Loving Your Husband Through Porn Addiction #PornFreeFriday (New Scope!)

How do we love our husbands well when we’re continually hurt by them because of their porn addiction?

In this scope, we take this quote by Mr. Rogers (yes, from the neighborhood):

Found on Facebook, posted by Volup2.com
Found on Facebook, posted by Volup2.com

What does it mean to love someone exactly the way he or she is when you’re dealing with a porn addiction? This Periscope discusses 3 things this DOESN’T mean (i.e. this does not mean you have to accept the porn) and 3 things this DOES mean (i.e. you can see your husband and your husband and not just a porn addict).

*NOTE: KatchTV originally stored all these Periscopes, but KatchTV is now shutting down. I transferred them to YouTube, but they are not perfect. So, if you can just ignore my head expanding randomly, you can still catch all of what I said.

 

PeriscopeAd

New Podcast Out on Delight Your Marriage!

Belah Rose, host of Delight Your Marriage podcast invited me (Jen) to be on her show. The interview is in two parts:

DYM (3)

Part 1: In this episode, I talk about how porn created friction between me and Craig and made me doubt myself. I also discuss how I tried very hard to manipulate and control everything, but learned to let go later on. And because I had loosened up, I was able to help Craig with his porn addiction because I understood more, because I took a step back and saw the entire picture. Together, we fought against porn addiction and for our marriage. Listen to this podcast here.

DYM-6

Part 2: In this episode, I talk about what our marriage looks like today, after all the struggles, after all the pain and suffering. I talk about moving on to create a happier life, knowing that there is something good at the end. I share that marriage requires teamwork, and that it should always be the two of you. Also, don’t miss my intimacy tips!  Listen to this podcast here.

DYM-5

First Periscope: Our Story and some Encouragement

PeriscopeAd

If you don’t know what Periscope is, it’s a live stream video mobile app. The video is available for 24 hours through Periscope and you can find videos through Twitter handles. I signed up with Katch.me and so that records the video and makes it available for download and web views in case people can’t view it on Periscope within the 24 hours.

My first video was a little rocky at the beginning because of some technical difficulties, but God is good and they got all straightened out!

If you’d like to hear me tell part of our story of porn addiction and gather up some encouragement, especially if you’re dealing with porn in your marriage, just click the video below.

 

 

How to Cultivate Emotional Intimacy in a Marriage When Porn has been a Problem

EmotionalIntimacy
From time to time, Craig and I get emails from people who read our book or this blog and ask us questions. Though we are not counselors, we are happy to respond with what has/has not worked for us in the various situations. Here is an excerpt from a recent email we received (shared with permission, name changed) and my response:
Dear Jen and Craig,

…I’ve struggled with a porn addiction for longer than I want to remember and admit.  I’m under no illusion that getting  myself and my marriage back to a place of purity and intimacy will take time…..perhaps a great deal of time.  I’ve been open about it for years with certain people including therapists and am now in the midst of a re-commitment to my sobriety.  I’m being held accountable and go to group once a week.  My spouse is aware of the struggle and has been very patient with me.  One of the issues we’ve had over the years thru the ups and downs is my wife’s struggle coming to grips with her own feelings & emotions.  Not just about the addiction, but about everything.  She was raised in an environment where you just didn’t talk about “how you felt.” It was easier that way.  There was never a problem to solve because…. there was never a problem to solve.  I was raised in an environment completely opposite.  Where I’m a much more expressive person, she is not.

I’m fully aware our level of intimacy has been affected by the addiction, but also weakened due to my wife’s inability to verbally express herself about what she desires in our relationship, our friendship and our intimacy.  I’ve learned my controlling tendencies (which I know stem from deep insecurity) and bigger-than-life personality, have not made that road easy and I’m thankful she has been able to express that.   Rekindling an exciting, new, sexy and fun intimacy seems to be such a pipe dream.  When I read the blogs, its very clear the fight must be entered into by two people not just one.   Jen, you appear to possess an ability to verbalize your feelings with Craig which has probably expedited the healing process and made it easier to reach a level of intimacy where the addiction is no longer affected the relationship as it once did    What input and guidance can you give someone in my situation?

– “Steve”

Dear Steve,

First, I am an external processor in the relationship. Craig is internal. Part of this is probably just how God created him, but it also has to do with how he was raised. Craig often felt like his opinions/desires didn’t matter much in comparison to his siblings. In addition, hard topics (like sex and porn) were not discussed because it just wasn’t the Southern way. Craig had to learn two things in order to effectively communicate with me: 1) I would value what he had to say.  2) It was safe to say what was on his heart.

It took a long time for him to realize these two things, in part because of my own defensiveness and wanting to fix things (I’m wondering if, as a man, you can also relate to this because Craig struggles with trying to “fix” my problem instead of just listening first).  I had to learn to listen without judgement and to not make whatever he was saying about me. This made it safe for him to share with me whatever was on his heart when we was ready to do so. There are still sometimes when I’ve had to drag stuff out of him, but much less often now.

Just like you had to learn about the root of your addiction, your wife needs to recognize the root of her inability to express her emotions. This might be done by introspective journalling, counseling, etc. Maybe just even ask her to spend some time thinking about these questions and asking God for wisdom and insight:

1) Was I able to take up emotional space in my family as a kid? 

2) Did people seem to communicate that they were concerned about my feelings/what was happening in my life?

3) What seemed to happen when I did express emotions/feelings? 

4) In what was is my husband similar/different to my parents?

5) What would I need to know before I started sharing things?

6) Am I missing out on joy and a deeper connection with those around me because I can’t trust anyone with my feelings?

7) Do I trust God with my emotions/feelings? Could I consider that He created me to live as a part of a community in which to have an outlet for these feelings?

My other suggestion is that instead of rekindling the intimacy verbally, what if you started with a journal you passed back and forth? You might write her a letter expressing your emotions and ask her some gentle, inquisitive questions. For a time, whatever you bring up in the journal stays in the journal, except when she brings it up verbally. Sometimes, it is easier to write something down instead of saying them face to face. Likewise, sometimes it is helpful to read responses instead of hearing them, as it gives the person time to process and respond instead of feeling put on the spot. As time progresses and she realizes it is safe to express herself in writing, she might naturally do this verbally.

In Christ,

Jen

*Join Jen on Fridays at 2pm CT on Periscope for #PornFreeFriday, beginning 10/23/15. Connect with her on Twitter and Periscope @jenfergie2000. (If you wish to comment, you’ll have to follow me and I’ll follow you back. We want to keep the comments positive and helpful.)

What To Do When You Discover Porn on Your Teen’s Computer

Recently my friend’s neighbor showed up on her doorstep in tears. The reason? She discovered her teenaged son had been looking at Internet porn for about nine months.

She was devastated and I’m sure the usual questions flew through her mind:

What did I do wrong?

How could my child do this?

How do I fix this?

Will he ever be free?

I am not an expert in sex addiction or in children, but I can respond out of empathy because I’ve been in a similar battle – not with my children, but with my husband. And my two children? While I’ve done everything I can to protect them, nothing in this world is perfect. Data from 2008 (and the numbers are most likely on the rise) state that by age 18, 93.2% of boys and 62.1% of girls have been exposed to porn . The risk of exposure and addiction is real. As a parent, I have to be prepared for whatever might come my way.

Speaking from how my husband, Craig, battled with porn, and as a parent, here are some thoughts on how to help you child when you’ve found porn in their possession:

1) Don’t freak out (but don’t ignore it either). This is an issue that must be addressed, but fear is not going to be helpful. Know this – God is bigger than porn and He can show your child a way out. Porn is dark and evil, but Jesus longs to bring His light to this situation. His light has the power to extinguish ANY darkness (see John 1). Fear often causes us to do and say irrational things. You are afraid (and probably angry) right now and this is understandable. Express those emotions to someone other than your child and ask God to help you navigate through those emotions so you can be clear-headed when you talk to him/her.

2) This is handled best as a parental team if you have a solid partnership.  If this is a son caught in the addiction, Mama will see this through a mama’s eyes and a woman’s eyes. Dad might be able to see it more clearly through his son’s eyes, being that they are both male and probably have struggled with lust. If this is a daughter, a mother might be able to relate through romance novels, the desire to be sexually appealing, etc.  No matter what your child’s gender, this discovery might bring up issues for both you and your partner and you need to be as safe place for EACH other to come to talk about how you are dealing with this situation as individuals. A child’s porn use could trigger your own sexual issues/abuse, past sins, and even you own dabbling in porn.  It will likely not be helpful at this time for parents to process their own issues with their child. If discussing with a spouse is not an option, please find a pastor, friend, or counselor who can help you deal with your emotions.

3) Go back to the basics (or talk about them for the first time). This is an incredible opportunity for you to discuss with your child what God intended for marriage and sex. But if you don’t know how God designed marriage and sex, you need to understand this before explaining it to your child. Craig and I talk about this in chapter 6 of our book, but you can find scriptural references that show what God’s intentions are in Matthew 19:5-6 and Ephesians 5:21-32. I highly encourage and in-depth study so you don’t get hung up on things like “submission” and really understand what God’s design is. (It might even help your marriage!)

4) Research counselors. I would recommend a Christian counselor that has been trained or certified as a sex addict counselor. As we know, teens are sometimes not stellar communicators and have even greater difficulty talking with their parents (especially about things of the sexual nature). Porn is a hole-filler. It’s used to fill a need that is not being met in a healthy way. In order to get to the root of the addiction, a counselor can help your child figure out what need is not being met and help them discover how there are healthy alternatives to meet this need. Ultimately, a relationship with Jesus is the answer, and He wants to address the behavioral and emotional issues that need to be unearthed and healed.

5) Make shame a no-no. Know that your child most likely ALREADY feels deep shame. This is a time when he/she needs to be able to trust that you will love him/her no matter what and that you’ll deal with whatever comes up in counseling, discussions, etc. If you shame your child in the hopes that it will keep him/her away from porn, you will end up contributing to the problem instead of helping the resolution and freedom from it.

6) Research with discernment. There are some articles on-line that can be helpful. My advice, though, is always pray before you get on the Internet to research for several reasons:

  • It can be tempting to look at worst-case scenarios and then drown in despair.
  • It can be tempting to find solutions and automatically try to put them in place. Realize your child is an individual with a problem, not a problem to be fixed (see the difference?). God’s wisdom is paramount in discovering what might work. Internet filters might be a great resource for your whole family – just pray and seek His guidance as you cull through the advice and suggestions.
  • If porn is a temptation for you, be careful with your searching. Websites and URLs can be deceiving. Make sure you enter your research with protection and caution or ask someone else to gather specific links for you to read.

7) Pray. Prayer is POWERFUL. Praying out loud for your child, especially in his/her presence (even if it doesn’t feel comfortable) makes a difference. Even cracking the bedroom door while he/she sleeps and whispering prayers over him/her makes a big impact. Ephesians 6:12 says:

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”

While you’re in Ephesians, talk to your child about praying the armor of God over for him/herself (see verses 13-18).

8) Hold fast to hope. With Jesus, there is always hope. Hebrews 10:23 says “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.” You are not alone. You are fighting this battle with Jesus. With Him, we can do all things and He will never leave us.

Craig is living proof that God can work miracles. He can do this in your child’s life, too.