Listen to “Rule of Engagement: 7 Tips To Better Navigate Conflict and Crisis” on Spreaker.
Read an Edited Transcript of the Show:
Hey, hey, hey, welcome to Sex Afflictions & Porn Addictions. I am your host Craig Perra from… My website is www.themindfulhabit.com. I’m the founder of the mindful habit system. And for the past nine years I have been proudly leading a sexual revolution of men, taking control of their sexual energy. Helping men learn to channel it in a healthy, constructive way to live lives of purpose.
This is a podcast, a broadcast, whatever you want to call it, to power you, to create, to help you create healthy sexuality and a great life. Those two concepts are inexorably intertwined. The solution is not sobriety. And if you are a partner of someone struggling with sex and porn addiction, this program is for you. And this particular broadcast is also for you. For those of you who don’t know I have been there, my lying, my shame, my infidelity, my cheating, brought me to lowest of low places, adult bookstores, prostitution, shame, secrets, crippling low self-esteem, self-harm disguised as a half-ass suicide attempt, hospitalization, fired, and now, I’m so, so exciting, consider like where I was then and where I am now coming soon in Q2.
My appearance on the Emmy Awards, winning television, a show on addiction intervention, they’re focusing on digital addiction. So what a journey, and it is a privilege to have you listening for you to be giving me your most precious resource of time. So let’s get to it. So this program, this broadcast, is for you husband and for you wife. I am going to share with you seven tips to…
Here’s what we want to do. Seven tips to dramatically increase the quality of the conversations that you are having to make each of you, you wife, you husband, feel safer in those conversations. And despite the anger, the hurt, the betrayal trauma, the pain that she’s experiencing, and the shame, the shutdown, the getting defensive, the angry, the lying, the self-loathing him, right? There’s a reality here that you’ve got this going on in the relationship.
These are tips to help you better resolve conflict, tips to help you treat the deep wounds that she’s feeling right now that you as the partner are feeling right now and the deep shame that he is feeling right now. These are specific things that you can do to make it better. Now, I want to make one important point before I jump in this.
I am not putting on an equal playing her anger with his behavior, because I’ve got tips for both of you. You, the wife, the partner, these tips are selfish tips for you to help you to create better outcomes. To help you navigate the reality that you are experiencing and the reality that you’re dealing with, and that is low self-esteem. He has low self-esteem. He has deep shame. He lies, compartmentalizes, lacks empathy, has a low EQ. And I know you’ve got your issues and you are struggling. And you’ve got stacked trauma, betrayal trauma, sitting on top of preexisting trauma.
I live in reality. So my heart, my intention, is to give you practical things that each of you can do to make it better. So you husband and you wife, you wife to help you create better outcomes. Please do not receive anything that I am suggesting as blame. I fear that something I’m going to say could be construed in that way. I want to help. I call these tips rules of engagement. And what are rules of engagement. Here’s a definition from the web, mutually agreed upon rules that define how military forces should behave during times of war. Now, clearly this is not war, but even in war where people are killing each other, there are rules. And certainly, and this is true. This is true for the overwhelming majority of couples that I have had the privilege of helping, of connecting with, of talking on the phone, love each other.
It may not feel that way right now, but that’s my overwhelming experience. So two people who love each other, who are trying to navigate a deep betrayal in a deep wound, there are rules. There are some simple and easy techniques to help you navigate this disaster, potentially one of the worst experiences in your life.
An incredible amount of pain, but listen, self-loathing shame, vitriol, anger, getting defensive. It’s that anger, which is so understandable. Isn’t making it better. It’s not making you feel better. It’s not going to drive him into compliance. It’s hurting you. It’s hurting you mentally. It’s hurting you physically. It’s hurting you emotionally. It’s making things worse and it’s pushing the solutions farther and farther away. It is masking the pain. It is delaying resolution, delaying healing. It is not getting you what you need. Before I dig into the rules of engagement.
First, a disclaimer. And if you are joining me via Facebook live, via Twitch, via LinkedIn, via YouTube. Hello? Hello. Hello. Hello. I see Nathan is here and if you have questions, save him to the end. I’m going to answer those questions after I go through the rules of engagement, but first a disclaimer, a warning. I do not know you. What’s great advice for one couple, the same advice. What’s great advice for one couple is terrible advice for another, okay?
It’s very, very important that you have that perspective. These tips are the result of my lifetime of being an asshole and a liar, a failure in so many ways, being an attorney and negotiating cases worth millions and millions of dollars, running a department as an executive, and a professional coach for the past nine years, working exclusively with couples struggling with sex addiction and porn addiction.
So please take what you like, take what works for you and throw away the rest. Throw it away. Number one, before I get into around the rules of engagement, number one is a framing issue. What are we engaging over? And a lot of people fall into this trapping for good reason, everybody who has problems around sex and lying, gravitate towards the sex addiction model, the porn addiction model. And for most people, that lens is coloring the way it is incorrectly defining the problem, because here is my experience. Please do everything in your power to recognize that the porn is the symptom. The behavior is the symptom. It is not the root cause of his problem, it is not the root cause of her problem, and it is not the root of the issues in the relationship. It is not.
One of the major criticisms of the porn addiction model. And please remember the American Psychiatric Association studied it for five years, pulled it from the appendix. Like five year study, pulled it from the appendix. The World Health Organization recently had option to include sex addiction and porn addiction into their Bible of diagnostic codes. They did not. They used the word compulsive sexual behavior. There’s reasons for that. One of the major professional criticisms of the porn addiction model is how grossly it distorts the issues in the relationship. It so taints and colors the lens through which the problems in the relationship are seen through the lens of sexual shame, low self worth, the discomfort, disgust even, sexual disfunction, absolutely crippling childhood sexual education.
That is the lens. When you say porn addiction, that is the lens through which you are looking at this problem. And then when you… Through that lens, you are almost always looking at the surface. And in my experience, there are always porn issues. There are always sex issues in the relationship. In my experience, the sex, the porn, are never the issue. The behavior is the symptom in here.
Quick exercise for her, quick exercise for you sister, write down five to 10 of the deepest, most significant problems in your relationship without using the word porn or addiction. And I got to tell you, when I see some of these lists, I feel lonely. I don’t feel valued. You’re lying makes me feel very unsafe. And I don’t want to be around you. I don’t feel desired. I don’t feel like I’m a priority.
I’m unhappy. I’m not experiencing joy. I don’t feel of spark. The solution is never sobriety. So that’s the exercise for you. And the exercise for him is for you to do a similar exercise to write down the problems that you think you are having in your life, again, without using the words, porn addiction. And here’s an example. And I love these. Write these down. These need to be your targets, brother. You’re lying. Your ability to compartmentalize, right? None of this behavior could exist without the capacity to lie, without the ability to compartmentalize, without a lack of empathy, which is producing a low self-esteem, in many cases, crippling low self-esteem. And I’m sorry, I’m just going to blow up your spot right now. The issues that you have in the relationship that now have been subordinated to your sins and the porn addiction. You have them too, right?
It’s important for you to speak your true truth. She says, I want the truth. Are you being honest? Are you telling her all of the issues that you are having? The issues that you have and they may be all your fault. But there are issues and there’s very likely internalized resentment. You are very likely projecting mother onto your wife, projecting authority onto your wife.
So that’s all I want to say about that. That was a mouthful, but I encourage you, whatever you can do to reframe the issue, to get to the root quicker and consider broadening the scope of how you are defining the problem. That is tip number one. Number two is one of my favorite exercises and that is the liar correction window. So ladies, good news, bad news. He’s going to lie.
I remember when Michelle woke up out of bed startled, I’m eating cereal in the kitchen and she’s wakes up. Like, where the hell’s my husband? She gets to the kitchen. She’s got all that frustrated, exasperated pain, scared, energy. Oh, you’re eating cereal. I look her dead in the eye and say, no, I’ve got a bowl of cereal in my hand, I’ve got a box of cereal next to me. I’ve got cereal in my spoon, cereal in my mouth. I eat like a slob. I probably have some cereal on my shirt. And I said, no. I told her in that moment, automatically, instantaneously what I think my subconscious wanted to hear that I do something wrong, I’m I eating the wrong cereal. It was in that moment where I realized that there was chance that I’m not going to do that again.
There’s no chance that I’m not going to do that again. That reaction was so innate and forget about it. You know, you guys know, right? You get three questions, the question as a four part answer, you agree with the third, you kind of let go of the fourth. You forgot to mention the fifth. You accidentally… You know those stupid lies, right? You said something that, oh, God, you don’t correct. And three days later, you get caught. And then the mess starts again. The lying and correction window. And by the way, these are only for couples that are moving back towards each other, only for couples that are moving back towards each other.
So what it is that you, the partner, brother. I got my husband and wife here, husband says, honey, I think I’m going to lie again. I’m going to try my best to, but that serial thing that he’s talking about, I regret to say that I fear that is also going to be my reality. In fact, I lied yesterday about taking out the trash. I said, I did, I didn’t do it. I didn’t do it until later. We’ll start there with some honesty. Here’s what I’m going to do. I am going to try to… No, if I lie and then I realize later on, oh, that was a stupid one. Or that was a one… I will correct it. Just give me 24 hours, give me 24 hours because what we’re training for, what we’re training… The honesty is a skill.
We got to practice it. And if he’s going to be held to that automatic instantaneous response where he is likely going to lie, then that is a long ugly road. It’s not reflecting reality. So implement the lying correction window. Give him 24 hours to come back. Be grateful when it happens. You wish you didn’t lie the first time, but hey, he’s correcting it. That is the progress we need. If you start from a place, and I see this sometimes, a hundred percent honesty or I’m out.
Listen, there’s a lot of pain behind that declaration. I know that and you women who are listening to me right now. Yeah. And there’s so much anger and so much hurt. So it has to be a hundred percent. It’s not attainable. It’s simply it is not attainable. He’s going to make a mistake, he’s going to say the wrong thing. Let’s create a reality that reflects that. So he can correct it so he can correct it. So that’s the a li liar, correction window.
Here’s the next tip. The next tip is… And this is for both. It typically is advice more… Well, the solution is to the men, the instruction is to the partner. And that is to not insist on an answer in the moment, okay? What I’ve seen work, what I’ve seen very effective, is the guy writes down the questions. Hey, let me get back to you on that. Now, listen. And here’s the thing, guys. If this was a professional problem of equal significant as your marriage, as your relationship, you would never go speak with a client, go speak with the boss, go speak with a subordinate on an issues of this magnitude without being prepared. Guys, we have these… Our automatic instantaneous is to get the offensive, is to shut down, is to lie, is to get angry.
We’re terrible in the moment. And we keep getting the questions over and over again. And she keeps asking me the questions over and over again, because you are not answering them in the empathetic heartfelt way. So wife, consider agreeing to him, writing down the questions that you have and getting back to you. I actually had three by five cards. I took out the five answers that Michelle kept asking me, questions over and over again. And I wrote them down. I said, this is important to me. At first, she thought it was a little strange, little odd and thought it was more chicanery and tomfoolery and manipulation. But I said, no, this is important.
I want to make this better. You keep asking the question and it takes me like, we fight, anger, vitreal, I make a mess I apologize. Then you understand what I meant. Let me take some time. Let me get back to you on that. So I think that’s a great idea. If it helps for you, great. The other as creatures of habit, you will find that you are arguing about three, four or five subjects. So one tip is to identify the most common conflicts that you’re having in come up with a plan like rules of engagement per conflict. Here’s what we are going to do when this happens. I have another podcast on the emotional safety agreement, which is an exercise designed to identify where safety exists. So you can grow it to identify exactly where that conflict is happening, exactly where each person feels unsafe.
I’ll put that in the link. But at a minimum, identifying the most common conflicts that you’re having and come up with a short, concise plan to better, honor each other’s wounds. That’s called the emotional safety agreement. Here’s another one. I hear this a lot. We talked all night. I’m on day three without getting any sleep. Sleep is critical. The body needs it. There’s no sobriety without him getting sleep. There’s no sanity without each of you getting sleep. So a couple things that you can do, one is define the time that you’re going to talk and consider shutting it off at a certain point in time. Say, hey, I love you. You want me to be healthy. You want me to take this recovery by the horns and be the best person that I can be. I need sleep. Sleep equal self control.
So less sleep, less self control. So I just want to put that blunt reality out there. It is critical to get sleep. And the more people… The sooner you realize that the sooner that… What you are doing isn’t making it better, is making both people feel worse. The better closer you are to say, hey, here’s when we’re going to talk about these issues. And maybe even here’s what we’re going to talk about. Having a little bit of structure, having a little bit of these rules of engagement, can really help and really go a long way.
Here’s my last one, the last rules of engagement, and this is a tough one. This one will be misused. The shield will be used as a sword, but the pros outweigh the cons and the overwhelming majority of instances. And that is each person, husband and wife has a hundred percent unequivocal, impeachable, absolute right to call time out. Each person in this conflict, husband and wife, both of you have the right, in this rule of engagement, have the ability to say, and I’ll do the guide perspective, honey I am full.
There is no chance of me meeting your needs right now. And that breaks my heart. I’m full and I’m close to saying things I regret. Certainly, I’ve shut down. And this is true for you, the partner, the wife. You may find yourself where it’s like, if it’s not getting better, it’s probably getting worse. And this is so difficult because you want that information. You want to know, you want to understand, and you’ve got a thousand questions. But before you implement this, look at your life, look at the conflicts. Are you getting what you want after that where that timeout call should have been? See, because here’s what happens. If you can bend just a teeny tiny bit, remember this advice for you, partner, is for you to create a better outcome. You are not going to create a better outcome when he’s full, we’ve already got low emotional intelligence, crippling low self-esteem, steeping in shame, hurting, not reacting in the way that you need him to.
So on the path to emotional intelligence and as a critically important rules of engagement, let each person have the 100%. 100%, right? To say, timeout, I’m sorry, honey, I can’t meet your needs right now. I’m taking a break. And go into your separate corners. Use it as an opportunity to meditate. You can text each other. Sometimes that’s helpful.
And listen, this is a tough one. This is a tough one for the women because, screw him. I have a right to know, and I want to know now. All I ask is that you look at the outcomes that you are creating. And our partner empowerment group, our goal is to help you create better outcomes in your life with or without him. And yes, will this 100% right to call timeout be misused? Yes. In the journey from low emotional intelligence to high emotional intelligence from low empathy to no empathy, to high empathy, to compassion, to understanding, to self love, to growth, to healthy sexuality, a great life purpose. You will get there quicker. You will get there quicker if each person has the right and the ability to call timeout. I know it’s a tough pill to swallow.
I know that it’s certainly not right for everybody, but that lying correction window that I talked about earlier… And I’m going to post this on YouTube and Facebook and on my podcast, Sex Afflictions & Porn Addictions, later. I know we got some guys or girls listening now. Welcome, glad that you are here. Put your questions in the chat. I got a couple more minutes before I got to wrap up. So that’s my final tip. And whatever else you can do to bring some structure to the pain, to what might be the most painful experience that you have ever had in your life. The most shameful experience, getting caught, being exposed, being embarrassed, and your wife so hurt. Right? We were able to compartmentalize. We didn’t know we were creating this map. Well, we have, we have an incredible ability to com compartmentalize. Let me say that we as men do.
So these are tools for both of you. These are tools of both of you to help you create better outcomes. I’m sure there are to others. I hope you find them on your path and your journey to healthy sexuality and a great life. Thank you so much for sharing your most precious time with me. And if anybody has any questions, put them in the chat. And thank you so much.
Have a great day. Make it a great day. Embrace your power of choice. Feed the right Wolf inside you. Make it great brothers and sisters. Have a great night.