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Quitting Porn is Easier Without Judgement
Episode 165th January 2020 • Thrive Beyond Pornography (Formerly The Self Mastery Podcast) • Zach Spafford
00:00:00 00:11:47

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As I work with men and women, and their spouses, I find that one of the biggest issues that comes up is how pornography use affects their relationships.

one thing that I often see and one thing that happened in my own relationship was that my wife thought that for her to be happy she needed to control me and my pornography use. 

If you haven’t read that story go back to my blog and check out the one titled, “My wife used sex as a way to try and control me and I wanted her to”

Lots of wives and husbands do this to varying degrees, especially when their spouse isn’t behaving in a way that they want.

This is the rules part of all our relationships. 

We have all these expectations of how our relationships should be.

As I have learned and grown from a pornography user and now as a coach, something that each of us has to learn is that our relationships are just one thing. 

They are our thoughts about another person.

If you have ever had a boss you can’t stand but someone else loves them, you know what I am talking about, even if you have never thought about it this way.

Another good example of this is our ward bishops. They can be figures that are beloved by almost everyone, but there are some that we just don’t get along with. And we also have ideas about who they should be and how they should behave. 

As an example of how we think people aught to behave, When I was a young man I attended a youth conference where there happened to be a tv on in the lobby showing some Saturday night live reruns.

In my house we had never been allowed to watch SNL because my parents had opinions about it. But there, in that lobby I saw a member of our stake presidency Julian Breillatt watching and laughing at SNL.

Now, being the know it all teenager I was, I said something about how I was surprised he was watching it. and he responded that he loved SNL and thought it was very funny. Incidently, a number of years later, this same good man was the temple sealer who married my wife and i.

My thoughts about what a member of the stake presidency should and shouldn’t watch were a manual of sorts for this man. But at that moment, I learned that I didn’t have to believe everything I thought about how others should behave. 

I could just let people behave without having to judge them as fulfilling some arbitrary set of rules that I thought.

Our relationships with others depend solely on our thoughts about that person. 

What I thought about president briellatt watching snl could have been that he was a bad person and that I would never value anything he ever said again as a spiritual leader.

Or, as was the case, I didn’t take his behavior to mean anything other than he was a man, doing the best he could. And when it came time for him to officiate in our wedding, I was happy to have a man who had been part of my life for many years there to officiate.

When it comes to spouses, this same lesson can and, I’ll say, probably should, be applied for the sake of everyone’s happiness.

Specifically, when it comes to pornography use, oftentimes, I find that spouses feel it is their duty to hold their loved one to a certain standard. And when that standard hasn’t been met, they are to punish, cajole, withhold affection from and judge the other party.

So, in my relationship with darcy, I know that my relationship with her depends on my thoughts about her.

My thoughts about her depend on my expectations of her and how well she meets those expectations.

I also can’t have “love” for her, but that I have loving thoughts about her. 

Because, as we know, our emotions and feelings are generated by our thoughts. So, when I think about her lovingly, I feel love. 

I also know that I can’t be mad at her. I only have thoughts that create the feeling of being mad.

I make me mad.

Just like when I used pornography, she, her thoughts, were what made her mad. 

I never hurt her feelings, she simply had thoughts that hurt.

Let me give you an example. The other day she came to me and said, I’d like to get these desks for the new office, because if we have these desks then the kids’ school stuff will go in them and be out of the bins they are in now and they won’t be all over the house.

Now, I disagreed, because my thought is, if their stuff is in bins or in desk drawers, it doesn’t matter, they are probably still going to lose their school books, because they don’t put them away regardless of where they go.

She got upset and, in her own words to one of her friends, said that she was having a temper tantrum.

Once you truly understand that it is not what others do that hurts us or makes us feel loved by them or love for them, your relationships will never be the same. 

They will be much more amazing.

As adults, we get to do whatever we want. 

Trying to control others is impossible.

My grandpa found this out the hard way when my grandma Spafford wanted new carpet and he told her, no. 

Now, her reaction may have had a little to do with the fact that the next week he came home with a brand new car without so much as a consultative glance in grandma’s direction. 

Either way, you may have guessed, there was brand new carpet in that house by the end of the following week. 

Adults don’t like to be controlled.

Also, you’re an adult.

So, what does that mean?

You get to do whatever you want. 

You also don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.

Some of you out there might be saying, my husband can’t do whatever he wants.

My wife has to consult with me before she does this or that.

Not true.

As you saw in the example of my grandparents, adult people get to behave however they choose to.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences to be dealt with. And it doesn’t mean that we all will behave selfishly, no more than does the legalization of marijuana mean everyone will smoke it.

It does make you a human with agency.

It also means that you are not responsible for how someone feels if you don’t do something.

My wife wanted me to go to ikea and get the desks. I chose not to and not to worry about how she was reacting. 

And, if she really wanted them, she could have chosen to go get them and put them up. 

Now, sometimes we want to do things because someone else wants us to. That is different from feeling like you must do something because your spouse will be upset or you’ll get in trouble. 

Adults can lie, cheat, steal, look at   

You can whine, complain, be passive aggressive, give them ultimatums or the cold shoulder, or even yell and scream and threaten them with divorce.

Or you can let go of the idea that you can or even let go of the idea that you want to control your spouse and you can realize what a waste of time and energy it is. 

I can guarantee you you’ll be happier with letting go.

Then you’ll be happier with you. 

And speaking of you, your relationship with you, is 100% your thoughts. 

So, let’s talk about three key truths you need to understand about you and your relationship with you.

1.    You are 100% lovable.

2.    If you don’t love yourself, it’s a reflection of your choice not to love yourself, not your lovability. You are the object of your love, but how you feel about your lovability will depend on your willingness and capacity to love yourself unconditionally

3.    How you treat yourself reflects your thoughts about yourself.

A researcher named Larry Bradley asks all his clients to go out and ask people this really interesting question. “what does it mean to be lovable?”

When darcy and I did this, we found that everyone had a different answer that spoke to their individual needs, wants, and lives. 

In the end, however, your lovability is a static, immovable reality. You cannot increase your lovability and you cannot decrease it. 

Mostly we just have thoughts about what we choose to do that may impact how we feel about our lovability. But think about it. 

Having an amazing relationship with yourself is just choosing to think you are amazing. 

Think you are amazing and you are. Easy, right?

So why is it so hard for so many of us?

Because we have expectations about what we do and who we are and we judge ourselves for not meeting those expectations by looking backward for anything we might have done wrong.

Ever tell someone they did something great and the first words out of their mouth were, “Yeah, but…” followed by a withering self critique that no one else saw or cared about.

This is a habit that can be hard to break but it well worth the effort. 

You are amazing. We are all amazing. 

Also, you had nothing to do with how amazing you are. As creations of our father in heaven we came to this world amazing.

Just take a step back and recognize your amazingness and say thank you.

Even and especially if you are stuck in a habit you don’t like or want to remove from your life. 

You are 1000% more likely to move past it when you know you are amazing. 

Try having that relationship with yourself for a couple of months and see how it feels.

I guarantee you’ll enjoy it more than beating yourself up.

Thanks, I’ll talk to you next week.