Artwork for podcast Thrive Beyond Pornography (Formerly The Self Mastery Podcast)
Client Success Story - Greg and Amy, Success together
Episode 19023rd April 2023 • Thrive Beyond Pornography (Formerly The Self Mastery Podcast) • Zach Spafford
00:00:00 00:53:24

Share Episode


Episode 190

I'm Zach. And I'm Darcy. We're an LDS couple who struggled with unwanted pornography in our marriage for many years. What was once our greatest struggle and something we thought would destroy us has become our greatest blessing in trying. Our hope is that as you listen to our podcast each week, you'll be filled with hope and healing and realize that you too can thrive beyond pornography and create the marriage you have always desired.

Welcome to Thrive Beyond Pornography. We're so glad you're here and we believe in you.

Hey everybody. Welcome to Thrive Beyond Pornography. I'm your host, Zach Spafford, and today I have a couple of special guests with me friends of mine and people who I have enjoyed working with and have coached. Greg and Amy Langford. They are gr. Amy, why don't you guys tell your, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

I know Amy is a life coach in her own right and she's pretty awesome. But why don't you guys tell us a little bit about yourselves and. Hey. Yeah, it's it's great to be here, Zach. I appreciate you having us on. We've been married for 25 years now. During that time, we've we've had our ups and our downs and, and struggles, but It's about several years ago, Amy got into life coaching and we've learned a lot about ourselves and what we can do to have a better relationship.

And so it's been a really exciting journey here for the last few years and I really appreciated her learning that and be able to share that with me. And so we're grateful to be on here and be able to talk about our journey and hopefully it will help some other folks along the way. Yeah, I appreciate that.

Amy, anything you wanna add to that? Sure. I'll add that we have four kids and and love them, and our oldest is married now. And as they are starting into their own relationships and lives, the conversations that we've had between us have opened up a lot of on honest conversations with them as well in all of these areas.

And so not only. At the beginning, I feel like when we discovered this, it felt like our Achilles heel that was going to take us down as a marriage where we thought like, we're such a great team and we're such a great pair, and this is gonna be the thing that takes us down. And it ended up being the thing that brought us most together and developed us the most.

And on top of that has really, I feel like also accelerated our ability to have conversations with our children too. . So when you say the thing that was gonna bring you down, I think you're talking about pornography. Yes. Sorry. Yeah, no, that's cool. Why do you think you felt that way, either of you? I feel like the messaging that I received around it was that this was the most sinful thing that could happen, and it was equivalent to like my husband cheating on me and breaking the marriage vows.

And if that was. , you know, and the betrayal from that. And also when we went in for our first like when after we found it and then went into our first counselor, the counselor literally said like, he'll never recover and this is an addiction. So it felt like now we have this thing that's going to take all the goodness and all of the strength that we have as a couple, and this is going to be the thing that destroys it.

Yeah, I, I would've to agree. I mean, I really think it's the shame that you're build up from a very young age. We've been given that shame from the way we were raised, but also from the culture we were brought up into. Right. Sex was such a thing that they didn't want to talk about or, or bring up.

And really, you know, we talked about Satan's slippery slide. Like, if, you know, you go down this slide, there's no return. So to me, it was all the expectations that were put on yourself and the things that you've been brought to you and the shame behind it that kept it. From wanting not to be honest with Amy from the first place.

Right? And so when that was discovered and in our situation, it wasn't something I went to Amy to, she discovered it, which I think was even probably worse because it was the, not only the betrayal, but the dishonesty between us, that, that became the problem. So for me, really it was. the way that we had been raised and taught that this was such an awful thing.

And not that we're going out and praising and saying everyone should view porn and that's what we wanna do. Right. But we definitely had put a lot of power in it. And because that power was there when it, when the atomic bomb went off, it felt like an atomic bomb for sure. So Amy discovers you choosing pornography and all of a sudden, What happened?

Yeah. I'll, I'll never forget it, right? Uh, I woke up Sunday morning and Amy was standing next to the bed and had a look that I'd never seen before in her face. And, um, I had no idea what was about to happen to me, but she she came at me and let me know that she had found what I had been looking at on the computer and there was no hiding it.

The instant feeling was of terror. Um, you know, is my marriage gonna last? Uh, what's gonna happen? Well, obviously I, I didn't have anything to say, right? I didn't have any explanation. I couldn't, uh, couldn't lie it away. This time it was very obvious what happened. I remember calling the bishop and asking to go, you know, go visit him at that time.

And having that, starting that process. There was so much confusion around it. I think that was the problem. Right. Here again, Amy talked about how she had been betrayed and she thought, really, I literally had cheated on her because of this. My bishop really didn't know how to handle it. Right. He didn't have any emotional or understanding what I was going through or why I might be doing this.

Right. It was just, you know, this was bad. Sent us to A therapist that Amy talked about that told me I was a complete addict and that I would, I had this problem that I'd never get over. So there was a lot of confusion around it, right? And all it did was push us away from each other. There was no coming together.

I remember at one point, probably at my lowest lows at that point where the bishop had come over to our house and, um, you know, I was sleeping on the couch. I went to stay with my mom for a little bit. We were just really confused what was going on. . And after a conversation after the bishop had come over, Amy said something to the effect that, you know, I love you cuz you're a son of our healthy father.

But you know, that's the, that that's the only thing. And it was literally like the biggest gut punch I'd ever had in my life. Because here I knew that it was me, that I had brought this upon our family and destroyed our family, seeing the hanway because of my evilness. And that was the story that was being told to me.

Wow. . Amy, what, when you found out and you're standing over that bed and you're looking at Greg and all of those thoughts and feelers of running through your head, what, what was going on for you?

I think I felt so hurt and so betrayed and and I I was shocked. , like it really was shocking to me. . I think the dishonesty was a huge source of betrayal. And then also like all of the messaging like we've been talking about that I had of the meaning of what I had found and what it meant about him, and it, it brought up things like, do I even know you?

And, you know, like is what else is a lie and what else is true? And like, am I, have I been partaking in this life? That's like a lie. And so it just, it can completely. Shattered so many things that I, I didn't have any way to look at these pieces with any meaning that was helpful and all of it was just hurtful and all of it was destructive, and there was actually no help for me.

No one ever talked to me. There was no like other woman or other person. And so it all went inside me because at that point it was shameful. to admit it to anyone, and there was no hand reached out in my direction. Yeah. Well, and I wonder, you know, I think a lot of, especially in the church, I think a lot of church leaders just don't know what to do for the wives.

No it's this it's this position of, you're, you're gonna destroy your marriage and there's nothing we can do about it except for punish him. Mm-hmm. , that's, , that's so frustrating to think about. And that's not, I don't think that's anybody's fault. I just think that's unfortunately the, the, the bag we've been given and we have to deal with it.

But yeah, it's, it is definitely a fine line that you walk, right, because the wife has been such betrayal at that point. Right. And it has, or the spouse, you know, it can be other ways, but most likely it's the wife. As in such a betray though. But we know, we've come to know, and we'll get to all this stuff when we talk about it, that there's, you know, we both played into that role, right?

there was a role that Amy played, and there was a role that I played that got us to that point. But it's at that point, if you don't have the tools necessary to be able to have that conversation, you're just gonna end up destroying one or the other, or both. Right. Because I can't imagine our bishop that time coming and saying, well, Amy, you played a role on this.

You know, let's talk about all the things you've done that could cause this. I mean, that would've gone terribly bad, right? Yeah. And so again, there's just not. , there's not the tools out there to be able to have the real discussion, to get down to the crux of what's causing the issue and what really is the issue.

Right. Porn to me is very much the smoke to a, a lot, lot bigger fire. Right. And the things that underly are heavier and burning and more destructive than the, the porn itself. And we just focus on that smoke and cause it to be what the problem is. But we didn't have any, the tools or anybody that could help us understand what that burning fire was or anything.

Hope, grace said something. Oh, go ahead. Oh, no, like, I mean, I felt like at that time there was literally no strand or no meaning or no thread anywhere to grab onto and say there's hope, like there's a way to work through this, or a way to heal your pain, or a way to find out why or a way to like navigate this.

There was literally nothing. Yeah. Yeah. So when, when you're in that position of I don't have a way to solve this, and, and Greg said something that's a little bit, we'll call it controversial, that you guys were responsible together for this scenario. And I wanna touch on that for a bit. Amy, can you tell us what your thoughts are on that idea?

Yes. So my part to play in this was I was emotionally underdeveloped and was relying on Greg to take care of. Or wanting him to take care of literally all of my emotions, all of my stress, all of my anxiety. And I was constantly pulling on him for that. And it was so overwhelming to him to first of all manage himself and let alone manage me and all of my emotions.

And we didn't have a way to understand like, , like I thought that was his job, . And obviously you were told that was his job, by the way. Right? I was told that was he told you that his job and he thought it was his job too. And so the weight of a lot of that was that overwhelm is what led him into looking for that buffer through porn.

Right. So my part in it was being emotionally underdeveloped and constantly pulling in him for that. And not only that, in my emotional underdevelopment a lot of times, , I relied on him in all intimacy ways. I was also sexually underdeveloped and didn't know who I was or what my sexuality was, and relied completely on him for that.

And that was also another thing that led him there. So, so, can you expand on that just a little bit? Like what does it mean in, in practical terms, to be emotionally underdeveloped in such a way that your husband chooses. To hide from you. It means that I thought it was his job to fix all of my emotions and was constantly bringing all of them to him to fix and, and laying them at his feet.

Like, you gotta figure out how to solve my stress with these kids. How to solve my overwhelm with these babies. You've gotta make more money. You've gotta, um, make me feel better about myself and make me love my body. And you've got to, like, I was laying all of those at his feet and everyone's realizing they were actually mine.

Gotcha. So, does that make sense? Yeah, I think so. So, Greg, from your perspective now, I, I imagine in the, in the depths of this, you had no vocabulary for anything that we're talking about now, right? So I can, I can imagine looking back, you can see some things from your perspective, what was going on for you?

that you're like, I can't trust Amy with this problem. Yeah, I mean, um, you know, we're, we're taught that we're supposed to be the strong family character, you know, that we're the ones that we're the family head, we're the lead. If it's up to us to make it, if we don't make it the, the whole family's going to hell and hand basketing, it's our fault.

Right. Um, and you gotta be the strong one. So, when, when your spouse is bringing all those issues, uh, emotional and security and, um, potential, you know, financial issues to, to you. If you've been taught that you are, that's your responsibility. That's what you do, right? And you're gonna do everything you can to make sure you, you, you can do that.

And even when, so when. . I was doing that and not having a, realizing I had a problem. I mean, I knew that watching porn wasn't a good thing. Like I didn't think like, yeah, this is great for our marriage. Right? I knew even worse that lying to her was even, was even worse. But at that point it was a super nice guy, right?

I was gonna do everything that I could to take care of her. I didn't wanna put any more burden on her cuz it was my responsibility and, um, , if she was already emotionally unstable, if I would've brought this to her, my thought was just, I don't know what happened, right? I would've either put her in a place that was very, very unhealthy.

Uh, you know, our marriage, Mary, there was no, the thought of doing it, the destruction that happened after that. There was no concept of me thinking I could bring it to her there in a safe way, and that was true. . It's interesting, and I think people hear this idea that this is a co-creation and they want to immediately thrust back all responsibility to the man or to the person choosing pornography.

That's not to say by the way that, you know, Amy, you weren't responsible for him choosing pornography, but you were responsible for an environment in which, if he was choosing pornography, , it would be difficult for him to confide in you what was real and what was intimately going on with him when he was alone with himself.

Right. And I, I think we, we do pe we do ourselves a disservice to rust all that in back onto the person who's done the bad thing, because I don't think that that's fair. That's not to say by the way, that, you know, again, Amy, you're, you weren't obviously responsible for his choices, but. Can you, can you articulate for us any thoughts you have about that idea where instead of it being Greg's problem, when you took on responsibility for your own part in this reality, how that changed the dynamic between the two of you and your own capacity in this struggle?

Absolutely. I think how that changed, it was like really like night and day changed. Um, . First of all, I didn't know, I, I didn't realize that I could take on my own emotions and so like, life coaching has helped me learn how to understand that and how to process through them and take ownership of them. But the thing was, is I couldn't tolerate his honesty yet because I wasn't honest with myself yet.

And so growing honest with myself allowed me to be able to tolerate his honesty and he also to tolerate my honesty and our ability to. be more honest, has exponential or like it has increased and increased and increase, and increase and increase. Not the type of honesty that is cruel or unkind, but the type of honesty that is very raw and real and open and vulnerable.

This is not like attacking each other. This is like, Recognizing how you are difficult or how you aren't contributing or how you're expecting someone else to solve something for you or how you are not taking ownership. Um, yeah, I really like what you're saying there cuz what my wife has a, a grandma who says the meanest thinks and it's "honesty" in air quotes for, for those of you listening on, on the radio) right, it's. She's just mean, and she says mean things, and she thinks she's just being honest. And that's, I don't think that's what you're talking about. No, I don't think cruelty is honest. No. I think in fact the real, the real essence of honesty is very raw and vulnerable and kind, and it doesn't come out cruel.

No. There's all kinds of intent behind it. Right? And it depends on the intent behind it, right? If you're. , even if you're being, being honest, so that you can throw away your baggage to someone else, that's not the right purpose. Right. If you're being honest through, like we said, to be cruel, that's not the right purpose.

And it's really, and, and by the way, just so everyone can understand, this took a long, a very, very long time. Right? First of all, cause we didn't have the tools for a very, very long time. And then when we got the tools, we would learn little bits of a at at a time and get things better. But it felt like it was a real struggle to.

You know, as Amy said, it's night and day. It is night and day, but it really did take some time to be able to get there. And, and there's very vivid moments in our relationship where a little more honesty came out. We didn't quite handle it correctly. We regressed, we worked. We worked, worked a little more honesty came out, we handled it better.

It went on for a little while and then it, it felt like it built and built and built like a snowball. I feel like probably in the last year or so, that snowballs hit the top of the mountain and come roaring down. And the, and the relationship on the other side is unbelievable. Like I just keep pinching myself every once in a while.

Is this really, is this really us? Right. And it's, yeah. You know, intimacy, it's, it's ugly, right? People wanna be intimate cuz they want, they think it's great and lovely and it's hard and it sucks sometimes. And, uh, I've had Amy tell me some of the things of the hardest things I've ever heard. But it's when you try to finally get to that top of that mountain and can push it over where you feel like no matter what's going on inside of me, I have a soft place to go land.

And then that's Amy. I can bring that problem with Amy. I mean, even during those years, there were points where I wouldn't view for a very long time. Right. And then I would. I wouldn't even say mess up, but I would see something and do something that, that I don't think I probably should have, but I still didn't have that so place where I could go to Amy and land like, so it really was this big this, this lot of effort getting, getting there.

But when we got there, it was night and day. Uh, depend what our relationship was. . Yeah. At first when we learned the tools, we used them as weapons against each other, . And then we did this move where we were like so entangled with each other. We came like completely separate, like you know, like this not healthy independence.

And then had to learn to lean in and then had to learn to keep moving in that honesty. So there's been a lot of stages over the years and I think each one was another. Step in the right direction, even if they weren't all clean and beautiful and...