Category Archives: Love

Do I Have an Addiction?

Do I Have an Addiction?

By Kim Bowen

It can be porn. Or some other form of internet activity. Or food. Or alcohol. Or drugs – legal or illegal.  

It can involve a behavior, such as gambling or video games. Or a relationship, such as an emotional attachment to someone you know isn’t healthy for you to be around.  It can even be an addiction to a device, like your smart phone.

Regardless, every person who is serious about cultivating a thriving marriage needs to ask:  Am I addicted to something – anything – that could damage my marriage?

What is addiction?

Rather than give you the technical definition as defined by the American Psychological Association, I thought I’d describe it in more simple terms.

Most experts accept four indicators of unhealthy addictive behavior, as outlined in the descriptions below by Kay and Milan Yerkovich in their “How We Love” series:

  • Compulsion to use. The behavior becomes less of a choice, almost to the point that if you see it or think about it, you must do it.
  • Continued use despite adverse consequences. You don’t stop the behavior when someone discovers you or it causes problems of some type.
  • Lack of control. You’ve made repeated attempts to stop the behavior and failed.
  • Craving. You experience what seems like an overwhelming desire for the physiological or physical effect of the behavior.

Could you be addicted?

Good question!  How would you answer these questions?

  1. Have you felt compelled to engage in a certain behavior even when you know there will be negative consequences?
  2. Have you spent less time with your spouse, children, or work due to this behavior?
  3. Have you attempted to stop, and yet return again and again to the behavior?
  4. Do you, even as you’re reading this, look forward to the next time you can engage in the behavior?

If you answered yes to these, you have an addiction.

The real question

Now hear this – I don’t actually care how you answered these questions or whether you define yourself as an addict.

What I DO care about is what you do with it – the action you take.

We find in our work with couples that understanding something intellectually doesn’t produce change. In other words, just being aware of an issue doesn’t fix it. Taking action does.

If there is even a hint of something that could slither its way between you and your spouse, I say attack it with everything you’ve got. Your marriage is that important. A strong marriage serves as the foundation and launching pad for every other element of your life. From waking to sleeping, from work to leisure, from your children to your grandchildren – the richness of your marriage affects it all.

So Do Something!

One of the most basic, but critical, things you can do is to start talking about the issue.

Addiction, as with any other problem, only has power in the dark. If you want to attack it, the first thing you must do is flip on the lights and expose it. As I’ve said before, you have a choice: talk about it, or give into it.

We can give you a safe place to talk it out. Whatever the issue is, our counselors and coaches know how to guide you through it in a healthy way. Simply reach out. That is an action you can take right this moment. Do it now, for your marriage.

Call us or schedule an appointment

(972) 441-4432 or Send us a text at (214) 431-5764

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I Wish My Spouse Wanted Sex As Much As I Do

At some point in the counseling process I talk sex with just about every couple I counsel. Sex tends to be one of those hot topics that prompts couples to initially seek counseling and often they come ready to talk about it – or the lack of it – in their relationship. But even when they don’t, it’s still something we usually cover. Why? Because I believe sex is that important in a marriage.

Most of the time, both spouses will agree that sex is important. Beyond that however, agreement is often hard to come by. More times than not I hear something along the lines of “I wish my spouse wanted sex as often as I do.” Or, “I wish my spouse would initiate sex more”. Or even “I want my spouse to desire me.”

Here’s the thing, it’s rare (as in really rare) that I find a couple who shares the same level of sexual desire. Instead, what I find to be most typical, is one spouse has a significantly higher sex drive than the other, which causes frustration and resentment for both of them. Though not always the case, more often than not, it’s the husband with the higher drive. I’ll talk more about the exceptions to this generalization in another post, but for now, I hope you’ll hear me out.

Let’s Talk Hollywood

The media has significantly influenced our sexual expectations. Specifically, they have “masculinized” sex. What does this mean? It means Hollywood portrays sex according to how a male views and experiences sex, and they give women these same masculine characteristics. It’s generally a testosterone-heavy experience. The woman is visually stimulated and shown to be the aggressive pursuer. And, the sex is always a spontaneous desire. How real-world is that?

Not very.

The truth is men and women are wired differently. This includes how we are wired for sex. Most of us know this and yet we don’t always know what it means from a sexual desire standpoint.

Let’s Talk Biology

For women, it is important to understand men are driven primarily by one hormone – testosterone. And it’s always on! A woman’s hormonal chemistry is very different and often absent of – at least initially – that high arousal or what Milan and Kay Yerkovich, authors of How We Love, refer to as the “Panting Factor”.

A study by Rosemary Basson, MB, FRCP showed that whereas men have a spontaneous desire for sex, women have a more responsive desire. A woman’s desire for sex usually comes much later in the sexual experience than a man’s. Her reaction is in response to her partner’s sexual desire rather than a spontaneous ignition of her own libido. She may want the emotional and physical closeness with her partner, but lacks the sexual arousal and desire a man has at even the first thought of sex.

''Whereas men have a spontaneous desire for sex, women have a more responsive desire.'' Click To Tweet

To compare the sexual experience by gender to a NASCAR race, men are generally at the starting line with the car in gear, ready to put the pedal to the metal. Women, on the other hand, may start the race with their car in neutral and take a few laps to get up to full speed. Not very Hollywood, is it?

Let’s Talk Real-World

So does this mean most women never want sex? No. Don’t enjoy sex? Of course not. Does it mean a husband should never expect his wife to initiate? Again, of course not.

What it does mean however, is that a couple who strives to understand their partner’s pre-wiring is better able to carry realistic expectations into the bedroom and therefore enjoy the encounters more.

If both spouses can accept that a woman’s desire is often responsive, I’ve found it to be a bedroom game-changer that can relieve both the disappointment and pressure one or both spouses may feel related to their sexual relationship.

Negotiating Sex

What I teach my clients is to negotiate their sex life, to talk about sex openly and honestly. Yes, I said negotiate. No, it doesn’t look like what you see in the movies folks, but it works. What doesn’t work is non-verbal guessing games where both parties assume what the other person does or does not want. Guessing just breeds disappointment and unrealistic expectations.

With good negotiation, a wife can be open to a sexual encounter because she loves her partner and desires the emotional closeness it brings. She can also initiate a sexual experience because she understands her husband’s desire and knows that after a few minutes her desire will likely match his, and together they can enjoy the encounter.

A husband can recognize that his wife may not initially be feeling the passion and desire that he is feeling, but can negotiate a time when she is open to an encounter and the emotional closeness it can bring.

A Mutually Satisfying Sex Life

A mutually satisfying sex life is possible even when partners have vastly different levels of desire. It takes work though. And if you are a couple that is not used to communicating openly about difficult and sensitive topics, chances are negotiating sex is going to be a real struggle. That’s where we can help you get started and actually teach you how to do it. Whether that’s in person or over the phone, you can start down the path now by scheduling an appointment online or simply calling us.

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