The Intersection Between Abuse and Pornography

by

Natalie interviews therapist and author, Andrew Bauman about the intersection between abuse and pornography.

Andrew J. Bauman is a licensed mental health counselor with a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology. He and his wife, Christy, run the Christian Counseling Center for Sexual Health & Trauma in Seattle, Washington, and Andrew is the author of Stumbling Toward Wholeness, Floating Away, The Psychology of Porn and (with Christy) A Brave Lament. You can follow his work at www.andrewjbauman.com and his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AndrewJamesBauman/

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The Intersection Between Abuse and Pornography [Transcript]

Hi. This is Natalie Hoffman of Flyingfreenow.com, and you’re listening to the Flying Free Podcast, a support resource for women of faith looking for hope and healing from hidden emotional and spiritual abuse.

NATALIE: Welcome to Episode 41 of the Flying Free Podcast! Before we get started, I want to do a listener shout out to JJmomofthree, who recently left the following review. She said, “When I finally realized I wanted out of a confusing and unhappy relationship, I went looking for self-help books, podcasts, etc. I couldn’t quite put what I was experiencing into words, and no one understood what I was talking about until I found Natalie and her website, book, and podcast! Breath of fresh air, light at the end of the tunnel, coming out of the fog — whatever you want to call it, this is the place for me. Truth and calling it what it is: abuse!” 

Thank you so much, JJmomofthree, for taking the time to leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. I’m really grateful that the resources I’ve offered have been helpful for you. Rachel and I really enjoy reading about how this podcast has made a difference in so many people’s lives. If you’d like to leave a rating and review, just go to Apple Podcasts and look up Flying Free. 

Today, I’m excited to introduce you to Andrew Bauman, author of the books “Stumbling Toward Wholeness,” “A Brave Lament” (which he co-authored with his wife, Christy), and “The Psychology of Porn.” Andrew is a licensed mental health counselor, and he and his wife run the Christian Counseling Center for Sexual Health & Trauma in Seattle, Washington. We’re going to be talking about the intersection of pornography and domestic abuse. This podcast is sponsored by the Flying Free Education and Support Community, which offers a safe community, education tools, and coaching tools to help you find hope and healing from your abusive relationship. Let’s get started. Andrew, thank you for being on the Flying Free Podcast. I’m so excited to have you here.

ANDREW: Yes, I’m so excited to be here. Thanks for having me. I’m a fan of your work.

NATALIE: I am wondering if you could introduce everyone to what your soapbox is and how you got there.

ANDREW: For sure. I talk about the same things: grief, porn, and the healing journey — the general idea of what it means to be healed. I’m an author and a therapist. Grief and porn are my main areas. First, grief, because I lost my son about seven years ago. We created a documentary and a book called “A Brave Lament.” That’s where we learned to journey into our hearts and fully grieve our loss, because we grieve to the level in which we loved, and we radically loved our son, Brave. That really forced us into this grief work, which we would never choose. 

It is similar with my journey to porn. I wouldn’t choose this, but because of my own thirteen year addiction to pornography and how it nearly killed me, to have integrity now is to continue to face my own shame and do the work I do with countless men in facing their own violence and their own pornographic and unwanted sexual behaviors. Everyday I find myself in those conversations and journey with a bunch of men on how to become safe and better men.

NATALIE: Those two topics — grief and porn — are hugely impactful topics in the women that I work with, because they are in marriages where they are grieving so many things. Some of them are getting out of marriages and grieving in different ways and different layers. Many of them are dealing with porn addicted husbands or ex-husbands.

ANDREW: Yes.

NATALIE: So it is interesting, because you said your original focus was that you wanted to help men with these things, and yet, as we were talking before the show, you actually have found that your audience is now largely made up of women.

ANDREW: Yeah. What I am realizing is that I’m a bit of a unicorn as far as being a man speaking against male violence. I know Dr. Jackson Katz does a lot of that work, but I’m finding that men aren’t super receptive to what I’m bringing, which is basically “Deal with your own broken sexuality; deal with your own propensity toward violence.” Men don’t really want to do that, and yet (obviously I have a full practice) there are men who want to do that. But I’m finding that women, especially those who are in relationships with these types of men — and the man that I used to be — are really connecting to what I’m writing and what I’m putting out there, because I’m trying to write about the internal journey of the narcissistic, evangelical man, which is what I was and at times still am.

NATALIE: Do you find in your practice that the men who are coming to you and wanting help, are they making progress?

ANDREW: Oh yeah! That’s why I deeply believe in the goodness of men, which gets me in trouble in some circles because I’m not ready to just throw them under the bus. But because I work with men in such a front-line way, I see the glory and the complete depravity of these men. But yes, the men are fighting and are learning what it means to love themselves and also learn to love and honor women in a new way, which is incredibly hopeful for me. But it’s also not normal. I’m very aware that it is not the normal posture of men to deal with their own issues.

NATALIE: No, it’s not. Then when you have an element of deep-seated and ingrained denial on their part, then it’s very hard to get them to even admit they need help in the first place.

ANDREW: Totally! I kick men out of my practice all the time.

NATALIE: Do you really?

ANDREW: Yes, because they are not ready. They aren’t ready for the work that I do. I just tell them, “You are full of yourself, and you are not ready.” I confront them and call it like it is and confront the violence head on. It happens pretty often that I will say, “No, I’m not going to work with you.” It does take an amount of humility, and normally it is after men have lost. It is normally after the wives have begun to get healthy and they have boundaries. Many times the wives are much more courageous than the men. They finally begin to have boundaries; they finally begin to honor themselves; or they finally begin to leave. Then the men wake up and realize they are losing everything. Then they realize, “Oh! I can’t just run over my wife. She has a sense of self. She is loving herself and honoring herself.” Then the men wake up and begin to outgrow their addiction and their narcissism only after… Which sucks, because again, the onus is on the woman to do it. Yet, I am still hoping that men will begin to rise up and not be little boys who grow men’s bodies.

NATALIE: That’s beautiful. When you are working with these guys and some of them are changing, do you also talk to the wives, too, to find out if it’s changing on the other side? Not on her side, but I mean behind closed doors.

ANDREW: Oh, yeah. A lot of times we will bring in the wives regularly and do marriage work as well. We do it all, my wife and I. We do a lot of couples work together as well.

NATALIE: Is your wife also a therapist, then?

ANDREW: Yes. She is.

NATALIE: I saw that she has a book coming out too, and I was thinking I need to get her on the podcast.

ANDREW: She does! Oh yeah, please do. Her book is coming out in a month or so. It’s called “The Theology of the Womb: Knowing God Through the Body of a Woman.” It’s a beautiful book. She’s a fireball. She’s awesome! She keeps me going.

NATALIE: I need to meet her. Okay, let’s go back to the whole idea of porn, because the topic of this podcast episode is the intersection of porn and domestic violence. Why don’t you talk about how those two things go together and why they go together?

ANDREW: I feel like porn is so culturally ingrained. We don’t even know that we are saturated — our churches, our government. Everything has become pornified and sexualized. It is so that way, it has become so normal, that we don’t even see it. When you think of 70% of Christian men using pornography… I have a stat here that says 8 out of 10 between the ages of 18 and 30 view pornography at least monthly — 57% of pastors and 64% of youth pastors. Those statistics are wild in our churches. If nearly 60% of pastors are using pornography, how do you think they are going to unconsciously treat women?

NATALIE: Exactly.

ANDREW: Right?! How are they going to unconsciously? They don’t even realize they are doing it, but they are going to make sure they leave the door open or make sure to tell women to dress conservatively. They are going to blame the women because of their own unresolved shame that they are frauds and that they have a secret life. Pastors are so isolated, and a lot of times so narcissistic that they don’t get help. Then they project onto the women. Of course, you aren’t going to see women preaching from the pulpit, and of course, you aren’t going to see women on the board, because “I want women as far away from me because they remind me of my own shame. Get them away from me! I actually hate you, and I want to devour you because I need you.”

NATALIE: No wonder we run into problems, then, when we try to get help from these men for our husbands.

ANDREW: Exactly! That’s why the gaslighting is so crazy, because you think these men are going to help you get out of this, and they are actually… And again, it is unconscious. These pastors aren’t bad guys. They’re not even aware of the dynamic that is going on internally because they are so unconnected to their own heart in this pornified society. 

But I think this has impacted us so greatly. It has created this unconscious misogyny. What does misogyny mean? It is the dislike or contempt for, an ingrained prejudice against women. It is deep in the pastors. It is deep in the church, in the evangelical society. We don’t even know it. Porn leads to this misogyny that creeps into our marriages. 

I think a lot of the women that you are working with, this misogyny is so ingrained in us. I knew that my mom was supposed to serve me as I watched football — me and my brother. It was ingrained in me that she was meant to clean the kitchen or these really deep things. I grew up entitled, that somehow, because I had a penis, I had more power in my own home than I should have. That’s where I think we have to realize how ingrained the patriarchy is, how ingrained the misogyny is, and that porn has really seeped into the men in our culture.

NATALIE: What can we do? I’m thinking of even being a mom. When you said that about your mom being in the kitchen, I was thinking, “That’s what I do.” So what can we do to help our boys to not think that way?

ANDREW: In a sense, you must go above and beyond, because the culture of the church, so much of it screams sexism. We raise little sexists unconsciously. We just must really be proactive and ask, “What does it mean to honor a woman?” We must be aware of our language. We must be aware of our own internalized sexism. What do we still believe? 

I remember I sent my son, who was three or four at the time, to a little bit more expensive preschool. He was learning Spanish for tons of money — like, a whole mortgage payment. My daughter, who was a couple of years younger, when it was time for her to go to preschool, I had this thought that, “No, I don’t want to send her to that preschool.” Then I thought, “Wait. What?!” It was like this internalized sexism that I was more willing to send my son to this expensive school, but my daughter would be okay. I realized there was something in me that I projected onto my little girl that I didn’t project onto my boy. I realized that I still have some sexism that is unconscious. 

Are you as a mom willing to name that? Then you can begin to engage your sons differently and in different conversations. I don’t think it’s a one-time conversation. It’s a thousand little conversations about how we treat gender, about equality — all these things. We just have to be talking about it all the time.

NATALIE: I have, like, these two separate families because I have nine kids. I have these older kids who are in their upper teens and up to almost twenty-six. Then my youngest is seven and up to eleven. I am raising my younger kids differently because I raised my older kids in the patriarchy. I am remarried. One of the beautiful things about it is that he just naturally is so not sexist at all. He is the exact opposite of sexist. He so naturally… After we’re done eating dinner, he will help clean up. He doesn’t help me make dinner, but that’s because he can’t cook. He was a bachelor his whole life and ate frozen things. I don’t know how he did that. But he cleans. He cleans the house. He does the laundry. He cleans the kitchen. My little seven and nine year old boys see this daily. So they are being raised very differently.

ANDREW: Yep. So you already are teaching them just by the way that you live.

NATALIE: Yes, it’s a beautiful thing. If my husband didn’t take initiative like that, I think I would still fall into those roles and just do it. That is my knee-jerk. It’s how I was raised. It’s how I’ve spent my whole life. It would be hard for me to have to say to my husband, “Do you think you could maybe wash the dishes?” I don’t think I could do that.

ANDREW: For sure. I know for me, I default to a laziness around the house and laziness with the kids.

NATALIE: I’m going to be interviewing your wife someday, and I’m going to talk to her about a few things.

ANDREW: She’ll expose me.

NATALIE: I’m just kidding.

ANDREW: She’ll expose me pretty quick. It’s much easier to talk about than to live, that’s for sure.

NATALIE: I know. That is true. How would you say that porn affects…? The women in my audience are dealing with emotional and spiritual abuse, mainly. So their husbands or pastors are saying, “Well, God says this; so therefore, you have to be this way.” That’s a very shaming thing, because most of the women I work with are very devoted followers of Christ. They have strong and mighty faith. These are warriors. The last thing that they want to do is do anything that would shame their Savior or would do anything that would cause them not to be a stellar example of a good Christian woman. Their husbands and their churches know this, and they use it as leverage against them. So when you were talking about the fact that so many pastors are using porn, all these lightbulbs are going off in my head. I’m kind of a super naïve person. Maybe a lot of us Christian women are. Maybe we just assume…

ANDREW: What I’ve found in working with women is that a lot of women don’t want to know the truth, because the truth has really dire consequences.

NATALIE: It does.

ANDREW: I would rather be naïve and not feel the pain than know that my husband is cheating on me regularly and masturbating to other women’s breasts. “No thanks! I don’t want to know what he does at night when I go to bed, because it hurts too bad.” That is where it cycles back into the grief. We must have the courage to live in truth, because God is truth. The more we live in truth, the more we experience God. That’s it. We must live in truth no matter if you are on the receiving end of these horrific betrayals or if you are the man, the perpetrator. You have to live in truth. You have to enter fully into these truthful conversations for liberation to be possible.

NATALIE: I think our culture, however, says that pornography isn’t that bad. From a biblical standpoint, would you say that pornography is a form of adultery?

ANDREW: I believe so, yes. Whenever we make somebody an object — objectification — I believe we are stripping the image of God from their face, because they no longer bear God’s image. They are just an object for me to get off on, for me to use. So much pornography has taught us to view women as objects and no longer human, no longer part of the imago dei — bearing the image of God — that they are just there for my consumption. They are just bodies. 

When you can objectify someone into no longer being human, you can do whatever you want to them. That’s where the violence comes in. That’s where the manipulation comes in. You are no longer a person. You are just there to serve me. My church says for you to submit to me and my culture says that. Everything is, in a sense, against these women and is telling them the exact opposite.

NATALIE: There’s a couple of things there to piggyback off. I’m wondering if you can share some things that a woman could look for so that she doesn’t have her head in the sand. Secondly, what can she do about it if she did find out?

ANDREW: The main thing, which, again, is difficult, is brokenness. It’s not just this kind of humble, “Oh, I got caught and I’m so sad.” But it is a brokenness that leads to life change. It is saying, “I’m going to go seek help.” It is not you looking up marriage therapists. It’s not you working so hard and finding the right books to give him. It is him getting off his lazy behind and seeking out help. It is him saying, “I’m going to pay whatever it takes. I’m going to fly out to Seattle and work with Andrew (or whoever you find to work with). I’m going to go do this to save my life, because I want to save it.”

NATALIE: Do people actually come out to you? Do you have, like, a weekend retreat, or how do you do that?

ANDREW: Oh yeah. I have a lot of intensives. People fly in from all over. This week we’re launching our new business. We’re going to be called the Christian Counseling Center for Sexual Health and Trauma. You can find that. But yes, people fly in from all over. Especially men who get caught cheating on their wives, because that’s the norm, right? Or my wife and I work with a lot of couples who are on their last leg. Basically, it takes initiative on his part to say, “I’m ready to be a different man. You’re going to see it through my actions. I’m not going to give you pretty words. I’m actually going to live it out, and you are going to see it.” To me, that is the only thing. It will be in his actions and in how he lives. It will be in the books he reads. It will be in the therapist that he pursues. That is the stuff that will really show a life changed.

NATALIE: I’m wondering, though. I think you may have thought my question was about the signs of his repentance. And that was great. It was all good stuff.  But I’m actually wondering, if a woman is like me and totally naïve and says, “I don’t want to know…” Now, let’s say she is listening and thinking, “Oh boy. I wonder why my husband does stay up late at night?” What are some of the signs that someone is doing that?

ANDREW: Yeah, that’s a different question/answer than the one I gave before. I would say that, back to the idea of living in truth, be straight up. Literally, face it head-on.

NATALIE: So just come out and ask him?

ANDREW: I would, yeah.

NATALIE: But they will just say “no.” I did. I asked my ex and he said, “No. I have not used pornography.”

ANDREW: Sure. Which is probably a bunch of bull, right? Again, all I am saying is that you don’t need to live hidden because he is living hidden. Your job is to be the most authentic, right? I would say, “Hey, babe. I’m actually really concerned. I heard these statistics today on this great podcast that 70% of men are using pornography. 70%, and I want to talk about it with you. What’s your story with pornography? What’s your story of sexual development? We’ve never really talked about that. I’m scared.” 

And he could be full of it, but you’re leading with vulnerability and courage. You’re leading with your own fear. You’re saying, “Hey, I want to talk about this more fully, because it’s an epidemic. How are we talking to our kids?” Here’s the deal. We’re not going to talk to our sons about it as fathers if we are using. We’re going to be so ashamed of it that we are going to be hidden. We’re not preparing our kids for how to engage with pornography. Talk about sexuality in a healthy way without shame.

NATALIE: So how do you engage your kids about pornography? I’m sure their dad is not doing that. I know that for sure. It is something I want to talk about with them.

ANDREW: Yeah, exposure now is at around eight years old. It’s crazy how now with everyone having phones in their pockets, younger and younger kids are getting exposed to hard-core pornography all the time. What I encourage people to do is to talk about it all the time. Not just pornography, but I start with bodies. We’re talking about our bodies and normalizing our bodies. 

My son is two, and he starts touching his penis everywhere. We’re in the grocery store, and he is masturbating in the grocery store. I thought, “Oh my gosh!” First, I feel shame and terror. I don’t want to shame my son, but how do I engage him? He’s only two. So at that moment, I handled it well. I looked at him and said, “Hey buddy. Do you see anyone else touching their penis in the grocery store?” He looked around and then said, “No, Daddy.” So I said, “Okay, that is something that we do at home in our bedroom,” or whatever. In that moment, we are talking about his penis. We’re talking about his body. We’re talking about how to use his body appropriately without the shame. 

You don’t say, “Oh my gosh! Don’t you do that! Your body is bad,” because then it just goes underground. It just gets hidden. I don’t want to create that hiddenness. That is what it was from my story. I just went underground with my shame and my sexuality. So I first want to normalize sexuality. We talk about our bodies. With our daughter, we talk about her vagina. We are open about our bodies. That leads us to these conversations. It is not just one “birds and the bees” talk, but it is hundreds of talks about our bodies — about what’s appropriate. How do we use our bodies? There’s a great resource called “Good Pictures Bad Pictures,” and “Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr.” is a great resource for younger kids to talk about pornography. There are good pictures and bad pictures, but it doesn’t make you bad. Those are just a few things off the top of my head.

NATALIE: Okay. I’ll find that and put a link to that. Is that something they can get on Amazon?

ANDREW: Yeah, totally.

NATALIE: Okay. Let’s say their husband says, “Yeah, I do struggle with that sometimes.” There’s a lot of women listening to this that already know their husbands use it. The story I hear from a lot of women is like the emotional abuse thing: “My husband says he’s going to stop. He makes an effort for a while, but then he goes back to doing it.” It’s this cycle that just keeps going around. What else can a woman do? There’s not much that she can do. It’s not her body. It’s not her choice. So is there anything?

ANDREW: Right. But, again, if she has a poor relationship with herself, she’s not going to require much. She’s not going to require fidelity. She’s not going to say, “No, we need help. We need to do something about this. I am not okay with this. I’m not okay with you being with other women. I actually love myself enough to require more.” That really pushes back to “What is your relationship with yourself? How have you come into relationship with yourself?” Anytime I work with women who have a history of DV, we first start with their relationship with themselves. Normally, what we hate is what we require of others in the sense of, if I hate myself, I am going to bring that. I am going to require others to hate me as well. Our self-contempt draws more contempt.

NATALIE: That is profound. There are a lot of women listening and that will be a huge lightbulb for them.

ANDREW: Good. If I have a healthy relationship with myself, if I love myself, then I’m going to require that from my partner.

NATALIE: Yeah. But see, we’ve been brainwashed. Most of us have been brainwashed with the idea that you can’t… “To love yourself,” when I hear that (and I talk about that all the time now), what comes up in my mind is everything that I was brainwashed with: “That is selfish, that isn’t Christlike, that’s not biblical, that’s a bunch of psychological mumbo jumbo.” Yet, that has been the key to my healing, really. Turning and taking care and seeing myself as… I see other people as valuable, but I don’t see myself as valuable.

ANDREW: Totally, and that is where we are confused in the Christian world. I write a lot about this in my book, “Stumbling Towards Wholeness.” We’ve confused humility with self-hatred. Somehow, we think that hating yourself is humility, and it’s the opposite. I think self-hatred is actually quite prideful, because we make it all about ourselves. But humility is actually not self-hatred. It is knowing my depravity and knowing my glory equally. I am a good man, but I also know that I am capable of great darkness, and I’ve done a lot of dark things in my past. I’ve done a lot of horrible things. That is in me, and yet I’m a good man. I can hold both. That’s going to make me not too prideful, and it’s going to make me not too self-contemptuous.

NATALIE: Right. When you know that you are safe in Christ and that He loves you with unconditional never failing love, then you are more free to get your eyes off of yourself and off of your shame and look at other people and not be afraid of failing, making mistakes, saying something wrong, or being terrified of the reactions of other people, because you are free to love them. Even if they reject you, you haven’t lost anything, because you went into it offering love.

ANDREW: Yes, exactly. Well said. A few other points for women who find themselves either in a relationship with a man who might be using porn or questioning it: one is trust your gut. I feel like women have such an adverse relationship to their bodies because of whatever stories the culture gives. But your body is good. Trust your gut. Trust that God lives in your body. Jesus Christ is in you, so trust your gut. If you feel betrayed, it’s probably because you have been. If you feel like he’s being secretive, it’s probably because he is and he’s hiding something. Trust your gut. It doesn’t mean you need to confront him and accuse him. But talk about your fears and about what’s going on for you. 

The second thing is that it is also not your fault if he is using. So many women turn on themselves (that’s back to the self-contempt piece) and the church can reaffirm it. I’ve heard it over and over again. “Just be more sexual. Just give him more sex. Do what he wants sexually.” Errrr, wrong! It’s not your fault that he has no integrity. It’s not your fault that he’s a sex addict. Something is not wrong with your body because he likes airbrushed women with fake breasts. That’s not your body. It’s not your fault. It’s his brain damage that is the problem.

NATALIE: Right. And from your perspective in coming out of that, if your wife had gone overboard by trying to be more attractive or whatever in the ways that you were seeing on a computer screen, would that have made a difference anyway? Would that have made you say, “Well, now I don’t need the porn anymore”?

ANDREW: It’s never enough. That’s the thing about sexual addiction. It never suffices. I always want more. I always need something kinkier, something darker. It gets darker and darker, and it’s never enough. So no, it does not matter if you scratch that itch right now. I’m going to have a new one tomorrow.

NATALIE: Is there anything else that you have for women?

ANDREW: Yeah. I made this point before, but his integrity is not up to you. The term “differentiation” is where you actually separate from him. You don’t need to be intertwined with him. If he has a lack of integrity, that’s on him. That’s between him and his relationship with God. A healthy you is actually what is most important in having a healthy relationship.

NATALIE: I think in Christian circles, though, we’ve been taught that when you are married, the idea of one flesh means that you are enmeshed — that you bear one another’s responsibilities, that he’s responsible for your sin, and you’re responsible for his sin. It’s so unhealthy.

ANDREW: It’s so twisted, and it’s not what marriage covenant means. The healthiest relationships that I see are not when two half-wounded people get together and try to make each other whole. Those are really toxic relationships. The healthiest relationships are when I know who I am and you know who you are, and then we come together. It is still messy, but we make concessions, we barter, and we live into our fullness with each other. That is very different than two broken people trying to fix each other.

NATALIE: Right. Okay, we’re going to wrap this up, but I’d like you to tell us when you look ahead into 2020, what is something that you are looking forward to? You shared a little bit about the launch you have coming, so tell us more about that.

ANDREW: Yeah. So this week, as the books have gotten out and we’ve gotten a bit more popularity, we decided we needed to expand our counseling practice. We’re trying to grow our practice in a way where we do more intensives and group work because we are finding a lot of energy in that, and slowing down in the individual sessions. You can find it in the next week at www.christiancc.org. It’s going to be called the Christian Counseling Center for Sexual Health and Trauma. So sexual health and trauma work is going to be our main focus. 

We’ll be doing intensives and marriage intensives in both Seattle and North Carolina. We’re trying to expand so we’ll be in North Carolina in the summers. That is my home, and I miss it so much. So we’ll try to do North Carolina in the summers and Seattle during the rest of the year. We’ll be doing these intensives and group work, mostly, and growing that part of our business. We’ll continue to sell our products. We have a film. We have quite a few books now.

NATALIE: I am actually going to Seattle tomorrow.

ANDREW: No way!

NATALIE: Coincidentally, I’ve never been there before, but my husband’s best friend lives out there. We’ve been wanting to go out there for two years, but we’re just going for the weekend. I heard it’s going to be raining the whole time.

ANDREW: Oh jeez.

NATALIE: I know. I’m so bummed because there are some beautiful things to see there.

ANDREW: It’s so beautiful. My best friend is flying in from North Carolina tomorrow, and then we have our ten year wedding anniversary on Friday. So we’ll be hanging out, but yes, it is probably going to be freezing and rainy. But it’s awesome that you’re coming our way.

NATALIE: Well, that is funny that you are from there. I forgot one of the questions I wanted to ask you. I wanted to ask about what you do with a woman or a couple who comes in and the husband just doesn’t seem to be making progress? Do you support a woman if she decides that she just needs to get out of that marriage, then, and needs to be free? How do you handle a situation like that?

ANDREW: Oh, yeah! I definitely encourage… I normally take the first step of a legal separation. Let’s separate and see if he does his work. Let’s see if he addresses his issues. But if that doesn’t happen, then you must do what you need to do to survive and to be healthy and happy. Again, I work with a lot of narcissistic men, and I kind of get a sick pleasure in confronting them. So I take that on pretty regularly. It normally doesn’t go too well. They don’t really like it, because people don’t normally take on narcissists because there is blow back. There are a few times I thought I might get murdered, but it hasn’t happened yet. But there is a deep violence that has to be taken on, that has to be confronted head on. That’s what I do. 

Again, both people have to be willing. A lot of times I see the women willing to work on it, and I encourage them to do their work and dive in. Yet, a lot of times I encourage them to do it solo if the man is not willing. Sometimes the man will get roped in and he’ll fly out here. We try to do some screening, and we may end up doing more of it. But sometimes it doesn’t go too well, because they aren’t willing to look at their own issues.

NATALIE: Right. The interesting thing about narcissistic types of people is that they are so predictable, so you can actually have a lot of fun with them. I loved it when you said, was it “sadistic pleasure”?

ANDREW: “Sick pleasure.”

NATALIE: Sometimes I have interacted with some of these people on Facebook, and sometimes I just can’t help myself. It is so much fun, because you know exactly what to say because you know exactly what they are going to say. Sometimes it’s kind of fun to play around with that, but I don’t recommend it to my listeners. Please don’t do that. It’s not very…

ANDREW: Yeah, you have to be in a different place. I have a privilege as a man. Even when we do couples counseling and my wife is engaging in real time, they respond very differently to me than they respond to her. I have a certain weight because I am a powerful man, so I can speak these intense things to them in a way that they would just dismiss my wife.

NATALIE: Yes, which is really sad, and also an illustration of…

ANDREW: …their hatred of the feminine.

NATALIE: Yeah. Well, this has been a wonderful podcast. I really appreciate your time, Andrew. We’ll have to have you back, and I want to interview your wife too, sometime, especially when her book comes out.

ANDREW: Yeah, she is setting up interviews now, so I’ll give you her contact info as she is setting up for the book launch.

NATALIE: That sounds great.

ANDREW: Thank you so much for having me.

NATALIE: Have a wonderful weekend. Have a great tenth anniversary.

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    I was 17 when i met him as he was a coach at my high school Little did i know he was looking for a virgin he could mold and make into the perfect wife and mother. He should have gone to jail for statutory rape but he convinced me that our love was from God and that made the relationship legal. Married for over 35 years to an emotionally, financially, sexually abusive man who claimed to be Godly and perfect. He would “perform” for strangers and then go weeks without speaking to me. He refused to work and provide for his family. He only gave me “scraps” of attention at vary rare times. He expected me to continue to fulfill him sexually despite the pornography and the sexual perversion he tried to coerce me into role-playing. He threatened me many times that “that part of my life is not over and i will do what i have to do” meaning if i did not sexually fulfill him he would go get it elsewhere. I was told “I love you but i do not love you like i used to” for over 20 years. Numerous times I was told how dumb, how immature, how imperfect I was. My every move was criticized and scrutinized. He “coached” me because i was incapable of accomplishing a task the “right” way (his way). I always worked the entire marriage yet he forced me to live on an allowance of $250 every two weeks. That allowance was to be used for EVERY need i had i.e. gas, clothing, makeup, toiletries, feminine products, lunch while at work, hair salon and nail salon. Also, that money was for the children if i needed to pick up fast food, give them spending money for field trips, etc. Obviously, i lived in constant fear of not having enough money to cover expenses. He did not work but asked for me to hand my pay check over. I had NO access to bank accounts and if i should use the credit card out of need, he would demand i account for every spend on the statement. As soon as I married him, he began to slowly keep me from my family. He would not offer to go see my parents yet he saw his daily. I was never allowed to go on vacation with my family yet he took numerous vacations each year his. I heard how my family was ignorant and trashy and if expected him to be a “pussy” (sorry for the curse word) like my Daddy and my brothers-in-law, i had married the wrong man. My children were kept away from the grandparents and only allowed to visit them if his rules were enforced. My family is very normal and successful with multiple law enforcement jobs, entrepreneurs, etc. so he had no reason to keep them from my family. He only allowed My biggest fault and failure was hiding ALL of this from my children and my family in an attempt to be Biblically submissive as I never thought divorce was an option due to my strong Christian Faith and upbringing. I thought if only i could act perfect enough, give in to his every want and need, be completely submissive and allow him to make all the decisions, he would finally be happy. Wow! He grew more distant, angrier, more depressed, always had a physical ailment, rarely complimented me or the children on anything, completely stopped putting forth effort to make me feel he even remotely loved me. No cards on Mother’s Day followed up with “she’s not my mother” as he talked with our grown daughter. Typing all of this i think to myself how did i make it as long as i did. Well, two years ago i met a man and grew to know him. I said to myself, this is what normal Godly love is. I had an affair and i am not asking anyone to make me feel better by saying it was a result of the abuse. But i am begging to hear if other women were so devastated by the years of abuse that they were desperate for love and kindness and caring. My story is pages long and this is just a small glimpse into my life. Thank you for listening.

    Reply
    • Natalie Hoffman

      There are several women in our private community who could relate to your experience. I’m so sorry for all you’ve been through. We’d love to support you and help you experience life giving, transformative healing in Flying Free. Learn more about this program here: http://www.joinflyingfree.com

      Reply
  2. Avatar

    Follow up question for Andrew – how, in your opinion, do we get more men involved in challenging misogyny? How do we make it so you aren’t a “unicorn”?

    Reply
    • Avatar

      My spouse would cook, clean exactly how you explained here…but he was still emotionally destructive and misogynistic to me…can you speak to that so that we can understand that this too does happen…tganks

      Reply

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