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How to Proceed After Learning of Your Spouse’s Porn Addiction

By Dustin | Help

How to Proceed After Learning of Your Spouse's Porn AddictionFinding out that your spouse has been compulsively viewing porn in secret can be devastating.

Whether or not you come from a religious background and object to porn on moral grounds, the pain can be paralyzing.

Now you’re wondering what to do next: ignore it and hope it goes away? Confront them and demand change?

The questions may seem endless and the situation hopeless.

You may even be worried that your marriage is in jeopardy, but don’t give up hope.

Your marriage can survive this challenge, as long as you and your spouse both work together to establish good communication, regain trust, and seek help if the pornography consumption has reached the point of an addiction.

Step 1: Don’t Blame Yourself

The first step is to understand that you aren’t the cause of this problem.

Just because your spouse is viewing pornography does NOT mean they no longer view you as attractive or sexually desirable.

Most of the time, spouses have been dealing with this problem since long before the wedding day.

It has persisted into the marriage not because of any deficit or failing on your part, but because the issue was not properly resolved by the one dealing with it. So don’t blame yourself—you are not at fault.

Step 2: Understand the Danger

Regardless of your personal feelings towards porn, viewing this type of content comes with a host of potential dangers.

First and foremost, it’s addictive in the same way substance abuse is, and may damage the brain.

It causes emotional distance between the user and their intimate relationships. It leads to broader sexual addictions, and often results in increasingly severe infidelity.

In other words, it’s not something you want to encourage, or participate in. It’s a problem that requires a definitive solution.

Step 3: Understand the Addict

Next, understand that your spouse is still a human being, one who was probably exposed when young, and didn’t know how dangerous porn could be.

In many cases, they are incapable of stopping on their own and will need significant support from friends, family, support groups, and (potentially) licensed professionals in order to quit.

Be aware as well that not every addict is prepared yet to do what it takes to change.

Some believe that there’s no problem with what they’re doing, or think of themselves as casual users who can stop anytime.

Some may want to change, but don’t know how to deal with addiction.

Regardless of their disposition, they are trapped by behavior that has become compulsive, trapping them in a painful and unpleasant life.

Step 4: Confronting the Problem

At some point, you’ll have to have the talk.

Try to stay calm, and don’t play prosecutor. Likely, their conscience has already been suffering under the weight of their actions, and they feel a powerful amount of guilt and shame.

Pay attention to how they respond to your evidence.

Do they become angry?

Do they deny using?

Do they become remorseful and apologetic?

Do they understand how much it hurts you?

Make it clear the damage their addiction is inflicting upon you, and your desire to see them overcome the problem. If they try to start an argument, distance yourself from the conversation.

Step 5: Don’t Make Any Rash Decisions

The journey to recovery is a long one, and it’s not typically a smooth ride.

Some addicts are not yet willing to make a change, having rationalized their behavior to themselves.

Even those who are motivated to change often struggle with relapses and hurtful behavior plaguing them for years.

Supporting a loved one who is an addict is not easy, and some decide it’s best to get some distance.

The decision to stay or leave is one that should be made carefully. Don’t make any rash choices in the heat of the moment.

Give yourself time—preferably several months—to thoroughly think it over, so you can do what’s best for everyone involved.

However, if there is abuse, then put your safety and the safety of your children first and leave.

Step 6: Supporting Your Spouse During Recovery

If you chose to support your spouse’s recovery, remember you are their ally in fighting their addiction, not their judge or prison warden.

Here are some tips to make your support more effective:

● Be patient—it takes time to heal the damage addiction does to the brain
● Encourage them to set rules and safeguards to limit access, and help them keep them
● Try to spend quality time together to rekindle your romance
● Try to be non-judgemental when your spouse confesses relapses—it encourages honesty
● Help them find healthy hobbies to fill their time
● Let them come to you in moments of crisis
● Encourage them to seek support groups and professional help, if necessary

Step 7: Supporting Yourself During Recovery

Supporting a recovering addict is very taxing, so remember to take time to engage in self-care on a regular basis.

You will stronger emotionally and a better help to your spouse if you recharge frequently. So whether you’re busy with work, school, or kids, take some time to pursue personal interests, to exercise, to keep a journal, or other self-focused activities. Confide your struggles in a trusted friend, family member, or therapist, and any time you need space find a way to get it.

Recovery for the addict, the spouse, and the relationship is possible.

Your marriage will never be the same, but it can heal and become stronger. If they are willing to change and you are willing to stand beside them, you will discover a deeper love even than before you learned of the addiction.

About the author: Danielle Adams is a freelance writer who works with Lifestar Therapy. She is committed to helping people practice open communication and build healthy relationships.

5 Steps to Try Before Even Considering Divorce

By Dustin | Help

When marriages are going through a rough patch, it can be tempting to feel defeated and consider filing for divorce.

This is especially true when one spouse seems more adamant about calling it quits.

While feelings of hopelessness and despair can start to kick in, it is imperative to know that your marriage can be saved.

Though it may seem necessary in the moment, divorce is a decision that should be made only after you’ve tried everything you can to save your relationship.

Let’s look at 5 different action steps you should take before considering a divorce:

1. Give Each Other Space

Whether the issue is finances, sexual tension, infidelity, or feeling like you’re growing apart, it is imperative to give each other some space.

The two of you have been living together for years, and like many couples who have been married for a while, you get into a rut or routine that can cause what would be non-issues to become problems. Time alone can allow you both the space you need to think, but it can also bring you closer together as absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Giving each other space might mean sleeping in separate rooms or one or the other party moving out or staying with a friend for a while. Be sure that you’re respectful of each other and don’t get tempted to move further away from your marriage.

2. Go to Counseling

Deciding to file for divorce is usually an impulsive decision that was mainly driven by emotion. Many couples deal with issues in the marriage for years but sweep them under the rug into they’ve got a ton of little issues eating away at them.

A marriage counselor can work with the two of you to find out what the underlying cause is for this shift and perhaps give you tools to bring you closer together.

Whether you go on your own (for spouses who don’t want to attend), or your spouse decides to accompany you, therapy can open your eyes to things you weren’t aware of, and provide you with guidance to get through the worst.

3. Go on Vacation

There are times when there are so many distractions in your life that your marriage finds its way to the back burner.

This can cause all types of issues. From feelings of loneliness and abandonment to anger and resentment, it can wreak havoc on the relationship. If you can, take a vacation with just to two of you with no distractions. Get back to focusing on each other and why you fell in love in the first place.

When you get home, those problems may not seem so major.

4. Spend Time with Your Children

Though a divorce will be difficult for you, it will be devastating to your children.  No matter what age they are, it is likely that your kids will begin to feel like it’s something they’ve done.

Sometimes, spending time with your children as a family can improve your mood and make you feel hopeful for a better tomorrow.

5. Talk to a Divorce Attorney

This may come as a surprise for advice, but sometimes, the best way to get a glimpse of reality is to consult a divorce or family attorney such as a firm like Quinn Law.

They can go over what a divorce looks like, what will be required of you, what you may lose, what will happen with your children, how much it could all cost, and more importantly, how long it would take for everything to be finalized. Sometimes, seeing your belongings, finances, and children are divvied up on paper can be the wake-up call you need to push through and work to save your marriage.

If you try each of these things and don’t see improvement in your marriage, then seeking help from a divorce attorney should be your last resort.

Broken families are hard to repair and the aftermath of a divorce can be more than you realize.

So, as you go through difficult times in your marriage, ask yourself whether you’re ready to put yourself and your family through the ringer, or if you want to do the work and rebuild your marriage.

Take Your Marriage Seriously

By Dustin | Help

take-your-marriage-seriouslyImagine you’re 45 and in pretty good shape.

You exercise several times a week, eat more 4 – 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and outside of the occasional cold, are healthy.

You’ve been married for over 18 years, have a couple of kids, nice house, and a good job.

One morning you wake up to find that you can no longer move your right arm. Everything else in your body seems fine, you even have feeling in your arm, you just can’t move it.

What would you do?

If you’re like most people, you’d schedule an appointment with your family doctor as soon as possible. You may even immediately head to the Emergency Room.

You also would probably be completely open to several visits with various specialists in order to find out what’s going on with your arm.

You’d sit through tests, scans, waiting rooms, and be willing to take whatever prescribed medication the doctor’s recommend.

You’d be willing to go to physical therapy several times per week until your arm was working properly.

The point is, you’d be willing to do almost whatever it took to have your body working well.

Now, answer me this: What is it that makes so many people not treat their marriage the same way?

If you wake up one morning and discover a problem (or finally admit to a problem’s existence), would you seek out help right away or would you hope the problem simply goes away on its own?

It seems many people hope for the latter.

Don’t believe me?

Research continues to show that couples wait an average of 6 years after a problem has become a problem before seeking out professional help. That’s 6 YEARS!

Imagine if we treated our bodies the same.

Imagine if we said to ourselves, “Oh well, I really don’t use my right arm all that much. Perhaps it will begin working again soon. I’ll just wait and see. In the meantime, honey, can you open this jar for me?”

Marital problems and struggles are common to us all.

But they don’t have to be the end of the relationship, and you definitely don’t have to go through them on your own.

Seek out a professional help. This is your best option.

If you don’t want to do that, open up to a close friend. Preferably as a couple to another couple, or if it’s just you, share your troubles with a good friend of the same gender.

Life is so much better when shared with others. Including our struggles.

Most of the time, when you share a struggle with a friend, you find out that they’ve experienced it as well. Plus, you get the burden lifted off your own shoulders a little.

Pick up a book. There are many authors who can help you navigate the path the a better relationship.

Incidentally, I’m one of them and you can pick up a copy of my new book, Naked Marriage: Uncovering Who You Are and Who You Can Become Together, today!

Regularly read a blog. Sites like Engaged Marriage offers regular thoughts and challenges that will help. Plus other resources that are worth checking out.

Thanks to the technology of today’s world, you can find help regardless of where you live.


Dr. Corey Allan is a Marriage and Family Therapist, author and speaker who regularly creates resources that will help you in your marriage and family. You can find his newest book here.

Marriage Therapy at Home?

By Dustin | Book & Product Reviews , Help

As you can imagine, I’m a big fan of utilizing technology to improve our lives.  This is especially true in our relationships where it’s so easy fall into patterns where we rely too heavily on our electronics and let it have a negative impact on our roles as spouse and parent.

Of course, as an Engaged Marriage reader, you’re taking the initiative to use the power of the Internet for good.  And I am excited to share the work of a friend who “gets it” and has found a way to combine her abilities as a therapist with the power of online availability to help many couples – from engagement through marriage refresher.

Meet Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa is a licensed psychotherapist with a private practice in Marin County, California.  Through her practice, she’s able to help many couples in the San Francisco area, and while that’s fantastic, it’s also limiting.

So, Lisa has found ways to make a positive impact on many more marriages by taking her expertise online.  I probably first encountered her on Twitter, and I was immediately impressed by her site and the resources available there.

Therapy-At-Home Workbooks

While she is quick to note that these resources are not a replacement for face-to-face therapy for those who need it, Lisa has developed several fantastic resources to help couples right from the comfort and convenience of their own homes.

There are currently two e-book based courses in this series:

I had the privilege of reviewing a copy of The Marriage Refresher Course Workbook, and I definitely recommend it for couples who are looking for a therapist-led refresher on the big issues that are impacting their relationship.

This workbook is intended to help couples:

  • Remember Why You Married in the First Place
  • Strengthen Your Communication Skills
  • Increase Your Emotional Safety
  • Explore Your Relationship Balance
  • Identify Problematic Family of Origin Issues
  • Explore Your Marriage Logistics and Roles
  • Develop or Revisit Your Personal, Couple, Family Goals and Marriage Vision
  • Learn Tips about How to Work Through Three Common Marriage Problems

As you can see by the topics listed, The Marriage Refresher Course Workbook is really intended to get back to the basic (and vitally important) foundational issues in your marriage and strengthen your relationship from there.  For many couples, this kind of focus will have a dramatic impact on the quality of their marriage and family life.

I encourage you to go check out the overview page for The Marriage Refresher Course Workbook for all the details.  If you’re not married yet or are newly married, check out what Lisa’s offering with The Premarital Counseling Workbook for Couples.

These are great resources available in a super-accessible format.  I love that!

How I Fought To Save My Marriage and Won

By Dustin | Help

How I Fought To Save My Marriage...And WonIf you and your husband decide to a trial separation, just be prepared for comments from others.

They will assume.

They will worry.

Most of all, they will not know the right things to say.

They will think of only two no-no words: marriage problems.

Not that it’s any of their business.

You’re simply telling them so they won’t have to hear it from someone else, or figure it out, or for there to be an awkward situation later.

If you do have a separation, just make sure to coach the people you tell; you can tell them it’s temporary, and that you still love each other.

Separating to Save Your Marriage?

You don’t know where it will lead, but you do know it’s right for you and your relationship.

Because what you’re really doing is giving each other space so you can come together in a new and better way.

You’re not giving up, but instead giving each other a chance.

No matter how it appears to other people, don’t let that deter you from the ultimate goal—saving your marriage.

When Being Apart Helps You Come Together

Annie and her husband agreed to a separation.

It was mostly his idea, and a time for him to really explore who he was and get through some personal issues. Sometimes, as Annie learned, separation isn’t 100% because you don’t want to be married, but rather that you need to relearn how to be yourself.

So that’s what they did.

With big things looming on the horizons—financial issues, the possibility of having children—for them the break was worthwhile. They could think.

It was lonely at times, and confusing at times. That is to be expected. But Annie said being apart made them come together.

Keep Dating While Apart?

One thing they did right: they kept dating.

They’d eat out together and talk. And this is when they would blurt it all out.

Their lists. What they loved about each other, and what they hated about each other.

They laid it all out on the table, so to speak. Those sorts of things are always hard to hear, but sometimes very necessary in order to get unstuck.

They had been stuck, but now they had the beginnings of saving the marriage.

When Marriage Separation Should Be An Option

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together or how strong your marriage was in the past, all marriages go through ups and downs. If your marriage is in a continual down, then maybe marriage separation could be the option that helps you get past it.

It worked for Annie and her husband. They went to couples therapy, and they each spent alone time in therapy.

Having a third party experienced in this sort of thing really helps to reassure and propel each spouse into realizing that things like this happen. No, you’re not the only one who feels this way. And it doesn’t have to end for you to be happy.

Annie was scared that her husband did or would have an affair, since he knew there was a woman he worked with who really got along well with him, and was everything she wasn’t.

But he was willing to work on things. He was trying and not hiding anything. So she let those thoughts go.

Sometimes, however, when they met to talk he would change his story. He’d talk about how he loved her and wanted to get back together; other times he’d say that they weren’t meant to be and it was time to break things off for good.

Really, deep inside he was hurting and confused himself. What he needed to know was how much she wanted it, too.

So Annie did what any woman in love would do—she fought for her marriage…. and won.

Happily Ever After?

They started to cuddle, hold hands, and be intimate more. It was less mechanic and more loving.

They started being less selfish by focusing on themselves, and putting more stock into the other person instead. It worked wonders.

By doing that, they unconditionally loved each other, faults and all, and expected less of each other. In the same breath, they each worked harder on what they could control—themselves.

Annie worked on her faults, and her husband worked on his.

The only thing that couples who separate truly regret is not trying harder to save the marriage sooner.

It seems as if marriage is just there, and it should sustain itself. But that’s not true.

It takes constant effort of nurturing love. Both parties must focus on what is truly important—each other.

Finally, Annie’s husband moved back in. It wasn’t easy, but things were definitely better. They kept going to couples therapy, and now they appreciated each other more. They realized what they could have lost, but were willing to fight for.

In this case, it was worth the fight for both of them. Because in the end, they won each other.

Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples in therapy. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is currently associated with, a reliable resource assisting millions of couples to resolve their marital issues. She holds a Master’s Degree in Arts (Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy).

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