Today we’re extending our talk about pornography use in adults. Is it OK for use in a marriage, and how can couples understand if it is a problem?
Today’s guest is Stephen Moore — he is the co-founder and co-host of the weekly podcast, PBSE, which offers a raw and real forum for the discussion of the issues, obstacles, and solutions for healing dealing with trust, intimacy, and attachment issues. (www.daretoconnectnow.com) Stephen is also the co-author of The Pornography Paradox: Why Christian Men Are Too Often Trapped in Sexual Addiction and How to Break Free. He is also coming out with an online course & group called Dare to Connect for couples who want to break free from addiction.
This is the sister episode to 077 — Talking to your kids about pornography.
Big thanks to our sponsor Family Routines — if you’re looking to get your home in order, definitely check it out! Less stress with kids and home life can help you deal with the deeper issues in your relationships.
Pornography Use in Adults
In this episode
Is poronography use in adults “normal” & is it helpful?
How porn use can extend in adults.
Do women struggle with pornography addiction?
How to get help if you have a problem.
How to use filters in an adult setting
The dynamic between husband/wife that is healthy in resolving this.
Being open about pornography use in a coupleship
Other things that might interest you
Producer: Drew Erickson
Check out my other parenting podcasts:
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[00:00:00.235] – Hilary Erickson
Hey, guys, welcome back to the Pulling Curls Podcast. Today on Episode 84, we are revisiting pornography. It sounds like an Oscar winner, doesn’t it? Let’s untangle it.
[00:00:19.875] – Hilary Erickson
Welcome to the Pulling Curls Podcast, I’m Hilary, your curly headed host on the podcast, where we untangle everything from pregnancy, parenting and home routines. I want you to know that there are no right answers for every family. And I find that simplifying my priorities is almost always the answer. It’s tangled just like my hair.
[00:00:44.675] – Hilary Erickson
OK, guys, before we get started, leave a review, leave a review, come on, let’s leave a review! Catchy jingle, right? OK, this guest was on Episode 77 where we talked about kids or teens and pornography, but we are having him back on. He is a licensed clinical social worker. He specializes in addictions, both chemical and pornography. He is a sex addiction therapist. He has a new course coming out called Dare to Connect.
[00:01:10.565] – Hilary Erickson
I want to introduce today’s guest, Stephen Moore.
[00:01:14.635] – Hilary Erickson
This episode of the Pulling Curls Podcast is sponsored by Family Routines How to Automate Your Housewife Life. Ever wish life was more like you pictured? It would be before you had kids being able to spend less time at the mundane tasks and more time teaching kids the fun and valuable life skills.
[00:01:29.335] – Hilary Erickson
You know, they need. Family routines, teaches families to simplify daily tasks into routines that help them feel more peace and joy.
[00:01:36.805] – Hilary Erickson
Save 15 percent with a coupon code UNTANGLED. You can find it at Pulling Curls Podcast in the menu under courses or in this episode show notes.
[00:01:47.645] – Hilary Erickson
Hey, Stephen, welcome back to the Pulling Curls Podcast.
[00:01:50.315] – Stephen Moore
Hello, hello, good to be back.
[00:01:51.815] – Hilary Erickson
All right. So last time we talked about teens, this time we’re talking about adults.
[00:01:57.095] – Stephen Moore
That’s right. Getting in hardcore. Right. Pun intended.
[00:02:00.515] – Hilary Erickson
A little bit more serious. OK, so what’s normal for couples and porn? Because everyone that I work with is like it’s normal. Like my husband looks at it all the time. Not like all the time. I mean, I don’t think they think their husband has a problem. And then of course everyone in church is like never.
[00:02:17.495] – Stephen Moore
Yeah. Yeah. So no, I totally get what you’re saying. So I… There’s there are lots of thoughts on this. Like there’s the kind of the professional community as a whole which is sort of all over the board with it. And then there’s been my experience and that of like close colleagues of mine, the jury. As far as first of all, I guess it depends on what you’re defining a as a problem, right? Because there’s there’s pornography and the behaviors associated with it, which are of themselves, of their own thing.
[00:02:44.495] – Stephen Moore
And then there’s the addiction component, which brings on a whole other kind of level of other stuff if we’re talking about pornography in of itself.
[00:02:54.785] – Stephen Moore
Yeah, how would I put it it? I’m just going to give my personal opinion. How about we just do that, my personal professional thing? And having done this for a while now, I have never seen an example where pornography wasn’t to some degree destructive to the individual or individuals involved with it to some degree. I’ve never once worked with a client, said, man, I was just so depressed. But then I found porn in my life just, you know, turn around and now I’m good.
[00:03:22.985] – Stephen Moore
Pornography has been clinically proven to decrease connection with reality as a whole, and that includes real relationships, as we say in my clinic oftentimes. So for a lot of the individuals that get caught up in it to one degree or another, it sort of acts like this master puzzle piece that can kind of on the surface fill in for almost any kind of mental failing or… Or weakness. If I don’t feel loved or accepted, pornography does a very thorough job in the moment of making one feel very loved and accepted.
[00:03:51.905] – Stephen Moore
If I don’t feel very connected with people around me, pornography again, does this does the same. If I don’t feel very confident about myself and who I am and what my value or worth is for five minutes, 10 minutes, whatever it is, I feel a high degree of worth and value. On the back end, though, what we see inevitably with most of the people that we work with is that while pornography offers all of these things on the front end, the paradox, which is where my books name comes from about pornography, is that it actually in the long run, takes those very things which it bills itself to offer.
[00:04:21.455] – Stephen Moore
So I think that if we were to talk just for the sake of time, probably the biggest thing that I focus on with the negative side is that, again, I’ve never seen a relationship being truly enhanced by pornography. I know that there are claims of that out there, but it’s never come up in my clinic before. And I’ve never seen it in any of my any of the really vindicated research that I’ve seen. Now, that’s not to say that it does that it’s like an addiction, quote unquote, for everybody, because compulsion, addiction, just like with any drug or any other issue, it runs on a spectrum from fairly quote unquote, mild all the way to much more extreme.
[00:04:54.905] – Stephen Moore
But but I would say that that, again, it’s never been something that is really in the long run I have ever seen enhance a relationship addressing just your what you said about it’s normal. Right. I hear that a lot, too. And when you look at the statistics of how many people consume pornography and the pornography industry as a whole and how well it thrives, I would agree it is very common. The statistic I read several years back and I haven’t checked on it since it was pornography as of that, writing was making more money than the NFL, the NHL, the NBA, Apple, Microsoft, Google and like four other Fortune 500 companies combined.
[00:05:31.145] – Hilary Erickson
[00:05:32.135] – Stephen Moore
Per year. It is a behemoth of an industry. It’s one that not a lot of people talk about, but it has roots all over the place. And…quote-unquote And it’s been a it’s a very refined, skilled craft by the people who put it, who produce it. So it is very common. And that’s just that’s just the paid stuff that says nothing about the quote-unquote litany of free stuff out there. So so, yeah, it is very common.
[00:05:58.895] – Stephen Moore
But my… My assertion with that is just because something is common doesn’t make it any less destructive.
[00:06:03.635] – Hilary Erickson
[00:06:04.535] – Stephen Moore
Because again, I’ve never had a couple of people that really look me in the eye after even just a session or two who’s been able to say, yeah, what’s the problem, this has never hurt us or harmed us. I mean, it sets it sets a relationship up for all sorts of things, ranging from physical comparison, enhancing increased body issues.
[00:06:19.475] – Stephen Moore
Usually in the women that I work with, those existing insecurities are just enhanced because now they’ve got a husband that they’re or really bad idea website dotcom that has all these women that they’re being compared to. I mean, that’s just one example among many.
[00:06:33.455] – Hilary Erickson
But I mean, it would probably just take a lot of honesty to say in both partners to say, is this really helping us be better parents? Be a better couple. Yes, be better humans.
[00:06:43.685] – Stephen Moore
Yeah, absolutely right. And I I mean, in my practice, I do focus on sexual behaviors and compulsions, and that’s kind of the clinical side of my practice. But really what we do is attachment, focus therapy, my office the most and and I’m all about what will bring couples and relationships in general closer together. And when you talk about intimacy, some of the fundamental ingredients for that would be transparency, honesty, accountability, pornography. And the behaviors associated with it in most cases don’t enhance any of those.
[00:07:12.785] – Stephen Moore
They they take away from all of them. And so they usually set the grounds for, at best, some sort of mild betrayal. And it most puts a guy or a woman, whoever tends to be involved with it, at risk for other sexual behaviors that might become increasingly more acute or what some would consider deviant or definitely destructive. So it’s sort of in a way, acts as this kind of a misnomer in the professional community now, but it is a sort of gateway drug into other forms of acting out for those who get caught in a compulsion cycle with it.
[00:07:43.565] – Hilary Erickson
OK, so how do you know that it’s a problem?
[00:07:46.025] – Stephen Moore
That’s a good question. So I think you kind of already hit on the first answer. So the first answer to that that I have is you have to be. Real with yourself about how this is really impacting you, and that takes a lot of mindfulness, a lot of a lot of being able to really look inward, as we talked about on our previous episode, sexuality is such a funny topic because everyone deals with it.
[00:08:07.125] – Stephen Moore
Like I find that even the vast majority of adults are incredibly uncomfortable talking about it in any sort of even a semi-public setting. And so there’s this real taboo around the subject in general, which oftentimes leads couples away from having conversations around it. We don’t want to cause offense. We don’t want to do this or that. But I think it takes it takes the individual and the cultural shift to be able to look at that individual and say, is my life really better for having this in it?
[00:08:30.825] – Stephen Moore
Right? Do I walk away from pornography, from obsession with pornography in the long run, really feeling better about myself or more open to connecting with people? Do I feel more or less shame, you know, after I’ve engaged with it or interacted with it? Some other kind of things to look for. Along with that, if you’re looking for symptoms, would be something similar to what we talked about on the last podcast a couple of months back.
[00:08:52.775] – Stephen Moore
But it would be like emotional variability. Those who struggle with compulsion in general, what’s the compulsion or an addiction begins to set in and and the viewing or use of pornography and other sexual behaviors gets to that point. And it becomes a coping mechanism for other things in a way to medicate and relieve stress and numb out and all of those things. There’s been a lot of good research in the last couple of years that shows that when that addiction and compulsion starts to set in or whatever age that is, in my case, it was very early, like 13.
[00:09:17.555] – Stephen Moore
It hinders and limits the brain’s neurobiological capacity to deal with stress because we’ve found this new medication that can help us through things. And so those who get caught in that in an early age are going to be much more vulnerable to things in the environment that we consider to be externals for for like good mental homeostasis. So those who struggle with addiction or compulsion are going to find or their partners are going to find that those people oftentimes will fly off the handle.
[00:09:44.825] – Stephen Moore
Just little things. And this is definitely the case for me. I remember there was a time when we would make weekend plans and my wife would change one thing about it and I would just lose it, like because I was so reliant on what was going on in my environment for emotional regulation that that little things that most people would not consider very rocking the boat will throw a guy or woman off in that capacity. I think that the other component, too, and there is a there is a risk for this.
[00:10:12.155] – Stephen Moore
I mean, it does set a couple of ship up for decreased sexual attraction between the two people. Will that always happen? No, not all the time. But again, I’ve never seen it legitimately enhance anything. I’ve only ever seen it take it down, which is just natural. The more we’re comparing our partner, our real self, our real partner to a fake or enhanced or airbrushed or classified or whatever you want to call it, partner.
[00:10:35.825] – Stephen Moore
And the more connected we become with that, the more we tend to decrease in our connection with those that are closest to us. And that’s not just sexually that would be with just other relationships in general. Yeah.
[00:10:46.925] – Hilary Erickson
Are we… Are we finding that women tend to have I don’t I honestly don’t think of women a lot with I’ve seen a lot of naked men in my time.
[00:10:56.145] – Stephen Moore
[00:10:58.325] – Hilary Erickson
So I’m like ehh… So do- is it something women struggle with too? I’m sure it is.
[00:11:03.815] – Stephen Moore
Right, it is. And that’s that’s probably the most disturbing recent statistic is that women historically have been a pretty low demographic for pornography. But with I mean, the estimates along the gamut kind of run all over the board. So this is not a literal statistic because there aren’t real research numbers on this, but based on working with colleagues and the best intrinsic research that have been done by people from all over the country that I work with and associate with, I would roughly guesstimate that between six to well, between five to eight out of ten men have some sort of an issue or have had some sort of an issue with pornography.
[00:11:42.395] – Stephen Moore
It’s a pretty saturated demographic already. And so women have become the natural next target and we are seeing dramatically increasing levels of women getting pulled into into pornography. The pornography is a little bit different, as I told you last time. The sad reality is, is that there are guys like me that are like turn to the dark side, who the porn industry will hire on, how to how do I emotionally, mentally hook a demographic into this behavior.
[00:12:06.605] – Stephen Moore
And so a lot of female pornography tends to be much more emotionally associated or tied to emotion, but it still goes back to the same same thing, different hooks, same thing. And yeah, it’s it’s actually much more common than most think. And I think that has to do with a lot of things. But in some respects it shares a similarity with men. It’s that it’s this issue that is common for so many. But because there’s such a taboo around it, it oftentimes goes underground.
[00:12:31.955] – Stephen Moore
Even with spouses, the thought of a person’s spouse or or anybody in the public definitely like finding out about this would be for, I think, the majority of the population, pretty terrifying. And so. Yeah, yeah. So it’s a very much closeted but very much prevalent issue with women as well.
[00:12:49.265] – Hilary Erickson
But it’s more like a hallmark porn.
[00:12:50.855] – Stephen Moore
What do you mean like the hallmark of like. Yeah, they absolutely know it very much is it’s you know, men tend to be more physically and visually stimulated, tactile stamina, stimulated women also as well, but there tends to be more of emotional connective route. And so, yeah, it does look a little bit different, but it is becoming a huge issue. And and I think for women, even more so, to be honest, those that do struggle with the shame is almost enhanced.
[00:13:16.705] – Stephen Moore
Because the sad truth is, is I think to some degree, culturally, we kind of expect this woman to some degree. That’s a horrible thing to expect. But I think that’s probably the social norm. Whereas for women, I think there’s even more of a oh, my gosh, I can’t I can’t be one of those people dealing with this. Like, I’m not supposed to deal with this. So, yeah.
[00:13:33.745] – Hilary Erickson
So what do you do if there’s a problem?
[00:13:36.475] – Stephen Moore
Good question. Where does it begin? So there’s so many places and this is not a plug for my profession, but kind of really finding a good therapist who knows what they’re doing and working with this issue is is kind of paramount. I being really candid, I went to school, was really expensive therapy for me. I knew I was dealing with some issues, but I had no clue that I was dealing with like a full blown addiction.
[00:13:59.965] – Stephen Moore
And that’s in part why I went to graduate school to do what I do. And even after graduating and having been in the field for several years, I was I was in a place where I was actually getting pretty adept at helping people with various forms of addiction and compulsion. And then I would find myself giving into it minutes or hours after helping a client like it was really the denial can run deep for it. So I think that the best thing to do is if you’re in doubt, I think a good place to start is contact a specialist and see if it is an issue they can run.
[00:14:32.065] – Stephen Moore
There’s a whole list of tests and other things that can be done to kind of determine that I run a bunch of those out of my office. And so that would be a good starting point. If you know that you’re already that you’ve already got a problem or even if you do heavily suspect this is a problem, first thing you want to do besides getting a therapist on board, although a therapist can be part of this, is going to be developing a support system of people who get it.
[00:14:54.565] – Stephen Moore
The shame associated with pornography and sexual compulsion or addiction or problems, whatever you want to terminaling, do you want to use again, is one of the most shame based, I think things that most people deal with. We live in a society now where you look at a lot of popular TV stars or movie stars or people who are kind of in the social public and it’s almost become sort of expected for them to do like a little stint in drug rehab.
[00:15:16.135] – Stephen Moore
It’s just almost like kind of a rite of passage. And even in that liberal community, when you bring up a topic like sex addiction, you could bring up a litany of different actors, actresses David Duchovny from The X Files being a prominent one whose careers have completely gone dark when they’ve come come out with the fact that they struggle with this. And so when you’re dealing with that level of shame demographic, it is critical to be finding people that you won’t feel isolated with on this issue.
[00:15:41.245] – Stephen Moore
For most couples, even opening up to close families or individuals opening up to close family is kind of a no game scenario. And so there are a lot of good ones out there for addicts. The popular one, the one that I still continue to attend, even though I’m six years sober, is Sexaholics Anonymous. There’s also but there is also a family equivalent for that. It’s called S.A.M. and there are lots of others as well. But those would be the two kind of heavy hitters that would be a good place to start.
[00:16:07.045] – Stephen Moore
People come to see me in my office because I have a history with this and so I can probably get this maybe a little bit better than most in terms of going through it. But even with that, there’s a big difference between coming to see a therapist with a history with this and going in and being with a group of individuals who are in the exact same position that you’re in right now in real time. That’s a that’s a level of healing that you can’t buy, that you can’t purchase.
[00:16:29.905] – Stephen Moore
And the best part is, is it’s free. So I know a lot of religious circles will provide twelve step groups or other support groups for this. Also, I’ve seen 12… And 12 step, by the way, has been clinically proven like research based, proven to work when it’s implemented successfully. It’s why there’s so many different forms of the 12 step program out there. So those would be two big ones. And then if you’re if you find out that you do have a problem again, that’s where you definitely are going to want involve some therapy.
[00:16:57.295] – Stephen Moore
But I think at a baseline, you’re also going to want to bring on board some way to protect either yourself or your family or the couple ship increase accountability around the issue and open up the dialog more than where it’s at. Because whatever level a person is struggling with on this, as you can see, whether it’s addiction or not, there is something on that shame level. And the degree to which this thing operates in the dark is the degree to which usually is that the dictator, in terms of how significant of an impact or how much it’s setting up a relationship for real problems.
[00:17:27.115] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, I know you had mentioned filters. Yes. With kids. We want to have the filter on. Yeah. What about filters for adults.
[00:17:35.875] – Stephen Moore
Yeah, I know. I talked about that a little bit last time so we won’t go through the whole filter thing. You’ll you’ll want to go back and listen that, that episode to hear kind of the full spiel. But as far as filters with delts go, they can actually be really helpful if they’re implemented the right way.
[00:17:48.955] – Stephen Moore
And when I say the right way is that if you do decide to go some sort of a filter route one. It should be done, if at all possible, in a willing place. The reason why is, is if if someone’s not really ready to change, trying to get them to be in a place to change oftentimes can just enhance the problems in the relationship. It increases more distrust. It creates creates more wariness, introduces more secrecy. So that would be the point.
[00:18:15.885] – Stephen Moore
That would be point number one. I think it can be good if it’s willing. I also have found that working with lots of probably might be up to thousands of couples now, but at least hundreds of couples over the years. If that is something that you do find you want to use, have somebody else other than your spouse run the passwords or the administration of that. A lot of couples try to keep that within the couple ship, which is, again, why a support system can be so good as finding somebody who’s not involved to run that so that the spouse who’s kind of the gatekeeper with that, who becomes the gatekeeper, doesn’t become further the bad guy in the relationship.
[00:18:47.535] – Stephen Moore
It creates kind of a policeman effect. When I’m talking to couples about a variety of issues, there are three things that a spouse should never become for their for their partner. If the relationship is going to be healthy, their confessor, their resolver or their policeman or policewoman. I have worked with too many women over the years who have been very behind closed doors in a very nontaxable way, said, you know, Steve, I feel I’ve got four kids, but I feel like I have five.
[00:19:11.535] – Stephen Moore
And we shouldn’t nobody should really want to have all the relationships that you want to be viewed in light of with with a partner that you have in life. You don’t want to have to have a parent child dynamic developing.
[00:19:23.835] – Hilary Erickson
So, yeah, although I think all women just just a little bit I think all women feel like that sometimes. I’m sure men feel like that too. Like the wife’s just another kid when it comes to. But you pull out the Hot Wheels and I’ve got four kids.
[00:19:36.645] – Stephen Moore
You know, there’s probably some truth to that. My wife, if you ever want to have her on, could give you a whole new perspective on being married to a guy who deals with this.
[00:19:45.795] – Stephen Moore
So, yeah, it’s it’s that would be a good starting point. But but I think that with the filtering piece, you are going to find more hope and help if you if you really try out a couple and see what works best for your guys. This situation, I talked about some good ones earlier in the last episode, but but yeah, finding something that works for the two of you and that, again, can increase and keep the dialog going where things go really bad with with this compulsion, this issue, compulsion or not, is when they become secretive.
[00:20:17.295] – Stephen Moore
And it’s an issue that very easily becomes that if it’s not already. And so you want to be doing everything you can to keep it out in the open and keep talking about it. Couples can weather a significant and this doesn’t just apply to what we’re talking about now. My experience tells me that couples can actually endure a couple of ships can endure far more than they really realize that they can if one factor is met and that factor inevitably comes back to do I feel like on a consistent daily basis, this partner really has my back and do they feel the same thing for me?
[00:20:44.835] – Stephen Moore
If a marriage can if two couples, people in couples can say that authentically on a daily basis, a marriage is going to be pretty dang resilient to most to most issues and working through most issues. But pornography, unfortunately, because it hits on such intimate tones and on the sexuality within the relationship, is one of the reasons why it’s one of the biggest issues that puts a relationship most at risk because it destroys trust and accountability and vulnerability and intimacy on the highest level and will do more to drive a couple apart than really any issue that I’m acquainted with out there.
[00:21:16.845] – Stephen Moore
So that’s the that’s hopefully that doesn’t sound too too harrowing.
[00:21:20.085] – Hilary Erickson
No, but I think it is good to know that if you just keep that communication and willingness to help each other, you can weather it. I think that’s important because a lot of people, I think, find out that this is a problem and just think it’s over like we’re done.
[00:21:33.705] – Stephen Moore
Yes, well, in a lot of husbands. Well, we’ll just talk, guys, because that is kind of the majority demographic. A lot of the guys that I work with, that’s part of what drives it.
[00:21:40.905] – Stephen Moore
And what I’m trying to help them see is that they’ll tell me, you know, if I tell my spouse what’s really going on here, like the full extent of it or what’s really happening, this thing is done. She is going to leave me. And the answer that I always have to give to them is, is you could be right. Right. There’s no guarantees that that could happen. But what I can guarantee you for sure is that if we don’t talk about it, sooner or later, you really are choosing to lose your marriage for sure.
[00:22:05.055] – Stephen Moore
You may be putting it off, but no couples, no one will ever stand a couple ship. I mean, forget pornography if they don’t know who they’re married to. Marriage is very rarely. And I work with spouses all the time who tell me time after time after time. You’d be shocked how much I hear this. When their husband’s not around, they will secretly tell me this, Steve. It’s not the porn that’s really bothering me. I mean, the pornography pisses me off, right?
[00:22:27.475] – Stephen Moore
The sex takes me as long as you keep this year. And the sex I haven’t sworn once. That’s like a record for me.
[00:22:34.365] – Hilary Erickson
Pisses is not a swear word.
[00:22:35.745] – Stephen Moore
OK, first off, I’m not offending me, but.
[00:22:40.245] – Stephen Moore
But yeah, it’s not the sex. It’s not even when there’s other deviant sexual behaviors in place. I mean, those things are hurtful. They hurt our relationship. But the wives will tell me time and again it’s not knowing who the crap that I’m married to that’s go. To end this thing, it’s wondering what version of my husband I’m going to get when he comes through the door today, is it truth telling, Steve? Is it deceptive, Steve?
[00:23:00.955] – Stephen Moore
Is it emotionally on point, Steve, or is it just relapsed and acting like a two year old moping and kind of what I call it, or mode, Steve, that that emotional variability is what will inevitably into a relationship far quicker in most cases than the other stuff. And so that’s why that that just speaks to that point of keeping that dialog open as much as you can, because as long as you’re keeping the dialog open, it’s you and your partner back to back against the issue.
[00:23:25.795] – Stephen Moore
The minute it becomes secretive is when it’s now you versus your partner with the issue in the middle.
[00:23:29.935] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, I think that’s probably true for every marital issue, right?
[00:23:33.185] – Stephen Moore
Yeah, it is. Absolutely.
[00:23:34.885] – Hilary Erickson
Versus husband about kid doing X, Y, Z. Correct.
[00:23:38.545] – Stephen Moore
Absolutely. When you’re a team on something then it’s doable. But when you’re drawing swords on each other, I mean, all of us I think, get in our relationships right at the beginning. I remember when I first got married, I was just I was so naive. I was like, I don’t know what’s wrong with all these other idiots out there. Like, these people suck at marriage. Like, we’re going to kill it. We’re going to be like the power couple.
[00:23:56.965] – Stephen Moore
We’re reinventing this thing. And then life happens and stuff happens. And issues you didn’t think were issues come up. And and it’s shocking how much an issue like this can drive the coupleship apart, which actually I’m glad we’re talking about, because it kind of takes me back to that what you’d asked before. Right, about the impact that this could have.
[00:24:16.255] – Hilary Erickson
OK, so so you would say that the couple needs counseling, right? Because I think a lot of times women might think my husband needs to go to counseling, but there’s no way in heck I’m going to counseling. Yes. His problem.
[00:24:28.045] – Stephen Moore
[00:24:28.885] – Stephen Moore
And that does apply to like the 12 step support system side as well. Honestly, even more so. Most women don’t recognize, for example, or partners of addicts, if we’re talking addiction, don’t recognize just how isolating this particular issue can become because it’s as secretive as it becomes for the guy involved, guy or girl involved with it, for the partner of the addict. They’re dealing with all that same stuff, plus the social implications. Somebody finds out my husband’s a sex addict.
[00:24:55.375] – Stephen Moore
Well, what does that mean? What are they going to say that makes or does that make me look like a prude? Like I’m sexually hideous? Like, I mean, what and that becomes that just drives the isolation more. And the sad reality is, is that even in good religious groups and in other areas, we tend to put too much emphasis on getting help for the for the addict. When the partner is just a victim to the crime, they far too often don’t get that for a variety of reasons.
[00:25:19.975] – Stephen Moore
The women that make it through this issue most successful are the women who are able to connect with other women who are dealing with the same stuff, who can give who can have their back, give them advice, support, a place to vent all those things that their spouse may not be once trust has become minimal or diminished or or or broken.
[00:25:36.475] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. So, yeah. So it sounds like it’s mostly just that one big step of like saying you need help and then hopefully you find the right people. Right?
[00:25:44.965] – Stephen Moore
Yeah. And I know I’m putting a lot of emphasis on that. I mean for the sake of time there’s there’s ten thousand things I could talk about in terms of treatment and how that all goes. But but for just listeners, the purposes of this therapy really is is the number one step, because I am a living example of not being able you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Like for years I was choosing and in some ways not choosing, but it all added up to just conveniently overlooking the impact that this was happening, that this was bringing into my life when I was stuck in this pattern and nobody could talk me out of it.
[00:26:17.605] – Stephen Moore
Religious leaders couldn’t talk me out of it. My wife couldn’t even talk me out of it until one day she loved me enough to say, well, you really have two choices. You can it’s this or it’s me and you don’t have to choose today. But that choice is coming, so you need to be thinking about it. And so with all that is to say, is that sometimes the sad reality is that you for those women listening, for example, you might be dealing with a partner who’s not ready to work on this issue, which puts you in kind of a precarious position about and having to face a lot of hard questions about can I stay in this relationship with this ongoing how long can I do it for?
[00:26:49.685] – Stephen Moore
If I can and all those questions, as you can see, are best answered with the assistance of people who are not emotionally involved. Because if you talk to the guy struggling with the compulsion, of course, you’re going to get all the answers that are through his lens. Right? Right. And it’s just going to be and even if he was to say the right things, the reality is, is what’s betrayal sets in to the level that pornography too often brings couples to.
[00:27:12.865] – Stephen Moore
Once that happens, I’ve lost all emotional and trust credit with my partner, like the bank has been overdrawn. Even if I said all the right things. Talk is cheap at that point and bringing someone outside in who can kind of give a third lens to this and maybe some trust can be found it and having that other person involved really becomes critical for a lot of couples to begin this healing process, because without that, they’re just caught in this never ending cycle of shame, anger, fear of people finding out more secrecy, et cetera, et cetera.
[00:27:40.855] – Stephen Moore
And one day those those are the tragic marriages. The tragic marriages are not the ones that end in some big bang, although those do happen. Usually what I have seen happen is it’s just the husband wakes up one day and wife is not in the. Ed with him and he goes downstairs and are waiting, sitting on the counter, and she’s left, not even really knowing why, she just knows, she can’t stay anymore. Yeah. And so too often couples come to me when it’s at that point.
[00:28:05.125] – Stephen Moore
So the quicker you can bring that on board in some way, shape or form. I mean, it’s if you suspect you guys are having an issue with it, for all those listening is worth the cost of a session or two. I say that as a guy who spent five figures on his own therapy with me and my wife, we bought our therapist like several used cars. I always joke with them when I see them now that we pay for all these things for him.
[00:28:26.575] – Stephen Moore
But it was it was worth it. And as they say, emotionally and physically working through it and is much more rewarding, much less damaging and honestly far cheaper than than the other option. So anyway, there you go.
[00:28:39.445] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. I mean, I just think it’s rough for people who suffer with this. And I don’t think you need to feel alone and look for help. Yes.
[00:28:48.895] – Stephen Moore
And well, and it kind of goes back in a way to what we talked about a couple of months, months ago with when it comes to dealing with your teenagers, we need to normalize the conversation around sexuality in general, because, again, it’s so you would be shocked how many couples that will come into my office who have sex all the time but won’t talk about it. It’s just like something we do over there, like we do that. But like, actually talking about it, what a partner likes, what a partner doesn’t, what do they have a problem with?
[00:29:15.415] – Stephen Moore
What do they what do they not? It is shocking how many couples have married 10, 20, 30 years and have never had that conversation before. And so it’s already a taboo topic. So any dialog is going to be your first line of defense towards either mitigating an existing problem or best case scenario, inoculating yourself against one because you create that dialog before there’s a problem. It creates that resiliency because just like with the teen discussion we had, it’s not a question of if every adult is being exposed to pornography, they all are.
[00:29:45.805] – Stephen Moore
If you live remotely in this digital age we all live in, no matter what filters you’ve got, no matter what else is going on, I guarantee everyone is being exposed to it. And so if you can keep the conversation in that light, that’s what keeps a couple up again facing the issue head on rather than it becoming a divider.
[00:30:02.245] – Hilary Erickson
That’s awesome. And that’s something that everyone can work on right now. It’s just being really open in the conversation with your partner about this.
[00:30:09.145] – Stephen Moore
Yeah, just reducing the topic of this this dynamic of sexual shame in general. And and I’m not demonizing any church or religious group, but unfortunately, conservative Christian groups have done a really good job with that. I I’m a big believer in just because something is sacred, which I do believe sex is, it’s my personal belief doesn’t mean that it also needs to be secret.
[00:30:28.225] – Stephen Moore
I’m also a big believer of that something can be sacred and still be something that we can just acknowledge and say, yeah, everyone deals with sexuality, everyone. So let’s talk about it that way. Right.
[00:30:39.145] – Hilary Erickson
Well, a lot of it’s just anatomy. Yes, it is. And anatomy is not sacred. Sure.
[00:30:46.345] – Stephen Moore
I’d imagine, especially for a nurse, that is definitely the case.
[00:30:48.905] – Hilary Erickson
Not sacred, you know, just part of your body.
[00:30:51.655] – Stephen Moore
Far from it.
[00:30:53.575] – Hilary Erickson
OK, so you so I know that, like, calling a therapist might be a big step for people, but I do know that you are coming out with a course like within the month, right?
[00:31:02.035] – Stephen Moore
Yeah. Yeah, it’s going so we do. It’s to say it’s of course probably isn’t doing it quite justice because there is a course component to it, but it’s basically an online recovery platform. Yeah. That does have some static courses built into it.
[00:31:15.925] – Stephen Moore
But essentially it’s a program where we do individual groups, their support groups are not therapy groups, but there are support groups led by therapists in this case, myself and my business partner, Mark Casselman. We’re the coauthors of the pornography paradox in this program. It’s called Dare to Connect is going to be this platform where each week there are going to be three online sessions that can either be viewed after the fact that they’ll have that customers will have access to or that they can participate in in real time via chat if they’re tuning in while recording is going on where we will come with topics prepared clients, people who are members of the program can ask questions, get straight answers from two guys who have been doing this for we have fifty years of experience between the two of us professionally and even more personally.
[00:32:00.835] – Stephen Moore
We get very raw and real on our podcast and we’re kind of reflecting that in this program. So it’s sort of a recovering environment that that a couple of can access during the week. There are three sessions each week, one for addicts, one for partners and one for couples. And they just and we rotate in and out. And it’s a living program. So it’s a feedback driven. It gives clients what a lot of our clients are looking for the most in a beneficial way, because to the two big barriers to therapy that we find with people is one cost because it is expensive.
[00:32:32.065] – Stephen Moore
Seeing me in my office and my rate is probably pretty low by most people’s standards who specialize. And this is one hundred twenty five dollars an hour for couples that can that that can be very costly, especially in the long run. This gives couples access to a therapist, even though it’s not in an individual personalized setting on that high of a level where they can ask questions that they need a. Address issues and concerns have them addressed by a therapist for ninety five bucks a month for a couple, which is the price point that we’re putting this out.
[00:33:00.155] – Stephen Moore
So we’ve we’re really trying hard to make it very affordable. The other benefit to it, the other obstacle that it addresses is, is the publicity piece. A lot of the therapists that I work with have parking lots. They either they either have their office in big office buildings or offices where there’s a parking lot in the back for for good reason because a lot of clients are horrified of even like their neighbor driving by and being like, isn’t that Debbie’s car?
[00:33:23.675] – Stephen Moore
What she doing talking to that sex therapist that’s going on there?
[00:33:27.095] – Stephen Moore
And so this is it’s an online platform. And so it can be accessed anywhere you can access in the privacy of your own home individually or as a couple. It just offers a lot of dynamism to that. So so we’re we’re really excited about it. Like I said, it’s coming out on April 12th. There’s nothing out there like it that we know of. It’s kind it’s kind of a revolutionary deal. We’ve been developing it for about two years now.
[00:33:49.535] – Stephen Moore
So we’re we’re really excited.
[00:33:51.665] – Hilary Erickson
That’s going to be awesome. And I agree. Plus plus, like baby sitter, even for couples like or if you have a baby. Yes. You’re not ready to leave a baby sitter with. So. Yeah, that is awesome.
[00:34:02.675] – Stephen Moore
Yeah, absolutely. And even though the focus is going to be on addiction, really the overall focus is kind of general sexual health. And for the price point that we’re trying to offer this, that I mean, if you have any questions about how to enhance the relationship sexually.
[00:34:16.625] – Stephen Moore
Ninety five dollars a month in the therapy world, you just can’t match. Yeah. So it’s just going to be an online subscription and you can access as much or a little of it as you want.
[00:34:26.735] – Hilary Erickson
That’s awesome. All right. I will definitely put the link for that in the show notes. Thanks for coming on, Steve. Absolutely.
[00:34:32.885] – Stephen Moore
Thank you, Hilary. Have a great one. Thanks.
[00:34:35.255] – Hilary Erickson
OK, guys, I hope what we learn from all this talk is that it’s normal. It’s not super unusual to have issues like this in marriage because it’s a normal tendency for adults. And so hopefully this podcast helps us normalize it a little bit and bring it out into the open so we can talk a little more about it openly. Be sure and check out that course that he mentioned dare to connect, because I think that could be super helpful. My husband and I actually just not that when we finished a different one, just some marriage coaching.
[00:35:04.385] – Hilary Erickson
And I think it is so helpful. When I was looking at how much like counseling was or like going to a marriage counselor is expensive. So doing a course where a lot of it is stuff you just kind of have to work through together anyway, saves you some cash. It puts the timeline in your own hands rather than the hands of a therapist. Yeah. So check it out. I’ll have the link in the show. Notes or just google Dare to Connect. His name is Stephen Moore.
[00:35:28.355] – Hilary Erickson
Thanks so much for joining us today. I hope we help smooth out a few of the snarls in your life. We drop an episode every Monday and we always appreciate it when you guys share and review until next time. We hope you have a tangle free day.