Establishing personal boundaries is imperative to spiritual freedom and vitality when coming out of a life of sexual sin. These boundaries should be intentional and thought out ahead of time. Trying to put them in place while in the midst of temptation will not work because the desire to override them will be too strong. They should be shared with trusted accountability partners and be appropriately and strategically customized to one’s unique life situation and struggles.
The below provides some general ideas for thinking through how to create and apply boundaries. Each person should think about what concrete expression these might take in their own lives and what additional boundaries need to be included.
- Watching less media, especially at certain times of the day.
In today’s culture, media consumption is everything. While TV, movies, and YouTube aren’t bad in themselves, a man in recovery may realize they can affect him by lowering his guard to acting out. Especially at night, or when there’s no one around, it may be a good idea to turn the TV or phone off and focus on something constructive.
- Removing distractions when traveling.
If a man travels for work often, there are certain simple boundaries he can implement to safeguard himself. If having to do work at night, he can leave his personal laptop at home and only use his work laptop. He can also unplug the TV during his stay in the hotel room. Little things like these can be helpful and can add up to a big difference for staying focused.
- Never being alone with a woman who isn’t one’s wife or girlfriend.
This will mostly play out at church or in social settings, but if an affair has been part of one’s past struggle, then it would be wise to keep multiple people involved when having conversations with the opposite sex. In work settings, simple things like inviting a third co-worker, or just keeping the office door open, will help alleviate any unnecessary temptations.
- Not keeping secrets of any kind.
Men may think that keeping small secrets from wives or friends won’t hurt anyone, but this is the same thinking that led them into a double life of sexual sin. In recovery, it’s best to not keep any secrets, no matter how small they may feel, even if they’re not related to sexual integrity. Practicing honesty and transparency rebuilds trust with wives and friends.
- Saying ‘no’ when asked to do things on weekends that don’t involve the whole family.
Spending time with one’s family is paramount in a healthy life of recovery. Sexual addiction is extremely isolating and takes men away from being the husbands, fathers, or sons that they are meant to be. Family relationships need restoration through time spent together.
- Never making a significant financial decision without first consulting one’s wife or mentor.
Financial decisions feel powerful, especially when a man makes them of his own accord and outside of anyone else’s authority. In recovery, these sweeping decisions need to be brought to a wife or trusted mentor first, or that feeling of power may lapse into a struggle with secretive sin.
Formulating and committing to personal boundaries forces one to take honest stock of their life, both practically and spiritually. It means counting the cost of what it will take to build a solid spiritual life and adjusting expectations to match the reality of being God’s man. For resources and help with creating healthy boundaries, call 800-NEW-LIFE.