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Watching Porn May Increase Risk of a Massachusetts Divorce

Married Massachusetts couples who start watching porn are twice as likely toPorn 2.jpg be divorced in the the following years as those who don't. And women who start watching porn are three times as likely to split, according to a recent study. 

However, porn appears to have a less negative impact on marriage if couples watch it together.

The paper also finds that stopping porn-watching lowers the likelihood of divorce for women, though not for men. 

While porn's effects on relationships has been much discussed in academic literature, this is the first study and if its findings hold up under peer review that traces the effect on marital stability.

The authors used longitudinal data from the General Social Survey, which tracks, among other things, marital happiness, porn-consumption and marital status. It analyzed results from more than 2000 participants over three time periods, focusing in on participants whose porn-watching habits altered during that period. That is, the individuals did not watch pornography when first interviewed but had taken it up by the time of their second interview, or they did watch during their first interview but had given it up by the second.

The analysis found that 11% of people who started to watch porn between the first two time periods were divorced by the second time they were interviewed. This compares to 6% of people whose porn watching habits were unchanged, but who were like the new porn-fans in every other way.

Among women who started watching porn solo, the proportion who divorced was 16%, or almost three times as much.

Conversely, female porn watchers who gave up the genre were only about as third as likely to be divorced as those who kept up the habit. Male abstainers' chances of getting unhitched were not that different from guys who kept up the habit, although the authors caution that so few men give up porn that the sample size is too small to be reliable.

The findings also suggest that porn's effect on marriage appears to be strongest among younger, less religious people who initially report higher levels marital happiness.

Could it be that people started watching porn because their marriages were already unhappy? The research team did not think it's the relationship quality leading to the porn use and divorce because this is data taken over time and not just a snapshot. 

The researchers could not definitively explain why the impact was so much stronger on women than men, since that ran counter to previous scholarship on the issue. 

Previous studies have found that porn has an accelerating effect on a deteriorating marriage: husbands in poor relationships tend to consume more sexually explicit material and consuming more sexually explicit material also leads to poorer relationships.

Some sociologists have speculated that men turn to porn as a way of lifting their mood about their difficult home life and that the porn then becomes an easier route to sexual satisfaction than being with their partner, so they disinvest in the marriage.

These findings also run counter to another paper which found that large fraction of people in a relationship who used porn reported that it had no ill-effects. In a survey of 430 people who were asked open-ended questions about their or their partner's pornographic use, the most common response was that it had no negative impact.

While a similar number of positive and negative perceived effects were identified, generally speaking, positive effects of pornography use were reported more frequently than negative consequences by participants and there was a predominant tendency for participants to reject the view that pornography contributes to negative consequences.

Some of the ways in which watching porn had a positive effect were that partners learned about their likes and dislikes, could talk more openly about sex and enhanced their intimacy. Women also said their partners' porn use took some of the sexual burden off them. Negative effects were reported too, including the development of unrealistic expectations and feelings of jealousy. 

Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating divorce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.

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