Fighting Temptation

When your world collapses under the weight of sexual addiction and you find yourself hopeless and helpless, you WANT to change. You want to crawl out of the hole of destruction that you have created for yourself. Your marriage is in jeopardy, your family may turn against you, and your career may be on the line. You are definitely motivated to change.

Initially, you have success, but as time goes on you begin to waiver. You may have a ‘slip’ and act out. You may stick to your commitment, but the temptation may seem overwhelming. Actually, this is completely normal and expected. Without a miraculous intervention by God, you will struggle with this addiction day in and day out. You will be tempted and you must be prepared for this temptation. The more you have prepared yourself beforehand, the more likely you are to withstand this temptation.

1) Accountability- This one is a no-brainer. But it needs to be a specific type of accountability to be effective. A group of guys meeting together for a bible study is not the type of accountability a sex addict needs. A sex addict needs to be surrounded by other men who struggle with sexual temptation. If you are asking your accountability partner if he has kept his quiet time this week and he is asking you how many times you masturbated last week, you are not in an accountability relationship that will be effective long term. In general, sex addicts know how other sex addicts think, act, and lie. They will be able to relate with you and call you on the carpet when you are being deceptive. Having this type of accountability in place will often make addicts think twice before they act out because they want to avoid the embarrassment of revealing their slip.

2) Plan Ahead- Too many times guys will look back in hindsight and see what they did wrong. However, they will not connect the dots and look for patterns and trends in how they act out. For example, it is very common for sex addicts to act out on business trips and weekends when their spouses are out of town. Rarely do these instances happen unexpectedly. In fact, most of the time, these trips are planned well in advance and the addict finds himself fantasizing about what he will be doing during these trips. When you go on a business trip by yourself take a picture of your family and immediately tape it on the television. This is to remind you that you are NOT single. You have a family that loves you and is waiting for you back home. You need to go to the front desk and cancel all pay per view options. If basic cable is a stumbling block, unhook the cable cord to the television and turn it in to the front desk. Have your wife or accountability partner call you late at night on the hotel phone to insure that you are in your room.

3) If your wife is going out of town, you need to have every minute of every day planned out. The enemy of the sex addict has large blocks of time with nothing to do and no one around. This is a recipe for disaster. Plan a round of golf with some friends, fix the back fence, clean out the garage, it really doesn’t matter. Just come up with a list of projects that will occupy your mind and that you can be held accountable for when your spouse returns.

4) Internet filter- There is absolutely no excuse for a sex addict who looks at pornography on the internet to not have some sort of internet filter. There are many different options at different financial costs. There are a million excuses not to install one, but they are all shallow. If you don’t like the one that you used last, then install a new one and leave it on until you find a new one.

5) Read- You should always have a book about recovery in your reading rotation. New Life Ministries has a virtual library of books about sexual addiction and there are countless other resources available. In order to stay sharp and focused, you should always be in the middle of a book on recovery. As long as you are constantly going through these books, you have a greater chance of not letting down your guard and falling prey to temptation.

Temptation is NOT a sin. Every addict has faced temptation and you are not alone. Be smart, and be wise and use these tools. Do not face these trials alone and do not get blindsided by this temptation. This battle can be won and you can be victorious in your recovery.

For additional help on this topic see Every Man’s Battle and our Resources for Men.

Bryan Atkinson

Finances and Recovery

How would you answer the question, “Am I doing all I can in my recovery today?” If you strongly respond in the affirmative, then skip down to the closing paragraph, you are probably due a reward. On the other hand, if you find yourself reframing the question”Am I doing what others perceive as my trying (whether or not it is the most I can do)?” Then read on, you are probably struggling to maintain sobriety. I pray these thoughts will help.

Intention, no matter how good, misleads an individual to think he is on the right path when he really is not. Personal finance is an area that is not openly discussed; yet most acting out behaviors take money. Without this resource a sexually compulsive man can not purchase the means to feed his addiction. But expanding recovery behaviors around finances can play a large role in the journey to health.

Just think of the full amount your acting out behaviors cost you. The purchase of pornography, phone sex and prostitutes constitutes a direct type of expense. But don’t overlook the indirect costs like guilt offerings, (remember the stone Kobe Bryant bought his wife) legal fees, and child support. If you add the time lost while acting out, as an earning opportunity, the overall cost is phenomenal. One member of a therapy group estimated his cost to be half a million dollars!

Now, using adjusted thinking to put the most into your recovery let me suggest two proactive paths for your journey. First, set up financial accountability with a peer in recovery. Here are some suggestions:

  • Only use checks or a credit card and have your accountability partner review the bank or credit company statement each month
  • Disclose to both your spouse (if married) and accountability partner all sources of your income
  • Delete any hiding places for extra cash
  • Do not carry much cash with you

Being open and honest with your financials could save your sobriety. Second, budget for recovery by establishing a line item in your planned expenditures. Things to consider can include:

  • Counseling for individual, group and/or couples therapy
  • Literature to gain understanding of sexual addiction and stay abreast of sobriety techniques
  • Workshops for support and connection with the larger recovering community
  • Giving to help others in their journey of recovery

You spent money on the illness. Why not use your resources, now, for your health?

Doing whatever it takes with your finances will kick your structure into high gear. The money you both earn and save will be a blessing as you will be able to reward your sobriety with appropriate gifts at significant milestones. The apostle Paul writes to Timothy, “God (has given) us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). Are you doing the best you can today for Him today?

Bob Damrau, MS, LPC

For more help please see Every Man’s Battle.
And if you are married, please join us for our next New Life Weekend with your spouse.

Growing Deeper with Your Accountability Partner

Bob Parkins

If you have ever watched a documentary on wild animals, you probably know the two primary defenses these animals employ to protect themselves from predators. The animals that form herds or communities are constantly protected by their numbers. When attacked by prey, these animals flee danger together. It is those that don’t remain with the herd that are usually killed, typically the young, old, or weak.

1 Peter 5:8 describes our enemy [the devil] as a ‘roaring lion, who walks around, seeking someone to devour.’ This passage is not just an effective word-picture of the realities of daily temptation, but an important warning to flee and stick together.

Sticking together is absolutely an essential part of addiction recovery. James 5:16 tells us that in order to be healed, we need to be transparent with one another through confession. God created us to be in community and relationship with not just him, but one another.

Notice in Genesis 2, after God created Man, he created Woman because ‘it is not good that man be alone.’ God did not design us to be completely isolated from other people. Even though Adam was in intimate communion with God, he still was not complete until God gave him a partner.

Those who struggle with addictive behaviors especially tend to have difficulty forming and maintaining accountable relationships. They resist accountability because it is contrary to the way they have become comfortable living; they live as rugged individualists, or Lone Rangers. Most addicts don’t want to be held accountable. They don’t want anyone to look over their shoulder and want to be the boss of their own recovery program.

But those who do not remain accountable to others in their recovery simply don’t recover. This is not, however, just an issue of control; addicts are also hiding. Allowing another person access to look over your shoulder can leave one feeling somewhat naked or exposed. After hiding behind their masks for so long they have convinced themselves that no one will truly accept them the way they are – they are afraid of intimacy.

Accountability relationships should be supportive and encouraging relationships, although many do not fully utilize the support available to them. It is not uncommon for men to tell me they relapsed, and while they thought of calling their accountability partner for support, they didn’t. Sometimes they were afraid they would bother him, felt ashamed, or simply didn’t want to stop.

I once asked a group of men how they feel when they receive a call for support from their accountability partner. They told me they actually feel important when they are asked for help. It not only helps the person calling, but strengthens the partner as well. They feel valued, and more tightly bonded together as ‘brothers in arms.’ The Bible describes this as ‘iron sharpening iron'(Prov. 27:17).

For those who have difficulty calling their accountability partner when they are feeling tempted, I encourage you to call sooner. There comes a point when you already have decided to act out, and if a call for support is going to be made, it is essential to call way before reaching this point. One of the best ways to train yourself to call your accountability partner for help is to practice. Call your accountability partner when you have a victory. It is much easier to reach out when you feel victorious, rather than shamed. When you call before you are in trouble, it strengthens your confidence, relationship, and may help you prevail over or avoid temptation altogether. You are putting your fears to the test when you call your accountability partner and challenging those old beliefs that you will not be accepted as imperfect. How do you feel when your accountability partner calls you for help? If you feel at all valued, encouraged, strengthened, bonded or closer to him, chances are this is how he feels getting a call from you.

Together with your accountability partner, you are much more likely to succeed in your recovery (Ecc. 4:9-10; Prov. 17:17). For animals in the wild, fleeing danger together is a matter of life or death, and so it is also with us.

Need help finding an accountability partner? See Every Man’s Battle.
For Drug and Alcohol help, see New Life’s Recovery Place.