Learning to Live Within Limits in Our Recovery

Clint Thomas

Do you like to live within limits? Chances are, if you checked your Sunday school answers at the door, you answered no. Sometimes it becomes very easy to think like our individualistic culture and say, ‘everything I want can and will be mine.’ We may begin to think very much like an entitled two-year old whose favorite word is ‘mine.’

Unfortunately this attitude can hurt us in the long run.

Have you ever watched TV all day, or eaten nothing but junk for one day? By the end of the day you feel no energy for anything. It might have been enjoyable in a small dose but excess leads to misery.

And so it goes in our recovery. We have taken a good thing that God made (sex) and overused and misused it to the point that it is no longer truly satisfying.

Because we tend to dislike limits we tend to think pushing the limits will increase satisfaction when all it does is lead us into a prison of misery that may feel hopeless to escape.

This tendency to push limits and want more may have cost some their job, wife, children, and /or dignity. More subtly it produces a lack of intimacy leaving relationships feeling empty and unsatisfying. It also may lead to habits that become so ingrained that they go unnoticed.

One of these is hyperstimulation. You know this one. It plays out like this-someone during a meeting at work says something and you smirk because you thought about the obscure sexual innuendo. Your colleague asks you what is funny and you say embarrassed, ‘Oh, nothing.’ Or how about the way the eyes wander when and where they are not supposed to automatically. It’s enough to make a man want to throw his hands up and say, ‘this is just the way I am wired’ and give in to the impulses. What’s missing is an understanding that you have trained yourself to live without limits.

Now its time to train yourself to live within limits.

Proverbs 7:7 says, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.’  We have been fools that need wisdom and discipline. God’s Ten Commandments give us perfect picture of what this wisdom and discipline look like. I once had a wise teacher who gave a picture of how the Ten Commandments operate. Imagine life is like a playground. On the playground are lots of games and playground equipment that are fun and good for play. There is a fence around the playground. The teacher tells you that you can have lots of guaranteed safe fun within the limits of the fence. He also tells you that you have the freedom to go outside the fence but he cannot guarantee fun there, in fact you may get hurt.

Gentlemen some of us have played outside the fence and have gotten hurt. The good news is God lets us come back on the playground and have fun with the rest of the kids. This does not mean that the games you played outside of the fence aren’t still attractive or that the games inside the fence seem as fun at first. We now have to go about the task of deadening our taste for those games on the outside and develop a taste for the games on the inside.

Practically we may have to increase accountability about Internet use or terminate it altogether for a time. We may have to get rid of cable. We will need to develop some real intimacy with others and get an accountability partner and an accountability group. Engage in effort to get to know your wife better. Actively engage in more Bible study, meditation, and prayer.

Developing and practicing habits like these will begin to ground you and you will grow to appreciate and even cherish the limits of your recovery.

For more help on this subject, see Every Man’s Battle.
If you have already attended Every Man’s Battle, please join us–with your wife–at our next New Life Weekend.

Understanding Your Wife’s Heart: Part 8

The Wife of an EMB Attendee

Bearing The Pain of my Husbands Sexual Sin

Today I was overwhelmed with despair. The multitude of failed attempts to overcome his sins, the vastness of the temptations that surround him, how could I ever trust him, find any peace or live with a man who would most likely continue to fail me. Tears flooding, strength zapped. What was God trying to teach me? What good was I doing in my current state? I was not a witness of Christ’s love or strength, and definitely not of His forgiveness!

Yet my sorrow must have a lesson for me, what am I not learning?

“I bore all this pain, this despair” I heard Christ whispering in my ear. “I already have felt your grief, your hopelessness – why do you wish to bear it too?” “I not only felt and suffered for your husband’s sins but also suffered the ramifications it has had on you?” “Do you hear me, are you listening?” “Give me your suffering, I can bear it, for I already have, Jesus said to me.” “Do not take on this burden, for it is not yours to bear.”

I could barely grasp what God was saying. Was he telling me I didn’t need to suffer the consequence of my husband’s sins? How far, how many of these consequences would Christ take-on for me, (literally remove from me); my sense of abandonment & despair, my poor self-esteem, my loss of power and peace?

I had always known that God took away my sins and could give me joy when my sins were forgiven. But this was different. Could he take on the aftermath: the pain, humiliation, and despondence that I was suffering from my husband’s sins?

Why wouldn’t He, I asked myself? Do I deserve this? Is this my lot in life for making poor choices? No! No! I heard screaming in my heart, God wants me to be at peace in all circumstances.

DO YOU KNOW SO LITTLE ABOUT MY LOVE, Jesus said? Did I abandon Daniel in the lion’s den? Did I not comfort Paul when he was in prison? Was I not there when Saul pursued David and sought to kill him? God wants to comfort me! God wants to bear my agony! God wants to give me hope when I feel hopeless!

Is it pride or ignorance, I asked Jesus? Has pride or a lack of knowing who you are kept me from this truth? I must continually dwell on your sacrificial love. I must seek with my whole heart, mind and soul to know you better, as if it were the very air I breathe, the substance that keeps me alive. For you my God, are my substance, my only source for true peace.

Oh, how the devil wishes to keep me down, keep me from knowing you fully! What sufferings have I bore needlessly!

How do I claim this prize, this peace, Jesus? It is so vast and hard to comprehend; can I retain it, draw from its power when I am feeling desperate? Help me God, I don’t even know what powers you have for me to use, let alone know how to use them! Don’t let me forget this lesson; that YOU, JESUS, WANT TO BEAR MY PAIN WHEN OTHERS HURT ME, AND REPLACE IT WITH YOUR PEACE AND POWER!

Men, after attending Every Man’s Battle, we strongly encourage you to attend our marriage program at our New Life Weekend
This weekend will help your marriage to heal from the wounds of
impurity and will especially help your wife with questions that she
still may have.


Understanding Your Wife’s Heart: Part 10

New Life Ministries

Honesty is perhaps one of the most basic needs in marriage. Without honesty, problems that may destroy the relationship can lie hidden for years, building momentum, creating blocks to intimacy, and then suddenly surfacing larger than life to wreak destruction in your marriage.

Honesty is the foundation upon which all other aspects of marriage are built. With honesty you know exactly how your actions will affect your mate, and you can make the necessary adjustments to accommodate his or her feelings.

With honesty, you and your spouse are aware of each other’s weaknesses, and can work with that knowledge.

Knowing and understanding the thoughtless things you might be inclined to do, allows you to take precautions to prevent that from happening. ‘But we are honest!’ you say?

How honest are you? Is there a line you can draw which marks where a little bit of secrecy turns into dishonesty? Is there such a thing as mostly honest?

Being honest is like being pregnant, or alive. You either are, or you’re not. There is no half way, no mostly, about any of those things. In marriage, partners must learn to become completely honest with each other if they are to achieve true intimacy.

Here’s a little quiz. Do you, or have you, shared the following information with your spouse? Do you know the same sorts of things about him or her in return?

Your past. Does your mate know all there is to know about: former lovers, friends, occupations, dreams, mistakes, achievements, failures?

Your feelings. How do you feel about the events of your life? Especially your reactions to the things that your mate does? How do you feel about the life you have created together?

Today. What are your plans for the day? Who will you see, what will you talk about, where will you go, when will you be home, how can you be reached?

Tomorrow. What are your hopes and dreams and plans? What are your goals?

Anything left unasked above. Does your spouse know as much as you do about yourself?

Well now, I can just see you shaking your heads in disbelief. She must be crazy to think that I would share my past failures, or the fact that my spouse’s job really annoys me. Talking about those things would just cause a fight to end all fights.

But is it the honesty that causes the argument, or is it the things you have been hiding? Is it speaking the truth, or is it the manner in which you deliver the message? Which brings us to a couple of points that need to be touched upon.

First, how well do you handle your spouse’s honesty? Do you become upset, yell, threaten, or criticize when your partner shares difficult information? If so, then you are fostering dishonesty in your marriage.

You would be well advised to make a practice of thanking your spouse for whatever information he or she shares. If it is too difficult at the time for you to handle the things your spouse is sharing with you, then express your thanks and ask for some time to process what you’ve heard.

When you share information with your partner, do you do it in a way that is calm, respectful and pleasant? Saying something like, ‘You lazy thing, all you ever do is sit around and look at trash on tv, you never do anything to keep the house up,’ is not being honest. It’s being rude and disrespectful. Saying instead, ‘I’m overwhelmed with things I’d like to get done, and I’m wondering if there’s a way you would be willing to help me out?’ is honest and respectful.

Honesty needs to be framed in a way that is respectful of how the other person feels. This is not to say that you should not convey information that might be upsetting. It simply means that you must do so in a way that is as considerate as possible.

One of the things that I emphasize strongly with couples that come to me for help, is the practice of sharing with their spouses, their own reactions to his or her behavior.

So often we are afraid to tell our mate that he or she has offended us in some way. Frequently it was something done in innocence, and we want to overlook it. Unfortunately, when we do that, our feelings for our partner are adversely affected. And we deprive them of the ability to make necessary adjustments in their behavior to take our feelings into account.

If you have very difficult information that you have been withholding from your spouse, then you might want to consider enlisting the help of a professional. Things such as past or current infidelity are incredibly hard to confess, and even harder to hear. Sharing with the help of a caring third party can ease the process.

Honesty is the bedrock of marriage. It is essential for trust, for building compatibility, for creating a way of life that you both enjoy, and for maintaining the feelings of love in marriage. If you are serious about saving your marriage, or about keeping alive the love you have now, you must begin with real and complete honesty.

After attending Every Man’s Battle, we strongly encourage you to attend our marriage program at our New Life Weekend
This weekend will help your marriage to heal from the wounds of
impurity and will especially help your wife with questions that she
still may have.