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1. Choose love
So often those who are dealing with spouses that have chosen addictive behavior feel like we are supposed to punish their behavior. In doing that, we lose the perspective of love that we once had.
Choosing love doesn’t mean that you need to allow your spouse to abuse and overrun you. It also doesn’t mean that you give in to the demands of a spouse who is manipulating you. Choosing love does mean that what you say, what you do and who you show up as come from a place of love.
In place of saying things like, “I hate what you are doing in our home and what you have become” you can say, and mean, “I love you. This behavior is not ok.”
Choosing love is for you. It is so you can be the person that you want to be in the moment of your interaction. It is so you can lead your relationship by example.
Being the person you want to be in your relationship will help bring your entire marriage up, not just changing you but also, indirectly changing your partner.
Love is what you experience toward another. Other people don’t feel your feelings. You feel them. Which means, how you feel is how you act and how you act creates your results.
Choosing love does not mean we allow others to break the boundaries that we have set within the relationship. If you have set a boundary that for 48 hours after your spouse looks at pornography sexual intimacy is off the table, then hold firmly and lovingly to that boundary.
Be clear, keep it simple and love without condition.
2. Give up the need to be right
a. No real benefit to being right
b. Need to be right is misguided
c. When you do, tension will dissipate
What has being right ever given you? Has being right ever taken something from you?
In a loving, committed relationship being right at the expense of the other person doesn’t bring us together, it usually creates an unnecessary wedge.
My parents have this running bet. Any time one feels they are right about some inane thing and the other is not relenting, they will say, “I’ll bet your $300”. No one keeps score, no one knows who is ahead, no money is ever passed to the “winner” because there is never a winner. It is their way of saying, “it doesn’t matter, let’s move on”.
When it comes to pornography use, you may believe deep down that you are right about what is happening. You may “know” that if your partner would just stop doing x or start doing y that they would be able to move forward and stop regressing to unhealthy buffering with pornography.
The question you have to ask is, “is being right making my partner change?”
The answer is invariably, “no.”
I’m also not saying that you have to be wrong. You don’t have to give up on your opinions or act as though your position is unimportant.
If you love the person, being right doesn’t make them love you more and doesn’t make you love them more.
Give up being right and you will find yourself free from so much conflict.
3. Stop trying to control the other person
a. We want others to do things
b. Adults get to behave however they want
c. We can’t control others without creating problems
d. They do what you want because they don’t want to deal with your upset feelings
e. “I should just let them do what they want and behave how they want”
f. They are going to do what they want anyway
g. Setting boundaries is what you will do when someone acts in appropriately
h. Screaming and yelling and freaking out is not
Have you noticed that no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, you can’t control the behavior of others?
As a pornography user my wife was in charge of so many aspects of my life. She was my monitor for my computer use, she held all the passwords to my accounts, she would double check my text messages, she set up the restrictions on my cell phone.
Yet, I was able to look at pornography when I chose to. Sometimes it was more difficult than others, but still
4. Take 100% responsibility for your relationship
a. Take responsibility for how you feel and act
b. Do not take responsibility for how they feel or act
The thing about relationships is that they are 100% between your ears. So, the key to taking responsibility for your relationship is understanding that you get to choose how you want to feel about the person you are married to. I read the book The art of possibility and they talk about it in terms of being the board. If you are familiar with board games, in that you are a piece or just one player. When you become the board, you choose to be responsible for everything that goes on in the game. Not that you are to blame but it comes from a perspective of choosing to recognize that when you are responsible for what goes on in your life and then you get to choose how you want to move forward.
This is different from blame, which is often how we manage our lives.
Car accident example.
I could have chosen to be the victim
Sometimes I did
Could have blamed him,
Did blame him
Blame the church
But eventually I had to take responsibility for my happiness and recognize that I had choices and I chose to stay, chose to love, chose to be the board
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