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Do We Tell The Children?

July 7,2010

If you or someone you love is struggling with a pornography or sexual addiction, it’s common to wonder if and when family members, especially children and teenagers, should learn about the addictive behaviors.  This is a delicate issue that often requires seeking the counsel of a trusted professional who specializes in treating pornography and sexual addiction.

However, here are a few points to consider when deciding if you should talk with your children about the addictive behaviors:

1.  What they already know – Unfortunately, some children discover or learn about a parent’s pornography or sexual acting out behavior on accident.  They may walk in on a parent using pornography, overhear a discussion between their parents, or find text messages or other evidence of the problematic behavior.  If this is the case, it’s critical to own up to the behaviors they’ve discovered and tell them the truth.  You don’t need...

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Seeing With Compassion

“The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes.”Pema Chodron

Healthy long-term recovery from pornography and sexual addiction as well as the trauma experienced by injured partners involves being able to see oneself more clearly.  This allows couples to heal more authentically.  When one can sit with the intense emotions and thoughts that come from our experiences, relationships, personalities, disappointments, and other sources, the compassion can start to flow and real connection begins to happen.

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Feeling Safe

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.”

– Dinah Craik (1826-1887), English poet and novelist

I believe one of the most healing things about recovery is learning to open up and be vulnerable with other people.  When individuals (both those who struggle and their partners) begin attending groups, 12-step meetings, or talking to someone they trust, something important begins to happen.  They start to feel safe.  For some individuals, this is the first time they’ve felt safe with another person.

Recovery isn’t just about stopping a behavior.  It’s about healing relationships.

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Looking For Crumbs

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Cured Or Healed?

I recently heard a story about a guy who endured several treatments for cancer over the course of almost fifteen years.  Despite the pain and discomfort of treatment, he continued to show up at his job, worked to be present for his family, and continued to volunteer in the community.  Unfortunately, his cancer never fully disappeared and he eventually was confined to a bed.  He was asked how he kept such a positive attitude while facing a life-threatening disease.  He replied, “Not everyone can be cured, but everyone can be healed.”

I often get asked if individuals can really be cured from pornography and sexual addiction.  My answer seems to parallel the response of this courageous gentleman who fought cancer for so many years.  I don’t believe everyone will have the pull of addiction completely removed from them in this lifetime.  But, I do believe everyone can be healed while they seek to be free of the pull of...

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How To Help Someone Betrayed By Pornography

May 22, 2010

If you know someone who has been betrayed by a partner’s pornography use, you’ve probably wondered how to best help them through this relational trauma.  In my years of counseling injured partners, I’ve heard quite a range of comments and advice passed along by concerned family members, church leaders, and even counselors.

It’s helpful to recognize that the injured partner is really grieving a loss of what they knew to be real.  They are grieving the loss of predictability and safety.  And, most of all, they are grieving the injury to the delicate attachment bond between them and their partner.  This isn’t something that is going to heal after a couple of supportive conversations.  Instead, it’s going to require what Dorothy Becvar calls “the ministry of presence” from those who want to assist.

Being present with someone isn’t easy for most of us.  We usually want to say something...

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Embrace Life - A Great Visual Metaphor

I’ve always thought this video was a great metaphor for partners and families helping those who struggle with pornography addiction.  Although it’s not possible for a family member to keep their loved one from viewing pornography, the whole concept of attachment provides a powerful frame for understanding that the addict and family members all benefit from the power of holding onto one another.

Embrace Life

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Slow Down

Just finished reading this great commentary from Bob Greene on CNN.com on the need to slow down and connect in real-time.  Individuals who struggle with pornography addiction and their partners often feel disconnected from the people who matter most to them.  Their lives feel unorganized and chaotic.  This is in large part to the disconnected experience that comes from shame.  Shame makes us feel like we’re outside of ourselves.  Whether it’s the shame of violating your own standards or the shame of feeling rejected and unloved because of someone’s choices, the disconnection still impacts the way life feels.
A major recovery task is to slow down and notice what’s around you.  Unplug, turn off the phone, spend time doing nothing with those you love.

My wife recently started sitting outside at dusk to feel connected and recharged.  She stops working around the house with the kids and goes outside to sit in...

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An Insult To Our Divine Nature

I ran across an important quote by Jill Manning, PhD, author of “What’s the Big Deal About Pornography: A Guide for the Internet Generation”:

“I believe pornography is the most successfully marketed insult and attack on our divine nature as human beings that has ever existed.  There’s never been anything so calculated and widespread and so effective at reaching so many people at such a young age.”

Pretty sobering thought when you consider that the largest group viewing Internet pornography are 12-17 year olds.  Make no mistake…..it hurts them.

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"Fake" Is The New "Real"

Men and women are falling prey to the impossible standards of beauty perpetuated by the media.  Magazine editors admit that virtually EVERY photo in today’s magazines has been modified.  Most local family photographers also report that their clients demand photo retouching as part of the portrait package.  It’s not okay to look “real” anymore.  “Fake” is the new “real” and it’s driving people to be unhappy with their own and their partner’s appearances.  Body image dissatisfaction among women and girls is higher than it’s ever been.  Addiction to pornography in all it’s form is rampant.  Imagine what would happen if we slowed down our media consumption and spent more time connecting with REAL people in REAL relationships in REAL time.

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