Join us on the podcast today to hear about Zach and Darcy Spafford’s journey to regain intimacy after Zach’s 25 year battle with pornography. They will take you on a beautiful journey of forgiveness, change, each owning their own sexuality, loving themselves and one another. They are fun, energetic and real. It is a podcast you will want to share with others. Get full show notes and more information here: https://amandalouder.com/135
So today we are going to talk about Zach Spaffords story of pornography usage, what happened when Darcy found out, and how they were able to build an intimate marriage afterwards. And this story really isn’t so much about pornography use, but how to create an intimate marriage given the many negative scripts, dialogues and the meaning frames that we have been taught about sex, intimacy, pornography use,and marriage throughout our lives.
Zach’s story of pornography use began on a simple playground at the young age of 8 years old. That began a 25 year battle with pornography. He describes the constant and active fight while trying to do all of the right things – being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He spent years berating himself over his secret – and feeling that this one thing was holding him back from being the best version of himself and who he wanted to be. This created for him difficulty in dealing with his emotions and being the husband and father he wanted to become. Zach kept his secret from his wife as long as he could. Back then, without smart phones, the secret didn’t last long.
In 2012, Zach and Darcy had new twins and he was working with church leaders, counselors as well as attending a 12 step program. They decided he needed to step away from all of the programs that were taking him away from home. They could both see the programs were not working.
Zach stepped back and started to look at his brain. He could always seem to figure things out – so why not this? “I started to work through problems that were in my mind. I always fix things. So I tried to fix my own brain.” said Zach. A few years later, Darcy was listening to Jody Moore, and shared the podcast about pornography with Zach. They soon realized what Jody was teaching was some of the same concepts and tools Zach had used to combat his addiction. That began their journey to becoming life coaches and today helping many men and women who want to get out of the habit
“There are many who feel stuck – they do not have the capacity to change this habit in their lives. There is hope. We don’t judge you – but there is a place to get help if that is what you really want.” says Zach.
From Darcy’s perspective. She was living a fairy tale life. She married the man she loved – and now had 3 beautiful children. The day she picked up his laptop in 2008 and saw pornography, she thought her fairytale life was shattered. She was sure here marriage would end in disaster – it was over. By 2012 she had given up hope that he could ever give it up and she just needed him home to help take care of their growing family at that moment.
In the beginning – she was so angry. She didn’t feel like he deserved any intimacy. She made it mean everything was about her and took the blame. Once the initial pain and shock eased up – they began to rebuild their relationship. Darcy kept imagining what he was viewing and tried to become his performer in their bedroom. She was enjoying that -it was new- but she wasn’t doing it to help them connect. It was her attempt to feel like she was enough – trying to put on a show because she thought it was what he wanted. Darcy thought she had to do this to meet his needs. But soon realized that isn’t how it works. That doesn’t meet his needs and created more problems.
Then Darcy just disconnected from her sexuality – and it became all about Zach. She didn’t ever want to turn him away – out of fear that he would turn to pornography. She was no longer a sexual being – it just became about him.
Prior to finding out about the porn – their sex life was good. After she discovered his habit, her brain shifted, the porn became hers and then the conflict in their sex life began.
What Zach really wanted -was to connect to his wife – even more than sex. Years later, Zach went through a phase where he wasn’t interested anymore. He didn’t want it to be just orgasmic – he wanted connection. She was going through the motions to keep him happy – but that doesn’t work when you are looking for connection.
So many follow this script they have been taught that sex is all about the man and we have to fill his needs. Women get it in their minds that women have to give their husband sex just because he wants it.
‘Men, what you need to hear – if your wife is rejecting you – is that she just is not ready. Just because men wake up ready – doesn’t mean that your wife does and that doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you.”
Darcy went through her phase of feeling used – resentful of his sexual desire and advances. She stepped away. She couldn’t do it anymore. She was trying to have sex in an attempt to control his pornography addiction. She stopped the narrative in her head that her giving him sex every time he asked would control his pornography.
At this time, Zach didn’t realize Darcy felt like an object – and so they began being more honest about what they wanted sexually. Zach listened and understood what she was going through and he respected her feelings. “Men, this conversation needs to happen more than once. . .or twice. It needs to be a continuing conversation in order for men to really get it. If you want intimacy in your marriage, that requires a mutual understanding of what the other person desires. It also requires giving what each partner wants.”
Do feel men feel entitled to sex? Zach’s answer is a resounding yes! It isn’t right – but yes.
In our culture, we are teaching our girls at a young age that they are responsible for men’s desires. Women are not in charge of controlling men’s sexual desires. Our young women are not responsible for the sexual desires, thoughts and actions of men.. It is all of our responsibility to be accountable for our own sexual desires. Say no until you are ready to have sex.
Zach then shares how after the pornography he finally felt like he had the relationship he always wanted. Darcy learned to own what she wanted and not make it about him. With time, she has been able to think more about him. She now communicates what she wants or doesn’t want. She learned that she can say no. She now owns what she wants. They have learned to communicate what each wants and that saying no is ok. That was a powerful transition.
The biggest switch for Darcy was owning her power and not just giving it up to make Zach happy. But that wasn’t what Zach wanted either. He wanted intimacy – a connection. Once he realized that, he was able to see to her sexual needs in a better way. He was able to stop making it about him. That made all the difference and a lot of things changed.
“This is, I think, one of the biggest issues that face our generation. I’m 40 this year and I didn’t have a handheld computer until I was 25-26. And so the idea that now pornography is so available to us, this is this is us learning how to stop using it in our lives. And so we have lots of resources for people that are free and you can always find those on our website.. You can also listen to the podcast, which is fun. You hear Darci every once in a while and you hear me every week.” Zach
Both Zach and Darcy are helping couples who battle unwanted behaviors. To learn more about them, what they do and many free tools, go to: https://www.zachspafford.com and https://www.zachspafford.com/podcast
Thank you for joining us today.