Dealing with Sexual Addiction:
I have developed a strong specialty in husbands wishing to deal with sexual
addictions, who have a strong desire to make some serious changes empowering
them to revitalize their marriage, thereby getting back to a loving and
Today we live in a sex-crazed world. All of us are bombarded daily with sexual images whether we want them or not. As the Internet has blossomed and grown many of us have become addicted to pornography in all its various forms. What started out as an exciting thrill gradually turns into an out-of-control compulsion.
Soon we find ourselves trapped in a cyber world incredibly dominated by powerful images, sounds, and experiences. Eventually at some point a certain shame and humiliation creeps in and we begin to feel disgusted with ourselves. Perhaps even our spouse or partner begins to feel threatened by our use of pornography. Our attraction for our spouse or mate may begin to die off because we are more enthralled with our secret cyber world than anything our loved one can do for us. We only think about what "we" want and certainly not what we can do for our loved one.
Eventually we begin to act out our addiction by frequenting massage parlors "with benefits". Perhaps we begin to have an affair with someone at work and/or we spend more and more time in sex businesses. We would rather hang out at the strip tease joints than come home to our family.
Maybe a regular porn addiction eventually turns into an addiction to child porn sites. Little by little, our self respect is ground down to nothing and a deep depression begins to grow as we feel more and more humiliated with ourselves.
Our marriage, or relationship, begins to crumble. Eventually all our relationships begin to suffer.
Our diet deteriorates as we eat more and more junk food. We stop doing physical exercise or other activities that helped us to feel alive.
Our children only see a grumpy, depressed parent who keeps pushing them away. Our family tips toes around us, whispering "What's going on with Dad?"
All we see is negativity and our spouse or partner cannot seem to do anything other than irritate us, and badger us with endless requests. Then our children begin to discover the porn on our computer. Our wife is digging through our cell phone bills, e-mails, text messages, cell phone messages, and credit card statements to try and figure out what is going on. The day comes when we decide enough is enough and we decide we must face our addiction once and for all.
It is time now to "move beyond the storm".
I specialize in men dealing with sex addiction to porn
and other sexual activities who want to restore and
heal their marriage, family, and other intimate relationships.
I have created a successful process where men can work
to unravel the sexual addiction in their life. Uncover
untreated depression, anxiety and suicidal urges to
discover the deep roots holding their sexual addiction
Then we work together to find a way through
this "storm situation", one step at a time, one day
at a time. Three steps forward and two steps behind
at times. My clients learn to identify their triggers
and how best to manage their masculinity and sexuality.
Over time their marriages begin to heal and their leadership
as men grows and flourishes. Soon they are actively
guiding their family into a healthy future, but always
fully aware they are responsible for their sexuality
and how they express it, with whom or with what.
I encourage my clients to be involved in a healthy sex addiction group of which there are many today, and to also find other men to share accountability. To find those men, who are like brothers, in the fight against sexual addiction with all its seductive powers.
Here are two examples of the sexual addiction work I am doing today.
A young man dealing
with child pornography:
My first example is a young man in his middle twenties who was using "regular" heterosexual pornography like many young men his age. He downloaded some music from a "free" download site and discovered some child porn mixed in. He was not even looking for child porn. Soon he received more and more child porn videos from the download site when he downloaded music. This went on for a while until he began to develop an addiction to children, which horribly upset him. Soon he was getting requests from anonymous others wanting to know if he would like to purchase, or get, some child porn. Luckily he decided to say "no" to that request. Then he had a knock on his front door by the police who then confiscated his computer. For an entire year now he has hung under the cloud of this "investigation". Will he get another knock on the door? What will be the results of his investigation?
This young man was just about ready to develop a serious addiction to child pornography because he had been viewing those images. We become what we look at, what we take into our lives. It turns out that when he was age 8 he discovered his father's pornography videos and managed to fool his parents and teachers into thinking he was sick with some kind of illness that entire school year. He spent each school day during his fourth grade viewing his father's porn videos. When his father noticed one was missing he would only ask his son to return the video, and he never followed up with his son to find out what was going on with him.
This young man has had a deep depression with suicidal tendencies. Two of his best friends committed suicide and one of his buddies died when he was in the Army. In addition to working on the sexual addiction and making positive change we are working on a positive career future for him so he can feel confident he is moving forward in life. Someone so intelligent must do more than just be a security guard.
Good news is that he is getting married soon and has a fiancÚ who loves him and supports his sexual addiction work. He has worked to purge all attraction to children from his soul and is putting together a journalistic work about pornography and how dark and destructive the entire industry is in the world today, particularly to children. His eventual publication will be a complete research study on the long-term effects of pornography.
A father dealing with
This man is in his late 30s and early 40s. He has a wife he dearly loves but she did not "turn him on" anymore. She had put on quite a few pounds. Like many men he was exposed to pornography when he was around nine years of age. He has a son who is now nine years old. His 14-year-old daughter lives with her mother. When he lost custody of his young daughter years ago he sunk into a deep, dark depression and began to spend more and more time doing pornography. Eventually he was masturbating in his employer's maintenance closet to phone sex. He had a series of affairs with women on the job and frequented massage parlors, and other sex businesses. His life gradually revolved around his computer. He quit interacting with his family, got grumpier and grumpier, stopped playing sports, and sank deeper into a depression due to the growing shame and humiliation he felt about himself. Getting up in the morning was a real challenge and he was continually late for work. As his self-hatred and depression grew he knew that he had to make a change and confront his sexual addiction. He was sinking into a quiet, desperate, suicidal depression.
Our work began to focus on his adoption as an infant and his feelings of worthlessness. As we worked together on his trigger points we discovered a profound lack of self-esteem, which I believe is highly prevalent with men struggling with sexual addictions. He was the adopted kid so he could only order the cheapest thing on the menu when his family went to a restaurant. All affairs with women at work were ended but his pull to massage parlors was intense. Working together he learned to work through why he got triggered and how best to handle it next time. We discovered how he would punish himself internally when he ended up at the massage parlor again or again logging onto his computer to view porn.
As we have kept the focus on self-esteem, self-care, and commitment to change this wonderful man is becoming a great father and husband. He is gradually bonding and experiencing a intimacy with his wife he never thought possible. The amazing thing is that his wife totally "turns him on now" even though she has not lost any weight and certainly does not look like an air-brushed woman in a porn video. His mental, emotional, and spiritual needs are being satisfied in the arms of a woman he loves more than anything. She is a wonderful wife and mother to him and their family and now he no longer suffers from the guilt of "cheating on such a good woman" anymore.
He has found a good group of committed men in his group but still has much self-loathing over the fact that he thinks he has done "far worse things" than the other guys in the group.
Our work continues to be focused on the deep roots underneath any addiction, but in particular a sexual addiction. Our sexuality is a critical part of our deep personhood and needs to be treated with love and respect. It is still so easy to find himself at yet another massage web site but he is working each and every day.
He is back to doing his sports, is excelling at work
instead of just barely staying alive, and his marriage
is growing into a true partnership. Right now they are
working together to sell their large home, with its
even larger mortgage, so they can simplify their lives,
live within their means and move forward into a great
future together. He has the time to look after his aging,
depressed parents who divorced many years ago. He is
providing leadership for his son and daughter as they
grapple with the challenges of growing up in our culture
today. Men are just awesome
when they get the true love they need, instead of the
jazzy counterfeit of pornography and all other forms
of sexual addiction.
Begin today to "move beyond
the storm". Do not allow a sexual addiction
to take up anymore of your life. Take the big step to
reclaim your life, your love, and your future.
Caroline Gearing, MA, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
"moving beyond the storm"