Satisfaction Guaranteed

One of the subtle realities of pornography, affairs, strip clubs and/or prostitutes is guaranteed satisfaction. Sure, we all know that in the aftermath of acting out there is zero satisfaction. But in the moment, the fix is real and never lets us down.

To explain further, remember that sexual acting out isn’t about sex. It’s about the emotional charge, the escape from reality and the offset to the longings of our soul. Where we feel overwhelmed we feel peace for a moment, where disconnected we feel a sense of belonging, where feeling criticized we feel appreciated, where minimized like we matter, helpless – powerful, failure – accomplishment. You get the picture. With a click of a button, a swipe of a screen, an email or a phone call we can instantly inject enough morphine into our system to numb the unpleasant present reality. Guaranteed. For a few moments.

But the real antidote to acting out is intimacy. There is actually a 1-for-1 offset that doesn’t often get spoken of. When you have a couple people (besides your spouse) in your life who you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, will be there for you, there is a direct offset to the sexual acting out. Will porn ever reject you at 2am? Nope. Is there someone you are 100% confident will answer your call if you ring them at 2am? If the answer is no, you’ll consistently revert back to the guaranteed hit.

Taking it a step further, sexual acting out provides a false sense of security. We know, even without thinking about it, we just “know” that it’ll be there for us. It’s been proven. Tested. Tried. There is no question. That sense of guarantee, where you know that you know that you know, that’s called security. Porn (for example) provides security. That’s kind of sick to think, isn’t it? Say it out loud and give it a test drive; see how it sits with you when you say: “Porn provides me security”. “Strip clubs provide me security”. “Masturbating gives me security”. Weird, right?

We need men in our lives who we know, that we know, that we know have our best interest at heart and will be there for us absolutely any time we need them. Hands down. They are on vacation…they’ll answer our call. Middle of a meeting at work…answer our call if its an emergency. 2am…groggy and halitosis, they’ll drive to the ends of the earth to help us.

Cultivate that, and I can almost guarantee you won’t need acting out anymore.

Courage

I’ve talked to some courageous men lately.

If you do a little Bible homework, you’ll find courage/courageous used more than 50 different ways. It speaks of the wind, the heart, stones, the will, rationality, and boldness to face fear.

What I mean by courage is the bold willingness to face the darkest parts of themselves (and sometimes others). It takes guts (along with a healthy dose of desperation!) to look in the mirror and face the man we are. To compare ourselves to Christ and ask where we fall short, and then invite his correction? Not for the faint of heart.

In this past week I’ve talked to men who have looked rejection, failure, insecurity, loneliness, abuse, addiction, shame, disappointment, a forest-fire-charred family tree and raging wives in the face and stood firm. They’ve held their own pain, and their wives. They’ve held their kids faces and reassured them “daddy isn’t leaving”. They have tossed in the towel and moments later gotten back in the ring for extra rounds, taking Ali style jabs thrown from the sinful flesh of the old, sinful man they are toe-to-toe with.

And in every re-engagement, every surrender to the process, every decision to take their finger off the nuclear button, Jesus is made known. He is glorified. His strength shines through.

If you’re at critical mass reading this, I reassure you there are men fighting the good fight. If you’re dialing in the codes and ready to blow the whole thing up – reconsider. If you’re still in the affair – end it. Porn stash – delete it. Online persona – erase it all. Women’s underwear – throw them away. Inanimate objects – trash them. It doesn’t have to go this way any longer.

 

Empathy Barrier

One of the biggest challenges in the relational recovery process is for a husband to have empathy. I wrote another post about that recently here. I think its important to understand a key barrier to empathy. That barrier is a lack of self-intimacy; knowing our own hearts and our needs.

As we navigate life, our emotions are stirred and we are impacted by the world around us. We have good days, and we also have those days where we wish we had a mulligan. Those tough days, especially, affect us. Our car breaks down and we feel powerless, disappointed and angry. Our stocks go down and we feel the same. Our boss yells at us, or we yell at employees. Or kids. Or our wives. And we feel guilty and remorseful. A deal falls through, a vacation gets canceled, etc. Or perhaps we act out again and relapse with porn, strip clubs or cross-dressing. You name it, the emotional impact of life can leave us feeling hurt, disappointed, ashamed, guilty and fearful to name a few.

Unfortunately, many men don’t give credence to these emotional impacts. A lot of us will  cruise through the day, trying to let this stuff roll off our backs, knowing tomorrow we’ll just start over and hope it goes differently. Wash, rinse, repeat for many of us. But along the way, our hearts are hurt. We end up with legitimate emotional needs that never get addressed. Needs like reassurance, affirmation, validation or perspective. And those needs build, functioning like a kettle on a stove. They heat up and heat up, then eventually when the kettle whistles we’re at critical mass and we’ll move into a reactionary posture. At that point automatic processing kicks in and old habits show up – angry outbursts, shutting down, acting out, acting in. All the while, we’re denying our hearts by ignoring them.

Think about it for a second – how can I have tenderness and compassion towards my wife and honor her heart, when I’ve locked my own heart in a vault? If I don’t allow myself to feel then I’m not going to know my own needs. Nor will I get those needs met in healthy ways. Thus it’ll be nearly impossible to be available for someone else’s needs. Especially those we love the most.

So if you’re struggling with empathy, chances are high that you’re not dealing in self-intimacy; knowing your own heart and your own needs. I don’t mean this in a selfish way, I mean this in a serving way. I am responsible to protect and nourish my own heart in order to have gas in the tank to protect and nourish the hearts God has entrusted to my care.

If you are wondering what that even means, I encourage you to talk to your support guys, your counselor and/or your pastor.