Online sexual activities, including pornography use, have drastically increased in recent years. Many studies have examined the impact that pornography use can have on marriages and families. One of the key findings has been that pornography use can negatively impact trust in relationships. This study focused on understanding the mechanisms involved when a husband's pornography use negatively impacts his marital relationship and his wife's emotional well-being. Through qualitative analysis of interviews of 14 wives who received therapy because of their husband's pornography use, the analytic team found (1) a breakdown of expectations and assumptions central to the marriage, (2) a sense of distance or disconnection from their husband, and (3) a general sense of being emotionally and psychologically unsafe and insecure in their relationship. Further, it was found that loss of trust was greatly influenced by the sexual nature of pornography and the deceit surrounding its use. These two factors combined to produce a loss of secure attachment, particularly for attachment-oriented and attachment-idealizing wives, who hold the belief that pornography use is not appropriate. Overall, it was found that a husband's involvement with pornography can result in a lack of emotional, psychological, and physical availability and responsiveness, and a decrease in closeness and intimacy. Interacting with the impact of deceit, a spouse's pornography use clearly provides ample opportunity for the breakdown of secure attachment at a level that can be classified as an attachment rupture or trauma.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life



Date Submitted


Document Type





pornography, trust, wife, marriage, deceit, lying, attachment, trauma, impact, qualitative