Saturday, December 24, 2011

Healing after Discovering He's Been Hooked on Porn

In a way, each woman has a uniquely individual experience when she discovers her man has a pornography addiction. It's based on many factors including how he handles the disclosure or discovery, her beliefs about him, her expectations of their relationship, their sexual history, what other areas of their life together have been like, and her feelings about pornography itself.

Despite the very personal nature of your response, it can be valuable to talk to and hear from others who are having parallel experiences. Healing as an individual and moving on as a couple often requires a massive reorientation in the most intimate realms of life. Checking in with fellow travelers on this journey can help reassure you you're not going crazy, illuminate ways of handling things you hadn't considered before, and instill hope that others have made it through what you're experiencing--in one piece!

In that spirit, let me recommend a video that was recently produced by KSL TV. My colleagues Jeff Ford, LMFT and Geoff Steurer, LMFT arranged the interviews and helped put the content together. Geoff coauthored Love You, Hate the Porn with me and the founding director of LifeSTAR of St. George Utah. Hope you find it helpful.

Support for LDS Wives of Addicts

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

evolution with glass

It has always been a dream of mine to design with glass.

It was during my last two years in a high school drafting class that I started working on a house design that had a glass stair case and a sunken glass living room. ( yes it was the early 70’s when sunken living rooms were all the rage ) .

Photo from Hospitality Design
From October 31, 2011

My high school drafting teacher , Mr. Nolan, didn’t tell me that my glass house design was impractical or unattainable . Instead he encouraged me to continue to design and handed me an application to Harvard’s Graduate School of Design summer program in architecture

Nervous and armed with an immature portfolio I headed off to Harvard in 1976.
In a rather odd turn of events I did not get into the Architecture department as I had hoped , instead I was placed in the Landscape Architecture program.
Inside Gund Hall - my desk was on the second floor about where that jacket is hanging.
From October 31, 2011

Outside view of the GSD
From October 31, 2011

Link to the GSD website

It’s been 35 years later from that first class in L.A.(landscape architecture) and I am still intrigued to design with glass.

Working with recycled broken glass

From San Francisco Garden Show 2008

From San Francisco Garden Show 2008

From San Francisco Garden Show 2008

From San Francisco Garden Show 2008

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Burle Marx influence.

Twenty some odd years ago I was influenced by the work of Roberto Burle Marx, (1909-1994)
He was Brazil's most influential landscape architect and is internationally recognized as the "creator of the modern garden." Mr. Marx is also recognized for his discovery of many native Brazilan rainforest plants. One of my favorites is Tibouchina , which I often use in my garden designs here in Northern California.
Below is a photo of a garden wall that Mr. Marx designed using discarded and collected building shards.

From Water fountains in the landscape

Below is a garden that I designed for the 1990 S.F. Garden Show. I was inspired by the wall that Mr. Marx had created in his garden in Brazil.
I came across these old photos today while cleaning out a bookshelf.

From Water fountains in the landscape

From Water fountains in the landscape

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

To Kick Your Porn Habit, Learn from Lapses

image: dan /
Hannah writes, "For five years my husband told me every time he messed up with porn. About a year and a half ago I decieded to 'change the rules.' He could tell me if he wanted (and most the time he did), but he didn't have to. It seemed to work for about 8 or 9 months. He actually did really great. But now he harldy ever tells me, but I know he is looking more and more regularly. Should he be telling me? Should he be accountable to me?"

Hannah, since your husband's been actively working to conquer his addiction for 6+ years, and yet still failing regularly, I worry that he may leaving out key elements necessary for building a solid long-term recovery. As helpful as it may be to address one's addiction more openly--to be accountable, as you put it--there's also much more that can--and typically must--be done.

Here's my suggestion to those who struggle: When you falter, in addition to telling someone, take the time to analyze your lapse. Identify a factor or two that played a role and try to come up with a corresponding solution. Keep tinkering, experimenting, until you find an approach that works for you.

Doug had successfully avoided viewing porn for over a year. Then he got a new 4G phone. Waiting to pick up his daughter her karate class, he wandered around the web. Before he knew it, he had crossed the line back into the realm of porn. The rush was back, and so was the guilt. When he got home, it was hard to tell his wife, Shelly. They'd come so far, things between them seemed almost back to normal, and he dreaded what this might do to her confidence in him. He told her anyway.

Shelly swore at Doug and then cried. Then she thanked him for telling her. They brainstormed together. At first Shelly wanted him to ditch the new phone. They discussed what had helped Doug avoid problems on the computer. One key was the monitoring software they'd installed a year and a half ago. "Whenever I'm online I feel like I'm in a fishbowl. I know you'll be getting the report on where I go online. It's not even a temptation to go to adult sites anymore."

"Too bad they don't have monitoring software for phones," Shelly lamented. After a moment they looked up at each other and then both reached for their phones. Within moments they were exploring the pros and cons of different Phone Monitoring Software programs. Since installing FlexiSpy on his phone, Doug has felt as protected with it as he does when he's online at home.

Initially Shelly thought that availability was the primary factor leading to Doug's lapse; hence she wanted to get rid of the phone altogether. Talking together they realized that even if porn is available, it's not a draw unless Doug feels like he can view it in complete secrecy. This allowed them to come up with a fitting solution that wasn't overly restrictive.

Kevin is another individual who built a more solid recovery by taking the time to learn from his failures. He said, “I used to lapse on the road, so whenever I travel my mind reminded me it was time to look at porn.” The human nervous system is designed to take whatever we do regularly and generate an autopilot program for carrying out that sequence independent of conscious choice. Once we’re programmed, an initial domino in the sequence is all it takes to tip over the whole row.

Kevin's solution was to invest some time practicing other mental responses and making them habitual. He integrated the practices describe in my posts The Path from Craving to Freedom and Mentally Practice Your Way Out of Craving. On his next business trip, he deliberately practiced an entirely different line of thinking as soon as he walked into his hotel room. Before he even unpacked his luggage, he took out nine tattered index cards and read them, pausing a few seconds to let each idea sink in:

  • "Don't choose guilt and depression over contentment."
  • "As I get free of this problem Olivia and I feel closer and closer."
  • "Sex is for connecting, not distraction."
  • "That path separates and isolates me."
  • "I have much more power when I turn away."
  • "Think of how hard it is to face Olivia after messing up."
  • "Remember who I am and what I stand for."
  • "That path diminishes love and disconnects us."
  • "Loneliness is hard but I can make it."

Once each day for a week prior to leaving on the trip, he had imagined himself in this very situation and then read the cards to practice. The repetition had helped lay down a new path for his brain to take, an alternative to the old pattern that had become habitual because of past repetition. He has continued this practice whenever he travels, breaking out the cue cards again a week prior to leaving. Despite being on the road extensively this past fall, he only lapsed once, which was a drastic improvement for Kevin.

Don't endlessly beat yourself up over a lapse. But don't merely dismiss it, either, as an inevitable part of the process of recovery from addiction. Instead, do as Doug and Kevin did. Take the time to do an autopsy. Adopt the mentality of a curious, scientifically-minded coroner. It may be a complex interaction of factors that makes us vulnerable to lapse. Thus, coming up with a solution can be a challenge. But it can also be quite an inspired, creative endeavor. (I'll stop short of calling it fun.)

Analyze away. Experiment away. And then please share with us what you discover and the ways you develop and grow along the way. I will be as excited to hear your story as I was to share Doug and Shelly's and Kevin and Olivia's!