EPISODE 76: Committing to requestsFeb 21, 2021
Recently I was discussing a specific commitment with my client that his wife was expecting from him.
One of the skills that I teach my clients is to bring their urge responses from a place of unconscious habit to a place of choice and planning.
As my client was working through this with his spouse one of the things she asked was that he not look at pornography while she is in the house.
He committed to that with her and immediately broke his word.
His desire to be “good” for his wife was pretty strong and I think a lot of us do things like this.
We commit to things because we want to, we think doing so will help our spouse feel better, and it doesn’t seem like a huge ask and we should be willing to do what we’ve been asked.
This particular commitment is one that I think comes up pretty often as men and women work through their discussions about pornography in their lives.
Seems simple, she says, Please don’t look at pornography while I’m in the house. Or please don’t look at pornography while the kids are in the house.
Most men want to acquiesce to this request. We don’t even really want to be viewing pornography to manage our lives anyway, so why wouldn’t we say yes to this?
For a lot of us, this boundary is hard and fast and should never move.
So, let’s discuss it.
There are a couple of things that you and your partner need to be clear about and understand when you make commitments.
Is it realistic?
Is it going to produce the results we want?
Let’s start with that first question.
Is it realistic to ask your spouse to never look at pornography in your home?
From a statistical perspective, americans spend 70% of our time at home.
This means that at home is the most likely place that pornography is being accessed.
Darcy – a subtle way to Control his behavior - If the result you are looking for is to restrict pornography
It is also a little scary to think he’ll be out, somewhere, looking at pornography. Which creates a possibility that he could have an interaction with police because he’s looking at porn in public and create some additional issues.
Darcy – telling him to take his biggest struggle out of the home
Is it going to produce the results we want?
Darcy – whats the result
Many times this is a subtle way to reduce
if the result you are looking for is to restrict pornography use, then I would say no – if it were that simple then this wouldn’t be a problem.
I think a lot of people are looking to rebuild trust in their relationships and this seems like one of the things that seems like it should be easy enough to do and totally a good idea, but I think it creates a situation where failure is inevitable.
The client I was working with was really struggling with this because he wanted to do what his wife was asking but also, basically knew that he was going to fail.
One thing that his wife has said is more important than if he looks at pornography is if he is honest with her.
This is a tough moment because it is clear that he can’t really be honest with her and commit to this requirement.
So, it’s important for each of us to be clear on what we are committing to. For this client he needed have a candid conversation with his wife and tell her that this is not something that he can commit to at this point.
This candid honest is really difficult for both parties. But it is essential because the intimacy that we want requires us to know our partner.
When we know our partner and are able to hear their reality and can accept them as they are we create intimacy.
So, is telling our partner that they aren’t allowed to experience their struggle in the home really creating the result we want?
This is a lot like when we are dealing with our kids, this example comes up for me, when we tell our kids that we’re never going to buy them toys again because we’re frustrated that they aren’t cleaning up after themselves.
It’s really important that we take the moment to discuss the boundary and be honest about whether it is possible.
And also, whether one of us is putting ourselves in a one up position to be in charge of the situation.
It is really important in a boundary conversation that we be clear that we are on equal footing in a marriage relationship.
I think with kids its different, “if you look at pornography in my home, I won’t provide you internet access.” Which is different from saying that to a spouse.
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