Can It Be Stopped Gently?

Gently? I sense this is not possible. His propensity for pornography MAY or may NOT be due to YOUR ability to satisfy his desires.

I truly hate to hit you in the gut with this, but if pornography turns him on quicker than you, you have already lost the battle.

In short, if any man chooses pornography as even a SUPPLEMENT to his relationship with you, he is NOT worthy of your concern. Among other perhaps less significant things, his SOLE sexual attraction MUST be to YOU, ****MINUS**** any pornographic attraction UNRELATED to you PERSONALLY!

A question to ask you on a VERY personal level, and NOT for you to express publically; do you appeal to him on a pornographic level? Again, answer this for your own resolve and not on this forum. ANSWER this in your OWN mind TO yourself, and do NOT post your response.

If your response is YES, he may be the right one for you.

If your response is NO, **DUMP** his sorry azz and find someone new.

Your responses are on the board. DECIDE, and DECIDE *NOW*. Your future is in the balance. I BEG you to decide in favor of your truly available happiness and contentment.

Mick McCleod