Episode 165: Zach and Darcy Part Two - Marriage and the Struggle With PornographyOct 31, 2022
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Hey, everybody, and welcome to thrive beyond pornography I'm Zach and this is Darcy Hello all right so last week. We talked about what was going on for us as we grew up Darcy and I kind of gave you the foundation of what we grew up with. How we got kind of the ideas that we got in our heads about pornography and sexuality and all of the really interesting stuff about when we were babies when we were little kids and all the way up into our teen years and right after I got home from my mission. Essentially this week. We want to talk about it. We want to start with how we met the story that I always tell is that I was walking out of the buffalo Grove Illinois singles branch with a girl that I thought was cute and I was like hey let's go on a date and then I saw Darcy. And I immediately turned around and went and as she was walking into the building, I immediately was like oh hey I'll see you later I turned around and walked back into the building with Darcia went to church because they were leaving for that girl and so I thought oh maybe I missed it. Maybe I am at the wrong time and so I happen to say hey. Is this singles branch right now I was confused by the fact that they were leaving the church not entering and he said oh yeah, it is let me show you and he like walked me in yeah, that was how we met it sounds way more romantic when it's just like that I ditch this other girl.
But the truth is I was the ward mission leader and I was like yeah, I'll help you out but she was a cutie and in Buffalo grove, there were fewer cuties than there are in other places so I was like hey let's talk. Let's the date. Let's this is after my mission so I was on the hunt. Was trying to find a wife that started us that was Thanksgiving break I was home from Byu Idaho and I was considering moving home my roommates were worried that if I moved home being that I was. The only member in my family and I had only been a member for about a year they were worried that I would go inactive and so I was like I will promise I promise I'll go to church and so I kept my promise to my roommates and I went to church and that is when I met Zach and I asked her out on a date and we went to the yeah that was the date is that what it was yeah and then ah and then our first real date we went was over Christmas break. Yeah, over Christmas break and I had I'd gotten really sick and Darcy. Was so desperate that she called me. Yeah, well it was funny because I did like I was so sick I didn't call her I didn't even think about her I was dying between Thanksgiving and Christmas we were like doing I am I think it was All I don't know some kind of messaging system back in the day and so we were chatting online and he was like hey.
When you get back, I want to take you to the zoo to see the lights. It'll be super cool and still never seen the lights to this day I've never seen the lights and then I get home, right? and I'm waiting for this phone call because clearly, he's going to call me and nothing. He just totally. Stood me up and I was like wow I'm kind of surprised I because he's and I thought I thought he was kind of into me and I guess he's not anyways. But after like a week of being at home with just my family. Was pretty desperate to hang out with someone my age and so I called Zach which that's way against my like code of operation I would never call a boy or you know hold a boy's hand or hug a boy like the boys had to make the moves and so. Me calling him was a really big deal and it was actually December Twenty third and he said oh I'm so sorry I've been so sick I'm finally starting to feel better. Do you want to go out so we went to Gurney Mills yeah it's like a little out. Like a mall, It's spring a large mall. Yeah, I guess it's not little yeah and we had Chinese food and we went Christmas shopping for our moms super and the very first store we walked into was this guy we walked in there like we had known each other in real terms like face to face maybe like a total of 3 hours
Yeah, and this guy who's in this store. He's like oh are you guys here to register for your wedding? It was so awkward because we were like looking at bulls or something to buy his mom or silverware. Maybe I can't remember yeah but we're like no actually we basically just met. That guy and then three. We only later were basically registering for our wedding if only we could find that guy like you started something I don't know so we got engaged. We got married. We're going to fast forward a little bit here and we were I mean we just spent that first year or so dealing with being newlyweds. And one of the things that you know was a bump in the road was Darcy found some bikini pictures that I had been looking at online when we were at school at Rick's ah Bewayu Idaho at that point and that was a tough thing for her. Um, you know I had. Basically, given her the impression that I never struggled with anything and that she didn't need to worry about me and then here comes this kind of blindside as she maybe must have been on our computer or our family computer. Yeah, and you find. I mean it was like calendar pictures or something it wasn't anything super illicit. But at that point it was I was upset about it. Yeah, tell him how upset you were oh I was very upset I remember calling my friend Aubrey like I.
Pretty much always collabery and just talking to her and telling her how upset I was and then through that conversation, I found out about the book that he talked about in the last episode that his cousin had given to him and it just was pretty upsetting to me. And it definitely laid a foundation for a lot of secrecy and a lot of hiding because I was very much like no this isn't okay, this won't be in my marriage, and if you do this? Basically, I'm leaving like I won't be married to a man who does this. I got really good at hiding it I got good at hiding what was going on for me I got good at hiding who I really was I got good at hiding my emotions from Darcy and I think and you know you would probably say this you were not really a safe person for me to talk to. And to share what was actually happening to me. Yeah, I mean I would say that now look yeah back. But then you would definitely then I would then you would have said why aren't you a better husband to me? Yeah, why don't you make it all better and be my knight in charming armor? So that was tough that was a difficult time for both of us partly because. We were learning how to be grownups together but also because I couldn't be really real with her with you. So so we got married in 2003 yeah, and then if we fast forward to 2008 that was.
In September of 2008 when I was using a tax work laptop and I opened it and there was like what I would consider full-blown pornography I was shocked I was definitely not expecting it. You know we'd been married. For 5 years at this point and we had just had a miscarriage three days prior um that like landed me in the er ambulance ride with all of that good stuff and so I was in a pretty low place, to begin with. And then seeing that on his laptop just was more than I could handle. It was pretty devastating and looking back I can tell you now that I was definitely using pornography as a way to manage the emotional difficulty of that time. It was a. Was very stressful I was at a corporate job and I was starting my Mba and then we have this miscarriage and there was a lot going on for me as I'm doing all of that work and I didn't know how to be emotionally vulnerable with Darcy capable of like. Saying hey, um, and to be honest, at that point I thought well I just need to I just need to get a release I need to get you to know some I just need to get an orgasm essentially, I just need to manage my emotions or manage my ah my sexual urges so I can be there for all the other things that have to happen.
Can be 100 % for all those other things so that was me just kind of going into this place where all I was doing was managing myself mentally and emotionally through pornography and I wasn't actually dealing with the grief of having this miscarriage. The stress of dealing with both a Mba; and a pretty demanding corporate job. So, there was a lot going on there 3 kids in three and a half years oh yeah not to mention 3 kids in two and a half years and buying our first house. Yeah, we just had a lot There was a very busy time in our lab a lot of stress going on I mean. Look. It's funny because looking back I could definitely Lee say like oh that wasn't that bad right? But when you're in the thick of it feels really heavy and like yeah, a lot of hard things. So yeah, and I mean we were moving forward. It wasn't like we were depressed and freaking out. Over everything but I can see now that the way I was dealing with things was just not as healthy as I wanted it to be and that was painful for me because I wanted to be this person that I showed you that I pretended to you that I was and I wasn't I just wasn't that guy. And it was just this behind-the-scenes struggle on again off again, never succeeding always trying and you know that's the night that Darcy took that laptop. She was so upset and she just took that laptop and threw it down the stairs it survived it survived. Thankfully it didn't get broken but man.
I mean that was a real indicator to me that I can't be real with Darcy if I'm struggling, I have to manage that on my own and I just have to be there for her I have to manage her emotions I have to manage what's going on for her and that was tough that was really tough for me. And for me, it got me to this place where I was super angry and super depressed, I really struggled to take care of our kids. Um, I really was not in a good place and I had to hide. Like it was all hiding like I could not show anything real to Darcy I had to hide what was going on for me I had to hide anything that even if I came home and I was stressed about work like Darcy would ask. Are you gonna get fired? And was like, no I'm not getting fired I just have work. I had a lot of anxiety around pretty much everything I would say at yeah that point and ah when I found out you know we met with our bishop and he is a very nice man and we love him to this day and we actually still talk to him to this day. Yeah, he definitely took away the recommendation. Um, yeah, this was essentially the beginning of this like the long list of bishops. We started talking to a long list of therapists while.
Climbing the corporate ladder and then going to 12-step meetings. I mean it was just we were looking for help in every corner of the earth that we could possibly imagine finding and at that point we lived in Franklin Wisconsin and so we drove about 2 hours down I don't remember exactly where I go somewhere like maybe it was. It was a Chicago suburb. Yes, somewhere in Chicago land ah to go to the eldest family services because that was the closest eldest family services counselor and it was basically the closest person that would be able to talk to us. As a therapist who also shared some of our belief structures. So, you know we thought you know if I go to a regular therapist. They're going to be like well who cares if you look at porn. But if I go to an Lds family services therapist. They're going to know that I'm dealing with addiction and that I'm addicted to porn. They'll know what to do to help me solve this and the truth was they had no idea and they didn't have any tools and they didn't have any skills and they didn't know how to help guide us through this process and that was you know that that was frustrating looking back. It was just this massive waste of time and resources. Of belief and energy, I mean it's just unfortunate that there weren't better resources at the time. Yeah, to be honest, and then three months after me finding out we were pregnant with what would be our fifth but fourth living child.
And we just kept on going and then in 2009 we moved to California Zach had gotten a promotion from work and we moved to California which was a huge step for us and that had been a year you know it was exactly it was like exactly a year from finding out because we moved in September and so from for that during that year you know we were meeting with therapists and everybody I was under the impression that Zach was just squeaky clean, perfect. Not struggling at all right? And so. When we got to California and I found out that oh, by the way, I've been lying to you the last year then it was like a low blow it it once again like brought me back down into that spiral of just depression. Anxiety and you know trying to control him and just a really bad place for me. Honestly, it was not a good time in my life and I'd say it was probably the hardest year of my life, and ah I'll never forget it. We went to this Lds therapist. There she was in our stake and someone recommended her and I remember sitting in her home. She had a home office and she said to me is there any other way you can respond to Zach looking at porn besides angry she was just like so sweet and so kind and calm and I was like no.
So, I'm angry I'm so angry and I'm just so angry and I'm like so full of like rage and emotions and I like got up and I walked out of her office I walked out her front door and I walked home. It was like probably a mile and a half. I walked home all by myself and that was kind of a big deal for me, but it kind of gives you an idea of where I was and what I was dealing with and that I was willing to just like get up and walk home by myself. Rather than kind of try and figure out you know? Okay, why is she asking me this? You know be curious about that question I just couldn't see anything besides red anger. Yeah, it was tough I remember just sitting in that room with the counselor after you left. And I was like I don't know what to do I know that if I leave right now, I'm not gonna, make it any better. So, I'm gonna stay here with you because I was honestly scared, I was like I have no idea what to do. You're the therapist tell me what to do tell me how to deal with this tell me how to solve this problem. That my wife doesn't storm out of rooms with people because of what I'm doing yeah it was that this was the time when you were like oh well; If you're gonna look at porn. You're gonna fat wife, yeah, and then I started eating.
Started eating to manage my emotions which I had never done up until that point. Um, it was a very clear decision that I had made that oh well, you're gonna look at porn. That's it like I'm no longer going to.
Strive to be this perfect hot wife that you know I felt like I was up until that point. Yeah, and yeah, it was. It was hard but we stayed together. Yeah, and we got pregnant. We had we were pregnant with ours. Fifth and sixth and this was the point that I was I was a bit upset with this because I was done with four kids and I think this is probably when we got pregnant with our fifth and sixth. This was probably the point where I decided that. Or began to push back on the idea that I have to give Darcy absolutely everything just because she wants it since I'm a bad husband because I have this pornography struggle and I was I continued to try and manage her through. Trying to make it so that she had anything and everything she wanted because she wanted it even though it wasn't necessarily good for our family or good for her good for me or our finances. It was just one of those things where she asked for it I would give it to her because I felt like I owed it to her because I was such a bad husband so we have the twins man I was pretty upset about it actually which I'm not proud of at this point but it was a moment that I can recognize.
Began this process of me saying no I'm not going to just say yes to you just because that's you know that landed us in a place where we had 6 kids 7 and under and it was an enormous strain on our lives just an enormous strain. They were so cute though they were. If. You're, friends with us on Facebook you can see them. They're cute. They're adorable. They're good kids and I was going to so I was at that point I was meeting with a bishop but I had a therapist and I was going to 12-step meetings and 1 hand I was going to the 12-step support. Yeah, for wives and. Plus we had all these freaking kids whom you know needed to get to school and needed to get their schoolwork done and diapers changed I mean if you've never had twins. It's, very different sometimes people come to us and they're like oh you've got twins I had two kids close together. And it's just it's got to be just like having twins and I'm like nope it's not it is for like no, we've done that we've had kids as about as close as you can get them. Twins are a really stressful thing if you had twins first you probably have Noah you had no idea how much easier 1 baby was yeah so. I'm going to these 12 step meetings one night after I I go meet with the bishop and then I go to the 12 steps and I'm getting home at like who knows what time of the night and Darcy meets me at the door and she's just like I don't need you to go to these meetings anymore. Nothing's getting It's not getting better.
And I just need you here to change diapers I remember at that point like we had a calendar that we would Mark as a good day and then like an x for a bad day. You know like we were like keeping track and we are very much like stuck in that addiction model betrayal trauma. Perfection is the only possibility here. It's perfection or nothing. It was a very difficult time for both of us and I can tell you she was very much distraught her to say I mean you've heard how much energy she put into all of this anger and frustration. Up to this point when she learned that I was looking at porn and for she to come to me and say listen, forget it I don't care if you look at porn, I just need you to be here to change diapers and put babies to bed because I physically cannot handle it all on my own That's how much it cost her to say that I mean it was big. And for me, that was this moment where simultaneously a couple of things happened to number 1, I knew that I still wanted to resolve this problem. It wasn't like when she said listen, I don't care if you look at porn that wasn't some sort of absolution where all of the sudden, I was like. Oh yeah, I'll just look at porn all the time and it's not a big deal I'm going to do whatever I want and I think oftentimes this happens for a lot of people where they wear their spouse or somebody, they let go of some part of whatever it is. They're dealing with and we think that there's this.
A slippery slope that's automatically going to take them all the way down to the bottom and they're going to become I don't know serial killers or whatever but the truth is that's not what happened for me and I doubt that happens for most people I think most of the time once you let go of something you can actually start to grab onto what you actually want and actually need. And when she let go of that. She really let it be my problem. It stopped being her problem and it started to just be mine and it was some and that allowed me to go do it is this really a problem I want to continue to have is this a problem I want to solve and if it's a problem I actually want to solve how do I solve it. Because up to this point, I'd spent a number of years. So, this has been four years in the making trying to solve this problem and not succeeding, and ah so I looked at all the things I was doing and I said well if it's not working. Let's try something different. And that was and we're gonna talk about that in next week's episode and start talking about what I did and how things changed and why they changed and what we did to change and what and what started to change for me. Also, right? And I think a really important part of our story to those years in California was that. We started to be open with our friends. Yeah, and we had a few good friends and they knew that Zach was struggling with pornography and they knew how I was struggling and we were just open and honest about what was real for us and what was going on and I think.
For Zach having the support of those ah like Stephen Austin are yeah names but of those 2 and just knowing that they were still our friends and they still loved us and cared about us even though this is what we were struggling with I think made a big. Difference and um, we did have a really great bishop when we lived in Thousand Oaks and he was different than a lot of them. Yeah, um, but he was great and well and I think it's important to recognize none of the bishops I ever spoke to had any. Actual answers for me. But what each of them did have for me like none of them were like able to give me any real concrete ways to solve for my pornography habits. But what each of them did have for me was love and Steve ah Steve Barris and Austin Balio who I mentioned in the book in in one of the chapters that I wrote for Richard Ostler's book one of the sections under porn on the pornography chapter he they both were willing to just love me. For who I was and be available to me and when I would go out of town. They would ah call Zack and you know invite him over for dinner or um, invite him to go play basketball or whatever you know it was. It was nice. Having support outside of just.
Are yeah immediate and this yeah so you know the first thing that I got was this kind of momentary understanding. Yes, I guess none of this stuff is working the next thing I got was essentially I can figure this out and. I am one of those guys who me and Youtube we can figure anything out I got to fix a car let's fix a car I got to build a house let's build a house I can do anything with Youtube and a little bit of learning wherever it comes from whether it's Youtube or something else. But I thought about my pornography struggle and I thought the answer's got to be there. But for whatever reason nobody seems to be able to give me the answer that I need and at this point the only resources that were essentially available were 12 steps if you had an addiction of any stripe in the United States for the last like eighty years 12 steps is all you ever really get and I figured you know what? that's not working. It's not working for me and you know little did I know that the research is pretty clear 12 steps isn't as effective at solving these kinds of problems as we might have been led to believe but that meant that. I had 2 things one I had to figure it out and I had to do it on my own and that was that was a little bit daunting but it was really freeing because I like figuring things out and that's that was.
This kind of turn that was a that was one of the main turning points in our in our lives and I think in our marriage and I'm so grateful that Darcy was like listen enough is enough stop going to these meetings. They're useless not because she thought they were useless necessarily but because she didn't see any results and that's. A big deal. That's a really important component when the results aren't showing up well and I just didn't see any real change either right? It just seemed like we were kind of going through the same pattern year after year after year and I just was like. Why are we doing this. This is a waste of time. Yeah, we need to do something different and if the difference is just that you're home more hours a week than not then I'll take it right? So that's what start? That's where we started. We started with me home more and then well. That was when we really started to make big changes and we'll tell you what that looks like next week but hopefully this has been helpful. Hopefully for you hear something of your struggle in what we've talked about because the truth is everybody out there who is struggling with a pornography habit or. If you want to call it an addiction. That's just fine. But if you're struggling, I imagine that you have felt the way that we felt deep despair extraordinary frustration and even a great deal of anger because you thought you were doing it all right? and ah hope that you.
Will hear this message and know that there's a light at the end of the tunnel and we're gonna talk about how that works next week but I just I hope that you can see there's more. There's more available to you than all that deep despair all right? My friends. Looking forward to talk to you next week have a great week, please feel free to sign up for a free consult at zaspaffer.com/work with Zach and we will talk to you work with me that 1 works too. Okay, yeah, they both work. Okay, they both work all right. Did you know that? no I yeah no, we have work with Zach and we have work with me all right? My friends. We hope you have a great week. We'll talk to you next week bye.
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