Monthly Archives: October 2015

Oct 29

5 Ways to Heal After Your Spouse’s Pornography Addiction

By Dustin | Sex & Family Planning

5 Ways to Heal After Your Spouse’s Pornography AddictionFor some, pornography might not seem like a big deal—who doesn’t look at it?

But the truth is pornography is addictive and can lead to serious problems down the road.

Pornography and sexual addiction can have a devastating impact on your relationship.

Research has shown that 56% of divorce cases involved one partner having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.

To learn of your spouse’s pornography and sexual addiction can completely blindside you and leave you questioning your relationship and self-worth.

It is not uncommon for a spouse to question if they are “good enough” for their spouse, but the truth is, it has nothing to do with them.

Like any other addiction, people use pornography (or drugs, alcohol, shopping, food, etc.) as a way to self-medicate.

The first thing to remember is that your spouse’s pornography and sexual addiction is not your fault. Their turning away is not a reflection of a lack on your part, but on theirs.

As the spouse of an addict, many emotions may have risen from denial, hurt, anger, and guilt and has left you wondering what to do now.

There are no easy answers.

Take time to allow yourself to heal from the discovery. You cannot rush the healing process and will have to let your emotions out.

Many times a spouse won’t know where to turn, or who to talk to, and will struggle through the situation alone.

Instead seek outside help, either in a trusted friend or therapist, to help you navigate the twists and turns while you deal with the revelation.

As you move down this path, here are 5 things to do to help you move forward.

1. Map your recovery

When dealing with trauma (and yes, discovering your spouse’s pornography and sexual addiction is traumatic), you need to take time to acknowledge your feelings.

During this time, you may experience self-blame, outbursts of anger, depression, feelings of detachment, and many other emotions. Understand that you need to take time for yourself and create your own recovery plan.

2. Don’t isolate

During this time you may find your wanting to retreat into yourself especially when you feel your world is falling apart. Instead, find a trusted friend, spiritual leader, therapist, or support group you can talk openly with.

This experience is too difficult and traumatic to be dealing with all alone.

3. Seek understanding

You’ve probably heard the saying “knowledge is power,” and taking time to learn and understand compulsive and addictive behavior can help you on your path to recovery.

Pornography addiction, like any other addiction, is a disease and is a method of self medicating.

As you learn more about the addiction and the impact on the brain, you will have a better understanding of how their pornography addiction is not from a lack (those lies you tell yourself like, your not sexy enough, not smart enough, and so forth) on your part.

4. Practice self-care

As you move through the recovery process, self-care is vital to your healing.

This can be particularly difficult for women because, by nature, they tend to put their needs second to everyone else. When starting out, choose something to focus on from these 3 categories: personal, physical, and spiritual.

These could include keeping a journal (Julia Cameron has an excellent book, The Artist’s Way, that talks about morning pages), signing up for a zumba class, and meditating daily.

As you begin practicing the art of self-care, it may seem selfish but is essential for your own healing. Eleanor Brownn, inspirational life coach, once said, “Self-care is NOT selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”

Taking time to recharge and take care of yourself will, in the long run, help you take care of those in your life.

5. Sense of community

Many great teachers have talked about the importance of “losing yourself in the service of others.”

When you are feeling overwhelmed, with emotions and life in general, take time to go out and perform an act of kindness for someone else. You can also volunteer at your local shelter, library, or community center.

What is wonderful about taking time to help someone else is that you forget about your problems for a while.

During this time it is so important to remember that you also need to take time to heal.

Through journalling new insights, feelings may arise and that can help you in your recovery.

Use this time to set boundaries, define your limits and write down what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed. A therapist, spiritual teacher, or trusted friend can help you with this and help you to see things differently.

Remember to take the time to be kind and compassionate with yourself. The journey towards healing does not happen overnight and takes a lot of deep soul work.

It is also strongly recommended that you don’t make any major life decisions for a while about your relationship, unless abuse is involved.

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.

Oct 27

15 Ways To Surprise Your Spouse And Keep the Spark Alive

By Dustin | Romance

15 Ways To Surprise Your Spouse And Keep the Spark Alive (1)At some point, almost every relationship will become stale and routine – but that doesn’t need to be the case for you.

Even the most fun and loving relationship can get dulled out by the daily stresses of life.  The reality is that our hectic lives require a routine to function.

But we have to protect against letting our interactions with our spouse become just another part of the routine.

A fantastic way inject some fresh life into your romantic life is to find ways to surprise your spouse and put a smile on their face.  A little happy moment can go a long way to restoring the spark in any relationship.

Pick one of these ideas and go put a smile on your husband or wife’s face today!

15 Sweet Surprises for Your Spouse

1. Dress Up
When couples get comfortable with each other, they often neglect their appearances. At least once in a while, dress up for your partner.

Putting effort into looking good for your lover can bring back that spark that brought the two of you together in the first place.

2. Love Notes/Letter
Sticking a love note into your partner’s pocket or purse is a great way to surprise him or her in a loving way that will help keep the spark alive in your relationship.

If you REALLY want to make a lasting impact, write your spouse a love letter.  Pick up one of our popular love letter templates to make it easy and make sure you hit the mark.

3. Be Spontaneous
As the years pass by in a relationship, couples often settle into a dull routine that can zap the spark right out of their love life. This is why surprising your spouse with a special, out of the ordinary activity you can do together can be a great way to put the spark back in your relationship.

4. Massages
Almost everyone loves a massage, and it’s even better when it’s a surprise massage.  Oh, and a romantic at-home massage has some major benefits for your marriage – check this post out for some awesome massage tips!

5. Try New Things
Why not take a cooking class with your spouse? Or take up some other new activity that neither of you know anything about.

Trying something new together can liven up your relationship.

6. Buy A Gift
A great way to surprise your spouse is by buying him or her a special gift. It doesn’t have to be an expensive gift, and it doesn’t have to be given on a special occasion.

7. Chores
If your husband usually mows the lawn, why not mow it for him one weekend? Taking over a chore usually done by your spouse can be a happy surprise.

8. Get Away
If you truly want to surprise your spouse and bring back the spark in your relationship, plan a relaxing weekend together away from the stresses of everyday life.

9. Relax
After a busy day handling life’s responsibilities, tell your spouse you want to spend some time relaxing alone with him or her. Even if it’s only a half hour a day, this time spent together can be a daily relationship pick-me-up.

10. Surprise Meal!
If your partner always handles the cooking, why not surprise him or her one night with a meal? If you don’t have very good culinary skills, you can always surprise your partner with take out.

This simple gesture can revive any relationship.

11. Good Morning
Each day, surprise your spouse with a good morning kiss. Not only will this keep intimacy alive, but it will start your spouse’s day in a happy way.

12. I Love You
Although you love your partner, you may forget to mention the words “I love you”. Every now and again, whisper these words in your spouse’s ear if you want to keep the spark alive.

13. Be Adventurous
If you are usually a very predictable type of person, shake up your romantic life by doing something with your partner that is out of your comfort zone.

Being adventurous can spice up any relationship.

14. Breakfast In Bed
Bringing your partner breakfast in bed is a perfect surprise that will help keep the spark alive in your relationship.

15. Picnic
If you really want to surprise your spouse in a fun and romantic way, surprise him or her with a relaxing picnic.

Unfortunately, relationships tend to become boring and predictable over time, and it requires effort by both people to keep things fresh and fun. The good news is that even simple, quick gestures can be incredibly powerful romance boosters.

Give one of these ideas a try today and enjoy the smile on your spouse’s face – and the romantic spark that’s renewed in your marriage!

Oct 23

Put Your Cell Phone Away During Date Night!

By Dustin | Communication

Put Your Cell Phone AWAY During DATE NIGHT (1)Cell phones have changed the way we communicate with our friends and family.

While this technology can help us stay connected more than ever, it can also hurt our relationships if we spend too much time looking at a screen instead of our partner.

To keep your relationships going strong, keep these cell phone etiquette tips in mind when you’re conversing with your partner.

Put Your Cell Phone Away During Date Night

Whenever you’re out on a date with your partner you should put your cell phone away.

Not just sitting off to the side of the table, but completely away in your purse or pocket. A study completed by psychologists at the University of Essex showed that even having a cell phone in view but not in use disrupts important conversations and lowers relationship quality.

Researchers put a cell phone or a notebook on a table and asked study participants to discuss certain topics with each other.

The group that had the cell phone said they felt that trust and empathy with their partner was lower during their conversation.

While the phone never vibrated or rang, and most participants had to be prompted to remember that it was there, its presence still affected the conversation quality.

Having your cell phone out during a date basically signals that the conversation you’re having with your partner isn’t important enough for your full concentration.

Don’t Have Important Conversations Through Text

Even though it may seem easier to have important conversations through a text message, you shouldn’t use that screen as a shield.

It’s impossible to tell mood or tone through a text, which opens up the possibility of a misunderstanding.

And don’t carry on a text conversation with another person while you and your partner are talking.

Send a Romantic Message

Of course, cell phones aren’t something that will completely ruin every relationship. They’re still a great communication tool.

You can use your cell phone to be alluring while you’re away from your partner. Send him an exciting text or leave her a romantic voicemail.

Or, if someone is out of town, use FaceTime or Skype to still see each other.

There are many new smartphones that have video chat capabilities. But you don’t have to spend fortunes on a new smartphone, you can get a great deal on a phone with the same capabilities such as the Galaxy S5 from carriers like T-Mobile.

Join an Online Space for Partners

If you’re friends with your partner on your social media websites, it doesn’t really give you the chance to create stronger bonds online.

You don’t want to share your intimate details on the same account that your mom sees, and you don’t want to be the couple who annoys everyone with their constant declarations of love.

Instead, consider joining an online space that’s just for couples. Websites such as TwoCup and Between let you share private photos and messages between just the two of you.

Get the Cell Phone Out of the Bedroom

While 75 percent of people admit to falling asleep with their cell phones within reach, experts say that not only can this habit affect intimacy, it can affect your sleep as well.

Even though it’s very convenient to use your cell phone as an alarm, it also makes it very easy to check your email or social media accounts one last time before you go to sleep.

The blue light given off by the LED screens inhibits melatonin, which is the hormone that helps us sleep.

Cell phones are also a distraction that prevent us from falling asleep quickly and stop us from reaching a deep sleep.

If you have to leave your phone in the bedroom, plug it in far away from the bed so you’re not tempted to reach for it during the night. And for the same reasons you shouldn’t take your phone with you on a date, you shouldn’t take it to bed with you, either.

There’s a time and a place for using your cell phone. While it’s a great way to stay in touch with your partner, once you’re face to face it’s time to put your phone away and enjoy each other’s company.

Oct 19

Is Your Marriage Beyond Sexual Repair?

By Julie Sibert | Sex & Family Planning

I tend to be in the camp that no marriage is beyond repair as long as two people are still in it.

marriage-beyond-sexual-repairI’ve heard from couples who have gone literally years with dysfunctional patterns (sexual and otherwise), yet at some point, something compels them both to move toward each other and heal the disconnect.

Maybe even grow closer sexually than they ever could have imagined.

Personally, I think marriage is hard.  It is by far one of the hardest things I have ever done or will ever do. I think many people would agree with me.

And some of you are in marriages where the pain is incredibly raw. And deep. And debilitating. And maybe the sexual struggles have left you discouraged and disillusioned. If that describes your marriage, I want to neither minimize your pain nor haphazardly throw around false hope.

But here’s the thing.

If you are still married, in my opinion, you are left with no biblical choice but to do what you can to improve the relationship.

(I know this should go without saying, but I’m not talking about abusive relationships.  I’m talking about marriages where two people have grown apart, lost interest in sex and/or encountered relationship roadblocks that seem insurmountable).

So what does it take to heal and strengthen a marriage, particularly from a sexual angle?

If you think your marriage is beyond sexual repair, here are three questions to ask yourself:

1. Am I refusing to own my part in it?

Sexual disconnect begins in too many ways to outline here.  Suffice to say, sex is both complex AND simple. That dichotomy can make it hard for a couple to get on the same page (or on the same bed, if we’re looking for a more accurate phrase).

But if I had to funnel the challenges into themes, one that would consistently rank at the top is that one or both people in the marriage won’t own their own stuff.

In other words, is sex difficult in your marriage because of you?

For example, you won’t seek healing from the past, such as past promiscuity, sexual abuse, adultery or pornography use.  Or you won’t let go of false messages, such as sex is bad, sex is a choresex is gross, and sex is sinful (even in marriage).

Or possibly you refuse to understand what’s going on with your body, such as hormonal issues, other physical issues, lack of orgasm and body image struggles.

Whatever your issues may be, are you dealing with them?

Because if you are letting them to continue to sabotage sexual intimacy with your spouse, that’s heartbreaking.

There is no better time to deal with your issues than now.  And there is no better time than now to find countless Christian resources available (counselors, books, seminars, blogs, DVDs, etc.)

2. Did we stop working on our friendship?

Because I write about sex, people think I know “secrets” to incredible sex in marriage. There is one “secret” that I consistently recommend (and it’s really not a secret at all).

I tell people to build great friendship with their spouse. And I’m not talking about friendship that looks like other friendships you have.  I am talking about genuine companionship and fun with the person to whom you literally pledged your life.

Many things sabotage a couple’s ability to work on their friendship.  Sure, it’s easy when you’re dating and newly married, because you likely have a ton of time to simply focus on each other.

But then life happens. Careers. Kids. Crazy calendars. House maintenance. Bigger decisions. And so on.

The other subtle thing that happens is friendship drift, meaning you start to take a lot for granted with this person standing next to you.

Those “dating days” seem like a luxury for which we just don’t have the time.”   It’s not malicious.  Two people drift apart because the demands of life became relentlessly loud and stressful.

But great friendship in a marriage is foundational to incredible sex with your spouse.  You have to walk in the direction of friendship.  Or you’ll continue to drift apart.

3.  Am I always reacting the same way to my negative spouse?

Okay, I get it.

Maybe  you aren’t the one hurting sex in your marriage. Maybe it is your spouse who is the culprit.  So what then?

What do you do when your spouse is not responding to your frustrations, pleas for marriage counseling, sexual initiation and so forth?

It’s probably time for a different approach.  If your spouse is manipulative, passive aggressive, unwilling to deal with their own issues or just generally negative, then you still need to find ways to stay healthy.

Seek counseling for yourself. Continue to build and enjoy your activities and hobbies. Invest in yourself physically, such as walking more, joining a gym, getting plenty of sleep, taking hot baths.

Read books for tips (one I recommend is How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong by Leslie Vernick).  Pray. Find ways to give back to your community by getting involved in charities you believe in.

Strive to not get sucked into your spouse’s manipulative arguments.  I’m all for communication, but when a negative spouse is just trying to pick a fight, your best response is to stay calm and refuse to engage in childish behavior.

Sometimes when you start responding more maturely to a negative spouse, they will begin to see the light and realize they too need to grow up and help restore all aspects of intimacy in the relationship

Sometimes this doesn’t happen.

But even if it doesn’t, your choices still will help you be healthier emotionally and physically.

Is your marriage beyond sexual repair? I don’t know.  But I do know the above questions are worth asking.

For more reading, also check out the series What Is Destroying Sex in Your Marriage?

Oct 13

Do This to Instantly Be Happier (it may shock your spouse)

By Dustin | Time Management

Do This to Instantly Be HappierIf you ever find yourself feeling stressed out or even overwhelmed by all the things you have to do, you’re going to love this post.

I’m going to share with you one of the BEST and EASIEST things you can do to bring more happiness to your home.

Check it out and then share it with your spouse today so you can take action together.

It could change your life.

How’s That Balanced Approach Workin’ for Ya?

I’m sure you’re familiar with the idea of “work-life” balance or other similar terms.

You’ve probably heard some “expert” on Oprah or Dr. Phil telling a young husband or wife that they need better balance.  You’ve gotta get things in check and be balanced in all areas of your life, right?

WRONG.

In the lives we live today, no two days are typically the same and no two weeks are ever the same.

Between the demands of trying to share quality time with our spouse, raise our kids, work, attend any number of evening activities, exercise, take care of the house, contribute to our community, hang out with our friends, enjoy hobbies…well you get the idea.

If you tried to maintain balance between all of your responsibilities, you’d not only go crazy, you’d fail.  If you’re like me, you’ve probably tried it and then beat yourself up for not being able to pull it off.

Forget Balance – Do This Instead

The good news is that balancing your time is not important.  In fact, it’s probably harmfully unrealistic and stressful.

Happy families do not have balance. They have BOUNDARIES. (click here to tweet this out)

Let me explain.

At this stage in your life, you should forget about trying to keep your time balanced – instead, set healthy boundaries and stick to them as much as possible.

By boundaries, I mean you set both space but especially time boundaries.  You have work time, spouse time, kid time and so forth.  These are planned ahead and agreed upon with your family.

This may seem subtle, but it’s incredibly freeing and really powerful.

  • Spouse time is not work time, so you can put your phone away and actually have a focused conversation with your husband or wife.
  • Kid time is not chore time (at least not always), so you can play with dolls now, fully present, and take care of paying bills later.
  • Time spent on side businesses, self-education or hobbies you love is specified and held within healthy boundaries as well, so you can fully enjoy it within some self-imposed constraints that your spouse has agreed to.

Multi-tasking doesn’t work, and it cheats both you and your loved ones.  Don’t try it.

You may think you don’t have time to use boundaries in your busy life.

The truth is you don’t have time NOT to, and you’re wasting so many wonderful opportunities right now if you’re trying to be balanced.

Make A Change Today

If your marriage is anything like ours, this idea of setting healthy, specific boundaries on your time may be pretty foreign.

When you bring it up to your spouse, they may be a little shocked by what you’re suggesting.

If your schedule has been out of control for a while (like ours was), the suggestion of communicating about how you spend your time as a family and committing to some changes proactively may seem to come from left field.

But it’s so worth it – you can instantly reduce stress and guilt in your relationship and bring more happiness to your home.

Here’s a quick rundown of how to get started:

  1. Ask your spouse to read this post with you and set a time after the kids are in bed to talk about your family schedule.
  2. Share where you’ve felt frustrated both by where you’d like to spend more guilt-free time and where you’d like to cut back.  Your spouse should do the same so you can have an open conversation.
  3. Together, agree on just ONE boundary you want to put in place this week.  You can always add more later, but you want to start off simply and see how well this works for you.

What does a boundary look like?  It can take any form really, but here are some sample ideas for you to consider:

  • Phone/computer blackout zone (you can’t use them) between 6-8 p.m. to preserve family time
  • Side business/hobby time only before 7 a.m. before the rest of the house is awake
  • Minimum of 15 minutes of Couple Time at 8:30 p.m. when the kids are in bed
  • Always go to bed together at 11 p.m.

The right boundaries will be specific to your household, but you can see how setting a few at different times of the day can provide clarity and consistency that your whole family will appreciate.

It doesn’t take a big change to make a BIG difference in your marriage and family life!

Want an Action Plan to Add More Quality Time to Your Life?

If you’re interested in enjoying more quality time with your spouse and kids, be sure to check out our popular Get More Quality Time workshop.

Here’s a rundown of the benefits you’ll get from this program:

Quality Time Workshop

Go check it out now and reclaim control of your schedule today!

How to Enjoy More Quality Time

Oct 12

Babies and Toddlers and Children, Oh My! (RE)Creation Date Ideas

By Debi Walter | Romance

Untitled design (1)We have had the privilege of having our daughter along with her four children (ages 18 months to 8 years) stay with us this past week.

It has been fun, loud and wonderful, but when it comes to romance it has pretty much taken a back seat.

Especially since our 3 year old granddaughter sleeps on the little sofa in our bedroom while she’s here.

It made me rethink what it’s like to romance your spouse when you’re in the throes of raising small children.

Everyone is different when it comes to what romancing your spouse looks like in the various seasons of life.

Tom and I are planning to go out for a nice dinner tonight, since it’s our first night without lots of little people calling us “Papa” and “Nana”.

If your kids are like most, you or your wife most likely hear “Mommy!” more times than she can count, and that’s just before lunch! Kids can wear you down and drain you of any and all creative energy.

But. You Must.Reset…

…for the sake of your marriage and sanity!

Here’s a date idea you may enjoy so much that you plan these types of dates on a regular basis, and I pray that’s the case. Your marriage is that important!

(RE)Creation Date Ideas

Take time to reconnect on a regular basis by revisiting the place in your heart where the two of you fell in love. Remember that the choices you made then are what paved the way for your crazy, wonderful life today. It’s true what they say, “It all started when two people fell in love.”

To begin with make a list of the things you used to do before you had children.

Choose those things that are like snapshots in your mind of that season of life. Maybe you played a lot of tennis, or met together at a favorite coffee shop; maybe you enjoyed meeting at a favorite restaurant for a drink after work; or maybe you took long walks together. Whatever those moments are that you cherish–“recreate” some of those same dates again and see if it doesn’t (RE)ignite some fresh passion.

The only rule is–No talking about children, work, ministry or church activities. This is your time to recreate some romance–and no one else is allowed. I encourage you to leave your cell phone on silent as well. If you haven’t been this intentional lately, you may feel awkward, but don’t give up. It won’t be long until you’re both remembering what you love most about your spouse.

May this be the beginning of something not-so-new, but oh-so-good!

Until next month…