Episode 190 - Clients Overcoming Pornography Together - Amy and Greg

Apr 24, 2023

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Episode 190

I'm Zach. And I'm Darcy. We're an LDS couple who struggled with unwanted pornography in our marriage for many years. What was once our greatest struggle and something we thought would destroy us has become our greatest blessing in trying. Our hope is that as you listen to our podcast each week, you'll be filled with hope and healing and realize that you too can thrive beyond pornography and create the marriage you have always desired.

Welcome to Thrive Beyond Pornography. We're so glad you're here and we believe in you.

Hey everybody. Welcome to Thrive Beyond Pornography. I'm your host, Zach Spafford, and today I have a couple of special guests with me friends of mine and people who I have enjoyed working with and have coached. Greg and Amy Langford. They are gr. Amy, why don't you guys tell your, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

I know Amy is a life coach in her own right and she's pretty awesome. But why don't you guys tell us a little bit about yourselves and. Hey. Yeah, it's it's great to be here, Zach. I appreciate you having us on. We've been married for 25 years now. During that time, we've we've had our ups and our downs and, and struggles, but It's about several years ago, Amy got into life coaching and we've learned a lot about ourselves and what we can do to have a better relationship.

And so it's been a really exciting journey here for the last few years and I really appreciated her learning that and be able to share that with me. And so we're grateful to be on here and be able to talk about our journey and hopefully it will help some other folks along the way. Yeah, I appreciate that.

Amy, anything you wanna add to that? Sure. I'll add that we have four kids and and love them, and our oldest is married now. And as they are starting into their own relationships and lives, the conversations that we've had between us have opened up a lot of on honest conversations with them as well in all of these areas.

And so not only. At the beginning, I feel like when we discovered this, it felt like our Achilles heel that was going to take us down as a marriage where we thought like, we're such a great team and we're such a great pair, and this is gonna be the thing that takes us down. And it ended up being the thing that brought us most together and developed us the most.

And on top of that has really, I feel like also accelerated our ability to have conversations with our children too. . So when you say the thing that was gonna bring you down, I think you're talking about pornography. Yes. Sorry. Yeah, no, that's cool. Why do you think you felt that way, either of you? I feel like the messaging that I received around it was that this was the most sinful thing that could happen, and it was equivalent to like my husband cheating on me and breaking the marriage vows.

And if that was. , you know, and the betrayal from that. And also when we went in for our first like when after we found it and then went into our first counselor, the counselor literally said like, he'll never recover and this is an addiction. So it felt like now we have this thing that's going to take all the goodness and all of the strength that we have as a couple, and this is going to be the thing that destroys it.

Yeah, I, I would've to agree. I mean, I really think it's the shame that you're build up from a very young age. We've been given that shame from the way we were raised, but also from the culture we were brought up into. Right. Sex was such a thing that they didn't want to talk about or, or bring up.

And really, you know, we talked about Satan's slippery slide. Like, if, you know, you go down this slide, there's no return. So to me, it was all the expectations that were put on yourself and the things that you've been brought to you and the shame behind it that kept it. From wanting not to be honest with Amy from the first place.

Right? And so when that was discovered and in our situation, it wasn't something I went to Amy to, she discovered it, which I think was even probably worse because it was the, not only the betrayal, but the dishonesty between us, that, that became the problem. So for me, really it was. the way that we had been raised and taught that this was such an awful thing.

And not that we're going out and praising and saying everyone should view porn and that's what we wanna do. Right. But we definitely had put a lot of power in it. And because that power was there when it, when the atomic bomb went off, it felt like an atomic bomb for sure. So Amy discovers you choosing pornography and all of a sudden, What happened?

Yeah. I'll, I'll never forget it, right? Uh, I woke up Sunday morning and Amy was standing next to the bed and had a look that I'd never seen before in her face. And, um, I had no idea what was about to happen to me, but she she came at me and let me know that she had found what I had been looking at on the computer and there was no hiding it.

The instant feeling was of terror. Um, you know, is my marriage gonna last? Uh, what's gonna happen? Well, obviously I, I didn't have anything to say, right? I didn't have any explanation. I couldn't, uh, couldn't lie it away. This time it was very obvious what happened. I remember calling the bishop and asking to go, you know, go visit him at that time.

And having that, starting that process. There was so much confusion around it. I think that was the problem. Right. Here again, Amy talked about how she had been betrayed and she thought, really, I literally had cheated on her because of this. My bishop really didn't know how to handle it. Right. He didn't have any emotional or understanding what I was going through or why I might be doing this.

Right. It was just, you know, this was bad. Sent us to A therapist that Amy talked about that told me I was a complete addict and that I would, I had this problem that I'd never get over. So there was a lot of confusion around it, right? And all it did was push us away from each other. There was no coming together.

I remember at one point, probably at my lowest lows at that point where the bishop had come over to our house and, um, you know, I was sleeping on the couch. I went to stay with my mom for a little bit. We were just really confused what was going on. . And after a conversation after the bishop had come over, Amy said something to the effect that, you know, I love you cuz you're a son of our healthy father.

But you know, that's the, that that's the only thing. And it was literally like the biggest gut punch I'd ever had in my life. Because here I knew that it was me, that I had brought this upon our family and destroyed our family, seeing the hanway because of my evilness. And that was the story that was being told to me.

Wow. . Amy, what, when you found out and you're standing over that bed and you're looking at Greg and all of those thoughts and feelers of running through your head, what, what was going on for you?

I think I felt so hurt and so betrayed and and I I was shocked. , like it really was shocking to me. . I think the dishonesty was a huge source of betrayal. And then also like all of the messaging like we've been talking about that I had of the meaning of what I had found and what it meant about him, and it, it brought up things like, do I even know you?

And, you know, like is what else is a lie and what else is true? And like, am I, have I been partaking in this life? That's like a lie. And so it just, it can completely. Shattered so many things that I, I didn't have any way to look at these pieces with any meaning that was helpful and all of it was just hurtful and all of it was destructive, and there was actually no help for me.

No one ever talked to me. There was no like other woman or other person. And so it all went inside me because at that point it was shameful. to admit it to anyone, and there was no hand reached out in my direction. Yeah. Well, and I wonder, you know, I think a lot of, especially in the church, I think a lot of church leaders just don't know what to do for the wives.

No it's this it's this position of, you're, you're gonna destroy your marriage and there's nothing we can do about it except for punish him. Mm-hmm. , that's, , that's so frustrating to think about. And that's not, I don't think that's anybody's fault. I just think that's unfortunately the, the, the bag we've been given and we have to deal with it.

But yeah, it's, it is definitely a fine line that you walk, right, because the wife has been such betrayal at that point. Right. And it has, or the spouse, you know, it can be other ways, but most likely it's the wife. As in such a betray though. But we know, we've come to know, and we'll get to all this stuff when we talk about it, that there's, you know, we both played into that role, right?

there was a role that Amy played, and there was a role that I played that got us to that point. But it's at that point, if you don't have the tools necessary to be able to have that conversation, you're just gonna end up destroying one or the other, or both. Right. Because I can't imagine our bishop that time coming and saying, well, Amy, you played a role on this.

You know, let's talk about all the things you've done that could cause this. I mean, that would've gone terribly bad, right? Yeah. And so again, there's just not. , there's not the tools out there to be able to have the real discussion, to get down to the crux of what's causing the issue and what really is the issue.

Right. Porn to me is very much the smoke to a, a lot, lot bigger fire. Right. And the things that underly are heavier and burning and more destructive than the, the porn itself. And we just focus on that smoke and cause it to be what the problem is. But we didn't have any, the tools or anybody that could help us understand what that burning fire was or anything.

Hope, grace said something. Oh, go ahead. Oh, no, like, I mean, I felt like at that time there was literally no strand or no meaning or no thread anywhere to grab onto and say there's hope, like there's a way to work through this, or a way to heal your pain, or a way to find out why or a way to like navigate this.

There was literally nothing. Yeah. Yeah. So when, when you're in that position of I don't have a way to solve this, and, and Greg said something that's a little bit, we'll call it controversial, that you guys were responsible together for this scenario. And I wanna touch on that for a bit. Amy, can you tell us what your thoughts are on that idea?

Yes. So my part to play in this was I was emotionally underdeveloped and was relying on Greg to take care of. Or wanting him to take care of literally all of my emotions, all of my stress, all of my anxiety. And I was constantly pulling on him for that. And it was so overwhelming to him to first of all manage himself and let alone manage me and all of my emotions.

And we didn't have a way to understand like, , like I thought that was his job, . And obviously you were told that was his job, by the way. Right? I was told that was he told you that his job and he thought it was his job too. And so the weight of a lot of that was that overwhelm is what led him into looking for that buffer through porn.

Right. So my part in it was being emotionally underdeveloped and constantly pulling in him for that. And not only that, in my emotional underdevelopment a lot of times, , I relied on him in all intimacy ways. I was also sexually underdeveloped and didn't know who I was or what my sexuality was, and relied completely on him for that.

And that was also another thing that led him there. So, so, can you expand on that just a little bit? Like what does it mean in, in practical terms, to be emotionally underdeveloped in such a way that your husband chooses. To hide from you. It means that I thought it was his job to fix all of my emotions and was constantly bringing all of them to him to fix and, and laying them at his feet.

Like, you gotta figure out how to solve my stress with these kids. How to solve my overwhelm with these babies. You've gotta make more money. You've gotta, um, make me feel better about myself and make me love my body. And you've got to, like, I was laying all of those at his feet and everyone's realizing they were actually mine.

Gotcha. So, does that make sense? Yeah, I think so. So, Greg, from your perspective now, I, I imagine in the, in the depths of this, you had no vocabulary for anything that we're talking about now, right? So I can, I can imagine looking back, you can see some things from your perspective, what was going on for you?

that you're like, I can't trust Amy with this problem. Yeah, I mean, um, you know, we're, we're taught that we're supposed to be the strong family character, you know, that we're the ones that we're the family head, we're the lead. If it's up to us to make it, if we don't make it the, the whole family's going to hell and hand basketing, it's our fault.

Right. Um, and you gotta be the strong one. So, when, when your spouse is bringing all those issues, uh, emotional and security and, um, potential, you know, financial issues to, to you. If you've been taught that you are, that's your responsibility. That's what you do, right? And you're gonna do everything you can to make sure you, you, you can do that.

And even when, so when. . I was doing that and not having a, realizing I had a problem. I mean, I knew that watching porn wasn't a good thing. Like I didn't think like, yeah, this is great for our marriage. Right? I knew even worse that lying to her was even, was even worse. But at that point it was a super nice guy, right?

I was gonna do everything that I could to take care of her. I didn't wanna put any more burden on her cuz it was my responsibility and, um, , if she was already emotionally unstable, if I would've brought this to her, my thought was just, I don't know what happened, right? I would've either put her in a place that was very, very unhealthy.

Uh, you know, our marriage, Mary, there was no, the thought of doing it, the destruction that happened after that. There was no concept of me thinking I could bring it to her there in a safe way, and that was true. . It's interesting, and I think people hear this idea that this is a co-creation and they want to immediately thrust back all responsibility to the man or to the person choosing pornography.

That's not to say by the way that, you know, Amy, you weren't responsible for him choosing pornography, but you were responsible for an environment in which, if he was choosing pornography, , it would be difficult for him to confide in you what was real and what was intimately going on with him when he was alone with himself.

Right. And I, I think we, we do pe we do ourselves a disservice to rust all that in back onto the person who's done the bad thing, because I don't think that that's fair. That's not to say by the way, that, you know, again, Amy, you're, you weren't obviously responsible for his choices, but. Can you, can you articulate for us any thoughts you have about that idea where instead of it being Greg's problem, when you took on responsibility for your own part in this reality, how that changed the dynamic between the two of you and your own capacity in this struggle?

Absolutely. I think how that changed, it was like really like night and day changed. Um, . First of all, I didn't know, I, I didn't realize that I could take on my own emotions and so like, life coaching has helped me learn how to understand that and how to process through them and take ownership of them. But the thing was, is I couldn't tolerate his honesty yet because I wasn't honest with myself yet.

And so growing honest with myself allowed me to be able to tolerate his honesty and he also to tolerate my honesty and our ability to. be more honest, has exponential or like it has increased and increased and increase, and increase and increase. Not the type of honesty that is cruel or unkind, but the type of honesty that is very raw and real and open and vulnerable.

This is not like attacking each other. This is like, Recognizing how you are difficult or how you aren't contributing or how you're expecting someone else to solve something for you or how you are not taking ownership. Um, yeah, I really like what you're saying there cuz what my wife has a, a grandma who says the meanest thinks and it's "honesty" in air quotes for, for those of you listening on, on the radio) right, it's. She's just mean, and she says mean things, and she thinks she's just being honest. And that's, I don't think that's what you're talking about. No, I don't think cruelty is honest. No. I think in fact the real, the real essence of honesty is very raw and vulnerable and kind, and it doesn't come out cruel.

No. There's all kinds of intent behind it. Right? And it depends on the intent behind it, right? If you're. , even if you're being, being honest, so that you can throw away your baggage to someone else, that's not the right purpose. Right. If you're being honest through, like we said, to be cruel, that's not the right purpose.

And it's really, and, and by the way, just so everyone can understand, this took a long, a very, very long time. Right? First of all, cause we didn't have the tools for a very, very long time. And then when we got the tools, we would learn little bits of a at at a time and get things better. But it felt like it was a real struggle to.

You know, as Amy said, it's night and day. It is night and day, but it really did take some time to be able to get there. And, and there's very vivid moments in our relationship where a little more honesty came out. We didn't quite handle it correctly. We regressed, we worked. We worked, worked a little more honesty came out, we handled it better.

It went on for a little while and then it, it felt like it built and built and built like a snowball. I feel like probably in the last year or so, that snowballs hit the top of the mountain and come roaring down. And the, and the relationship on the other side is unbelievable. Like I just keep pinching myself every once in a while.

Is this really, is this really us? Right. And it's, yeah. You know, intimacy, it's, it's ugly, right? People wanna be intimate cuz they want, they think it's great and lovely and it's hard and it sucks sometimes. And, uh, I've had Amy tell me some of the things of the hardest things I've ever heard. But it's when you try to finally get to that top of that mountain and can push it over where you feel like no matter what's going on inside of me, I have a soft place to go land.

And then that's Amy. I can bring that problem with Amy. I mean, even during those years, there were points where I wouldn't view for a very long time. Right. And then I would. I wouldn't even say mess up, but I would see something and do something that, that I don't think I probably should have, but I still didn't have that so place where I could go to Amy and land like, so it really was this big this, this lot of effort getting, getting there.

But when we got there, it was night and day. Uh, depend what our relationship was. . Yeah. At first when we learned the tools, we used them as weapons against each other, . And then we did this move where we were like so entangled with each other. We came like completely separate, like you know, like this not healthy independence.

And then had to learn to lean in and then had to learn to keep moving in that honesty. So there's been a lot of stages over the years and I think each one was another. Step in the right direction, even if they weren't all clean and beautiful and , you know, clear. They, it, it, it can be difficult to move through, but each one was a step in the right direction still.

Yeah, that makes sense. What, what brought you to me, Greg? So, I think of the, that time we'd gotten a lot of the tools that, uh, we talked about. You know, Amy has been going through life. Coach and I I've come to, I'd come a long ways. I'll never forget, you know, and I always talk about this and I told Jennifer Finlayson -Fife to her, you know, when I talked to her, to her face about this.

But I'll never forget the moment when I was flying into u uh, public city for a business trip and I was lining on the tarmac and I was listening to her podcast and the final moment where I. Heard that I wasn't a deviant, that I was, there wasn't something terribly wrong with me and that my sexuality was good and that, uh, you know, I was, I was gonna be okay.

I, I sat on the plane and hobb trying to get my neighbor next to me not to see me. Right. Cause I was completely embarrassed. That's really how you want every airplane. Right. Exactly. This is the bawling my eyes out. Yeah. Um, and so those kind of moments have happened already but I still couldn't figure out. Why I still wanted to that I couldn't handle my stresses and I looked for an out right that, and and it showed up in a lot of ways that that I wanted to come and get a coach.

It wasn't, it wasn't just a porn, you know, it, it seems to switch if you turn off the porn and you're gonna start eating a lot if you, you know, there's other ways to buffer. We talk about this buffering. Yeah. And I still didn't have a good handle on, um, Why I was searching out to Buffer instead of actually really just dealing with my emotions.

And that's why I reached out to you and Amy's like, you need a coach? Go get him. . . She was tired though. It was like, go get a coach, . So in working with me, what shifted for you? Yeah, really. I think it was just For one, it was just the honesty, right? Um, you never minced words, you never held back. And I, I had worked with a different, a few other coaches, right?

And I'm the kind of guy, like, I can kind of read through it, like, I don't wanna show up. And you tell me like, Greg, you're the best guy I've ever met, and it's all, I, I can't believe all the wonderful things you're doing. Right? Sometimes you get those kinda. I think really what shift is you were, you were completely, completely honest.

I have one example that I'll, I'll never forget. So I've been having some health issues and I was having these, but I would never tell Amy about 'em. Right? If I was, didn't feel well, if I was struggling with something, I would never tell Amy about 'em. Because I kind of grew up in a home where my, where my father was that way, right?

And he put a lot of burden onto my mom. And so I was, no matter what I was gonna do, , I was gonna push through it. I wasn't gonna tell Amy about it, and I was gonna do it. And you said something to the fact like, I don't know what you're dealing with this health-wise here, but I, I don't know sure how much longer you're gonna live with this, but you're acting like you're dead anyway because you're not having this intimate relationship with Amy because you, you're hiding anyway, so you might as well be dead.

Right. Because you're, you're not having that relationship. And it's shocking as those words might have been. It was exactly at the moment where I was like, yeah, that's X's. Right. Right. You know, like, , I am buffering and hiding and not being intimate with Amy and these kind of things because, um, I'm trying to hide these for my own, uh, personal reasons.

So I think mostly the, the turning point was just having someone be brutally honest with you. I think, uh, I remember uh, Peyton Manning talking about this, right? Where he'd be on the football field and if a coach ever said, oh, you did that great, he would just get mad. He is like, I need to be coached.

Like I'm not looking for someone to tell me to be better. I'm looking for someone to coach me at all times. And if that's brutal, brutal and honest, that's what I need. Yeah. And, and again, it wasn't cuz you were trying to be, you know, it wasn't like you were being mean to me. It wasn't that, that part of it, it was what I needed to hear at the time.

And so that really, what, what struck with me, I think there's a difference between truth that is kind but difficult to hear and truth that is mean. for the sake of mean this, and I, and I, I try to be kind, but I also want you to see what's going on. Amy, what as you, because you, you've gotten kind of a front row courtside 50 yard line seat to this.

Yeah. So what, what do you see? What do I see? That's a big question. Um, what do I see? I see a man who was afraid of his own sexuality. I see a man who was trying to be everything for me, and if he felt like he was failing, that's where the buffering came in. I see a man who loved me so dearly, he was willing to try and do everything.

Um, but, but paradoxically, he had to do it for himself first. In order to be available for, to, to really love me, and I've seen him face his demons. I've seen him face his fears. I've seen him, um, really take some hard truths. I mean, the truth will set you free, but it hurts. First , it cuts . And, um,

I've seen him do some really hard soul work and in the process I've seen him learn to love his sexuality and honor it and see that as a strength and an a real part of him. I like to use the word integrated, like a real integrated part of him that he is no longer ashamed of. , I've seen him be able to stand stronger in his knowledge of who he is and not have to be the yes man or the good guy, or like the validation for others.

Like he stood in some pretty thick storms in the last little while and, and stood strong in them. And I've seen him find other avenues to, uh, to work through stress like. With, um, his horseback riding and therapy, uh, horse, his equine therapy that he works in, um, other healthier avenues that help him work through that in ways that he respects so that he can hold his head high and his self-respect high.

So one of the reasons I think people don't tell their spouses what's really going on for them is, is that they're trying to manage their spouse Yes. So that they can feel good. Greg, it sounds like you've, you've let go a lot of managing Amy. What was that process like and how has that changed for you?

Yeah. The, the big kick in the head was realizing that, uh, I was, if I was, I wasn't, I don't think I'm addicted to porn, but if I'm addicted to anything, , it would've been addicted to validation. When, when I discovered that I found it everywhere in my life. I found it in my marriage relationship. I found it enrich with my kids.

I found it at work. I found it at church. I found you. You name a place. I found that I was seeking for everyone else to tell me that I was great and wonderful, and that I could be validated in the things I've done. You know what I've come to learn and the things that's really changed is that. , no matter what people say, they can't actually validate you.

Right? Because you have to believe what they say. So you, you know, Zach could tell me I'm the best guy in the whole entire world, and I'd have to, I have to decide whether Zach's lying or, or telling the truth, right? And of course he's telling the truth and then it doesn't. That is true. You are awesome

But, but, but it doesn't even really matter whether I'm telling the truth, because if you don't feel it, It doesn't matter. Doesn't matter. And that's what's really changed. And I think what Amy has kind of hinted at a little bit is that when I, you know, we talk about our, our sexual relationship and we talk about our marriage.

When you get this part down in your life, to me it changes. Every part of your life. I am. I have a job right now that's very stressful now. And, uh, I have to tell people no all the time, right? Because I don't have enough resources to do everything for everybody. Would I like to do everything for everybody?

Absolutely. But I don't think I could have handled this role that I had today in my job in the past, because it would've been so. , inva, I don't know what the, what's the word for Inva? Invalidating. Invalidating. It'd be so invalidating that I would, I wouldn't have been a planner. I just think I was, I was crappy.

And I, and I catch myself doing that every once in a while where I'll get like, ugh. And then I'll have to stop and remind myself like, no, like, I know I'm standing in the right place, that I'm prioritizing the right things and doing the right things. I'm listening to the right people and, and I'm doing what is right, and I'm okay with that.

And even if someone's not very happy with me, , and I think that's the same way with your spouse, right? I know sometimes I'll do stuff and I'll say things that Amy doesn't like and she's not very happy with me and I don't like, it's not a flippant thing, like, oh, just get over yourself. I know you're not happy with me, but it's me being able to say I'm okay.

Right? And. . She doesn't have to like everything I do, nor should she. Cuz if she did, then that'd be weird. Right? And so, I think that was the biggest, biggest change in my life in all places. And really the thing that kept me from realizing that I didn't have to turn to anything porn or, or any other things to be able to buffer the emotions I, I have that I could deal with them.

myself, and I could do 'em in a way that I knew was right. And so getting rid of validation was, and again, I've been taught the validation itself is the bad part, right? Yeah. So if someone validates you, that's good. There should be lots of validations. It's when you're seeking or trying to extract it from people and, and that's, and you can't go on and you think you're terrible unless someone's gonna tell you you're great.

That's when it becomes problematic. . That's really what I was doing as a wife too. Right. Constantly seeking his validation. Tell me, I'm good. Tell me enough. Tell me I'm a good mom. Tell me I'm yada, yada, yada. You know, all of that, and that's similar, right? Letting go of that and making that his job really strengthened our marriage.

Well, when he stopped violating his sense of self to get validation from you, how did that change things for you? because I, I know Darcy, she said that she hated it when I stopped being super nice.

I mean, at first it can be a little shocking and you're like, oh, okay. Shocking. I, maybe that's not the right word. Like I think it's equally wonderful and terrifying. . Yeah. Here's what I mean. Tell us about that. Because they're actually telling you exactly what they think. Wait, what? like, right. If I ask, by the way, Zach, I almost got, I almost got attacked at church one time, and when I was talking to some men's group, I was telling 'em that they needed to tell their wife more honestly what they're doing.

And I almost like. I barely made it out alive. So just, yeah, all the men put them on, put, put the wives on pedestals and keep them happy, but don't tell them the truth. That's a, don't tell them the truth. That's a good solid doctrinal . Exactly. . So I think it's, it's wonderful because you start trusting them more because you know they're actually telling you the truth.

It's terrifying because they're telling you the truth. And now, , you've gotta be strong enough in yourself to handle that. And also maybe share yours if it's, you know, if it's necessary or required, depending on what's going on. And know that your relationship can handle the truth of both of you. I think that's a big part.

Like you've we're taught our whole time about how we've gotta hold each other up in this relationship, right? And. I literally just think it's bold, right? It's like you've gotta be complete individuals. I'm gonna have to bleep that this is a family show, . Go ahead and bleep that. Its right. Like it's, that's not what a marriage relationship is, right?

It's a partnership together and it's not, Amy's not holding me up and I'm not holding her up. And we would crumble if we were apart. That's it. That's not the way the marriage works. And when you realized that, I actually really believed that before. Do you remember that Greg? Oh, I'm sure. I really believed if I lost him, I would fall apart.

And he was like, you need to be okay on your own. And I was like, what? Why would I wanna be okay on my own? Like that's why I married you

But it goes, it goes both ways, right? We're set up. We're set up for failure on both sides to be completely honest. Right. And especially when it comes to intimacy. So, I, I think that's the thing that cuts so hard with porn too, right? Because not only is it, uh, you know, the dishonesty and part of the relationship, but that it's, that goes about the most intimate personal thing that you share with your wife and, and sex and sexuality, and that's confusing all to all get out, right?

Like, yeah. Like figuring that out and the way that we've been set ourselves up for the lack of understanding our sexuality as a whole other disastrous mess. . And so this just strikes at the, the core of that. Well, what would you tell somebody who's, you know, they're sitting there, you know, on the other side of this from where you are now.

They're, they're still there. You know, they're looking to pornography for validation. They're looking to their wife for validation. They are consistently choosing to escape their morals and escape their, their discomfort by choosing pornography. What would you tell somebody who's sitting there and they're like, I can't.

View pornography, I'm not allowed and, and I'm a terrible human. And all the things that I think we all have kind of felt at some point or another. Yeah. First of all, all that's not, none of that's useful, right? Um, I think if you go through the mindset of I can never view pornography, um, one, you're lying because you can, cuz you keep doing it over and over again.

Right. And, um, two, like if you say like, , oh, I have to, if I do this, it's gonna ruin everything. Like you white knuckle it, that's never gonna work. Um, because that's only, that's fleeting. You can only do that for a while. I think everyone out there that's doing this that has a moral, you know, understanding that they don't wanna do it probably goes for, uh, fits and spans, like spans of, of not viewing.

And then, then they'll binge on it and then feel like they're awful and terrible. Then they'll, they'll go for a while doing it. And really it's getting rid of that underlying effect of, you're not awful and terrible. The sexuality is real. The human body is beautiful. Um, if you're attracted to it, there's nothing wrong with that.

Good for you. Um, that, that we, we put sexuality in such a a can and try to compress it into it's okay in this little compartment. and really learning that there's so much more to it than that. And that it's really something that can bring you and your spouse together if you let it do that. Or it can actually destroy you if you can't, if you, if you don't.

And so if you're sitting there thinking, I can't tell my wife this because I, she'll, she'll never trust me again. Um, or that, you know, I can't tell my wife this cuz she'll think I'm a terrible person. , then that's exactly what needs to happen, right? It needs to come to a place. But I understand, like I was on that other side.

I was so fearful for of it, and the way I did it wasn't the right way. So don't do it my way. Right. Um, find a better way to do it. But it's really realizing that the, the porn again, like I talked about, is just the smoke. There's so many other underlying things in your life that you're doing that causes you to go to that.

and if you continue to try to just fix the porn problem, you're never going to, it's never gonna, it's never gonna be fixed. And that's really why it's important to get someone like you, Zach, a coach or someone that can help you un find out what the underlying things are and that you're not, there's nothing terribly mentally wrong with you, or both spiritually wrong with you.

You're pretty normal. In fact, statistics say you're very normal. , the only thing that would make you un-normal is if you actually come out and talk about it uh, to your spouse or other people. That's the abnormal part about it. So, to me, I'm, that's what I'm saying. It's like, yes, there's a lot of things to be af afraid of, but know that that fear, uh, can drive you to a good place if you're willing to overcome it and go about it in a good way and actually find out those things that are ultimately driving you to, to, to the porn.

I think that's, you know, if I, if I can toot my own horn for a second. I think that's the unique difference between what we do and what a lot of the programs out there are geared towards. They are, they're there and they're saying, Hey, we're gonna, we're gonna stop this one particular behavior. But that behavior is driven as a result of the underlying issues and in addressing those underlying issues with greater clarity and with greater understanding.

That allows you to set porn aside in a meaningful and permanent way instead of being something that you like, like that woman who, or the, the counselor who you, you went and worked with and she's like, you're gonna, you're gonna be a porn addict forever. Like, yep, you're done. Yeah. That, that's an impossible standard.

That's an impossible task. Nobody there was even part to me, there was even parts of it where I was, um, I guess I've gotten to the point where porn isn't a big deal, right? Like I'm not going to go seek after it and say everyone should, should view it. But to say it's not a big deal, it's doesn't have the clutches it once had for me, if I was ever to come across it, I wouldn't like feel like I'm automatically felt slipped and now I'm addicted to it or I'm going straight to hell now because I've viewed it and or anything like that.

I've let it. Release the bonds add on me, right? And put it where it properly is. It's a thing people do it. People misuse it, but not allowed it really just to control, to control my life. And I think that's what's most important, right? And you could only do that when you literally find out what's, what The underlying parts we talked about are driving into it.

And like I said, if you don't do that, then you're gonna like white knuckle it, or it's gonna go to like, you're gonna over start overeating and that's not healthy for you, or you're gonna start. , you know, playing too many video games cuz that's not familiar. Or you're gonna go watch YouTube for hours and hours.

And so I don't think, like, by the time that I'd come to see you, Zach, like the porn thing wasn't like a raging problem in my life. It was a lingering thing there. , but there was all those other problems like we talked about, about my health and other things like that. And so to me, that's what I'm saying.

When you have a coach that can, can help you get to that point of it, it doesn't really matter what the, the smoke is on the other side, what you're doing to buffer. It's really fixing those problems underneath it and letting porn be what it is. Right. And not letting it have such a impact in your life.

Yeah. I mean, it's clear that you've taken your power back. Right. I think a lot of people feel powerless. They feel as though porn has power, and that is, that's just not true. It only has the power we give it. And you, you've clearly taken. your power back. Uh, you know, and I like to call it agency, but it's really you saying, you know, yeah, I can, I can choose this.

I can't, I don't have to not choose this, but is this who I want to be? Is this me being in integrated internally and externally as the person that I want to be and show up as? You know, it goes back, oh, go ahead, Amy. Oh, I think another interesting thing that I've learned in this journey is a lot of times our definition of sexuality is so narrow and it's limited to some acts in the bedroom that you do with the spouse, right?

And. and people are so fearful and so afraid, and then there's so, so many like rules that they might have heard of what to do or not to do, but even just broadening your understanding that your sexuality is an inherent part of you for goodness. It's what helps you feel alive. It's what creates energy, creativity, connection, attraction, like all of these broader things that it's, it's enforced in a much larger way than just like, You know, those minutes you spent in the bedroom with your spouse, that is an actual force for goodness in your life all the way around.

Like you can inherently love your sexuality and it can bring about more joy and creativity and, and knowing like your desires are good, your sexual desires and your life desires. And like, it's, it's seeing the goodness of all of it and not just being so fearful of this, this thing called sex . . Well, so how did that change is Greg and I worked together?

How did that change from your perspective, Amy? Because you're like, yeah, this is great, but what, what did that mean in a real sense for you both in the bedroom and out of the bedroom with Greg? I think it. Came first for usually the women on the other side of this, they're more of a lower desire or responsive desire, or underdeveloped desire.

Don't even know who they are or what. They have no working definition of their sexuality. They have a lot of fears, they have a lot of inhibitions maybe a lot of insecurities about their body, which was all of me. All of those described me, so I'm describing myself and it's coming. I think maybe if the man.

or whoever's struggling with the porn has to turn around and face the storm that they're in. Like the woman or whoever is on the other side has to turn around and face themselves. Like, who am I and what do I wanna create with my sexuality? And what do I desire and how do I wanna use this force? And how could it be something for good and why do I even care about it And what, what can it create for me?

And. Like developing your own definition of your goodness and your body and you know, like what you want in your relationship. All of these, like all of those are inherent in that absolutely without a doubt. , remember I talk about pinching myself a lot. It's like to think one that we're sitting on this podcast and, and knowing that we're gonna be talking about this in public.

is, is just blows my mind. But to watch Amy now, you know, we did a My marriage retreat and Zach, I was there with you in St. George and did it and to sit in the back and watch Amy coach about sexuality and talk about it like almost on the floor because this is the woman that like, if I even cracked a little joke that was somewhat suggestive a few years ago, I would get in like to do with this rip me a new one.

Like that's personal. Like, we never talk about that stuff. What are you doing right, ? And she was so. Sorry, prudish, but I think that's the right word. Word to use in the past that I was like literally sitting in the back of the room in that retreat. Like, just, can this be real? Can this really be happening?

And so is it, is it help in the bedroom and sexuality? Absolutely. A hundred percent. Um, because you're fearful, you don't know, right? If you don't have a working definition, you're naturally gonna be fearful. You're gonna be inhibited, you're gonna be uncertain. None of those really work well towards desire.

Yeah. Well, and I, I wanna, I wanna touch on this cuz I think a lot of people think, well if I go one step down this path towards, um, a more meaningful or open or intimate relationship, then everything's just gonna blow open. It's gonna be like a dam that just bursts and we're gonna be. You know, hanging out at Swinger's Clubs next week, right?

Oh. So I'm like, first, how . Right, right. So, no, it's slippery side, right? We're on the slide. Not, I just, I just wanna, I, I want you to talk about that from your own perspective, because you've been on this journey for a number of years now, and that's, you know, I think a lot of people think if I am one step too far, then everything's gonna go bad.

And, and what's your experience been with that?

I think that you don't lose your morals, you don't lose your values. You just create a sacred boundary within your marriage around each other that allows you to express them freely and openly. And obviously we have the boundary of us, of our marriage, and so between us, um, we create a sacred space for us to play.

A sacred space for us for this expression of our sexuality. And then that also spills over into our other lives in wonderful ways. In that we are more attracted, we are more connected, we have more energy to face all of the. Daily demands of kids and finances in life and house, right? Like you have all of those positive dopamines and serotonin for all the right reasons.

And I don't think it means you're gonna cross over your moral values because you decide between you, you're going to freely enjoy the gift you've been given. Yeah. I think, I think, um, we talked, we talked about it a little bit and we, we brushed on it about agency and choice, but it comes back to that, right?

When you're so limited in thinking that I can only do A, B, and C, and if I do, you know, if I come a little further past C then now I'm, I'm done and God's not gonna love me more. I'm off the cliff. You know, it's bad. I don't. . I don't believe that's the way agency works at all, right? I think God wants us to open up and know, understand what choices we have.

He doesn't have a single path path for us that he's picked out for us or, or wants to be involved in our nitty gritty every parts of our details. He wants us to choose and to learn to choose. And when we, when we've learned to take back that agency and choose for ourselves, I think that's what's opened up everything right, is to say, I own me.

I'm gonna take care of me. and Amy owns herself and she's gonna take care of herself. That allows us to have choices, uh, even to the point of before we'd never, like, divorce is the most worst thing in the whole entire world. Like it's next to like, you know, the, the worst thing you could ever commit. Right?

It's next to murder. Bad. Yeah, that's right there next to murder. If you've done that, And why? Again, I don't suggest I want you to go out and getting divorce this and breaking up families. I think there's a bad consequence for it. Like we never have that, like that would've never have been an option ever because there was never a choice.

Cause it was so bad. When you live yourself with all the options, you actually can choose when. When you know if I limit my all my contact and everything just to my small bubble, am I really choosing my spouse at that point? Right? Yeah. Like if I have the options up there and to choose, it means more to Amy now that I'm, I am choosing you, that's after and all these options I have, you're the one that I choose and he actually has the choice.

Right? Right. And I actually have the choice. So it's a free choice freely given that has so much more meaning than. If you're like, no, you have to choose me, or I'll fall apart, or, you know, what would happen to like, yeah. Some of those other moments. OB obligation is one of the worst things we come by by, right.

Um, and we're taught over and over we should do things outta obligation. And when you do things outta obligation, it's just, uh, breeds the resentment. Uh, eventually you might do things, but in the end, you know, I know that Amy's had tons of clients and I've talked to a lot of people that they were obligated their whole, whole marriage.

In the end, they're just very, very resentful. Um, they can don't have room to love or or be close to each other cuz they're just resenting each other. So kindness and righteousness out of obligation has no moral value to it whatsoever. Um, it doesn't help you grow in any way. But I think too, like when I was that underdeveloped self that was duty servicing you and obligation, it feels terrible because I was setting myself up to be used and then I felt used.

Shocking . Hey, wait, so and so, you know, there was confusion around even the goodness then, and just not understanding like, oh, you have to have a self and have the choice to freely give it, and that's what's beautiful and has all the meaning. Well, and I think we often think about this much more from the wive's perspective, where it's like, well, she has to put herself in a position to where she can choose and.

Participate in the relationship in a more ownership based position. But I think for men, especially those who struggle with pornography, I think there's a real sense that we can't really choose our spouse anymore. And because she can't really know who we are, right? And if she knows who we are, then, then she will reject that person.

So we cannot really choose her. and let her know who we really are. And I, I think that's a big difference. I mean, I think you've described that, Greg, where you're able to now much more fully choose Amy by saying, this is what's real for me. Mm-hmm. and I still choose you, even though we don't always agree on everything.

And even though I have opinions now that, uh, previously I would never have expressed to you, you, you know what I think, I've never thought of this way, but just you talking like that, Zach has, has brought a thought to my mind that. , not only, not only can I have I chosen to Amy, but when you don't bring your porn and everything you're doing to your wife, you're taking away her agency in a very enslaving way because she doesn't really have the ability to choose cuz she doesn't know there's a choice.

She, she is, she's being fraudulently brought to of who you are and as bad as you think that, um, she might think of you and what the, the actions might be. , the worst thing we could ever do is to take someone's agency away. And I think I had never thought about the way, I think you really are taking the agency away because they don't ha they don't know what a and B is.

They only know a and so they don't have an ability to choose. Yeah.

I really appreciate you guys coming on sharing your experience. Um, is there any last thing that you, uh, both of you would share with anybody who's thinking about, you know, what, what should I do next? I just gotta say like, um, one hanging there. Uh, there's a lot of us out there, right? That's the other thing that needs to happen, is we need to break this culture of shame amongst us.

We need to speak out and be vocal. We need to be able to go to church and say, I, I had a porn problem. And, uh, hi. Nice to meet you. I know you have one too, because basically you probably do and, um, instead of like, oh, it's hush hush underneath the, the pews. like that. We have got to get better at that. We just have to, that's, this will always be a problem until we do that.

Um, and if you are struggling in any way and you need help, like go get it. Like it's ridiculous. Like the time and effort and, and the money, to be honest with you, that I spent with Zach was repaid to me. Hundreds of folds because not only did it help me get to a place where I was in my relationship, but it's helped me get to a place everywhere.

I think that I've gotten promotions at work and I've become a better, uh, employee, um, a better leader in my life. And so it's just not, don't narrowly focus on, uh, what you're thinking about and the benefits of, of, of doing this, but broadly think about the investment you're making in yourself. By getting someone that can help you find out what you're emotionally struggling with and being able to deal with those.

And uh, I would just say like, don't hesitate. It's the best investment that you can make in yourself. I think I would just say it seems like probably the most scary thing to face, but it could end up being the greatest opportunity cuz it will show you where you can grow and, and though it may be difficult and painful sometimes to see that.

The honesty of that will bring about so much possibility.

I love it. I love it. I love, I love the change that, uh, that you've been able to find for yourselves. Doing this work is not easy. I think you're exactly right, Amy, but it is well worth it if you're willing to endure some of the difficulty of. being exposed. Yeah, being real with your spouse. And I think, I think you guys have demonstrated in a really clear way that when you work together with your spouse, that change is much, much more likely to be permanent and much, much more.

Uh, and you said it took a long time, but I think it happens a lot more quickly when you work together. Yes. I think one person can move forward without the other, but it is a much harder road. I think so thank you very much for, for everything. Uh, love you guys. You're, you're, uh, I, I told Amy, I think before you came on, Greg, that we should, now it's time to go on a cruise together.

we reached that level friendship. We're

all right you guys. Well, uh, again, thank you so much and I will talk to everyone here next week.

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