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A Journey of the Heart

A client of mine who is working hard to manage his sexual addiction shared with me a poem he wrote after reading various verses in the Book of Matthew.  As he read, he felt God was speaking to him about his journey and what he has learned about himself and his addiction. 

As you read, you will see he has spent a great deal of time in self-reflection, reawaking painful memories he had buried to protect himself. I believe it is this type of insight and courage that is at the core of learning how to manage your sexual/pornography addiction.  You also will see that he has used these new insights to understand how much he is loved by his Heavenly Father. I hope this simple, yet powerful poem inspires those of you who are struggling. man-on-long-winding-country-road-quote-a-journey-of-a-thousand-miles-begins-with-just-one-step-elaine-plesser

What I have seen with my eyes

I’ve seen the fear of my childish mind, afraid of the pending night sleep and the nightmares that await me 

I’ve seen the eyes of an angry father, burdened by his past and an unhappy life 

I’ve seen the eyes of a hurting mother, begging for a husbands love and tormented by the loss of her mother 

I’ve seen beauty twisted at an early age, a seed that would corrupt my heart 

I’ve seen bullying up front and the isolation of feeling no good 

I’ve seen the divorce of my parents and the resulting shame and hatred 

I’ve seen a failed marriage and a dream that died 

I’ve seen the desperation of myself wondering where I would end up

But I’ve seen Light

I’ve seen a light that peaks out of the darkness 

I’ve seen a love given to an undeserving me

I’ve seen grace, an introduction to the Heavenly King

I’ve seen the love poured out from a Father, who gave His son for me 

I’ve seen beauty restored by a God who breaks chains 

I’ve seen dreams of being born from a Father, who never let them die within me 

I’ve seen faithfulness from a Savior when I had given up hope 

I’ve seen a promise at the beginning from a God that always follows through

I’ve seen the heart of Jesus

4 Things to Determine If You Can Trust Your Sex-Addicted Spouse

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CPCS

It is one of the most common questions a spouse will ask during a couples’ first counseling session when a sex addiction has been discovered. “How will I know when I will be able to trust him again”?

It’s a great question because at the core of the couples’ issues is the broke bond of trust. Sex-addicted partners:

  • Violate their commitment, to be honest, and faithful.
  • Drive a wedge in the relationship that feels like the size of the Grand Canyon.
  • Create a sense of hopelessness that leaves the other feeling numbed and confused.  Breaking Heart

Ask any partner who has been betrayed sexually and they will tell you, while the infidelity is like a punch in the gut, the worst part is the dishonesty and lying. While they hate being cheated upon they detest the lack of integrity their partner displays in their attempts to cover their tracks. That is why at some point, the focus on re-building trust is as critical as helping the sex-addicted partner manage the addiction itself.

So how can a betrayed partner start to become comfortable and regain a sense of confidence that their sex-addicted spouse is safe? Let’s examine four key factors to look for to determine if your spouse is becoming trustworthy.

  1. He is committed to his recovery

Of course, this is the one number key to not only learning to manage a sexual addiction but to begin the process of rebuilding a tattered relationship. A sex addict must demonstrate dedication to the game plan that has been created to assist them in breaking the bondage of secrecy and betrayal. I have seen partners who dive in and go beyond what is asked of them in recovery. I also have witnessed spouses who barely scratch the surface in doing the work that is required of them. When this happens, it is incredibly disheartening to the wounded spouse.

If your spouse is following a treatment regimen and sharing with you his progress, then have hope better days await both of you.

  1. He doesn’t shut you down when you vent

One of the first things I will tell a husband who has abused sex is that his wife has a barrel of rocks and she will be throwing them your way for the next 12-24 months. The ability for a woman to properly grieve the betrayal of the relationship is critical in order for there to be a chance for the relationship to move ahead.

But some men struggle when their grieving wives are throwing rocks. They become defensive and attempt to shut down the conversation. However, this is a grave mistake. When a woman is not given an opportunity to grieve she will continue to sit on those emotions and learn how to express them in other ways including perhaps being passive aggressive. As I tell men, when she grieves, she is healing. Let her grieve.

You can start to sense your spouse is getting better when they can sit with you in your pain. This demonstrates they understand the extent of your anguish and are committed to helping you get to a better emotional place.

  1. He starts to develop and engage in healthy communities

Clinical studies have demonstrated a critical key to recovering from sex addiction is participating in a healthy community. Yet, it’s the most significant pushback we receive from our sex addiction clients. In their intense shame and embarrassment, it would be easier to get them to agree to walk a tightrope across two New York City skyscrapers than attend a recovery group meeting. Men who refuse to participate in a support group are playing Russian roulette with their recovery. The lone wolf fails.

As the wounded spouse, if you see your husband is attending a support group; working with a sponsor and engaging in a men’s group, you should feel comfortable that he is learning how to step outside of his negative comfort zone. Establishing authentic relationships with others will help him maintain accountability, which for you and your relationship is a significant win.

  1. He demonstrates the ability to attach with you emotionally

A man struggling with sexual addiction is confused about intimacy. Somewhere along the line, they confused physical intimacy for emotional intimacy. They have an easier time connecting physical, and therefore their emphasis is on sexual relations.

When you find your spouse being able to identify and express emotions, or showing signs of being open and vulnerable, you know he is on the right track of recovery. Sexual addiction is an intimacy disorder, and the course of treatment is designed to broaden the addict’s view of healthy intimacy to include an emotional connection.

An addict who is committed to recovery; supports his wife’s grieving; engages in a healthy community and begins to identify and express deeper emotions is an individual who is on the right path for recovery.

 

 

4 Reasons Why Women Are Not Sex Objects

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CPCS

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of objectifying is as follows:  “to treat someone as an object rather than as a person.”

Now think for a moment if people started looking, referring and treating you like an object. How do you believe you would feel? Insulted? Demeaned? Dishonored? Befouled? Humiliated? Tarnish?  Women-Objectification

How about outright pissed? You know you would be. So why then is it cool for us men to look upon women as playthings created merely for our own gratification? This type of behavior rings with an air of superiority, which we have no right to claim.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 ESV

There is no mistaking men and women are different. However, they also are seen as equal in God’s eyes. And if the Creator sees them that way how can we not? There are many reasons why women should not be treated as sex objects. Let’s take a look at 4.

  1. She is a Princess of the King

We’re asking for trouble because we are messing with God’s daughters. Wow, how stupid are we? We are taking the King’s princesses and reducing them to nothing more than toys. How in the world could we never believe that is ok?

We are commanded to be respectful and loving of others – both men and women. However, there is nothing loving about objectifying more than half of the world’s population. We must elect to treat women in a Christ-like manner and provide them with the respect and dignity they deserve as children of God.

  1. She’s Entitled to be Feminine

One way men justify their objectification of women is based on how some dress. But there is nothing wrong with women expressing their femininity and wanting to feel pretty. They are entitled to experience those feelings without having to worry about men objectifying them. Instead, we should learn to admire and directly observe a woman’s beauty instead of lusting after it. They should not need to wrap their bodies in burlap because we lack control over our lust.

  1. She has a Brain

Women are not inanimate. They breathe, walk, talk and think. They have a brain. So, what gives men the impression women are playthings to use and discard? Over time women have demonstrated their equality on many levels. They serve in leadership roles in churches, universities, corporations, and heads of state in many countries. Yet, we prefer to view them as body parts instead of appreciating the whole person.

“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:10

  1. She Deserves Better

Life is difficult. As men we face enormous pressures every day whether it’s stress with our jobs; distension in our families; conflicts within our church; the lack of me-time; or a battling lust. Well, women face similar concerns and worries. They often juggle multiple tasks as a housewife, mother, employee, friend, and daughter. And with each of these hats come challenges and obligations.

But nowhere on that list of duties is the role of sex object. They deserve better than that of men. If she can stand toe-to-toe with men and manage the day-to-day responsibilities and challenges that the world throws at her, shouldn’t she be treated with the utmost respect? The short answer is yes – because she deserves better. It is our obligation as men to view her through different lenses that don’t focus on her sexuality but instead on her personhood. To treat her as Christ treated all women.

4th Annual ‘No Lust For Lent’ Initiative

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CPCS

Men, once again it’s time to make a real sacrifice. Are you done talking about making changes regarding your sexual struggles? Are you tired of the repeated failures? If so, then join the crusade and pledge to learn to successfully manage your pornography and sexual addiction.

Wednesday, March 6 kicks off our fourth annual “No Lust for Lent” crusade, where men are asked to stop watching pornography and/or engaging in destructive sexual behaviors. Efforts in the past three years have been met with great enthusiasm and successful outcomes.  overcoming-lust-logo-435x150

“I decided last year to try and stop watching porn and masturbating,” said Carl, a 35-year-old who is married with two children. “Midway through the 40 days I decided to start working with a sex-addiction counselor and I later joined a support group. It was a great decision.”

“I had struggled with porn since I was 10,” said Alex who is a senior in college. “Last year I saw this on Twitter and decided to give it a try. It was great, and I will be praying throughout Lent that other men join this effort and free themselves of pornography.”

Removing lust from our lives allows us to experience freedom from shame and guilt that affects our self-worth. It also helps us to stop hurting those we love who feel betrayed by our actions.

“Everyday I see the consequences that result from a sexual and pornography addiction,” says Eddie Capparucci, a certified sexual addiction counselor with a private practice in Marietta, GA. “It not only brings shame to the men who engage in the behaviors but destroys relationships; ruins careers; and corrupts children by teaching them to objectify and degrade women. Some men believe their addiction is a life sentence, but that is not the way it has to be.

“The Give Up Lust for Lent Crusade is an excellent stepping stone to get men on the right track of recovery,” he continued. “There are many programs and services available to help men and their families who have been impacted by the addiction. In developing and implementing a well-prepared treatment plan, men can learn to manage their addiction successfully. But the first step is taking action.”

Men and women are being asked to show their support for “No Lust for Lent” by commenting on Twitter using the #NoLustForLent hashtag.

Christian pastors are also encouraged to ask their church members to participate in supporting the “No Lust for Lent” Crusade by speaking from the pulpit about the destruction of pornography.

 

 

 

Two Lies Satan Uses to Enhance Shame

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CPCS

“It’s pretty difficult to believe God loves and accepts you after you wake up in a strange man’s apartment with a massive hangover,” said Carole, a 31-year-old single, school teacher. “I’m acting in a way God does not approve, so how do I approach Him when I need His help? I just can’t bring myself to be honest and contrite with Him because I’m so ashamed of the things I am doing to degrade my body.”

Like Carole, many Christians who engage in sinful behaviors find it difficult to take the actions necessary to build a relationship with Jesus. At the core of our struggles is the over-powering emotion of shame. Shame serves as a barrier between us and our Lord and Savior and it limits our ability to engage in meaningful prayer, scripture reading, meditation, and Christian community.

Satan Liar “It’s difficult to pray to someone who you believe is judging you as a failure,” Carole continued. “I desperately want to reach out to feel His comfort, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I believe He wants nothing to do with me.”

For Christians like Carole, it’s difficult to read about and comprehend God’s unfailing love when you believe your sinful patterns disqualify you from His love. It’s also challenging to interact with Christian brothers and sisters when you feel unworthy to be around them.

Continue reading “Two Lies Satan Uses to Enhance Shame”

Why Can’t You Stop Porn?

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CPCS

It’s a question I hear quite often from clients, “why can’t I stop looking at porn?”. And I tell them all the same thing. They have not learned to feel their emotions.

I realize that sounds a bit odd, but I assure you at the heart of a man addicted to porn is a man whose heart has trouble feeling. Our struggle with pornography is really the pursuit of emotional intimacy. The problem is most men don’t know that. In fact, they wouldn’t know emotional intimacy if it hit them in the face.  emotions

In my clinical practice, 9 out of 10 men who present with a pornography addiction also have an extremely low emotional IQ. What this means is three-fold:

  • They can tell you when they are angry, sad, happy or afraid. These are called secondary emotions. However, they struggle to identify their primary or true emotions. For example, what are you really feeling when you say you’re angry?
  • If they can identify what they are truly feeling (primary emotions), they can’t articulate them in a constructive manner. They struggle to share and be vulnerable with others.
  • But worse of all, they can’t determine what others are feeling beyond secondary emotions. They lack the ability to empathize and seek out additional information from others who are expressing their emotions. Instead, they want to shut down the individual, fix their problem, or runaway.

Beyond the sex/porn addiction, a man’s low emotional IQ it’s the single largest complain women have about the men in their lives. They are emotionally disconnected. We don’t allow ourselves to feel emotions. And as I tell my clients: “you need to feel to heal”.

If you want to manage your pornography addiction, make increasing your emotional IQ part of your recovery process.

War on Porn Steps Up

No Porn Sign

Age Verification to prevent children under the age of 18 from accessing online pornography is set for rollout in the UK. The House of Lords approved the final piece of legislation relating to guidance for the new UK Age Verification system this week (Dec. 11, 2018), with final sign-off from the House of Commons poised. Enforcement is anticipated to begin in early 2019. 

Here are some common questions and issues that are being raised. 

Continue reading “War on Porn Steps Up”

Pure Sex Radio Interview: The 9 Reasons Why Men Abuse Sex

The following is an interview I did for Pure Sex Radio, in which I reviewed the 9 Reasons Why Men Abuse Sex. I came up with these reasons during my work with men to help them manage their sexual and pornography addictions.  

Pure Sex is sponsored by BeBroken Ministries. BeBroken is dedicated to the healing of individuals and family dealing with sexual sin.  You can learn more about BeBroken Ministries at its website: https://2.bebroken.com

 w.podomatic.com/podcasts/puresexradio/episodes/2018-11-06T07_05_31-08_00

Masturbation: Pseudo Intimacy

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CSRRS, CCSAS, CPCS

The question I’m asked often by married men is masturbation “wrong”.

My answer is three-fold. First, masturbation leads to lustful thoughts. I have yet to meet a man who claimshe can masturbate without the aid of sexual thoughts. So, let’s stay here for amoment. I think we would all agree, men who struggle with pornography or sexual addictions should not be focusing on sexual thoughts or fantasy. In fact, we train them to do the opposite and learn to control compulsive sexual thoughts.

 Scripture tellsus focusing on sexual thoughts is not healthy for our relationship or ourselves.

Broken Relationship

“Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that could defile the body and the spirit, and thus accomplish holiness out of reverence for God.” 1 Cor. 7:1

Notice the words in bold. Unhealthy sexual thoughts lead to erosion of men. Strike One against masturbation.

The second part of my answer is masturbation is pseudo intimacy. Sex is an amazing and wonderful gift designed by God to help married couples enhance their emotional intimacy and connection. In his book, Sacred Sex Tim Alan Gardner points out:

“Sex is comforting,and naturally reduces anxiety,” he said. “These are wonderful byproducts of healthy, marital sexuality. Sex is not meant, however, to be used like a drug.”

And when we masturbate that is how we use sex – like a drug. We use masturbation to help us distract from emotional/mental distress or obtain an adrenaline rush. That is the same as having a little too much to drink with the exception that it doesn’t produce a hangover. Instead sex is an activity we are to share and enjoy withour spouse.

The third and final point is this, clinical studies have been indicating masturbation can lead to a host of sexual dysfunctions including erectile dysfunction and retarded ejaculation.

So, to answer the question, is masturbation wrong? The answer is yes, in that it shifts true intimacy away from a couple and moves it to pseudo intimacy for an individual. The answer is yes, in that it results in men turning to fantasy for lustful supposes instead of turning to their spouse for mutual enjoyment.    

Empathy for Her is Understanding ‘Why’

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSRRS, CCSAS, CPCS

If I asked you why you abuse sex you would probably give me one of the following: answers:

“I have no idea”
“I wish I knew”
“I think it’s just who I am”
“It is the way God made me”
“I think I am simply perverted”
“I’m sick”
“I’m disgusting”
“I’m just a loser”
“I’m a bad man”
“I mentally disturbed”
“I am too self-absorbed”

In treating men struggling with sex/porn addiction I have heard all those comments and more when I asked the why question. Without a clear-cut rationale for why we will simply default to believing it’s a character flaw. In our minds, the obsessed focus on sex is the result of our overactive sexual energy.

“I am convinced I am hard-wired differently than other guys,” said Connor, who at one time was spending nearly $250 a week on live sex webcasts. “There is no other explanation for why I am consumed with sexual thoughts around the clock. I can never get enough.”

Connor is right, he is hard-wired to abuse sexbut not due to anything biological or physiological. Connor’s obsession for sex was developed because someone(s) hard-wired him by causing emotional pain. He learned to block out the emotional distress by distracting himself with sex. To straighten out his wiring, Connor, like all sex addicts, will need to discover the true root of his addiction.

Her Need for Empathy

I truly believe uncovering the origin of a sex/porn addiction is vital in recovery process. The key to unlocking the power of a sex/porn addiction is for men to discover why it manifested in the first place. The answer to the why question provides a level of freedom and relief that enables us to feel hopeful we can get the addiction under control.

 But this information is not only important for men dealing with sexual integrity issues, but it’s also valuable for their spouse or partner.      

Why? Because it helps both parties clearly understand the addiction is not only about “sex”. This insight helps to clear up the misconception they are simply dealing with “an out-of-control pervert” who will never stop acting out. It provides a sense of hope needed, not only to manage the addiction, but to keep the relationship together.

When a wife or partner understands the ‘why’, it opens the door for them to develop empathy, which is needed for a couple to reconnect. Empathy allows those betrayed to see the addict through a softer pair of eyes that are not as condemning and judgmental.

 “I was shocked to learn what Matt had been doing had nothing to do with sex,” said Rachel. “It was quite a relief to understand there actually was some rationale for the insane things he had been doing.”

Now don’t take Rachel’s comments wrong. It’s not that she was condoning Matt’s sexual addiction it was simply that she could now see why he had been acting out in such a destructive manner.

“Just because I now understand doesn’t mean I am ready to forgive,” she continued. “But I could see that day coming. Prior to this, I had no hope of ever forgiving him. It’s obvious he’s been dealing with a lot from his childhood that I never knew.”

When a woman develops empathy for her sex/porn-addicted partner she indicates an understanding of his problem. However, she is not, in any way, shape or form saying she is accepting of the behavior. She continues to despise it. By becoming empathic a woman can find a way to adjust her thinking to once again accept her partner if she sees he is taking steps to change.

Basically, she is saying “I understand why you do what you do. It all makes sense to me now. However, I still don’t like it, so what are you doing to fix it?”

IMPORTANT FACT: Discovering the reasons why a man abuses sex is not an excuse for his behavior. He had other options, including to seek help earlier. But he elected not to take them. He is still responsible for the pain he has caused to others.