Posted tagged ‘pornography’

Your Smokin’ Hot Wife

September 6, 2010

I’ve been noticing a trend that is on the upswing. Men who refer to their spouse online as “my smokin’ hot wife”. This is particularly popular in the Christian twitter community.

They have good intentions. They want their spouse to know that they are excited about an upcoming date night; or that they still find them attractive after years of marriage; or let’s be honest – it’s a way to flirt publicly. It’s also sometimes meant as a humorous reference to the infamous prayer by Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights, who thanks the “Baby Jesus” for his “red-hot smokin’ wife”. I get it. It seems like harmless fun. I understand these things. I’ve been married for nearly 12 years and I can appreciate these gestures. But there’s a problem:

Your mention of your smokin’ hot wife causes me to stumble.

As a person who is in recovery for sex addiction (specifically, pornography), your statement makes me think things I shouldn’t think. Like:

  1. Is she really hot or is he just doing the obligatory husband thing?
  2. If she is hot – HOW hot is she? I wonder what she looks like?
  3. I wonder if there’s a picture of her?

See, your well intentioned tweet sends me into the world of the objectification of women.

Is it all your fault? Certainly not. I bear the responsibility of my thought life. I am responsibile for my own actions and daily make choices to feed the addiction or not. Recovery is a moment-by-moment choice.

But can you help me out a little, bro?

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The Pornification of Halloween

October 12, 2009

This post is the 7th in a series about addiction recovery. If you are not an addict or married to one, then this probably won’t make much sense. To see a list of the entire series from the beginning, go to this page.

Remember when we were kids and we would go trick or treating in the neighborhood? What kinds of costumes did you wear? Was it scary? Was it a favorite superhero or movie character? Was it just down right weird? (every neighborhood had that one kid that wore something really weird).

Was it sexy?

Yes. you read that right. Haven’t you heard? Sexy is now the biggest seller in Halloween costumes. Have you been shopping for costumes with a child recently? Did you find yourself having to either avoid certain aisles or worse, have to answer your child’s questions about certain costumes with nervous laughter?

Are you looking for your standard princess, fairy, or storybook character costumes for girls this year? Don’t worry. The costume companies have you covered, er um…well not so much.

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No, these pictures did not come from a specialty lingerie or adult novelty store. These came from a standard search for “Halloween costume”. (image sizes intentionally small for obvious reasons.) I’ve seen many of these same costumes in a circular ad in our local newspaper! I’ve seen many of them in the various Halloween seasonal stores. What a distortion these costumes create. They take the concept of innocent childhood fantasy and twist it into something perverted. And it’s not just the “girlie” costumes that get that kind of treatment. How about sports figures, cops, gangsters, pilots, nurses, fireman, girl scouts, postal workers, and sailor costumes? Look what they have done to them:

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And it just doesn’t stop. Look how they have treated the traditional Halloween images of pirates, witches, superheroes, even Harry Potter-type wizards, and – astoundingly – even bumblebee costumes!

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I guess sex sells. Last year, the week of Halloween, I made a trip to our local Best Buy store. Apparently, the company had let their employees have a bit of fun and dress up for the occasion. I admit, several of the costumes made me smile, or gave me a chuckle. But then I saw this petite college-aged girl in what could only be described as lingerie with a short skirt and bustier. It was so over-the-top inappropriate that I felt embarrassed. For her. For myself. For all the other guys who were talking her around the store. It made me wonder what she was thinking. Did she like the attention? Was she even aware of what dressing like that would do to her coworkers and customers?

Worst of all…this next set of pics. These costumes are straight out of the pornographic fetish camp. Playboy bunnies, cocktail girls, french maids, cheerleaders, schoolgirls, Shirley Temple dresses, and more. These companies are taking our girls (many of these costumes are targeted, marketed, and sized for teens) and unashamedly setting them up to be objectified, to learn that this is the proper way to get attention from boys, and heaven forbid – possibly setting them up to victims of a crime. As the parent of two girls, these images are shocking to me. These companies are not even trying to hide what they are doing. In fact, the last costume on the right is actually titled, “jailbait”. Can you believe that? They are intentionally PLAYING on the fact that this is pedophilia. Like it’s some kind of joke.

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As a recovering sex addict, I can’t begin to tell you how this affects me. One of my primary problems is the objectification of women. (And believe me, statistics tell us I am far from being alone in that.) I already have problems seeing women as God sees them – as holistic human beings who have their own needs, emotions, and goals. Their own history, and their own future. Guys tend to skip over all that and see women as one-dimensional objects whose entire reason for existence is to please the man. Most girls do not seem to understand that, because if they did – there is NO WAY they would wear a costume like is pictured in this post.

To Costume Makers: You’re disgusting. Your plan to porn-ify Halloween is evil.
To Stores: Please stop stocking this trash.
To Teens: Please don’t wear stuff like this. You are worth more than that, and you are creating distractions for good men like me who struggle with sex addictions. We are not “perverts” and we are not “dirty old men”. Your clothing choices DO make a difference.
To Adult Women: Please use some common sense as to when and where is appropriate to wear things like this.
To Parents: You have to talk to your girls early and often about image and the role it plays between boys and girls. Talk to your boys about the “holistic nature” of girls and that while physical attraction is a powerful thing, it is only one part of a much larger equation.

No Secrets

March 16, 2009

This post is the 5th in a series about addiction recovery. If you are not an addict or married to one, then this probably won’t make much sense. To see a list of the entire series from the beginning, go to this page.

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When your addiction comes out and your spouse knows about it, it is time to enact a new modus operandi – “No Secrets.” In this mode, you voluntarily forfeit any right to privacy from your spouse. An addict will be resistant to this practice, but I have found it to be critical to my personal recovery, and for the rebuilding of trust in our marriage.

No Secrets mode is necessary for several reasons:

  1. Trust has been shattered between you, so you must do anything it takes to re-establish it.
  2. All addicts are good liars. “No Secrets” mode establishes new habits of behavior.
  3. Addictions live in the dark. The more light we can shine on them, the less power they will have over our lives.
  4. Spouses can usually sense danger, see warning signs, and predict patterns well before the addict can. Having no secrets allows the spouse to help in the recovery process.
  5. It helps build humility. It is humbling to submit to a spouse and admit you need help.

So what does it look like? What do I mean by No Secrets? Here are some examples.

No Secrets with Time. Your spouse has the right to know where you’ve been. Immediately. On Demand. Without hesitation. If you are separated at the department store for 10 minutes, and your spouse wants to know what you did in those 10 minutes – you’d better spill. And stick to the facts – no embellishment. The longer it takes to tell where you’ve been and why, the more suspicious it looks!

No Secrets with Companions. Who were you with? Who did you have lunch with? Who else did you see while you were there? Who was at the meeting? Was (name of a person) there? Who did you ride with? Addicts hate these types of quetions, but they are essential to rebuilding trust.

No Secrets with Money. Your spouse has a right to know what you did with every single penny. Period.

No Secrets with Technology. Your spouse has the right to look through your web browsing history, through your email, through your text messages, through the Pay-Per-View history and through the online banking accounts. Is your computer setup with multiple user accounts? If so, then your spouse needs to have your login name and password.

No Secrets with Acting Out. Did you stumble? Did you indulge in an addiction activity? Your spouse deserves to know. Immediately. The sooner the better.

No Secrets with Your Thoughts. Have you been feeling tempted lately? Have you felt depressed or stressed or angry or frustrated? Have you thought about other women (either real or imagined?) Have you seen something you shouldn’t have seen? Have you been in an environment that was difficult for you because it triggered an addictive response? Have you hung around people that trigger that response?

The Addict will hate this. It makes them feel like a child. It makes them feel nagged. It makes them feel like they have no control and no privacy. And here is my answer to that. YOU ARE A CHILD! (at least part of you is.) All addicts have an arrested development of some kind. You have proven again and again that you cannot be trusted on your own, and that you need the help of others to stay on track. So don’t resist this. It is good for you. Submit to your spouse. Let go of your “rights”. Embrace truth.

It could save your marriage.

It could save your life.

Counterfeit Intimacy

February 25, 2009

This post is the 2nd in a follow-up series to Sharing Our Story (Jan 26). The 1st follow-up to that was the post called What Drives You To Act Out (Feb 19). This series is targeted to people who struggle with addictions and their spouses. If you’re not an addict (or married to one) the following info might be really weird for you. I’m just sayin’.

I wanted to write about the issue of Counterfeit Intimacy some more, as it has been a foundational issue in my recovery.

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First, let’s define intimacy. I do not mean intimacy as sex – which comes immediately to a lot of people’s minds. Instead, I mean intimacy as an emotional connection, not a physical one. It is familiarity, a feeling of belonging together, closeness, of truly knowing each other, “to know and be known”, to not have secrets between you, to empathize with the other person, to share common experiences and goals, to be on the same team emotionally and spiritually, to be accepted and loved for the person you really are.

I never realized how important my need for intimacy, as defined above, was until I got into recovery. And then I came to learn that my addiction to pornography was linked directly to this idea of counterfeit intimacy.

Pornography is a fantasy – yes. It is an aid for physical pleasure and stress relief – yes. But for the addict, it is much more than that. Addicts are looking for something to fill the void which is created inside them by a lack of intimacy in their marriage. We crave that intimacy so much, that when our gauge gets low -and the need is not addressed in a reasonable amount of time – then we will turn to counterfiet intimacy in a lame attempt to fill that need.

Pornography is a counterfeit intimacy because it plays on the illusion of closeness and familiarity. It gives the user a cheap imitation of actual acceptance and love. But it is not real. It is hollow. It cannot fill up the void that exists within. It can only temporarily delay the feeling of isolation. Because the truth is – as soon as you’re done looking at it – the empty feeling wells up from within and is even more powerful than before. And on top of that – you pile guilt and shame on top of it.

It is at this point in the cycle, that you see why people get trapped with it. When you feel that guilt and shame, you can’t look your spouse in the eye (because intimacy and trust has been broken). You now have a secret that exists in the space between the two of you. This makes getting your need for intimacy filled all the more unlikely, because NOW you not only have the normal lack of connection with that person that has to be rekindled through communication and understanding, but now you have actual barriers you have to cross before you can even GET there.

The first barrier is honesty. You have to come clean with your spouse. This will take courage and humility. But most certainly, your spouse will react negatively (obviously.) So you will reach another barrier.

The second barrier is forgiveness. The spouse will need time to process things, to go through anger and frustration and letting their emotions out. And once they get through all that, (hopefully with God’s help and some time), they will offer you forgiveness. This will free you from the guilt and shame, but now you’re on to the third barrier to restoring intimacy.

The third barrier is rebuilding trust. There can’t be intimacy without a component of trust. After all, why would you open up and re-give your heart to someone who is likely to break it again? How do you rebuild trust? My counselor gave me this little tidbit to remember. Trust is easy to define, but hard to build. Trust is: consistent behavior over time. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But for the addict, it’s very hard to get through. You have to consistently make right choices over a long period of time in order to earn back someone’s trust.

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Once you’ve made it through those three barriers, now you’re back to ground zero and back to building intimacy between the two of you. Talking, sharing, laughing, crying, communicating, sharing experiences and setting common goals and just generally being on the same page. THAT’s how you create intimacy – and it is its own reward.

Sex between two people who are connected in that type of intimacy is always amazing – not because there’s anything diffeent physically, but because you are living out the biblical promise – “and the two shall be one flesh”. United as one. Sharing everything. Holding nothing back.

So the next time you feel that intimacy in your marriage is on the decline, DO NOT PUT IT OFF. Do whatever it takes to regain it. If your “everyday” efforts do not get you back to that place, then ramp it into overdrive! Take time off work. Get a babysitter. Go away for the weekend. IT’S THAT IMPORTANT. Once you settle for the counterfeit intimacy, you start a cycle of separation that will last a long time and lead to a lot of un-necessary pain.

Sharing our Story

January 26, 2009

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My wife and I went public yesterday. We shared our story to the entire congregation in a Sunday morning service. A story of addiction and a marriage on the brink – but also a story of grace, and recovery, and finding what true intimacy in marriage is all about.

Are you an addict? Is your spouse an addict? A family member? Maybe if you don’t have a problem with the “big five” (alcohol, drugs, smoking, sex addictions, gambling) you think you’re not an addict? Perhaps you’ll rethink that after you listen to the following clip. Morgan Young setup the morning this way (mp3):

My personal addiction is pornography. I was in it for a long, long time until I got into true recovery. Our pastor, Mark Malin, interviewed my wife and I about our story. You can listen to an mp3 of the complete interview here.

Other service elements:
Bulletin Insert: Addiction Resources: Page 1 (180k jpg) Page 2 (248k jpg)
Link to the Pete Wilson blog post I referenced in the interview

Songs that supported the topic:

We began the morning with “Landslide”, the tune made so popular in the last few years by the Dixie Chicks. The song has the quality of a bittersweet memory – something that’s sad and painful, but that was ultimately good. The song is a metaphor to me, of my addiction. Addictions are landslides. The earth falls out from under you and you find yourself up to your ears in mud. But the song also has a “resolve” about it that I really like. The songwriter talks about the passing of time and growing older (and hopefuly wiser). It was just a beautiful way to start the morning.

After Morgan’s awesome setup to the topic, special guest Cameron Sprinkle let it rip on a Linkin Park tune named, “Easier To Run”. I know what you’re thinking – they did a Linkin Park song in CHURCH??? Why yes, we did. The song just NAILS the dilemma that an addict faces. They hate the thing that controls them, yet they can’t break free. They would like to change, and to end the pain that it causes, and to get beyond it – but it’s just so much easier to run from it. Lyrics can be found here.

After my wife and I told our story, I sang a song that has been been really important to me in my recovery (along with Charlie Hall’s “Marvelous Light”). The song is Bebo Norman’s “Great Light Of The World”. Check out the lyrics to this awesome song here.

Post-Service:
I asked our sound guys to play the song, “Whatever You’re Doing” by the band Sanctus Real as people exited the auditorium. If you’ve never heard it before, please take a listen. It’s an awesome one about surrendering to the real source of change.