People Are More Important Than Things

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Few of us would argue with the title of this article. Yet, in our daily lives, and particularly in the lives of men who suffer from sexual addiction, the truthfulness of this statement is not translated into daily living.

Several days ago the following comments were made in my office: ‘I was enjoying a serious conversation with my son when his cell phone rang and instead of letting it go to voice mail he answered it. He spent ten minutes talking to someone else. I was infuriated! After he hung up I told him that he was rude, that he didn’t care about me, and that I didn’t want to be in a relationship with him if he was going to treat me like that.’

The man who made these comments is a 60-year-old man who is trying to re-establish a relationship with his 40-year-old son. He has a long history of addictive behaviors with alcohol, marijuana, and multiple affairs. Now, after a lifetime of avoiding emotional intimacy with his family, my client is coming to realize the importance of relationships. Yet, at the first indication of conflict or devaluation, he was willing to throw out all that he had worked for with his son.

Certainly he had justification to be hurt. His son was acting rudely by spending so much time with the person who was calling on the phone. The message received by my client was that the caller was more important. But the message explicitly conveyed in anger from father to son was that the whole relationship was being terminated. As he related this story to me in my office, I was struck by the fact that he was still serious about ending the relationship, even after several days to cool down. People are just not that important to him. His relationships with alcohol, marijuana, and sex have been far more loyal over the years than his interpersonal relationships with people.

If we are made in God’s image, and we were made to be in relationship with Him, then the need for interpersonal relationships is woven into the very fabric of our being. Turning to a pseudo relationship with ‘things’ rather than people is like trying to spend your life using counterfeit money. It seems to work at first, but such a life is based on lies and deception, and it always catches up with you. Substituting objectifying sex for true intimacy is no different than using counterfeit money.

When people have become the source of pain, either unresolved pain from the past and/or pain in the here-and-now, the allure of ‘things’ becomes so much greater. It can be argued that obsessive preoccupation with any material thing is actually a smokescreen, a way of avoiding painful wounds of past relationships. Giving up the things of this world, whether it is drugs, sex, food, material things like a new car, or even some relationships, will expose us to that which we are running from and trying to avoid at all costs.

In those moments of exposure, do you find yourself in places of safety, or, do you find yourself in places where you will be hurt again? To open up and talk about the pain with someone who has been deeply hurt by you might not be the best place to start. You’ll only confirm the belief that people are too dangerous and intimacy is an illusion. To face deep emotional pain without preparation, planning, and support is a recipe for catastrophe. Your wife and family deserve better. It would be like trying to save someone who is drowning when neither of you can swim.

Don’t let the things of this world STOP YOU from taking care of yourself!

Therapy, Every Man’s Battle conferences, and even trustworthy friends may be the best place to start the recovery process, rather than with a wife or relatives who are already hurt and emotionally invested in you. The chances of your successful recovery will improve dramatically if you seek ongoing support and help from people who have been where you are now.

People are more important than things, and that includes you too. Don’t let the things of this world stop you from taking care of yourself in the way that promotes healing, better relationships, and a closer walk with the Lord.

For more help, consider attending one of our Weekend Workshops or call 1800-NEW-LIFE(639-5433) for more information on Every Man’s Battle.

Will She Ever Trust Me Again?

Building Trust

While conducting the Every Man’s Battle seminar, a question I often hear from married men is: ‘I’ve admitted my sin, apologized to my wife and tried to make it right. She says she forgives me but can’t trust me. Will she ever trust me again?’

Rebuilding trust is like rebuilding credit. It can be done, but only through a combination of time and consistency.

So if broken trust is a challenge to your marriage, let me offer you three ideas on how to rebuild it.

First, get a solid structure put in place. A solid structure is a combination of accountability, daily prayer, Bible reading, and regular consultation with a pastor, mentor or Christian counselor. Find yourself a good men’s accountability group, or a good Christian therapist(call 1-800-NEW LIFE if you need help with that) An accountability group is a great option since connection is a necessity to having transformation in your life! I encourage you to also begin a daily habit of devotion, personal prayer and some time spent reading scripture. Let your wife know, in writing preferably, what your structure is. List the name of your group leader, your counselor, and the schedule you’re adopting. Give her a copy, so she knows what program you’re following, and tell her she can watch you to see if you’re sticking to it. You’ll probably be surprised how much trust this alone can build.

Second, set aside a weekly time – maybe an hour or so to do nothing but listen to her. Tell her it’s her time to tell you how she feels about your marriage, about your progress, about herself, or anything else that’s on her mind. During her ‘listening’ time, try not to interrupt her or argue. You simply listen carefully to her concerns, and make sure she knows you share them. This habit will show her that, in contrast to the selfishness you displayed through your sexual sin, you’re now putting her, and her needs, first.

Finally, don’t rush her. She’s been wounded, and wounds are healed, not erased. So give her time. Give her the time and space she needs to be angry and sad, as she grieves over the blow your marriage has endured. By patiently waiting for her confidence in you to rebuild, you’ll show her that you take responsibility for your behavior by not expecting her to ‘just get over it.’ She needs that from you. So if both of you will patiently invest in time and consistency, you’ll reap an enormous level of strength and intimacy in your relationship. In the end, the trust she’s lost can be restored, added to, and treasured.

Join us for one of our Weekend Workshops or the couples group for rebuilding marriages affected by lust, pornography, or infidelity. By God’s grace, your marriage will be renewed and transformed.

A Necessary Battle

“You have been given the choice between war and dishonor. You have chosen dishonor, and you will have war!” – Winston Churchill to the English Parliament, 1938

After the English Parliament’s 1938 appeasement in Czechoslovakia, Churchill saw the danger of choosing peace, when honor and common sense called for battle. History, of course, would confirm his point: Refusing to fight an honorable battle may afford a temporary peace, but in the long run, it’s a peace too costly. Delaying a necessary battle may well result in devastating, full scale war.

Every man who’s gotten involved in sexual sin makes a decision between battle and dishonor. Somehow as dishonor always seem to look like an easier choice.

Dishonor means making peace with your sin. It means telling yourself that after so many years, it’s become such a part of your life that trying to cut it out would be too traumatic, too uncomfortable. It would mean saying goodbye to a reliable (though destructive) friend, and the battle to abstain from this ‘friend’, with all the temptations and struggles it would involve, seems too demanding. So a dishonorable compromise is reached when a man decides to live in peaceful co-existence with sexual sin.

Tyrants never co-exist peacefully. By nature, they demand increased territory, fewer limitations, more captives. So the sin that a man decides not to go to war against ‘ the pornography, the affair, the commercial sex ‘ soon demands more territory. It begins invading his career, his family, health and reputation. By the time he realizes he has to go to war against it, he’s already relinquished too much ground. Now he finds that what could have been a brief skirmish, if paid attention to early, has become full blown war. He chose dishonor over battle. In the end, he winds up with both.

Every month the Every Man’s Battle staff has the pleasure of meeting men who have chosen an honorable war. They’ve decided that whatever pleasure or meaning they’ve derived from sexual impurity, it is no longer worth the territory they’ve surrendered to it. They’re fighting mad, enlisted, and committed. And if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you are, too.

It’s an honor to join you in the fight.

If you would like more information about Every Man’s Battle, please call 1800-639-5433.