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    Resources for Dealing with Porn Addiction

    Perhaps you believe that you or someone you love is addicted to pornography. While the temptation may be great to keep it quiet, there are lots of resources to help with recovery.

    In her book, An Affair of the Mind, Laurie Hall says that, from her experience and research, there is no easy answer. As the spouse of a porn addict, she learned she had to disengage from trying to fix him and, instead, take care of herself.

    “You have to build your own personal foundations under you – boundaries, standards, tolerations and requirements,” says Hall. “It was not an option to tolerate this in my home. I learned that one of the first steps toward recovery, whether you are the person addicted or the spouse, is to seek help from a trained counselor.”

    Hall learned that some counselors empower those dealing with the difficulty of having a spouse who is a sex addict, while others simply don’t understand the nature of sexual addiction.

    “Working with a counselor who doesn’t get it can leave you feeling shredded,” Hall says. “I have hundreds of letters that bear out this point.”

    When looking for a counselor, Hall suggests asking these questions:

    • Where did they get their counseling training?

    • Have they had specific training in dealing with sex addiction? Where? When?

    • What is their approach in dealing with this subject?

    • Does the counselor network with national groups who deal with this subject?

    • How many people have they counseled on this issue?

    After the session, ask yourself:

    • Did the counselor treat me with respect?

    • Does this person view me as a partner in my own healing or as a project?

    • Did the counselor hear me or lecture me?

    • Does the counselor encourage or discount my intuition?

    • Is this person’s belief system compatible with mine?

    • Did I feel safe?

    • Did they offer any resources – books, pamphlets, websites and/or support groups for more information about sexual addiction?

    If you suspect a problem, but aren’t sure, you can take a sex addiction screening test. Dr. Patrick Carnes, an expert on sexual addiction and recovery, developed it, and you can take it online at faithfulandtrue.com under the self-assessment tab.

    If you know you have a porn addiction, Dr. Mark Laaser, author of The Pornography Trap and Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction, suggests you begin by admitting the problem. Talk with an accountability partner and seek help. Put blocks on your computer and put the computer in a public place. Be straightforward about what would tempt you. Porn is in the mind of the beholder; certain things are universally considered porn, but other things like catalogs and magazines could be pornographic to an addict.

    “With help from a trained counselor, we are seeing evidence that people can successfully recalibrate their brain,” says Laaser. “By demonstrating sexually pure behavior, you can rewire your brain to be satisfied with sexual purity in your marriage. Though it is not an easy process, there are people who have been successful.”

    You can find additional resources on these websites:

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    9 Warning Signs of Porn Addiction

    How Porn Impacts the Brain warns about some of the dangers of porn addiction.

    There is no question that pornography impacts the brain. Research says it’s more addictive than cocaine and it's a habit harder to break than heroin.

    The U.S. Justice Department believes that 9 out of 10 children see online porn between the ages of 8 and 16. The porn industry preys on young people, understanding the brain’s power and the challenges of forgetting these images once they seem them.

    Many men understand that porn is costing them all they have – in many instances their career and their marriage – but they can’t quit. One man told his counselor he spent $75,000 in one month viewing porn.

    Laurie Hall, author of An Affair of the Mind, found herself married to a porn addict. Like many others, she asked herself a million times, “What did I miss? How could I be so stupid? What is wrong with me?

    “I knew something wasn’t right, but I couldn’t put my finger on it,” says Hall. “My husband was respected in the community, very intelligent and a hard worker.”

    Their marriage did not survive. Now Hall educates others about the impact of pornography

    “The idea that porn is victimless is a cruel joke,” Hall says. “Forty percent of professional men who are involved with pornography are going to lose their jobs due to their involvement with porn.

    “When you are engaged in fantasy, you lose your ability to connect between action and reaction. You no longer follow cause and effect. The more you fantasize, the more you become disconnected from what I call common sense. It affects your business judgment and it affects your ability to interact properly with other employees. It affects your ability to be intimate with your wife. The reality is most people don’t realize how pornography reaches out and grabs people.”

    While anyone can struggle with porn addiction, the overwhelming majority of porn users are men. These questions can help you identify red flags indicating involvement in this highly addictive activity:

    • Is his body language open and does he respond appropriately to questions? Does your husband look you in the eyes when speaking?

    • One lie often leads to another. People may give very complicated answers or different answers to simple questions than the day before.

    • Does your mate have appropriate boundaries or seem to live in constant drama and chaos? He may ask you to do strange things like videotape or take pictures of yourself getting out of the shower or at intimate moments.

    • Does your spouse excessively use inappropriate sexual humor and innuendos in conversation?

    • Is your spouse preoccupied with sexual behaviors or constantly wanting to push the boundaries and experiment sexually in questionable ways?

    • Does he exhibit inappropriate anger that appears to come from nowhere? For example, if you ask him about household cash flow or what time he will be home, he explodes.

    • Has he lost interest in you sexually or has his demand for sexual activity increased, but he is obviously not engaged emotionally during sex? Sex at this point is not about intimacy, but about control, power and what he can get you to do.

    • Do you seem to constantly have money problems regardless of how much money comes in?

    If you or someone you love is struggling with a pornography addiction, click here to learn about some resources for the battle.

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    How Porn Impacts the Brain

    This is the first in a series on pornography and its impact on marriages, families and communities.

    Numerous studies indicate that porn is a very significant problem in the U.S. In fact, the Justice Department estimates that 9 out of 10 children between 8 and 16 have seen online porn.

    Furthermore, at an American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers meeting, two-thirds of the attendees said excessive interest in online pornography contributed to more than half their divorce caseload. A leading Fortune 500 company study found that men spent 62 percent of their computer time on cybersex sites.

    Here are additional statistics:j

    • More than 25 million Americans visit cybersex sites weekly and 60 percent of all website visits are sexual in nature, according to the Sexual Recovery Institute of Los Angeles.

    • According to a May 2004 Internet traffic study by InternetWeek.com, people visit porn sites three times more often than Google, Yahoo! and MSN Search combined.

    • About 3 to 6 percent of Americans (20 million people) are sexual addicts, according to Dr. Patrick Carnes at the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals.

    “Rarely does someone’s participation remain at just looking at porn,” says Dr. Mark Laaser, author of The Pornography Trap. “They begin with looking at porn, then they move to self-stimulation and then onto pursuing the things they are looking at. There is definitely a progression from soft porn to harder porn.

    "While some believe soft porn has a disinhibiting effect and could be helpful in relationships, I have never seen a case where pornography has been helpful to a marriage,” he says. “It always winds up negatively. Porn is designed to make you dissatisfied. It is not designed to help you feel content with your marriage partner.”

    Many have joined the fight against pornography, including an organization called Fight the New Drug. Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using only science, facts and personal accounts.

    Laaser says research shows that the endorphins released in the brain while looking at pornography are 200 times more potent than morphine and more addictive than cocaine. Researchers believe porn addiction may be harder to break than a heroin addiction. Why? It's because the brain stores images and can recall them at any moment.

    According to Fight the New Drug, porn physically changes the brain over time. When one looks at porn, there is a surge of the chemical dopamine that feels really good. Dopamine helps create new brain pathways that essentially lead the user back to the behavior that triggered the chemical release. Porn users can quickly build up a tolerance as their brains adapt to the high levels of dopamine released by viewing porn. Even though porn is still releasing dopamine into the brain, the user can’t feel its effects as much.

    “It is as though we have devised a form of heroin - usable in the privacy of one’s own home and injected directly to the brain through the eyes,” says Dr. Jeffrey Satinover of Princeton University, describing porn’s effect to a U.S. Senate committee.

    In porn, everything from the way people look to how and why they have sex is not real. Unfortunately, porn addicts often obsess over chasing some fantasy so much that they miss out on actual relationships. Porn kills love.

    Click here to learn more about warning signs and where to find help.