Monday, January 16, 2012

His Connection with Her Helps Him Avoid Porn

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Vaughn attributes much of his success in recovery to the growing sense of protectiveness. He wants to shield his wife, Holly, and their relationship from the damage pornography can do.

Despite knowing that this mentality should help, it hasn’t always seemed to. “I recall many times trying to think about Holly and her feelings about pornography when I was tempted. To be honest, it was never a big deterrent. I felt more guilty about acting out, but that didn’t seem to hold me back when I was at the brink.”

“Something about the way our relationship has been developing over the last nine months or so has seemed to make the difference. I’m more open and honest with her about everything, not just my struggles with pornography. I’ve let her in on my worries as breadwinner and as a father. I’ve shared my doubts about our religion and the wrestle I’ve had with my career path.

“These were all things I used to deal with on my own to avoid burdening her unnecessarily. In a way, I’d gotten so good at pretending that I rarely even acknowledged these struggles and doubts to myself.

“She’s opening up more to me, too. The array of feelings she deals with as a stay-at-home mom. Even her turmoil and ambivalence about having chosen me as a husband. She tells me when she feels the draw to fantasize about how things might have gone if she’d stayed with her ex-boyfriend.

“It seems like we have a much better handle on who I really am, who she really is. We can talk about anything now. No matter how difficult or sensitive the topic, it’s all fair game. I feel like we’ve become much more real with each other.

“Pornography seems like more of an offense against that. Before I could rationalize that what she didn’t know wouldn’t necessarily affect her. Now pornography seems interruptive of the closeness and connection we enjoy. We are more emotionally intimate, and pornography seems like a rupture of that.”

Vaughn is finding the emotional bond they share to be extremely rewarding. “The idea that pornography is the best game in town, my favorite pleasure, doesn’t ring as true anymore.”

Their sex life has certainly changed. “In past years there were lots of times when I thought I needed to fantasize about images from pornography to get stimulated. And typically I didn’t feel satisfied after sex with Holly, more let down. Of course it was my own fault: I had conditioned myself to expect hours of stimulation before the release. Regular sex couldn’t compete with that.

“Now, we’re more connected and open and real with each other, and that extends to our lovemaking. I want to be with her, this person I know at a deeper level, and I want to share who I really am. She has accepted and loved me through thick and thin, and my gratitude for her and amazement at her just overflow sometimes. We’re both more in the moment. I’m not grasping for something else, something more. It’s enough, both during and after sex.

“So when temptations come, I remember how good things are. Rather than conjuring guilt, I’m trying to preserve that warmth. I treasure knowing that I’m honest with her and things are right with us. That’s a good place to be. I think about Holly and I don’t want her to feel like she’s losing me. I’d hate for her to feel put down in the way she did when she knew I was going to porn.”

If you want to jumpstart what Vaughn is enjoying, here’s an experiment to try out. It will set the stage for you to develop a stronger emotional bond with your partner by giving you a better sense of empathy for her and what she goes through. Spend a few minutes a day observing her, pondering what’s going on inside. At least some of the time, watch her when she doesn’t know you’re looking. Track her movements, note what she looks at and for how long. Listen to the words she uses. Who is she talking to and what’s her purpose in saying what she says? What’s on her mind and in her heart? What are her hopes? In a spirit of exploration and discovery, inhabit the world she lives in. See if you can start to view it through her eyes. What’s life like for her? What matters to her? What moves her? What lifts her spirits? What dampens them? To know her IS to love her, and you miss out on much of what you might otherwise enjoy as porn fouls with your capacity to empathize.

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