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November 13, 2018

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Can Couples Therapy Fix Our Relationship?

November 02, 2018

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3 Recovery Killers That Could Be Keeping You From Recovery

Is Recovery from Porn Possible?

“The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10a). It should be no surprise then that these three recovery killers we’ll talk about come straight from the father of lies–Satan himself.

Jesus on the other hand came to give us life. He said it like this, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b).

There are more than three recovery killers, but with years of experience as a recovery mentor and educator, I’ve seen that the three we talk about here are at the top of the list. Without understanding how these assassins can kill your recovery, it would be nearly impossible to confront and stop them. My perspective comes primarily from working with men, but these also apply to many women in recovery.

3 Recovery Killers That Could Be Keeping You from Freedom

Porn Recovery Killer #1: Pride

Pride likes to call the shots. It says it knows best how to handle your recovery. Speaking to the danger of being led by pride, Proverbs 16:18 says,“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

In the early years of my recovery process, I embraced the self-reliant method of pursuing freedom. I suffered my bumps and bruises during those years.

As God revealed my pride problem, I began to surrender the “I can do this myself” mindset. I realized this attitude had landed me at a suicidal point in my life and I decided to try it God’s way.

Related: The Importance of Accountability in Changing a Heart

I pasted Isaiah 66:2b to our bathroom mirror as an everyday reminder. It says, “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (emphasis mine).

This following statement may be challenging for you to hear, but experience demonstrates it’s true: “The proud cannot be taught.” A pride-filled heart tends to think it knows all.

At its core, humility is a position of our heart, and that heart can be taught. As the verse in Isaiah above indicates, God looks with favor upon a humble and contrite heart and spirit. Humility opens the door for heart change–lasting and enduring heart change. Without heart change there is no life change and no ability to be truly set free.

Porn Recovery Killer #2: Minimizing

The definition of minimizing is to “reduce (something, especially something unwanted or unpleasant) to the smallest possible amount or degree.” I’m not a master of too many things in my life, but I had this down to a science during the first few years of my recovery. I’m still prone to do this with non-porn related areas of my life. By God’s grace, I’ve been given clear conviction on that subject.

Minimizing sounds something like this, “Hey, I only looked at porn for 30 minutes this week. Last week, it was an hour!” This is not to diminish progress, because any progress is good. But this self-talk is dangerous in that it sounds more like justifying the behavioral sin rather than confessing it and repenting.

Minimizing is a form of justification, and to a wounded, traumatized wife, it’s defensive talk. I promise that it will not be received well, nor should it be. Defensiveness is a different dialect of the same minimizing language.

No matter how painful it may be, take the position of honesty and fully accept responsibility. It comes from a place of humility in our hearts and mind.

Porn Recovery Killer #3: Isolation

Your greatest need in life is to be fully known and fully loved. Fear and shame work together to keep porn users in isolation and away from anyone or anything that can open their eyes to their greatest need.

Adam and Eve attempted to hide from God in the garden. Why? Genesis 3:9-10 says, “But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.’”

Satan, the deceiver and father of all lies, has been using fear and shame to drive us into isolation and away from God since the creation of mankind. And we keep buying the lie. Yet in the Genesis 3 account we see God as he is–the pursuer, grace-giver, and protector of his children. He sent his only Son, Christ Jesus, to redeem that which became broken in the Garden of Eden.

Addiction thrives in isolation and the opposite of addiction is community. In community, we can begin to have our greatest need met–the need to be fully known and fully loved.

Related: Porn and the Epidemic of Loneliness

Follow God’s Example – You Can’t Do it Alone

Even God lives in community as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Albeit a mysterious community, it is a perfect example of what being fully known and loved looks like for his children whom he dearly loves.

After all, he loves us all so much that he bought us back by the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s one and only Son. And, it’s an open invitation to become part of the greatest eternal community, the family of God. John 1:12-13 says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Step into the community of God, set pride aside, walk out of isolation, and begin one of the toughest journeys of your life–the journey to recovery, freedom, and new life.

By Dan Wobschall 

October 11, 2018

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From Playboy to Pornhub: Confessions of a 71-Year Old Porn Addict

I would like to tell you my porn addiction story. Please publish this on your website after editing and revising it. Also, please keep my name anonymous. Thank you!

It all began when my father brought home the first issue of Playboy magazine in 1953. I was 6 years old at the time. My mother had been a member of the WAC (Women’s Army Corp) during WWII, so she was not offended in the least by Playboy or any other men’s magazines. My parents just had a good laugh over it, but as far as I know, my father never bought any further porn magazines or ever watched adult films after that time. I, however, became very curious about Marilyn Monroe’s centerfold photo shoot.

My next exposure to porn was in 1959 at the age of 12. My mother, while grocery shopping, would pick up the currently popular pocket magazine called Pageant at the checkout stand each month. It was actually the for-runner of Cosmopolitan magazine. One issue had the story about how the film “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” was being created. One set of photos in the article showed the European (uncensored) version of the beginning scene where George Peppard meets Audrey Hepburn in a strip club in NYC. The photos showed a stripper as she took off each article of clothing. The last photo, where she was fully nude is the one that totally HOOKED ME. From that moment on, I couldn’t get enough of the men’s magazines, which became available at a neighborhood grocery store.

Related: World’s Largest Porn Site Has A Weekly List Of Most-Watched Videos, And Its Top Titles Are Disturbing

I did tell my mother about my problem, but she simply answered that all young men feel this kind of stimulation before marriage and that it was part of puberty.

By the time I graduated from high school and went away to college, I was seriously addicted. I strategically hid my collection of porn photos from my roommates and was alone with them quite frequently as a release mechanism from stress at school.

When I finally married at age 23, I swore that I would never look at porn images or movies again. Unfortunately, shortly after my wife and I were married, the addiction surfaced again. I never spoke to my dear wife about my problem, trying very hard to keep it a big dark secret. When she finally discovered the photos and that I had secretly gone to movie theaters to view more porn, she became enraged and wouldn’t talk to me for weeks at a time. She never knew how to handle my addiction, although we did meet with counselors and community leaders quite frequently. We never told our 6 children about my addiction until after they were married.

Finally, after dealing with my occasional relapses for almost 40 years, she decided that divorce was the only solution for her. She had decided to wait until our last child got married. I fought her very hard not to go through with this action, but in the end, I couldn’t stop her.

Related: Playboy To Pornhub: 4 Figures That Made Porn What It Is Today

Two years ago, I felt that I needed to move away from her and the area where we lived. I have never regretted doing so. I have been attending recovery meetings almost every week since then and I also have an accountability partner I work with to keep me away from internet porn on my PC. However, after 58 years, I still struggle every day with my porn addiction and the terrible results of it.

I’m very glad to be a part of this new organization and sincerely hope that my story will change the hearts and minds of those who may become or are now addicted to this horrible, love-destroying monster.

G.

September 18, 2018

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How to Tell if Your Partner is Struggling with Porn and what to do if they are

Here at Fight The New Drug, it has always been our goal to educate and raise awareness on the harmful effects of pornography to society as a whole. We receive countless emails and messages from Fighters all across the world, showing their support for the movement and sharing the facts in order to help change the conversation about porn.

However, while many are repping their ‘Porn Kills Love’ tees and sharing posts about the harms of porn, there is another group of Fighters who have a particular passion for the cause because they are struggling or know somebody who is. We have plenty of people who message us because they aren’t sure how to tell if someone close to them is struggling with porn and how they can help them. When this uncertainty exists in a romantic relationship, boyfriends and girlfriends can’t help but feel torn by what their partner may or may not be telling them.

We’ve done a lot of research and compiled a lot of information on the topic. The simple fact is that there is no “right” answer; everyone is different and may handle themselves in different ways with porn. And it’s important to note that not even close to everyone who has looked at porn is an addict, or will ever become one.

Even so, the following information can still be useful in identifying a persistent porn habit and how to best support someone who chooses to break free for themselves.

(FTND note: the decision for someone to give up porn needs to be fueled by the person deciding to give up porn for them self, first and foremost. Even so, encouragement and support from a loved one can be tremendously helpful in the recovery process.)

An easily concealable struggle

With porn literally being available 24/7, 365 through smartphones and internet access, it comes as no surprise that it is quickly becoming a huge issue today. However, unlike alcoholism or other drug addictions, the warning signs aren’t always as easy to spot. Browser histories can be erased, apps can conceal photos, etc. It may take some time, but the behavior of someone who might be struggling with porn can speak volumes.

Dr. Marysia Weber, DO, an osteopathic family physician certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, says that those who struggle may feel depressed and show ADHD symptoms, will typically conceal their porn problem from family and friends, and are unable to stop.

“Internet pornography leaves people wanting more and more, but they may not necessarily like what they see, which contributes to symptoms of anxiety and depression,” Dr. Weber says.

We commonly get messages from partners saying they notice their boyfriend/girlfriend will stay in the bathroom for long periods of time. They also notice that they are overly protective of their devices. They also describe a feeling of distance—feeling disconnected emotionally from their significant other for no apparent reason.

Related: How To Approach The Subject Of Porn With Your Partner

Intimate moments can be a big tell

If your partner insists on pushing you further than your comfort level or suddenly has a bunch of new “ideas” about things to try sexually that are more extreme than usual, you might want to have a talk. On the other end of the scale, if your partner suddenly shows a lack of interest in being intimate or uncharacteristically starts declining you, that can possibly be a sign as well. Also, if your partner has trouble getting aroused when with you, it could be a side effect of his/her porn habit.

Often, a consumer will resort to more hardcore, explicit, or shocking material because they’ve been “desensitized” to pornographic material, which could also affect their behavior. In 2014, the Max Planck Institute did an fMRI study that found that more porn use correlated with less reward circuit activation while briefly viewing sexual photos. What this means is that researchers found that the more porn watched, the more porn needed to get the same “high” in the brain.

Over time, a frequent porn consumer’s sensitivities may lessen, due to the nature of the shocking, explicit content they’re seeking out. They may find it difficult to find pleasure in their own relationships, and even everyday life, causing them to feel depressed, unfulfilled and empty. Pay attention to their mood and changes in their personality. People who are hooked to porn can often be irritable and find it hard to act like themselves.

Keep in mind that if any one or all of these issues happen, it very well may not be porn. These are just a few signs that are commonly experienced by those who do have partners with a confirmed porn struggle. Communication is key—try not to assume before something tips you off.

Talk it out

There is one sure way to know if your partner is struggling with pornography: communication.

One way porn kills love is by the secrecy and shame those affected feel. If their partner finds out about their private struggle, the hiding then can make the confrontation feel much worse. The only sure way to avoid these issues in a relationship is to throw it out into the light, and talk openly about it as early as possible.

Express to your partner the harmful effects of porn and especially how their consuming it would make you feel. Have a totally open and honest dialogue that comes from a place of love. Try your best not to judge them or make them feel shameful. Be loving, supportive, and open when you address it. In a healthy relationship, it is ideal that they will listen to you, and they will hopefully open up about what they’ve been dealing with.

If they do confide in you that they have been struggling, be careful not to judge or shame. You may feel hurt, but understand that they may be dealing with a serious issue. Judging and shaming do not solve anything or encourage positive growth, while showing support for recovery and understanding of how difficult a struggle can be are huge helps.

Also, keep in mind, just because they watch porn, doesn’t have to mean it’s automatically the end of your relationship. Having a desire to watch porn doesn’t automatically turn someone into a “gross” and “perverted” human being—it means that they’re human.

Related: Is It A Good Idea To Date Someone Who Watches Porn?

By openly talking about porn and not making it confrontational or shamey, you will be shining a light on a much-needed conversation. Being totally honest and open about a topic that most people are too embarrassed to talk about will take away its power to drown victims in secrecy or crippling shame.

Dr. Weber recommends asking the following questions if you want to approach someone about a possible porn addiction.

– Have you ever watched porn?  If so, when did you start viewing it?

– How often do you view it? For how long has this been a habit, if it is?

– Why do you watch porn? (This question helps Dr. Weber figure out the triggers for the addiction.  Many times, people are sad, lonely, depressed, frustrated or even bored.)

– When did you notice that you were seeking more images for more arousal? (If someone is seeking more images, more often, this is often a sign of desensitization that happens in the pleasure centers of the brain as someone becomes addicted.)

– How long has it been since you last watched porn?  (Dr. Weber says that a good rule of thumb is at least three months for someone not to be considered addicted.)

Offer your support and encouragement

If you find that a person close to you is struggling with pornography, they don’t have to fight alone. Yes, the decision to give up porn needs to be solely decided for them self, first and foremost, while encouragement from a loved one can be really helpful in the recovery process.

Dr. Weber suggests that the recovering compulsive porn consumer should have an accountability partner—someone who doesn’t make them feel bad for failing but can find out why they relapsed and encourage them to get back on the road to recovery.

You can be that person. Our friends at Fortify have created an amazing resource that we helped to develop alongside experts, researchers, coaches, and psychologists to help anyone take a step toward recovery.

It can be so frustrating to feel helpless in supporting your partner as they overcome a porn problem. The truth is, it’s their personal battle to fight, but you can be a huge encouragement to them through it all. In the end, love wins over shaming, and teamwork wins over fighting alone. Following these tips won’t guarantee a successful recovery, but it won’t hurt their chances, either. Regardless of the struggle, love is always worth fighting for.

Get Involved

SHARE this article to help those who may be struggling with pornography. By taking a stand and speaking out, we can make a real change in society.

Spark Conversations

This movement is all about changing the conversation about pornography. When you rep a tee, you can spark meaningful conversation on porn’s harms and inspire lasting change in individuals’ lives, and our world. Are you in? Check out all our styles in our online store, or click below to shop:

August 29, 2018

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7 Questions Pastors Need to Answer About Porn

To the pastors and ministry leaders reading this blog post, a percentage of your staff and people are regularly looking at pornography. And, all of your people are stuck in a world that has a lot of loud opinions about pornography and distorted messages about sex. How are you addressing their questions? Are you speaking openly and honestly about this sensitive and sometimes controversial area?

We’ve identified seven key questions that Christians might need you to answer related to pornography. And for ministry leaders who want to further address the issue, we provide additional steps you can take in our brand new guidebook, Ready: How to Protect and Heal Your Ministry from Pornography

7 Questions Pastors Need to Answer about Porn

Question #1: Is pornography a sin?

Too many Christians have an unhealthy view of sex and have never been told that God is PRO-sex. His idea. His creation. Our very bodies prove that man and woman were made for each other–a gift to be offered within marriage. Yes, we need to inform our congregations about the horrors of pornography. It only destroys. But, what if that was paired with a new conversation about marital sex? It’s good. It’s right.

So, back to the original question. Is pornography a sin? Absolutely. Its purpose is to entice lust, objectification, and consumption. None of these attitudes glorifies God or brings heaven to earth. If I can’t imagine the behavior being carried out at the foot of the Cross in the loving presence of Jesus Christ, then it can’t be justified. People in your congregation absolutely need to know these things. But, don’t forget to invite them into a healthy, positive view of sex too.

Question #2: Is watching pornography in marriage ok?

We often hear arguments that couples want to watch porn in order to spice up their sex life. Although this sounds plausible on the surface–after all, if I want to learn how to do anything better, I typically watch a video on YouTube titled, “How to…”–is there something inherently different about pornography that ultimately has a different impact on the marital bond?

A sexual counseling center in Seattle provides keen insight with their observations about couples who have come to their offices. One counselor concluded:

“My clinical experience providing therapy for dating and married couples has driven me to the conclusion that couples who view pornography greatly damage their sexual relationship and their overall relational bond. These couples directly report the emotional and relational trauma suffered as a result of such use. That such damage exists and can be lasting is undeniable.”

For married couples who viewed pornography, they point out the following sexual, emotional, and relational risks:

  • One spouse desiring greater quantities of and more deviant forms of pornography over time, due to the incremental nature of porn consumption.
  • The emotional symptoms of guilt and/or shame that often accompany watching pornography.
  • Decreased sexual attraction to their spouse due to a constant flood of flawless, sexually adept, seemingly orgasmic humans.
  • Insecurities felt by the spouse who doesn’t feel that he/she is able to perform according to what is viewed.
  • A sense of betrayal as one spouse envisions the other constantly fantasizing about someone else during lovemaking and throughout the day.

This also ignores the risk that if the couple has children, they are inviting pornography into the home, increasing the risk that young eyes might stumble into the content.

Question #3: What’s the right age to talk to my kids about porn?

Parents commonly ask this question at the parenting seminars that I conduct at Protect Young Eyes. When I receive this question, I typically respond in one of three ways:

  • “If you wait until you’re ready, it’s too late.”
  • “Your kids are probably ready before you are, so get it done!”
  • “Does your child ride a school bus? If so, even if in kindergarten, then he/she should know the word!”

The conversations parents have with their children about pornography are so, so important. But, what’s even more important than the content of those conversations is that they happen in the first place! The speech doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to happen!

Does your kids’ ministry program equip parents for these hard conversations? Does your youth pastor know how to respond when a parent asks him/her how to have conversations about tough topics like porn? Our staff training has a specific video about equipping parents for forming their children in the digital age.

Question #4: I’m a woman and I like porn. Is something wrong with me?

Comment from the Covenant Eyes blog: “As a female, I’d like to remind people that pornography is, perhaps increasingly, a problem for women and young girls too. Please pray for us as well as the ministry for freedom from pornography for females.”

According to Barna’s 2016 survey, The Porn Phenomenon, around 13% of females ages 13-24, self-identified as Christians, watch porn regularly. Consuming pornography is stereotypically labeled a male issue, therefore, Christian women who watch porn often feel an amplified version of shame that not only tells them that they’re horrible and sinful, but that there’s something deviant about them.

Porn is addictive. Period. Male or female. It might have different origins that have a gender-based bent (men might turn to porn to satisfy their libido, while a woman might turn to porn because she’s lonely), but its addictive properties are blind to gender. Whether male of female, those who watch porn often do so:

  • Because it provides short-term relief for some other emotional need.
  • Because it fires up the brain’s reward circuitry.
  • Because it feels good.

And, as a result, whether male or female, those who watch porn often:

  • Feel shameful about their activity.
  • Begin living lives that are more secretive, withdrawn, and inward.
  • Take great risk in order to carry out their behavior.
  • Find their minds constantly occupied with finding the next opportunity.
  • Change other good aspects of their life, including friendships, hobbies, etc.

Pornography is an equal-opportunity destroyer. If your church isn’t educated about its impacts on both men and women, your silence will fuel shame and amplify the deviance the enemy has already whispered in quiet, dark moments.

Question #5: I’m on staff and I struggle with porn. Will I be fired?

Comment from the Covenant Eyes blog: “I have been struggling with porn for a long, long time. My wife doesn’t know about my porn use. I am a leader in my church and the people in my church look up to me…I know in order for me to get some help I need to confess my sins. I am embarrassed about the whole situation. Please keep me in your prayers.”

Comment from the Covenant Eyes blog: “He should be fired. What’s the difference if he views porn or has an affair with his secretary? Would we fire him for the latter? Yep. Now, can he be built back up? Yes. Should he be a pastor again? I’m not so sure.”

You can see the conundrum for church staff. Does your church have any safe places for staff to come forward with their struggles? Or do policies, silence, and condemnation create a fertile ground for sin to grow and secrecy to thrive?

Chapter 3 of our Ministry Leaders Guidebook, Ready: How to Heal and Protect Your Ministry from Pornography, will provide greater detail about policies and practices for churches and faith-based organizations who want to create cultures of grace and recovery.

Ultimately, churches and faith-based organizations cannot expect their faithful to live lives of grace-filled transparency if it’s not modeled.

Question #6: I’m single and struggle with not having an outlet for my sex drive. This church only talks about what to do about sex in marriage. What am I supposed to do?

That’s where so many singles find themselves. Trapped between the images of forbidden fruit given to their married friends and feeling like they’ve been locked out of the garden, they struggle with allowing temptation to take root and grow into poisoned fruit. Even knowing God’s commands to abstain from sexual immorality, they often falter and fail, whether through physical relationships or pornography.

The truth, though, is that singleness is a beautiful, valuable gift. According to Lisa Eldred in our popular ebook, More Than Single,

“While we’re single, we have two critical advantages over our dating and married friends: time and focus. When I get home from work, my time is usually my own. I can eat when I’m hungry; I can make as many plans as I want in the evenings. I can drop everything for coffee with a friend. I can even pack up and leave for the weekend on a whim if I want. Any time commitments are entirely voluntary. I’m not worried about getting the kids to soccer practice on time, or feeding a husband and children, or dealing with a sick toddler at 2 a.m. This also means I can focus on my own projects without fear of interruptions. I can plan my Monday evenings around writing and editing my church’s blog or practice my piano without embarrassment or distraction.”

Does your church embrace its singles and give them a bigger vision for their lives? One that shows them that their worth is grounded in Divine places and not in the flesh.

Question #7: Why do I feel so condemned at my church and around other Christians?

Comment from the Covenant Eyes blog: “As I man I can only say that I feel the Church taught me to be ashamed, and deeply ashamed, of my sexuality in any context, and I carry that shame to this day. I am 63 and never married. I’ve had maybe five girlfriends in my life, if that, and have given up hope that I will ever find anyone. I go to a small church where everyone is spoken for anyway and have few friends.”

It is so hard to be the real us in the place where so many others seem to have it all together and the message we sometimes hear from the pulpit is one of “you must be like Jesus at all times; anything less and you have failed not only yourself but God.”

The use of shame and guilt has been a widely used technique of control since the origins of Christianity, going back to early church fathers, who, like, Augustine, often had a very low view of human sexuality. The message is often subtle but goes like this: “You don’t measure up. You will never be good enough. God will be perpetually disappointed with you.”

Jesus shows us a different way. Consider these words from Julie Mustard:

Jesus never lived in shame and never used it as a motivational tool. When He was accused, He remained silent; when others vied for positions, He made space for them to work it out and followed through with a lesson on the heart of the Father. When He was direct in His discipline and rebuke, it was never meant to shame; He only gave invitations to come up higher.”

Christians have questions. You need to have answers.

The distance between where you are today and the vision you might have of a church that is open and honest about pornography might seem enormous. But ask yourself this–how did anything ever get started at your church? Probably one prayer, one phone call, and one sermon at a time.

Culture doesn’t change easily, and sin hates giving up ground it has taken in the sexual arena or any arena. Be persistent. Be courageous. Be bold. I once heard Pastor Jay Dennis say, “Start the conversation and allow God to move in ways that only He can move.”

August 21, 2018

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Your Child Struggles with Porn? You Are Not Alone.

When my son told us he had been watching pornography, I wanted to throw up. When I understood the depth of his addiction and the length of time he had been watching, I berated myself, feeling inadequate as a parent and person. But mostly I felt alone.

Every other crisis I had endured, I turned to others. My parents, siblings, and friends talked me through. My church pastor or small group friends prayed and allowed me space to speak about my woes. I even saw a counselor after my first husband left me. But this time, I felt I couldn’t tell anyone.

Your Child Struggles with Porn? You Are Not Alone

Where Is the Help?

When my then fourteen-year-old son first told my husband and me about his problem, I didn’t sleep well. I never let him leave my side. My anxiety level was elevated. I cried unpredictably. And I searched for help. Of course, we searched for help for my son. We put Covenant Eyes on all our computers and put locks and controls on all our devices. But I mean I also searched for help for me, the mom of a teenage porn addict. But I found none. I realize my friends would have surrounded me with love and comfort, but this isn’t something you want to tell your friends, because they are the parents of your son’s friends. And because it’s his story to tell in his own time, in his own words.

So I suffered in silence. Or, rather, we suffered, my pain spilling over into my marriage. My husband felt the brunt of my torment–one moment believing the best and the next wallowing in shame and self-pity. Never mind the fear. The fear that my son would never be set free and that he would live like this for the rest of his life.

The Power of Another’s Story

A few weeks ago I spoke with a friend who recently caught her son watching pornography. This is the first connection I’ve had with another mom in the same circumstances as me. The fact that we could talk about it openly with someone else who had “been there” was a relief for both of us. We cried together. We prayed together. We built each other up. I listened as she berated herself for being stupid for not seeing it and not protecting their devices better. She felt, as did I when I first learned of my son’s addition, like a bad mother. I believe it was helpful for me to say to her, “You are not alone. This does not make you a bad mother.”

The Weight of Parenting

When our kids are young, they are time consuming. We cradle their heads and cushion their falls. We protect them by buckling them into car seats and vetting their babysitters. We pray without ceasing, hoping that one day we can let go and they will live perfect lives, clinging to God and making right decisions.

In reality, they become more time consuming as they mature. Their needs are greater and their problems are heavier. My son will never be perfect on this side of heaven. If I allow it, the weight of his addiction brings me down. I know that if I focus on it too long, I will drown.

Hope Exists

But I know there is hope in Christ. When I focus on Him and allow His love and acceptance to comfort me, I can parent without fear, standing in my identity as a much-loved child of God. I can come alongside my son and be his advocate. I can encourage him to be the person God is molding Him to be.

So I say to you, Mom (and Dad), you are not alone. And we don’t have to battle this without help. Seek friends who can lift you up. Find others who have walked the path you are walking. Be encouraged! There is hope.

 

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.