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Geoff Steurer, LMFT talks with Tony about how to rebuild trust in a relationship even after situations that couples believed they would a) never stand for in their marriage and b) believe healing was even possible, like infidelity and betrayal. Geoff is the host of the podcast "From Crisis to Connection" and co-author of the book, "Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity."

You can find Geoff at https://www.geoffsteurer.com or on Instagram: @geoffsteurer or Facebook: @geoffsteurerMFT

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Sign up for Geoff's Trust Building Bootcamp by following this link https://www.geoffsteurer.com/a/18461/ZB9Pb8qW and enter VIRTUALCOUCH15 for 15% off the course.

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Tony appeared on two episodes of Geoff's podcast "Protecting your marriage in a faith crisis (part 1) - Tony Overbay - Episode 93" https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/from-crisis-to-connection-with-geoff-steurer/id1290359940?i=1000522608518 and "Protecting your marriage in a faith crisis (part 2) - Tony Overbay - Episode 94" https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/from-crisis-to-connection-with-geoff-steurer/id1290359940?i=1000523235363

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Sign up today to be the first to know when the next round of The Magnetic Marriage Course will launch http://tonyoverbay.com/magnetic

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[00:00:00] I have so many things I want to say, two stories to tell about about my guests today. People would ask me if I knew Jeff. I just feel like there was a nice instant connection. I was on just podcasts for not one, but two episodes because we were just vibing so well. So, Gestur, welcome to the virtual couch.

[00:00:18] Tony, my brother from another mother man just now.

[00:00:21] Right. I love this. I couldn't wait to do the joke, I think, on your podcast where I was saying when I was looking over your website, we are the same other than you are far more handsome, have a lot more hair. And then you've both written books about pornography, addiction and recovery. And we've got podcast, I guess. Oh, that's so crazy.

[00:00:39] Same thing. When I first started, it said people like, hey, Tony, I said, looking at your stuff. And I'm like, wait a second, we almost do the exact same thing. This is so dang cool. But some people might feel threatened by that.

[00:00:50] But that's what I was going to say. Fantast. Yeah, because I really think there's a cool thing there with the concept of scarcity mindset versus that growth or, you know, growth mindset, because we're both just we're both just trying to change the world.

[00:01:03] Right, Jeff? Absolutely. Absolutely. People are hurting, man.

[00:01:06] I was going to mention something that then someday this will seem dated. When I was waiting for us to begin. I was looking at my phone to see what the air quality is, to see if we're going to watch high school football tonight, because there are so many fires in the area that I met. And and I feel like anywhere I talk to someone, there's some sort of a natural disaster. How are things in Southern?

[00:01:24] Yeah, air quality stinks, as definitely have some. Yeah, we've got fires in California that are the smoke is wafting over here and yeah, it's tough. Yes, we have beautiful, clear blue skies here, but it's just hazy. So so we don't usually get that kind of weather over here except the fire season.

[00:01:38] But yeah. And it's it's unfortunate there's a fire season. Hey, help my listeners know a little bit more about you. Give me your background. Tell me tell me about you, Jeff.

[00:01:47] Totally. I bet I actually have celebrating 25 years of marriage on Monday. Oh, congratulations. My wife, Jody, thank you. Yeah. And so, yeah, we've got four kids, ages 22 to 12. And yeah, I went to BYU, studied to be a journalist, and then I ended up at Auburn University doing marriage and family therapy. And I've been in marriage.

[00:02:08] Ok, I got to stop you right there. Little did I know what I'm saying. We have all these things. So that was my initial major in college as well as journalism. So that is why did why did you change your major or why did you stop?

[00:02:19] I didn't change it. I, I graduated with a communications degree and the same same.

[00:02:24] I did not know this about you. Mine's mass communications.

[00:02:27] Yeah. Mass communications, communications studies from BYU. And and then my senior year, I my wife and I had been married just a few weeks. I just met Wally Goddard, maybe, who, you know, and he lived next door to them. And we ended up living with them for two years in their basement. And it was from that experience that I decided I wanted to be a marriage family therapist. We just talked about marriages and families and all kinds of parenting, about these fictitious kids we didn't have yet. Yeah, I figured I would start talking about parenting stuff. And it was just so dynamic and interesting. And I just thought I got to do this for a living. And this is nuts. People talk about this for a living. And so I ended up this was my senior year, so I ended up changing a few classes around and got what I needed. And I ended up getting accepted into Auburn and did my my master's degree in MFT over there, moved to Alabama. Oh, wow. So, yeah, so I've worked now as an empty since I've been doing therapy with people for twenty three, twenty two years.

[00:03:24] Wow. Ok, I have so many questions about that, but I do not know about either. First of all, I think I missed the opportunity for a joke of were you an amazing parent, the fictitious kids, much better than with the best.

[00:03:34] Oh, dang. My wife and I would have actual real arguments about fake children that didn't exist. Right. I think we would we would all of a sudden just start discovering kind of all the different things that we had opinions about that you don't know you have opinions about. Yeah. And it was just really funny, because some points we would stop each other and go like we don't even have children. Why are we even talking about this? Yeah, but it was the collision of our ideas, our values, our backgrounds. But yeah. So interesting those conversations.

[00:04:02] No, I love that, because it's funny. We have kids that are for kids, as well as 22 or 23 to 17 somewhere around there. I know I'm in the ballpark and things do get a lot different. And we were just commenting a few days ago about, boy, when we were young, we really did feel like this isn't so bad. We've got this whole parenting thing figured out. And I've had a couple of people in my office lately that have said, boy, I wish I could go back there and because it seems so much easier. And so, yeah,

[00:04:29] I have all the answers. Be so confident. I know.

[00:04:31] Yeah. And so go ahead. Oh, no, go ahead. No, I'm so sorry, Jeff. I've got ridiculous follow up questions. Another one that I have is I didn't realize you've been doing actively doing therapy for so long. And I'm always fascinated by people that come out and they are working as therapists in their early 20s without kids, without they're just now married. And what was that experience like for you? Did people respect you? Did they did they want somebody that had already been through the been through the ringer, so to.

[00:05:00] Well, I think the people that were brave enough to say something would say things to me like I'm old enough to be your mother or stuff like that, but I think overall, like I had really good training from Auburn, great supervisors, great professors. And then my first job out of grad school was at a rural mental health clinic in Arizona. And I worked there. I worked there for six years. And so that gave me you would just call like street smarts. Like I joke with so many different kinds of cases, cradle to grave, every issue under the sun, serious illness, marriages, parenting and child therapy, everything. And so my my skill set just it really accelerated during that time. It was I just I felt like at the time that everybody needs to come work in a place like this because it was good, exposed me to so many things. And it was there that I learned what I really wanted to do. But yeah, no, it was tough. Like I was trying to do therapy with teenagers, but I had a one year old or I was trying to work with these marriages that have been married 30 years and I've been married five years. And so, yes, now that I've been married 25 years, I'm forty seven years old. I've got all these over two decades of experience under my belt. My obviously, my confidence is a lot higher now in terms of my ability to not only my training and experience, but also just lived experience. I just am not rattled by as much. Yeah, I think a way to put a confidence that things are going to work out or there's there's figure ways to figure it out. We can get there from here. Right. Like there's just things we can do.

[00:06:28] I love that that confidence that things will work out. I love that, because that's going to play a lot into what we're talking about today with trust and boundaries. And let me stay on that being, too. How did you you talk about you started to find the population you wanted to work with. What was that experience like and how did you find the population?

[00:06:45] Yeah, so I was working. I was doing so much child therapy. I had to play therapy room, the puppets, the whole works. Wow. And I loved it. But then I noticed that I would go home and not want to play with my own kids because I was so played out, OK. And I thought, OK, this isn't good. My kids will eventually grow up. But I love this. Is it really my thing? And what I found myself doing was I was always wanting to meet with the parents. I wanted to get my hands on the marriage. I was like, let's go up to the headwaters man. Like these kids obviously may have their own issues and temperaments and challenges, but I knew that there was something systemically going on upstream that I wanted to get my hands on. And so I ended up doing a lot of marriage therapy and billing it under the child's name. Ok.

[00:07:30] Yeah. Yeah.

[00:07:31] Right. So it and so for that, just because I wanted those parents to get a better environment for themselves and their kids, and that's where I was like, OK, I need to do I need to work with marriages that I registered my business, moved to Utah and started my marriage therapy practice.

[00:07:47] If anybody was this is the first time they're they're hearing me the comment. I'm sure the quote would be, if they're following you over here to this podcast, they're going to say, all right, Tony, back off talking about yourself here. But I can't I had no idea about this part of your career. I started with kid therapy as well. Of course

[00:08:02] You did, Tony, because we have the same

[00:08:04] Is the same. And the whole reason I didn't I went away from it was surprisingly because I wanted to deal with the parents because I felt like I was just giving the kid coping skills.

[00:08:13] Exactly right.

[00:08:14] Oh, that's crazy, Jeff. That is. All right. So then you go to Utah and now you're doing more couples

[00:08:19] At that point. So when I moved to Utah in 2006, I was starting to I was starting to do some work in my agency in Arizona. I was starting to run into online pornography issues, sexuality issues. And this was in 2006. So the Internet had been high speed, Internet was in homes. Now, at this point in the early 2000s. And you were starting now to see like the tsunami of online sexual betrayals starting to come into our offices, at least in my office. And this was in a rural community where there's no dirty magazine stores or strip clubs or nothing. This was like rural conservative community. But people were just blown apart their marriages with all this stuff. And I was like, oh, wow, this is definitely a problem. And I need I don't know what to do. I had training in marriage therapy and some other stuff, but I just I didn't have I wasn't equipped. So I reached out and got some training from the LIFESTAR network, from Damrey Toddles and those guys. Yeah. And they ended up saying, hey, we'll give you the rights, if you will, or the territory for southern Utah. And I moved out there, moved out to St. George and opened up a sexual addiction treatment program that I ran for 15 years.

[00:09:25] Wow. And I recently sold it. And but I'm that I really cut my teeth working with this population here in St. George. And Mark Chamberlain brought me on as a coauthor for his book a few years later. Kevin Skinner, I just started really connecting with a lot of these great therapists and mentors here in Utah, these guys that were doing some really great cutting edge work at the time and are still still doing great work. And it just was I just fell into this community of professionals and friends that were working with these issues and helping a lot of couples. And they have just. Come in over the years, and we've just been able to help so many people with pornography issues, sexual betrayal and fidelity, and then really learned how to put these marriages back together. Especially as I worked and did my training and emotionally focused couples therapy back in 2009 with Sue Johnson and her team. And so I just I just have had the opportunity and have been so fortunate to get great training, great mentors, great thought leaders. And we've just been able to do a lot of good things with these couples that are just looking for help, you know?

[00:10:29] Yeah. And again, and I think I don't think I even stress this enough at the beginning of this show. I loved being on your podcast so much. And we talked about some people that are navigating a faith journey. And we and then we ended up landing a little bit around the F.T. principles or about my battler's of a conversation. But so I feel like that is so important to have that framework. But what I feel like I, I would love to hear your thoughts on, and I think you've got such good ideas here on. So, you know, let's say we've got this framework to communicate, but how do we how do we start rebuilding trust? And I feel like that is the biggest thing that you see, especially when those couples come in and they just feel like they are in such crisis. And I don't know. What's that like for you? Where do you go first? What do you do?

[00:11:14] Yeah, that's the biggest reason why I built my trust building course and spent so much of my I wanted to really focus in on this because so many couples would come in and they would have a church leader or a loved one or themselves. Just think we just need to work on our marriage. We need to go on more dates and they're bleeding out. There's been a major betrayal, there's been a discovery, there's been some major infidelity or something. And the couple just is trying to now put back the marriage. But it's like putting back together something that it's like the pieces don't even fit. It's so shattered. And so it's like you just the things don't line up. And the couples is in trauma, one or both of them. And it's just very overwhelming. So you can't just start by pushing the marriage in front and trying to work on the marriage. It's another sort of way I've talked about this, is that when there's been a secret or a discovery of a secret. It's there's a big crater blowing in the ground. And so the one betrayed partner drops to a different level than the person who's had the information, had the had the upper hand in a way.

[00:12:16] And it's really critical for marriage therapy to work for marriage enrichment and these things we like to talk about with strengthening marriages. There's an assumption that the couple is on level ground to one degree or another. Ok. And so there has to be you have to backfill that crater and you have to do things to get that love that that relationship, get that person down in the hole, back up to level ground, because there's been such a huge violation. There's been such a power imbalance, a huge shift in the dynamic, in the relationship. So that starts with telling the truth, knowing exactly what's going on, safety, making sure there's healthy boundaries, making sure that that there's deep accountability from the person who broke the trust that they're they're actively serving in a role of trying to help the relationship, help the wounded partner. It's trauma. This is not just, hey, I have a bunch of needs. You have needs. Let's work on our needs together. It's not like that early on when there's a very Fermat trail like this. So that's where I start caino.

[00:13:18] I love it. And I would love to we could break down each one of those. And I'd love to get your thoughts. The part about telling the truth and maybe I'd love to get your thoughts, too, on the whole concept of I always say No. One, when they're going to confess or right after they got caught, let's say either of those situations, they don't say, all right, let's just take a time out before we say anything, you know, dumb. And a lot of times, that's where and right now I'll just say, let's say that's the guy that is the betrayer. Just the we we both work with men or women that have done that. But then they just at times, yeah, they're going to just unload and then. And tell me if you also see at first where people come into your office and the guy has he really has wanted to now say, OK, here's what's happened. But he's still working from this place. And this is where my first pillar of assuming good intentions of that, I still don't want to devastate my wife. So I'm going to tell her some things. But I really would just assume conscious or subconscious, tell her just enough so that she will understand. But then I don't want to tell her more. You know what I mean by that?

[00:14:20] Oh, absolutely. And a lot in this case, a lot of guys will will believe that they're doing this for their wife. But the truth, I believe, is that they're doing it to manage their own shame, their own. Yeah. They're so overwhelmed because they can't handle the reality of their own story. And so basically, they're oftentimes going to give her the light version. They're going to spotlight just generally the behaviors that are either already been discovered or the ones that they think she can handle. Exactly. Yeah. But where that needs to go is that he needs to have some time with his own story first, because he's been lying to himself about it. And before he can ever really do a full inventory disclosure, whatever you want to call it, I call it a form of disclosure before he can do that. He's got to have some practice telling his story to a therapist, to if he's in a group, just 12 step group or church leader, he's got to have practice reducing his own shame and internal reactivity around that story before he can pass it over in full truth and humility to his wife.

[00:15:22] That's I love the way you put that. I mean, because. Yeah, that's a that's so good, because then when he's trying to share some things, there is that shame. And I feel like oftentimes then he will then he will pull back, which I feel like it causes the wife to just want to know more or and I'm sure you see this often, too. But OK, now wife is now been hit with this this trauma, this devastation, and now goes back and starts asking more questions. And so if he only gave a little bit of the information to begin with. Ok, now. Sure. All right. He'll tell a little bit more thinking, OK, she needs to know a little bit more. But now what? Are we training her brain? Is that OK? He obviously didn't tell me the truth. And the more I dig now, I'll get the truth. And then we're starting to create this unhealthy dynamic.

[00:16:06] Yeah. Oh, yeah. The flow of the information is going the wrong direction. It's coming it's being pulled out of him versus flowing out of him. And she needs to know that he'll bring her the truth. And so a lot of these guys, again, they're caught up in their own shame. And so that can come that can come out in different ways. They can withhold and say less information, which is what we're talking about. Right. They can even like fire hoser with all their shame and guilt and tell her way more stuff than she needs to know. There can be he he can sometimes collapse into a heap of shame and feel like such a victim and like an awful person in some ways, expect her to take care of him.

[00:16:47] Exactly. Yeah, a little bit of victim mode and want her to rest

[00:16:51] And be all kinds of different ways. This will show up. And so telling your story, you would think it would be just straightforward. Just tell the truth, man. It's not that simple because you're dealing with a lot of that reactivity and shame inside of them that they have to manage in a. Healthy way, otherwise, they're going to overwhelm their partner and it's going to delay the trust building.

[00:17:12] So, Jeff, it's funny. I always say that what I literally just said to you, that no one is going to say, let me hit pause, let me go meet with somebody before I even express or we try to do this. But people listen to my podcast. That may be on the verge of saying, all right, I need to deal with this. I do need to confess something to my spouse. So what do you say? Do you say go see the therapist first? You do give a do you go and confess and then say, but before we go any further, we really need to do this the right way? I don't know. I've never asked this question. You're an expert. I mean, what are your thoughts?

[00:17:45] Yeah. Yeah, that is so tricky because you know, what you're asking them to do essentially is schedule a trauma. Right? You're basically. I know.

[00:17:53] Ok, yeah.

[00:17:55] You're like, OK. So I guess a couple of scenarios. One scenarios where somebody comes into my office and by themself and they've never told their partner, they pulled me aside and say, hey, I'm basically sitting on this huge secret. I've never told my partner, will you work with us as a couple or what do I do that I can count on one hand the amount of times that has happened in my career? It's super rare. And it happened recently, happened probably a year ago. And I had a client come in and she had never told her husband anything about any of this. And so I, I did not I worked with her for about four or five weeks, and we worked on her story. I helped her prepare disclosure. And then I actually had her go do it with him out in the desert, like they took a drive. I had to do it out there because I sense that he would be safe the way she described. She felt comfortable doing it. And it went really well. He actually it worked out fine because I didn't want to double team with her and have him feel double team that these two people were going to basically just dump this reality on him. And I didn't have be with him at all. I didn't know him at all. Wow.

[00:19:00] Oh, that's a really unique, rare way to. Yeah. So if you're listening to this and you're sitting on a bunch of secrets and you've never told your partner, it's important to go meet with a therapist and figure out what your options are, because dumping it on your partner can can cause a ton of unintended trauma. Yeah, this guy there, healing has accelerated because she came in and when she disclosed to him, she was very prepared. I had her totally ready to talk about it from a place of humility. She had all the things worked out, which she'd written it all down. It was organized. There was no drama. It was just like heartfelt and humble. And it went better than it could have gone if she had just blown it up. Wow. So that's one example. But the most common one is where somebody comes into my office and there's already been I would say this is ninety nine percent of the time. Yeah. And I just made that number up. But that's basically what I see as the pattern is the couple comes in and there's already been some kind of a discovery. Either he's confessed or she's confessed something, or there's been a discovery, totally unintended. And what we're doing now is I'm having to make a case with them and say, look. Do you believe that this is everything again? Most of the time it's no, I don't trust them.

[00:20:15] I discovered this much. They've only told me this much. So what I'll do next is basically say then we're going to structure form disclosure. You just disappear the truth completely one time versus dragging this out. And you need to have practice city with your story and really learning how to get deep into your heart. I'll do this over the course of a couple of meetings, but the vision of it is basically, OK, we're going to have a redo on this and we're going to do it correctly. It's going to like that. You came in with your came in with your like your duct tape and baling wire version of trying to fix this thing up. We're going to take all that apart and we're going to put in some anchors and some bolts and we're going to really lock this thing down so that you don't ever have to go through this process again, because otherwise it just becomes like a limp in the marriage for the rest of their life. Do I really know everything? Were they fully honest? How do I know we want to get rid of that? And have there be a rock solid assurance that, OK, I know everything. Now we're working on current stuff, not past.

[00:21:15] That's brilliant. That is. So then if I go back to that concept of being truthful, of telling the truth. How scared do you see people of that? Or again, I feel like sometimes when people get this thing off their chest, they want to just go back to now. Can we just go back to the way we were?

[00:21:31] Yeah, it's awful. Yeah. Telling telling the truth is so scary, especially when you're up against. Losing that secure bond with the other person, right, innately we just are so we're just constantly on guard against losing that, and we just were defenseless. And so we'll do almost anything, including manipulate somebody with lies. Yeah, that's how strong our commitment to security is. A lot of people think, well, they're doing this because they they don't respect me or care about me or they hate me. And it's no it's because I don't want to lose you. But it's a terrible it's a terrible outcome. It's not OK. So, yeah, telling the truth is terrifying. But again, part of what good recovery looks like for a couple is learning how to tell the truth first about the big behaviors. And they get practice through that disclosure process, but then they learn how to tell the truth just about, let's say, how they're feeling or what they want. Absolutely. Or what they need. And those can feel like secrets. I don't dare tell them that I'm lonely. I don't dare tell them I want that I want to have more sexual intimacy. I don't dare tell them that that hurts my feelings. And so they start to learn and practice telling the truth so that if they can tell the truth about that stuff down the road, it's less likely they're going to end up having other secrets that are much more consequential.

[00:22:50] Absolutely. And I feel like and I say this so often, but I want this I want to hear more from you today. But we're so afraid of contention that we avoid tension altogether, but that tensions where the growth can happen and that and. But where are you now that we're so afraid of any tension? Because what if what if they leave? What if what if this is too much? And and I feel like all they're closer than they think to where that that really can be an amazing growth opportunity. We're different. We're different people. We are. And I feel like this is where we get this chance to now have a relationship where there's legitimate curiosity because we can be different instead of that fear of like, I don't know if I'm too different, you know, they might leave.

[00:23:27] Absolutely. Yeah. And I think it takes a while to get there. I know even just my own twenty five year marriage, like the kinds of questions I'm able to ask now and the kinds of security we have, I wouldn't have had that the first 5 or 10 years. There's no way. And so with couples that are coming out of a betrayal or coming, you know, trying to rebuild safety first, they have to they have to know that it's not going to keep happening and they have to know that their partner is in deep accountability and remorse. They've heard everything. And then and then that that intimacy, that curiosity that you're talking about, being able to tolerate differences and ask for what you need and really kind of embrace a lot of disowned feelings and wants and needs and desires all that. And that's just good material to work. It is the rest of your marriage. That's to me, that's the gold and that. Yeah. And the couples that that avoid that stuff or shove it down, ignore it or shame it or criticize it like that. Just to me, they're missing out on what marriage was designed for, because my individual growth as a man has skyrocketed because of feedback from my own wife about. Absolutely. That if it weren't working for her and I have to look at myself and what I'm bringing in, man, it's just like dynamic and rich.

[00:24:38] Yeah, OK. I want to get to some trust things. I want to throw a theory out as I'm saying this, I might end up have to edit it out because it might go against the very marriage course. I'm trying to pitch. But I've noticed that, you know, in my mind, it's the people that have had the most success in in even my marriage course are those that have they've been through some things. And I have this vision where I would love to teach every young couple to. We don't. How about we get to the point where we don't have to go through so much and we learn how to communicate and be vulnerable and deal with tension and we can be different and that sort of thing. But as I almost want to say is I beta tested some of these principles on on newlyweds. And you kind of oh, you know, you need to express this or the assumption of good intentions or or don't tell them they're wrong or or questions or comments. They're like not it's really not a big deal. And that's where I want to say, OK, but but it's things are eventually going to become a big deal. How about we go out and start talking about him now? And I'm finding that it's the old people don't know what they don't know. Right. Yeah. Yeah, I don't know. We had to solve that one. We had to figure out.

[00:25:43] Yeah, I think I think I think it's experiential. And I and I think that we have to. I don't know. I just think that. The longer I live, the longer I do this with clients of my own marriage, stuff like that, I just don't want people to be afraid of embracing as much as I don't want people to, like, be betrayed sexually or some of them. Sure. We're talking about something's going to go wrong, right. Somebody is going to there's something's going to go sideways. There's going to be some hurt somewhere. And I just want people to know what to do with that when it shows up, whatever that is. And because it's experiential, like like the gut level, like nervous system instinct, response. I have the love, the connection I have with my wife that's been forged out of a lot of trial, a lot of heartache, disappointments, misunderstandings, even some betrayals that have been really damaging around in our own relationship, things that we had to work through early on that that were just so hard. And I would never be able to probably get that gut level instinct in those those kind of that rock solid commitment and some of these things that I feel today without that and I don't know that we need to like engineer those conditions for it. They're just you put two people together. Stuffs going to happen, man.

[00:26:59] It is. It is. And if they've got the framework and they they they're going to get the. So can you talk to me? And again, full authenticity and as you say, full disclosure. That's in my head. I kept I kept saying when we were trade messages about today, I like Jeff. You're the I want to know I want to hear you talk boundaries. But then as I would go deep, dove more into the material that you provide. You have this trust boot camp, this trust workshop. So and then when we jumped on before we hit record, I was saying, do we talk about trust? We talk about boundaries. And what are your thoughts on differences, similarities? Where do we go from here?

[00:27:31] Oh, man. Boundaries are are a lot of people think of boundaries. Just as for the person that has been betrayed, like, oh, I need boundaries to protect myself from from being lied to or being taken advantage over being abused or whatever. And absolutely like that's that to me is sort of like the obvious boundary stuff. But if you think about people that break trust, they have serious problems with boundaries. They they they are a lot of times they're self neglecting. They're not they're not even paying attention to their own needs and desires and stuff. And so there's there's they're crossing lines there. That could be like not getting enough sleep or not eating correctly. Just physical maintenance stuff. Yeah. Or it could even be flirting or other boundaries around other people or poor digital habits or the list of boundaries can go on. That could be like not saying no to stuff or taking on too much or having terrible work habits or people pleasing. So so boundaries to me are just the framework of how to live a really emotionally and physically and emotionally and spiritually healthy, balanced life. I don't I don't think you can separate out boundaries from almost any discussion, because that's what keeps us upright. That's what keeps us healthy and functioning. And that's how I believe boundaries are. What bring us joy.

[00:28:42] Yeah. No, I love that. I really do. I talk with the Preston Pug Maya, who helped me create this course. And we talk about the concept of presence and radiance and the flowing river and the riverbank or the the artwork and the picture frame or and so in that concept of a boundary, that we do need something to kind of keep things what's the right way to put it. So I don't know. So something can be more igby more structure to it. I don't know. So it doesn't just go everywhere. Right. I might add that I was get.

[00:29:15] Yeah, I'm not I'm not sure exactly like in terms of are you asking like I

[00:29:19] Like the idea of personal boundaries, because I feel like when I am just kind of all over the place and at times where I've said, oh, well, that's just my 8D, as I just did right there, or this is just the way I vibe. But when there's more of that structure in terms of personal boundaries, with regard, like you say, at a time of self care, saying no to things, basically all the last four or five things you just listed that then I do feel a lot more productive. I feel more connected. And so I really like that idea of starting with the personal boundaries. I really like that.

[00:29:51] Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I just know that a lot of a lot of the heartache and pain when I've put it on other people, like, well, that person's not give me what I need or this whatever. I have to look very clearly and see, like, have I even asked for it? Have I ever have I even set any clear expectations? Am I managing even my schedule or my time or my business? Am I am I am I showing up in a boundary, healthy, clear way? And when I do, I find that most people adapt and adjust and things go pretty dang well. But but when I'm not boundary, when I'm just chaotic and all over the place, then and I just invite so much trouble into my life.

[00:30:30] Hey, can I ask a specific question and tell me your thoughts on this? I appreciate when you were saying a lot of times we think about the betrayed is the one that then needs to set the boundaries, which I totally agree. Yeah, but I have had those times, or even when you put the betrayal trauma structure in place where the person who who the betrayer will kind of be there for the I'm going to be present. I'm going to be here for you and I'm going to left language, maybe the attachment injury, apologies, and I'm going to show you that I'm not going to go anywhere. But then when it continues to go at times and I've been trying to work with people to set that boundary to say, man, I, I, I'm here, but I feel like we're starting to get into some really unhealthy territory or unproductive conversations. And I don't know. Do you have any thoughts on that, what that boundary looks like for the betrayer without it feeling like they're just running away from a conversation?

[00:31:24] Oh, yeah. Yeah, that's a really sensitive one. I do talk about this and of course, I get into it specifically around even like what if the betrayed starts becoming abusive? Yeah. Yeah. What if what if they strike me verbally abusive or physically abusive in some cases, which I've had people get their nose broken or I've had or people just really get aggressive because they're so hurt. So does does the betrayer have any right to say, hey, that doesn't work for me? Or is that just part of them taking it because. Right, because they broke trust. So they should just take whatever is given to them. I think that obviously an extreme examples are Padilla's legal things, like physical violence or stuff like that. Of course, they need to be able to set boundaries and protect themselves. But when it comes to that, that line of do I have any rights to express my needs? The thing is, is that I believe everybody everybody's feelings are valid. Everybody's needs are totally legitimate. It's a triage thing. It's basically being able to say, if you're deep in your accountability, if you're deep in your your honesty around the impact you've had and you're listening to your partner talk about how hurtful that may feel, like you're being abused. But the truth is, they may just be sharing a lot of like, truthful, hurtful things about the impact you've had on them. And and for you to bail out of that and say like, well, I'm not going to hear that.

[00:32:41] I'm not going to be talked to that way, that would damage more trust. That's a problem. Yeah. And on the other hand, if the betrayed partner is saying things like UAF and this and that, and I hate your guts and I don't want to be like if there might be again, it's like climate versus weather, like if there's an occasional lightning bolt of that, you probably ought to just take it and have some compassion. But if it's the climate, if it's like it's like you've now moved into this, like really tumultuous, verbally attacking kind of aggressive climate that's just like that every single day in and out, every conversation that it's important to to basically describe this. Ok, this is a pattern. This is this is actually destructive for the betrayed to be there, obviously, in so much distress. I can't let this continue anymore. And I'm not going to do it from a place of self-protection as much as I'm doing it from place of I'm protecting the relationship I'm protecting. I like it or him. I protect like this is just unhealthy. So I think if it's coming from a place of self-preservation, in my experience, that's generally coming from avoidance. But if it's coming from a place of this is toxic, this is really damaging, we're not getting anywhere that's that's going to land a little differently. So that makes

[00:33:55] Soga. Oh, yeah, it makes so much sense. And so so that's you say that's Covered in your in your in your workshop and your course. Yeah, I love it. I know. I'm grateful. I'm grateful that that that is there, because I think that will give and I like it. But when I was even reading about your course, I think sometimes people just want to know that there is hope or there is a plan. Oftentimes, I feel like that's enough. To keep somebody engaged in the process, and so I liked it, if anybody is hearing this and they are the betrayer that just to know that, OK, yeah, it's normal for them to feel at times this is too much. And I and I love the climate versus weather. I really do. That's so good. So how do people start, in your opinion? Again, I want people to take your course because I want them because it's now sound like I'm doing the sales pitch for you. But it goes into so much detail. And I want people to be able that this is such a big topic that I think it needs more than 15, 20 minute discussion on a podcast. But in that vein of giving people hope, what do you what do you tell people as far as how to start rebuilding trust?

[00:34:53] Well, the the first place so are we talking to the person who broke the trust where they can start or the.

[00:35:00] I think the couple I would love to know, because I think. Well, I don't know. You tell me, where do you go with that?

[00:35:06] Well, there's there's kind of two we talk about. There's three that there's that there's two individual recoveries. Yeah. And then there's this couple recovery. Yeah. The couple recovery clearly depends on it depends on how well those individual recoveries are going. So if you have one person who is working really hard, so a lot of times you'll have the betrayed who's super motivated because they're hurting so badly. So they're they're motivated and they're they're coming. They're working and working. And then the person who's been unfaithful or betrayed, the relationship is being dragged in like that. Dynamics in terms of where to start. It's going to be hard to do any marriage stuff there, so we're we're going to start is we're probably I'm probably going to start working on help if both people are coming in. I'm probably going to split them a little bit and work a lot with just creating some safety and some containment with the betrayed so that they can just get their emotional bearings and get some safety and get some clarity about what's happened to them, what they need. A lot of the times they're in trauma, they're dealing with physical stuff.

[00:36:06] Sometimes if there's sexual betrayal, we have to make sure that they're safe, even go get an STD test. You think it can get really hard to try and help people feel safe and with the person who broke the trust. Early on, I'm just in a lot of ways, it's sort of like it's kind of like the old 12 step thing. It's like even just helping them wake up to the fact that they even have a problem. Yeah. And that's that a lot of the times they may come in just wanting to get this over with. And so what I'm wanting to do is help them settle in to the journey, help them settle into the benefits of rebuilding this thing from the ground up. And that's going to come from honesty, transparency, accountability, caring about and really recognizing that they are a source of comfort to their partner if they'll do this work. They're so in touch to the fact that they're a source of pain, but they don't realize that they're actually a huge source of comfort if they'll if they'll do the work.

[00:37:03] No, I love it. I do. And I feel like that helps people understand it again. There is a plan or there can be this structures, which means there is hope. So I almost like they're realizing the more I'm asking these questions, that they are a bit ambiguous. I feel like I'm almost asking what The Huffington Post seven things to rebuild trust and you'll never believe. Number four for kind of a thing. But I don't know if you have that kind of advice that you even give people or if if they're in this kind of a situation, it's so much more than just that. Really?

[00:37:29] Yeah. Yeah. I do have an acronym that I use in the course quite a bit, which is ACT, which is stands for accountability, compassion and time. And and those those principles for the person who broke the trust are critical that that it all comes back down to if they want to be a safe person, if they want to be a trustworthy person, they have to learn to live in accountability, not be afraid of that. Ok, and that's and that's that's going to show up in lots of forms. And I tell people all the time, look, there's no expiration date on your accountability. It's not like you can be accountable for the first six months. And then after that, you can't say to your partner, hey, you can't bring this up anymore because of that. Right? It's now you're accountable. If I betrayed my what I remembered, I first was married to my wife, like we were married like two weeks. And I totally hurt her feelings. It involved like my ex girlfriend. I ran into her on campus, didn't introduce my wife. My wife was sitting right there feeling stupid. It just the whole thing was such a mess. And I was so immature. And to this day, sometimes it will come up as even as a joke and laugh about it with other people or tell stories.

[00:38:31] And I'll seriously get back in the car and say to my wife, like, I know we're joking about that, but like, seriously, I'm just so sorry that that happened. That's just like, no, no brand new wife should have to, like, feel so stupid and humiliated. I'm so sorry. I still feel really badly about that. And that accountability. Twenty five years later is so important. And then and then the compassion, of course, is just caring deeply about the impact you've had in your partner, and that that compassion shows up everywhere. It's like I care about your pain and I will make sure that I am the kind of person that will sooth that, tend to it. That's proximity, closeness, softness, kindness. Like I'm just going to be a source of comfort for you. And then the time thing is it's not only it's going to take a long time, but it's just multiple times that there's going to be repeated over and over and over again. It's it's going to be like, yes, we've had this conversation before and we'll we'll have it again. And this might feel like a broken record, but the repetition is going to help you start to experience me as a consistent, safe person.

[00:39:37] So that is so good. Yeah. No, I mean, it came up at that part I love because I feel like and I'm sure you hear this often, too, where or how many times are we gonna have to go through this? And it's as many as you need to. And I love what you said so that I can show them that that I can be there for them. I can be consistent. And I love when you see in the scenario, let's say it's the guy again where they look at it like, oh, no, I know what to do with this. I'm grateful that she's expressing this trigger or this hurt, because I know what to do with this and knowing that the wrong thing is the look, we've already talked about it. When are you getting it over? It's absolutely the wrong thing. And I think there is that fear of, well, what if this goes on forever? And that's where I want to say, OK, what if but if we're doing the work each time, then we're not going to we're maybe not going to need to worry about that. Right. Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, I love it. So the the acronym is wonderful. So that helps a lot, too. So any other thoughts there? I feel like I feel like I had an aha moment about five minutes ago where it really isn't just these cliches. It's it's being willing to get in there and do the work and admit the things that you don't know, because no one's been through this process until they've been through the process. And so going in there with humility and not going in there with trying to tell their their spouse how they're supposed to experience this trauma, pain.

[00:40:55] Yeah, and I, I tend to not be very good at like acronyms and breaking things down into steps in general, it's just not one of my strengths. So I don't I don't I don't think like that, but. I also don't I also think that this trust building process doesn't play well to that, like you were saying, I think that what I want them to do is to tune in and settle in, to settle into a journey of of being curious and understanding the way that they've impacted their partner. Because if you start get into steps of like, well, do you do this and this and this and that happens, it almost it almost kind of creates this environment where the person who like you're almost kind of creating like a finish line. And I want to say like this is not the goal, isn't to like get through it. The goal is to integrate this into your story and have this become something that draws you both closer together so that you feel like you've overcome something together. Yeah. And instead of just like we got past that, never talk about it again, I think you're missing a huge opportunity for deep intimacy. Long term, it takes years, though, for people to really get there. And I want them to settle in for the long journey.

[00:42:02] And I love the concept of settling in. I love that where when people say, well, OK, but if we're still doing this in a year and I often want to just stop them and say we're that's the wrong that's the entire wrong parallel work from. Right. It's like I hope that they still feel like they can come to me and bring something up in a year, because I want them to know that we can have these conversations, because that's going to mean we can have all kinds of conversations. And I feel like that's that part where people don't even understand what that relationship can look like because they didn't see it modeled maybe growing up. And they certainly haven't had to be this honest and accountable until this happen, which is going back to what I think you and I were talking about. I want to create something that is going to make this happen. But, boy, when we when we got this opportunity, it's kind of let's do this. I wanted to throw I want to random train of thought, but I do a lot of my podcast talking about marriage.

[00:42:52] And I've been talking so much lately about interdependent versus codependent then. And so we're interdependent. And we're and then when you're differentiated, where one person ends, the other begins. And and when we're breaking free from this enmeshment or this codependence, and as we become differentiated, it will come with some invalidation. And I think that's where that uncomfortable place is. And that's where I feel like and here's where I'm going with this, is I feel like what we're talking about is I will have people sometimes say, oh, wait a minute, if I might. If we're interdependent and we're differentiated, then that sure doesn't sound like a marriage. And that's what I'm saying. We don't even know what that looks like is that is safety and that's curiosity. And now we're going through the life one through our life, being able to say, hey, what do you think about that? And we're processing emotion as as a couple. And and that is just something that is beautiful. But people don't know what that even looks like until they're there. Do you know anything about that?

[00:43:43] Yeah. Yeah, yeah. It reminds me that quote and I'll paraphrase it from Anthony DeMello, who basically said something like, We don't really love people. We love the idea of people. Right. We love the idea of what we think they should be. And that's that's that lack of differentiation. That's yeah. Basically, in my own marriage, like I like I can honestly say I did not love my wife. In a mature love when I first married her at age 22. Yeah. I love the idea of her. I love the idea of a wife and who I thought she was. But as I've gotten to know her, I've had to confront a lot of things that are very different than how I do things. And and and that challenge, if she were just to kind of like mold into the version of what I thought she should be, I'd be a very unhappy person. And I think she would, too. And so, yeah, the richness is in. To me, it's like endless curiosity, if you ever wonder, like a lot of couples, like we have nothing to talk about them all. Oh, but if you're both like really healthy individuals and you have things going on and opinions and thoughts and things that you're interested in exploring and preferences. Oh, that's given me all the material I need to talk about with my wife.

[00:44:52] More getta so good. And I feel like I love what you're saying because I feel like I thought we will hit thirty one years of marriage here in just a month or so. Awesome. And I and I but it's the last even few that the more of that there is that differentiation. My wife wife's dress a little bit more stylish. You might wear a little more jewelry or things that I know that in a less mature version of that I talk to guys all the time are like, well, geez, well, why are you wearing that? Versus, Oh, man, I love this. Tell me more like tell me, tell me. That's right. Oh, and and it breaks my heart to think if there was a part of her that felt like she can't be herself because of the fear of well, I don't know if Tony's going to like it or not. And that's that part where I feel like people don't even know what that looks like to say, oh, this is different, but tell me more or not. Well, this is different. What what's this all about? And it's a whole different energy

[00:45:38] Partner as an individual that exists. And I think we get married. I know I did. A lot of couples get married because of how that person makes you feel. Yeah, we we talk about it like oh, they're amazing because they make they make me feel so loved or me, me, me, me, me egocentric. But yeah, I think I think mature love is really about it's like we do with our kids. Like we don't want them to just be like carbon copies of us. We want to really get to know them and figure out what their journey is. And I just feel honored that my wife wants to take her journey with me.

[00:46:09] Oh, that's so good. That's so good.

[00:46:11] Yeah, chose me to have it with.

[00:46:13] No, thank you for the laugh. Now, like I know what our next topic will be. I'd love to go deep into the differences in marriage or differentiation next time with spouses or mature relationships. I could talk to you about that all day, too. I love that. I really do. I do. Ok, this is better than I even imagined. Jeff, so thank you so much. And then so awesome. It is. I want people to go take your course. So tell them where to go. That always sounds funny to me. Tell where to go, Jeff. Tell them tell me where to get your course. And then that you've been very kind to give them my my people, my people a code. So, yeah. Where do they go?

[00:46:45] Yeah, I might. I definitely want your your listeners to to access the course. And there's a 15 percent off coupon. Virtualcouch15. Thank you, Virtual Couch. Just put that in at check in and save you 15 percent on the course. But yeah, it's it's it's a it's a 12 week course. One lesson or one module per week. And there's like four or five, three or four lessons inside each module with videos and worksheets. And and then as part of the course, I offer a one year question answer live monthly webinar with me where you can get on it. That's good. And connect with me and and get additional support, because I know it takes longer than 12 weeks. I just do the lessons over 12 weeks. And then you can have a year to kind of work things out and get get support. But yeah, you can just go on my website, just your dot com if you don't know how to spell my name, which is really hard to spell. You can just go to from crisis to connection. That's another website and you'll see it on there under courses.

[00:47:38] What I'll have I'll have links to everything, too. And I really do mean it. The the I don't I don't know if you've gotten a lot of feedback, but I now point people who are struggling with faith. I mean, even talk about that. But that's what I loved talking with you about, that. We we covered stages of faith. We covered faith journeys. We covered as I've been pointing people that are coming to me for that to your podcast, because I just I appreciated your you've been answering all the questions. Amazing here. But you're you're an amazing interviewer as well. And you've been getting a lot of pretty darn amazing guests on your podcast as well. So I highly recommend that, too.

[00:48:10] Yeah. No, it's it's fun. I love podcasting.

[00:48:13] Yeah. So we will do it again soon.

[00:48:16] I look forward to it, man.

[00:48:17] And I cannot believe you did. Therapy. Communication brings the whole thing. Just I don't know what we'll find out next, but I can't wait. So. All right, Jeff, thank you so much for coming on.

[00:48:26] Hey, thanks, Tony.

Tony talks about processing betrayal trauma with Brannon Patrick. Brannon Patrick is an expert in the field of Betrayal Trauma, and he plays the role of "the Expert" in the popular podcast "The Betrayed, The Addict and The Expert." His podcast follows the recovery journey of Ashlynn and Coby, a couple who have been able to move forward as a result of the pain of betrayal and addiction. Brannon has developed several group systems and programs for addiction recovery. He has specialized training as a Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist (CSAT) which has helped him learn how to treat sexual addiction and betrayal trauma. Brannon is also trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Brannon is the co-clinical director and owner of TherapyUTAH and he has developed several programs to help individuals, and couples, heal from betrayal, as well as addiction.

This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to https://www.tonyoverbay.com/courses-2/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help.

Tony's new best-selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo

Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program The Path Back by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs, and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript click here https://descript.com?lmref=v95myQ

---------- TRANSCRIPT ----------

[00:00:00] Hey, everybody, welcome to a very special bonus episode of The Virtual Couch. I'm your host, Tony Overbay, licensed marriage and family therapist. And the very quick reason why you're seeing this bonus episode is it really did kind of come out of nowhere. And it's because I'm a couples therapist, a marriage therapist, and at any given time, I'm working with several couples or individuals who are working through betrayal or the concepts of betrayal, trauma or a recently discovered addiction or infidelity, you know, acting out sexually outside of a marriage. But often when I get this new couple or a new person and they come into my office and they open up about what they're going through, they they often feel so alone. You know, they feel broken. They feel ashamed. They feel embarrassed. If it's the spouse, the the betrayed, they can feel so angry and blindsided and like their entire world has been just ripped out in underneath their legs, then they are trying to make sense of things. Sometimes they go back and look through their entire marriage and they wonder if if anything has been true. You know, they feel these intense feelings of shame or feeling like they are less than or and all of these are such normal feelings and addictions that people are going through. And on this side, excuse me, of the person that is, is the world safer, the betrayer, they're they're really excuse me. There is a deep need to try and control the situation. I mean, psychologically speaking, that is something that we we do a little bit as humans as we want to maintain control.

[00:01:26] We're so afraid that if we don't have control that that, again, our entire world is going to fall apart. And and on that note, I mean, how does it feel when you're under somebody else's control and it doesn't feel good? And this is the thing I talk about often, the concept of reactance where, you know, it's really the desire to do the opposite of something that's been prescribed to us by others or something that we're told that we're supposed to do or should do. Yeah, nobody likes to be shown on. For example, if you attempt to control your spouse's diet, you might be met with a, you know, increase the consumption of unhealthy food just to spite you. And and I was reading and putting some pieces together for a future podcast about control. But really coming up on this concept, this is why in adult relationships, you can either have control over others or you can you can have love, but not both. And in love. It is such a fundamental need, this desire to connect, this desire to love. It's such a fundamental need to us that. So then being overly controlling isn't isn't good. I mean, there's there's not really anything that we can pull from that that is going to be healthier, productive, yet we continue to do it so often. So anyway, back to this bonus episode. So I just I often refer to this episode and it's now been a couple of years since I did this episode with and Patrick on the trail trauma. And and I thought it just needed a little bit of a refresh and needed to get it back up into the list of the podcast so that I can refer to it a little easier.

[00:02:49] But the podcast, BRANOM Patrick is a pretty amazing therapist. He's a good friend. He's the host of the podcast The Betrayed, the Addicted and the Expert, which has done so much good for so many people. If you happen to be a listener of that podcast, you'll know that they've they've been through some pretty big things recently. The couple, Ashley and Kobe. And I'm mentioning this because you'll hear of the podcast and those names mentioned, I think, in the beginning when Brandon and I are are given out his background. But they they've gone through a lot similar fact that went to their show notes. And here's here's what they had shared in a recent episode. They said that when we started this journey, we had no idea where it would lead. And although we've never taken a stand as to what should happen with a relationship after infidelity, they were striving to keep theirs together. And they've done years of this podcast. And they said today's announcement was incredibly difficult, highly concerning for you, our audience. And we feel it was time to open up with a most intimate challenge that they've reached a place to share. Finally, they say that they still believe in the principles they've taught in the podcast. But on this recent episode they had led Kobie had led by saying that he has decided to, quote, uncouple from Ashlynn.

[00:03:55] So I just want to put that out there because I will mention the podcast with Brandyn. And it is about betrayal, trauma. And it just shows you that that, you know, relationships can go in a lot of different directions. But the the concepts, the principles that Brandon and I talk about in this episode of how to work through or handle betrayal, trauma and how to truly try to use all of these things to be for your good to be able to say, OK, that's almost like some acceptance of here's what we're here's where we're at. Here's what we're dealing with. And it doesn't work to tell somebody to not worry about it or just get over it or, you know, the person who often is the one that discloses or who opens up. They may feel a sense of relief of being able to get that off their chest. But you've got an entirely you've got a different person. You've got another person that is part of this equation. And they're the ones that are now dealing with some of these intense feelings, these feelings of betrayal. And you'll hear and hear we talk about how betrayal, trauma really does have a lot of similarities of PTSD. You know, this complex post-traumatic stress disorder, there's triggers. There's. They are staying very much in their midbrain and their amygdala and reacting to the fight or flight response, so we're going to cover all of that today. And I feel like that's the main reason I wanted to do this bonus episode. And so just kind of get right to it.

[00:05:27] His name is Brandon Patrick. He is the host of the very popular podcast that betrayed the addicted and the expert, and he does play the role of the expert on the podcast, along with Ashlynn and Coby. And I have been I've had many, many clients. That is no exaggeration. Ask me if I was familiar with their podcast and I go into a little bit of this with Brandon, but I first did the thing where I was a little bit jealous. I was like, hey, I've got a podcast to you know, we sit right in front of me and realize that it's not all about me. And their podcast is incredible because it is on the subject of betrayal, trauma. And speaking of these, Instagram Q&A is one of those that I get often is can you please do an episode on betrayal trauma? I have done some certification, some training in the world of betrayal, trauma, but it's not something that I am doing well, I really am doing every day. But but it's not something that I'm doing eight clients a day. And so they do enjoy working with betrayal, trauma. I feel like a pretty knowledgeable in the world of betrayal, trauma, but I really wanted to bring someone that is an expert in betrayal, trauma on to talk about this. And that expert is Brandon Patrick. So he is a dynamic leader in the betrayal, trauma, addiction recovery community. And he has some online programs. And he's also the co clinical director and owner of Therapy Utah. And in his bio, he talks about this and he says that he's treated almost every kind of addiction in every setting. And he started by working on an inpatient psychiatric unit, spent years gaining experience in an intensive outpatient setting. And so he's received a lot of specialized training in addiction, recovery and betrayal, trauma, recovery.

[00:06:54] And so I really do feel like you are going to enjoy this interview. It's dealing with a heavy subject material, the concept of betrayal, trauma. But but Brandon is just a is a really easy to talk to person. That's why I said I got a new best friend. Now, he and I turned the mix on a little early this morning. We recorded it pretty early and it was twenty minutes later. We were still talking. And I realized, man, I got to start recording because I had a client coming up a little bit later. So I feel like we we could have talked for days and I can't wait to have him on again. But he's also developed a lot of groups and programs for addiction recovery. He does have specialized training as a certified sexual addiction therapist assistant. And and he also is trained in MDR, which is eye movement desensitization, desensitize, easy for you to say, desensitization and reprocessing, and as well as dialectical behavioral therapy, DBT and cognitive behavioral therapy. And those are significant. I would love to get him on and talk about MDR, DBT. Those are both very important therapeutic modalities for different things that come up in therapy. But today we are going to talk about betrayal, trauma and and we talk about this at the end. But if we didn't answer your questions or if you have questions from the podcast, please send them to Contact@tonyoverbay.com. And I would love to use those to have a chance to get them back on the podcast, and I highly recommend visiting it. Go listen to their podcast. He is the expert on the betrayed, the addicted and the expert. All right.

[00:08:15] Without any further ado, let's get to my interview with Brendan Patrick.

[00:08:25] So, yeah, I will

[00:08:26] Just send incredibly nice things about you, by the way. So I would love to give a little bit. First of all, you're in Utah, correct?

[00:08:32] Yeah, yeah. I'm in Highland

[00:08:35] Highland, so I grew up there. Did you did you go up there? High school?

[00:08:38] I grew up in Sugarhouse.

[00:08:41] So a high school. Do you go to

[00:08:42] High school,

[00:08:43] Highland? All right. I was an alcoholic.

[00:08:45] Oh, really nice. Yeah.

[00:08:47] But I think I'm probably old enough to be your dad, so I don't know if that's.

[00:08:49] I doubt it.

[00:08:52] So I would love to get in. First of all, I'm a big fan of your podcasts and and I feel like it's one of those things where I kept having people ask me if I had heard about your podcast to the point of where at first I was little bit annoyed. I was saying I would be like, hey, I got a podcast too. And I'm like, OK, fine, I'll listen to the Brands podcast then. It's OK. I'm hooked now. So podcast is a betrayed the expert. How long have you done the podcast and how did you what led to that.

[00:09:16] We've done that for two and a half years. It was really interesting how it started. I met Ashley and Coby. They were just starting off in their recovery journey. They had done a video that went viral about their story. They're just really open. And I had been treating betrayal, trauma for a while, maybe eight years. By then. I had worked under people. I had worked so many different places. I knew what worked and what didn't work. I could see it working with Ashton and Kobe. And I just thought, man, we need to come together and I can bring my expertize and talk about recovery and what really works for healing for a couple through them, they can share their story. So people will connect to that, really relate to it. And we we didn't know what we were doing. We had a little snowball mike on an island. We started that way. And really we didn't need fancy technology and stuff. The story held its own. And yeah, we just we hear things like, you know, your podcast has been one of the most instrumental things for our recovery.

[00:10:17] And I like what you say, too, when you're talking about you saw their video and you did you recognize things that they weren't doing that would really help in their recovery?

[00:10:25] Yeah. So it's interesting when I talk to ASIMCO because I'm not their therapist, OK, which I think is a good thing. I'm actually really good friends with their therapist. But as we talked, I could tell early on they were learning stuff from what I was saying as well. OK, it just goes to show recoveries. It's not a thing where you arrive one day. They were further along than a lot of couples. They were out of the crisis mode. They were moving forward in terms of connection and intimacy. Yeah, they still have some work to go and yeah, they'll always have work to go. And yeah, they were learning a lot from me and we can recapture that on the podcast. You guys talk

[00:11:05] About you talk about difficult subjects too. And I'm really curious. I want to get to the betrayal trauma part. But is that hard or do you guys have planning meetings of OK, do we want to touch this one or is anything off limits or are you excited about the difficult topics

[00:11:17] The week we want, the difficult topics we gravitate toward, that we really try hard not to plan too much. And the reason is because because we're all about authenticity and vulnerability and so we don't have it scripted out. It really is a conversation. We throw a topic out there and we just break it down. And yeah, there's some interesting topics that we hit and we've gotten some backlash. What? Yeah, let's talk about there's a I think there's a battle within the battle when it comes to betrayal. Trauma. If I can give you just a little history, please do. That'll be great. So there is so when I first started treating this years ago, it was this codependency model, the Coatex, the. And it really felt blamey toward the spouse. Bahbah Steffen's came out with her book, You're Sexually Addicted Spouse, which was really important. And then just a way it started happening of we're not going to call it codependency. That's not what it is. It is betrayal, trauma. And I really appreciated that because it took the blame away from the spouse. But there's another side to it and it's gone to this place. But there's betrayal, trauma, and then there's this abusive, horrible monster addict. And know, Tony, I've been called a man hater and I've been called somebody who doesn't sympathize with the betrayed. And I'm neither I think we can have compassion for both sides. And so when Ashton and Kobe talk action, Kobe and I talk about things like we did an episode about what do you attract to your life, like the law of attraction.

[00:12:55] Yeah. And we got a lot of backlash about that one because they're like and we were talking about the betrayal and we're saying we want you to self reflect, to really look at how is how have you attracted certain things into your life. And we're not blaming, but what we do want is to empower them to really move forward with the power that they have and not just stay stuck in a victim place of I've been hurt. I've been betrayed. That that. Pain is real, that the hurt is real, the betrayal is real, but and this is it's like I was running a group and this woman I'd worked with for a long time and I had a lot of rapport with her. And then she said, well, am I just supposed to forgive my husband? I said, you could. And I realized forgiveness isn't something I throw out there, like, so quickly. Yeah, I said you could. That's up to you. And she said, oh, he did all these things to me. And I'm just expected to forgive him. And I said, look, I'm not telling you what you should or shouldn't do, but if you want more peace and happiness and you want to move forward, then that's up to you and that's your responsibility to figure out how to forgive him. And there are some. There are some therapists, there's some platforms out there that really drive home, stay the victim if you're betrayed and consider him a monster as the addict and doesn't help a couple move forward through.

[00:14:28] I did. I don't go on often. I did the things I did his Instagram post on positive regard toward your spouse. And I was just I was quoting Brene Brown and saying, look, the life you blessed the most when you have positive regard toward other people is your own. And I got all of these. It was interesting because on my Instagram, I have a lot of people who follow me because of betrayal, trauma. And I have a lot of people who follow me just because they like the relationship stuff that I do, the the people who don't have the betrayal, trauma, they thought, that's awesome. Yeah, I appreciate that positive regard to the people who have been indoctrinated. And I'm not saying everybody with betrayal, trauma indoctrinated with he's just a monster. I hated that post and they said that's really dangerous for you to to say to have positive regard toward my spouse. And my response to that was I'm not going to back down. Positive regard toward your spouse is a good thing. It doesn't mean that you don't have boundaries with him. It doesn't mean that you're at risk of getting hurt more. So, yes, you can approach your recovery and recovery with your relationship from a place of compassion for yourself. First and foremost, have your own boundaries and then for your partner. And that's what actually works for healing for a couple.

[00:15:49] So because you don't like when people the betrayed and that example, you feel like the fear is that if I then give him positive regard or I say, OK, I forgive you, what I hear often is then the betrayed feels like, OK, so now he's off the hook and he will go back to doing whatever he was doing. And all of this was for nothing. And it doesn't matter anymore. Do you hear

[00:16:09] That it comes down to the the fundamentals of real recovery, which it because. Absolutely, Tony, what you just said is the fear. If I if I don't control this through my anger and I fear here, then I'm worried that I'm going to get hurt again. Yeah. And the thing is, I get this question like, how do I know what when he's in recovery? And I just say, you know it, if you let him off the hook, he still needs to man up and work his own recovery. He still needs to create that trust with you and your anger and your fear in no way is driving that recovery. Let me drive. That recovery is his internal motivation for change. And that's what will get him into solid recovery. And when you know that that's there, then you can really back off of that that anger and that fear, that anger, that fear. It's interesting, Tony, because I don't want to say you shouldn't have it, because I what I do want to say from anyone who's been betrayed is having is totally normal and valid and and anybody would have those feelings. But what I hope is that whoever is listening can understand is having it is something you need to process and work through and learn from and solidify your own self so that you can become stronger. It's not something that that works to to turn into force for his recovery. Yeah.

[00:17:43] Oh, it's so good. And I do feel like I don't want to I want to hear your I wanna hear you more. I don't want to. I feel like I want to echo but I feel like I often say that. And I'm a big fan of acceptance and commitment therapy. And that acceptance part is the all of the situations in your life that brought you to that moment, caused you to feel the way you feel. And if you didn't feel that way, then there would be something off. And so perfectly OK to feel that way.

[00:18:04] Absolutely. I always say don't shoot on your feelings. Every emotion is valid. Every single emotion that any person has ever had in this universe is valid because it's real to them. And so absolutely, if and the first stages of recovery for somebody who's been betrayed, if they've been isolated and alone and those feelings are really important that somebody says we get it and it's OK that you feel that way.

[00:18:33] Where do you I like where you're going with the kind of talk more about what do you do when you go fundamentals of betrayal, trauma, or when you have somebody that comes in for the first time, or are there some things that somebody is going to be listening right now? They've heard the term. They aren't doing anything about it. What do you say?

[00:18:47] Yeah, so first thing is what I just said is to let them know that what they're feeling is OK, validated and validation comes through empathy from the therapist part. It also comes through education when you educate them and they're like, oh my gosh, that's us. That's me. That's yes, yeah. Education, empathy also validation comes from. Support from other people, so things like group. I'm a huge believer in group, especially for the betrayed and the addicted, but both that's the first thing. So through that education, then we start to really outline what real recovery is. And what's interesting, Tony, is most people come in and they think he's acting out pornography and masturbation or he's had an affair or whatever it is, and that behavior needs to stop. So we need to stop that behavior and we dig in and there's symptoms like acting out everywhere, but there's roots to that. There's real problems there. And the women who decide to work their own recovery, they go through a process of self discovery and change and healing unlike any other. And what they realize is that his addiction really has propelled them. And it's a huge blessing in their life. They learn how to. Rework their relationship with God. They learn how to really know who they are, have healthy boundaries, learn how to be authentic, learn how to deal with conflict, they learn how to be empowered in doing what they want to do with their life and be more honest. And why do they learn all this? Because he had an addiction, because the best way that they can protect themselves is by being as healthy as they possibly can be. And so, Cindy, I'm sorry, that was my daughter.

[00:20:48] So when I feel like that's that part where and I've said this in the with couples therapy as well a lot, where you can't wait almost to get to that point where no one ever wants something like betrayal, trauma to be in their marriage. But then at the end, it is almost hard to say, man, are you in a better spot now?

[00:21:06] Yeah. And you know what? It doesn't require both people working recovery for that to happen. Some of my divorced women say that very thing. It led them to their work, led them to their divorce, but their divorce was a result of them getting healthy. And it's awesome when both people work their recovery and they're both equally committed to their own individual recovery. And then the relationship just thrives. The intimacy becomes so much more than it ever was because they're both so getting so healthy.

[00:21:39] Before we get too far off of the support, too, can I just ask you your theory? Are your opinion on. Because I love when people they find a group and they get their individual help. But I do refer to I call the peanut gallery. I mean, do you find that a lot of they go to a friend and then the friends are giving this? Here's what you need to do kind of advice. What do you see that and what do you do with that?

[00:21:58] Yeah, so there's a difference between good support and bad support. And one of the main differences is this is bad support will feed and fuel a victim mentality and and they'll fuel they'll encourage you to stay stuck and but still supportive because it feels so validating and you get me and he sucks and these horrible and I'm just stuck and this is awful and good support will totally empathize. Hear you out and reflect back your emotions, explore them with you, allow you to feel what you're feeling. But good support will also be honest with you and push you and hold you accountable and care about you moving forward. And so some groups you go to can be really detrimental if they feel that victim mentality. Some groups can be really awesome if they if they are honest with you and will push you to move forward. So, yeah, that definitely exists. The peanut gallery thing. Absolutely.

[00:22:59] So do you find that most of the people that you work with are people where the the addict is willing to be a part of the treatment? Or do you find that you're seeing a lot of people where the addict is a you can go get help? But I told you I'm not going to do it anymore.

[00:23:14] I'd say just off the top of my head. I'd say about 70 percent, the addict is willing to engage in treatment as well. Now, there's a difference between I guess let's talk about willingness. Sometimes that's compliance and that's really destructive to the relationship. OK, what that is, is I'll go because you want me to go. I'm only here for you. My heart's not in this. I'm just trying to avoid you leaving me. So I'll go as compared to I'm going because I like I'm into this, I'm healing. This is I'm proactive in my own recovery and I'd say maybe 50 percent. But it goes both ways. I have some couples I work with where he's totally engaged and she's resistant and she doesn't want to move forward, which sounds crazy, but it's just such hard work and there's a lot to face. And and so she's caught up in fear and blame and she doesn't want to work moving forward. So I see both sides of it.

[00:24:14] Yeah. You feel like in those scenarios, that one you just described, when she feel when there comes the disclosure, the day, the moment where she finds out there's such that shock that it's that, look, this isn't my problem. This is your problem. Why would I need to do anything about it? You run into that.

[00:24:29] Oh, absolutely. And there's there's some truth to that. But it's one of those things. If somebody took a sledgehammer to my leg like they did, that they need to fix that. But now I'm now I'm stuck with a shattered leg. And so I'm going to need to do some rehab on that leg. But, yes, I hear I hear that all the time. I also when I run but trail trauma groups for the first time, sometimes women will come in really eager and ready to go, like, yes, I'm ready for this. A lot of times I'll come in and before I even say a word, they'll start crying or be really emotional. And it's like, oh, my gosh, I can't believe that I'm here. I can't believe this is what our marriage has come to. And so it's that they want to stay in hiding because it's a hard thing to face and tell them whether they're like it. Good for you. It took so much courage for you to come today, and then I make it safe for them there. But absolutely, it's hard. It's hard for them to engage sometimes.

[00:25:30] Do you think that some of the fears are around? They don't want to hear that their spouse try to blame them, maybe the addict or they don't want to hear that they were I don't know, whatever is going to come out. I am saying you are missing signals or I felt you were withdrawn or that you feel like that could be a problem.

[00:25:46] Well, sometimes, Tony, the truth is a lot of the women have been to therapists or church leaders or really do push back the blame onto them. Yeah, they don't want to hear that anymore. They're told that they haven't had sex enough or they've been there like that. That's the last thing I need from a professional or somebody who I don't trust help. And so why would I go get help?

[00:26:08] I'm going to isolate, isolate that audio clip. That one has got to be played over and over because I feel like nothing is more detrimental than having someone come into my office. And you do sense that hesitation and you find out that they have sat with a bishop or someone that said, well,

[00:26:21] Well, what what was your

[00:26:22] Role and or how long? How many how often were you having sex? Or and it just as a part where I want to pause the session, go

[00:26:30] That or story. It was like two weeks after D-Day. This bishop was talking to this couple and he turns to her and he says, hey, have you forgiven him? Two weeks, two weeks. There's no. And he says, well, then I'm going to need your temple recommend for her. For her, that's an extreme right. But stuff like that. Come on. And yeah, they're a little reticent to come in and have somebody tell them what is and tell them it's.

[00:26:59] I feel like that's that speaks to and I love that people are going to hear this and that they're going to resonate. They're going to say, OK, I don't know. He told me he's not going to do it anymore. I'm probably OK. I'm listening to a couple of podcasts and I'm good. But what do you say to them? And I totally want to meet the client where they're at. Don't get me wrong. Absolutely. But what do you say to the people listening right now? They kind of feel like, OK, good advice. Noted, but but I think I'm OK.

[00:27:20] Right? Well, and again, if that's where you're at, that's where you're at. And at least you're listening to this and. Yes, but such a crucial part of recovery is connection, OK? And it's just so powerful when when you can connect with other people who are in your similar situation. And I think the reason why it's so powerful is because it takes so much resiliency and vulnerability to go out and do that. You get a benefit from it. And so connection and education are really important. And so you can get your education behind the curtain, so to speak. Yeah, connection. You got to put yourself out there a little bit. And so I would highly encourage that. Yes, you do. You do go to a group, you meet with a therapist, you find a mentor or a sponsor, somebody that that you can talk openly with about where you're at.

[00:28:11] So, again, somebody that knows what betterhelp.com is not somebody that says, no, I'm sure I can figure it out or I'll Google it or.

[00:28:17] Absolutely. Somebody who really understands the trail from

[00:28:20] Yeah, and now I feel bad cause I feel like we're about to jump now. I have a I don't know, I have a zillion questions. So are you OK if we call this the all over the map section?

[00:28:28] Ok, good.

[00:28:29] So a couple of things. You said it and I don't even I was going to frame this with here's a hard question, but it's random, so I don't even have to. These are lay offs for you, I'm sure. But do you have advice for for D-Day, for disclosure and where and I'll frame it very quickly with I will have people that will they get caught or they finally decide, OK, I'm going to tell my spouse that I'm addicted or I've had an affair. And they may be Googling and it just says, hey, tell them everything. And so then then they go in and. Right. I'm going to be open about everything. And then it just causes this concept of staggered disclosure. The guy feels so relieved that he confessed or give advice. What do you say about that disclosure?

[00:29:06] A couple of things. So there's a difference between day and and like a formal disclosure. Yes.

[00:29:13] Ok, what about that?

[00:29:14] So day is when it just busts open, she finds something. It's like I was meeting with recently. I met with somebody and they found condoms in the backseat of his truck. And it just led to this conversation, to that boom. All of a sudden her whole world was different. Right. That's a formal disclosure is when you sit down and you lay things on the table and it's a chance to just flush it all out. And so if I were in the position of having a big thing to tell my spouse and knowing that it needs to be disclosed, this might sound a little weird, but I would go to a therapist first. I get some guidance, talk through some things. The way you disclose is really important and you can do so much damage to the foundation and the trust in your marriage, not because of the act. Now, the act itself did damage. Yes, yes. But the way that you come out with it and this is staggered disclosure, this trickle out effect, justifying it, rationalizing it, minimizing it in any way, it creates this thing where she feels like, well, thanks for telling me, but now I just don't know what I don't know.

[00:30:22] Absolutely. So I'm going to ask a lot of questions and I'm going to think about it. I'm going ask more questions. And and then if you weren't consistent with your story, then you must be lying. And now how do I trust you on anything?

[00:30:31] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, exactly. And the thing is, is the natural thinking, I think, for most people is this I'm going to tell her enough. So she thinks I'm being honest, but not too much because it's too uncomfortable. Yeah. And this is really tricky. And this is why working with the therapist is important, because the other side of it is telling her every last detail is also not good. And so. Well, are you telling me there's a difference between telling her what is what happened, what you can say? Yeah, I've looked at pornography five days a week for the last two years. That's one thing going and saying. I've looked at pornography with this type of woman and this size in this hair color and now you're just planting so many triggers in her head. I've had an affair is different. Then I met with this woman at this restaurant and we ate this meal. And now you're just planting triggers in her head. So don't avoid scary hard things, but also don't overdo it and plant a bunch of triggers in her head. Is that that makes sense?

[00:31:44] Yeah, it does. And I love it. And it's funny that you say so that I want to and I would love to spend some time on triggers and the whole kind of PTSD symptoms. And that's why. But I met with somebody recently who it was a guy who was struggling with marriage and thinking of divorce and that sort of thing. And then that one, of course, I say go meet with the divorce attorney and get all of your data and have questions and get everything together before you present. This is I want the divorce or so what you're saying. We need to get that in our field of going meet with a therapist and have a list of questions and have your game plan. And it's not for me because I want to manipulate her or I want but it's I care about her and I want to do this. Right.

[00:32:25] Absolutely. I love that. The thing is, it's not to manipulate her. It's for you to to gather information because you care about her.

[00:32:34] Yeah, because I like what you're saying. It can come from a great place when a guy finally said, OK, fine, I'll tell her everything. But and this is what I love about your podcast, because you guys talk about this stuff real. And I do find at times that I'm kind of still on the you know, well, I want to have people come to these conclusions and things on their own. And I don't want them to feel like I'm shooting on them or. But what I love what you're talking about is I'll go. The one I hear often is objectification, for example. So if a guy is just dumping everything I like where you're saying there's these specific triggers and that he's planted it, then I'll hear a woman say, wait, have you ever looked at my friend and thought about her? And then he's like, OK, I just Googled. I got to be super honest. Yes, I have, you know. What have you ever looked at this girl and this one? And then it's like now she is living in a. World of triggers, and he felt like he was doing the right thing, right? Don't you ever get those?

[00:33:23] Well, Tony, here's the thing that I this is a hard topic. Yes. When I when I meet with the couple, there's a couple. She would flip through Facebook and pull up pictures of their friends and say she's attractive. Right. You see attractive. Right. And so you came in to me and said, be honest with her. And so she goes in. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so she goes out in their small town and sees all these women. And and so then he's like, well, that didn't work. And so she does it again and he's. No, no. And so she comes in, it's like he's lying to me. And I said to him, let's be honest with her. And he looked at me like, what are you talking about? Be honest with her. And he's like, well, I have I tell her if they're attractive and what he's not honest with her because the reality is when she's triggered like that. Yes. His honest truth is, honey, I'm not comfortable with this right now. This doesn't work for me. I'm happy to be honest with you. But if you could go talk to Branon or if if we could work through this before we go down the list of attractive women on Facebook. Right. That's that's what I want to do. So it's a boundary for him. And now it might look to her like, no, you're just avoiding this. Then you're just and in a way it's true. But if he can own it and step into it and say, look, I care about us, I care about our safety, this isn't something that's healthy for us right now instead of being way too compliant. Yes. Way to avoidant and lying about it. He's not going to create safety that way.

[00:34:55] I love that because now I throw my couples hat on and we're really trying to that's one of those where I say, OK, we got to trust the process a little bit. We got to secure the connection, the old cliche. We got to work on the roots and then the leaves maybe aren't going to feel as triggering or as heavy. But right now, if we're just picking out those, it's going to be yeah, it's not going to be pretty. So you're up that connection and then it's kind of I then maybe. Yeah, she's cute. And then the wife told me not. I thought you you're nuts. But we're not having that conversation at the beginning.

[00:35:21] Absolutely. Yes. It's the example I always give is my wife made this dish and it was like she spent all day making it was like she puts it in front of me and I eat it. And she's like, how is it? What am I supposed to do, Tony?

[00:35:37] It was a great misbranded, whatever it was, even if it was tuna fish casserole. Oh, man, that was good.

[00:35:42] Yeah, right. And the truth is. So I tell her something like this. Like, hon, like I so appreciate your hard work. I love you. Thank you. It's not my favorite. I wouldn't I probably wouldn't put it on the menu. And she's a little disappointed. But for me to maintain trust in my relationship with her, I need to be able to tolerate her disappointment and have the strength enough. To be honest with her, I can still be kind and loving. And so then when she makes dinner the next day, it's and it's good and I'm like, heck, yeah, this is amazing. She knows. I mean it. Yes, it's the same, it's the same thing between a couple. Right. For him to be able to be authentic and honest about who he is and know who he is. That's what we'll build trust in the relationship brand.

[00:36:28] I'm very open about my ad on my podcast. What was that? What was that dish? I'm dyin

[00:36:33] Here. It was chickpea curry.

[00:36:35] Oh, I do like a good curry.

[00:36:36] Yeah, but it was vegetarian. Just I don't know like coconut in it and.

[00:36:43] Ok, all right. Well I love that though because even and again, back to couples mode. I'm a huge emotionally focused therapy and EMT fan and we do want to be able to share our truths. And I one of those underlying principles is it's OK to have a differing opinion. And our goal is not to destroy the other person's reality.

[00:37:00] It's one of the old like when I was trained, I was trained a lot under some people where I learned a lot of what not to do. One of the things that I learned was at the beginning of recovery, the addict doesn't have a leg to stand on. He needs to shut up and he needs to comply and he needs to not have boundaries. There couldn't be anything further from the truth. Does the addict need boundaries? Absolutely not just for him and his recovery and understanding who he is, but also to rebuild the trust in the relationship. Not being boundary for him is not being honest. And the last thing she needs is for him not to be honest. And so it's not just hunkering down and just like trying to do everything you possibly can to make her happy. The thing that's going to make her happy is when she feels integrity there from you and strength there. Right.

[00:37:54] And I feel like that's where the individual work becomes so important. I always when I'm working with men, for example, I do that right. I hear you and I want to hear your truths. But where does that come from? And is it being worked through a manipulation filter if a guy is being really, really honest? I love that. I love to tell the story of how a long day and driving home and feeling down and realizing halfway home that, OK, what's my goal here with this feeling down? And it's wow, I want to come. And everybody go, oh, man, dad, you work so hard, and I was like, I don't want that. I want to bust the door, open everybody dad's home and I'm pumped. Am I being manipulative, lovingly manipulative, unaware, manipulative.

[00:38:29] Right. Well, and that's what's so tricky with addiction is denial, drama, manipulation. It's so automatic and run so deep that a lot of times if you've been if you've been stuck in your addiction for so long, you don't really know your truth. Exactly. Those through this denial thing. And and it's hard to trust it. And that's where a good support system can really help, is to bounce things off of of a buddy in recovery or a good therapist who can be like really feels manipulative. Yeah, right. Who are you really what really is your value, your truth here with this thing.

[00:39:07] Ok, can you do you mind talking triggers and talk about how you feel. What is a trigger. Do you do you encourage this one. We'll say the woman is the better way to express triggers. What is the addict is supposed to do with triggers? This is the part I feel that can get tricky and I know what I feel is the right thing. But you are the expert literally. It says it on your podcast. So this I'm excited about this.

[00:39:28] Right. So triggers are just anything that triggers your midbrain, your survival response, your SO triggers that emotion, triggers a behavior to react. So it can be a smell. It can be you see something, an event, something happens and you go into your emotional mind, you're ready to to do something, fight flight or freeze. And so with betrayal, trauma, it's trauma. They have trauma triggers and things that aren't really based in reality can end up triggering them like crazy. It's like my buddy in Hawaii blasting off a bunch of fireworks and he went in and just stuck his head under a pillow and was shaking. And the he's a combat veteran who was on the front lines. And so it makes total sense. But if you look at it, it doesn't make much sense. We're just firing off some fireworks. He has that trauma response because of his life experiences. So he's going into a survival mode with betrayal, trauma. Trauma is real. So if you get home five minutes late from work and she's freaking out, it makes total sense that she is OK. I love her. And her triggers are one of the best opportunities for the addict. But if he can see it, is that. Yes, because usually he'll take it personally or he'll be really uncomfortable with it when when she's triggered. If you can hold space for her, if you can be an asset for her to process through those emotions, if she wants you to, when you become somebody who connects to her in her scariest moments, not somebody who adds on to her scariest moments, it's an opportunity. I mean,

[00:41:10] It is a opportunity to connect. And that's I love what you're saying that I want God. I can't imagine how hard that would be for a guy. But to. Right. I want the woman to say, all right, I drove by the store or I saw this girl or I smelled the smell and I was triggered. I because I want the guy to turn to and say thank you.

[00:41:25] Yeah. Tell me about it. I want to I want to know how you feel and who you are. And there's little tricks and techniques. You probably won't get into those today, but things that he can do to help her process that trigger. But first and foremost, he takes his own shame, resiliency that triggers usually probably about him, like, why are you a cheater? Why did you do this to me? Why? I was wondering if you're going to hurt me again, are you? And for him to say, no, I'm not. No, not. Or for him not to say when are you going to get over this, but for him to just be like, oh, my gosh, you're freaked out right now and I want to hear your pain. I had a good buddy of mine, actually, an old client, good buddy of mine. His wife woke up three in the morning and he was on his phone at the end of the bed. And she's triggered I mean, duh, I think that and his history is acting out on his phone with pornography. And so she's telling him like, hey, like, what are you doing? And she freaks out. And the old him would have been like, oh my gosh, I've been sober for two years. What's wrong with you? Can't you believe? And he just stopped and thought, oh my gosh, I can't imagine with what you've been through waking up in the middle of the night and seeing on the phone like this. Yeah. She's like, I bet you're freaked out right now. And that's you're not in your head, Tony. That's and that's what you're looking for, is to get them to nod their head. Oh, yeah. You get me. Yeah. You understand me. And I'm OK to to feel this trigger. And that's what will kill the trigger. Absolutely. If in that moment he says you're crazy or just get over it or that's not what I was doing, it'll amp that trigger up. Right.

[00:43:08] Go to the more. And I always feel like that. The left, Sujan says is attachment injury apology. You've really those right. And it's that man I'm sorry I put you. A spot where you feel that way when you see me at the end of the bed and I'm sorry for the times that I'm not even aware of, that you probably go to that place and wonder and sit with that, which I know can be so uncomfortable.

[00:43:28] Yes, absolutely. So the relationship has a lot of opportunity to heal because of the pain and because of the wounds. And it's a silver lining, I think, that God gave to help repair things. When what I'm saying is when there's a lot of pain, there's a lot of fear, there's a lot of emotion, which means there's a lot of opportunity for connection like that. Yeah. And if the addict can see it that way and and learn how to step into that with her, then they'll start to strengthen their bond. And it's a beautiful thing.

[00:44:00] But I had I had a client share a quote with me and I'm drawing a blank right. The second on the author. But the end of the quote says, Jumping through the abyss and finding out on the other end there's a featherbed. And I feel like.

[00:44:11] That's right. That is the concept. Yes. Yeah. But Tony takes the opposite of what an addict has done his entire life, which OK, which is avoid vulnerability. Right. Is to learn how to isolate and disconnect and go into denial. And so it takes learning how to do the opposite of that. That will really help her, will help the relationship and help him strengthen his own recovery.

[00:44:35] Brad, do you recommend that women in this scenario express triggers as often as they can, or do you feel like hang on to those or.

[00:44:44] Yeah, I, I do think expressing triggers is a good thing. I would encourage a support system for her. So I might call a sponsor a group member and just say, hey, I got to surrender something over. And that sponsor might say, yeah, you're really standing in it. The facts are just this. Let's just stick with the facts. Let's surrender it over to me and you're good. And as long as she's good, great. But every last little trigger I I've worked with a couple where they go out in public and they can even go out in public because it's trigger, trigger, trigger, trigger, trigger. Right now I'm not saying she shouldn't have those triggers, but she needs to have some tools and work through those triggers outside of him sometimes because she's always turning to him to say, you're good, you're safe, you're OK. Then her safety completely depends on him, which is nice.

[00:45:35] Yeah. And I like where you go back with that, where the importance of the individual work as well as I do feel like if individual work's being done and the point of the triggers is to this opportunity for connection. And then I feel like when she gets to the point where she knows if I bring a trigger to him, I know now he is going to be there for me. He's going to own this. So maybe now it's time for me to do a little mindfulness or work through this.

[00:45:57] Exactly. Exactly. It's interesting because sometimes the men that I work with or the the addicts that I work with, they're like, when when is she going to do her own work? And and what's interesting is when they've done their own work and they focus on them and they learn how to empathize, the light reflects back on her where she's oh my gosh, he's there for me. He's honest with me. He's empathetic. This is my stuff. Now, I got to figure this out, right? Yeah. Yeah, OK, we

[00:46:23] Can talk all day and I feel so bad, I feel bad that I have this this so this time for sure. But I think in the perfect world though, it's perfect to say, man, if there are questions that we didn't answer today, first, I would love to send them my way and I would love to see if we could do another episode at some point in the near future. I'd love to, but even more so. Go to your podcast, because I almost guarantee that if you go to your podcast, you guys are probably covered because I would love to talk about things like intimacy and talking about sex and all of those kind of things. And I know you have episodes on there about.

[00:46:51] Yeah, yeah. Like like you said, we don't avoid the hard topics, which is we just we just finished sex. Temba So we talk about sex all during sex. Temba OK, and yeah. Check us out the betrayed, the addicted and the expert. Yeah.

[00:47:07] Or I say my new my new best friend brand is the expert. You play the role, the expert, which is an absolute pleasure to talk with you. I love that we talk about authenticity and stuff. The reason I don't have as much time as I had wanted to is because when we got on when we started talking to each other before the recording, I know it was it's nice to talk to you and I feel like we could have talked for days. Well, I get that same sense on your podcast, and I think it's very relatable. It's conversational. And so my jealousy has now been replaced with admiration. And so, I mean, I highly recommend that people go check that out. And I would love to have you again on in the not too distant future.

[00:47:37] Awesome. Thanks, Tony, and

[00:47:39] Thank you so much. I'm going to stop here, but I.

Recently, Senator Ted Cruz’s Twitter account favorited a tweet featuring hardcore pornography.

Before I go any further, I think I would be fined by the internet if I passed up some comment about the way my previous sentence read, and it was written in the way that most media outlets have been writing it, as in his Twitter account favorited the tweet. Not Cruz himself, but his account. So, to be fair, earlier this morning my Facebook account wished my friend Thomas a happy birthday and it also liked a dog fail video. I knew my Facebook account liked dog fail videos, but I honestly didn’t know it knew Thomas, but he’s a good enough guy that I’m OK with that.

And let me be upfront: I recently launched an online pornography recovery program, so you’re probably going to think that I am unwilling to even try and see both sides of the aisle when it comes to the harmful effects of pornography.

See, I already did it, I already showed my bias. I didn’t simply say the effects of pornography, I said the “harmful” effects. I slid that judgemental statement in there without even meaning to. But there's a lot more to the story. Many years ago, I left a successful career in the software industry to go back to school — night school, no less — with four small children at home. I had no shoes, and I walked uphill both ways on broken glass, in the winter... sorry, I was practicing the way the story will eventually be told to my grandkids.

The point is that when I started my journey to become a therapist, the very LAST thing I expected to do was focus on the pornography industry. I did it because I felt a calling of sorts to do something that I loved.

Computer software fell in my lap after college; and before I could blink, ten years had passed and I was well on my way to a midlife crisis, and I’m talking the kind of epic proportions!

wasn’t satisfied with my career. I was a modern-day equivalent of a Fuller Brush salesman, schlepping my floppy disks around the world, being routinely turned down at trade show after trade show by busy execs focused on finding the next strip club instead of my program that would speed up their hard drives by up to .0001 milliseconds. I know, hard to believe I wasn’t finding joy in that journey.

I was looking at Hawaiian shirts; the type with no top buttons. I believe I had just purchased some sort of gold chain and I was looking to trade up my Toyota Celica for a better sports car, and while I’m embarrassed to admit this next part as a proud, card-carrying 15-year-member of the “I shave my head bald and I love it club,” I was starting to look into hair plugs!

This “call” that I felt was specifically to work with men, to help them become better husbands and fathers.

Nowhere in this call was any mention of spending thousands and thousands of hours working with hundreds and hundreds of men who wasted hours, days, and weeks looking at porn. Men who were warping their sexuality without even realizing the consequences.

Little did I know I would spend hours debating with clients the cause of their early erectile dysfunction (which, by the way, is at an all-time high thanks to the current desire for pixels over actual people), or that I would eventually become an expert in how people access pornography on every device known to man — from kids' game consoles to GPS navigation units.

I now sit in countless couples sessions a week hearing porn-obsessed client after porn-obsessed client looking to me for help in convincing an unwilling spouse to really amp things up in the bedroom because he can’t be content with a goal of intimacy in sexuality. These men believe that satisfying sex, for them, has to include a variety of the things that he’s witnessed, or worked his way up to over the years of regular and routine porn exposure.

It’s not a surprise to learning that close to half of all divorces report that pornography use has played a significant role in the destruction of the marriage.

I work with doctors and lawyers, CPAs, and highway patrolmen, large and small business owners, students, teachers, landscapers, waiters, all whom struggle with pornography addiction. Porn is no respecter of persons, it is everywhere, and it is relentlessly trying to make its way into the home.

These clients who finally seek help have tried repeatedly to stop looking at porn but ultimately return. Most of them have been caught at some point by partners who feel betrayed. And when trust has been broken, it takes work to repair it, and that work can be difficult, which feels overwhelming at times.

This also leads them to feel bad, which can lead them to turn to porn. These clients routinely report that they struggle with an emotional connection with their partners, and most all recognize an increase in their objectification of women, viewing most as primarily body parts. Not human beings, mothers, sisters, daughters, and wives.

Most all feel disconnected from their families and their churches, and they typically come to a realization that they are disconnected from their lives because whenever they feel triggered, they turn to porn.

And it’s not about lack of sex in the relationship.

I sit with dozens of men each week who openly admit to assuming that once they were married their appetite for porn would subside when they had a more regular sex life. And while on occasion that is the case, I routinely sit with dozens of men each week who admit that they can have sex with their wives and then, after she falls asleep, they turn to porn so they can then find their true excitement.

Triggers that lead to viewing porn come in all shapes and sizes.

Some of the most common are stress, boredom, lack of connection with a partner. This is often a bit of a catch-22, as the lack of connection stems from the continued viewing of porn. When these triggers hit, thoughts turn to ways to porn and eventually, the brain moves that pattern over into the “habit center” of the brain. The basal ganglia, a little walnut-sized part of the brain, is purely reactionary, putting habit sequences into play without much effort.

And once it has become a habit, the brain, in its never-ending evolutionary quest to get out of work in order not to burn out so it can try and live forever, switches tracks right over to the habit center whenever the hint of a trigger is present.

Meanwhile, the average age of first exposure to porn for children, depending on the study, is now 8 to 11 years old.

We understand that this early exposure equals “sexualization.” The best way I can explain this is that when a kid is exposed to porn at that early of an age, he or she is now aware, and often focused on, those body parts that they are now trying to make sense of on adults. Ms. Johnson, to the sexualized youth, isn’t just his or her third-grade teacher. Ms. Johnson now has real body parts, and suddenly, learning that a shark’s body is made up primarily of cartilage (OK, sure, I’m pulling from experience on this one) is trumped by the fascination of whether or not she has ever done anything like the videos.

So why so much to-do about porn?

Why the concern over Senator Cruz’s Twitter account favoriting a video featuring pornography? Why concern ourselves with whether or not this politician or that politician liked or shared or viewed or denied something porn-related? 

In my professional, pornography-addiction-recovery-program-creating, thousands-of-hours-of-working-with-pornography-addiction opinion, these actions represent just the tip of the iceberg. Pornography has slowly but surely warped the nation’s collective sexuality and numbed us all to the severity and consequences as well.

I know that porn is not going anywhere anytime soon — anywhere but probably becoming more entrenched in people’s lives — but I believe it’s at a significant cost. It’s at the cost of putting pixels in front of people, virtual reality in front of real relationships, and while the effects of this direction are bad enough in this therapist’s opinion — granted my job security appears to be intact — I believe the negative effects are amplified when these behaviors are out in the public arena coming from those who in theory represent the people.

I think I’d prefer somebody who’s going to accidentally like a post about the latest dog fail video, at least then I know he’s turning to a different avenue to avoid falling prey to those triggers.

Well, at least his Twitter account will have found that different avenue.

Tony Overbay is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, host of the popular podcast The Virtual Couch, and the creator of The Path Back, an online pornography recovery program. You can download a free copy of Tony’s “5 Common Mistakes Christians Make Attempting to Break Free from Pornography Addiction” from his website, PathBackRecovery.com

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