“What’s Love got to do with it?”

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The excerpt below was taken from an article on the blog at [www.covenanteyes.com]


Porn ≠ Intimacy

In his book The Centerfold Syndrome, Dr. Gary Brooks explains why a porn-trained mind finds it harder and harder to make love. Porn, he says, promises (and delivers) a rush of sexual excitement without all the mess of actually connecting with another human being. It trains a sort of “voyeurism” in men, where we find it easier and more satisfying to just look at women rather than interact with them.

Brooks says pornography consumption creates in men a greater fear of intimacy. Porn exalts man’s sexual desires over the desire for real connection: it develops his preoccupation with sex and handicaps his ability for emotional intimacy.

Porn, he says, trains a man to both objectify women and feel validated in his masculinity by trophy women. More and more he rates women by the size, shape, and harmony of their body parts. More and more, in order to be aroused, he has to imagine himself being validated by women with porn-star bodies and attitudes.

In short, porn changes a man’s sexual expectations.

 


article source: http://www.covenanteyes.com/2013/01/31/can-married-couples-enjoy-pornography-together/?utm_campaign=Porn%20and%20Your%20Husband&utm_content=65040368&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter

The Psychological Impact of Porn

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The excerpt below is taken from an article at the blog at [www.covenanteyes.com]


The Psychological Impact of Porn

In her hearing before the U.S. Senate, Dr. MaryAnne Layden asserted that when men spend so much time in “unnatural sexual experiences with paper, celluloid, and cyberspace,” they find it difficult to have sex with a real human being.

Is this an overstatement, or does the research bear this out?

  • Researchers James Weaver, Jonathan Masland, and Dolf Zillmann have watched how after being shown only 26 photos and one six-minute video of attractive nude females exhibiting sexual behavior, men routinely rate their partner’s attractiveness lower.
  • Dr. Dolf Zillmann and Dr. Jennings Bryant have also observed how after watching only five hours of pornographic videos over six week period, both men and women experience a decrease in sexual satisfaction. Study participants said they felt less satisfied with their intimate partners’ physical appearance, affection, and sexual performance.
  • In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Sex Research, for men, frequency of viewing pornography was correlated with a lower satisfaction with sex and relationships.
  • Neurologist Serge Stoleru has found that overexposure to erotic stimuli exhausts the sexually responses of healthy young men.
  • In a 2006 study among college men, Todd Morrison and other researchers concluded there was a significant correlation between exposure to Internet pornography and levels of sexual esteem.
  • In 2007, a study of more than 2,300 adolescents found a correlation between viewing Internet porn and greatly increased uncertainties about sexuality and the belief that women are sex objects.

How much more is this effect experienced today among men and women who routinely watch porn every week?


article source: http://www.covenanteyes.com/2013/01/31/can-married-couples-enjoy-pornography-together/?utm_campaign=Porn%20and%20Your%20Husband&utm_content=65040368&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter

5 Things that Contribute to Relapse

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Found this article on [www.guardyoureyes.com]:


Many life events can present a challenge to someone’s recovery. Illness, financial stress and other crises can trigger a relapse. But if the addict and the couple are in good recovery they can usually get through a crisis without a return to sex addiction.

The problem arises when the addict’s “sobriety” was only skin deep. Treatment involves addressing many different issues and neglecting any of them is not an option. Here are some of the reasons sex addiction treatment can fail and recovery can go off the rails.

  • Incomplete disclosure. Sometimes the addict in treatment “discloses” everything to the partner but holds back something from both the partner and the therapist. This can be subtle such as omitting the fact that the addict had unprotected sex with someone or failing to reveal that the affair was with a friend of the spouse. Or it can be blatant such as the failure to admit to a whole set of behavior like cybersex, gay sex or hiring escorts. Complete disclosure often comes in stages, but if the addict never tells everything he or she is perpetuating the habit of sexual secrecy. Without a commitment to honesty the addict will continue to live with the lies and shame that can ultimately lead back to acting out.
  • Recovery tourism. Some addicts are recovery tourists. They follow through on a program of sex addiction treatment and even go to 12-step meetings but they do not feel engaged in a genuine way. They sometimes feel they are there to keep their partner happy or to look good in the eyes of others. But they never feel the intrinsic value of recovery for themselves. This limits how much they can really change. Recovery demands deeper change and those in good recovery experience this as truly life-changing.
  • Seeing the problem as purely a relationship problem. Sometimes addicts never get the right kind of treatment to begin with. It is an easy mistake to think that sexual acting out by one partner is a symptom of something wrong in the relationship. But couple therapy alone cannot address the very powerful habit of using sex a drug any more than couple counseling can cure alcoholism. While it is true that sex addiction usually signals a problem with intimate relating, better relationship skills may not be possible until the addict addresses the addictive behavior. A trained sex addiction therapist will be able to make a plan to treat all aspects of the problem.
  • Ignoring the deeper issues. On the flip side, it is possible for treatment to address the addict’s problem with using sex as a drug but never deal with the intimacy avoidance that goes along with a sexual double life. Most addicts lack true intimacy skills, the ability to be nurturing and vulnerable, to share power and to communicate their needs and feelings. Unless they gain these skills their relationships will be problematic and inauthentic. This in turn leads back to the addict reaching out for another kind of gratification elsewhere. And the intimacy avoidance can in turn relate to longstanding problems such as childhood attachment issues, abuse and trauma. These must be resolved somewhere along the line for the recovery process to be reliable.
  • Misdiagnosis. This happens more than I would like. I see couples who have been to therapists for help with one partner’s sexual acting out behavior but have come away with a mistaken understanding of the problem. Often the therapist will say that the problem is due to the addict’s emotional immaturity and self-centeredness, i.e. a case of “arrested development.” Sometimes therapists do not see the compulsive nature of the behavior and address only the need for better communication and a greater understanding of the spouse or partner’s feelings. Worst perhaps is when the addict convinces the therapist that the partner is wrong and paranoid. In this case the therapist may work on getting the partner to accept what is taken as normal behavior. In cases like these the addict feels that that they have addressed the issue in therapy and have essentially been given a clean bill of health.

Reliable recovery from sex addiction demands many things; an acceptance of the problem as an addiction, the need not only to detox from that sexually compulsive activity but to follow through with the deeper work of personal growth and to learn a new way of living. Addicts who have done this have turned a corner; they are on much firmer ground in their recovery and in their lives generally.


article original source: https://guardyoureyes.com/articles/addiction-recovery/item/5-ways-sex-addiction-recovery-can-get-derailed

Moving Beyond Mistakes in Marriage

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Great article from the Gottman Institute:


I recently saw a video of a couple gracefully dancing on the streets of Israel, moving in and out of crowds, encapsulated by one another and their dance.

This couple moved with immense strength, agility, and elegance. Every step, spin, and lift was a piece of fine art. Their flawless performance left me mesmerized, inspired, and eager to return to the dance classes my husband and I had begun taking at Flow Studios in Seattle.

During our second lesson, my inspiration quickly turned into frustration as my partner and I began tripping over each other’s feet, colliding with one another, and growing steadily disheartened.

Our dance was anything but graceful.

Mistakes are normal

As we moved clumsily across the dance floor, I recalled the Israeli couple and their “flawless” dance. I had to remind myself that while this couple’s dance appeared perfect, they definitely made off-camera mistakes and had probably already practiced this dance hundreds of times.

No couple is perfect, whether on the dance floor or in everyday life.

From a distance, there are plenty of individuals or couples who appear to live their lives perfectly together. But in reality, we all slip and stumble from time to time.

While mistakes are inevitable in our relationships, it is how we respond to them that makes all of the difference between relationships that are resilient and flourish through imperfections, and those that crumble apart.

Pause: Acknowledge when you stumble

If, or rather when, you stumble with your partner (on or off the dance floor), it is necessary to first acknowledge the mistake.

When we take the time to acknowledge that we have messed up, we should mindfully search ourselves for the potential roots of our blunder. In taking the time to “check ourselves,” we build greater self awareness and cultivate the ability to choose wisely in the future.

On the dance floor, this can happen in the flash of an eye.

When we began our lesson, I repeatedly found myself tripping over my partner’s shoes but continued to stubbornly push through, determined to move beyond and perfect our dance.

It finally dawned on me that this issue wasn’t going to fix itself until we paused to take the time to explore the roots of the problem.

Our dance teacher, Michael, explained the importance of looking up at your partner and staying focused on the rhythm of the music. “No matter what you do, stay in beat with the song,” he described.

I had been so intensely preoccupied looking down, trying not to trip over my husband’s feet, that I had completely forgotten to listen to and feel the rhythm of the music. Taking a moment to pause and reflect on the roots of our stumbling was crucial to resetting our dance. In this situation, I inevitably needed a little external guidance to build this awareness.

While acknowledging our issues or mistakes is pertinent, it is equally as essential that we don’t “get stuck” looking down, or internalizing that we are defined by our imperfections.

Brené Brown explains the difference between shame and guilt as related to our mistakes. While guilt says “I did something bad” and is a normal, healthy reaction when we operate outside of our value system, shame says “I am bad.”

“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change,” she describes.

When I was stuck in a pattern looking down at my feet stumbling on my partner’s, it was hard not to internalize that I am simply a “bad dancer,” and that there’s not much hope that I will ever improve. As I was able to shift my lens and look up at my partner, I was able to glean more hope that together, we could improve and strengthen our dance and relationship.

Process: Make repair attempt

After recognizing that one has made a mistake, it is important to make a repair with your partner.

The Gottmans explain that while it is normal to make mistakes and have conflict with your partner, healthy relationships are those that make repair attempts. Repairs, defined by the Gottmans, are “any statement(s) or action(s) — silly or otherwise — that prevents negativity from escalating out of control.”

As my partner and I danced in our second lesson and I continued to clumsily stumble over his feet, I felt my blood pressure starting to rise with waves of frustration emerging above the surface. My partner inevitably felt these forces in our dance, which suddenly had taken on a rather negative tone.

While it wasn’t necessary for me to apologize every time I stepped on my husband’s feet, it was crucial to make a repair before I got “flooded,” as the Gottmans call it, and said or did something regrettable.

So how do you make repair attempts? They can vary drastically from couple to couple, and from situation to situation.

In this situation, I not only apologized verbally to my partner for my impatient and frustrated attitude, but also threw in some big, theatrical dance moves, twirling my partner around and dipping him, in an effort to lighten the mood and let him know that we are on the same team.

Through this repair attempt, we were able to break our negative pattern that was spiraling downwards and reset our tone with greater gentleness, playfulness, and care.

Over time, we have become increasingly quick and effective in making and responding to repair attempts. It is a skill that, if practiced, will help strengthen your ability to recover and thrive as a couple.

Proceed: Continue the dance

After acknowledging your mistakes and making repairs, keep dancing!

It may not be necessary to stop and have an extended conversation after every single slip and mistake. Every situation will vary greatly. Sometimes, a repair is a quick facial exchange acknowledging a mistake. Sometimes it means throwing in a silly dance move, or sitting down to have a five-minute conversation. Other times, it may involve seeking out external help through a therapist or other trusted individual to help you process as a couple.

Regardless of how long it takes you to work through the first two steps, at some point, it is crucial to move on, look ahead and continue your dance as a couple.

“Keep dancing! Don’t stop! Keep going!” our dance instructor shouted to us as he caught sight of me breaking our dance, discouraged by more tripping, even after we had processed the cause and remedy of our stumbling patterns.

As we moved forward and continued the dance, we kept a few principles in mind.

First, we focused on staying in rhythm with the music. When we stay in rhythm or true to the beat of the music, or our values, we are going to function more harmoniously as a couple.

What are your values as a couple, and as an individual? As we build awareness of and maintain focus on our values, we are more likely to operate within their realm.

Second, rather than looking down and stumbling on our feet, we focused on keeping our heads up and our eyes on each other as the central focus of our vision. As we did this, we actually found that we not only stumbled less, but also experienced a deeper connection and synchrony, which began to polish our dance.

Expand your story

We can choose to focus on our mistakes and internalize that there is little hope for change within ourselves or our relationship. Or we can acknowledge our mistakes, explore their roots, make repairs, and move on to continue the dance.

The choice is ours. We do not have to be defined by our errors. Instead, we can choose to learn and grow from them as we strengthen our personal and relational resilience and weave a preferred story of who we are, and who we want to become.

We can choose to recognize that we are imperfect human beings, but that together we are committed to move past our imperfections, to create a dance that reflects our story as a couple—one that is marked by unconditional love, joy, strength, and creativity.

This is part two of a four-part series on relationships and dance. You can read part one here.


Article source: https://www.gottman.com/blog/moving-beyond-mistakes-marriage/

5 Love Languages & Recovery

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Great article on the importance of understanding how your “love language” influences recovery:


Personal relationships with significant others, family members and loved ones can be some of the most triggering and challenging experiences that individuals in recovery from addiction encounter. In my own experience, developing healthy boundaries, practicing self-care and learning how to genuinely careGIVE instead of careTAKE has been so important in my journey of recovery from co-dependency. These concepts are not only important to individuals with co-dependency – developing healthy relationships is integral to recovery from any addiction including alcoholism, disordered eating, substance abuse, gambling and sex addiction to name a few. When a relationship is suffering, we often don’t realize what our needs and expectations actually are – of ourselves, of the other person, and of the relationship. We tend to draw our attention to only what we aren’t getting, focusing our lens on the character defects of the “other” which can be extremely upsetting and bring on many feelings of shame, defeat and pain.

Another concept that has become part of my ‘recovery regime’ is learning to understand and acknowledge my loved ones ‘Love Languages’. This practice created by Gary Chapman, termed The 5 Love Languages, has revolutionized my life, and has significantly improved all of my personal relationships.

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, an internationally-respected marriage and family life expert, love is a form of communication. His work teaches people to speak and understand emotional love when it is expressed through one of five languages:words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, or physical touch. Here is a quick rundown of what they all mean:

  • Words of Affirmation: Expressing affection through spoken affection, praise, or appreciation.
  • Acts of Service: Actions, rather than words, are used to show and receive love.
  • Receiving Gifts: Gifting is symbolic of love and affection.
  • Quality Time: Expressing affection with undivided, undistracted attention.
  • Physical Touch: With this love language, the speaker feels affection through physical touch.

Chances are, you can relate to a few of these. Maybe you relate to all of them. But most of us have one or two that are much more important to us than the others, and it’s different for everyone. When you know what your partner values most, it’s a pretty big eye opener. For example, In the past I had been giving my significant other small gifts to show that I care. I put a lot of thought into those gifts, and I loved surprising him. I became frustrated when he didn’t seem to care (as much as I would have liked) or return the gesture. I then began focusing so much on what I wasn’t getting –  Without a deeper understanding of my own and and my partners love language even though the love was present, we both, at times, felt unloved and unappreciated.

By understanding each love language, our primary love language, as well as the primary love languages of others, we are better equipped to express and feel love more effectively.

For me it is not about denying my needs in a relationship – but about becoming CURIOUS and OPEN to other forms of love and admiration, as well as identifying and sharing my favourite ways to give and receive love. You can take the quiz on Dr. Chapman’s website  http://www.5lovelanguages.com/ to determine your primary love language, and I suggest that you encourage your loved ones to do the same. Understanding how to love and letting others understand how to best love you can be great tools to effectively communicate, and eliminate unnecessary problems.

By being proactive in our recovery from addiction, and by tending to relationships, we can improve ourselves and those relationships that we desire to grow. When we open our eyes to love in this way, we may see that it is in fact all around us.

Lisa Nixon


Article source: https://www.cedarscobblehill.com/5-love-languages-recovery/

Relentless Love of God

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This post is a “re-post” of a great article forwarded to me by a friend: 


Relentless Goodness

 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever (Psalm 23:6, ESV).

If you’re a follower of Jesus—if by faith you have turned from your sins and received His forgiveness—I have news for you.

God is after you.

IF YOU’RE A FOLLOWER OF JESUS, GOD IS STILL PURSUING YOU.

He’s still pursuing you. Wanting more of you. Hungry to make sure you’re experiencing every blessing that His Son died and rose again to give you, for His glory.

It doesn’t matter how defeated or discouraged you are today. He’s still after you. All that matters is that you are His. “My sheep hear my voice,” Jesus said, “and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Is that you? Following Him? Not perfectly, of course, but following? Sometimes stumbling, but still getting up? And following? And trying again? And wanting to follow Him even better, even more?

Then God Himself is also following you. He’s on your trail. He’s after you. Promising you that your best days are still ahead of you, no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done. Your greatest days of usefulness and service to God are still in the future, because “goodness” (defined as bounty and blessing) and “mercy” (lovingkindness and favor) will be on your heels and hunting you down every second of the time.

Can’t be true, you say . . .

Too many failures. “I’ve failed God too many times. No way am I on His first team anymore. I’ve blown it. I have areas in my life where I’ve never gotten victory. Even today I failed again. I’m on the shelf from here on out, and I know it.”

Too many years. “It’s too late for me. Too much water under the bridge. It’s fine for those who came to Christ as kids or in college or whatever. But I showed up late to the party. The best I can do is just sneak into a back corner of heaven.”

Too many others. “I don’t have any big-time gifts. I don’t have any great abilities. Other people have training and know what they’re doing. Not me. I’m just not that important. It might even be wrong for me to get in their way.”

Too many obstacles. “I’ve got so many things going on in my life right now—work, family, health stuff, all of it—I don’t really have time. And I don’t see it changing anytime soon.”

Believe me, I’ve heard all these lies and dodges before. They’re as old as time, because the enemy will do anything to convince you that God has lost the scent and given up on you.

But just you try staying hidden behind these shadowy half-truths. Just you try imagining you’re out of sight, out of mind. Just you try giving in to the unreality that your home and heart are off His grid, out of His hunting zone.

Because, listen. Can you hear it? It’s the panting of the hound of heaven, running full-speed, headed your way, chasing you down. Following you “all the days” of your life—not to rip into you, but to restore you and refresh you, to overwhelm all of life’s badness with His “goodness.”

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Journal

  • Which of these fears and excuses have sometimes convinced you that God’s “goodness and mercy” are not coming for you anymore?
  • How different would your life be, even today, if you wholeheartedly embraced this truth?

Pray
Lord God, I believe Your Word, even when I doubt myself. I believe what You have done to claim me as Your own, even when I too often resist You and choose my own way. Thank You for loving me enough to want me experiencing the full blessing of relationship with You. And thank You for relentlessly pursuing me until I’m actively living in it. In Jesus’ name, amen.

article source: https://www.jamesmacdonald.com/teaching/devotionals/2017-09-15/

 

4 Truths about Recovery

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1. Once porn is left behind, the brain pathways it created will start to fade.

(Source: Doidge, Norman. The Brain that Changes Itself. New York: Viking, 2007.)

Have you heard the “feed the right wolf” analogy? If not, it’s pretty simple:
If there are two metaphorical wolves locked in a power struggle, you can decide the outcome by choosing to feed one or the other. The one that is fed becomes stronger. As one urge or “wolf” becomes stronger, the other becomes weaker. This is exactly what happened when you started getting involved with porn, you kept feeding it and it got stronger. If you turn the tables, the urge for porn will begin to fade away. As we build positive influences into our lives and gain more and more distance from pornography, the pathways in our brain that tell us we need it will start to shrink. It will be slow but it will happen.

2. When a brain that has become accustomed to chronic overstimulation stops getting that overstimulation, neurochemical changes in the brain start happening. As a result, many users report withdrawal symptoms.

(Source: Avena, N. M. and P. V. Rada. “Cholinergic modulation of Food and Drug Satiety and Withdrawal.” Physiology & Behavior 106, no. 3 (2012): 332–36.)

This might sound bad but it is actually very good. Like a bodybuilder who learns to love the burn because it is tearing their muscles down to grow stronger, we can anticipate and welcome the pain of recovery. Withdrawal sucks and it can be frustrating, but it means our brain is changing. Instead of looking at withdrawal pain as evidence of how messed up you are, think of it as painful healing or soreness after a workout.
And guess what? Former addicts have found that when they approach their withdrawal symptoms with this type of positivity, they find the pain less powerful and shorter. It’s a win-win to endure the pain in order to break free.

3. The brain can regain sensitivity to healthy, every day activities.

(Source: Lisle, Douglas and Alan Goldhamer. The Pleasure Trap. Summertown, TN: Healthy Living Publications.)

One of the main parts of your brain that is affected by porn use is the reward center. Basically what happens is that things gets overused, which results in it producing less of the the “happy chemicals” (dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline, etc) and also becomes less responsive to them. This means it takes more stimulation to make us feel good. If we eliminate porn as our main source of these chemical releases, our brain will start looking for new ones. We need start to connecting to positive things in our life that will actually support our physical, emotional, mental and social health. These connections might start off small, but they will grow and eventually replace the old neural pathways.

4. Research indicates that damaged frontal lobes can recover once constant over-stimulation stops.

(Source: Kim, Seog Ju, In Kyoon Lyoo, Jaeuk Hwang, Ain Chung, Young Hoon Sung, Jihyun Kim, Do-Hoon Kwon, Kee Hyun Chang, and Perry Renshaw. “Prefrontal Grey-matter Changes in Short-term and Long-term Abstinent Methamphetamine Abusers.” The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmocology, 9 (2006): 221–28.)

Addiction can cause harmful changes in the brain, the most common of which is frontal lobe shrinkage. This is a big problem because the frontal lobes of the brain are the part that deals primarily with choice, logic and reasoning. This change is one of the main reasons scientists believe addictions can become so powerful, it’s like we’re missing the part of our brain that helps us make good choices. That’s why addicts—even the ones who want to quit—keep returning back to negative behaviors.

What’s the silver lining?

It grows back!

Like anything, it takes time for the frontal lobes to recover but daily victories will make a big difference in the long run. The best part is that as our brain gets healthier, recovery gets a little easier. Think of it like a muscle that gets bigger and stronger the more you use it—the longer you stay away from porn, the easier it is to do so.

All it takes is practice.


source: http://fightthenewdrug.org/4-studies-that-prove-porn-addicted-brains-can-return-to-normal/