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 1

New Life Ministries

Your wife can be your ‘comrade in arms’ if she understands the battle for sexual purity and the road you have chosen for sexual integrity. Because male sexual impurity can be unsettling, even shocking, to women, we’ve included this section of interviews with women regarding Every Man’s Battle to give you awareness of how to relate better to your wife and communicate with her in your struggle to be and stay free. Be aware there’s a natural tug-of-war in the hearts of women between pity and disgust, between mercy and judgment.

Cathy: ‘I did not know the depth that men would go and the risk they would take to satisfy their desires. I was unaware of how intense these temptations are and how much defense a man must muster to avoid stepping over God’s boundaries.’

Fawn: ‘I was surprised to learn that Christian men have this problem even after they’re married. I found the intensity of the problem to be shocking.’

Andrea: (From talking with her father and different guys she dated, she knew men were easily attracted visually. But she never realized the major extent of their struggle until she met her future husband.) ‘At the time, he was my closest friend in the youth group, but we were not romantically inclined. He did feel safe enough with me to share his problem with pornography. It was quite a battle for him, as he had first been exposed to it in third grade. I was a little amazed by it all because, although I was attracted to guys by their looks during my dating years, the physical attraction I felt was nothing compared to what a man feels when looking at a woman.’

 Brenda: ”It affects my trust in men, knowing that pastors and deacons could have this problem. I don’t like it that men lustfully take advantage of women in their thoughts, although I realize that women can be largely to blame because of what they wear. It’s at least some comfort to know that many men have this problem.’

How much mercy can be found in a woman’s heart when she looks upon this problem? Not surprisingly, it depends upon her husband’s situation.

Ellen: After hearing about this, I was surprised that married men would have so much trouble. I feel very sorry for them. When I asked my own husband about it, he was honest with me that he had some struggles, and at first I was hurt. Then I just felt thankful that he would share with me. He hasn’t had a major problem in this area, for which I’m thankful.’

Cathy: ‘My husband is regularly bombarded with sexy images, and I was pleased with his honesty regarding that. I want to know the temptation he faces. It will only help me be more sympathetic to his plight. I didn’t feel betrayed because he’s proven faithful in this battle. Other women are not so lucky.’

What about women whose husbands have been losing big in the battle?

Deena: ‘When my husband and I talked about this, he was honest and I was very angry with him. I was hurt. I felt deeply betrayed because I’d been dieting and working out to keep my weight down so that I would always look nice to him. I couldn’t figure out why he still needed to look at other women.’

Women told us that they struggle between pity and anger. Their feelings may ebb and flow with the tide of their husband’s battle. Encourage your wife to pray for you.

For more help on this subject see, Every Man’s Battle.
If you have already attended Every Man’s Battle, bless your wife by attending our couples program at our next New Life Weekend.

Understanding Your Wife’s Heart: Part 4

New Life Ministries

Your wife can be your ‘comrade in arms’ if she understands the battle for sexual purity and the road you have chosen for sexual integrity. Because male sexual impurity can be unsettling, even shocking, to women, we’ve included this section of interviews with women regarding Every Man’s Battle to give you awareness of how to relate better to your wife and communicate with her in your struggle to be and stay free. Be aware there’s a natural tug-of-war in the hearts of women between pity and disgust, between mercy and judgment.

Your Weapon of Prayer

Once your husband engages in the battle for sexual integrity, here are some things you can pray for him:

1. Pray that God would keep him from wavering and stumbling. Ask God to put more light on his path and more courage in his step.

2. Pray against spiritual opposition in the form of lies. As you know, Satan will lie to him to weaken his will to win. Pray that Satan’s efforts to confuse him will be ineffective.

3. Pray against possible spiritual oppression. Ask God to release power to break any spiritual oppression over your lives and your home that has resulted from his sexual sin.

Add Mercy to Your Arsenal!
Along with prayer, there are other ways you can help him with this battle. Once he tells you he’s going cold turkey, be like a merciful vial of methadone for him. Increase your availability to him sexually, though this may be difficult for you since your husband might have told you some things that repulse you. Since your sex drive, as a woman, is tied to relationship, you may feel betrayed, just as if your husband had an actual affair.

It may help you to view this from a male’s perspective, where ‘relationship’ and ‘sex’ do not have such a tight bond. Please don’t misunderstand us. His lusting was definitely a moral betrayal, but it wasn’t necessarily a betrayal of the heart. You may still be his one and only true love, the one he could never, ever leave. He has a fractional addiction to the chemical high, but don’t assume his heart for you is untrue. Mercy is probably your best tack ‘ with accountability, of course.

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.