Posted on May 15, 2013
Filed Under Couples Pornography Addiction Recovery, General Sexual Addiction, Marriage, Partners of pornography addicts, Pornography Addiction, Protecting Families from Pornography, Shame, St. George Utah Pornography Addiction Treatment, Trauma and pornography addiction | Leave a Comment
What is Pornography…
As a therapist that specializes in pornography addiction I am constantly asked
the question “what is pornography?” Many people would think that the answer is
really simple, however, after working with couples that are battling pornography
addiction the answer can sometimes be complicated.
The dictionary defines pornography as “creative activity (writing or pictures or
films etc.) of no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire.” This
definition is actually very helpful and requires rigorous honesty for an addict. When
an addict learns to evaluate how his body is affected by anything they are exposed
to they reach a new level of recovery. Further, an addict will be in a better position
to be sensitive to their spouse and work on choosing healthy ways to deal with it
In the early stages of recovery it is common for many addicts to spend unnecessary
energy trying to define what porn is. Typically when an addict is doing this they
are simply engaging in damage control rather than rigorous honesty about what
is happening in their body, marriage and their recovery. For example, I have
met with many men who exposed themselves to things that were not sexually
explicit or even graphic, and yet their body was stimulated sexually. Usually they
will not report this as a slip because they are afraid of losing their sobriety, or
fearful of what their spouse/group will think. Some are afraid that they will have
consequences from their ecclesiastical leader. In all of those cases that person is
making a decision based on fear, and their effectiveness in recovery is limited. Many
addicts languish in this type of decision making, and have what Geoff Steurer calls
a constant “low grade fever” that can eventually spike into some type of sexually
acting out behavior. Addicts also miss an opportunity to learn how to be connected
to themselves and their spouse when they focus on doing damage control by
minimizing what they saw and its affect on them.
If you have found yourself responding in this way there is a better way. Accepting
that your body is wired to have responses to sexual stimulus, and also that because
of addiction sometimes that response is unique. Accepting that you will strengthen
your recovery by developing awareness of your body’s responses and learning
how to manage your addiction in a connected way will be a turning point in
your recovery in which you will have greater power to protect yourself and your
The following example will serve as a guide in helping you to learn how to start.
A client I was working with recently shared how he gained greater power in his
recovery. He shared that he was at work one day with some time to kill. Things
were slow, which made him uneasy and nervous about being able to provide for
his family. Time to kill, and nerves are not a good combination for this particular
client. He decided to check the news. As he looked back he recognized that his
body became tense as he read the news. He pretended to forget that “checking
the news” was a ritual in his addiction cycle. As he scrolled down the main page of
the website, his attention was caught on images of women that were immodestly
dressed. His body immediately sped up. He clicked on one of the images, and in his
mind he thought “after all, it isn’t like I am on a porn site!” The next page had even
more images of immodestly dressed women. “None of them are naked, and I am just
appreciating a woman’s true beauty” he thought. His body, and addiction continued
to speed up. Just then his wife called him. He snapped out of it. His wife noticed that
his attention was somewhere else. Her body begins to tighten and speed up. She
begins asking questions, trying to be trusting, needing to be protected. Husband
tries to distract her by apologizing and trying harder to pay attention. Disconnection
grows. Wife’s body speeds up, and mind begins racing. Husband finds a reason to get
off the phone, feeling numb. Wife is spiraling, and trying to be trusting at the same
time. My client described the rest of the day at work as a struggle. As he reflected
on the whole incident, he was battling inside himself about whether he had crossed
his bottom lines or not. Part of him felt that he definitely had; yet he had not viewed
sexually explicit images so logically he had not crossed his bottom lines. He knew
his wife was tense, and he knew he was the only one who could make her safe again.
He decided to report this as a slip. He went home, and immediately went to his wife
“I have a slip to report” he said. Her body immediately soothes, she doesn’t have to
fight to get it out of him. Maybe she can begin to truly trust him. He tells her about the
deadly combo of time to kill with anxiety and the news site. He calls it a slip. His body
calms, the inner turmoil is gone, and he begins to feel better. He apologizes for zoning
out with her while on the phone. They begin talking about his anxiety and both of
them feel closer, and more connected. He has greater power in his recovery and has
kept his marriage safe.
This example can serve as a guide to strengthening your recovery and your
marriage. I encourage you to reach out and talk about how you have noticed your
body speed up when you are exposed to pornography, in all of its forms.
Fearless Inventory- Please list websites/material that you visit that you can be
curious about or that perhaps you have viewed viewed/read things that you have
justified as not being “porn.”
Have these sites/images had more effect on your addiction than you have realized?
If so, please discuss what your learning about with your spouse, group or therapist.
Here is a short video that explains one of the reasons pornography is so addictive.
By Geoff Steurer, MS, LMFT
Executive Director – LifeSTAR of St. George, UT
This is the time of year when most of us are going to be on our best behavior. We have a new calendar and, therefore, a clean slate to live the kind of life we wanted to live all of last year. And the year before. And the year before that.
I’d like to help you save yourself some mental anguish by suggesting a new way of looking at our obsession with New Year resolutions.
We live in a perfectionistic age where we believe we can look perfect, act perfect, and create perfection anywhere we want to. As a result, I see many of us either apologizing in shame that we haven’t been perfect at what we were trying to accomplish, or simply giving up in defeat.
Most people manage their lives in a perfectionistic culture by either going into an extreme “control mode” or “release mode.” Both are harmful and create unnecessary pain and misery.
Today, and for the next few weeks, we’re going to see a lot of “control mode” behavior. People will be signing up for the gym, paying attention to their eating, and trying to do their goals perfectly. This level of control is like winding up a rubber band tighter and tighter. Eventually, it’s going to snap.
After the “control mode” has snapped, “release mode” takes over and the tendency is to give up and either pick a new start date in the future or completely give up and assume their goal was silly and not realistic. Or, worse, they may assume something is wrong with them. That last one is most certainly not true.
Let me suggest a third approach.
This approach is simply making the commitment that you will keep trying, especially when you make mistakes. For some, this may sound like its giving people excuses to fail, but its actually reflecting reality.
Most of us have habits and patterns that are highly resistant to change, based on years of behavioral conditioning, family patterns, and self-limiting beliefs. These changes aren’t simply going to happen by creating a steely resolve to never mess up again at the beginning of a new calendar year, or month, or whatever magical date you pick.
Instead, change is going to happen when you decide you want to get well and then commit to pay attention your mistakes, use that information as a way to make adjustments in your efforts, and gradually improve until you have made real changes.
This approach takes real courage, where living in “control mode” and “release mode” is actually playing it safe where we don’t have to be vulnerable.
I love how Theodore Roosevelt put it in his famous quote called “The Man in the Arena”:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
So, get in the arena and commit to making some changes in your life. Don’t step out of the arena when you fail to do it perfectly or consistently. And, don’t wait to step in the arena until you believe you can do it perfectly. Step in and courageously begin making the changes you need to make in your life, for as long as it takes to make them.
Net Nanny invited Geoff Steurer to present an online webinar on the subject of couples recovery from pornography addiction. He presented an hour-long webinar titled “Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity.”
Boundaries by Jacci Jones, LMFT
A personal boundary is a limit that defines where you end and others begin. It states, “This is what I think, believe, feel.”, “This is what I will and won’t do for you.”, “This is what I will and won’t tolerate.”, as well as many other things. Boundaries acknowledge that you have the right to act for yourself and to choose your own thoughts and feelings, regardless of the actions, thoughts, and feelings of those around you. Having healthy boundaries also means knowing that you are not responsible for the actions,thoughts, and feelings, of others.
When a person doesn’t have healthy boundaries, they may engage in some of the following behaviors: Telling strangers their problems, going against personal values to please others, allowing others to hug or touch them when it feels uncomfortable, answering inappropriate questions rather then declining to answer, letting others control their life or tell them how to feel, expecting others to know what they need without being told, taking on too much and feeling resentful, and/or solving other’s problems without being asked. The results of poor boundaries are often hurt feelings and resentment.
For example, if I agree to loan my sister my car, even though she hasn’t taken good care of it when she has borrowed it in the past, I will most likely feel anxious about it and then feel angry when I’m having to clean out her mess yet again. This can lead to me being rude to her and my own family, because of my bad mood. I may even believe that my sister caused me to feel this way due to her lack of consideration. In reality, I made the choice to loan the car despite my past experiences and I haven’t made my expectations clear.
One key to defining boundaries is to understand what you control, or “whose business you are in.” Byron Katie, describes three kinds of business: mine, yours, and the world’s. Whose business is it if my sister doesn’t take care of things? My sister’s. Do I control this? No. Whose business is it whether or not I loan her my car? Mine. Do I control this? Yes. While my sister may get angry with me for not loaning her my car, we actually have a better chance at being close and building our relationship by having an honest discussion about the issue, rather than me resorting to rude comments or the silent treatment. In reality,boundaries create safety and predictability. People know what we think and feel and how we will respond and they are free to choose their own feelings, thoughts and behaviors.
Boundaries are all the more important, and difficult, if you are in a relationship with someone with an addiction. You may have started out the relationship with boundaries, but they gradually erode as the addiction encroaches. You may even start to become convinced that you don’t deserve your own thoughts and feelings or that you can’t choose your own actions. But you can start to define and enforce your boundaries. You may need to see help and support from books, friends, family, or professionals, but you can make changes that will increase your self-respect and take you closer to living a healthier and happier life.
This video is a timely reminder that true comfort and peace in healing from the wounds caused by other fellow humans only comes from God. Even though the LifeSTAR program is a program that focuses on emotional, cognitive, and behavioral principles to help people heal from the impact of pornography and sexual addiction, we recognize the foundation of all healing comes from God through his son Jesus Christ. We are program based in the principles of Christianity and uphold the belief that we are dependent on a merciful God who allows us to counsel, lift, support, and help one another using our own divinely given gifts. Our hope is that during this Christmas season that we may all rejoice in the gift of Jesus Christ who made it possible for us to heal from the effects of our own sins as well as the sins of others.
Posted on December 20, 2012
Filed Under Couples Pornography Addiction Recovery, Disclosure, General Sexual Addiction, Marriage, Partners of pornography addicts, Pornography Addiction, Protecting Families from Pornography, Shame, St. George Utah Pornography Addiction Treatment | Leave a Comment
Posted on December 20, 2012
Filed Under Couples Pornography Addiction Recovery, Marriage, Partners of pornography addicts, Pornography Addiction, St. George Utah Pornography Addiction Treatment | Leave a Comment
We are starting our first-ever Marriage Recovery workshop for couples who want to do more focused work to strengthen their marriage in the recovery process. This is more than just an informational workshop. We will work with couples to help them practice skills and discuss what they’re learning with each other and the other couples. The workshops will be held once per month and will cover six different topics. We will repeat the six topics twice per year. Couples, who have completed LifeSTAR Phase 1, can attend any of the six in any order, according to their specific recovery needs. Here are the six topics we’ll be covering in the upcoming months:
January 4 – The recovering marriage: his, hers, and ours
February 8 – Handling a slip as a couple
March 1 – Holding your partner’s pain in recovery
April 5 – Physical intimacy in recovery
May 3 – Connecting emotionally and spiritually in recovery
June 7 – Preventing burnout in couples recovery
The cost for each 2-hour workshop is $75 per couple. Please call 435-688-2123 to reserve your spot. Limited to 12 couples.
Amy Cluff, LifeSTAR therapist, shares thoughts on how partners of those who struggle with pornography addiction can manage their emotional triggers through the holidays.keep looking »