Episode 219 - Overcoming Pornography With Zach And Darcy - An Interview with Mark Delany

Nov 13, 2023


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Episode 218

Hey, my friends. Welcome to thrive beyond pornography. I'm your host, Zach Spafford this week on the podcast. I'm sharing with you an episode that Darcy and I recorded with our friend. Mark Delaney from the purpose mastermind podcast with Mark Delaney, he is a great speaker and a great coach. And we're so grateful that he was able to reach out and set up this, this time to work with us and have this conversation because we love having these conversations with people. We love. Meeting with people, meeting with new people and talking about how we can. De-stigmatize pornography, change the narrative, move beyond the pornography issues and start creating a life beyond pornography that is thriving, rich, full, and meaningful. All right.

My friends. Enjoy and we'll talk to you guys next week

Mark Delany: Well, I tell you, I love your guys message. Zach, I was listening to one of your podcasts this morning, uh, on the five reasons you should quit porn.

Mark Delany: Yeah. And you kept emphasizing

Mark Delany: With such a, um, with such an ease, you're like, I don't want you to feel bad because of porn. Like, you know, and I'll probably ask, like to ask more about that. I just feel like many people, the only thing we know to do is feel bad about it.

Zach Spafford: Yeah, yeah, it's like, uh, yeah, it's a shame fest slash beat yourself up fest.

Zach Spafford: It's, uh, it's, it's not nice.

Mark Delany: If you beat yourself up enough and then maybe get some other people to beat you up with you, maybe we'll all overcome.

Zach Spafford: Yeah.

Mark Delany: We're all like a bunch of jacked up humans. And the question is, are we ever going to be honest about who we really are and find actual

Mark Delany: freedom? And you guys know this because you guys are in the freedom business. Like, you guys aren't really about pornography. You're about people being set free to be who they're made to be. And so when you find people that have triumphed over their own mess, like, I just think that people like you have such a gift.

Mark Delany: And so I just wanted, I just want to share your story, um, tap into it for people to hear. And I just, I want you guys to stay bold. Cause I know from my own life, I was, I, I was one of those fake people that was always just trying to present my life as being just fine.

Mark Delany: Well, hey everybody, this is Mark Delaney and today I'm having a conversation with two pretty amazing people, Zach and Darcy Spafford of the Thrive Beyond Pornography program and podcast. And, we're just having a conversation together. We're kind of in the same field of work in a way, in terms of helping people live their best bold life.

Mark Delany: And, you guys specifically help people overcome problems with pornography in their lives. Tell us, in a nutshell, what is the heartbeat? Like at the very heartbeat behind what you guys are about as a couple when it comes to helping people.

Zach Spafford: Our goal is that not one more marriage, not one more individual be destroyed by pornography.

Zach Spafford: You know, so often, I think the messaging around pornography is that it's going to destroy you and it's an addiction and you're going to be addicted to this forever, no matter how much recovery you're in or how much sobriety you have. And the truth is, We don't have to live like that, and we don't have to live our lives in fear all the time, beholden to this thing.

Zach Spafford: We can live a rich, full, meaningful life beyond pornography and really thrive as an individual, as a couple, putting porn in a, in the place that it belongs, which is outside your life and you don't have to freak out about it. And that's really, I mean, the, the goal that Darcy and I set out when we decided to start doing this was just to help people quit porn.

Zach Spafford: And we found that when people started to quit porn, they wanted more. Their relationship wasn't quite. Taking care of, they might have the behavior put behind them, but they didn't really have themselves moving in a direction that would really create the relationship and the life that they wanted. And as a result, if you don't have a thriving life, you don't have something to look forward to in your day.

Zach Spafford: You turn back to old coping mechanisms, old habits, and you find yourself back in the same place. So, we decided, um, maybe two years ago, a year ago, to move from just the Self Mastery Podcast and becoming porn free in your life to Thrive Beyond Pornography. And let's help you move forward and create the life that you want, both as an individual and as a couple.

Mark Delany: When people get stuck in their problems, we very quickly become overwhelmed. It doesn't take too many attempts to change. With my story of, of overcoming, uh, food and weight, it feels so overwhelming. Frankly, it almost becomes so overwhelming that it's offensive to hear someone say, we can help you. And I think that certainly with pornography, I think a lot of people are like Don't even talk about overcoming pornography because that can't happen.

Mark Delany: Why are the two of you like trailblazing this bold message? You guys are like, yeah, you guys are like Tarzan and Jane running through the wilderness saying there's freedom for you from pornography. What makes the two of you so confident at helping people with this issue?

Darcy Spafford: For me, it's It's our lived experience, right?

Darcy Spafford: It's like, we did this together. We struggled with pornography in our marriage, and, I mean, Zach, I should say, Zach struggled with looking at porn, I struggled with feelings of betrayal, and, you know, all the things, body image issues, felt like he was cheating on me, all that, to, we're really awesome, like, we're doing so well, and porn is not, not a problem.

Darcy Spafford: And I remember in those early years feeling like that would never happen, like, you know, I'd only heard stories of people who got divorced because of porn, you know, and, and I never heard people who said, you know, this was in our marriage, we struggled with it, and we came out on top, like, I never heard those stories.

Zach Spafford: There was no, there was never a story of hope, it was always a warning of impending doom.

Mark Delany: This is why I wanted to hear more of your story, Unpacked. I think that the, in our world, nobody knows who to trust when it comes to getting help. And there's different sources available for getting help. I think that there's no greater help for someone to have than to get help from someone who has actually been through what you've been through and come out the other side.

Zach Spafford: Yeah, well, I mean, think about it. I don't know if you've ever climbed a mountain or gone skydiving. When I was a kid before I got married, we went skydiving. I can't imagine going skydiving without somebody showing me how to do it. And not somebody who had like a theoretical knowledge of it. Imagine, imagine showing up at the airfield and this guy's like, okay, I've never actually jumped out of an airplane, but let me get your chutes.

Zach Spafford: No, I'm not going with that guy. That guy doesn't know. And he's like, yeah. Really the magic, , the blessing of this work is that we have done the work on our own selves, Darcy has done the work on her side of the street, I've done the work on my side of the street, and by the way, there is work to be done on both sides of the street.

Zach Spafford: I, I think a lot of times we think, this is his problem, once he fixes it, everything else is going to be fixed, but the real truth is that dealing with pornography is, this is his problem. A symptom of a greater whole. It's a symptom of what's going on mentally and emotionally for the individual, and it can be a symptom of what's going on within a relationship.

Zach Spafford: Like, why am I escaping from my relationship into pornography instead of being able to reach out and trust my spouse with my reality? And, and that's tough because while it is not her fault, how I behave, we together have created a meaning frame, a relationship, and the way that we interact in some ways impacts the way that I choose to behave.

Zach Spafford: Now, again, it's not her fault that I'm looking at porn. Even if we never have sex, it's not her fault, right? But what is. What's happening here is we have to decide, we have to figure out, okay, what's within this meaning frame, what's within this relationship that isn't working for either of us, that keeps us from choosing intimacy, that keeps us from choosing to know each other and be known and be able to rely on the other's love to help us move forward in our life.

Zach Spafford: And that's really important to understand.

Darcy Spafford: I think for a lot of these couples that we work with, porn was a problem before they got married, right? And so it's like, yeah, this is his problem. And it's like, we can see it that way, right? We can see, yes, this is something he needs to work on. But when you get married, It's now a marriage problem, right?

Darcy Spafford: Like what you bring into the marriage is now part of a marriage.

Zach Spafford: Just like if she brings in a 10 million in credit card debt, it's a marriage problem now. We have to work through that together to create the relationship that we want. It's not about blame. It's about responsibility. It's not about this is his problem and he has to fix it.

Zach Spafford: It's about, let's take responsibility for what's going on within this relationship. Let's take responsibility for how I'm interacting with this problem and let's show up better. Let's learn how to deal with the problem directly and not blame the symptom as

Mark Delany: the problem. So no different than, you know, we all have kids and your kids have problems.

Mark Delany: that maybe as a parent, you're not the reason they have that problem. Like they're selfish or whatever attitude they have. It's because they're a human. But as a parent, it's like, well, I didn't cause this problem, but I need to be part of the solution. And so similarly, I agree with you, Zach. It's like, it's not the wife's fault, but, but the wife.

Mark Delany: has an unbelievable role she can play in her husband's life. And I want to say a quick story and then get your thoughts on this, Darcy, specifically a man that I had worked with in the past. He found such a freedom, um, from pornography as he looked at his whole life differently. Like his goal every day was to stop watching porn, his goal wasn't to live, his goal was to stop watching porn, and he started to change his mindset, he found such freedom and purpose, and he had, his wife had asked him to move out of the house when this issue came up, and wow, we So he's doing great, but then he said this, Darcy.

Mark Delany: He said, I feel so free, but I am afraid that if I move back in, because of how she treats me, I'll turn back to porn. What do you think of that simple story? And then also, Help wives out there who, like, they're put in this spot where it's like, okay, I get to somehow play a role in this dynamic. What do I do?

Darcy Spafford: That's, it's hard. It's really, it's, it's really tricky. And it's really hard because when I talk to women, I have to thread the really fine needle, right? Because it's like, if I, if I push too hard in the beginning, then they automatically are like, well, this person, I can't trust them. They don't get it. You know?

Darcy Spafford: Because it's like, , they've heard this narrative their entire lives, that porn's gonna destroy you. Uh, bad it is. And evil. And, um, especially if you come from like a conservative religious background, right? Mm-Hmm. , um, mm-Hmm. . And it, it's tricky because it's like they don't really want to see that they are part of the solution.

Darcy Spafford: Right? In a lot of ways, it's, it's very much this is his deal, but it's like, if I look back to how I behaved when I first found out that Zach was looking at porn, I can honestly say I was like, I was abusive. I was very much, you could classify me as verbally abusive, right? Like, obviously I wasn't like physically beating him or anything like that, but with my words and what came out of my mouth was not okay.

Darcy Spafford: And if I think back to those times, like I felt justified. Right? I felt very justified in how I treated him because I was like, no, you're doing this thing, this thing is wrong, it's bad, and you're hurting me. And so let me hurt you back by attacking you and saying horrible things.

Zach Spafford: Well, and standing on the moral high ground.

Darcy Spafford: Yeah, because it's like, I'm, I mean, I have faults, but they're not looking at porn, right? For me, I feel like, over our progress over the years, it became, instead of it was like.. Zach and porn against Darcy, it became Zach and Darcy against porn, and that is where things began to shift for us, is when we took porn out of us, we put it on its own playing field, and we came together as a couple to deal with it, instead of it having all the power, right?

Darcy Spafford: Like, we give porn so much power, like, I always like to say, you know, and I got this from Cam Staheli it's like, porn is just naked people on a screen having sex. Like that's, that's what it is. Right. And so even if you just call it that versus porn, like porn has so much power and, and it's even just the word, you know,

Mark Delany: with men I work with, I call it donuts.

Zach Spafford: Yeah, yeah, you destigmatize it to the point where it's just not the thing, right? Yeah. And destigmatizing it, demystifying its realities. Sometimes when I talk to my clients, I say, well, what is it that you like within pornography? Why is it that you're choosing it? What is interesting to you?

Zach Spafford: Because I want them to recognize that these desires are actually quite normal. When we understand that pornography is. hitting in on our very most base desire, which is to be loved and to feel aroused, right? These are super base desires that we all want to have fulfilled in our lives. And when we realize that that's what pornography is doing, like it looks at you like it loves you, even though it doesn't.

Zach Spafford: And it creates arousal in you because naked people are beautiful. Like if naked people weren't beautiful, you wouldn't, you probably wouldn't get married. You probably wouldn't find a mate. You probably wouldn't pair off and say, Hey, let's, let's create a family. And so those base desires are a part of the equation and they're not necessarily problematic.

Zach Spafford: What becomes problematic is why am I doing this? If I'm doing this to escape reality, if I'm doing this to step outside of my marriage because I don't really like this relationship, or if I'm doing this because I don't know how to deal with myself, so I'm just escaping my feelings or my sensation or whatever it is that's going on for me.

Zach Spafford: Stress, loneliness, boredom, anxiety. Overwhelmed, right? All of those overjoyed, right? Uh, if I'm doing it to escape those feelings, that may be the problem. And then if I can learn how to deal with those directly, then there is hope. Then there's a capacity for me to move beyond pornography and not just move beyond it, but then start to create a thriving life and heal my relationships and be the person that I expect myself to be.

Zach Spafford: And this is, this is, I think, really important. I don't think that the work with thrive Porn is bad is a valuable message, and I'll tell you why there are people out there who think porn's great. And I don't think that they're

Darcy Spafford: right. They come to us all the time on the internet to tell us. Yeah,

Zach Spafford: yeah. Our ads, our ads are like, porn saved my marriage.

Zach Spafford: Some people make comments like, porn saved my marriage, or

Darcy Spafford: I don't struggle with porn. It's

Zach Spafford: amazing. And that's fine. I mean, right? So there are those people out there that would make this argument. And then there are people who would make the argument that porn is bad and it has all these evil components to it and there are a variety of reasons why you should never engage with it, including, um, sex trafficking, right?

Zach Spafford: So there are people on either side of this argument and they will argue and argue and argue and argue ad nauseum until they're blue in the face and everybody falls down and dies, right? Like, there's no... There's no coming together on that issue, but what they both agree on and what is the truth of the matter is that porn is.

Zach Spafford: It exists. Yeah. Once we know that, once we step away from bad or good and we go, yep, porn is, it's part of the landscape, then we get to ask the more important question, which is, How do I want to interact with? Do I want to bring this into my life? Do I not want to bring it into my life? And if I can de stigmatize and de escalate all the emotion around it, then I can make a good decision.

Zach Spafford: I don't know about you, but when I am upset, I make bad decisions. And the less I feel upset about porn, the more likely it is I'm going to make a good

Darcy Spafford: decision. It's like with food, right? Like, when you start to say, good food, bad food, can't have this food, you know, like... If someone struggles with food and you say, okay, you can never have sugar again, ever, like you can never have sugar again, like your brain is like wigged out, never, I can never accomplish that.

Darcy Spafford: I don't even necessarily know if I want to accomplish that. Right. Like, and so it's like, when you go from like porn, never, ever, you know, stop this day and never see it again. Like, if you're somebody that's, that's gone to porn over and over again in your past, like your brain is like, yeah, that's. That's not happening.

Darcy Spafford: Like, I can't do that.

Zach Spafford: Especially if you haven't been given a skill set to, to do it.

Darcy Spafford: And so that's kind of where we like to say, like, celebrate the small wins, you know? Like, like, great. You just, you normally look at porn every week, and you just went six days without looking at porn. Like, that's a win. And if on seven, on day seven, you look at porn again, you're still winning, you know?

Darcy Spafford: It's like, Weight loss, like it's not just a straight arrow down. It's up and down and up and down. And, and if the trend goes downward, right? Over 10 years, like you're succeeding. And I feel like with porn so often, it's like the second it, you know, there's a split second where even if it's just Instagram pictures, right?

Darcy Spafford: And, and then it's automatically like, Oh, you failed. We're starting over. We're getting a divorce. Like, you're never gonna choose me, you're never gonna fix this, you know, that kind of attitude. And it's like, if we put those same narratives onto us as women and things that we struggle with, like...

Zach Spafford: They wouldn't be acceptable narratives.

Zach Spafford: Yeah, it wouldn't, you know. Can you imagine if I was like, "I can't believe you ate a whole chocolate cake, Darcy. We're getting divorced." No, you can't imagine that because everybody would be like, that's wrong. Don't do that. And I realized that there's not the same moral value around pornography and food.

Zach Spafford: I've realized that, but I do think they're analogous in that.

Darcy Spafford: From a behavioral, from a behavioral standpoint you know, sex and food, never going to go away.

Mark Delany: Yes. Yeah, I, I think I, I take a lot of men on field trips to the gas station by my house. We have a conversation at my house and it goes into a guy and how much he hates himself for lust or porn and, and we'll go, I'll say, we'll take a, take a field trip.

Mark Delany: We go down to the gas station and we go to, um, this little display case and through this glass, we look at all these donuts. And I'm like, you know, I used to have one of these, like if three o'clock hit, my body was like, ooh, half priced donuts, you know, it's like they're half price, like you have to have one.

Mark Delany: Like you just

Zach Spafford: have to. If I don't eat one of these right now, I'm losing money.

Mark Delany: Yes. Yeah. It's a bad decision. And so, and so I used to have them all the time and now it's like, I don't know, maybe once every three months. I'll get a donut. But when I go in there, like, like anytime I go in the gas station, I look at the ladies over there, especially the one with the caramel and the white drizzle.

Mark Delany: And it's like, but I don't walk out like I am such a loser. I desired a donut. I love how you mentioned this, the core desires of being loved and valued and to have, I think that we get so lost in our problems and trying to stop our problem. That we miss the bigger problem that we have the absence of what life is meant for.

Mark Delany: I was at Sam's club a couple of months ago and I was waiting on some rotisserie chicken to get done. And right in front of the rotisserie chicken is their bakery stuff. And they sell, they sell some good drugs at Sam's club, like those massive pies for like 9, just massive

Darcy Spafford: pies. I mean, 5. 99.

Mark Delany: It's ridiculous.

Mark Delany: And I sat there and looked at them and I was like, If a person had a life with no meaning, it makes complete sense to come to Sam's Club every day and buy one of those apple lattice top pies and go home and eat it. Like, why not? If life is depleted of what my heart longs for, how could I not eat pie

Zach Spafford: every day?

Zach Spafford: Well, this was literally my post today on, on social media. So when I was a kid, I played running back in high school. I loved playing football. It's one of my favorite things to do, but as a running back, you have to run towards the goal. You have to be going somewhere. You can't spend the entire down looking back behind you, trying to figure out what's chasing you.

Zach Spafford: You have to be moving forward. You can't run from something. You have to run towards something. You're right, if we are simply living our life, running from the pain, running from porn, running from food, running from whatever is keeping us down, or running from just feeling like crap. And we're not creating and moving towards something of value, something that's lovely, something that builds us, something that we enjoy.

Zach Spafford: We're never going to get there. We're never going to get to the goal. We're always going to be running. We're going to get caught. We're going to get caught up in the, in the mess. And we're not, we're not going to make, we're not going to make a touchdown in football.

Mark Delany: I lived a long time as if the goal of life was to be skinny.

Mark Delany: Yeah. And, uh, that's a good way to gain weight. Yeah. And so for someone to wake up every day and it's like, okay, my goal today is to not watch porn. My goal today is to not eat a donut. And then at the end of the day, you're like, oh, I didn't have a donut. When you lay there in bed hungry. So I'm gonna ask you a question, Darcy.

Mark Delany: You made this switch where you went from being against Zach and porn to you being with Zach against porn. How did that switch happen? And then I want to hear, Zach, how did, Zach, what was it like for you? Did you feel the switch she made? And what was it like when she was different? So I want to hear both you guys sides on that.

Zach Spafford: You talk first,

Darcy Spafford: but yes. Okay, so when I first found out, I was looking up, we had been married

Darcy Spafford: for five years. And we had just had, we were pregnant with our fourth baby. And I'd had a miscarriage and then like three days later out that he was looking at porn. Anyways, and I had done Weight Watchers. So I was like 120 pounds, okay? So I had like worked really hard to, you know, have a good body, be super hot, even though I was popping out babies every year.

Darcy Spafford: And when he looked at porn, I'm like, Oh, you're going to look at porn. You're going to have a fat wife. And like, and I said that to him and then guess what? I got fatter and fatter and fatter over the years because I started turning to food to deal with the heavy emotions of him looking at porn. And so the switch for me was when, um, we had just had, sorry, everything's related to when we had kids because that's how my brain works.

Darcy Spafford: We had that many kids. Um, so when we had, um, our number five and six are twins and it was, you know, in seven years, so life was crazy. And Zach was, like, going to 12 step meetings, he was meeting with our church leaders, he was going to therapy, and, like, he still was not making progress. I was like, you just frickin stay home and help me change diapers.

Darcy Spafford: I don't care. We're just gonna have a miserable marriage, and you're just gonna bring home the paycheck, and we're gonna co parent here, and we're just gonna kind of deal with life. And then that was when he decided that he had to do something, and that's his story, but... In that process, we started talking more openly, and I started asking questions about what was going on for him. Not just porn, but, why, why do you think it is, and why are you turning to porn, and what, like, what about it, and, and why is it hard, and, you know, just real questions, and that was when I started to realize, this is exactly how I feel with food.

Darcy Spafford: Because now at this point, I'm like, okay, I don't really want to be unhealthy. I really do want to be in better shape. And I started trying to lose weight after years of turning to food to deal with my emotions. And I started to realize, wow, we are actually like the same exact thing. Like we, we are humans struggling with the same exact thing, except for, for me, it's food and for him, it's porn.

Darcy Spafford: And so it. It was like, for me, I think, like, having that click in my brain and putting us kind of on equal playing field instead of, like, me above him and him below me and I'm so much better than him, um, and so that was kind of a big shift. And then, you know, over the years, just, like, starting to realize how much power we gave porn and, and, and feeling like, why am I giving porn so much power?

Darcy Spafford: Like, it doesn't deserve it. And so. That was, that's part of the process. Like, I hope that answered your question.

Mark Delany: You said that very simply, and I just have to pause for a second. Life is so simple. The simplest things are so powerful. In that story you just said, like, every marriage needs to hear that story.

Mark Delany: Because whether it's pornography or some other issue, it is such a beautiful thing for one spouse to look at their spouse and be like, Oh, wait, their issue's that, my issue's this, and it's all kind of the same? That, um, that is... That's very powerful. That is very powerful. And the simplicity of that, I don't want people to miss the power of that.

Mark Delany: Because that, I look at my own life and my whole life, food was my pornography. Like, food was my thing. And because it's looked at differently, I could engage in it in front of my wife all the time. And I did. And I look back and it's like, I was doing that just right in front of her all the time, and I don't see, when I see men struggling with porn, I, I see the same man that I was, and I look back, and if my wife did not have the kind of grace and understanding that, that you took on, I'd be in big trouble as a man right now.

Mark Delany: I would be in really big trouble. As a man. So how did that feel on your side, Zach, when she made that switch? Did you feel it? Did you talk about it? Or like, what was that like when she became like that?

Zach Spafford: Yeah, it was magical. I mean, so, but

Darcy Spafford: it was also like. A slow progression, you know, like, and I guess what I want to say is, like, at first he didn't really trust that I really could handle it and that I really could hear, like, his truth versus, you know.

Zach Spafford: Yeah, you spend a few years getting beat up every time you tell the truth. Uh, it's tough to tell the truth and trust that your partner will believe you and handle your truth. And that's really, that's really, really tough because on the one hand, Darcy would tell me all I want to do, just tell me the truth, just tell me the truth.

Zach Spafford: And then when I would tell her the truth, she would come out of left field with the biggest baseball bat she had and beat me up with it, you know, metaphorically, mentally, right? And she was not happy about it. So, at some point... She just started to ask the questions differently, and I could tell that it was a different kind of conversation.

Zach Spafford: The question was always, before, was always, have you looked at porn? Did you look at porn today? Did you look at porn today?

Darcy Spafford: Right. Did you want to look at porn today? Right. Any

Zach Spafford: other Very romantic. Yeah. Well, it was, really what it was, was she was saying, am I okay? Right? She was asking me if she was okay.

Zach Spafford: Because she was gauging her mental and emotional state based on whether or not I had done something. So imagine she's putting her emotional state on me and now I have to manage that. How impossible is that? Yeah. It's totally impossible because if I say no, I didn't look at porn, what does she say?

Darcy Spafford: Are you telling the truth?

Zach Spafford: Are you telling the truth? Are you lying? Are you lying to me?

Darcy Spafford: How do I know that you're telling me the

Zach Spafford: truth? So even if I didn't look at porn and I tell her, no, I didn't look at porn, she still is upset and emotionally, I'm not being, she's putting her emotions onto me. No matter what, there's no winning.

Zach Spafford: If I did look at porn, then we go into, well, what did you look at? And why did you look at it? And all right. And she just wants to know how she compares against the things that I was watching. She, which again is about her emotional state and her not feeling confident or comfortable in her own skin around this issue.

Zach Spafford: And eventually she stopped asking those questions. And then she started asking different questions like, how are you doing? What's going on for you today?

Zach Spafford: How did you feel today? And those questions were about me being able to look at me and go, what's going on for me? And managing my own emotional state. And she wasn't asking those things to know whether or not I had looked at porn, she was asking those things to know me. There's a concept that I teach in my program called the presented self.

Zach Spafford: So the presented self is essentially the person that we show to other people. So, at work, we show a presented self. That person is usually competent and capable. They get their deadlines done. They are someone that is reliable. Those are the kinds of things that we show to the people around us at work. We don't show them the, the things that we don't want them to know.

Zach Spafford: We don't want them to know that we yelled at our kids last night. We don't want them to know that we look at porn. We don't want them to know any of that stuff, so we don't show them that stuff. That's not intimacy. That's a relationship, but it's not intimacy. At church we do similar things. I'm, you know, I'm spiritual, I'm Christ like, all of those things.

Zach Spafford: Uh, I'm always serving the community, so I'm a good human. But we don't tell people, Oh yeah, I struggle with porn. Yeah. Um, when it comes to our spouse, uh, the presented self, we want to minimize that as absolutely as much as possible. And what that does is it creates true intimacy. Intimacy is knowing and being known.

Zach Spafford: When Darcy knows who I am, who I really am, the person that I am when I'm alone with myself, that's intimacy. And that's tough. It's really difficult to be intimate. And it's a

Darcy Spafford: lot harder to choose someone and love someone when you know all of them. Right? Because every single human is flawed and every single one of us has traits and qualities and things we do that we are not proud of, that we don't like, and that our partner isn't necessarily gonna love.

Darcy Spafford: And so it, it's scary if you're like, okay, this is, this is the real me, I could be rejected. And I think for a lot of men who struggle with porn, it's like, if I really am open and honest with my wife about this, she might reject me, and she might leave me, and she might punish me. And, I mean, if, if we put that back on ourselves, it's like, yeah, that's scary.

Darcy Spafford: Like, that's, that's a real fear that a lot of people have,

Zach Spafford: Imagine if Darcy... Gained a hundred pounds. And I was like, I, I can't be with you ever again. We would not accept that socially. Like we'd be like, wait, what happened? You did that. You're a terrible human.

Zach Spafford: But when it comes to pornography, that's, that's exactly what we do, and we excuse it. Uh, I know in a lot of church communities, if the husband has looked at porn ever, and the relationship dissolves, all the wife has to say is, well, my husband looked at porn, that's why we got divorced. And she's immediately absolved of any responsibility in that relationship.

Zach Spafford: She's immediately absolved of the way she treated him. She's immediately absolved of how she showed up for herself in that relationship. All we have to know is that he looked at porn and therefore it's all his fault. And that's, that's not really a relationship. And in intimacy, knowing someone means that you can be rejected.

Zach Spafford: That's how relationships become great is her being able to handle who I really am and me being able to handle who she really is. And then us working together to create the people that we want to be. I don't know anybody who came out of the womb fully formed. Nobody. I don't know them. I mean, that person may exist, but I don't personally know them.

Zach Spafford: And I think it's important to recognize that too often we, we seek to find fault with our spouse. We seek to find, um, reasons why we're better than them. Instead of knowing them and loving them where they are. And that's tough. It really is tough to do that. I know it was tough for Darcy to love me because she's like, why are you looking at all these naked ladies on the internet when here I am?

Zach Spafford: And here's the, here's the really crazy part about this, right? The, the, the dichotomy here is that I can show Darcy who I really am, and she can reject me, but if I go to the internet and I look up whatever it is that I want to see on the internet, they never say no. They never reject you. They're never like, nah, I don't feel like it tonight.

Zach Spafford: They're 100 percent there for you, and they're always validating your feelings. It's

Darcy Spafford: fake. And now you can pay people to give you exactly what you do, they do want. You know, what you do want, and it's, it's totally fake. Right. You know, they don't love you, they're, they just want money, right? But...

Mark Delany: I think our problems become such a distraction in that we look at them the wrong way.

Mark Delany: And I look at life and I think, aren't all of us battling to fight through all kinds of stuff in culture to simply be the people we were made to be? Like free, like to be free, to have great love with someone else. It's like, I think of couples that like this issue is so common and we make the whole marriage about this problem.

Mark Delany: And like you said earlier, Darcy, why are we giving this so much power? Like, why aren't we building our life and focusing on who are we made to be as a couple and as individuals? And what if we start chasing that? Instead of chasing this problem every day, I just, listening to your story, and I'm so glad that, uh, more people are going to hear this, because I think that pornography is just one in a long, long, long list of things that can distract all of us from being who we're made to be.

Mark Delany: And I think to then, it's almost like we, we pause our life and say, well, as soon as I never want doughnuts anymore, I can go be a human and I can go be happy as soon, as soon as I never want a doughnut, I can go live my life.

Zach Spafford: I can't tell you how many times I prayed and I literally would just say, Heavenly Father, just take this one thing from me and then I'll be a great human.

Zach Spafford: Solve this one problem for me and I'll be the best. And that's, that's not how it works. I just can't imagine God's up there and he's like, Hey, uh, angel number 24601. Why don't you, uh, roll on over here? I want you to watch Zach. And every time he types boobs into the internet browser, I want you to throw cat videos at him.

Zach Spafford: That's all he gets is cat videos. Can you make that happen for me? Like God's not going to do that for us. That's not how he works. Yes. And I was always asking for the wrong thing. The right, the wrong thing is God solved this problem. The right thing is. God, help me see myself and what it is that I'm missing that makes it so that I want to choose this so that I am choosing.

Zach Spafford: Why am I choosing? Help me see myself. And he is, I'm sure he's happy to reveal us to ourselves. Because the more we see ourselves, the more we see, one, that we can help other people, two, that we have the capacity to grow into the person that we want to be and that he wants us to be, and that we can solve this problem.

Zach Spafford: We don't have to, like, I can't imagine God gave us agency, gave us free will, and then he was like, I'll take it away on certain items. This is just not how it works. And if we want to grow just like a chick breaking out of their shell, you have to do the work.

Mark Delany: Zach and Darcy, I'm so constrained because I wish we had like four hours, I wish we were in the same room, I want to cook you lunch, I want to hug your necks, I want to take you to my garage and, and teach you how to make a Christmas tree on the lathe that I love doing this time of year.

Mark Delany: Hey. Um, tell me. Who are your favorite people to help when you see people like this, like, it lights you up, you want to help them.

Zach Spafford: That's easy. It's couples who are ready to move beyond the old narrative. People who are like, ready to put this behind them, but they're more than ready to put this behind them.

Zach Spafford: They're like, we, we realized that doesn't work. That old narrative doesn't work, but we don't know what the new narrative is. Hmm. The, the husband who's like, I, I can put the work in. The wife who is saying, I don't need to be on the moral high ground. We both agree that he doesn't want to be doing this. The wife who's like, I want to heal.

Zach Spafford: I want to grow. I want to be beyond this. I don't want to live in a miserable marriage where I'm mad at my husband all the time.

Darcy Spafford: Where I'm trying to control him or, you know, be a babysitter, that kind of stuff. Yes. I think, can I say one other thing? Oh yeah. We have like five minutes or whatever. Um, I just.

Darcy Spafford: I feel like whenever I talk to women about this, it's so often that they are comparing themselves to pornography and they're like, I can't compete with that, right? And you know, a lot of the, the body image issues that women are basically born with, I swear, we're already starting to think about our bodies and being compared to other people and, just all the body image issues that women have and not that men don't have them too, but it's like.

Darcy Spafford: There's always going to be somebody that's hotter than you, there's always going to be somebody that's skinnier than you, that has a better body than you, that has, you know, you could say that has more money than you, and that has a better life than you, I guess, that you can, can look at, but it's like when you're constantly trying to compete with something that it's not real, like it's on a screen, it's not real, it can't be touched, it can't love, it can't interact, you know, it's, It's, it's not real.

Darcy Spafford: And so when we just go to porn as my competitor, essentially, you're cheapening yourself. At this point, Zach was like, I'm going to go look at porn. I'm like, why? Like, that, whatever. Because it's like, but I'm not going to sit there and think I'm just not good enough.

Darcy Spafford: Or how could I be better? Or, or, you know, it's, I'm not even going to compare myself to it because it's like, it's not real. It's fake. And what I can bring to the relationship and what I can bring into our love life and everything, it's real and it's, and it's beautiful and it's amazing and it's, it doesn't compare to porn.

Darcy Spafford: And so that's what I would say.

Zach Spafford: I think that's 100 percent true. Think about Thanksgiving dinner, thanksgiving dinner is probably the meal that most Americans look forward to the most. Yeah. It's homemade, Turkey. We like ham at our house. Green bean casserole. Darcy makes this amazing green book bean casserole from scratch.

Zach Spafford: She doesn't even use can,

Darcy Spafford: I don't use any cans of anything.

Zach Spafford: She doesn't even use canned, cream of mushroom soup or anything. We look forward to that meal because it is wholesome, it is satisfying and it, it really does bring up the mood, I think. And it starts that holiday tradition for almost everybody and then go to your local freezer aisle.

Zach Spafford: And you know there's a turkey dinner in the freezer aisle, right? And it's not the same. It's not good. It's mostly processed. It doesn't fulfill you. It might fill you up. It might have a lot of calories, but it doesn't fulfill you. It doesn't bring that same sense of joy and love and enjoyment that an amazing dinner with your family brings.

Zach Spafford: And that's really the difference between porn and really, truly intimate relationship. It's fulfilling and it's gratifying and you get lost in each other and it's a completely different place. mentally and emotionally than porn. We, we tend to think that it's about the orgasm and it really isn't. It's about the connection and getting lost in each other and choosing each other and being close and spending that time connecting.

Zach Spafford: And that really is a shift that, if we can make that shift, porn becomes obsolete in a lot of ways.

Mark Delany: If we can, if we have that no difference than the person at Sam's club, looking at pie. If you have the greatness of what life was meant to be, you don't have to have the pie anymore. And so I, I, I'm just so inspired by the two of you and I'm so thankful that you so boldly share your lives with the world and you truly have a gift and um, people need to know you, people need to know you, you guys are, um, you have a real gift and I, I just want to thank you for sharing it and um, I'm going to share your gift with others.

Mark Delany: Cause people need you.

Zach Spafford: Thank you. We, we love doing this. Like we're weirdos. People are like, well, what do you like to do for fun? We like to talk about porn.

Zach Spafford: If you sit down to dinner, you come to the national parks and come through St. George and you want to sit down to dinner. We'll, we'll sit down. We'll talk about porn all night. Yeah. We love

Mark Delany: it. And how to get free and then create greatness between the,

Darcy Spafford: between you and your spouse. Changing the narrative around it.

Darcy Spafford: You know, it's, it's. And that, and that's really what we're talking about when we're talking, right, how can we change the narrative to one where porn is not winning, you know,

Mark Delany: I, I just finished a book called one step to freedom and that probably is the one step because my whole life was, I'm living in this metaphorical prison cell and right outside the prison cell is this Cape hanging on a wall with my purpose on it.

Mark Delany: And there's this little sword laying on the floor. And as soon as I'm skinny and can fit through these bars, I can go put that cape on. So every day you're like, okay, if I get skinny, I can get through those bars and go be the man I was made to be. The problem is those feelings are so overwhelming, the failure and the shame of, oh, I'm letting the world down.

Mark Delany: And then, to survive the day, you eat food, and the cellmate was a Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie dealer, and so you just keep eating.

Zach Spafford: That is the worst cellmate to have. Ugh.

Mark Delany: But the narrative, Darcy, you're right. It was the change in narrative. It was like, God wasn't waiting for me to be skinny. The message of redemption is you don't have to be skinny to be free.

Mark Delany: Like, this is why Jesus died on the cross. It's like, so you could have this freedom in spite of your bondage, and that the freedom brings freedom. And then there's life change. And so, that change of narrative, that's what changed my life, was the change of narrative is, I can, no matter how much I weigh today, I can put my cape on and pick up that sword and go live my purpose.

Mark Delany: And instead of... Hold my life hostage, waiting until the problem is gone so I can then wear the cape. Like, the problem will never be gone. So, anyway, thank you guys so much for your time. I can't wait to share you guys with people and, um, keep doing what you're doing.

Zach Spafford: Well, we love doing it. Thanks for having us.

Zach Spafford: We love this, we love this conversation. Cause I, hopefully it can change one person's life.

Mark Delany: Oh, it will. It will. I love it.

Mark Delany: I, I, I mean it. You guys have a real gift. There's not many husband wife teams that can so boldly guide couples through this. And I, I'm just, I, I won't get into the work that we do. It just doesn't matter in this conversation. It's, it's just so relevant. It's, Darcy, you have such a key to help women in how they can be a part of the redemption story that needs to happen.

Mark Delany: Like, every couple's marriage Is a redemption story. The question is whether or not it happens.

Darcy Spafford: You know, what's really sad and what's really hard is that not a ton of women take advantage of me. Because it's their husband's fault. It's his problem. He needs to fix it.

Mark Delany: It's so much easier to look at it that way.

Darcy Spafford: You know, for Zach always, like when he, if someone buys individual coaching, which is what we used to only sell, right. They always got a free session with me. Do you know how many wives took that, that free session up? Maybe 10%. Maybe, maybe

Zach Spafford: not enough. Maybe not enough.

Mark Delany: The, the most, I think the most challenging thing in the way I think of all human change. I, I think the simple, the most simple statement ever uttered about human change that totally changes the narrative, but it's the hardest thing for any human being to do. Because when Jesus said, if you want to find your life, you have to lose it.

Mark Delany: Well, nobody wants to lose their life or lose the control. Like nobody wants to, it takes such surrender for a wife to be able to even let their mind go to the place of maybe there's something I can do to help. Because the muscle of human instinct is, I'm going to beat this guy up. I'm going to threaten him.

Mark Delany: I'm going to put fear in him. I'm going to control him and he's going to change. Well, to open your mind and heart up to there's a different way is, it takes surrender. I mean,

Darcy Spafford: if you go back to food, okay, obesity, is linked to how many different cancers, how many different diseases. Uh, we know how bad fast food is.

Darcy Spafford: There's like documentaries on it. Like, there's no shortage of information that will tell us how bad obesity is, how many people are obese. Yeah. So many, you know, it's like, yeah Focusing on the bad and how bad it is never makes it better.

Mark Delany: It doesn't no.

Zach Spafford: I like that idea that Christ says you have to lose your life And I take that to mean you have to give up the old life You have to be willing to Esther Perel puts it this way She says you're gonna be married to three to five different people in your lifetime even if you're always married to the same person you're gonna have three to five different marriages and that It really struck me in that there are so many people who are holding on to this idea of what a marriage should be, what the marriage used to look like, how it's supposed to be.

Zach Spafford: And once we let go of that, we lose that. We can actually address what is and create the marriage that we want, the marriage that is real, the marriage that is meaningful, instead of, instead of always saying, well, let's, let's, let's keep holding on to the thing that isn't working. It's clearly not working because if it was working, we wouldn't be in this place.

Mark Delany: Yeah.

Mark Delany: I look at the simple story of the prodigal son as being this, I just think the story of all of our lives. I think all of us at some point, our passions, just. Make us run off into the city and do what we do. And at some point we're just broken down in that pig pen. And the hardest thing to do is just to walk back home and expose yourself as being the complete failure.

Mark Delany: Like, I've blown it, I've lost it, I've done nothing good in my life, and here I am. It's so hard for humans to do that. It takes making that phone call and being able to just be exposed as. I am a human with a marriage problem is so hard for anyone to do. But if somebody will do that, like change is not that hard.

Mark Delany: If there's surrender with surrender, change is not hard without surrender. I, I don't know that change is possible for a human without surrender. It's just, this is why in our work, we sometimes charge people a lot of money. And some people, we don't charge people much money for some people. We need to charge them a lot so that they surrender.

Mark Delany: Like you need to surrender. You need the action of paying money to help your heart be different.

Mark Delany: It's a level of commitment.

Zach Spafford: Well, this has been awesome. We really enjoyed it. I really,

Mark Delany: I've loved this. I'm going to go for some exercise and then get back to some work and um, go talk to some students about purpose later today. So brilliant.

Mark Delany: This has been great. I truly keep doing what you are doing.

Zach Spafford: You're very kind.

Mark Delany: And anything I can do to boost that and keep people going your way, I'm going to do that because there are not many people like you.

Zach Spafford: If you ever come to St. George, let's hang out. It's beautiful here.

Mark Delany: .Well, okay. Hey, go take on the day. Keep crushing it. Thank you guys. You too. Bye now.

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