What Porn Does Not Teach You

I have been married less than a year, but in this year, I have learned so much, a lot of which revolves around what sex actually is versus what media portrays sex as. I knew a lot; I was clear-eyed. Still, I swim in the same cultural cesspool as everyone else and many of things that I was wrong about were assumptions I had never needed to examine.

First, sex is not simple. Watching porn movies gives you the expectation that sex is flawless and takes little time. Sometimes it is over quickly for the man, but you will never have a happy marriage if only one person is sexually satisfied. Also, removing articles of clothing takes practice. Hooks DO NOT come undone easily. Things catch, hold, and require interrupting the moment. This is all part of the actual act that ends up on the cutting room floor when a movie is made.

Second, sex requires effort. You have to control yourself, because you will have to make sure that you are not finished when your wife is just beginning. It takes time to master this. Who knew? It also takes time to figure out how to please each another. It’s not as easy as “watch this and do likewise”. Porn teaches us that one technique works for everyone all the time anywhere anytime. Not so. Not even close.

Third, porn never shows people happy; the actors never smile. Sex can and does make people happy, and it is often an intimate, extremely personal thing. However, it is not meant to substitute for kindness, affection, critical thinking, problem-solving, or any of the other skills that marriage requires and hones. No, you cannot solve all your problems in bed, and it’s frustrating and annoying to substitute sex for problem-solving, or vice-versa.

At the opposite end of the spectrum in some ways, but at the same exact place in others, romance tells us that every moment should be an epic, breathless etched-in-eternity moment, and if your life isn’t this way, then something’s wrong. Not so. You need those moments, but you will have to decide who takes out the trash, who does the books, who takes care of the animals, where to spend Christmas, how to handle in-laws, and so on. There is a practical side of life required for two people to live together in the same space, and you need more than charming words, sexual technique, or dramatic statements to make that happen.

There are fantasies that point us to greater truths, and fantasies that lie about how reality truly is. Porn falls into the second category, and it does not prepare you for the real love (physical, emotional, and spiritual) that marriage is. It introduces a bunch of lies that you have to spend your time correcting and images that you must replace with ones of your own experience with your marriage partner.

If you want to be married — ever — one of the best things you can do is to keep yourself unspoiled. That means no porn, no bikini mags, no racy screensavers, no sexting — nothing. Don’t write porn. Don’t download porn. Every image that lives in your mind will be one that can and often does appear when you think about sexual pleasure, instead of your wife, and you’ll have to fight it. That sucks. It’s sad, but true — your body remembers former moments of pleasure and seeks to resurrect them. If you don’t have any of them, or not many, then you will have sexual one-ness easier and faster than people who have to work through it, like I have had to.

I think our culture promotes a twisted view of sexuality that makes long-term commitment difficult. It has taken freedom and used it to promote multiple sexual attachments over time; individually, this makes life much more complicated and painful than it needs to be. You remember what you once had and long to have it again. Sex is a substance thirty times more powerful than cocaine, in the body’s pleasure centers. It’s not something you can just participate in without forming attachments or memories. People who have had multiple sexual partners, even virtually, find it harder to commit to just one person, and then it’s harder for them to stay married.

Don’t buy the lie of sexual “freedom”. If you do, it will be harder to exchange it for something better the older you get. People who role-play or act out sexual “freedom” long enough will find themselves ultimately free — that is, without any attachments, and will die unmarried and alone.

None of these things porn teaches you, because porn has no concept of anything past the fifteen-minute mark. Marriage is for the long haul, and for that, you must have a long-term, unselfish outlook; you must be self-controlled, and you must value your partner more than yourself. It’s a tall order, but you don’t have to be able to do all of these things before you say “I do”. You just have to be willing to do so. Ultimately, marriage is not about yourself, and porn says that the self and its pleasures are all that there is. To be married requires a focus on something besides the self, and porn will never get you to that point.

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