Marriage Research: Porn Doubles Chance of Divorce in Two Years

A 2016 study from the University of Oklahoma found that beginning to watch pornography doubles the chance that a marriage will end in divorce within the following two years.

The study, “Till Porn Do Us Part? Longitudinal Effects of Pornography Use on Divorce” analyzed data collected from interviews with thousands of American adults in two-year intervals, about their marital status and use of pornography.

The risk of divorce within two years was found to be even greater for younger married adults who began consuming pornography. The younger the adult was when beginning to watch pornography, the greater the likelihood of divorce was found to be.

Attending religious services regularly also impacted the likelihood of divorce when pornography was introduced. The initiation of pornography use by adults who did not attend weekly religious services saw their likelihood of divorce double within two-years. By contrast, the likelihood of divorce for adults who attended religious services weekly and began using pornography saw almost no increase in the probability of divorce.

What Couples Can Do:
• Stating the obvious: if you want to minimize the likelihood of divorce in your marriage, stay away from pornography. If you consume pornography, quit. If you need help to quit, find help, and begin the process that leads to recovery and wholeness. If you don’t use pornography, don’t begin.

• Here’s some good advice from Jim Burns and Doug Fields:
“If you have been involved in viewing pornography–even if you don’t think you’re addicted–please, by all means, pursue some help and accountability. Proverbs says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life,” and this could not be more applicable than protecting your marriage. Pornography is a very big deal, and don’t fall for the lie that it’s harmless! It is a destructive force that doesn’t just go away on its own; you have to send it away by getting some help and becoming accountable. Be honest. Bring it into the light by telling someone who you trust, who feels safe, who won’t judge you, and who will be willing to walk through this with you. The issue will only grow more destructive in darkness.” –from their book, Getting Ready for Marriage

• Attend church services regularly with your spouse (even if it’s watching a live-streamed service together during the COVID-19 era). Aside from the aspect of lowering the likelihood of divorce mentioned above, attending services together serves to strengthen your relationship with God and your spouse. Most couples who attend church together report a high measure of marriage satisfaction.

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Jim Liebelt

Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has over 35 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on Crosswalk.com and Religiontoday.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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