Over the course of my next three posts we will fundamentally explore an ever growing category of self-centeredness that is tearing marital relationships asunder. Addictions have to represent the most common coping mechanism in our society. They run the gamut from drugs, alcohol, and pornography to shopaholism and a variety of others, too many to mention. Sometimes they can take on quite a noble air; workaholism is a great example. What could be wrong about working hard for my family? Motivation is always the core issue. More often than not, people who work all the time are trying to escape from their family for any number of reasons. For a man who doesn’t feel secure in his marriage, he will dive into his work where he gets the recognition he craves; it’s easier than putting forth effort into something he may not be good at—for example, relationships.
In fact all addictions, even where there may be a genetic or environmental predisposition, are determined by the motivation to pursue avenues of escape. After all, not everyone raised by an alcoholic is cursed to live a life of alcoholism. A man (or woman) reared by a workaholic is not doomed to live that type of life, although you may have been taught that such behavior is one way to handle issues you would prefer not to deal with. Predisposition does not mean you don’t have a choice about such things. But if a person is not deliberate about their behavior and fully aware of past predispositions, the odds are great that they will indeed become what they swear they will never be. No one should be relieved of the responsibility of personal choice.
Fear of intimacy and relationship can easily lead to addictions to pornography. There is no fear of engaging in intimate behavior with a person printed on a page, or the unfortunate damaged people performing in sex films. You never have to worry about being rejected or measuring up. You can pretend to be whoever you like in your fantasy realm. The problem is, it’s not real, and eventually you have to come back to the same issues and stressors you tried to escape from.
For the workaholic, you are always on top, always the best. You put forth every effort to please the boss. The boss can be much easier to please because there is no emotional investment in the other person. The expectations are very clear and the accolades are direct. If you do your job, you get personal recognition or financial rewards. Again, little of it has to do with the uncertainty of relational expertise, which can be daunting for men. Combine that with our manly plague of pride and it creates problems in developing transparency in relationship with both women and other men.
In part two we identify a common element in ALL addictions…a hole in the heart.
©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design
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