Facing the Scary ‘C’ Word: ‘Confrontation’

Dan Jenkins

– The Balance of Love and Law –

One of the most difficult things about interpersonal relationships is the occasional need to confront another person about their behavior. If you are like me, you do your best to avoid confrontation, usually with a justification like, ‘Well, the Bible calls us to be long-suffering.’ However, when I look at my true motives, I often find that they are not so righteous. Instead, my motives are self-centered and based upon faulty beliefs that have their roots in my childhood. Let me explain.

Very early in life you learned a very important lesson about obedience. If you obeyed your parents, then nothing bad would happen. If you didn’t obey, you would get punished, restricted, or experience some kind of pain. Sometimes you’d get into trouble and you had no clue what you did wrong. In either case, you had to learn to conform to some standard, some rule, that was placed upon you. If you didn’t conform to the rules, you would quickly run into bigger trouble with the powers that be.

Of course, learning to follow the rules of the family, classroom, society, etc., is not a bad thing in the least. Failure to obey all these rules would be disastrous to any individual.

But what if you were raised in a family that had lots of rules but very little love? What if the rules seemed more important than the people they were designed to protect? Personalities are shaped during the early years of our lives, and if your family environment was filled with lots of ‘law’ but very little ‘love’ we would expect several significant impacts upon your development.

In a family heavy in law but light on love, it may become very important to you to never be wrong . . . about anything. Without a foundation of attachment and love, the value of a person would come from following the rules and never doing anything wrong. Yet, this fragile sense of self-worth would be constantly challenged because no one can do everything right all the time. Over and over again, you would be found to be at fault for not being perfect. If a mistake is made, it would have to be denied and covered up, or the result would be a deep sense of self-doubt and personal shame. Like men with sexual addiction, the sin must be hidden, kept in darkness, or the shame would be overwhelming.

Additionally, it is difficult to confront someone about a behavior when you have far worse offenses hidden below the surface. Your wife may feel the same way when she knows about the sexual acting out behavior, and in her mind you have no right to confront her about anything until the Lord returns. ‘You broke the rules of our marriage and now you owe me big.’ If this debt can never be repaid and you cannot confront her again, then you will grow more and more resentful about the imbalance of power in the relationship. You must be able to share with your spouse both the good and the bad ways you are affected by her. Such is the basis of emotional intimacy, and without it, your relationship cannot stay healthy.

– To Slam or Clam, Either is a Sham –

Many of the men I work with in my private practice have tremendous difficulty confronting their wives about anything. They may be hurt by something she said or did, but instead of saying anything to her, the typical response is to clam up. Unfortunately, this technique only serves to confirm a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness. Sometimes wives will actually try to get a response to see if their husband is emotionally alive. It’s as if he has turned off his emotions and she is left with the dubious task of trying to read his mind by any little thing he says or does.

Passive withdrawal can kill two birds with one stone. It is a response to our own fear and insecurity. Like a child in school who is afraid to raise his hand to answer the question, we hold fast to the rule, ‘when in doubt do nothing.’ But simultaneously, it can be a passive expression of hostility because the emotional shutdown usually drives the wife up a wall. If we have been hurt by her, the clamming up response can bring some satisfaction when we see the resultant frustration developing in her.

The other option is to let the fury fly and slam the person who needs confrontation. If their behavior has been eating away at us for any length of time, the confrontation could easily become an explosion. Like the proverbial pressure-cooker analogy, the steam release valve isn’t working properly, so an explosion is eminent. The emotions come out in a cathartic outpouring and the recipient of the anger doesn’t understand why it is so intense.

Both ‘Clamming’ and ‘Slamming’ are different sides of the same dysfunctional coin. The answer is to be assertive in expressing what we need. What does that mean exactly? It means letting her in on our feelings such that it doesn’t threaten or degrade her in any way. Confrontation requires action, not passivity. It requires tact and wisdom to share our emotions without harm to our spouse. Most of all, it requires courage to confront those we love.

For men struggling with sexual integrity, see Every Man’s Battle.
If you are a married man who has already attended Every Man’s Battle, we highly recommend Every Marriage Restored or Restoring a Wife’s Heart–programs at our New Life Weekend.

Expectations: The Great Set-up

Martin Fierro

Traveling through out America we daily experience the ‘rules of the road.’ Such as when we come to an intersection that will display one of the three standard colors (green, yellow red). And as we come to the intersection we are expecting that if we have the green light, the perpendicular street must have the red. Thus, no one should be trying to cross into our ‘right of way.’ These rules of the road are reasonable expectations and we easily become emotionally charged if our path is interrupted to these reasonable expectations.

However on the road to recovery and sobriety our expectations, realistic or not, will affect the daily relation patterns.

Expectations at the early onset of recovery from sexual sin and vices can appear to be like waiting at a double-stop sign waiting for a clear shot to cross traffic, or get into it. And then, in large part, expectations are placed on you to work your recovery, keep sobriety, attend this meeting, make that appointment, make those calls, and the list goes on. It was best said by an EMB alumni that his spouse ‘drilled me with questions’ about my daily behavior and sexual addiction management. Now many of you are probably nodding your head recognizing the expectation of such questions and similar expectations. It is the art of expectations that is related to inspections. For how else is someone going to be measured and then evaluated on their progress of recovery and sexual sobriety?

Within your band of brothers, when checking in with one another, the onset of the meeting should be about inspections. Not necessary expectations being evaluated at the first. When it is not about inspecting and evaluating (good and bad information) the relationship can become one of dictatorship.

Expectations in any relationships will begin when we take our own ideals, standards, and views of things, and project them onto other people. Then we anticipate that our brother at arms will live in accordance with these standards we set. And when that person(s), band of brothers, church, pastor, political leader doesn’t ‘live up to it’ we can become bitter and will most likely cut-off the relationship.

Now take a brief moment and see if you recognize yourself in the pattern of cutting off because someone else does not or did not measure up to your expectations–that might be the exact experience your wife experiences when she reviews her relationship with you. Possibly? Then again some of you might reverb ‘she expects the impossible!’ When it comes to your relationship with your spouse her expectations are commonly for the recovery of the relationship. Not to destroy you. While also in support to the rebuilding of trust, expectations are the fuel to long term stability not necessary short term comfort.

Expectations in any aspect of recovery should be evaluated and reviewed with a brother at arms, officer at arms, mentor etc’ Having too strong of expectations, like you should have all the green lights going your way because your in recovery can be selfish, insensitive and careless to your loved ones. Too weak of expectations on yourself in recovery lead you to feel like you will always be stuck at the red light appearing defeated and stuck in life and will lead to contempt.

Finding the balance of having reasonable expectations is part of the recovery process. Your expectations will not come from out of the blue, but, from your faith system that fuels your moral and ethics in life. Your unreasonable expectations come from your internal wounded self that deep down desires healing and protection. That wounded core self creates many expectations on an individual and the relationship with others.

At the onset of any relationship there is the inspection phase. It is through that inspection a person will learn, rely and develop expectations for how the relationship will pursue, or not. When the road way is open, it appears we have all green lights and the relationship continues. Then, we take a side road, apart from the one we asked to trust in us and expected the same. When sexual sin entered your relationship on that side road trip, your wife’s expectations of full sexual devotion to her alone became the interference with relationship growth. Call it the red light of the ‘trust’ highway. And now maybe you so desire to get on that road, while she won’t even give a yellow light.

In closing what is trying to be conveyed here is that to rebuild trust, a man must be careful of his expectations on his spouse for the green light of the open highway of the relationship. At the same time, work through the expectations to carry out his battle plan with brothers in the battle inspection and evaluation to support you maintain your sobriety and assess if your expectations are reasonable.

‘When we demonstrate the insight and courage to embrace the truth, along with finally putting an end to the pain of constantly being disappointed by unmet expectations of one another, our relationships have the opportunity to become rich in authenticity, trust, and deep emotional bonding.’ Author Unknown

Celebrate Your Victories!

Jonathan Daugherty

There is one thing I wish we as Christians were much better at doing, and that is celebrating. We tend to struggle on the whole at really cheering one another on in the faith and throwing parties in honor of those demonstrating the character of Christ. In this article I want to challenge you to cultivate an attitude of celebration in your ongoing pursuit of purity.

God designed us for joy! He didn’t design our minds, bodies, or spirits for anxiety, depression, or gloom. Yet, how often do you find yourself stressed to the max and feeling as if you can’t breathe under the weight of your life? The pace of life, the onslaught of temptation, and uncontrollable circumstances beat you down. But is that reality from God’s perspective or just the excuse often used?

The truth is that it is simply easier to point out faults than to celebrate victories. One reason for this may be that we are spending more time giving into temptation than we are living in purity. But does that mean we must wallow in our sin and shame while our moments of faith and resolve go completely unrecognized? I think not.

One thing I have found to be true in pursuing purity is that the “domino effect” works in both directions, whether following our lusts or following Christ. The more we give into temptation the easier it becomes to fail more quickly the next time we are faced with a similar situation. Conversely, the more we discipline ourselves to obey Christ, taking every thought captive, and connecting with our band of brothers, the stronger we become in resisting attacks. Because of this principle I believe it is all the more important that we develop an ongoing attitude of celebration, not only for our own benefit but for the benefit of other brothers striving for purity.

I have numerous people contacting me every week, wanting to know how to break free from sexually destructive habits. I try to respond to every person based on the core values of ministry (hope, integrity, humility, honesty, compassion, perseverance, accountability, faith, and love). The values that amaze people most about how I interact with them are hope and love. Many times people will attempt to argue that their situation is unique and they really can’t be free. But I never back down from the hope of freedom available to everyone through Christ. What many of these individuals have missed much of their life is someone sharing the truth with them and cheering them on when the journey is hard. They have never been celebrated for doing what is right, only chastised and shamed for their sin and addiction.

Jesus Christ was the incarnation of joy. Many times, because of the very serious nature of his mission (salvation of all mankind) we tend to picture him sullen and, well, miserable. Last time I checked, I didn’t see throngs of people dashing to see a sullen, miserable person. People were drawn to Jesus because He exuded life, true life. As his followers we are to do the same. And one way we do this is by celebrating the successes we, and others, have on our journey to purity.

Here are a few ideas on how you can celebrate your victories:

When you meet a purity goal

– Give yourself a gift of some sort to remind you of meeting that goal.

– Share a meal with your band of brothers in honor of accomplishing your goal.

– Celebrate with a favorite hobby or activity (i.e. golf, hunting, professional sporting event, etc.)

When you resist temptation

– Call a buddy to share the success with them.

– Say, “Thank you Jesus for this victory!”

– Write down what happened to remind you later of the victory.

Here’s the real key to celebrating victories: don’t celebrate alone! God wants us connected, to Him and to others around us. We can certainly have personal moments of celebration just between us and the Lord, but the ongoing impact of celebration is most often realized in the context of others. Surround yourself with people of celebration who understand how to balance getting excited about doing the right thing and holding you accountable when you stray.

So, how’s your “celebrateability?” I challenge you to watch for the moments and situations worthy of celebration. Then, don’t be afraid to cut loose and enjoy the freedom God has given!

For help in the battle for purity see Every Man’s Battle.