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The Busted Halo Question Box
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Caitlin Kennell Kim
Mary
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Bible
Mike Hayes
Swingman/Editor
 
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Our readers asked:

I found porn on my husband’s computer. Is this grounds for an annulment?

Neela Kale Answers:

The internet has created a new minefield for marriages and relationships. People who would never think of visiting an adult shop or ordering pay-per-view suddenly find these temptations only a click away in the comfort of their own homes, and thus the consumption of pornography has skyrocketed. Many spouses and partners experience pornography use as infidelity, and it takes a subsequent toll on relationships. Right now you may feel devastated, and rightly so. It’s important (though extremely difficult) for the non-offending spouse to recognize that it is not about you. You didn’t make your husband do this, and if he really does have a problem, only he can own up to it and resolve to change. The reasons that people turn to pornography are complex, ranging from simple curiosity to serious affective dysfunction. The degree of consumption also varies widely, from the occasional user to the addict. A qualified marriage therapist who specializes in sexual addictions can help you sort out what your husband’s pornography use means for your relationship. You may also need some counseling on your own, to help you wade through the emotions that have come with your discovery. But as to your question about an annulment, each case is extremely unique and complex. An isolated incident of pornography use is unlikely to indicate the kind of behavior that would make your marriage vows invalid, while a more serious pattern of sexual and affective dysfunction might. Only a trained person who is working with you on your specific case can help you determine whether or not your marriage might be annulled.

An excellent resource for couples affected by pornography is Confronting Your Spouse’s Pornography Problem, by Rory C. Reid and Dan Gray (Sandy, UT: Silverleaf Press, 2006).

 
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The Author : Neela Kale
Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.
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