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.
Edward J. Grant
It had been years since Sally felt the gut-wrenching, searing pain of betrayal that left her world shattered in countless broken pieces. ‘This can’t be happening all over again,’ she thought, ‘not after all we’ve been through.’ What should she do? Where should she go with the holidays around the corner? Was her marriage over and should she demand her husband leave the home immediately? How could she be so stupid to ever have trusted him again? She was in shock, not unlike the shock that accompanies the death of a loved one. Her feelings would surely intensify in the coming days and weeks as the reality of her husband’s treachery settled in.
It began with the discovery of a pornographic web site on the computer. She knew that none of her three children had visited it and prayed that they hadn’t found the graphic pictures. That discovery, painful enough in its own right, was just the beginning. He confessed that hadn’t been honest with her when he first confessed seven years ago, admitting to using only four or five prostitutes during their marriage. There had been many, many more, ‘countless’ in his words. Then she was willing to attempt to salvage their marriage. Since that time they had both worked hard to rebuild, spending thousands of dollars in the process. They attended weekly support group meetings, marriage counseling, cried tears by the bucketful, and endured the interminable tug-of-war between hope and hopelessness. She began to see relational change over the years as both took the first fearful, faltering steps towards genuine intimacy, eventually renewing their wedding vows when she came to trust him once more. Now she learned that he had never been sober; he had lied to everyone. He had indulged in a number of affairs and never ceased frequenting prostitutes.
Having recounted some of the moral and spiritual failures of Israel to the troubled congregation at Corinth St. Paul wrote, ’11These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. 12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.’
As we reflect on one woman’s devastating experience caused by her husband’s sin let us consider several fatal flaws that contributed to his failure.
1. Confession needs to be complete. Whenever we try to do damage control by holding back important facts about our behaviors – often under the guise of ‘sparing her further pain’ – we are left with the relentless question: ‘If I had told her everything would she have stayed with me?’ Shame attends our incomplete confession and becomes the favorite target at which Satan hurls his accusations. King David was no stranger to the attempt to cover his sins instead of confessing them. He writes in Psalm 32, ‘3When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.’ Confession brought relief and healing in his heart and in his relationship with God: ‘5Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”– and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
2. Shame causes the intense pain that propels the addict into the predictable cycle of addiction. When some painful event in life accesses the well of shame hidden in the wounded heart the addict resorts to the familiar cycle of pre-occupation, ritual, and acting out, culminating with despair. The goal of acting out is a journey to the land of numb: no feeling is better than emotional pain. Loved ones are all too familiar with the emotional distance acting out causes between them and the addict.
3. Forgiveness comes from confessing our sins to God, but healing comes from confessing our sins to one another. James writes, ’16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.’ The healing God intends comes from caring relationships with fellow pilgrims wherein the lies we believe about ourselves can be dispelled. The four core beliefs of the addict are:
1. I am a bad and worthless person.
2. If you really knew me, you wouldn’t love me
(ergo no one gets to know the real me).
3. Sex is my greatest need.
4. Only I can meet my needs.
As fellow strugglers share their failures, pain and encouragements with each other the truth of divine, unconditional love begins to sink in.
4. Radical commitment to honesty. Unless a person is willing to commit to honesty regardless of the consequences, true change and healing is not possible. Jesus said, ‘You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.’ Walking in and living by God’s truth frees us from the weight of guilt, the arrows of shame and the accusations of Satan. Living by the truth is scary when you are accustomed to living a lie, but it is the only path on which we can find fellowship with God and the freedom He has promised.
Men struggling with sexual integrity, please see Every Man’s Battle.
If you are married to a man struggling with sexual integrity, please join us for our Every Heart Restored program at our next New Life Weekend.