Monday, November 06, 2006

The dark obsession*

By Oula Farawati

The scenario is somewhat the same… you wake up in the middle of the night and notice that your husband is not sleeping next to you. You hear some noise coming from the living room, and your hunch tells you to tiptoe towards the room. And there you stand… watching…
“I stood on the room door speechless, motionless for minutes… My head was spinning as I stood there thinking what I should be doing,” said Iman, a 28 year old secretary.
“My husband’s back was towards me and he was watching a naked woman masturbating on TV and was masturbating himself as well… I felt that my whole marital life was falling into pieces,” she said.
Her first reaction was yelling at her husband and asking him what he was doing…But he retorted with surprise at the beginning and then utmost anger.
“He yelled at me loudly and asked me to go back to the bedroom, this is none of your business, he said and I retreated in shock and fear,” she added.
“I went back to the bedroom, stayed in bed for some 10 minutes thinking of what I should be doing next. My heart was beating restlessly and my emotions were hard to understand… I was feeling sad and angry and betrayed.”
But Iman’s husband was not sorry, she said. She recalled that she went to the living room a bit later to discover that her husband was still watching porn, not at all deterred by her anger…
“So I went crazy again and started screaming hysterically and threatening that I would leave the house if he does not stop watching,” she said. "And that is when he stopped."
Iman and her husband slept back to back that night… They did not talk to each other for a week.
“I thought that he would not watch porn again, but I discovered that he was doing that every night… so I decided to talk calmly to him during the day,” she said.
But her husband’s attitude was all but positive.
“He told me that if I don’t like it, then I can do whatever I wanted… and every night now, I would go to sleep knowing that he is betraying me… I would cry myself to sleep… This is how I have been living for the past three years,” she complained.
On the other end of east Amman, lives Nadia, a 34 year old mother of five, her husband would watch porn every night for hours and then come to the bedroom and sleep with her.
“I feel so bad about it… I sleep with him and pretend that I was enjoying it and then fake an orgasm… when he is finished, he would sleep next to me and start snoring and I would sit next to him, cry and stare at him thinking how much I hated him and my whole life,” said Nadia.
Nadia had already gone to her parents’ house to complain after discovering her husband’s addiction to watching porn… Her parents thought she was “absolutely crazy” to ruin her marital life for such a “silly reason.”
“My mom and dad asked me to be realistic and accept whatever he was doing... The man has needs, my father told me and my mother even admitted to me secretly that my father used to watch porn as well, and for years… and with no support from my parents at all, I went back home hurt, but tied-handed,” she said.
Ladies in Amman tell sad and shocking stories about their partners’ addiction to watching porn… while some men were doing that secretly, and sometimes feeling shy about it, others were shameless and would go as far as forcing their wives to watch porn with them.

Is it safe to watch porn?

Experts acknowledge that most men are not aware of the consequences of their once-secret, now-public habit… but mistrust, low self-esteem, and fear about the collapse of their marital lives are only few examples of the effects of porn obsession on wives.
For Iman, the consequences were immediate… her husband would have sex with her only once every two weeks…
“I thought he was watching porn and shying away from me to make up for something that was missing in our relationship, or because I was not pretty. I tried talking to him but he bashed at me and said watching porn has nothing to do with wanting me less, or more,” she said.
She described how dying her hair, buying new and expensive lingerie did not help.
“I started working on myself,” she said. “Everyday, when he comes back from work at 4,00 p.m., he would find good food on the table and find me dressed in sexy lingerie and perfume.”
However, her husband’s response was disappointing. Right after the meal, he would go to bed and sleep for hours: “when I go to sleep, he would watch a porn movie, and I would wet my pillow with tears.”

According to Psychiatrist Mohammad Habashneh, addiction to watching porn can break relationships, affect work performance and become a major life priority.
“The problem differs in intensity and manner from person to another but all porn addicts become hooked on their brains' chemical responses to the stimulating material,” he said.
“But the idea is that the more you watch, the more you get addicted and the more it is hard to quit… Addicts start to require more excitement and intensity and move from wanting to watch normal intercourse to anal sex oral sex and other kinds of extreme sexual practice like fetishism,” Dr. Habashneh added.
The expert noted that the obsession with watching porn can also lead to negative consequences on children, especially if they know that their parents were watching such movies on a daily basis.
“[Addicts] get so immersed in the habit that it deviates their attention from the world… They sometimes become unaware of anything that takes place around them and their whole mindset will only be focused on when they can be alone to watch porn again and again because masturbation leads to solo-sex which can be more rewarding to them,” he added.

Rob Weiss, the founder of the Sexual Recovery Institute in Los Angeles, told TV show Oprah recently that porn addiction is becoming an epidemic. "I think of sex addicts as being drug addicts—only their drug is their own neurochemistry. It's what turns them on. … I talk to guys who say that hours and hours and hours go by, and they're not even aware of the time change because they're so filled with adrenalin and dopamine and serotonin." Contrary to popular belief, sex addiction is not about sex, Weiss told the host. "It's like a gambling addiction," he said. "It's like losing yourself in the process of it, and the men that I work with, they're lost in the flirting and the looking and the possibilities of what might happen. They may never actually have an erection. But they can spend hours and hours and hours kind of lost in fantasy."
Face to face with “one of them” Porn is nothing harmful, many men believe… For Naser, a 29 year old government employee, porn is like sport.“It is nothing addictive or bad… I have watched porn for many years now and I enjoy it a lot…”Naser, however, believes men who criticize porn and say they don’t consume it are simply “lying.”“We are programmed to watching porn.. it is in our libido…I don't really trust men who claim to not be interested in porn. We're biologically programmed to respond to the sight of people having sex."Asked about what he thinks the effects of this habit on women, Naser says it has no effect: “Women should understand how men think… one woman is never enough and watching porn is much less harmful than cheating or marrying another woman.”For the young man, who was educated in London, women in Jordan are quite traditional and boring and “do not do many things in bed.”“I ask my wife for things in bed but she refuses… I see many nice things in these films and I have the right to demand the same stuff…”This is where the problem lies, Dr. Habashneh believes the danger of watching porn comes from the fact that actors go to extremes to impress fans… “These actors have sex for a living… they don’t mind going to extreme extremes and do things that are sometimes impossible to imagine.”“Now the danger is that for most men porn films are their sex education and they think that what these actors and actresses do is what drives up excitement and some wives fall for that, because sex education here is always a taboo,” he added. At its most basic level, pornography answers natural human curiosity. Adolescent boys want to know what sex is about, and porn demonstrates the mechanics.
Guardian writer Edward Marriott wrote in a 2003 that long before his first sexual relationship, porn was his sex education.

“Like many men, I first saw pornography during puberty. At boarding school, dog-eared copies of Mayfair and Knave were stowed behind toilet cisterns; this borrow-and-return library system was considered absolutely normal, seldom commented upon and either never discovered by the masters or tacitly permitted,” he wrote.
“No doubt (though we'd never have admitted it then) my friends and I were driven to use porn through loneliness: being away from home, we longed for love, closeness, unquestioning acceptance. The women over whom we masturbated - the surrogate mothers, if you like - seemed to be offering this but, of course, they were never going to provide it. The untruths it taught me on top of this disappointment - that women are always available, that sex is about what a man can do to a woman - I am only now, more than two decades on, finally succeeding in unlearning,” Marriott added.
David Morgan, consultant clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst at the Portman Clinic in London describes the “learning phase” as "transitional, like a rehearsal for the real thing”.
However, he wrote that the problem with pornography begins when, instead of being a temporary stop on the way to full sexual relations, it becomes a full-time place of residence." Morgan's experience of counseling men addicted to porn has convinced him that "the more time you spend in this fantasy world, the more difficult it becomes to make the transition to reality. Just like drugs, pornography provides a quick fix, a masturbatory universe people can get stuck in. This can result in their not being able to involve anyone else."
After all, pornography is a big lie. It is all about false love, sex and human relationships. Its victims are lonely, weak men and some women.

Tips for wives: how to make your husband quit

Psychiatrist Mohammad Habashneh offers these tips for women

1- Don’t confront your husband with the problem because this will put him on the defensive side and make him insist on repeating the behavior again and again
2- Do work on yourself: Change how you look every now and then, don’t go to extremes, though (e.g. don’t change your hair color every month)
3- Do make your husband feel that he is your first priority all the time, some men resort to watching porn when they feel isolated or ignored
4- Don’t take sex for granted, enjoy your sexual life and work on it
5- Do change the sexual pattern often, positions, rituals and timings
6- Do engage yourself and your husband in social activities and break boredom and monotony, some men resort to watching porn because they are bored

*previously published in Living Well Magazine...


Iman said...

I read this article back when it was published...

To start with, the idea of watching porn grosses me out for the most part - a bunch of perverted sickos feeding the wanker in them...

But, maybe just maybe, if the couple want to watch it together for 'educational/discovery' reasons, then fine! who knows, it might even strengthen their bond...But for a grown married man to be obsessively into it, alone leading to the potential of damaging the relationship is just too sickening!

The tips provided are great, but from the article we see that these men don't just watch it on occasions, they're obsessed ( diseased) with it.. this shows that they've reached a comfort zone that has replaced the real thing which they wouldn't want to get out of regardless of how appealling their wives are!

Nizar said...

I wonder what would happen if the wife joins in the fun, openly admiring the guys' "equipment"?

I would bet this would dampen his enthusiasm!

Batir said...

I really salute you and take my hat for your courage and direct approach in bringing this subject up. You really got me into a state of shock and I am doing some "hardcore" thinking about this topic and will get back with my views.

Batir said...

Let me start by saying that pornography is an integral part of men's life. That means if any man ever says that he did not, does not or do not intend to watch porn then he is a big liar. So, to all the ladies out there do not believe your husbands or friends if they say they do not watch porn.
Having said that there re two kinds of watching porn. There is the natural, harmless occasioanl curiosity and enjoyment and there is an addiction. Occasioanl watching is harmless while addiction is a big problem especially for married men.
Moreover, porn can act as both a stimulus for relationships and a destroyer. It can be stimulus if linked to soft porn (erotic) that may help the hormones to reach maximum levels and facilitate intimacy, especially if watched together by both partners. However, extreme and candid porn is dangerous since it acts as a substitute for the wife and the normal women in our world. Porn is fake and no real women can compete with the characters on porn movies, and the same applies to men as well.
It is difficult to generalize but I think the examples mentioned in this article are related to addiction to porn which is a factor that can destroy normal and natural sexual life between couples. In the first example the husband seems to be desperate though and maybe the wife may need to do more thinking to see what is missing. However this does not justify the addiction, especially after he has been caught!

The Observer said...

Good topic Oula.

Batir, well said.

I kind of agree with Batir. There is a difference between porn/sex addition which like any other addiction is harmful to the person himself rather than just his relationship with his wife and watching porn frequently for fun.

I am not sure whether the same woman would feel offended if her husband does his duties to her which something that I think would still be a problem whether porn existed in his schedule or not.

It is just natural for men and women to get attracted to other people rather than their spouses. In marriage people commit to each other. Physical betrayal is unaccepted. Mental betrayal can be a continuous struggle.

Maybe porn can be an outing not just for men, but also for women, in order to help them maintain their physical and mental faithfulness to their partners.

(Tealover) said...

I never thought that the pornography addiction has actually been here for a while ..

what was in your article is scary in a way .. to think about the consequences of such an addiction to men and especially married men .. but it was a good thing to know as well ..

Al Muwatineh said...

I can understand how some men and women can think that porn is harmless. I would like to point out that the majority of the female actresses have been sexually abused and are not psychologically normal. Logically, who in their right mind would choose that as a career? So no, whoever watches porn is contributing to the field of sexual exploitation and therefore it is not 'harmless'. She's someone's little girl and someone's sister too. After having read this, I hope that every time you watch porn you remember your own daughters and sisters and think of how you would feel if someone was exploiting their (psychological)weakness.

Anonymous said...

.. interestingly there is an author saying that porn addiction hasn´t got much to do with sex - Mario Brocallo, who has published a self-help adviser on that topic ...

Anonymous said...

Al Muwatineh i agree with you.
awwalan oula 7ab ahan2ek 3ala hal maqal il mrattab. props to you ou ya reit fee banat zayyik aktar bil hal mojtama3 il ta3ees.
thaniyan, lalli bi7koo inno hada ishi tabee3ee ou 3adi (batir, the observer) ma ili ghair ad3ee 3aleikom inno yeeejeekom bint 7aram msaffayeh ti3mal feekom illi btistahaloo, la2eno zayma al muwatineh said, hadool mosh fictional characters, hadool banat nas ilhom ahel ou khawat ou ikhwan ou 3aileh bi7ibboohom. fa iza u can be subjective 3a hal mawdoo3 ya bater, koon subjective ou roo7 ifta7 mashroo3 iba7iyyeh bi beitak ou shaggel khawatak ou ahlak...practice what you preach.
finally, ma biddee awassekh, fa i7tiraman la oula ma ra7 a3alliq aktar min heik