EPISODE 18: The Story of Zach and Darcy - Interview with Natalie Clay

Jan 20, 2020

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You are listening to the Self-Mastery Podcast, where we break through barriers holding you back from becoming who you wanna be, whether you're struggling with pornography, overeating, social media addiction, or just wanna get better at succeeding at life. This podcast is for you. Now, your host, Zach Spafford.

Hey everybody. Welcome to another Mastery Monday. This is your host, Zach Spafford on the Self Mastery Podcast. So this week we're doing something a little bit different. Darcy and I got together with a friend of ours, Natalie Clay, and she interviewed us for her podcast Couples Coaching with Natalie Clay.

So go ahead and check her out. She, you can also see her at her website, natalie Natalie is a, an amazing life coach and she works primarily with couples who are deciding whether or not they want to stay together. So for some of you who are listening to this podcast, that may be something that you want to discuss with your spouse and listen to Natalie's podcast.

Natalie interviewed Darcy and I and . It's funny cuz Darcy and I, we tried to do this on our own and as we sat across the desk from each other, I. And tried to interview each other. We found a lot of weird, awkward silences. So one of our very first episodes was supposed to be, hi, this is me. I'm Zach, and this is Darcy and this is who we are, and this is how we got to where we are.

It didn't work and you've never heard it because , we never published it. But thanks to Natalie for both. Recording this and interviewing us, and also thanks to her for publishing it on her podcast and giving us quite a bit of exposure from her audience as well. All right. Without further ado, here's this week's podcast with Natalie Clay, interviewing Zach and Darcy.

Hello and welcome to Couples Coaching. I'm Natalie Clay. I'm mixing it up a bit this week with a couple's interview. Today we'll hear my discussion with Zach and Darcy Stafford. Zach is a coach who has struggled with overcoming pornography use in the past, and he now specializes in helping other men do the same.

You're also going to hear from his wife Darcy, and her experience as his wife during this process. Okay. Hello. I'm so excited today I have a very special guest. It is a couple named Zach and Darcy Spafford. Thanks for being here guys. Thanks for having us. Yeah, thanks for having us today. They are going to talk about their experience with pornography.

Now to say that pornography comes up a lot in my couple's coaching is, A gross understatement. This is such a prevalent issue that people deal with, and I'm so grateful for the two of you for coming on the podcast today and to talk to us a little bit about the experience that you've had so that we can all learn from your amazing insights.

Before we jump into that, tell us a little bit about the two of you. So we met at the Buffalo Grove Steak Center singles ward in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. Uhhuh nurse had come home from b BYU Idaho to hang out with her family for Thanksgiving. And so she was walking into the church building as I was walking out of the church building.

Yes. And I promptly turned around and went back inside in an effort to be the first person to to ask Darcy out. Okay. So Zach, for you it was love at first sight. Darcy, what about for you? Not so much , if I'm brutally honest. I was like, oh my gosh, this guy is a nerd. So not my type. And yeah, it was not love at first sight for me.

Then by December, I'd totally fallen for him in, we got married in July of 2003. I love it. Okay, so where do you guys live now? How many kids do you have? Tell us about you. . So we currently just moved from St. George, Utah to a suburb of Milwaukee. Yeah, it's been a big change. We, and we're enjoying the weather, all the snow.

It's just beautiful. . What brought you to Milwaukee? So, all my family lives here and we wanted to be closer to family. Great. So we made the leap and here we are. Yeah. We have eight kids, or as I like to say, we only have eight. Yeah, only eight. And the oldest is, is almost 15, and the baby is two. And we're, we're done.

We're officially done. Eight's the final count. Eight. I love it. And you have a set of twins in there, you said? Yep. Seven year old twins and are lots of fun. Okay. Love it, love it, love it. Okay, so Zach, you. Told me a little bit about your background, but can you share it with all our listeners? So I'd love to know how the pornography habit started for you.

So for me, this was just kind of happenstance. It started when I was playing on a playground in a little nowhere, bill Town called Dugway, Utah. It's okay. You go to the edge of nowhere and it's right there. Uhhuh. and I was on the playground in one of those giant truck tires. Mm-hmm. have on playgrounds that always smell like cat pee

Yes. Inside there was a, uh, pornographic magazine and I picked it up. Okay. And that's really where it started. And then for the next. , I'd say 25 years. It was this on off relationship where it was, you know, just coming across it anywhere that I could. And then as I got older, you know, computers became available and Sure.

And the internet became available and it was just one thing led to another until it was a, it was a full fledged part of my life. Okay. Can I ask the first time you saw it, what was your reaction? Like, had you been told about pornography before? Did you, what was that experience like for you? Uh, I don't know that I could tell you exactly what my response was.

Okay. I mean, it was so long ago, but I can tell you that I, I can tell you that I never had anybody talk to me about pornography. Okay. It just wasn't, it just wasn't a, a topic of discussion. Sure. In my household. Um, yeah, I think it was much less prevalent back then. So it wasn't as often discussed than, well, I think you, I think you literally had to go somewhere to get it right.

Like it wasn't pick up your iPhone and it was immediately at your fingertips. And do you remember anything about what you were feeling during that time? Uh, you know, it was exciting. I mean, I somehow, I intuitively knew that I shouldn't be looking at this, but I also wasn't necessarily gonna bring it up with my family.

Okay. Uh, And, and it wasn't something that, again, it wasn't something that we talked about, so, You know, I never really understood why I felt that way, but I Sure I, I knew intuitively that I wasn't supposed to be looking at this. Sure. So then you said it continued and there became computers and it just became more of a regular habit in your life.

Tell me about that. Do you feel like a lot of times people have this question of is, I think as soon as you hear or find out that maybe your husband or someone in your life is looking at pornography instantly, people like to say, oh, they have a pornography addiction. Love to hear your thoughts on that.

Do you feel like this was an addiction at any point? If so, at what point? . Yeah. So that's a really interesting, I think, uh, and especially this is born out in, in literature that I've read, is that religious people tend to label bad behaviors as addictive. Okay. More readily than non-religious people. And I'll be honest with you, I don't think I ever had an addiction in, in the true sense of the word.

And the way that I defined addiction is it is a compulsion that you have absolutely no control over. And we've all seen that when it comes to drug addicts and, and things like that, but, For the most part, I would, I would call what most men are dealing with and anybody who's using pornography is an addictive behavior, which means that it simply has some components that drive you back to it on a regular basis.

Mm-hmm. , but it's not as though you're so compulsively using it that you literally in the middle of like a, a work meeting cannot stop looking at it while you're Right. Discussing flow charts or what have you. Yeah. No, I don't think most men are dealing with an addiction per se. No. Yeah, I, I would totally agree with that.

And I, I like that perspective just because I feel like as soon as we label it in addiction, that feels so disempowering. If you're trying to decide that you wanna stop looking at this, or if you're married to somebody who's looking at it, addiction just kind of takes a lot of the power away from us. I mean, to me, when I went to 12 step meetings, I think one of the first things that you say in each of those meetings is, hi, my name is Zach and I'm an addict.

Mm. And I think, unfortunately, that perpetuates this idea that. One, I have a serious difficulty that I am not in control of. Yes. Which part of the 12 Steps talks about how you're powerless to overcome your addiction. Mm-hmm. , and the the reality is, is that I don't think most people are powerless, and I don't think most people are addicts.

Hmm. Interesting. Okay. I wanna get back to what did work for you. But first, Darcy, I'd love to hear a little bit about your background. When did you first discover this? Was it something that Zach disclosed to you before you got married? Let's hear all about your experience. So before we got married, I think I briefly understood that he had looked at pornography before, and so I had an understanding of that, but.

Being so young and when we got married, it really wasn't talked about like it is now. I really was under the impression that it will go away once we can have sex. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . And so, you know, I, I really, I truly kind of thought that, so I found out, like when we were our first year marriage, he looked at like some bikini pictures that I saw, Uhhuh,

And I was like really upset about that. And then it wasn't until, oh, so our fourth child was born in 2009. . So I think it was 2008. I just had a miscarriage, and then like four days after I had a miscarriage, I found his computer and I came across like full-blown pornography and I lost it. Like I literally lost it.

So, I mean that was six years, seven years into our marriage. Mm-hmm. , um, was when I really understood that, oh wow, this is actually happening in my marriage. Okay. Can you tell me a little bit about what part of that experience was so painful for you when you found that? I think on one hand it was because I was like, oh my gosh, I like am in the best shape of my life.

I weigh 120 pounds. You know, I felt beautiful. And when I found out he was looking at pornography, I immediately made it mean something about me. I took it so personally back then and I thought, yeah, oh my gosh, like I'm not enough. I'm not meeting his needs. I really made it mean something about me. And can you tell me, did you make it mean anything about him?

Yeah, a little bit

So Zach is like the most amazing, attentive husband and father, and so I think part of me was like, he's a good man. , but then there's that part of like, oh no, he is bad. He is really bad. He is breaking the law of chastity and oh my gosh, can, is he worthy to go to the temple? And was, was our whole marriage a fraud?

Mm-hmm. , like, I, I really thought there was something wrong with him. Yeah. Interesting, interesting. Okay. Zach, tell me what it's like when you hear that. Like when you think about all the things that Darcy made it mean about her and made it mean about you. I wanna hear what you made your pornography usage mean about you and what it meant about her.

I. You know, it's interesting because I, I think that every pornography user, every, everybody who has something that they can't seem to give up, they, you know, we pray and we earnestly pray and we go, you know, I, if you could just take this one thing from me, heavenly Father, yeah. I would be the best of the best of the best.

And so, you know, I, for a long time it meant that somehow the atonement wasn't available to me for a long time. It meant that somehow I wasn't able to. to meet the standards that I felt I should be meeting. Um, it, it really did make me feel like a lesser person because I felt like, you know, I, I've checked all the boxes that I should be checking.

Yeah, why, why can't I just get past this? Why can't I just move away from this so that it's no longer a part of my life? And how would you answer that? Because you just said it wasn't an addiction. Yeah. So why was it so hard to move past? There's two things here, right? So one is a better understanding of the atonement is key here.

If you look at the Bible dictionary, the Bible dictionary talks about the atonement is a bridge. It's a bridge in the gap between your ability to return and commune with your heavenly Father and your person. Now, that's what it is. It's a bridge. Um, and understanding that is, uh, a huge component of. Just being able to say, I'm going to be okay, and whatever I've already done is forgiven.

I simply need to accept that. And once I began to understand that, I began to understand that I needed to stop focusing on what happened mm-hmm. , and start focusing on how can I resolve the problem of my pornography use? Love it. Now, before you were at this place where you started understanding the atonement better, you guys were kind of in agreement that maybe you weren't a good guy.

Both of you were kind of at that place. Darcy was thinking, I thought he was this really good guy and maybe he's not, and what you're telling me is I felt like the atonement wasn't working for me, that I wasn't getting any better. So maybe I'm not good. Is that fair? Yeah, totally. Now, how useful was it for both of you to believe that?

Like do you think that's a necessary place to get to? ? No. For me, it was completely depressing. Now I just felt hopeless. I really felt like this was like a death sentence, that this would be a struggle in our marriage forever. I really thought it was never gonna go away. I wanna come back to that. Zach, how about for you?

For me, it was basically the understanding of the atonement that got me out of it. It was, I came to a place where I decided that I wasn't a terrible person and I wasn't gonna beat myself up over. Pornography use anymore. And as soon as that began to be a part of the process, it was a matter of now I can make choices that will move me forward and not worry about what has already happened.

Hmm. I like that. So just to be really clear, you don't feel like being in the place of, I kind of have to hate myself to. Turn this around. You don't think that was the impetus? Hating myself was part of the problem and I, I think anybody who really deals with their pornography use in a coherent, measured way, they look at it and they'll find that when you hate yourself or when you hate who you are because of your.

Pornography use, you'll feel down more often and you just double down on that negativity and it, it turns into a place where you can justify bad things because how else am I gonna feel good right now? Hmm. Okay. I love that point. Okay. Now back to my other question. Um, Zach, what did you make this mean about Darcy?

Like she says she was 120 pounds, she felt like she was really fit and how attracted you were to her. Did that determine how often you were looking at pornography? No. I have never not been attracted to my wife, and maybe this happens to some pornography users that, where they're like, I use pornography so much that I just couldn't even look at my wife and feel attracted to her that that was never, that was not my experience.

You know, I, I've been blessed to be extraordinarily attracted to my wife. Ever since I first saw her, you know, it was always about how can I get better for this, this wonderful woman. Okay. So when you think about in those moments when you would look at pornography and you say it really didn't have anything to do with how attracted you were to your wife, what was the most likely thing to cause you to wanna look at pornography?

Broadly speaking, it was probably, I just wasn't feeling good about whatever was going on and the desire to just feel something more than boredom or loneliness or, at the time I was climbing the corporate ladder, I worked very hard to, to move up in the company that I worked for, and I found that it was this, you know, opportunity of stress release.

There were a number of factors that brought it on, but it was always this sense that I don't want to feel bad right now. How do I go? Feel good? Sure, sure. And, and that was always the bottom line is how do I feel good right now? Cuz I don't like how I feel. Something I've heard from some people that I've worked with on this are that they felt like they wanted to have some sense of control in their life.

And sometimes they felt like if they weren't able to have sex as often as they wanted to, or they never felt like it was up to them how often they were having sex. This is an area where they could feel some control in their sexual life. Can you relate to that at all? , yes and no. Right? So sometimes it was one of those things where Darcy would rebuff me in some way, whether mm-hmm.

it didn't always have to do with sex. It was like she was mad at me for one reason or another. Normal spousal mm-hmm. relationships where you're, you know, you're navigating the, the dos and the don'ts and that this is the way I want it and this is the way you want it. And sometimes it would be one of those things where I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna go do this so that, You know, I feel good about me regardless of what she's doing.

I couldn't say that it was, I never felt like it was about control for me. Sure. Uh, Darcy has always been very, I think, what's the word, conscientious of my wants. And, you know, this is an interesting topic of conversation because when I, when I work with pornography users, a lot of times you hear the, well, she, she doesn't meet my needs.

Mm-hmm. . Well, the reality is, is that, She's not there to meet your needs. Right? That's not her job. That may be something that she chooses to do because she is. Your wife and she wants to relate to you. She wants to be intimate with you, but she is not there to meet your needs and you're not there by the way, to meet her needs either.

What, what her marriage is, it's more about how can we grow together and build on each other and be be there for each other rather than you give me this, I, it's not really just a negotiation of you give and I give and I get, and you get. I completely agree and I find when I am talking with my couples that we run into that same issue.

And I'm so curious because when I'm teaching people that, yeah, you've gotta be responsible to take care of your own needs and marriage that comes up often. Well, what about when it comes to sex? That's something I can only take care of through my spouse. So I wanna hear, I have my answer to that. I wanna hear how you responded that.

I guess for me, I don't really feel like I am there to meet his sexual needs, and I don't think he's necessarily there to meet my sexual needs, and I don't really think that that's fair to put on the other person. So for me, the answer lies in the fact that first of all, your spouse doesn't owe you anything.

They don't owe you anything more than they're willing to give. You don't have rights to sex, you just don't. And beyond that, we're essentially. Putting our spiritual needs ahead of our physical needs. And what that means is to me, when it comes to why can't I make my wife have more sex with me is, listen, maybe your challenge is just that you don't have as much sex as you want.

and it's time for you to learn to, to choose to be okay with that. Because honestly, there's a lot in this world that just is what it is, and you're not gonna be able to change it. And I think the thing that you don't want to do is put your spouse in a position where you know she's resentful of you because you're demanding more than she's willing to give.

And I think back in the, the early days of things, I used to just be like, okay, you can have it. Like, you know, I'll, I'll give it up. So, because I was trying to control his behavior through yes, being intimate with him, but the thing is, is I wasn't actually being intimate. It's not intimacy. When one partner is doing it out of obligation.

It's obligation. And what, what I think that you, you know, we as a couple strive to do is find a place where we're doing our best to meet each other's needs, but also recognizing that we need to meet our own needs within that, you know, circle of of reality. Yeah, I love those perspectives. So did either of you ever consider divorce as you were going through this?

Yes, I certainly did. I, I mean, I, from the get-go was like, I will put up with pretty much anything, but you look at pornography or cheat on me, it's over. Which honestly is such a toxic thing to say and I know that there are plenty of women out there that say that, but really that created an environment where one, he felt really a lot of shame and hid it.

and two saying that didn't help anything because really when it came down to it, divorce is huge. Like that's a really big thing. And so I, I guess I, I would use it as a threat. Like I thought, oh, if I threatened divorce, then that will give him the motivation to change. Right. Right. You know, like I, I feel like a lot of what I did was trying to manipulate the situation and control it.

Sure. And it wasn't until I stepped back and kind of. gave the reins more to him. Mm-hmm. , which was after our twins were born. I was like, dude, I, I cannot deal with trying to control you. I cannot deal with. You're crap, I gotta step back because I've got, you know, six kids, seven and under to take care of.

Like, you gotta figure out your own crap that we really started making progress. And I don't think we say it's a, it's a bad idea to just shout, I'm gonna get divorced if you, if you look at pornography, I, I, I wouldn't minimize that because, you know, certainly that's some people's boundary and I, I think that.

There's not necessarily a problem with having that as your boundary. I think what, what you have to recognize is that, you know, statistically speaking, in the last 30 days, 80% of all men in the United States have looked at pornography. And so what that means is that if you are leaving this relationship, because pornography is the problem that you cannot stomach, you may find yourself alone for the rest of your life.

And if you're okay with that, if that's a consequence you're, you're willing to deal with, then you know, so be it. That's entirely up to you. And, and of course this isn't just, uh, men, it women also look at pornography. So for sure, you know, there be a, there may be a man out there who's like, you know, I just can't stomach my wife looking at pornography.

I'm gonna, I'm gonna divorce her. And I, again, we, I don't mean to minimize it. I don't think we, we should minimize it, but I think we need to be very careful that if divorce is your only tool, To help your spouse become a better person. That's the thing that you go to. Whenever any boundary is, is pushed or, or stepped over or, uh, obliterated, then I think you need to step back and, and re-look at how you're dealing with life.

Uh, because I think life is a lot less black and white than you would hope it would be. Hmm. Interesting. Yeah, so I like people to always know that divorce is always an option, only because I think it's really useful to know that I'm married today because I'm choosing to be married, not because I have to, because that even helps us feel some responsibility over our situation.

And when we feel that, I think that we tend to want to make it better without necessarily needing to change the other person. And I think if we're using divorce as a tool to threaten, say the other person that's kind of assuming that. They don't really wanna change or they don't have a reason why they're wanting to stop looking at this, that they need to be parented a bit or they need somebody to, to scare them into better behavior.

Where when you look at, I'm curious to hear, you know, your process for actually what did help you find help, and you mentioned that a little bit through the atonement, but the emotions that actually got you to a point where you were able to gain some mastery over this. It wasn't shame, it wasn't guilt, it wasn't self-loathing, it wasn't fear.

and so that's why I think that probably doesn't really work that maybe we can get to a place of, okay, I'm going to look at it and make sure there's no way you're going to see or know that I'm looking at it, but I have a hard time envisioning that under any scenario that somebody threatens divorce and then all of a sudden there's no more pornography.

Right. Well, and I think it's not just that it's not helpful, but it's actually the opposite of helpful. It, it actually hurts the whole process because when you feel like you're in this last ditch moment, every effort that you put into this is gonna be the best effort that you could have ever given. And then when you fail, because you almost certainly will fail, you feel like you are absolutely worthless.

Which begins this downward spiral of negativity that will not allow you to exit the arena. And so I began my whole process taking a step back, looking at what was actually going on in my brain and just watching. Yeah. So at what point did you feel like, I can't do this on my own, I need to get some help.

So in the beginning, I can't do this on my own. I need to get some help, was, you know, when Darcy found out it was that moment that, you know, she was so angry, so upset, and I thought, I, I now realize I can't go on the way that I'm going on now. Had you tried to stop before then? Oh, all the time. And tell me how was that?

I remember, I remember, um, You know, one particular night stands out in my head, uh, as I was driving from, you know, the singles ward back home, which was about a, an hour long drive. This one night. I prayed that entire time and I begged and I pleaded and I said, you know, heavenly father, I know the promises of the gospel.

I understand, you know, I, I was quoting scripture to Heavenly Father in my, in my prayers thinking, you know, if he knows that, I know that he knows that I know. Then he's gonna do something about this. He's gonna fix me. Yeah. And, and, and I, you know, it was this just. This space of despair, this space of I don't have the power to, to change this.

I don't know what to do next. Mm-hmm. and I, and I couldn't move past it. And then fast forward to Darcy finding out it was, it was this place where I thought, oh, I'm gonna lose this. You know, this beautiful woman who I love, who is good to me, who, you know, has these beautiful babies that we, that we love. I don't wanna lose any of that.

So what did eventually work for you? When I talk to, to groups and when I talk to people about it, I say, you know, most users are in a place of I can't stop. Mm-hmm. , and that's a thought that we bring to a lot of things. But what is actually true is I can, I can use pornography if I choose to, and I can stop using if I choose to, but I can, and I had to get, I had to go from, I can't stop to.

I can, and I'm going to mm-hmm. , like I can, I can, I can use pornography if I choose to, and I'm going to, and then I had to move from there to, I can use pornography if I want to, but I don't want to today. And then, you know, progress all the way down the line, uh, in a number of thoughts to, I can, but I choose not to.

and at that point it became something that I, I, I began to, to have control over. So do you set it up like a, similar to how we set people up on a drinking plan, which is I'm going to decide deliberately how much, how often I'm going to look at it and when I'm gonna look at it and learn to allow and resist the urges, things like that.

Yeah. And, and so that's a really interesting thing because, you know, I think when you are talking about drinking, especially if you don't have any moral objection to drinking alcohol, then you know, if you choose, okay, I can drink two drinks today. Yeah. There's really no moral issue there, right? Mm-hmm.

Mm-hmm. , whatever. But when I talk about I can, and I'm going to choose to use pornography today. Mm-hmm. . It's, it's one of those things where it's like, no, this isn't about this person using pornography. Because even if I say I can't, I'm probably still going to, right. This is really about somebody recognizing the fact that they have the agency to choose mm-hmm.

and, and saying, I can't as a place, Of lost agency. It's, it's a place that says, I don't have control over this, and so I can't make it better or worse. Mm-hmm. , it just is mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . And when I say I can, and I'm, and I might choose to do, to, to look at pornography today. Yeah. I now have the agency and I have the ability to choose to do it or choose not to do it.

Yeah. Here's what I try to do, because I, I'm. Conscious that there's this moral obligation that a lot of people feel to not view pornography. Yeah. And so what I try to do there is I try to, I try to teach them that as the urges come. Mm-hmm. , you don't have to say no to that urge, but what you can say instead is, if I want to, I can choose to do this tomorrow at this time.

Okay. So at that moment, they don't have to make a decision on it. for now. Mm-hmm. . But what they can do is they can revisit it in a time, in a place where they're not necessarily, um, struck by an urge and, and responding to that urge directly. Sure. I love that. That's great. Okay, so with the people that you've been working with, what's a good timeframe?

Like, what could people expect if they come to you and they're really struggling? About how long does it take people to gain some mastery in this area? Oh, that's a really good question. And the answer is, it, it varies. Okay. You know, from person to person, it varies on their readiness, their willingness, and I don't wanna put it all on them, but there is some amount of, you know, am I gonna work on a model every single day and try and work through this?

Or am I just gonna come and show up to Zach's 45 minute coaching session, take whatever he gives me, and then I'm not gonna worry about it for the rest of the week. So it, it really does de depend on the person. But I, I run people through 12 weeks where I think I've taught them everything they need to know.

to actually overcome. They've got the skills and the strategies, the abilities now to put into place the practice that will allow them to stop using pornography. But the question almost invariably becomes, what do I believe now and what am I willing to believe in the future about who I want to be and who I am?

And is the goal by the end of the 12 weeks that I will never look at it again, or that I may look at it again, but I know how to handle the situation. If I do, I'm curious what the goal is there. Again, that depends on the person because I get some, so like right now I'm working with a young man who's not married, who doesn't have a girlfriend.

He is simply just trying to get a handle on this. Mm-hmm. . And for him, he, he doesn't ever want this to be in his life. Okay. Uh, cuz he wants to be in a place so that as he, you know, dates and meets girls and, you know, tries to begin that courtship process, he's completely free of it. But then I also have, you know, some people who think I want to be in a place where if I choose to look at pornography, it's my choice.

Mm-hmm. and it's not something that I feel is, is owning me and is, is driving me into that behavior. Love it. So you're just kind of open to the direction you receive from them. . I mean, the reality of life is that unless you wanna do it, you're not gonna do it. Totally agree. I love that. good. I just think it's good for people to know that you don't have an agenda when they come to work with you, that you are open to helping them in the way that they need help.

Well, yeah. That's agency, right? That's the sign of a good coach or a good therapist or anyone. Yeah, for sure. So, okay, just to, to finish up, unless there's anything else that we didn't touch on that you guys wanna make sure and mention. I think one thing is. We talked about this like all the time. All the time.

You know, I, I tried to get to a point where I could say, Hey, how was your day today? Yes. And, and when he said, oh, I struggled today. I didn't make it mean anything about me. I got to a point where I was like, oh, honey, like what was going on? Like, you know, how did you process that? How did you deal with it?

And that I think really helped too, because he got to a point where he could come to me. and I, I didn't take it as a personal attack, you know? Then as far as like you asking Zach how his day went and when he said it was hard and you said, oh, how did you deal with it? How much responsibility do you, Darcy, take on in helping Zach manage this?

And Zach, how much responsibility do you give over to Darcy in terms of managing it for you? . So, uh, I will say that sometimes I ask her for help. So, uh, when it comes to like setting up my phone properly, I ask her to set it up so that I don't have the ability to change settings. I'm technically savvy, but I don't try to push the boundaries.

Mm-hmm. . So for me, if it's just not even available, it's a lot easier. Sure. But sure. But once that's done, It's not like she checks my phone every day. She used to check my phone every day, like, what happened on here today? Sure. And you know, that was never helpful to her. It was never helpful to me. And for me, I was like, I got to a point where I was like, this, this is no way to live.

I'm gonna be miserable if this is how I'm living, if I'm constantly trying to police his behavior. Sure. For the two of you, if you were talking to a couple who maybe had, somebody had just discovered that their spouse is looking at pornography and, and struggles with this, what advice would you have for the two of 'em starting off on this, wherever they're at in their journey.

I think for me, I would say as, as a woman is one, don't make it mean anything about you and also don't. Yourself turn to something that is going to create a problem in your life. Like for me, I turn to food to handle it. So now I have, you know, some excess pounds to lose. And, and you know, I've seen some women that just turn to food or they turn to super focused on their kids.

and you, you know, just turn to something else to deal with it. To have some sense of control maybe in their life. Yeah. That isn't necessarily always a positive, you know, so what could they do instead of that? Like there's, there's always obviously a need there. When they first find this out and they feel a little bit out of control, what could they do with that sense of out of control?

I. I think it's so much easier really if you, if you just look at it from an objective standpoint, you know, if you took the, the circumstance of your husband looks at pornography and you're like, my husband looks at pictures, you know, if you took out the, the, the such negative emotion around it. , it, it, it's not as big of a deal.

Like it is a big deal, but it's not, yeah. I don't see it as any different as binging on a piece of cheesecake. Right? How many women say, oh, I'm having this horrible day with the kids, and you go and you eat chocolate. It, it's kind of the same idea. It's just we put such a moral value to viewing pornography and really it's not about the pornography, it's simply.

Your spouse trying to escape some negative feeling that they're having. Love it. And what if, like if you had come to me as my client in that situation, I think I might have offered to you like, yeah, you feel really out of control and that's okay. Can you just let yourself feel out of control? Because control is something that's always a delusion.

We're never in control of our life, but when something like this happens and, and we're caught off guard and we think, wow, everything's different than I thought it was, and we feel like we're out of control. , then that's what you're trying to solve for, right? Is the eating or maybe focusing hyper-focusing on our kids, but when we can just allow ourselves to feel kind of out of control and be there for ourself, would that have resonated with you at all?

To say whatever you're feeling is fine, just feel it and don't try to solve for it in the moment. Yeah, for sure. And I also think that with the spouse, like the user understanding that your wife is probably gonna say some horrible things to you, right? . Like when your wife finds out the first time, it it do.

I mean, most women kind of go a little bit cuckoo and being able to realize like, okay, that's my wife dealing with what she's making it mean about her. And so I guess as the user to, to try and separate yourself from what your wife's saying. Not necessarily don't listen because it's important to listen and, and love and understand and, but not necessarily make it mean something about you because then you're both making it mean something about you.

Love it. Love it. Okay. Zach, what advice would you have? I think the advice that I would give anybody who's dealing with a pornography problem, uh, any unwanted behavior in their life is simply feel free to take a step back. Don't make it mean you're a terrible person, and look at it from an objective perspective.

And when you can do that, when you begin to process this behavior as something that you would like to simply change and not something that, that means that you're morally bankrupt, then you're gonna begin to have power over it and you're gonna begin to. Be able to move forward away from it and not, not let it hold you back from, from where you wanna be in your life.

Love it. Well, thanks you guys so much for sharing that. Zack, if anybody is looking for help, you specialize in helping people in this area, how can they find you? Yeah, so you can go to zack and sign up for a free mini session. Uh, there you can listen to my podcast, the Self-Mastery Podcast.

You can find me on Facebook as well at Zach Spafford Addictive Behaviors Coach. Perfect. Well, thank you so much Zach. I've heard amazing things about your coaching and I would highly recommend if you are struggling in this area, go find Zach and get some help. And thank you guys both so much for being open and for sharing your time and your experience with us today.

I think it's gonna help a ton of people, so thanks so much. Thanks for having us. Thanks for having us. So hopefully that interview was enlightening to all of you to kind of give you some ideas as to what you can do when it comes to your spouse and dealing with pornography use. Thanks again to Natalie Clay for interviewing us.

And you can check her [email protected] or you can check her out at, uh, couples Coaching with Natalie Clay, her podcast, which is an amazing podcast. It's one of my favorites. Thanks again for listening this week. Uh, it's always an amazing week when you started out with a Mastery Monday. We'll talk to you next week.

Hey, thanks for listening to the Self-Mastery Podcast. Every day I get requests from people who are looking to change something in their life. If that is you, if you need help overcoming your addictive behavior like pornography use, sign up for a free mini session at That's

I'll put a link in show notes for you to follow. Also, it would mean the world to me if you were to leave a review for us. Wherever you get your podcast, it'll go a long way to helping others find us. Thanks again.

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