when porn is the ‘other woman’


Pornography is insidiously addictive and destructive. Whilst it holds almost no resemblance to true intimacy (read more –5 lies porn tells) it engages the hearts and minds of men and women and distorts a person’s own sexuality. It leads to sexual dysfunction and relational breakdown. 

Given that almost 100% of boys have seen porn before they reach adulthood the reality for all couples is that porn will be an issue to address. It is a wrestle most men (and many women) will be entrapped in – addiction is rife. 

For the wife of a porn using man it is a hurtful and difficult path to walk. 

Porn feels like rejection. 

For a woman, it feels like a man’s choice to use porn is a competition that she has lost. Between the real life her and the on screen performer, the performer has won. This speaks inadequacy and inferiority into her heart from the person she is most vulnerable to.

Porn feels like unfaithfulness. 

Anyone who steals the affections, attentions and desire of one’s husband is the ‘other woman’. It is hard for a wife to not feel betrayed by the breach of the intimacy of the marriage bed to include other images, acts and preferences beyond that which has been explored and experienced together. 

Porn feels like the standard. 

Women whose husbands use porn know that what they watch is appealing to them. Rather than the wife being the standard of beauty, attractiveness and fulfilment a highly produced, orchestrated and edited image becomes the new standard. One to which no woman could possibly attain. 

Porn diminishes sexual appetite. 

Increasingly younger men are reporting decreased or dysfunctional sexual drive and capacity for arousal. This means some relationships are failing in terms of intimacy before they’ve even begun. The joy of sexual exploration and discovery together is usurped by a counterfeit experience. 

Porn is not harmless. Porn impacts those who view it and those seeking intimacy with them.

See Fight the New Drug’s “Fortify” program http://fightthenewdrug.org/get-help/ for help in getting freedom from porn addiction. Don’t do it alone. 

If you are an impacted partner of a porn user reach out to talk to someone to help you navigate what you’re experiencing. Don’t do it alone. 

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breaking the cycle


How often have you found yourself in a repeated thought loop or behaviour pattern and wondered why? Why do I keep acting this way? Why do I keep finding myself in the same place of regret or shame?

You may watch others who appear to be caught in the same cycle. 

The reality of how our hearts and brains are wired is that we can find ourselves on a predictable and repetitious path – when left unchecked. 


How the Cycle of Addiction works. 

  • UNMET NEED/TRAUMA

We experience a disappointment, loss, trauma of any kind, failure or relational dysfunction. This will look different for every individual – our personal life experiences, personality, degree of emotional intelligence or intellect, family support and all manner of other factors shape how we will respond and how significantly we will be impacted. 

  • PAIN

We feel sad, we feel wounded, we feel lonely, we feel embarrassed. Again, the depth, breadth and severity of those feelings will vary  between people. There is not a collectively determined response to pain that would make that predictable or able to be assumed – for ourselves or others. What one person may find devastating might barely impact another. 

  • ESCAPE 

We are psychologically predisposed to try and stop or avoid pain. If you touch something hot you pull your hand away immediately. Pain is our mental and physical sign that something is wrong and it triggers an immediate desire to escape the source or remedy the wound. 

  • IMMEDIATE GRATIFICATION 

Our natural tendency is to go for the quick fix. We scoff a block of chocolate or turn to other substances for relief and escape. We look for anything that might momentarily relieve us of our pain or discomfort. 

  • GUILT 

At the height of pain and in our rush to escape it we can often make poor choices. An ill-advised relational connection, exessive alcohol consumption, violence, pornography, drugs or other decisions that lead to feelings of regret once we are more emotionally sober. 

This causes more pain and the cycle repeats. 

Each time we head back around the cycle we can find that we need increasing levels of stimuli to meet the need for escape and gratification. We might need to drink more or engage in riskier activities in order to achieve the same sense of relief or release. This, in turn, leads to greater guilt and more intense pain – and you can see how that can lead us to feel trapped in the cycle. 

BREAKING THE CYCLE 


At every stage of the cycle we can find an ‘off ramp’. 

  • PROCESSING INSTEAD OF ESCAPING

Telling a close friend about the pain, journaling, releasing the pent-up emotion with a good cry, prayer & worship – exploring ways to let the emotion out and processing it through rather than trying to escape it. 

  • EMPLOYING STRATEGIES RATHER THAN LOOKING TO A SHORT TERM FIX

Perhaps some physical exercise or fresh air might be a better option. Smashing out a gym session rather than smashing down a slab! Knowing the people to call. Meditating on the truths of God and His Word. Making decisions before the pain is felt about the kind of behaviours that are most helpful rather than reaching for the quickest, easiest options when pain strikes. 

  • CONFESSION INSTEAD OF GUILT 

The power of guilt is that its secrecy keeps us captive. ‘What if people find out?’ The act of confession – to both God and other people – disarms the enemy’s ability to manipulate and condemn us with guilt. Perhaps a counsellor, doctor or leader is the most appropriate outlet for this or maybe it’s a parent or trusted friend. 

  • GRACE OVER PAIN 

Confession positions us to receive grace – from God and from others – and perhaps most significantly, from ourselves. The reality is that there is always an option to make a better choice next time or to continue to offload emotional baggage rather than hoarding it. We are given a second (and third, and fourth…) chance. There is opportunity to redeem our hurt or our failure for our good or the benefit of others. Grace. 
Question : How might the illustration of the cycle help you to understand your own responses or the behaviours of others around you? 

talking with your kids about sex

Where did you learn about the birds and the bees? Do you remember your parents giving you “the talk”? Did most of your learning come from friends, the graffiti on toilet cubicle walls, movies and TV, or maybe your best friend’s super-cool older siblings?

One of the most significant areas of discipleship and leadership we offer our children is in the area of sexuality and relationship – and yet, they can be some of the most awkward or feared conversations of all.

Here are some thoughts to consider – part of a broader conversation that I host with parents – to help empower you for this potentially uncomfortable yet intensely important aspect of your parenting role.

1. do the personal work 

Each of us has a unique perspective on the topics of sexuality and relationship that is heavily influenced by our own life experience. Our ability to lead children in healthy and helpful ways is impacted by the degree to which we have reviewed and processed our own upbringing and history.

If you were sexually abused or mistreated you may pass on fears and stigmas that are unhelpful. If you have had negative experiences or made significant mistakes in your own past, this will impact how you approach these topics with your child. If you have had a sheltered or extremely conservative upbringing you may pass on uninformed opinions or ideologies. If you had multiple relationships or sexual partners, if you were a pregnant teenager (or made a teenager pregnant), if you had an abortion, if you had early exposure to pornography, if you’ve struggled with sexual addiction … all this and more SHAPES your perspectives, understanding and feelings about sexuality and relationship.

In humility, parents must to do the work of review. We are doomed to either repeat the actions of our own parents or react to them (and do exactly the opposite) – for better or worse – unless we stop and review what that looked like and make sober decisions about its validity or usefulness. Our own experiences can be redeemed when we allow them to inform and educate others to make better choices.

2. know where you’re headed 

What do you hope for for your kids? What do you understand of the goal or intent of their sexuality? What type of relationships do you hope they’ll experience? How do you want them to perceive their own body and manage it? What empowerment or wisdom do you want them to be armed with? What situations do you want them to navigate intelligently and safely? How do you wish them to honour and respect others?

Knowing where you’re headed makes the pathway there more clear and more intentional.

The more ‘simple’ outcomes of saving themselves for marriage or protecting themselves from abuse or regret are a starting point, but there has to be more to your focus than that. Beyond the messages of “don’t” and “no” we have to endow our children with a sense of the beauty and joy that sexuality and relationship are designed to bring us and others in our world. Part of our created design includes this aspect of our beings and, as such, it is more than just a set of rules and guidelines that will help our children navigate the murky waters of culture and desires. It is a well shaped understanding of who they are, what God has in store for them and how they might ensure they are experiencing the fullness of His intent.

3. talk, don’t have ‘the talk’ 

It may be stating the obvious, but you’re not going to get this done in one conversation. It doesn’t matter how good that conversation is, how long it goes for or how many incentives are offered with it. One chat over milkshakes is not going to cover everything, it’s not going to accommodate for changing needs and cognition with age, it’s not going to give opportunity for all questions to be asked or all teachable moments to be explored. This is an ongoing conversation. Sorry for those of you who thought you were done! 😉

Make the most of opportunities that present to continue to shade in the big picture understanding you desire your kids to have. Ensure that each time you do talk about these kinds of topics it is left open-ended – ‘we can talk about this some more whenever you want’ or ‘if you think of other things later, be sure to come and ask me’. Engage with TV, media, overheard conversations, events in your family, song lyrics and the like to leverage opportunities to know where your child is and to keep the dialogue happening.

For some tips about talking to your kids about porn – check out this article  For further development of your awareness and language check out this site Fight the New Drug.

4. help your child translate culture 

We live in a highly sexualised world. It’s not sensationalising to make that observation, it’s just how it is. In fact, it is so sexualised we can often be immune to the various ways overt or distorted sexuality permeates our culture.

Rising proliferation and exposure to pornography has changed the water line and we are now soaking in a highly ‘pornified’ environment that requires our intentional identification and rejection. In sociological circles, pornography is considered to be the number one sexual educator of our children. Young people are being exposed to pornography often before they’ve had their first crush or their first kiss. Pornography has continued to become more and more violent and aggressive and less and less (if it ever were at all) reflective of intimate, romantic, private expressions of love.

This article draws attention to the pornography inspired images that are common-place in marketing and advertising. A walk through a shopping centre or a flick through a mainstream magazine will see multiple examples of these images. This website Collective Shout promotes advocacy around issues of objectification – it’s useful for raising your awareness as well as empowering you to be part of the response.

We need to help our children reflect on the things they see around them and to decipher the messages they are being sent and whether or not they are to be accepted or rejected. At age appropriate levels it may be as simple as wondering aloud with your child as to why a lady might look so unhappy in a picture – do you think she is having fun, do you think she is liking what is happening to her? To observing in more mature ways the submission-dominance interplay, the perception of a model as an object more than a person, the idiocy of a promotional picture that has no point of reference to the product or service it is purporting to promote.

***

This is a teaspoon of thought from an ocean of ideas, understandings and considerations that we need to continue to drink from – but it’s a start.

ASK THE QUESTIONS … what do you struggle to help your children understand? What approaches have you tried that you’ve found successful? What resources have you found useful?

Why we wait.

It’s a sentiment oft repeated – we live in a fast-paced world!

Emerging generations are born into a culture where everything is instant and waiting – for anything – is considered passé. Fast food, fast information, instant communication, a rapidly mobile people in a shrinking world … you’ve heard and seen it all and are probably fully immersed in it with the gadgets you own, the service you expect and the pace of life you live.

When it comes to our children and teenagers, more and more we are seeing the impact of a diminished capacity for waiting.

We cringe to hear the stories of pregnant 13 year olds and sexually active ‘tweens’; we are horrified by the teen who crashes a stolen car and is found to be under the influence of alcohol; drug dealing and addicted teenagers; the suicidal girls caught in cyber bullying or sexual coercion; the body image obsessed children ‘dieting’ at 5. These stories confront us for many reasons, but perhaps the thing we bemoan the most is the loss of childhood innocence – “they’re growing up too fast”.

It is a challenge of modern day parenting to make the strong stand necessary to keep our kids kids. Everything in our culture comes against that notion and we can be easily swept into believing that because it’s considered “normal” or because it is happening at all then it mustn’t be bad. No one wants to be that cranky old fuddy duddy who starts sentences with “in my day” (to the obligatory eye roll of all younger generations present) or to act in the role of “fun police” where your primary goal in life is to make your children miserable.

Here’s the reality though. Research indicates that the earlier children are exposed to more ‘at risk’ behaviours the greater their risk of addiction or abuse in that area as an adult. This is true for alcohol – the age of a youth’s first sip directly correlates with the likelihood they will handle it inappropriately (addiction/abuse) as an adult. (Yes, that does fly in the face of the old adage that giving alcohol to young people in a controlled environment may lessen their chance of bingeing on it once they’re of age.) Early exposure to sexualised imagery and language increases the likelihood of pornography addiction and sexual obsession or dysfunction as a child ages. (The average age for a first viewing of porn is 11.)

There’s a plethora of reasons we need to return to the virtue of patience and it behoves us as adults to actively seek ways and opportunities to help our children learn the art of waiting. Age restrictions on things such as movies, alcohol, riding on footpaths, video games and requiring adult supervision exist on purpose. There are realities about a developing brain that societal shifts and cultural advancement cannot change but that can be dramatically impacted by the things our children are exposed to.

The long term gain for waiting is unable to be measured, the consequences for not waiting in some cases cannot be overstated – with this in mind the short term cost of a complaining child or being the ‘only one’ rejecting the status quo might not seem such a high price to pay.