Protecting Me at Your Expense

One thing a lot of married men don’t realize in the recovery process is that self protection always does damage to our wives’ heart. In effect when we lie, excuse, blame, hide, avoid, criticize and minimize we are saying, “I am willing to protect myself at your expense”. We like to think self-protection has a zero impact. We like to think that not acting out anymore is enough.

But it’s not.

We have to decide that we will stop protecting ourselves for the sake of our wives. We must deliberately engage their pain, some of which we caused and some we didn’t, to become an accessory to her healing. For some of us, that means we’re going to have to stop demanding that our wives fix themselves, and instead focus on creating a safe container for them to come to terms with their own brokenness.

If your wife feels like she’ll be blamed, shamed, criticized, rejected, abandoned, or will hear “I told you so” for admitting her own faults and insecurities you are NOT creating a safe container.

Just a few weeks ago Shelley qualified a statement she was about to make to me by saying, “I’m afraid to share this with you because I’m afraid of what you’ll think of me”. Translation: Jason hasn’t created a safe enough container for Shelley to be vulnerable with her deepest insecurities.

So what do we need to do to create a safe space for our wives’ to heal? I obviously haven’t done it perfectly, so here are 2 key things I’m working on:

1) Remembering that I’m no one to judge, and I am called to extend the grace I’ve been given. After being addicted to porn and committing serial adultery, I’d say I have no leg to stand on to judge her sin. I need to remind myself of that, not in a shaming way, but in a grace way.

2) Intentionally monitoring my response when she shares something less vulnerable. I realize that sometimes when she shares simple, kinda silly things with me I blow them off. I’ll dismiss them, laugh at them and minimize them. Logically, if I can’t take a small thing seriously, how can she possibly trust me to take a huge thing seriously?

After I post this, I’m going to ask Shelley what I need to work on to be more safe. I want to know what she thinks I need to tweak so that she can naturally share more of her heart.

Will you ask your wife the same question?

 

Default Settings

This weekend it was beautiful in Denver, so Shelley and I took the boys for a hike. The area, known as Red Rocks, is a gorgeous setting. It has huge rock outcroppings, a path/trail that the boys can handle and then a popular amphitheater. We wanted the boys to see it, but as we crested the final stairway I was reminded what makes the place so popular.

It’s not because of the concerts that go on there, but instead because it is a workout mecca. The steep seating sections, the stairs and the atmosphere make it virtually an outdoor gym so people flock to it especially when the weather is nice. And by people, I mean the fittest of the fit. There were skimpy shorts, workout clothes and entirely too much skin showing. I had a moment of panic, bouncing my eyes in every direction, wondering how Shelley was feeling, thinking I should cover my kids’ eyes, yet not wanting to cause a scene with any of it.

For a minute it felt like I was in some overpowering situation where these evil people were casting a spell on me drawing out the lustful urges inside and creating an out of control monster. Like somehow seeing these people and being in this setting should cause fear and intimidation. For years that was my default setting; to be in a situation like this and freak out for nearly having an anxiety attack.

Then I gained some clarity. I didn’t need to freak out. I’m not an out of control lust monster. I don’t have to live in fear. I am a dearly loved, infinitely valuable child of God. My worth and value are rooted in my identity in Christ, not whether or not I lust and not in my physical fitness. These people aren’t evil either. Some of them are probably followers of Jesus. Some of them have a struggle with vanity. Some have no idea what it means to leave something to the imagination. But they aren’t evil.

The default freak out setting can change and instead become a calm, secure, grounded setting.

Does that mean I can be reckless with my eyes? No. Does that mean we need to hang around the place for any extended time? No. Does it mean I need to cause a scene? No.

Remember temptation and lust have no control over you. You don’t have to live in fear and anxiety. You are a child of the risen King, dearly loved and infinitely valuable. You’re not a monster or a pervert. Your default setting can change and become calm, secure and grounded.