Tag Archives: addiction

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.

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

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Why Marriage Doesn’t Stop Porn Use

Sex and computer mouseI was exposed to pornography for the first time when I was in the third grade. Surprisingly, I cannot remember much of the picture that I was shown. However, I remember vividly my friend’s mom smiling approvingly at her son showing me the pictures. It seemed after that I was seeing pornography everywhere: my dad’s closet, the bathroom at a friend’s house, and R-rated movies. The consistent theme was that it was okay for adults and maybe even kids with parents cool enough to allow it.

My teenage years were filled with pornography. I knew it was something I should hide. I knew it wasn’t who I wanted to be. I tried to quit hundreds of times and failed. I didn’t give it much worry because I thought that once I get married I would no longer want or need it.

I remember a lady even told me, “When you are married, you can have sex any time you want.” I still laugh as I remember her husband responding in shock, “Really?!! I had no idea.” Yet most single guys still believe getting married will end their porn problem.

Unfortunately, many women believe the same thing. They reason that after marriage, he’ll have the real thing and will no longer need pornography. “I’ll be his pornography.” There is an old joke that explains this is why the wedding starts with her coming down the aisle, heading to the altar, while the musicians sing a hymn.  (Aisle, altar, hymn) or I’ll alter him.

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The sad thing is that the new husband and wife quickly find they were incorrect. Getting married does not cure or replace a pornography problem. Here are a some reasons why:

The purpose of pornography is sexual excitement. Most definitions of pornography will have this as part of the definition. The purpose of marriage is certainly not sexual excitement. The purpose is two people learning and growing and uniting into one being. Sexual excitement is a byproduct not the purpose.

The focus of pornography is selfish desires. When someone indulges in pornography they will go through countless pictures, videos, or stories looking for the one that brings them the most excitement. The focus of marriage is learning to be completely focused on just one person. You are often surprised at how much fulfillment you get by pleasing your spouse.

The subject of pornography is variety. The pornography user will quickly grow tired of the porn that brings the most excitement. Then the quest is on for the new porn. The process of the search is repeated. Without variety, most pornography users would quit because the thrill would fade. The subject of marriage is one person. There will be variety as you learn the intricacies of that one person and see them grow and develop. In marriages that work, you will be completely enthralled with one person.

Getting married does not cure pornography, but pornography can destroy a marriage.

Pornography can destroy sexual attraction to your spouse. I have talked to many women whose husbands struggle with pornography. Every single one thought if only they were more pretty or sexy, he would not choose pornography over the real thing. I always tell them it has nothing to do with them.

Halle Berry is one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood. The guy married to her must have it made, right? Evidently not. Her husband admitted to sleeping with at least 10 other women, including two of the Halle’s closest friends. He said, “I have made some terrible mistakes but the truth is, I love my wife.”  The problem was revealed when he soon sought treatment for sex addiction. If you are married to Halle Berry, the issue is obviously not looks. It isn’t love either. The marriage eventually ended in divorce. Message to ladies: Not even being the most beautiful woman in the world would be enough to overpower pornography. Message to guys: Do you really want to get involved with something that can make you choose not to have sex with the most beautiful woman in the world.

Pornography can destroy a man’s ability to physically have sex. Men are finding they are unable to have sex with a woman. Porn has raised their levels of sexual excitement so high that no real woman is sexually exciting enough.

Many men don’t realize their brain’s sensitivity is declining toward normal sex because pornography delivers endless dopamine hits—making sex possible where normal encounters would not. In some porn users, the response to dopamine is dropping so low that they can’t perform sexually without constant hits of dopamine via pornography.

An Italian study surveyed 28,000 men and confirmed male sexual performance issues could be connected to porn use. 70 percent of the young men seeking clinical help for sexual performance problems admit to using Internet pornography habitually.

If you or your spouse is using pornography or even if you use it together, it is not too late to avoid these consequences. Our brains can go back to “normal.” However, it takes complete abstinence. Complete means not just pornography but all visually sexually stimulating material. I found that I had to eliminate R-rated movies and even some TV shows and PG-rated movies.

It is difficult work. There may also be trust issues in the marriage relationship that need to be healed. That, too, will take time. Research says theoretically that six months of porn-abstinence and relationship work will get the job done. Most people I have talked with as well as my own recovery have needed two or three times that long.

At The Marriage Place we can help. We can address many of these issues through counseling or coaching. In the privacy of your own home via phone or video chat we can customize a plan for you to recover and heal from pornography.  Give us a call at 972-441-4432 OR fill out the contact form here, and we can set up a free 15 minute consult.  You can ask questions and talk to your coach to see if you feel comfortable moving forward.

Contact us here for more info on saving your marriage!  We do this because we are good at it….and because we care.

-Eric

 

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