Q: My neighbor's son has repeatedly been caught viewing pornography on their computer, and he almost has her convinced that it's just another form of entertainment and that "all the guys do it." How can I help her get through to her son -- and convince them both that this is a serious issue?
Jim: This is one of the most critical problems facing families, because pornography is so easily accessible to anyone with a computer or a smart phone. Every day at Focus on the Family, we hear from people torn apart by porn. As soon as possible, I'd encourage your neighbor and her son to seek help from a counselor or pastor.
How can you convince them to take this step? There is a wide range of sociological evidence pointing to the destructive influence of pornography. In other words, this isn't just an issue of concern for so-called "religious people." Time magazine recently reported: "In recent years, a number of psychologists and sociologists have joined the chorus of religious and political opponents in warning about the impact of pervasive pornography. They argue that porn is transforming sexuality and relationships -- for the worse."
Consider, for example, a 2003 study by the Matrimonial Lawyers Association. It found that 56 percent of divorce cases involve one partner with an obsessive interest in pornography. Marriage (and divorce) may be the last thing on your neighbor's son's mind at this point, but he's fooling himself if he thinks he'll be able to easily ditch his porn habit after getting married. And his ability to form healthy dating relationships in the years leading up to marriage will be seriously hindered as well.
Behind the statistics, there are scores of real people whose lives have been damaged by porn. It's not a joke. It's not entertainment. It destroys families, it shatters marriages, it degrades both men and women, and it distorts the God-given gift of sex. Implore your friend and her son to seek help through a qualified family therapist. It's one of the most important decisions they can make at this critical point in his life.
Q: My husband has a habit of keeping secrets from me or lying to me about little things. He'll tell me that he had to work late when he actually went to see a movie with friends. Or he won't tell me about a bonus he got at work. He's a good husband and a moral person, but his lack of honesty makes me wonder if he's keeping bigger secrets.
Juli: I can understand why your husband's habit of deceit bothers you. Whether it is a big or little area, his lack of honesty undermines trust in your relationship. From how you've described the situation, your husband's "little white lies" are inconsistent with his character. Perhaps he's behaving this way with you as a means of avoiding conflict or asserting independence.
Your husband may feel like he doesn't have the freedom to make decisions like going out with his friends or spending a little extra money. He may have learned as a child to respond to feeling controlled by being "passive-aggressive." In other words, he wouldn't stand up to his parents or say "no," but he would quietly and secretly do his own thing. Your husband has probably transferred this approach into your marriage. Rather than call and explain to you that he wants to go out to a movie, he avoids the conversation and potential conflict by doing what he wants and covering it with a lie.
Although the "issues" at hand are small, they represent larger problems in your marriage dynamics that need to be discussed and resolved. A few sessions with a marriage counselor can help you identify and address these dynamics.
Dr. Juli Slattery is a licensed psychologist, co-host of Focus on the Family, author of several books, and a wife and mother of three.
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