Episode 13 – Coaching Mandy


What are the repercussions when a spouse abuses pornography? Well, the problem lies with the person viewing, and they are the one responsible for changing. There are still consequences for their spouse and the marriage. Listen, as I coach Mandy on the aftermath and the consequences of her spouse’s pornography usage.


Amanda Louder: Hi, Mandy. Welcome to the podcast. How can I help you? 

Mandy: Well, my husband had a pornography addiction early in our marriage, and I feel like he got the counseling and everything that he needed, and he’s moved on and he’s been doing a lot better, but I feel like I never moved on from that. 

Amanda: Okay. 

Mandy: We’ve been married for 13 years and when we were dating I started noticing that he stopped telling me that I was beautiful and he just started acting a little bit different and I would ask him about it and there was really no answer for why he had stopped and he’s like, “You’re right. I need to show you my affection and everything more.” So we get married and then probably within the first six months during that time, the honeymoon phase was great, you know, we’re just having sex like all the time and everything was fine. And then he started trying lots of different positions and then being really frustrated when we couldn’t accomplish them. 

Amanda: Okay.

Mandy: And he would kiss me or I would try to kiss him while we were having sex and he would tell me like, “Ugh, stop. Like your lips are so dry.” Or like, “Stop kissing me so much.” Or if I tried talking, he would tell me, “Stop talking so much.”  And so I started feeling really self-aware of the things I was doing. 

Amanda: Mm-hmm. 

Mandy: Being brought up in the Mormon church I already felt like it’s a hard balance between like, okay, now you’re married, and so then you have the green light go.

Amanda: Yes. 

Mandy: And what you’re doing is not a bad thing now. Whereas like growing up it’s like, sex is bad, sex is bad, don’t do it. So I started feeling I’m not doing good at this. And then I also started feeling like, well maybe not that it was bad, cuz I know that it’s not right to have sex with your  spouse, but all those things were in my head. And then we’d been married for six months and I just found out that he had had a huge porn addiction. 

Amanda: Okay.

Mandy: So, so bad that it was interfering with work and school and he was very sneaky about it. And really didn’t have any grasp on it. It was totally controlling his life. 

Amanda: Okay. 

Mandy: So he started going to the recovery classes and I only went to one cuz they have supportive ones for family members. And I remember going, I would go with him because I didn’t trust that he was going unless I drove him there. Because at that point, I felt like I had been totally betrayed. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. So he’s looking at all these other women and that I couldn’t trust what he was doing because he was saying he was going to work and he wasn’t, because he was just looking at pornography. So, I remember going to the class and I sat in there and there’s all these women who I thought, feel the same pain that I did and I just wanted a bawl the whole time and it was so embarrassing. I remember just biting my tongue and just sitting there and thinking, okay, if I bite my tongue hard enough, like I’m not gonna sit here and ball like a baby because everyone else there was kind of happy as they’re talking about the things in the manual. And I never went back. I only took him and sat in the car. And I remember one specific time watching a pregnant lady walking in with her husband and holding his hand. And I thought, how can she do that? You know, how could she be so happy and be at the point where she’s gonna have a baby and they’re walking in together almost like they’re going on a date. And I just thought that, that, that was so crazy. We went through a lot of months of him lying to my face and saying he was doing good when he wasn’t. And then it got to the point where I told him he needed to go, besides just doing the classes that he needed to have a counselor? 

Amanda: Yeah. 

Mandy: A one-on-one.  I caught him stealing a magazine from Barnes and Nobles and it’s amazing how things just kind of line up for you to be able to see what you need to see that’s going on. 

Amanda: Yes.

Mandy: And I drove, I was driving home from my parents’ house a different way than I normally do. And I saw him parked on the side of the road and on a road like we know no one, there was no reason for him to be parked there. And I thought, oh great. He’s having an affair with someone. Like that’s the first thing that came to my mind. And when I told him that I saw him, and I didn’t go home for a while cause I was just driving and thinking, what do I do? 

Amanda: Yeah. 

Mandy: And he told me he had stolen a magazine and that he didn’t want, he was ditching it in a gutter because he didn’t want anyone else to find it, cuz he knows how bad it is. And he had felt bad about it, so we had gotten to all this, all of through all of this, and then he’s going to the therapy and then he was starting to do better as far as I know, you know.  I made the mistake of looking at-when you’re in the re the recovery program, they have, you kind of keep a journal and he had left it on the couch one day and I opened it up and I saw in there that he said that he, when he sees other women, he has a hard time not fantasizing about them if he’s like attracted to them.

Amanda: Yeah. 

Mandy: And that’s something that has stuck with me forever because he, it’s been probably nine years now since he’s been fighting the addiction and not having a problem with it anymore. So it took years of going to the class and he had one-on-one therapy. And like I said, I feel like if we were both on a road, he was doing like leaps and bounds forward for himself, while every now and then taking a couple steps back. But I’m still in the same place in the road, like watching him move forward.  And for me, the hurt is still real. 

Amanda: Yeah.

Mandy: And it’s still there. And I still feel like when I’m around other attractive women, I’m uncomfortable cause I feel like, well, who knows? Like, you know what he’s thinking about them and I’m right here, you know? So those are the things that I’ve been struggling with. So I’d like to kind of move forward on that road a little bit. Closer to where he’s at. 

Amanda: Okay. How come you haven’t gotten help for yourself before now?

Mandy: You know, I don’t know. On one hand it’s kind of embarrassing a  little bit. And then on the other hand, I just didn’t know where to turn to someone that could understand from a faith-based place where we are. Because there’s a lot of people that think pornography is not a problem, or, I mean, that it can’t become as big of a problem as we were having. And yeah, so I just kind of suffered by myself. 

Amanda: Okay. That’s gotta be hard. 

Mandy: Yeah, it’s been really hard. And then we have three kids now, and it’s not that I’m not happy, but when it comes to sex, I still feel like, okay, don’t talk too much. Don’t try to kiss him. Where now he’s at the point where he likes those things because you know, he’s back in his right mind. Cuz I realize back at that time when he was frustrated, when we were trying positions that we couldn’t accomplish or, he didn’t want me talking too much cuz his mind was in a different place that wasn’t like completely him. That was like the addiction, you know, kind of taking over for him. But I still have all of that, like in my mind. 

Amanda: Okay. And it makes sense that you do, and we’re gonna be able to do some stuff today, but I’m gonna encourage you to seek out some therapy too. 

Mandy: Mm-hmm. 

Amanda: I think you are going to need more than what we’re gonna be able to do in coaching, just based on the trauma that you’ve experienced from the betrayal.  

Mandy: Mm-hmm. 

Amanda: Okay, so trauma therapy, it would be really helpful for you. I think specifically EMDR and you can just look up online there’s like EMDR.org, I think, where you can look up EMDR therapists in your area. 

Mandy: Okay. 

Amanda: But they specifically help with trauma therapy that I think would be really helpful for you. 

Mandy: Okay. 

Amanda: Okay. But I think what we need to work on today is understanding the thoughts that you’re having and what that’s creating for you. Okay. So, you said that you’re kind of just still stuck and still feeling hurt by what happened. 

Mandy: Mm-hmm Hmm. 

Amanda: Can you tell me a little bit more about that? 

Mandy: Sometimes I feel frustrated and almost jealous and angry that he got to, and I guess it’s my fault for not getting the therapy or like the help that I need, but he seems fine. And then I feel like here I am, I feel like my feelings were hurt in a way also that he doesn’t understand, cuz for him it was like his problem that he worked on and he got to work on with a therapist and in the classes that he went to with other people that understood how he was feeling. 

Amanda: Right.

Mandy: And in his mind, and we’ve had conversations about it, but at the same time, I don’t wanna keep picking the scab off, you know?  That he doesn’t really associate what, because he had a problem when he was young, you know?

Amanda: Right.

Mandy: It didn’t start after we got married because I wasn’t good enough. 

Amanda: Right. 

Mandy: And in his mind it had nothing really to do with me, but for me, it is, the hurt is like I wasn’t good enough. Like I wasn’t because now you’re married. And you’re sexually active. And I’m here, we’re having sex often cuz we’re newly married like all the time.

Amanda: Right, right. 

Mandy: And we had no kids, but I felt like, well, I’m not good enough because you’re still turning around and looking at other things. 

Amanda: Okay. So I think that’s where we should really focus on, okay?

Mandy: Okay. 

Amanda: So, do you understand? And we can understand things logically and then not, but also not understand them in our bodies and in our nervous system that his looking at pornography had nothing to do with you. 

Mandy: I guess the answer to that would be no, because like in my brain, yes, that makes sense because I did the research, right? I did the research on addiction. I did the research on, you know, why the pornography addiction happens, why it’s so hard to stop and all of that. But I guess the answer would be no. 

Amanda: Yeah. Okay. So a little bit about our brain. Okay. Our brain’s primary job is to keep us alive and safe. Okay. It wants to do that more than it wants us to be happy, and so it offers us thoughts to help try and keep us safe. Okay. Now it doesn’t understand the difference between physically safe and emotionally safe. It just offers us those thoughts. Right. And by offering you these thoughts that like, you know, if you were better or if you were prettier, or if you were whatever. then he wouldn’t do this. This is your brain’s way of trying to keep you safe, because if you can control it and control him, then you’ll be safe. Does that make sense? 

Mandy: Yeah. 

Amanda: Okay. But you are not your brain. Like your brain can offer you thoughts and you can decide to not listen to it because it doesn’t just tell us truth.

Mandy: That’s true. 

Amanda: It tells us whatever it needs to, to try and keep us safe and alive. Right? And sometimes it offers us crazy ideas. Right? Like, have you ever had the idea, like driving down the road, you’re like, oh, I could just drive off the cliff right now. 

Mandy: Yeah. 

Amanda: Right. Like, I think we all had thoughts like that at one point or another, and you’re like, that’s crazy. I would never do that.  But your brain says you’re not good enough. And instead of saying, that’s crazy, that’s not even true, we listen. 

Mandy: Yeah. 

Amanda: And we put power behind it. And we believe it, and then we feel hurt. Right? You don’t feel hurt because he was looking at porn. You feel hurt because you believed that he was looking at porn because you weren’t good enough, right?

Mandy: Yeah. Right. 

Amanda: And so when we start having thoughts like that, we have to question them instead of just believing them. Is it true? Is it true that you weren’t enough and that’s why he looked at porn?  

Mandy:  No. 

Amanda: Do you believe that? 

Mandy: Um, not yet, but I want to. 

Amanda: Okay. Sometimes we can’t make that jump and that’s okay. So we need to find another thought that we can move to that maybe is just a little bit easier, that makes us feel a little bit better. So instead of thinking. I’m not good enough. Can we switch to it’s possible that I actually am? 

Mandy: Hmm mm-hmm. 

Amanda: Do you, how does that thought feel to you? 

Mandy: I think it feels hopeful. 

Amanda: Good. Good. So it’s possible that you are good enough, and with that you feel hopeful.

Mandy: Yes. 

Amanda: Okay. So I want you, like, I want you to just practice that thought. Like when your brain says this is happening because you’re not good enough, you are whatever, right? Or you are not, whatever, right? Like, okay, brain, I see what you’re trying to do here. You’re, you’re trying to keep me safe. Thank you so much. But I am gonna believe that it’s possible that I actually am. Because you haven’t quite gotten to the point where you can believe that I, that you are. But if we can just like little stair steps. 

Mandy: Yes. 

Amanda: Right. And then when you can solidly believe that it’s, that it’s possible that you are, then maybe we can make another stair step.  Like maybe I am good enough. What would it look like if you were good enough?

Mandy: That’s a really good question. I don’t know. I think it’d be a lot more peaceful because I wouldn’t be worrying about it all.  I don’t worry about it all the time, but. It’s the most in my mind, like when we’re having sex for sure. Feeling like I’m not good enough. But it would be nice to not have those thoughts and to just be able to focus on the moment, you know?

Amanda: Yeah. And we might not be able to get there yet. Right? But I want you to start redirecting your brain. That when it brings up those thoughts, we’re like, Hey brain, I see what you’re doing here. Right. Like you have to talk back to your brain or like, sometimes, like you can talk back like that. Or I have some clients who give this brain a persona. Like, she’s Karen. Like she’s Karen. Right? Like, Karen’s not being very nice right now and I don’t like her and I’m not gonna listen. What do you think about that? 

Mandy: I like it. 

Amanda: Yeah. So like Karen’s like, you’re not good enough, and you’re like, shut up, Karen.

I don’t like you. I don’t like what you have to say. How would that feel? 

Mandy: That would feel awesome.

Amanda: Right? Like you can start talking back. So when your brain’s offering you these thoughts that aren’t helpful, that make you feel, you know, frustrated and hurt and you know, jealous and angry, you’d be like, shut up, Karen.

Mandy: I love it. I’m totally gonna do that. 

Amanda: Or you could name her whatever you want, right? But like you get to decide. What you wanna say back to your brain or Karen or whoever you decide to, whatever you decide to do. Right? Instead of just listening to her. Like, we have that mean girl in our head.  Now it’s actually there for a purpose, right. To keep you alive and safe, but it doesn’t know that you’re fine. 

Mandy: Right.

Amanda: And you don’t actually wanna feel that way. You want to feel loving and connected and empowered, and hopeful, and peaceful in your sexual relationship with your husband.  What do you think you need to be thinking in order to feel peaceful and hopeful?

Mandy: Maybe think about that he finds me beautiful.

Amanda:  Okay. Do you believe that? 

Mandy: Most of the time. 

Amanda: Okay. So it’s a matter of just reminding yourself that in the moment. And again, if you can’t go all the way, like, oh, he totally finds me beautiful. Like maybe he does. It’s possible. I mean, he’s telling me. Why am I not believing it? Well, I’m not believing it because Karen’s not very nice. Karen’s that mean girl in my head and she’s not very nice. I gotta quit listening to Karen and start listening to what my husband’s actually telling me. 

Mandy: Yes. 

 Amanda: And choosing to believe it.

Mandy: Mm-hmm. 

Amanda: Like, it’s a choice. Sometimes your brain doesn’t want you to, cuz it thinks it’s trying to keep you safe. But you get to choose, you get to use your agency and choose what you want to think and believe.

Mandy: It’s interesting because I feel like six months into our marriage when all of this came out and I didn’t trust him, you know, I was at a place where I said, I couldn’t trust where he said he was going, what he said he was doing and looking back at all of that, now if he tells me he’s gonna go to work, I believe he’s going to work like the, the trust. It took a really long time. But the trust, it seems like the trust has been built back everywhere.  Except for sexually, if that makes sense. 

Amanda: It’s you trusting yourself. So you’re trusting him now, but you’re not trusting you.

What do you think about that?  Are you trustworthy? 

Mandy: Yes. 

Amanda: You trust yourself in other areas? 

Mandy: Yeah. 

Amanda: So why are you not trusting yourself here? 

Mandy: I don’t know, maybe I’m just scared to let all my guards down in that area. Because it was such a big deal for me and it was so intimate and it’s really like a place of loneliness cuz you don’t have anyone to talk to about that except your best friend or your spouse who’s betrayed you. So really you’re left alone. 

Amanda: Yep. 

Mandy: And so I think I’m just afraid to let the walls down and to talk back to Karen. So that I can get to the spot where I’m comfortable again. 

Amanda: Yeah. But it’s, it’s gonna be worth it if you do. 

Mandy: Yeah, for sure.

Amanda: And when you can trust yourself, it makes it easier to trust others.

Mandy: Mm-hmm. 

Amanda: Right?  And I’m not saying that he will, but if anything ever happened again, when you trust yourself, then you know what to do.

Mandy:  Right. 

Amanda: Right? It really always comes back to self and your relationship with yourself, how you talk to yourself, which is your relationship. Like if you talk to yourself mean, I mean, you wouldn’t allow anybody to talk to – I don’t know if you have daughters or Yeah, daughters. Okay. So would you allow someone to talk to your daughter the way that you talk to yourself?

Mandy: No way. No. 

Amanda: No. So you need to start forming a better relationship with yourself by becoming aware of how you’re talking to yourself and changing the way that you talk to yourself. That’s how you are going to develop a better relationship with yourself, and a good sexual relationship comes first from having a good relationship with yourself and a good relationship with your spouse. Like between those two things, like you’re, you are going to have a much better sexual relationship when those two things are in place. So sex is gonna go way better. When you actually talk to yourself better.

Mandy:  I think in paying attention to myself too, and my thoughts and what I’m saying to myself. 

Amanda: Yeah. 

Mandy: Because those things are happening, and I don’t think I’m necessarily aware to be able to say, no, that’s not true.

Amanda: Yes. 

Mandy: You know, I think I need to pay more attention. 

Amanda: Yeah. So, in my membership we do, there’s different modules on helping you build a better relationship with yourself and there’s worksheets that go along with it that help you identify the thoughts that you’re thinking and where you’re not talking to yourself well. So that you can become aware of them and start to change them, because we can’t change anything until we become aware of it. 

Mandy: Right. 

Amanda: Right? We can’t change anything at the level that it was created. So Einstein said this, like, we can’t change a problem at the level that was created. We have to go to a different level in order to make those changes. So a different level means becoming aware of what’s happening so that you can make changes, right? So learning, like starting paying attention to how you talk to yourself, what you believe about yourself, what you think other people believe about you, like it’s all up in your head. Like your husband’s sitting there saying like, I love you and I think you’re beautiful and amazing, and you’re not listening.

Mandy: Yeah. 

Amanda: Because of the dialogue that’s going on in your own head. And so becoming aware of that dialogue and starting to change that dialogue and telling Karen to shut up. And really being intentional about the way that you’re thinking about yourself on purpose and talking better to yourself. 

Mandy: I think that’s like a really amazing place to start for sure.

Amanda: Absolutely. That’s always, I mean, that’s where I start with every single client which is helping them have a better relationship with themselves, which a, a big part of that is how we talk to ourselves and believing thoughts and creating new thoughts and being very intentional with the way that we think so that we can have that better relationship with ourselves.

No one is gonna give that to you, Mandy. No one else can. It’s what you choose to think about you and quit listening to Karen. 

Mandy: Yeah.

Amanda: Because Karen’s not very nice. 

Mandy: No, she is not. 

Amanda: Even though she has good intentions. What do you think? 

Mandy: I think it sounds good. I think it sounds like a lot of work, but I think it’s worth it for sure. 

Amanda: Yeah, absolutely. It is work to change. It is work to change who we are and the way that we’re thinking and what we’re believing about ourselves, but the results of that are life changing. They’re incredible. It’s totally worth it. We receive so many messages from outside of us, good and bad, and we have to learn to filter through those and really decide for ourselves what we want to think and believe about us. 

Mandy: Yeah.

Amanda: I want you to just notice that you are making a lot of this about your husband’s pornography issue. And I’m not saying that doesn’t play a role. 

Mandy: Right. 

Amanda: But all along it’s about your relationship with you and it actually has nothing to do with him.  It has nothing to do with the pornography. It’s what you were choosing. Not consciously. Right?  Because we wouldn’t choose that consciously. But, it’s still a choice of what we were choosing to think and believe because of that. 

Mandy: I think that’s really nice to hear actually, because, him being able to move on and improve himself,  and like I said, I feel like I was kind of left back on the road. You know, but it’s nice to hear. It’s okay for him to go forward on the road, but now me, myself, like I don’t need him to go forward on the road. I need myself to be able to move forward on that road, not just, like I don’t need a piggyback ride, if that makes sense.

Amanda: Yeah. I love that analogy. Like you have everything you need inside of you already.  It’s just a matter of utilizing it. 

Mandy: Yeah.

Amanda: And you have the power to do that within you. And Yes, it’s gonna take some work. And I would highly recommend you come into the membership, so that we can work on this together and you can get support and help along the way in guiding you in this process, but it’ll be so worth it. 

Mandy: Yeah.

Amanda: Okay. So as we wrap up here, I just want you to just think about everything that we’ve talked about and just kind of summarize what you’re gonna take away from this session. 

Mandy: So, I’m going to be more aware of the things my brain is telling me and the thoughts that I’m having, and then when there are  thoughts that are incorrect, I’m gonna shut them down and replace them with hopeful thoughts and correct thoughts about myself until I start believing it, I guess. 

Amanda: Yeah. And what do you think this is gonna create for you?

Mandy:  I think it’s going to be able to help me let down those guards and be more vulnerable because I want to be and be able to change myself into a place where I love myself and I allow my husband to love me as much as I love myself.

Amanda: I love that so much. Thank you so much for being here with me today, Mandy. 

Mandy: Thank you. 

Amanda: I love this episode in listening how aware Mandy became in the things that she was telling herself about herself. And a lot of times we like to base what we’re feeling on our circumstances and what our spouse says and does. But it really comes down to our relationship with ourself and how we talk to ourself and realize that everything that our brain is telling us is not always true. 

Thank you so much for joining me today, and we’ll see you next week. Bye-bye.


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