Yesterday a post on Psychology Today caught our eye: Why Men Use Porn (And How to Get Them to Stop).

Interesting, we thought. Porn is a divisive issue in a relationship. It can help. It can hurt. And it can also be hard to talk about.

Now a real psychologist would provide real insight: Dr. Mark Goulston, a former online couples therapist and, more recently, author of a book called "Just Listen: The Secret to Getting Through to Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime." OK.

We listened long enough to get to the bottom of his response to a woman who had written in, complaining that her husband was addicted to pornography. Now they have an 8-month-old daughter and, she writes, "It's hurting me. When I make love with him, I'm flooded by all these images and I get sick to my stomach."

What turned ours was Goulston's reply.

"You might not like what I am going to say, but please hear me out," he writes. "For women verbally venting their frustrations is a great stress reliever. No one knows why; it just is. Well, for men, an orgasm is a great stress reliever (not to say that that isn't also the case for women.)" No one knows why; it just is."

OK, so far we were with him: When we want to blow off steam we get mani-pedis side-by-side; when a guy does, he beats a retreat to the bathroom with his iPod. Fine.

Then Goulston continues:

"There are two kinds of sex -- sex with love and sex just for sex's sake. Many husbands feel guilty about having sex just for sex's sake with their wives, because they feel like they are using her as a thing (as opposed to making love to the person they care about). So instead of using their wives as things, many men use pornography and masturbation (and often feel ashamed or even pathetic for doing so). I'm not advocating it or saying it's a wonderful practice, I'm just saying it's fairly common and not always unhealthy. Pornography and masturbation (in moderation) have probably saved more marriages than they have hurt. I think it's pretty sad, but it's just a fact of modern life. The trick of course is to do it in moderation rather than letting it become a full time substitution for real sex."

Still with him. In fact, that seems pretty plausible. Unless he's replacing you with the blow-up doll more nights than not, maybe it's best to turn a blind eye. After all, we have yoga!

But Goulston wasn't done grinding the axe. This was the last third of the advice he offered this beleaguered mother of a newborn:

"To give you an idea of the stress men feel, one man asked me a few months ago if I knew what the definition of a shower was. I told him I didn't. He told me: 'A shower is the place where grown men go to cry when they're afraid they can't keep the promise they made to their wives and children to always take care of them and don't want their family to see how afraid they are.'

If you can show your husband that you understand the pressure and responsibilities on him, he may feel less alone and less stressed out. And if he feels less stressed out, he may not need to resort to pornography as much. Take him aside and say to him, "Nobody, including me, knows how awful the pressure from all your responsibilities makes you feel. And nobody, including me, knows that sometimes -- even though you love me and our children -- you wish you could be single and have nobody to worry about but you. Isn't that true, honey? I'm sorry it's so tough." From there, you may be able to start a dialog about what is worrying him and help him find positive ways of dealing with the pressures in his life.


Sorry, this guy was the author of what, again? "How to Excuse Your Significant Other for Absolutely Everything and Take All the Blame Yourself?" Granted, we don't pretend to know what this couple's marriage is like, but then again, neither did he.

And if this couple is at all representative of the rest of America, then she's raising the child and working at the same time. She is making less than her very stressed-out husband at her equally demanding job, and she is spending an extra three hours a day taking care of the house while he spends at least some of that time choking the chicken.

And she should hug him and tell him that she really understands that he feels like he wants to run away sometimes -- which is why he continually needs to yank his own chain?

Who knows: Maybe Goulston came of age in the cavedays, when the man really was dragging home freshly killed protein and keeping his cavefamily from being eaten by wild mastodons, but last we checked, women had just as many responsibilities as men, if not more. And, last we checked, being committed to a relationship meant finding ways to exercise your independence in a way that didn't make your partner weep.

But what do you think: Is being so stressed out they can't cope why men feel the need to seek out inspirational graphics and take matters into their own hands?