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5 Reasons to Tell Her You Struggle with Porn

By Dustin | Communication , Help

This is a very important guest post about a topic that needs much more attention.  Thank you to Mark Chamberlain, Ph.D. for contributing it, and please check out more about his work in the bio line at the bottom of this post.

Maybe it started during a long business trip or surfing through cable channels late at night after she was asleep.

You found yourself more hooked into it than you wanted to be. Viewing that smut violates your own values, and you know she’d be offended if she found out. Her finding out… you shudder to think about that.

You don’t want to disappoint her or have her worry that this is a bigger deal than it really is. She has enough on her plate.

So you resolve to deal with it on your own. You’re confident that you can stay away from it. Maybe some day you’ll even tell her that it was something you conquered on your own long ago. So with renewed resolve you move forward, and do manage to stay away from it – for a while at least.

But then you find yourself caught up in the porn again. Enough times now that you’d have quite a bit to confess if you were to really come clean with her.

What’s a guy to do?

Tell her, that’s what!

I know it might feel impossible, but here are five really good reasons to muster the courage and just do it:

1. Women love real men! I don’t mean men with deep voices who drive pickup trucks and bench press a lot. I mean men who are genuine and honest and open. Our wives love it when we are willing to engage and connect as we are instead of pretending to be something else. Sure,women hate it when their husbands make a habit of lusting after other women, but most women understand that porn can be addictive for men.

She will be disappointed at first, maybe even emotionally devastated. But not nearly as hurt as if she were to find out on her own. She can come to understand that you want your life with her more than you want porn – but only if you open up to her about the struggle and let her know that!

2. You’re one of the good guys who deserves support! You may have developed the habit of holding your emotions in, trying to be tough, and dealing with problems on your own. You may be living in the man box that so many of us were raised to believe we need to stay in.

However, it’s okay to admit that a struggle like this is bigger than you. If it weren’t, you would have succeeded on your own before now. If she were struggling with something this difficult in her life, you’d want her to tell you so that you could be there for her, wouldn’t you?

The truth is, after the initial shock, most women feel closer to their husbands once his porn struggle is out in the open and they’re working on it together. Together you can work on your way to porn addiction recovery.

3. You can get this wedge out from between you and your beloved! Let’s face it, for as long as you’ve been struggling, you haven’t been able to really look her in the eye. There’s a part of you that wants to fly under her radar instead of truly engage and connect with her. Caught up in the guilt, you’ve had less mental energy to devote to her and her needs.

You’ve been more irritable. You haven’t realized it, but the primary source of your misery is not actually the porn but the closeness you’re missing out on between you and the most important person in your life!

4. Teamwork is the best path out of a pornography habit! Now that she knows, you’ll be able to reach out instead of acting out. A strong relationship is the most powerful avenue of relapse prevention. Recalling her pain will be a tether to help keep you grounded when you’re tempted in the future.

You’ll have someone to talk to when you’re feeling emotionally deflated and more at risk of relapsing. And here’s the great thing about the fact that she’s a woman: you’ll be able to talk about what you’re feeling with someone who understands emotion. You’ll have someone else joining you in praying for your success in this struggle.

5. Struggling together will draw the two of you closer! (Eventually.) Communicating about this extremely difficult issue is training at high altitude. Later when you face a crisis at work or with one of your kids, you’ll have access to all of the skills and strengths you’re developing now. If you can face this together and work through it,nothing will be able to tear the two of you apart!

And you really can face this together and work through it!

Trust her enough to open up about it, and you will most likely discover that you can!

Note from Dustin: This topic is so important and too often treated as taboo.  Please do me a favor and share this post with everyone you know…you could have a real impact in a marriage if this reaches a husband that’s just waiting to hear these words.

(photo source)


Mark Chamberlain, Ph.D. writes on the topic of porn and relationships at this blog Love You, Hate the Porn. He is also the co-author of an upcoming book by the same title.  You can pre-order Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity through Amazon.

5 Ways to Keep Work Stress from Straining Your Marriage

By Dustin | Help

couple-hugging guest postWe’ve all been there. You have a stressful day at work and you come home feeling down, angry, worried or on edge. The last thing you want to do is end up taking it out on your spouse.

While it’s completely natural to feel this way, it’s important that you take the time to find a way to manage your stress, so that it doesn’t spill over into your family life.

Stress in Today’s Workplace

If work leaves you feeling stressed out, you’re definitely not alone. One report found that 80% of workers feel stress on the job, with 25% having felt like screaming or shouting because of it. With employees working longer and harder than ever before, it’s no wonder work-related stress has become an issue.

Some of the most common sources of work stress include:

• Heavy workloads
• Limited opportunities for career growth or advancement
• Low salaries
• Management style
• Interpersonal relationships
• Conflicting demands or unclear expectations

Feeling stressed out due to work-related pressures is not uncommon. However, it’s important that you find ways to cope with stress so that it doesn’t end up being a burden on your marriage.

Don’t Let Stress Put a Strain on Your Relationship

Even when stress stems from outside your marriage, it can still have a negative impact on your relationship. If you’re feeling stressed out, you’re more likely to argue, withdraw from each other and end up feeling frustrated, disconnected, sad or angry. Avoid letting stress impact your marriage with these 5 helpful tips.

1. Take a Moment to Unwind

When you’ve had a stressful day at work, it’s important to take a bit of time to decompress so you don’t just walk in the door complaining. Take some time to yourself to calm down and unwind. Taking that time to relax can help you to feel better equipped to handle a stressful situation.

If you can, take a moment to go outside and get some fresh air. Go for a quick stroll, breathe in the fresh air and give yourself some time to unwind. Try making this part of your routine. Having a consistent ritual gives you something to focus on and allows you to take control over part of your day.

2. Try Talking to Friends and Family

It’s great having a partner you can turn to when you are dealing with a stressful situation. While it’s important to be open and communicate with your partner, you don’t want to overwhelm them with your stresses either. Social engagement is one of the best ways to rein in stress, so it’s good to have a network of friends who you can reach out to.

Sometimes it just helps having a friend to talk to who can provide a fresh perspective on things. Having other people to talk to will help you to avoid dumping all of your problems onto your spouse, while allowing you to release some of the built-up tension by simply talking about it.

3. Create a Plan

Once you’ve had a chance to think about what is causing you stress, it’s time to take action. Feeling like you have a lack of control is one of the main causes of stress, so it helps to take back that power. Write down as many solutions as you can and pick the best one. Feeling like you have control over the situation can help to lower your stress levels and address the problem.

There are lots of other great stress management techniques out there, so make sure you take the time to deal with your stresses. Whether you set time aside to meditate, exercise or simply schedule in quality social time, make sure you address the issue before it takes its toll on your relationship.

4. Focus on the Positives

If you find yourself constantly talking about the stresses of work life, try and take a moment to talk about something more positive. Start by expressing your gratitude and letting your partner know how much you appreciate them. You can also take some time to write down all the things you are grateful for in life.

It may sound a bit cheesy, but several studies have found that expressing gratitude can help to guide behavior and even change how you feel. Showing appreciation towards your partner can have a huge effect on relationship satisfaction, while helping to reduce stress.

5. Set Aside Regular Time for Each Other

It’s common for people who are dealing with stress to distance themselves from their partner. Make sure you remember to prioritize your relationship by setting aside regular time for each other. As little as 15 minutes a day can have a real positive impact on your relationship.

Schedule in time where you don’t think about work, avoid distractions and just focus on each other. That means turning off the TV, putting your phone away and just spending quality time with your partner. This will help to open up the lines of communication and strengthen the bond with your partner.

How You Can Help Each Other

Stress affects most people, so don’t forget to check in with your partner and help them if you think they may be dealing with work-related stress.

Recognize the signs: People have different ways of dealing with stress, so it may not always be easy to recognize the signs. If you notice your partner has been snappy, moody, cranky or withdrawn, it could be due to stress.

Approach your partner: Try and remain kind and compassionate and take the time to listen to what they have to say. If they don’t want to talk about it, don’t press them. Remember, we all have different ways of dealing with our issues, just let them know that you’re there if they need you.

Help ease the burden: If they’re feeling like they have too much on their plate, try and help to temporarily ease the burden. Help out where you can and give them some time to deal with their stressful situation. Of course, you don’t want to forget about your own needs, so this should only be a temporary measure.

Stress has become a part of our every day lives, with people working longer and harder than ever before. While it’s natural to feel stressed out, it’s also important that you address the issue. Take some time to deal with your stresses and try not to let it affect your relationship.

Author Bio:
Saskia is the creator of career and lifestyle blog, My Kind of Monday, which aims to help people find happiness in work and in life. For more ideas on how to deal with stress, read her post on How to Relieve Stress with Exercise.

How to Help a Spouse with a Gambling Problem

By Dustin | Help

How to Help a Spouse with a GamblingIs your spouse currently dealing with a gambling problem, and you can’t figure out why they’re behaving the way they are?

There are lots of people that can go out to a casino and enjoy the fun in gambling whether they win or lose.

However, there are other individuals who over the course of time develop an addiction to gambling that can ultimately tear apart their lives.

From the outside looking in, it seems as if a person should be able to control their actions – especially when the consequences are severe.

Be that as it may, compulsive gambling and/or addiction are progressive and complicated illnesses that eventually grow beyond their control.

Understanding What Compulsive Gambling is

Winning is something that we all hope to do when we gamble (or compete on some level). When we actually do win, there’s an instant feeling of thrill and accomplishment.

These overwhelming feelings are triggered by chemicals released into the “feel good” section of the brain. Naturally, the brain wants to feel this feeling again and thus begins to actions of repetitive gambling.

What was once a monthly trip to the casino then becomes gambling online and/or betting on sports. The more you win, the more you want to gamble. The more you lose the more you want to win again. Eventually, it is out of your control and the brain simply feels it “needs” to win in order to feel good again.

Some might assume that if they can be satisfied with gambling on occasion, so should those who suffer from compulsive gambling or an addiction. However, it is important to point out that everyone is different and thus can be affected by gambling in a different way.

While one person could develop an addiction after gambling for the first time, others may not develop an addiction for several years. There are varying factors that determine when a person may or may not develop an addiction.

Signs Of a Gambling Problem

After fully understanding the meaning of a compulsive gambler or a gambling addict, the next step in helping your loved one with their issue is to educate yourself on the warning signs.

Below are a few of these signs to consider:

  • Has your spouse started gambling more than usual?
  • Are they spending money that you don’t have to spend on gambling?
  • Do they gamble despite your concern?
  • Does gambling keep them from completing daily responsibilities at home and/or at work?
  • Have they begun to lie about their gambling activities in an effort to keep you off their back?
  • Have they begun stealing and/or committing fraud as a means to get money to gamble?
  • Do they ask others for small loans and use it to gamble (or to cover gambling debts)?

If you’ve recognized any of these signs in your spouse, you will need to address the matter so that you can get them assistance with their illness.

Approaching Your Loved One

Dealing with the realization that your spouse may have a gambling problem can be a hard pill to swallow.

Prior to approaching them on the subject matter, it may be ideal that you first take a few deep breaths and equip yourself with resourceful information on gambling addictions. When you do approach your spouse, it will be important that you approach him with love and concern and not from a place of pain or anger.

When you’re dealing with something as serious as addiction, you must handle it delicately to ensure that what you have to say does not seem like an ambush. Below are a few tips on talking with a loved one:

· Sort through your feelings first – the moment you realize there is a gambling problem, you don’t want to address the issue right then.

Take the time to ensure that you’re fully educated on addiction and how to best help your loved one prior to having a discussion.

· Be an effective communicator – when you’re dealing with something as serious as addiction it is important that you do as much listening as you do talking.

If your loved one is made to feel like all you’re doing is pointing fingers, they may be reluctant to confide in you, or even worse, refuse to get help.

· Share what you’ve learned – After having addressed your concerns with your loved one, and having listened to their feelings on the matter, sharing what you’ve learned about gambling addiction is a great way to show them you care.

You can discuss what addiction is, what the warning signs are, and the various ways to get help.

Getting Help

There are several methods in which you can get help for your spouse and their gambling addiction. There is essentially talking with a therapist, going with a rehab facility for outpatient treatment options, or going for long term care inpatient treatment options.

While everyone has a different path to recovery,, a rehab facility for men, discusses why long term treatment is ideal for optimal recovery. After deciding which route you’re going to take, reaching out to the best service provider right away is ideal.

The sooner your loved one can get help, the better off they’ll be.

Dealing with mental illness of any kind can be traumatic not only for the person suffering from the illness, but for the family as well.

If your spouse is currently struggling with a gambling problem, or any form of addiction, it is ideal that you first educate yourself, recognize the signs, and approach them in a loving and supportive way.

When they’re ready to change, knowing that they have you in their corner to get help will make their recovery that much more successful.

This post was contributed by writer, Christine Michaels.

Tending the Garden: A Springtime Analogy for Making Marriage Work

By E.J. Smith | Help

8a6fc4d0-d3f5-4f23-a8ef-5cb11818ad05_zpsvbqub9bvAs the weather gets more temperate and lovely here in Texas, my husband and I have been spending more time outside tending to the landscaping of our home.  It all started two weeks ago because I had a “vision” of how I wanted our flower beds to look.

However when we went outside to start plotting, it quickly became apparent that we needed to do some heavy weeding and clearing out of old brush and debris before the ‘fun’ could begin. 

And after the surface weeding was done, we started trying to remove some of the plants from the previous owners.

What we discovered was that seemingly lithe green stems were attached to tangled, gnarly masses that took most of what was left of the daylight to remove.  And by the end of that first weekend— we didn’t have renovated flower beds.  We had giant gaping holes of dirt and a huge pile of debris for our bulk pickup the following Thursday.

Was I disappointed?  Sure thing.  I also felt a little silly.  See, I hadn’t really paid that much care to our flower beds up until that point, because I knew I wanted to make a change.  So I just didn’t bother with them.  And in my zeal to create something pretty and new, I completely neglected to see what was already there.  Thus completely miscalculating the amount of time it would take to address, and also probably creating more work for both my husband and I by not maintaining the beds— even if I didn’t particularly love them.

Your Marriage Is a Garden Bed

Sometimes I think we have a tendency to view marriage the same way.  We know there’s something about our current situation that we don’t like.  So, we read a book.  We search the internet.  We attend a marriage retreat.  We get great new ideas and set out to make a changes:

“We are now going to do date night once a week.”


“We’re going to have sex every day this week.” 

The problem is that often these plans, much like my own for our garden beds, do not take into account the weeds and underlying issues that haven’t been addressed, and that we’ve been trying not to look at because… well, they’re ugly. 

Sharing more physical intimacy, or going out on dates regularly are great ideas.  However, it might be difficult to be naked and intimate with someone when old hurts keep you feeling on guard. And setting high expectations for a romantic night out when you have barely spoken in months might be a recipe for disaster as well. 

In the Weeds

I know a lot of marriage and dating websites, included, try to make working on your marriage relationships look like fun.  And that’s a really great thing because proactively working on your marriage absolutely can be fun!  But sometimes, it’s not going to be fun.  Or, more accurately— sometimes in order to get to the fun part— you need to go through the not-so-fun part and have the difficult conversation so that you can get to the fun part and actually be able to enjoy the experience when you get there.

Pulling weeds out of my garden bed when I’d had something else entirely in mind that Saturday is not what I call a “good time”.  And when the weekend came to a close, by some accounts, our beds look worse than when they started.  The weeds weren’t aesthetic by any means, but the bare dirt and the gaping holes that you could see all the way from the street were worse.

Just the Weeds

Difficult conversations while dating, engaged, or married can be much the same.  From personal experience, I can say that I’ve left many a difficult conversation feeling raw, exhausted and completely humbled.  But there’s also something pretty amazing that seems to occur in the days  following those periods of rawness— our relationship flourishes.

I believe this largely has to do with the way in which these difficult conversations occur.  Difficult conversations about relationships need to be limited in scope to the specific issue(s) at hand. When possible, I like to recommend tackling one thing at a time— be that spending habits, cleaning up around the house, extended family, sex life, career concerns, or whatever.  The same way I didn’t pull out every single plant in my garden beds, but rather targeted the weeds— difficult conversations in marriage need to stay focused on the issue at hand and avoid the defensive tendency to go eye-for-eye with grievances.

Sometimes, it is going to be your fault.  Sometimes, you are going to be in the wrong.  Other times it will be a dual problem that needs both parties on board.  Instead of slinging mud back across the battle line of your relationship, sometimes its better to have it hit you square in the face.  Own your slice of the humble pie. 

Planting Flowers

Hopefully I haven’t beaten this flower bed analogy to absolute death just yet, because there is more to the story… 

This past weekend, I finally had the opportunity to plant my flowers & herbs.  Even just thinking about them makes me so happy.  As much as I didn’t enjoy the experience of delaying my plans by a whole week in order to clean out the beds, I realized this past weekend that without the extra cleanup and prep work, there would’ve been no room for these little plants to grow.  And now instead of fighting through debris, they’re able to flourish.

This is a similar reward to what couples can experience when they’re willing and able to work through the not-so-fun stuff as well.  Working on your marriage should be about more than just damage control!  And the way to break the perpetual band-aid cycle is to have those tough conversations. 

Your Turn

Do you find you and your spouse avoid conflict at all costs?

Is there a time when you had a difficult conversation with your spouse, and found that in the long run it paid off?

Did you try to have a difficult conversation that when horribly wrong?  And you’d do just about anything to avoid a similar experience going forward?

I want to know!  Next month we’ll be talking about more ways to approach those difficult conversations and some
specific techniques for navigating rough waters. 

Image Source

Love & Utility:  Balancing Service & Self-Worth

By E.J. Smith | Help

daa15027-4b17-438b-9a11-1f7473eea84a_zpsn2qapt6cAs much as I try to keep my topics of discussion broad enough for the general masses, this month I need to talk to a group that is quite dear to my heart.  Would all the people pleasers on the internet raise your hands?

When you think of your spouse, what image comes to mind? In that snap shot, what are they doing?  Are they doing anything?  More importantly, are they doing something that serves you in this image? How do you feel right now, as you observe that image in your mind’s eye?

Now I want you to think of you.  If you had to take a picture that accurately represented yourself to me, what does it look like?  In this snap shot, what are you doing? Are you doing anything? More importantly, who are your actions serving— yourself? Your kids? Some one else?  While there may be a handful of self-identified people pleasers out there who’s ‘snap shot’ included no one but themselves, I’m going to trust that a majority of you pulled up an image that had you acting in service to someone else. 

“But That’s Just Who I Am!”

Well, great!  I mean, being a people pleaser isn’t a bad thing necessarily.  In my experience, people pleasers are very nice, warm and often nurturing folks.  They care about people! Who doesn’t like that? Can you imagine what this world would look like if our caring professions — teachers, nurses, mental health techs, child development workers, veterinarians & vet. assistants, & stay at home parents— didn’t include natural nurturers?  Its a scary thought.

Caring & Self Worth

So clearly I’m not out to tell you that being a nice, caring person is an inherently a bad thing.  But something I’ve noticed that I would like to invite you to consider is to what degree is your self-worth wrapped up in your care-giving for others? A true people pleaser goes beyond simply caring for others.  Caring and acts of service can often become identity and currency.

Relationship Currency

Thinking about relationships in terms of currency is built on the notion that interactions with others can be viewed as transactions of sorts— no different than when you go to the grocery store and exchange money for a bag of apples. You give the clerk your money swipe your debit card, and the people at the store let you walk out of the store with the apples.  In relationships, people will throw out what Dr. Gottman calls a “bid for connection”.  These are verbal and nonverbal invitations to connect with one’s partner. 

To put it as simple as possible: 

Partner 1:  “Pay attention to me!” 

Partner 2: “Okay! Hi, how’s it going?”  or “No.”

Obviously I don’t imagine many people go around literally shouting, “Pay attention to me,” but you might consider giving it a try just to see what happens.  I did it to my husband recently.  The look on his face was priceless.

Caring as Currency

Often, I’ve found that individuals learn (usually in childhood) that people generally respond pleasantly to one’s bids for attention when that bid includes something directly beneficial to them.  We’ll call this a service bid.  This “truth” can become problematic and create a personality trait of people pleasing.   When service-related bids become the primary or the only way in which folks receive positive attention, they may learn to believe, “I am lovable when I am useful” or worse, “I am only lovable when I am useful.”  It becomes incredibly difficult to have a healthy sense of self-worth when one places a such heavy emphasis on external service.

Some common phrases you might hear when someone’s self-worth is tied to their “utility” are:

“S/He’ll call when s/he needs something… I know this, yet I can’t stop.  I miss her/him too much.”

“I’m so lucky s/he puts up with me.  It’s the least I can do to ______ for him/her.”

“Its no trouble at all.” (When actually, it’s a giant amount of trouble for you).

Of course perfectly healthy people, who also happen to be nice people will find themselves saying these phrases or similar from time to time.  But I’ve met so many people whose entire identities were tied to sacrifice of the self in service to another.

What About Moms!?

But what about mothers?  What about professional caregivers? 

Again and again, I say the difference between unhealthy and healthy service to others is that the unhealthy version can leave a person feeling empty, drained, exhausted.  I’ve often heard it likened to drowning or feeling invisible.  The healthy or balanced version often creates the exact opposite feeling.  People report feeling energized, rejuvenated or peaceful. 

Healthy Individuals Create Healthy Marriages

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I haven’t been doing a whole lot of couples counseling lately.  But that’s not say I haven’t been working with clients on their relationships.  I truly believe that people need to be healthy individuals first and foremost in order to be healthy partners involved in healthy marriages.

If you’ve read this article and think that your self-worth may be wrapped up a little too tightly in service towards others, maybe its time to work on shifting that belief a little. If your relationship is healthy enough, ask your partner to help you see that they love you for being part of their life— not solely for what you do for them.    

And lastly, if you’re interested in learning more about the types of ‘bids for connection’ you tend to use, I stumbled across this free “quiz” from The University of San Diego that utilizes the Gottman research.   

Are you or your spouse a people pleaser?