Married and love to watch some steamy porn together to rekindle the action between the sheets? Be warned, as frequent pornography use can sound the death knell for your happy marriage.
According to the researchers, pornography is associated with a substantial increase in the probability of divorce for married people and this increase is especially large for women.
“Beginning pornography use nearly doubled one’s likelihood of being divorced, from 6% to 11% and nearly tripled it for women -- from six per cent to 16%,” said Samuel Perry, led author and assistant professor of sociology at the University of Oklahoma.
“Our results suggest that viewing pornography, under certain social conditions, may have negative effects on marital stability,” he said.
While beginning to watch pornography was associated with an increase in the probability of divorce for the sample of married Americans, the increase was greater for younger adults.
In fact, the study found that the younger an adult was when he or she began watching pornography, the higher his or her probability of getting divorced by the next survey wave. “Younger people tend to view pornography more often than older ones. Older ones generally have more stable marriages since they tend to be more mature, financially established and likely already have more time invested in relationship,” Perry noted. “So, we thought it made perfect sense that the effect of pornography use on divorce would grow weaker with age,” the author stated.
The study used nationally representative General Social Survey panel data collected from thousands of American adults. Respondents were interviewed three times about their pornography use and marital status -- every two years from 2006-2010, 2008-2012 or 2010-2014.
Perry and his co-author Cyrus Schleifer, assistant professor of sociology, also examined how age, religiosity and marital happiness moderated the link between changing pornography viewership habits and marital stability.
Beginning pornography use was also associated with a greater negative impact on the marriages of those who were less religious, which was measured by religious service attendance. For those who did not attend religious services every week or more, beginning pornography use was associated with an increase from six to 12% in the probability of getting divorced by the next survey.
By contrast, those who attended religious services at least weekly saw virtually no increase in their probability of divorce upon starting to view pornography. According to Perry, the fact that being more religious seemed to lessen the negative influence of pornography use on marital stability deviates from some previous research.
“Our findings suggest that religion has a protective effect on marriage, even in the face of pornography use,” the authors noted. However, beginning pornography use had no statistically significant association for individuals who reported lower marital happiness initially.
“We took this to mean that pornography use -- perhaps if it’s discovered by one’s spouse unexpectedly -- could rock an otherwise happy marriage to the point of divorce, but it doesn’t seem to make an unhappy marriage any worse than it already is,” Perry said. The findings could help couples make more informed decisions about factors that may affect their marriages.