Should I allow my husband to put sexually suggestive photos of me on his cell phone as a substitute for pornography? Is it even appropriate for a man to have such pictures of his wife? He's in the process of recovering from a long-term addiction to pornography and he thinks this might be a good way to speed up his progress. I'm not entirely sure what to think, but his request disturbs me. What's your reaction?
We think it's a bad idea. One of the first things your husband needs to realize about his proposal is that it's potentially illegal. The production and electronic transmission of pornographic images can be construed as a federal offense.
That's not to mention that his plan would place you at serious risk of exposure, embarrassment, pain and even sexual harassment. It's easy for him to claim that he would never show these pictures or videos to anyone else, but once a digital image is released into cyberspace there's a very real sense in which it passes beyond the control of any individual. What would happen if your husband's cell phone were lost or stolen? What if your kids picked it up or a friend borrowed it to make an emergency call? What if he inadvertently sent these videos and pictures to a wrong number? These are just a few of the ways in which the recorded material could fall into the wrong hands. If your husband has any regard for your feelings and the sanctity of the marital bond, he will have to conclude that the risk is too great to take.
He'd be running another, more serious, risk as well - the risk of demeaning and objectifying the person he's promised to love, cherish and protect for the rest of his life. Marital sex is meant to be experienced within the wholeness of a person-to-person relationship. It's a question of man and wife becoming one flesh (Genesis 2:24). By separating out the purely visual aspects of this holistic experience without regard for their relational context, your husband would in effect be cheapening that one-flesh union and reducing you to a mere fetish. Whether he realizes it or not, he'd also be introducing distance and alienation into your relationship. It's no wonder you have serious objections to his proposal.
Tell your husband that there are better ways for the two of you to spice up your marriage and enrich your sex life. For further information on this subject, we suggest that you contact Dr. Clifford and Mrs. Joyce Penner. Dr. Penner is a psychologist and his wife is a nurse; they work as a team specializing in various sexual issues couples may face. Given their expertise, they may be able to provide you with a more comprehensive look at the topics you've brought up. You may write to the Penners at 200 East Del Mar Boulevard, Suite 126, Pasadena, CA 91105. The telephone number is 626/449-2525, and the e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to access the website, the URL is http://www.passionatecommitment.com.
If you would like to discuss your feelings at greater length, a member of Focus on the Family's Counseling staff would be more than happy to speak with you over the phone. Our counselors can also provide a list of referrals to qualified professional marriage therapists and sexual addiction experts in your area. Feel free to give them a call Monday through Friday between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Mountain time at 855-771-HELP (4357). The Family Help Center staff member who answers the phone will arrange for a licensed counselor to call you back. One of them will be in touch just as soon as they're able.
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