Artwork for podcast Thrive Beyond Pornography (Formerly The Self Mastery Podcast)
Part Two - Zach And Darcy Talk About the Struggle of Pornography in Their Marriage
Episode 16530th October 2022 • Thrive Beyond Pornography (Formerly The Self Mastery Podcast) • Zach Spafford
00:00:00 00:31:09

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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 the foundation of of what we grew up with. How we got kind of the ideas that we got in our heads about pornography and sexuality and 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. We want to start with how we met so 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 and I turned around and walked back in the building with Darcia went to church because they were leaving to 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 because 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 less cuties than there than there are in other places so I was like hey let's talk. Let's date. Let's this is after my mission so I was I was on the 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 and 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 they and so I 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 we went to fhe 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 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 Aol 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'll 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 that was 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 and so we went to Gurney Mills yeah it's like a little out. Like a mall It's sping 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 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 be 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 at school at Rick's ah bewayu idaho at that point and that was a tough thing for her. Um, you know I had I had. Basically given her the impression that I never struggled with anything and that and that she didn't need to worry about me and then here comes this kind of blindside as she's maybe you must have been on our computer or our family computer. Yeah, and you find. I mean it was like calendar pictures or something like it wasn't anything super illicit. But for me 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 had found out about the book that he talked about in the last episode that his cousin had given to him and it just it 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 I'm leaving like I won't be married to a man who 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 for 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 why don't you make it all better and be my knight in charning armor. So that was 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 if we fast forward to 2008 that was.


September of 2008 was when I was using tax work laptop and I opened it and there was like what I would consider full-blown pornography and 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 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 with 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's 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 and to be honest, at that point I I thought well I just need to I just need to get a release I need to get you know some I just need to get an orgasm essentially I just 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 I wasn't actually dealing with the grief of having this miscarriage and. The stress of dealing with both an 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 we 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 that was painful for me because I wanted to be this person that 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 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 and for me, it got me to this place where I was super angry I super depressed I really struggled to take care of our kids. Um I 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 it was like no I'm not 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, and but he he definitely he took away x recommend he? Um, yeah, this was this was essentially the beginning of this like long list of bishops. We started talking to and 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 it and at 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 ldest 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 an addiction and that I'm addicted to porn and. 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 our fifth but fourth living child.



And we just kept on 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 low blow it it once again like brought me back down into that spiral of just depression and. 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. 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 and 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 mile and a half and. I walked home all by myself and which 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 I couldn't see anything besides red anger. Yeah, it was tough I remember just sitting in that room with 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 I was honestly scared I was like I have no idea what to do? You're the 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 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 our. Fifth and sixth and this was the point that that I was I was a bit upset with this cause I was done at 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 or our finances 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 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 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 who 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 is a really really stressful thing if if you had twins first you 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 d'arcy meets me at the door and she's just like I 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 like good day good day good day 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 I can tell you she was very much distraught like for 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 her 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 things happened 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 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.



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...



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