2 Questions to Ask Yourself If You Want Your Marriage to Thrive

When a couple gets married, they know a lot about one another. But their relationship winds up being built as much upon their lack of knowledge about one another as it is upon that existing knowledge.

Couples walk into every marriage with a set of assumptions and expectations about their spouse that will inevitably bring the relationship to a fork in the road with several paths to take. How can you know which path is the right one?

Ask yourself these two questions:

1. What are you protecting?

If I may speak for husbands a bit (seeing that I am one), the road we most often take is the one where we begin to divide ourselves into pieces. Some pieces we share with our spouse, and some we hold in secret for the sake of avoiding the destruction of a façade we’ve built.

We take this road because in some unconscious way, the fear of what might happen were we to be truly vulnerable feels far worse than a life lived half in the dark, which is akin to death by paper-cuts or some sort of time-release suicide.

The road less taken – the one that makes all of the difference – is what some call “The Way of the Cross.” In my life, I started by asking myself what I was trying to protect or save by holding back the truth about who I am, what I desire, what I struggle with, or what I believe to be beautiful, sexy, powerful, hideous, moving, repulsive, hurtful, or confusing. I realized I was trying to preserve something that actually needed to die.

If my marriage couldn’t survive the truth about me – the whole truth – then I didn’t want it anymore. I realized that time-release suicide wasn’t the life I desired.

2. Is your life worth dying for?

And so, after some careful thought and prayer, one day, I told my wife, “We need to talk.” I planned what I was going to say carefully and prepared myself for destruction. I focused on not letting my ego get in the way to stop the honesty, either by holding back or by trying to steal away my wife’s right to experience whatever she was about to experience. She was going to have questions about my porn use. They wouldn’t be fun to answer. But I was going to answer them. All of them if need be.

I wasn’t even sure if this was the healthiest way to approach it, but at the time, I needed to let it all hit the ground and break. And if we were able to get through the conversation alive, I was ready to face the next day and move forward. It wasn’t my job to decide for my wife whether she was ready to move forward. I knew I would have to wait for her, allow her to hurt, and allow her to face her own demons, just like I was determined to do.

That was six years ago. I now live in a marriage that can best be described as home. There is nothing in the shadows – and it turns out that letting all of my crap hit the floor and shatter into a million pieces – and allowing her to see that – was the beginning of the birthing of something new in my life and in our marriage. It turns out my wife was stronger than I thought she was. And so was I.

Courage to all of those who are ready to die for the sake of living. May your bruises be blessed. Now tell your wife: “We gotta talk.”

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What Do I Do When I Catch My Husband Looking at Porn?

I wish you were here right now, so I could look you in the eyes, take you by the hand, and assure you of a few things that I think you need to hear.

I would begin by telling you how terribly sorry I am that you even need to read this blog post. I am sorry that your husband didn’t come to you and confess his struggle, but that you had to discover it on your own.

I bet I know what you’re thinking: Is he truly sorry because of what he did, or is he sorry he got caught?

It’s normal for a wife to wonder how much longer he would have kept this little secret or if he would have ever come clean.

This is a question you’ll never have an answer for, so it’s best to set it aside in lieu of the question that has answers: What do I do when I catch my husband looking at porn?

1. Rest assured that your husband’s use of pornography is not about you

I hope he has already told you this, but I suspect you’re not so sure. Believe it. Pornography is a selfish act meant to meet his own perceived needs. That means you are not in competition with digitally enhanced images of other women. This is not about your appearance, your sexual availability, or your competence in the bedroom. You do not need to be a size 8, get a tummy tuck, or engage in sexual acts that make you uncomfortable.

2. Expect to be bombarded by a host of emotions

It’s entirely possible that since you caught your husband you have experienced anger, fear, sadness, depression, and guilt –and the pain feels incomprehensible. If you’re anything like me, you’ve found yourself saying and doing things you never thought imaginable. I was undone when I discovered my husband’s addiction, and I alternately cried until I made myself physically sick and raged like a crazy woman. (Not my proudest moment.)

Above all, you need to know that there is hope and that God is big enough to meet all of your needs. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 reminds us that our endurance, patience, and perseverance are inspired by our hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. Believe me when I tell you that His long arm of mercy can and will reach you and pluck you out of this miry pit.

3. Your husband’s use of porn will not go away if you simply ignore it, chalking it up to “boys will be boys”

God gives us a standard for marriage in the Bible. It’s that standard that causes you to think, “A faithful, loving husband doesn’t do this.” While the word confront doesn’t sound very loving, leaving your husband in this sin isn’t a loving response either. You need to tenderly confront your husband about his use of pornography.

Some women need to confront the issue immediately while others require some time to process what they’ve discovered before they can discuss it. There is no right or wrong time, as long as you don’t avoid or deny the issue. Don’t be surprised if your emotions bubble to the surface and you find yourself crying or fighting mad. Exhale. Remember that you are in a battle, but this is a battle not between you and your husband, but a battle between the two of you against pornography.

4. Find safe support

It is important that you find someone to talk to, and the first person should be God. Ask Him to direct your path in this situation. This is not the time to broadcast this to everyone you meet, but you do need support. Your best confidants will be those who are equipped to listen without judgment, and preferably someone who has experience with this. If your husband is committed to restoring your marriage and he is taking obvious steps in the right direction, I strongly encourage you to consult him about who and how much to tell.

5. Accept the fact that it is not in your power to fix this for your husband

God has given the Holy Spirit the task of conviction of sin. You are not responsible for your husband’s daily choices. Your job is to walk in obedience to the Word of God.  Turn to the Wonderful Counselor for healing your own heart. You’ve experienced a painful betrayal and you need to trust yourself into His care. When you arrive at a place of healing, you will be in a better position to create an environment that promotes healing in your marriage. Leave your husband in God’s hands. He’s got this one.

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Her Favorite Oxymoron

Webster’s defines oxymoron as “a combination of contradictory or incongruous words.”

Here are a few of my favorite:

Freezer burn, pretty ugly, loose tights, soft rock, numb feeling, minor crisis, only choice, growing smaller, random order, jumbo shrimp, and quite possibly the most wickedly ingenious phrase ever devised by evil marketers and foisted upon unsuspecting consumers like us: shop ‘n’ save.

I doubt you’re aware of it, but your wife has a favorite oxymoron. It’s even more intriguing to her subconscious mind than the aforementioned shop ‘n save. I talk to married women across the country and it’s abundantly clear.

The oxymoron that revs their engine most is this one: Alone together. It’s also what your marriage needs more of. Time. Just the two of you.

No kids. No distractions. No laptops. No dishes in the sink. Just the two of you.

Alone. Together.

A friend of mine vacationed in Europe with his wife this summer. Three whole weeks. Just the two of them. I saw him recently and asked, “How was your trip?” His answer is what prompted this post. His answer is what got me thinking about oxymorons and missed opportunities. He said:

“I didn’t realize it, but it’s what our marriage desperately needed. English isn’t spoken in the villages we visited, so we literally had no one else to talk to. It was like God set us up! We talked about everything. We shared everything. There was more touching, more laughing, more lovemaking, more handholding, more affection…it’s the closest we’ve been in years. Months later, we’re still enjoying the afterglow of those three weeks.”

That brings us to you.

You may not have the luxury of a three-week European vacation, but you do have 30 minutes to take your shoes off, hold her hand, and walk on the beach this weekend. You do have $20 for a few drinks at the local watering hole. You might even have $400 for a few nights out of town.

With a little initiative and effort, there’s something you can do to feed your marriage. Have you held it up to a mirror lately? It’s probably looking a little lean. And like my friend discovered, just-the-two-of-you time could be what it’s starving for.

So, when you pitch your wife with a walk on the beach, or drinks this Friday night, or even a brief jaunt out of town, remember to use her favorite oxymoron: “Wouldn’t that be fun? Just the two of us. Alone together.”

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One Way to Help Your Spouse Recover

Do you really want to know how to help your spouse the most during his or her recovery from porn addiction? Work on your own recovery.

Sounds kind of backward, doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t. In fact, it is the exact thing that you need to do at this exact moment in your life.

The more you hover over your spouse’s recovery, the more you are going to spiral out of control with them. Quite honestly, the less recovery you are going to see from them.

Time and time again I have seen spouses, including myself, get crazy involved in too many aspects of their loved one’s recovery. I have heard women talk about not wanting to leave their house to do things they enjoy because they were so afraid of what would happen once they are gone.

But the reality is, your partner will do what they want to do if you’re in the house or not. You have no control over that. You can choose when and where to set boundaries and act on them, but you have no control over what your spouse will and will not do when it comes down to it.

Helicopter monitoring only leads to hurt feelings, even less trust, and failed recovery because you are not allowing your spouse to take responsibility over their own recovery. That is why it is VITAL to focus on your own recovery while they focus on their recovery.

What does your recovery look like? Everyone’s is different, but there are a few things that we all must do.

First, come to realization that your spouse’s addiction is not because of you, is not your fault, and you have no power to change their actions. Once you start to realize that your spouse’s addiction has nothing to do with you and there is very little that you can do to force recovery, you have the freedom to start realizing God’s path for you.

Seriously, guys, I was in over my head trying to figure out why my husband was addicted to pornography. I went through all the thought processes of “maybe I am not having enough sex with him,” “maybe I need to lose weight,” “maybe I should try the stuff that he looks at.” None of those thoughts are valid. In fact, that kind of thinking only led me to believe that I had control over the situation. Which, I found I didn’t.

It did not matter if I did any of those things to appease him (or so I thought I was doing). He still chose pornography.

I continued to spiral down into depression. It wasn’t until I became aware that his addiction was a direct result of his own baggage from his own past. Not a single thing about me. But, I also knew that this addiction wasn’t good for our marriage. That is when I told him to choose our marriage and get help or choose his addiction. He got help. I got help.

Next up, finding myself again. After truly knowing that his addiction was not about me, I could do nada to force his recovery, and he was actively seeking recovery, I concluded that I lost myself. I put so many years into his addiction; from trying to be okay with it to trying to fix it that I lost sight of myself. Side note: we had three kids in between there, too, so talk about a huge hot mess of losing myself!

Where did I begin? God. Where should you begin? God.

Listen, it all needs to start with God. Trying to do anything on our own only causes disaster upon disaster. I could have gone all day frantically trying to reclaim who I once was before all of this, but instead I have allowed God to create a new person. I mean, this whole porn addiction thing changed me, A LOT. There was no reason to try to pretend it never happened. In doing so, God has worked through me and my husband in many ways to help other people through this issue.

I prayed. Allowed myself to do things for me. And prayed. Allowed God to continue working on my heart. And prayed. Allowed myself grace in the process. And prayed.

Through all those things, I have come to be where I am today: not quite “there” yet but well on my way. I have found that I love writing again, working out again, worshiping (though not great at singing!), and, the best of all, I actually enjoy being with my husband again. I want you to get there too. You are worth it.

I want to make sure you understand me here. I am in no way telling you to stand by and allow an abusive relationship to continue. I am telling you that, if your spouse is actively seeking recovery (that looks different for everyone), you should be actively recovering as well. If that is not your situation, please pray about your next step, talk to someone trusted, and then take that next step.

If your spouse is in recovery and you have not quite reached out for help, try our Recover program. It has been such a blessing for so many spouses, myself included. Recover gives you community that urges you towards a healthier you and understands all that you are going through with love and grace.

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3 Tips for Struggling Honeymooners

Honeymoons seem to be both the most precious but underwhelming experience of married life.

From my own experience, and countless stories I’ve heard, there’s something deeply sacred about beginning a marriage, but the actual honeymoon experience can be somewhat disheartening.

Sharing space and sex with another human often isn’t what young couples expect, and it’s just not as simple as the movies or porn make it look. Orgasms may be few and far between, maybe the bedsheets get messier than anticipated, issues of lower and higher sex drive arise, or perhaps your partner’s body looks surprisingly different to anything you’ve seen online.

There’s a whole host of reasons couples struggle on their honeymoon.

The first weeks of marital intimacy can be pretty underwhelming. And that’s perfectly fine.

If any of this feels familiar to you, or you’re on some tropical island with your bae right now googling ‘honeymoon sex is hard help’, continue reading for three simple pieces of advice that can help you have the best honeymoon experience you can.

If the honeymoon is over, you can still use these to encourage and heal your growing intimacy.

Remember, You’re New at This

One of the most comforting things my new husband said to me one night was, “Hey, we’re new at this!”

It was the dose of perspective my disheartened soul needed. Somehow, I expected to be a pro at sex immediately. I anticipated we’d be having hot, steamy relations just like in the movies, and just how all the church leaders told us we would (if we waited).

Instead, it was a little awkward, and honestly just exhausting! The pressure we had put on ourselves and each other was unhealthy. Being reminded we had only experienced sex for the very first time four days ago was a reality check for us both.

You wouldn’t expect to be a pro skater the first time you stepped on a board, right? So why do we expect perfection on the honeymoon?

It’s okay to be new. It’s okay to fumble and ask questions. Relax into that reality and take the pressure off. It will make your honeymoon and sexploration much more enjoyable. And trust me, with practice, it gets so much better!

Slow Down

Slow. Slow. Slow. Everything is better slow. I can speak for the women on this one. Guys, please don’t crash tackle your bride, remove her clothes and proceed to jack hammer her like you’re on some naked construction site. Life isn’t porn, and doing this will reduce your wife’s enjoyment by one thousand percent. Take everything slow and steady, and when you feel you’re going slow enough, slow down some more. Take in every touch and moment. There’s no need to rush. Ladies, take your time with him, too.

There will be times of rushed and exciting sex in life, but a lot of the time, slow sex is good sex.

Do Something Else

Much to many newly married couples dismay, you can’t just have sex for two weeks straight. Someone’s going to get a UTI or some serious chafing.

Make sure you allow space for sex, but also book in fun activities and adventures. Take some books, DVDs, and board games with you. This will greatly decrease boredom and disappointment. By planning ahead, you won’t find yourselves sitting on the lounge wondering what to do now your bits are worn out from hourly sex. It will also give you a break from any stress you may be feeling in the bedroom. Doing something else for a while gives you the chance to relax, have fun, and come back to bed with a fresh mindset.

Depending on your family dynamics and personality, you may need some space, too. Introverts recharge both mentally and physically by being alone. Due to the nature of marriage, many introverts can ‘recharge’ and reflect in the presence of their spouse. They don’t require total solitude. They may need some time where they’re not required to engage, however. Discuss your partner’s individual needs, and figure out what that looks like for them. It may simply look like watching a movie while they read a book or go for a walk.

You’re not going to just have sex on the honeymoon, and that’s okay. Don’t fret if you just want to relax and read a book.

Pray

Invite God into your sex life. Sounds weird, but it’s worth it. God invented sex. He created the nerve endings, wobbly bits, and sensitive areas that we so enjoy! Get into the habit of praying over your marriage and sex life early on. It may feel redundant but he can do powerful things. He can heal, bring empathy, insight and wisdom to you both.

Further Support

There are some cases where either partner may experience sexual dysfunction caused by trauma, pornography, negative attitudes to sex, health, or unknown causes. These can cause pain and distress, and put a stop to further sex. If unanticipated, issues like these can be very distressing for a young couple. The statements above are aimed at couples who are facing issues of expectation and lack of experience, but they can help a couple in this situation, too. However, further support is needed.

Ensure you seek medical or therapeutic treatment for these issues, and communicate with your spouse. It may not be possible to have sex on the honeymoon. There is support and healing for you both, though. Please don’t keep this a secret.

If you are concerned about the potential of these issues, or experience sexual anxiety, book a check-up with your doctor before getting married, talk to mentors, and start investigating resources to prepare you for a life of marital intimacy.

No matter your honeymoon experience, these three pieces of advice have the power to provide perspective, hope, and healing as you venture into this new world of marriage and sex. Enjoy!

 

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1 Simple Way Men Can Supercharge Their Sex Lives

I rarely use my emergency brake. It’s mostly flat where I live along the coast. Sea level, for the most part, is level. But every once in awhile, for some inexplicable reason, I’ll park my car and depress the emergency brake pedal — shove that baby to the floor!

You can already guess what’s coming. I return to my car a few hours later and forget to release the brake. I turn the key, throw it into drive, and lurch forward in fits and starts wondering, “What the hell…is wrong…with my car?!”

If you’ve ever felt that way about your marriage, like there’s an invisible force impeding your progress, this post might help.

Embrace Your Inner Detective

Imagine you and your wife are driving from L.A. to Vegas for the weekend. Or from New England to North Carolina for a family reunion. An hour into the trip she asks, “Do you need to stop and use the restroom?” You don’t, of course, because you didn’t drink an extra-large iced green tea latte during the first 10 minutes of the trip, so you answer, “No. I’m good.”

Big mistake. Here’s why:

Women don’t typically come out and say what they want. After all, what’s romantic about that? “I need to pee. Pull over.” Boring. Any robot can issue an order.

Instead, they give us clues and expect us to do some digging in order to uncover what they want. They drop a few crumbs to see if we care enough to follow the trail.

So then, her question is never really a question, but a hint. Say this out loud if it helps: “Her clues are my cues.” No, not to throw your hands up in frustration, but to don your deerstalker and begin playing detective. It’s about to get fun! Remember, the trail always leads to the treasure.

Here’s a sample Sherlock-worthy response to her question-that’s-not-really-a-question, “Do you need to stop and use the restroom?”

x3-fighting-for-my-marriage-facebook-10YOU: “Well, we’ve been on the road for a few hours now. How are you feeling, babe? Do you need to use the restroom?”

HER: “Mmm, I don’t know.”

YOU: “It looks like you’ve finished your green tea latte. Would you like me to pull over at the next rest stop?”

HER: “I think I’ll be OK.”

[Pause briefly for dramatic effect]

YOU: “You know, I think stopping is a good idea. I’d like to stretch my legs. Plus, we’ve got 30-40 miles of desert ahead of us before the next town. We should probably refuel just to be
safe. And we’re probably both ready for a bathroom break.”

HER: “OK, honey.”

When she reaches across the console for your hand and gives it a little squeeze, it’s much more than a little squeeze. It’s her way of saying, “I feel loved right now. I feel cared for. I feel lucky to have you.” She’s dancing on the inside.

She’d turn on some music and dance on the outside too, right there in her seat, if she didn’t have to pee so bad.

The treasure — in case you were wondering — is her. It’s her heart. It’s her feeling loved. It’s her feeling connected to you. It’s her knowing she’s your #1 priority. These are the headwaters for a strong and sexy marriage.

Latin for “Dumb”

Standard-issue marriage advice to women says, “Your husband’s not a mind reader. Tell him what you want.”

“Yeah!” shout all the men within earshot, “We’re not mind readers! Just tell us what you want! Don’t make it so complicated! Don’t make us have to work so hard!”

Here’s the problem: While it sounds reasonable to the logical hemisphere of your brain — it bounces off hers.

When you say, “I’m not a mind reader, just tell me what you want,” she hears: “I’ve already won your heart. I’ve already cracked the code. The chase is over. I’m done breaking a sweat for you. Sorry, but you’re not that interesting anymore. Get used to me taking you for granted. Get used to a marriage that’s dull and predictable.”

Or, even worse: “Can’t you be more like my guy friends? More rational. More linear. Less nuanced. Less mysterious. I just wish you’d stop acting like such a woman.”

And you wonder why she’s hardly ever in the mood.

All this time — unbeknownst to you — you’ve been insisting that your wife tone down her sex appeal. Be less amorous. The word “sensual” comes from the Latin “sensualis,” meaning, “endowed with feeling, sensitive.” Regardless of her body shape or size, your well-endowed wife is a finely-tuned machine — sensitive and nurturing and intuitive and feeling and powerful and delicate and complex.

She and her sexuality are a deep well. Simply put, without her yin, there’ll be no yang.

Conclusion

Every man becomes a detective the moment he says, “I do.” When wedding guests ask the groom, “Where will the two of you live?” he might as well answer “221b Baker Street.”

The chase didn’t end on your wedding day – it was just getting started!

Questions that Lead to Better Sex

● What hints has your wife been dropping lately?
● What clues has she been leaving?
● More importantly, what is she really trying to say?
● What does she need most from her husband right now – quality time, encouragement,
empathy, a little push?

Quote Worth Pondering 

● “When a women is silent, listen to her very carefully.” (Lilka)

 

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5 Steps to Survive Separation or Divorce

Sexual betrayal in a relationship causes a multitude of issues. There are couples who decide to separate for a period of time, in order to give space for healing.

This is totally normal and ok to do.

Many couples get back together after being separated.

Unfortunately, other marriages end in divorce.

Either way, I want to encourage you that you will get through this.

As a woman who has been betrayed by someone she loves, the devastation can be overwhelming.

There is a way to survive!

Here are the 5 steps you can try during this time:

1. Turn to God during this time and let it all out

Tell Him exactly how you feel. Go ahead, He can handle it. If you have never journaled, why not try now? Write your prayers out to Him.

2. Tell someone you trust what’s going on

This is not about having a gossip session or talking bad about the man who hurt you. This is about your heart and not walking through this alone. Ask for prayer and tell this person how you feel.

3. Read your Bible

Look through God’s Word for the many promises He has for you during this difficult time. What you need at just the time you need it will jump out at you.

4. Don’t let the negative thoughts consume you

Look for the positives in each day.

5. Find the Scriptures that define you

Let God tell you who you are to Him. One of my favorites is Ephesians 2:10.

I know all too well how life has to continue when you are dealing with this heavy emotional stuff. You have many duties as a wife and maybe a mom. You can’t just stay in bed all day, even if you’d really like to. Do what you have to each day. And know this, you are not alone!

If you haven’t already, get the Recover book from Amazon. The stories will inspire you and encourage you.

Also, if you are able to, join a Recover small group. There are women who have years behind them that would love to walk with you during this time.

I know you might be scared, but don’t be. You will make it through this. I promise.

 

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Don’t Get Caught Off Guard with Their Grieving

“John” came into the counseling office looking very despondent. “I don’t understand what happened this week,” he said. “’Jane’ had been doing so well and I have not seen her angry in more than a month. Then she just exploded. Crying, throwing things, cursing at me. I thought we were good. What happened?”

“John” is a recovering pornography addict who has been in therapy for nearly one year and his wife, “Jane,” is working on her own betrayal recovery. What “John” encountered is not unusual for a couple doing the intense work to get their marriage back on track.

“Jane” was going through another bout of grieving over the betrayal she experienced from “John’s” use of pornography during their marriage. What happened with “Jane” is simply part of the recovery process. Men tend to forget the average recovery time for a woman dealing with betrayal is 12-24 months.

Over the past month, “Jane” had been practicing self-soothing herself when she was feeling angry or sad as she thought about “John’s” actions. She was trying to reduce the amount of negativity she was experiencing when spending time with her husband.

There is nothing wrong with “Jane” trying to stay more positive around “John,” her only mistake was she should have told him what she was attempting to do. This would have helped set “John’s” expectations about her recovery.

But he also made mistakes.

Enjoying the stability of a peaceful home, “John” didn’t take opportunity to ask “Jane” how she was dealing with her recovery. If he had, she most likely would have shared her emotions, instead of holding them in.

His second error was mistaking “Jane’s” calm demeanor to indicate she was no longer emotionally or mentally troubled by his pornography addiction. As I tell my male clients, while your wife may be presenting a calm and peaceful appearance do not underestimate the amount of emotional distress that still lies under the surface.

x3-fighting-for-my-marriage-facebook-10A woman’s grieving is like ocean waves. There are periods in which they are large and powerful, and they can feel overwhelming. There are other times when they are smaller and seem calm. This can give off mixed messages and lead men to have a false impression everything is back to normal.

Wrong.

First, things are never going back to normal. She doesn’t want to return to the marriage you had. For her, the marriage is tainted and dirty. She wants to take the relationship in a new direction that brings a renewed sense of hope and healing. And you need to go there with her.

Second, she is looking for the “new guy.” Recently, a wife who was struggling to re-engage with her husband after nearly a year of recovery work, put it this way, “On one hand there is my husband who cheated on me with multiple women. On the other hand, is my husband who no longer cheats on me. So, tell me, what’s the difference between them?”

It is critical a partner understands the changes being made by the man in recovery. She needs to know there is something different about him that will enable him to guard her heart and make healthy decisions. And if you don’t explain to her how the “old guy” has changed, you are leaving her in the dark.

In order not to be blindsided like “John,” take the following three steps in working with your partner:

1. At least once a week, ask your spouse how she is doing with her recovery. If she simply says “ok”, follow up by asking what has happened that she is now feeling “ok.”

2. Make it a point to check in with your partner on a regular basis and share with her what you are learning in your recovery. More importantly, communicate how the insights you are learning are helping to change you to become the “new” guy.

3. Be fully aware of the time a woman needs to heal from betrayal and understand although at times she may seem calm and peaceful under the surface could still be a great deal of fear and emotional pain.

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4 Ways To Respond To Your Spouse’s Porn Problem

As an author and speaker about the inner thoughts and feelings of men, including the visual nature of men, I get a lot of questions from my audiences, like this very common one: “I just discovered my spouse is using porn and am devastated. What should I do?

My team and I always want to have answers, but since we are social researchers and not counselors, we interviewed Michael Todd Wilson to get his take on this. Michael Todd (MT) is a licensed professional counselor and a certified sex therapist who we highly respect. He gives counsel and advice to men and women all over the country on these topics, and we wanted to tap into his wisdom for a series of articles based on our interviews with him.

What follows is professional and practical advice for the person who has discovered their spouse using porn. For simplicity, we wrote from the viewpoint of a wife discovering her husband’s porn habit, as that is the majority of cases, but the same advice would apply if the roles are reversed.

This advice also assumes the spouses in question have a personal faith in God. We know not all readers will share that personal faith, but we unapologetically believe no one can do this on their own. If you find yourself in this situation, reach out to God and see that you can rely on Him for help in all areas of life – starting with your own difficulties right now.

And that is vital because as you will see, it is essential to ask God to give you the ability to respond well before you tackle this topic with your mate, to have not only good, firm boundaries, but also a healthy dose of the grace and compassion that is so important to a good outcome.

How on earth do you do that in such a hurtful situation? Read on.


From Michael Todd Wilson:

The first – and single most important – piece of advice I have for someone who discovers their spouse is struggling with sexual integrity is to avoid the almost irresistible urge to charge towards them with confrontation and aggression.

Yes, you will be angry. But venting anger isn’t going to lead your spouse to be an appropriately broken person who’s willing to walk the difficult journey ahead. Instead, it will close them off and trigger a denial response, such as “You’re crazy, I am not looking at porn.” (Or whatever sexual integrity problem he is dealing with.)

While there is a need to grieve the loss of what you thought you had in your marriage before discovering the infidelity, it’s not going to help to believe the worst about your spouse, either.

If your husband is a Christ-follower, he knows he is not where God wants him to be. And even if he isn’t, he probably has felt guilty about his porn use; otherwise he wouldn’t have been hiding it.

No matter what, it is almost certain that, despite his actions, he deeply cares about you.

There is a very important need and opportunity right now to encourage your spouse out of the shadows of porn or any sexual infidelity, and towards the light. Which is the only way healing will come.

Encourage him to get help rather than simply demanding he get help ‘or else.’

Sharing the truth that this is unacceptable, and that you need him to seek help for change, and doing it firmly but gently, could be the catalyst God uses to redeem your husband’s behavior and protect your marriage and family.

Here are four initial steps to take:

  1. Under no circumstances should you accept any responsibility for your spouse’s actions. Reject any impulse to feel you have caused your spouse to be unfaithful. However, just as you expect him to examine himself and do some hard work in his life, this is an opportunity for you, the offended spouse, to look inside and “own” whatever difficulties in the marriage may be on your side of the relationship. For example, I see that often (not always, but often), there has been marital conflict on both sides that has led to infrequent sex or sexual problems. Which is sometimes a contributing factor to a spouse’s pain. Again, though: These may be contributing factors, but how your spouse chooses to respond to these difficulties (by hookups or porn) is fully, one hundred percent, his responsibility.
  1. Be gentle in the way you approach your spouse. I know this will be extremely difficult, but at the outset, refrain from expressions of anger and try to see that your partner is hurting on the inside, whether he admits to such pain or not. You can share those feelings of anger with your spouse at some point when it’s more beneficial. Initially though, it’s most helpful to take this anger to God and press into Him. At first, discussions about what’s happening with your husband’s porn use should be limited to your most trusted one or two friends, preferably ones who aren’t family (sharing with family now will likely have unintended, detrimental consequences on that relationship later).
  1. Accept denial as a natural response of the spouse who is caught – i.e. “That porn website in the computer history wasn’t me – that was one of the kids.” Denial goes with the problem, and you may not be able to break it yourself. Pray for God to convict him and break through the denial. I have seen over and over again that the Holy Spirit will convict your spouse much more effectively than you ever could.
  1. Don’t believe the worst in your spouse. Your spouse is actually in pain. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be doing what they are doing in the first place. (Porn use, believe it or not, is often a means of coping.) Offer empathy and encouragement to get help. If your spouse is ready, help him to take the next step to get help (such as finding a local ministry or men’s accountability group.) If not, give him space and pray until he is. It can be so hard to wait, but he truly has to be ready to get help; if he is only “getting help” because you insist, it is not likely you will see the true life change you both need.

If you feel that you have already “messed up” in how you approached your spouse initially, it’s simple enough to go back and confess. After all, this is exactly what you wish your partner would do with regard to his own sexual mess-ups. You can model the same humility in confession that you long to see from him.

So if you spewed your anger initially, you can go back and confess that, and apologize, even months later: “You know, when I first confronted you I did it in a way that caused more harm than good. I was scared, angry, hurt … I turned that into punishment. I’m really sorry.

All these steps will create a gentle but firm approach to make it easier for your spouse to move toward the light instead of running, hiding, denying or downplaying poor sexual choices.

 

Bio for Michael Todd Wilson
As a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Sex Therapist and Board Certified Coach, MT leverages professional-grade coaching to help Christian men (especially men in Christian leadership) successfully recover and pursue sexual integrity. His specialized coaching is convenient from anywhere by phone or video conference. You can reach him at intentionalhearts.com.

 

 

 

 

 

The post 4 Ways To Respond To Your Spouse’s Porn Problem appeared first on XXXchurch.com.

Free Video Series and Private FB Group – Available Now

We have some pretty exciting news for you.

Here’s the thing, we have a lot of resources for individuals and couples who are struggling with porn use.

Some of these cost money because they fund the development of new resources and initiatives.

But at the end of the day, we want to help as many people as possible…

So when I can announce that we have a new free resource that I think is going to help a lot of men and women I GET EXCITED.

Here is what we have available right NOW and I think you are going to love it.

 

First, for the men struggling with porn and stuff. We have:

 

1. A free 3 part video series called “3 Things to Tell Your Wife About Your Pornography Habit.”

I know the idea of sharing your struggle with your wife might seem pretty scary. But it’s what we need to do and these videos will help you with that process.

2. A free private Facebook Group for men only.

In this group, you will be able to access the video series I just told you about plus share with and hear from 1,000’s of other men all on the same journey as you. Plus, we have leaders and staff in this group who will be jumping in and offering encouragement and advice.

 

Second, for the women married or involved with the men who struggle with porn and these types of things we have:

 

1. A free 3 part video series called “3 Ways to Help Your Husband Kick His Pornography Habit.”

Yes, it’s his problem. But, it’s also yours because it impacts you and your marriage. You probably already know this but at times feel helpless because you don’t know what to do or how to help him. These videos will give you some clear guidance and help.

2. A free private Facebook Group for women only.

In this group, you will be able to access the video series I just told you about plus share with and hear from 1,000’s of other women all in the same situation as you. Plus, we have leaders and staff in this group who will be jumping in and offering encouragement and advice.
Sound good?

I hope so.

So here’s what you need to do to learn more about these free videos and get access to the private groups.

1. Click HERE.

2. Request Access.

3. Wait for your Private Invitation code to arrive in your email.

That’s it. Let us know what you think.

 

 

 

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