10 Nov

Interview with Tammy Hill LFMT. You can listen to this podcast episode 39 HERE

Pornography is certainly an area of concern that I see not only with my clients and my students, but has overall become an issue for a lot of families. Even if you aren’t struggling in your marriage right now, it can come up and grab you and get into your home or get into your marriage. We always need to have our guards up. Most people probably know someone who is struggling with pornography.

“Pornography is an equal opportunity toxic poison. It damages and negatively impacts the relationships in both the viewer and the performer. Porn poises a serious threat to a couple’s intimacy and harmony and porn is usually a scapegoat to what is really damaging the relationship.” – Tammy Hill

Men tend to view pornography more frequently than women do, although women also do view pornography. So it’s something that affects both men and women as far as viewing, but it certainly impacts the sexual relationship in a couple’s relationship if one is viewing and expecting behaviors out of the other. There’s been some recent research that John Gottman has done where he states that the number of men who are actively viewing pornography is fairly equivalent to the number of women who are actively having a poor relationship with their bodies, actively dieting extensive exercise etc. This is just a spiral cycle that goes around and around. I see it really damaging potential happiness in marriage because it affects both partners, whether you’re both viewing or one is viewing, is negatively impacting the relationship.

Sex is intended to be relational. It’s something that’s meant to be shared within a marriage and when one person is viewing, they’re not participating with the other, they tend to isolate be secretive, and antisocial. None of that is helpful to building communication and connection within the relationship. People who are viewing pornography have less sex with their spouses. They’re having more sex with themselves and they’re not actively involved as much with having healthy sex with their spouse. There’s a lot less sexual communication that goes on because the person viewing is coming into the relationship and already has at fantasy that they have created with pornography that they’re expecting a partner to fulfill. When that fulfillment doesn’t take place, it really puts walls up within the relationship where they’re not communicating in healthy ways about their sexual relationship.

There’s a big problem with betrayal when one partner is viewing and the other partner often feels that they’re being compared or their they’re not enough. All of those types of traumatic feelings that you might experience in a loving marriage relationship. So that betrayal, if we talk about emotional needs and how deep they go, betrayal is one of the deepest, hardest emotions for someone to recover from. And so many people are needing to do traumatic therapy to work through some of the betrayal issues that creep into the relationship.

Overall as a people, I think we we want to be pro-social, we want to engage, we want to build a community, we want to build a home and a family that is healthy and has great environment. When someone’s being pornography, they’re not involved in that. There’s stepping aside from relationships that are really important.

The best tips for people to avoid letting pornography destroy their marriage and their relationship.

Pornography does not enhance sexual relationships and I really encourage couples to avoid it. So if you’ve heard that porn enhances your married sex life, that’s so not true. The first thing you can do is not fall into that myth or fantasy that this is going to be something that enhances your experiences together. I think making sure that you have a relationship where you’re very open and can have solid communication about what’s happening for you right now. How are you handling hard emotions? We all have times when it’s really hard to deal with what we’re working through every single day sometimes and as humans, we have a tendency to sometimes self-betrayal by self-soothing in unhealthy ways. People overeat, bite their nails, gamble, and they view pornography. There’s a lot of things we do to cope with things.

I think in marriage one way to avoid getting into a porn habit or have important creep into your home is to have an environment that’s safe, that you can talk about the hard emotions that you might be feeling. For us humans, we get aroused by certain things.

Choose to not watch any movies that stir arousal. Just turn them off. It is very easy for both men and women to get arroused with things on the TV screen so being very selective of what you watch can be a big help to not bring in porn.

Pornography or viewing things that maybe even research wouldn’t view or consider pornography when things are really erotic, that we’re viewing it naturally. We’re interested. It creates that that desire to learn more or to feel more because sexual arousal feels good, right? We’re designed to be sexual, but we’re also designed to have moral development around that sexuality.

Prayer. Pray can be an amazing tool to keep Porn from entering your life and your marriage. Asking God to help keep that stuff away from you can give you strength to not be tempted by it in the first place. We have to guard our marriages and our eyes more than ever today.

Set boundaries in you home and your marriage. If you want to keep porn from destroying your marriage, sit down together as a couple and talk about all the things you can do to keep it out. Set some boundaries together such as what you will watch, where you will put the computer in your home, what your boundaries are with social media. Talk about how you both can guard your eyes.

If you are already struggling with porn, don’t beat yourself up. We all have our things that we struggle with and we all have demons we fight. There is hope to stop and get it out of your life. We all as humans, have to emotionally regulate, to recognize we’re human and that we can get help in learning to emotionally regulate in much healthier ways.

Be careful with social media and set boundaries as a couple. In our marriage, we decided on personal accounts to just not accept anyone of the opposite sex. That might sound crazy but we have never been tempted and we don’t see things in our feed that we didn’t approve. Instragram is an amazing business tool but you have to be very carefully about what you see in your feed. Make sure you follow appropriate accounts and make sure that you spouse can check your account anytime they would like. An even better piece of advice would be to only have a joint account. Close friends and family following is a great way to protect your marriage.

Reading Erotica can be as bad as porn. A lot of times if people think that if you’re not viewing something, then it’s not really porn. I can remember probably 10 years ago in my office, a couple that was really struggling. The husband happened to be struggling with porn and we were working about with some trust issues between the both of them and the wife wasn’t sure she wanted to stay in the marriage and one day while we were meeting she had her bag sitting between them on the couch. She happened to just shift in a certain way and her bag fell off the couch and upside down and in her bag was a very pornographic book “50 shades of gray” and it fell right there. So I just asked her if she could let her husband open it up wherever he wanted and read what it is that she’s reading.

It was such an impactful moment for that couple. She had a lot more empathy for him. I think it’s so important to make sure women tend to be those that are reading more erotica than men do. Men tend to view more than women do, but that erotica is not helpful either. And there are some studies that suggest that the erotica is actually might be more addictive than viewing because you’re creating the scenes in your mind as you read them. There is great to have boundaries around things, but don’t forget books.

What are the most common myths about porn?

1. Myth: Thinking that porn is going to help spice up your sex life. – It will eventually destroy it. Slowly.

2. Myth: You’re going to learn something from it that you don’t know.

3. Myth: It’s not hurting anyone but me. – It hurts the whole family.

4. Myth: Real sex is just like porn. – Real sex is NOT like porn. Movies are not real and they are not accurate at all.

5. Myth: Porn can make you feel better. – Porn is packed up with so much shame and anti-social behavior. The secrecy behind it will pull you away from relationships. It might make you feel good momentarily, but it will not make you feel good in the long run. The porn industry is trying to to feed all of us “to get your fix right now, it’s going to take care of your problems, it feels good” but it is super addictive.

Most porn use is not an addiction because people addictions involve tolerance and withdrawal and most people are not experiencing those two when they’re viewing pornography. It is a way that people are emotionally regulating. That is not helpful though. So when it is introduced at a young age, it is important to remember to have compassion because the prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed until our mid 20s. If we’ve learned habits of how to emotionally regulate, those habits are still there. It’s very likely that in the mid twenties with the prefrontal cortex field in they wouldn’t make those choices as much to self to self soothe.

God built us with desires. We all have these sexual desires and needs. It is important to make sure we don’t enter territories that will deteriorate our relationships. Satan tries to take things that are good and spins it and makes it bad.

Getting rid of that idea that if you view porn, you’re already an addict, is not true. There are so many professionals out there to help. So many programs out there to help. Don’t feel you are an addict if you saw or watched porn. Take the necessary steps to get it out of your life fast.

Typically most people are disconnected in marriage because the friendship is not there. I love the Ultimate Intimacy app because it builds friendship. It is because of your friendship, the richness of your friendship that will keep you connected. So you’re not going to look outside (whether it’s porn another person) you’re going to turn towards each other because you feel that trust, you have the loyalty, there’s all kinds of virtuous generosity and wonderful aspects about friendship. If we can focus on the friendship and developed a friendship, we’re going to solve a lot of problems too.

If you look at a lot of people that are around you that have a very happy marriage, you’ll typically see that just how good of friends they are, that in their relationship, they really love being around each other. They actually really loved being together and spending time together and have that friendship. So playing together, playing together outside of the bedroom. Sex is a form of adult play, but you come into the bedroom and you play together here too.

Where to begin if you spouse is looking at porn?

I would certainly encourage them to seek help with their marriage. Reach out to a marriage counselor. I think that there are really skilled people who know how to guide not only the habit of viewing pornography for one partner, but also the betrayal that’s involved with the other partner. And it it’s a process. It’s not easy. Therapy is not easy, if you’re having fun in therapy, you’re not doing therapy. It’s not fun, it’s hard, hard work, but I can tell you people come out on the other side and their relationships are so much better than they ever were to begin with and so I would look for someone to guide that process.

The 12 steps to discipleship program is the best program out there. If you want to be a disciple of Jesus Christ more than anything else, the 12 step program will help with that. Turning to the Savior for help is the best thing you can do for yourself and your marriage. He can help overcome anything. If you do you believe in the atonement of Jesus Christ, and you really have that understanding that he can help us all become whole.

Also there should be no one on earth more invested in your repentance process than your wife or your husband! If you can get your marriage to a place where you can communicate, talk about everything, and have so much fun together, then pornography won’t have much of a chance of coming into your marriage. Take the steps to protect your marriage and guard it with everything that you have!

If you want to add spice to your marriage, connect in communication, read some amazing resources on marriage tips from Experts, learn more about anatomy, take some fun quizzes, or just need some date night ideas, don’t forget to download the free ultimate intimacy app in the app stores.

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