BYU Campus Education Week

I have been invited this year to speak at Brigham Young University’s Campus Education Week. I will be presenting on four different days, with a total audience capacity of around 1,200. My presentation series is called: Confronting Pornography in Your Individual and Family Life: Real Help for Real Problems Below is the series schedule with class titles. Tuesday (Aug 18) – How to Protect Your Children from Pornography’s Harmful Effects Wednesday (Aug 19) – Confronting Pornography in Marriage Relationships Thursday (Aug 20) – Key Elements of a Healthy Recovery from Pornography Addiction Friday (Aug 21) – Dealing with Your Future Husband’s Past Pornography Use All classes will be in room 250 of the Spencer W. Kimball Tower (SWKT) at 8:30 AM and will run 50 minutes each. If you want to attend my BYU Campus Education Week presentations, you can sign up on the Campus Education Week website. Registration is required to attend any part of the...

FAQ – Emotional Protection Versus Emotional Numbing in Recovery

    A very common question I receive is voiced something like this: My husband is a pornography addict. Even when he’s not acting out, he is very often resentful toward me and blames me for our problems. How do I protect myself emotionally without crossing over into something unhealthy? How do I keep needed emotional distance without disconnecting entirely from my emotions? There are many terms people use to describe a healthy emotional distance between yourself and an active addict. We might use the term “serenity” from 12-step or “emotional boundaries” to name this process. Others may use different terminology. With my own clients, sexually addicted men who are regularly moody, who blame, who are unkind to their spouses, etc. are still very much in ‘addict mode.’ Even when they’re not acting out sexually, the addict part of them harbors resentments and still deeply feels shame—both of which will drive mood swings and unhealthy relational responses. Blaming others is one of the more common addict responses to their own internalized shame. My sense is that this is a way to push away intense feelings of unworthiness onto others to temporarily relieve the shame feelings. Shame becomes blame. So in cases where the addict is still very much in blame mode, his recovery should be challenged. When recovering addicts are open to feedback, I share these concepts with my clients to help them combat blaming. 1. Surrender The 12-step program offers a beautiful approach to letting go of resentment. He would call his sponsor and say, “With you as my witness, I surrender the right to blame _________ for...

Defining and Enforcing Boundaries in Sexual Addiction Recovery

Defining Boundaries   What are boundaries? Boundaries are like fences between neighbors. They define the limits of the relationship. They provide safety and structure, define appropriate and inappropriate engagement in the relationship, and delineate responses to inappropriate or unhealthy engagement.   In sexual addiction recovery, boundaries are crucial. Addicts in recovery need to set boundaries around their media usage, who they talk to, how they spend their time, how they manage difficult emotions, and many other things.   Sometimes wives of addicts struggle with confusion about how they set and enforce their own boundaries. The struggle is how to determine the difference between healthy boundaries and the many other unhealthy ways people may respond to their spouse’s addiction behaviors.   First, let’s define what boundaries are and are not.   Boundaries are…   used to define limits of relationships healthy responses to violations of self in place as trust is rebuilt in relationships protection against repeated harm   Boundaries are not…   punishments methods of coercing and forcing behaviors ways to avoid dealing with pain used to emotionally disconnect   Boundaries are often the remedy for unhealthy ways of responding to an addict. Because boundaries are the opposite of becoming responsible for his behaviors or recovery, it is wise to self-assess occasionally and determine whether you are crossing the line into becoming responsible.   Some warning signs that you may be crossing into becoming responsible are:   Providing constant reminders of recovery behaviors he is “supposed to be doing” Experiencing consistent, intense emotional reactions to his lack of recovery behaviors Punishing or shaming him into doing things he has committed to do Basing your...

Is sexual fantasy about your own partner appropriate?

In my work with the LifeSTAR program, an interesting question has been brought up by men in recovery from sexual addiction. The question is, “Is it OK for me to have sexual fantasies in my mind about my own wife?” I recognize that the question of the appropriateness of sexual fantasy is not so simple as to merit a few paragraphs only. However, in the context of individuals struggling with compulsive sexual behaviors, such sexual fantasies can be concerning. I think that the above question actually gets at a common, but flawed, assumption about sexual intimacy in marriage. The assumption is this: once I am married to someone, “anything goes” sexually. There should be no limitations or boundaries around how I approach my spouse sexually or engage in my sexual relationship. So what harm is there in creating mental sexual fantasies about one’s own spouse? First, fantasy sexuality and real sexuality are not the same thing. In fantasy, you do not have to put any effort into the relationship, and sex is “free” and without the obligation of emotional engagement. Second, in sexual fantasy, even when the subject of the fantasy is one’s own spouse, the person in the fantasy becomes objectified. In the fantasy, the spouse actually becomes a sort of sexual puppet, subject to the whims of the person creating the fantasy. This is the opposite of how real relationships should work. Fantasizing about one’s own spouse creates a false version of that person that the real person cannot, nor ever should, try to live up to. The fantasy person is not human, does not have emotions,...