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?

 

Measuring Up

Are we measuring our recovery by what we’re not doing anymore?

In the beginning of recovery it is important to celebrate the victories of not acting out. While taking it one day at a time, we need the motivation and encouragement of seeing the end of a day lived with integrity. We also need the hope it brings; that maybe these days can be strung together to form weeks, months or even years.

But somewhere along the way that has to change.

There comes a point where we can no longer measure down, we have to start measuring up. We can no longer measure our recovery by what we’re not doing, but instead have to look at what we’re being called to. I hear too often, after an integrity lapse, a man say “well, at least I’m better than how I used to be” or “at least I’m not doing what I used to do”. I think in many ways this excuse/rationalization is a way to hold onto hope. It’s a coping mechanism to avoid slipping into the despair that comes with feelings of failure and disappointment. It is an attempt to escape the shame of sin.

The good news is that our hope is not in our best behavior; it is in our Savior. God promises through the words of Paul the Apostle that He will complete the good work He began in us. He is committed to our sanctification and will empower us to fight another day.

Don’t let yourself be lulled into measuring your journey down, against what you aren’t doing anymore. Instead, be committed to measuring up, setting your sights on becoming the man God is calling you to be. Each day lived a little more like the men He is calling us to be is another day farther from being the old men we were.

WeDared

In a recent WeDared Challenge email there was a powerful section describing lies and how Satan would have us believe there is no hope. Specifically the lie was: learning to bounce and starve your eyes is impossible so why try.

What a ridiculous statement! But it was one I believed in my addiction. In an effort to explain my inability (and on some level, my unwillingness) to change, and to justify my sinful behavior, I started to believe that it is impossible to live with integrity. I began to resign to the fact that I am just lustful and that being able to live without staring, oogling, objectifying, etc. was something God apparently had reserved for better Christians than me.

Another lie.

The truth is, God is still in the business of changing hearts and habits. Just because you’ve lived a certain way for a long time doesn’t mean you are bound to that lifestyle from here on out. You are not the sum total of your bad behaviors. Your mistakes from the past do not have permission to define your future.

Three things have helped me, thank the Lord, change that lustful behavior. Maybe they can help you?

  • Having a mantra. Seriously, every time I’m tempted to look lustfully I say to myself (and sometimes out loud), “there’s nothing I need, guaranteed”. You’d be surprised how awkwardly someone looks at you after you blurt out this phrase – especially someone you might lust after! This little saying reminds me that God is the ultimate meeter of my needs. Not some woman. Not even my wife.
  • Or if you’re single, perhaps AccountabilityCam or GodCam. The idea is that if Shelley could watch a TV screen that showed my every move, she could hear everything I say, and a ticker tape at the bottom showed my every thought, she would be honored by it. I want to live in a way that, even if I am in a struggle, she would be honored by the way I fight it.
  • To remember that anyone I might want to lust after is a walking story. That woman, in that moment, is living with the culmination of the things she’s done and the things done to her. She is a hurting human, with a need for Jesus just like me. To lust after her is to take advantage of her; something Jesus was pretty adamantly against.

These help me, but I’m curious to hear what helps you. Is there something you do to help change lustful looking?

And by the way, if you haven’t seen the WeDared Challenge yet you should check it out – www.wedared.com