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August 07, 2018

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3 Ways Porn Shreds Marriage with a "Shame Bomb"

Some movies start with a serene setting, only to have the world collapse around the main character in the first two minutes. A wife discovering porn is a lot like that.

Life seems normal, almost on autopilot. Then she picks up her husband’s iPad and, on a hunch, glances at his history.

Her world explodes. She feels shock, betrayal, hurt, anger, and confusion–all with white hot intensity and all at the same time.

Then her husband walks in. She explodes on him.

Neither saw the bomb coming. Neither of them know what to do with the raging fire resulting from the explosion. They turn on each other. They inadvertently fan the flames instead of extinguishing them. Life as they know it changed in an instant.

Let’s rewind the tape and see what made everything so explosive. Like playing through the last few minutes before a plane crash, there is a lot to be learned.

3 Ways Porn Shreds Marriages with Shame

How Shame Works

Before playing through the events, we have to understand how shame works. Shame is destructive. Shame says “you are worthless” because of something you have done or what was done to you.

In her book Daring Greatly, Brene Brown describes what research reveals about shame and how it differs for men and women.

For men, the primary sources of shame are summed up in two rules:

  1. Don’t fail.
  2. Don’t appear weak.

How many guys have ended up in the E.R. because of these two?

For women, the primary sources of shame tend to be attached to body image and the role of wife and mother. If you want to destroy a woman, call her fat or a bad mom.

Now, let’s play through the sequence with the iPad again.

Upon seeing the flood of images of young women with perfect bodies, this loving wife feels hopeless. “I can’t compete with one of these women, much less all of them.” All of her insecurities about her body are magnified a thousand times over. She feels like a failure as a wife for “not being enough for him.” This is the first shame bomb. Even if he never looks at porn again, she will forever wonder on some level if he is thinking of them or of her.

Shame bomb number two follows right on the heels of the first one. She is rightfully angry and hurt. And he can’t fix it. Immediately he is flooded with a sense of failure. He has failed to protect his wife. He has ripped her heart out and there is no excuse–no matter how many excuses he tried to make, it is a smoke screen to cover his shame.

His weakness is now glaring, standing out like a sore thumb. “Why couldn’t you control yourself!?!  Why are you so…weak!?!” Her words shred his sense of worth.

Both of them are railing back and forth–dust in the air, debris all around them, ringing in their ears from the emotional explosions. Now they realize that they are ripped open with their guts hanging out. Each of them feel worthless and helpless. Out of their panic, they trade barbs. This is shame bomb number three.

“It’s just pictures–what are you so upset about?” “I need sex more than you do, so I have to find it somewhere.” (i.e. “You aren’t a good enough wife.”)

“What kind of pathetic loser are you?” “Don’t you care about me or your kids?” (i.e. “You are too weak and a failure as a husband.”)

These two people that love each other get stuck pounding on their spouse’s shame buttons. Like two pinballs in the same machine, each collision becomes more violent and destructive. No one wins.

Getting Out of the Shame Cycle

So how do you get out of the shame cycle?

You are going to need some help. As scary as that is, it is the honest truth. That may mean telling some trusted friends or family members, your pastor, a counselor, or a recovery group like Celebrate Recovery.

As a couple, you may need help repairing your marriage. This is not generic marriage counseling. I recommend finding someone trained in Emotionally Focused Therapy–it has been a great fit for the couples I work with every week who are recovering from shame bombs like this.

The good news is that most couples make it through the explosion and stay together. How you go through something like this determines your quality of life for years to come.

August 02, 2018

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Back to the Basic: 5 Steps to Overcome Porn

About the author, Dan Wobschall

Dan serves as the Director of Gateway to Freedom, a 3-day intensive for men, and also serves as a Sexual Integrity and Recovery Mentor. Gateway to Freedom is a ministry of Be Broken Ministries. Dan speaks nationally on Sexual Integrity Leadership team. Prior to his engagement in ministry, Dan spent 32 years in public safety. He & his wife Julie have been married for 34 years and live in Orlando, Florida.

July 24, 2018

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8 Conversation Starters to Discuss Your Porn Addiction with Your Spouse

Your journey to freedom from pornography most likely didn’t take only one conversation, one moment of healing, or one act of repentance. Instead, it’s been made up (or will be made up) of many rounds of discussion, many layers of healing, and a multitude of confessions because bad habits are hard to break. Satan loves to keep entangling us and entrapping us with sins with addictive properties.

(First time confessing your porn addiction to your spouse? Read this article first.)

Your spouse’s journey to healing will also take time, intention, and your willingness to talk with her or him as you both journey through this. One of the best things Craig did for me as I healed was to allow me to ask any question at any moment regarding his addiction. But it was also incredibly meaningful to me when he didn’t wait for me to start a conversation. Why? Because it showed me that he was working on the issues, thinking about his struggles and questions, without my prodding and poking and reminding. It reminded me that he didn’t need me to be in charge.

8 Conversation Starters to Discuss Your Porn Addiction with Your Spouse

It can be difficult, though, to jump into a conversation about porn. Though it’s old hat for us now, in the beginning, it felt awkward. Sometimes, it would be easy for one or both of us to become defensive. We often stumbled through, saying what we thought we should say instead of what was really on our hearts. And, of course, there were those times when we said exactly what we were feeling without a filter. But here’s the good news, even though Craig and I didn’t always communicate perfectly about his porn addiction (and my controlling nature), we still communicated. And this, my friends, is key.

Pornography addiction breeds in isolation. Shame multiplies in the dark. Conversation, however, has the power to bring things into the light. And most importantly, conversation has the power to bring connectivity. As this video clearly states, the opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety. It’s connection.

Here are eight conversation starters, categorized by the purpose of the conversation, you can use to help you and your spouse increase connection, decrease shame, and keep you both on the road to healing.

Conversations that Uncover the Cause of Addiction

It may take awhile for your spouse to truly internalize that he or she is not the cause of your addiction. Even when your marriage is rocky, your spouse is never responsible for your sin, and vice versa. When you talk with her and explore the cause(s) of your addiction, you affirm to her that she is not one of them. Conversing about this also helps you uncover different roots and identify triggers that compel you to go back to the bad habits you want to break. Chances are your spouse also has places in her heart where God wants to set her free. Remember, God wastes nothing, and often when one spouse is in the refining process, it provides a fabulous opportunity for God to do a meaningful work in the other spouse as well.

How do you broach this subject? Try some of these starter ideas:

  • “I’ve found that I normally turn to porn when I feel __________, but I realize porn hasn’t been effective because __________________. Instead of turning to porn, I want to ___________________. Do you ever struggle with turning to something other than God first?”
  • “I’ve used porn to hide from my emotions and to not deal with certain aspects of my past/life/fears. I’ve been afraid to deal with them because __________________________. I’ve decided to stop hiding and instead, I will _____________________________. Could you be a sounding board for me when I need to talk about my past/life/fears so we can build connection? I’d love to do the same for you.”

Conversations that Show Understanding

Porn addiction wreaks havoc on your marriage and for your spouse to know that you see this and are working to repair the damage is incredibly healing. These conversations promote self-reflection, active listening, and the ability to empathize with each other. Here are some ways you can show understanding:

  • “I realize that when I engage in pornography, I am acting selfishly and I am not loving myself or you well. I am learning that just as Jesus’ love for me required sacrifice, I also need to love sacrificially. What does it look like for me to love you sacrificially? I’ve seen you love me sacrificially when you ___________________.”
  • “I understand that by turning to porn, I’ve hurt you deeply. I want to ask your forgiveness for _______________. Is there anything else for which I need to ask your forgiveness? I understand I may not receive it right away, but I want you to know that I am deeply sorry.”

Conversations that Show Commitment

It takes time to rebuild the broken trust. One of the ways you can help this process is by investing your energy into the marriage. It’s helpful to remind your wife that you choose her, you love her, and you are committed to her and the health of your relationship. Just as you would like her to see your growth, it’s important for you to pay attention to how she is growing as well.

  • “I’ve realized how important prayer is in my battle to overcome pornography. Could we start praying together? I’d love for us to pray for each other on a regular basis. How do you feel about that?”
  •  “I’ve really noticed how you’ve _____________________. Thank you so much for _________________. I’m so glad I have you in my life.”
  •  “I feel like I’ve had a breakthrough in my addiction because ______________________. I wanted to share that with you and check in with you about how you’re doing, too.”

Related: Life After Porn–5 Things My Husband Did to Rebuild Trust

It’s not necessary to memorize these conversation starters. If you understand the general premise, you’ll do great. The key here is to move towards authenticity and to be vulnerable with your spouse. Keep in mind timing, pray before, during and after your conversation, and allow the Holy Spirit to move in your conversation. God is for you, your spouse, and your marriage. He is for intimacy and connection, and He promises to be with you on this journey.

March 02, 2017

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Turning Struggle into Triumph: What We Can Learn About Sexual Addiction from 50 Shades of Grey

Given its popularity, especially with the release of the most recent

movie, Fifty Shades Darker, based on the series of books, 50 Shades of

Grey has been a common topic of conversation. While some critics find the

content of these books disgusting and offensive, others find them

titillating and enjoyable. For more still, these books paint the portrait

of two broken souls who turn to sexual addiction as a way to cope with the

pain and lack of self-esteem they’ve experienced in their lives.

 

It’s true that many people give into sexual addiction as a way to satisfy

the demons within them. Unfortunately, this addiction does little more

than make things worse. Sexual addiction isn’t glamorous. As with other

addictions, sexual addiction leaves in its wake <a

href="http://www.lifestartherapy.com/fifty-shades-of-grey-why-unhealthy-sexual-addictions-hurt-both-men-women/">countless

victims</a>, both men and women, whose scars may never heal.

 

<b>The Truth Behind the Characters</b>

 

In the novel, Christian Grey is a handsome man of means, while Ana Steele

is a plain Jane woman who can’t believe someone so charming and perfect

could be interested in her. Early on you learn that Christian grew up with

an abusive, drug addict mother who inflicted unspeakable pain on him,

leaving him with emotional scars he couldn’t cope with. Upon being

introduced to the BDSM lifestyle, he essentially turned to sexual

addiction as a means to take away the residual pain of his childhood.

 

Ana, on the other hand, allows her self-doubt to control her, driving her

to do anything and be anything for a man who is clearly abusing her.

Although she is an educated woman, she loses herself in her need to

satisfy Christian, doing everything she can to keep him happy and with

her.

 

<b>The Truth About Sexual Addiction</b>

 

Although 50 Shades of Grey has a happy ending, this is not the case for

most people affected by sexual addiction. The addict is left with a daily

struggle to control their urges, while their spouse is left feeling

shamed, isolated, and insecure about themselves and their ability to

please their partner. And honestly, would people idealize and fantasize

about finding their own Christian Grey if he wasn’t handsome and

successful, but rather an everyday Joe off the street? It’s unfortunate

that looks and money tend to overshadow the clear signs of abuse.

 

<b>Finding Help in Your Struggle</b>

 

Rather than giving in to this harmful and dangerous lifestyle, there are

some things you can do to heal and overcome your sexual addiction:

 

- Find support—be open and honest about your addiction and seek the help

of a therapist to learn the skills you need to manage your addiction.

 

- Be positive—while it’s easy to think poorly of yourself, you need to

stop that. Right now. Taking time to meditate and practice positive

affirmations can make a world of difference in your ability to overcome.

 

- Identify triggers—figure out where your temptations lie and avoid them

completely. If pornography is something you struggle with, consider

avoiding even non-pornographic movies with nudity or implied sexual

behavior.

 

- Motivate yourself—write yourself a letter including the reasons you’ve

chosen to seek help for your addiction. Be positive and encouraging to

help re-motivate yourself on the days you’re struggling the most.

 

- Remember that you’re human—being human means making mistakes. You’ll

likely slip up a time or two during recovery because breaking old habits

is hard, especially when those habits become addictions. Take it easy on

yourself and use slip ups as a motivational tool to recommit yourself to

your recovery.

 

<b>Just Keep Trying</b>

 

The road to recovery is a long one, but with the <a

href="http://www.lifestartherapy.com/how-to-quit-porn-6-important-steps-to-breaking-your-addiction/">right

help</a> and a realistic mindset, you can do it. It takes strength and

courage to admit you have a problem—you’re already well on your way.

 

About the Author: Danielle Adams is a freelance writer who works with <a

href="http://www.lifestartherapy.com/">Lifestar Therapy</a>. She is

committed to helping people practice open communication and build healthy

relationships.

Married to a Sex Addict? 3 Important Tips to Help Your Relationship

After you learn of your spouse's pornography addiction, you’ll probably experience a whole gamut of emotions including shock, anger, desperation, depression, and more. You may feel like distancing yourself from your spouse and marriage, but there are better things you can do for healing.

 

Follow these three tips to learn how you can slowly, but surely, improve your relationship and begin to move forward on the path of forgiveness.

 

1. Educate yourself on addiction. The first thing you can do when you learn about your spouse’s addiction is to educate yourself on what addiction is, how it starts, and why it’s so hard to stop. Learn about the symptoms of relational trauma you may be going through during this time, such as fear, obsession, the need for control, and the unhealthy actions that might go along with these emotions.

 

Speak to a professional therapist for answers to your questions and to get the support you need, which can include a support group, therapist, spiritual leader, or trusted friend, in order to move forward on the road to forgiveness and healing.

 

2.  Distract yourself. At this time of struggle it’s easy to get into the trap of analyzing every last detail of your spouse’s sex addiction. Resist the urge. Dwelling on unpleasant details won’t help you and will probably make you feel even worse.

 

Instead of keeping yourself in misery, now is a good time to invest more energy in yourself. Here are a few productive ways you can build your spirits up during this difficult time:

 

  • Set recovery goals and write them down
  • Connect with a support community and/or clergy member
  • Set up a weekly night out with yourself or with friends
  • Learn a new skill or start a hobby you’ve always wanted to have
  • Start a new exercise regime
  • Get plenty of good sleep
  • Serve others who are in need

 

By giving yourself a positive distraction from the struggles, you’ll replenish your soul and have more energy to effectively deal with your relationship.

 

3. Work to rebuild trust. The most important thing you can do for your spouse and your marriage is to encourage them to seek professional help from a marriage therapist (preferably who specializes in pornography and sexual addiction) to help them quit porn.

 

At the same time, the two of you can talk openly with your therapist for relationship guidance and healing. Set boundaries with your spouse to stop behaviors that make you feel uncomfortable physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Once these are set and followed, trust can start to build up again.

 

Communicate openly and non-aggressively throughout the healing process. Have the hard conversations. Learn to use “I” and “me” to avoid sounding accusatory, such as “I’ve noticed that…” or “Lately, I’ve been feeling…” By formatting your sentences more around your feelings, your spouse will not go on the defensive and will, more likely, hear what you have to say.

 

This is not an easy time, so remember to practice patience with yourself and with your spouse. Each day is each of you must recommit towards healing and working together (and individually) to rebuild the trust, improve communication, and focusing on your future.

 

About the Author: Danielle Adams is a freelance writer who works with Lifestar Therapy (http://www.lifestartherapy.com/). She is committed to helping people practice open communication and build healthy relationships.

 

 

 

 

Follow up to the Set Free Global Summit

Last week I was both blessed and privileged to represent FBH with Brent at the Set Free Summit in Greensboro, North Carolina. I also met Jarrad Miller with God Over Porn and had time to get to know him.


I would like to share with you my impression of the conference and how I perceived it was accepted overall. Now my personal perception with $4.00 might get you tall Latte at Starbucks but not much more.


About 850 people came to the conference. Out of that only about 300 Churches or other religious institutions were represented, and of them only about 90 or so visited our table and connected with us. When you consider the total number of churches in a two hundred mile radius of Greensboro, it’s a little disheartening. However the amount of lay people seeking either self-help or materials and information they could take back to leadership was a little more encouraging. Plus they seemed willing and determined to convince their leaders that it’s well past time—we must start now. That to me was more encouraging.


The majority seemed to have come in search of the magic pill that would sanitarily make this epidemic disappear, and they left with the realization that they are going to have to get down and dirty for as long as it takes and it has to start at the top. What they got there was the truth which Jesus promised would set us free.


There were more than a few from Canada and other countries like England, Australia, Peru, Mexico, Brazil, and Egypt, which opened my eyes to the fact that this is a worldwide epidemic. Most of these came with the hope of finding materials in their own languages, only to find nothing yet. Although I wasn’t discouraged; I just saw another opportunity for someone to fill that need.


There was also addressed in one of the sessions the need for materials and resources for the growing number of women in the church struggling the same issue. It’s not just a guy issue anymore. But even this need creates another opportunity for ministry.


I sometimes felt like these pastors were overwhelmed—it was like finding out that what they thought was an outbreak of the flu infecting over half their congregations was, in reality, the bubonic plague. But it was a much needed wake-up call.


At the end we met three guys from the Chicago area who were already having success in three groups of about sixty men, and they were looking for an additional church facility to start another group.


Overall, I came away encouraged because even though the steps are small, they are in the right direction. The Bible tells us not to despise meager beginnings. And when you’re trapped between Pi Hahiroth and Migdol with the Red Sea blocking your way and the entire Egyptian Army is bearing down on you from the rear—our God will part the Red Sea.


I am seeking your prayers for these pastors and individuals, that they will be strong in their resolve to engage in the battle and work past their fears, doubts, and concerns by trusting in God. After all, it’s His church, not theirs.

March 31, 2016

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Set Free Summit

I will be leaving Sunday, April 3, for Greensboro, NC, for a conference helping others to find freedom from porn.  This is a national conference http://setfreesummit.org/ that is bringing about 800 individuals from churches and other organizations, with the goal to address the issue of porn in the church today.   

 

I will be using this time to connect with other leaders and help distribute the resources of Freedom Begins Here. My hope and prayer is to ignite church leaders to use the Freedom Begins Here resources to help “start the conversation” around this difficult subject.   I have brought over 400 resources to give away free to interested leaders that want to help others find freedom.  Also, I would like to learn more about what others are doing to address this issue and grow in my understanding.   

 

How can you help me in this time?  Please pray that I will be able to share with other leaders how to address this issue in their churches.  My hope is to connect with individuals who are committed to addressing this issue in their community with the grace of Jesus.   This is a huge opportunity for all of us who are committed to do this to come together and make an impact to change lives. Another prayer request is that I will be able to give away all of the resources that I am taking to the summit.   

 

I am committed to help other leaders bring individuals to freedom around this issue.   Below is a letter that I will be handing out to leaders that get free resources:

 

Dear Church Leader,

 

One of the most critical issues that is facing the church today is getting individuals to admit they are struggling in the area of sexual addiction/pornography.   Freedom Begins Here Devotional Journal has been used by individuals and in small groups and has proven to help men “start the conversation” around this difficult issue.   As each individual navigates this sin/struggle, they come to understand they are not alone and there are solutions to gain freedom from it.   

 

Below is a quote from a pastor who has taken numerous individuals through this struggle:

 

“Freedom Begins Here has made a lasting impact, changing many men and marriages in our church. Many of the men who participated in the small groups have found a greater freedom from sexual immorality. More importantly, they found a greater revelation on how to honor God and themselves.”

 

Christopher Mark,

Connections Pastor

Lighthouse Christian Church, Rosemount, MN

 

Here is an encouraging reflection from a counselor that is utilizing FBH material:

 

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for your support and the fine materials your ministry has provided for the purpose of overcoming porn and sex addiction. I am a Christian therapist in Austin, TX, and I have been using Freedom Begins Here with clients for three years now.  As a marriage counselor, porn issues are a common conversation in the room with couples having marriage issues.  As I also work with single men, many of them have intimacy problems due to the shame cycle of pornography. I have used your materials to run groups for my male clients to supplement both marriage work and personal recovery.  It has helped my men to overcome their personal struggles and also aided in the healing process for their spouses. Many of my clients have told me just that. So, grace and peace to you in this holiday season, and please keep the wonderful materials coming!

 

Darrell Ragland, MA, LPC                                

Pflugerville, TX

 

As you consider addressing this issue, please review the resources you have been given.  Freedom Begins Here wants to help you navigate this difficult subject, so please contact me.

 

Brent Barrowcliff, Executive Director

brent@freedombeginshere.org

479-957-2537