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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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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One-Sided​ ​Conversations​

In my marriage, I volunteered to do lots of things that I never did. Not in a timely fashion, at least.

HER: “We need to make an appointment with our tax guy.”
ME: “I’ll call him this week.”

HER: “One of our sprinkler heads is broken, and the grass in our front yard is turning brown.”
ME: “No problem. I’ll replace it this weekend.”

HER: “Can you help me upload the photos on my camera to the cloud? I can’t figure it out.”
ME: “Sure. Just leave your camera on my dresser and I’ll take care of it for you.”

If you’ve been married more than a month, you know what’s coming next.
The question.

Oh, it might not come for a week or two, but it’s coming.

“Did you call our tax guy?”
“Did you fix the sprinkler?”
“Can I have my camera back?”

Far too often, instead of owning it like a man, I stuttered and stammered my way into deeper
doo-doo.

“Uhhh, let me think … tax guy … did I make that call? Hmmm. I remember I was going to. Oh
wait, that’s right, I was about to call him and set up our appointment when I got called into a
meeting. Crap! I’ll do it this week.”

“This week?! It should have been done months ago. Why didn’t you call him last week like you
said you would?! Aauuugh!”

“I didn’t have time.”

[Sound of my parachute not opening]

Here’s what “I didn’t have time” really means and what every frustrated woman hears in that
moment:

x3-fighting-for-my-marriage-facebook-10“I don’t really care that you lose sleep at night worrying about our taxes. I don’t really care that our front yard is ugly and embarrasses you. I don’t really care that you’re stressed out and fearful we might lose the family photos from our summer vacation. What matters to you doesn’t matter to me. You don’t matter to me. I have lots of priorities, but you’re not one of them. There are important people in my life, but you’re not one of them. You’re practically last in line!”

Instead, when you volunteer to do something, write it down. Schedule it. Prioritize it.

Prioritize HER.

That’s always what this is about.

Better yet, anticipate her needs and take charge. From “Better Sex Guarantee #1” (Chapter 5 of
my book, Wife Magnet):

“Intimate and lasting marriages are forged when we anticipate the day-to-day needs of our
wives and spring into action before we’re asked.”

YOU: “I saw tax forms on your desk the other day, and I know how much you hate it when we
fall behind. I called our accountant this morning. Our appointment is next Tuesday at 4:00 PM.
Is there anything else we need for that meeting? Bank statements? W-2’s?”

YOU: “I keep meaning to fix that broken sprinkler head, but weekends have been so busy since
Little League started. It’s my only time with the boys. The good news is I found a handyman who
can do it this Saturday for only $50. I know you’re tired of our front yard looking so ugly.”

YOU: “You were having trouble uploading photos from your camera, right? I went ahead and
created a new Dropbox folder called ‘Summer Vacation 2017’ and uploaded all those great
pictures you took. I also changed the settings on your camera, so whenever you connect it to
your laptop, any new photos will upload automatically to the cloud. You’ll never have to worry
about losing photos ever again! I tested it and it works great. I can show you right now if you
have a minute.”

I’m guessing, but you might need more than a minute. Especially if her laptop is in the bedroom.
Trust me, you’ll learn to LOVE these one-sided conversations.

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Chris Rock Gets It… Do You?

You know, I watch a lot of stuff on Netflix. I’m kind of an amateur film critic. I don’t know why, maybe it’s just my curiosity. I like to see what’s new, what’s good, and what’s not.

Last week I watched Chris Rock’s new comedy special.

And yes, it might not be for you, especially if you are sensitive to some language and stuff.

But it was solid.

Especially when he started talking about his struggle with porn and the eventual breakup of his marriage.

He says…

“I was not a good husband. I was ******-up. I was addicted to porn. I know, billion-dollar industry, just me, right? I was addicted to porn and, you know, I was 15 minutes late everywhere. When you watch too much porn, you know what happens? Here’s what happens. You become sexually autistic. You develop sexual autism. You have a hard time with eye contact and verbal cues.”

He continues…

“What happens when you watch too much porn is you get desensitized. When you start watching porn, any porn’ll do. ‘Ah, they’re naked. Woo-hoo.’ Then, later on, you’re all ******-up. And you need is a perfect porn cocktail to get you off.”

Funny how Chris Rock sees the danger of porn and is able to connect it with the failure in his marriage but so many others can’t make that connection?

Don’t make the same mistake Chris made.
Don’t wait until it’s too late.

I want to give you a place to start so you don’t end up with the same mess he did.

 

Sign up for an online small group.

 

“Wait, a small group? Why would I do that? Why would that help? And what the heck are you even talking about?”

Look. It’s simple.

One of the reasons people have such a hard time dealing with their porn use is because they feel alone, or they are trying to do recovery on their own.

That doesn’t work.

You need people. You need others to help you along the way. You need a community where you are accepted, warts and all. A safe place to heal and work through your struggles.

Every week of every month we have hundreds of men and women who meet in our online small groups and pursue recovery and freedom. People who are there for each other, week in and week out, via a weekly group video chat.

You should give it a try. You won’t believe the difference it will make in your life.

From now until March 15th,

 

We are offering your 1st month of Small Groups Online for just $1.

 

That’s it. 1 BUCK. Just use coupon code ONEBUCK at checkout.

Don’t wait until it’s too late like Chris.

 

Sign up for $1 and begin your journey to freedom!

 

 

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7 Reasons Why Great Sex Is A Must In Your Marriage

Previously I wrote a blog post that was called 7 Keys To Great Sex (if you missed it go ahead and read that one first). I heard from a number of people and even talked about some of the reactions that the post got on my podcast “Craig’s Car Ride.”

One thing I noticed is: when you talk about sex, it gets a big reaction. Some good and some bad, and while I totally understand this is a sensitive topic, ultimately we want to see people having great marriages, and an important part of having a great marriage is having great sex. Why?

Here are 7 reasons:

#1. Sex Helps Couples Reconnect From The Disconnect Caused Through Everyday Life.
Wow! That’s wordy especially for me. Here is a shorter way to say it: sex helps couples resolve conflict. Don’t believe me? Try having sex while you are mad with one another. It is easy to get busy and stay busy and get mad and get madder. When things like that happen in life, sex gets put on the back burner and you stay disconnected. If you are working on having great sex and trying to have sex multiple times a week at least, I believe it’s going to force you to pay more attention to each others’ needs and feelings — and clear the air on things a bit quicker then you would. Make-up sex is amazing as well, so that is a plus to resolving your conflict.

#2. Sex Fulfills a Basic Need/Want.
I hate reading things or talking to people who just assume men are the only ones that like to have sex. Women like sex, too! At the core, sex is something that is desired, longed for, and needed. If you are married and not doing it, then you’re simply missing out on one of the joys of marriage. One of the love languages is “Physical Touch” and last time I checked, sex counts for physical touch. If this is your spouse’s love language, then they “feel” loved when you make love. Also, as my friend Shaunti observed in her book For Women Only: men especially feel like they can conquer anything in the workplace if they feel like they are winning in the bedroom, so your husband’s self-esteem can even go up the more you have sex.

#3. Sex Creates Intense Intimacy Like Nothing Else
Sex unites you. Sex builds physical intimacy. (Tweet This!) It’s when my wife and I are “closest” both figuratively and literally. It bonds the couple together. For women, a powerful bonding hormone called oxytocin is released in the brain during only two activities: breastfeeding a baby or sexual orgasm. Sex connects a husband and wife on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. It mirrors the kind of spiritual intimacy we can have with God. Need I say more?

#4 Sex lowers stress in Life and In Marriage.
Sex can be an escape at times, something that temporarily dims the cares of the world and releases stress. Sexually satisfied couples are less likely to be stressed out and angry. 

#5. Sex is Fun… Irreplaceable FUN
FUN, FUN, and MORE FUN. It’s fun, and we need more fun in our marriages! The act is fun. The memories of the act are fun. The visuals from the act are fun. The workout, the exploration of each other’s bodies. The experimenting. The practice. I know for me and most guys I know, we want a naked visual or mental replay of sex to have with our wives as the star. If no sex happens, then the images that pop up are not of their wife. (Incidentally, my friend Shaunti and I just finished writing a book for women about the visual nature of men that will be out next year; can’t wait for you all to read that.)

#6. Sex is The Best Feeling Ever.
There’s a reason sex drives so much of our culture and what we do: it feels amazing. Seriously. It’s awesome and is a gift created exclusively for married couples to enjoy together, so why wouldn’t you? It’s good for you. There have to be plenty of studies to back that up!

#7. Sex Protects Both Partners From Sexual Temptation Outside The Marriage.
If none of the above are met, then you’re roommates at best; your spouse will eventually look elsewhere to find validation and love. This is tough to hear, but if you were able to read my emails and hear the conversations I have, you would see how important it is to be having sex. Now, I have also talked to several people who claim to have a great sex life but still had a partner who cheated, so I am not saying sex is a guarantee against adultery, BUT frequent sex will lower the risk and temptation. There are a number of needs that need to be met in marriage – physical, spiritual, and emotional – and you need to be careful that you are meeting all of these not just concentrating on one.


Want to experience truly great sex in your marriage? Even if it’s great already, are you excited about the idea of making it even better? Learn how to start enjoying a better sex life in our video workshop “Best Sex Life Now.”

 

Get 25% off today with code REALLOVE!

 

 

 

 

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Four Things that Stood Out to Me from the Movie Fifty Shades Freed

It’s that time of year. Valentine’s Day weekend, which means the last installment of 50 Shades of Grey. I have written a blog about each movie so far:

50 Shades of Grey

50 Shades Darker

Currently, Fifty Shades of Grey Freed has a 15% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. So that should tell you that it’s not a huge hit, but no doubt will be #1 at the box office. After this weekend, the franchise will have taken in over $1 billion at the box office.  

With the awakening in Hollywood this year in regards to the #METOO movement, I have wondered how this movie will go over.

Would we still support a film that encourages and cheers on a guy with fame, power, and money to get sex from a girl who just wants to be loved?

This opening weekend will be telling, but so far, every show was sold out Thursday night at the theatre.

Here are four things that stood out to me from the movie Fifty Shades of Grey Freed. They all start with C:

CURIOSITY  

According to this publishing website …

“Compared to the typical adult fiction consumer, buyers of the Fifty Shades books are more likely to be women, live in the Northeast, and have a significantly higher household income. They read fewer paperbacks and more digital books versus last year and are especially likely to use a hand-held device such as a Kindle. Their purchase of a 50 Shades book was more likely planned — just 11 percent were whims – and oh yeah, nine out of ten times the purchase was for ‘pleasure/relaxation,’ but it’s worth noting that an intriguing one percent were purchased for ‘work/career’ reasons.”

As far as the movie goes, last year the stats for the film showed it was a girl’s night out, with an 82% female audience. Saturday night, Valentine’s night, shifted into date night with women representing a 68%.

This leads me to the fact that I believe the overall draw of the books and movie with women is their CURIOSITY. Whether they drive a minivan with an honor roll bumper sticker or a fish emblem, women are curious about Fifty Shades. Is it really as bad as people say it is?

Could it actually be good?
Is there something I am missing?

I wonder if that curiosity drives book sales and movie sales.

In 2002, I started XXXchurch.com, and it took a church called Mars Hill and a pastor named Rob Bell to invite us into a Sunday morning church service and do what he called Porn Sunday back in January of 2005. Since then, thousands of churches have invited us in or downloaded our sermons to be played at churches.

The church has come a long way. After Rob Bell, it was Bill Hybels and Craig Groeschel who invited us to their churches, and we have been blown away since by so many Christians saying it is time that the church talks about issues like sex, porn, and so on.

There is still a ton of work to be done. The curiosity of this should send a message to churches that we must keep topics like this in front of our people. Yes, the church should speak life into these things; not avoid them.

Those curious people are not just buying books and movie tickets. Searches for porn last year on the most massive porn site reported the #1 search that defined 2017 was PORN FOR WOMEN.


CONTROL

Christian Grey creates his own rulebook. He writes the checks, and he calls the shots. He is in control, or so he thinks. In reality, he is out of control. I know it’s 2018 and all, but I still do believe that women want men to lead.

You can argue over who is the spiritual leader of the family and what role a wife plays in that. I am not talking about head of the household type stuff here, so please don’t go down a rabbit trail here.

I think God has created and given the intrinsic need of men to provide. There is a huge difference in leading and controlling, and the Bible says for a wife to submit to her husband and the husband must love her like Christ loves church and He gave his son up for her.

In this movie, Anastasia has no say, no voice, and tunes out most of the control. He can have a hot architect work for him, but his wife can’t sign an attractive author to her publishing company. He can go out without Anastasia, but she can’t go out without him.

No relationship is going to work when things are this upside down and one-sided.

CONFIDENT

In the first two movies, we saw a strong and confident Christian Grey. We didn’t see him break down much, but we did uncover a broken Christian Grey early on. In this final movie, we see that Christian Grey’s confidence is really just smoke and mirrors.

He doesn’t lead like I said earlier but tries to control and that control comes from a lack of confidence ultimately in who he is and what he has become. You see his pain. He barely speaks not only to his wife but to his brother growing up.

His lack of confidence is evident in his extreme jealousy. He can’t handle other men looking at his wife.

Julia Michaels song HEAVEN plays over one of the scenes and the chorus says: “They say all good boys go to heaven, but bad boys bring heaven to you.”

I still think they try and portray Christian as a tough bad boy, but in reality, he is so weak.

To me, I don’t care what you look like, but that is super unattractive. What woman deep down inside wants to marry a weak man? I’m not talking muscles, hey, I just moved up to 20lb weights at the gym, I’m talking about a weak man. That’s not the guy I want to be and not the guy I want my daughter to marry.

It is the reason I have this book on my nightstand, a book I continuously go back to – STRONG FATHERS STRONG DAUGHTERS.

CHILDHOOD

You hear this all the time when you see a girl run off to boys at a young age: “She has daddy issues.” Or you hear or see the opposite: “He has mommy issues.”

I love the line in Sincerely Freedom,

THINGS YOU PLAY WITH IN HIGH SCHOOL WILL PLAY WITH YOU AS AN ADULT.

Christian Grey has not dealt with his childhood and the hurt and pain that comes along with growing up in a foster home. And then later on being abused by an older lady sexually. He has wounds and scars, and since he doesn’t communicate with his wife or family, he has not processed any healing.

He’s terrified of having kids because he thinks he will be a horrible father. He has not moved on from his childhood and what I have seen is we end up doing the same thing with our kids that our parents did with us unless we chart out a different course.

Christian hasn’t done the work to deal with this, and his childhood still haunts him.

One major thing is he has not forgiven. He is holding onto the hurt and the pain and hasn’t let that go. I deal with people all day long that are holding onto the hurts and pains of their childhood that has sent them into addiction. Today we see how trauma and addiction go hand in hand. Often pain from your childhood affects you, and in Christian’s case, it definitely does.

Enough with the C’s, here are some takeaways for you:

If you are carrying around pain, hurt, and deep wounds from your childhood, don’t keep lugging that around.

One of the big things I remember from listening in on the courtroom session of the gymnasts speak to Nassar, or hearing some of the women come forward with the #METOO movement was listening to the women be vocal for the first time. And in return, I think that helps them start to heal.

In some cases, it is the final step in healing. Being able to vocalize, process, and deal with the pain.  

Here are some ways to do deal with your past hurts:

  • See a counselor.
  • Join a support group or a small group.
  • Check out mypilgrimage.com, a course that deals a ton with the trauma and pain concerning why you are dealing with addiction.
  • Start journaling.
  • Meditation (I just heard this whole course from the Liturgists about meditation and have recently discovered TM.org as well).
  • Start sharing your story publicly. Not just on a hashtag, but teach a class, share at school or church, record a video. Your mess could become someone else’s miracle.
  • Take This Quiz.

I found the How We Love test this past October. Jeanette and I think it might be one of the best tools that we have discovered in our 19 years of marriage.

They discovered that each person’s childhood experiences form the roots of who they are; continuing to influence the way that person responds to others or expresses love, even far into adulthood. The result of all these experiences is actually very predictable because people tend to fall into one of five unique categories: called “Love Styles.”

The results don’t show your personality but show your WOUNDED STATE. Knowing that and discovering alongside your spouse will put you miles ahead in your relationship then Christian and Anastasia Grey.

That’s it, four C’s and a few takeaways.

Here’s to a better movie we can watch next Valentine’s Day!

P.S – Before I wrote the blog I recorded my first initial thoughts right after getting home with Jeanette from the movie. You can watch it here.


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Escaping the Grip of Your Evil Genius

[Editor’s Note: This post is a copyrighted excerpt from the book Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery by Forest Benedict.]

Essential Mindset #15: I will grow in self-love, responding with care when I experience emotional pain.

Essential Mindset #16: I will not engage in friendly conversation with my Evil Genius but will maintain an attitude of opposition, looking for ways to throw it under the bus.

As an unmarried, young adult active in my addiction, I masterfully deceived those I most loved. My best friend was no exception. Every time I slept over at his house, my mindset morphed as I slipped into my addictive alter ego. The circumstance that triggered my conniving motives was the presence of porn presented through late-night movies.

Once I was aware of them, achieving access became a game to me. My friend had the best intentions of deterring me from his dad’s TV. He probably had me promise not to pursue it or removed the remote. Once, he stacked objects by the door in hopes that he would wake up when I went out to watch something. Yet, despite every tactic he attempted, my creativity rose to meet the challenge.

When the lights went out, I acted asleep while my mind went to work. Getting up quietly without waking others became a highly-developed skill set. I sneakily sought to outsmart my friend, accessing my adrenaline rush and securing my addictive high. The next morning was predictable. Waking with a shame hangover, I feared the disappointed look on my friend’s face. I could not bear the weighty truth that I had betrayed him.

Now, despite years of recovery, TVs remain a trigger for me. Sleeping in new situations with a TV nearby, I am often awakened by tempting voices, calling me onto that self- destructive path. They beckon me back to steal a look, explaining how I could easily get away with it. I’ve contrived a name for this convincing voice that calls me to creatively sneak back into lustful debauchery. I call this voice my Evil Genius.

What Is the Evil Genius?

Those of us who struggle with sexual addiction know our Evil Genius well. The Evil Genius is the part of us that places inventive ideas in our minds on how to numb our pain or increase our pleasure. Our Evil Genius once served the powerful purpose of helping us survive. Its tactics helped us cope with our hurts.

Sadly, the Evil Genius’ attempts to help us backfired. It led us down darker paths where we did things we will forever regret. In its search for sexual soothing, our Evil Genius neglected our long-term goals, leaving us recoiling from the consequences. It seems that the strategies of our Evil Genius gave us temporary relief but repeatedly threw us under the bus. Its attempts to comfort us left us bloodied and broken.

The Evil Genius is a pet name for preoccupation, which is presented in Patrick Carnes’ Addiction Cycle.30 This seemingly infinite cycle begins with the sexual addict feeling some sort of pain. Not knowing how to manage this in a healthy manner, the addict plans methods of self-medication. This preoccupation leads to rituals, which result in acting out behaviors, then shame, compounded with pain,31 is present. To the non-addicted onlooker, it may seem obvious that preoccupation is not the solution to suffering but the hook that catches us, keeping us in it. If we don’t learn how to spot preoccupation then our chances of stopping it are stunted. We must understand the tactics of our Evil Genius to stand a chance of escaping its grip.

The Top Tricks of the Evil Genius

  1. There are countless lies the Evil Genius will tell to lure us into the shadows. If we find our minds describing how lust is a viable solution that will satisfy, how our behavior won’t hurt anyone, or how we can keep our choices hidden, these are all deceptive inner dialogues. When we listen to minimizing assertions that our addiction isn’t serious or that we can sample lust without going all the way, these messages feed our dangerous denial.
  2. Euphoric recall. Do you ever find yourself thinking back to the good ol’ days of your addiction while oblivious to the painful consequences that resulted? When memories of pleasure are devoid of the pain that was present, this is euphoric recall.32 The Evil Genius uses this fraudulent form of fantasy to whet our appetite to return to our disastrous addiction.
  3. Creative ideas. When our mind imagines innovative methods of acting out our addiction, it is the workings of the Evil Genius. An inventive idea may come to our consciousness regarding pleasure in the present or we may mentally stash it for the future, giving ourselves a relapse raincheck.

If we’re uncertain whether our Evil Genius is at work, we can ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Am I thinking about how to get around a recovery boundary I’ve put into place?
  • Am I contemplating how to get away with indulging lust in any form?
  • Do I have any pre-planned paths into sexual curiosities that could threaten my future sobriety?
  • Am I minimizing the threat of any current temptations?
  • Am I imagining how much I’ve enjoyed my past addiction while ignoring the accompanying crisis filled consequences?

If we answer “yes” to any of these questions, our Evil Genius is dangerously close and it is time to act in our defense.

The Best Defense

1. Don’t debate

The childhood advice “don’t talk to strangers” is wise counsel when it comes to our Evil Genius. We can acknowledge it and set a boundary, saying something like “Hello, Evil Genius. Your ideas are off the table today.” Further friendly banter is the Evil Genius’ bait. Our Evil Genius has a way with words; this is where it does its best work. It knows our weaknesses. It knows what lines will lure us away to lust. We can tell it the truth of how we will live but when it responds, we must turn a deaf ear. This can be difficult if we don’t decipher the difference between our Evil Genius and our Wiser Self. This is one reason why we must know our commitments, aiming for daily alignment with them.

If we catch ourselves in the current of conversation, we must quickly disengage. Remaining in the mind-game of the Evil Genius, we’ll find ourselves losing more the longer we play. Before we know it, we’ll buy the lies, betraying our most cherished convictions. When the addiction’s anesthesia wears off, we’ll find ourselves deeper down the dark hole of despair than we’ve ever ventured before.

2. Throw it under the bus

What’s required when the Evil Genius calls is immediate action. In the moment, we can ask ourselves these questions:

  • What can I do right now that will end this before it starts?
  • What decision will close the door and stop wasting my time contemplating this temptation? In other words, what do I need to do to throw my Evil Genius under the bus?

We can start by listing our options, mentally or in writing. Our choices will be situation specific but could include:

  • Calling an accountability partner
  • Reaching out to our Higher Power in prayer
  • Removing ourself from the situation
  • Tending to our self-care needs

Next, we must choose swiftly, before our Evil Genius tries to talk us out of it (and we’re not listening to it anyway, right?). I suggest choosing an option that turns in or tells on our Evil Genius. We can do this by wrapping our struggles with words. We can say something to others such as “Part of me wants to do ____ but I am forgetting how ____ happened last time. I am committed to ______ and I need to be reminded of that.” This removes the power from our secret thoughts. The phrase we commonly use in recovery work is “reach out or act out.”33 Reaching for the phone instead of reaching for the porn quickly weakens our Evil Genius because suddenly we have someone on our side.

3. Meet our need

One significant factor that awakens and empowers our Evil Genius is the presence of an unmet need. If we lack energy due to poor sleep habits, mismanagement of stress, the absence of exercise, or unhealthy eating, we prime our brains to impulsively seek instant gratification.34 Often, the mere presence of our Evil Genius is the sign of a deeper problem. In response, we could internally explore it, saying, “I hear my Evil Genius telling me to start searching the internet. Is this the sign of an unmet need? It’s obvious to me that I’m physically exhausted. Instead, I’m going to lay down and take a nap. Thanks for the reminder, Evil Genius!” We can often silence our Evil Genius by simply meeting our need at hand.

4. Pay attention to our pain

Remember how the Addiction Cycle begins with pain? In recovery, we stop addictively reacting to our pain and begin lovingly responding to it. The pained part in us doesn’t need some lust-filled distraction. It needs care and compassion. In recovery, we learn to become our own loving parent,35 so to speak. The presence of our Evil Genius reminds us to pay attention rather than neglecting the cries of our heart.

5. Pollute our fantasy

When faced with euphoric recall, we can remind ourselves (or ask others to remind us) of the uncomfortable realities that accompanied our past escapist behavior.

  • What physical, emotional, and spiritual discomfort was present?
  • How did we unknowingly harm ourselves and others?
  • What else could happen?

Let’s think about the worst case scenarios.

This is essentially reminding ourselves, “Yes, I could indulge my addiction in unique and unprecedented ways but then I’d experience unique and unprecedented consequences.” We can pop our own fantasy bubble by considering how the Evil Genius will deteriorate our relationships, our self-worth, and our potential.

6. Empower our Wiser Self

The martial art of Jujitsu is centered around using the attacker’s momentum to defeat them. Similarly, when the Evil Genius calls, consider practicing something meaningful. When the Evil Genius tempts us to turn to lust to just survive, we can do something that enlists our Wiser Self, helping us thrive. Whether we tend to our wounds or attend to our loved ones, what was meant to worsen our situation can be repurposed to improve it.

Putting It Into Practice

Recently, when I was out of town, I fell asleep on the couch while putting my son to sleep. Sleeping in the vicinity of a TV was not problematic until my Evil Genius woke me at 3am. I contemplated the creative ideas my Evil Genius presented to me. It showed me how the odds were in my favor for turning on the TV without waking anyone up.

I then realized my immediate risk. I started some recovery related reading, hoping to sway myself back to my stronger self. It wasn’t working. I tried journaling. As I wrote, I became aware that distraction was not the answer. I needed to sleep but was unable to, against the backdrop of my Evil Genius’ dominating ideas. I considered how I could throw him under the bus before he did the same to me. If I lingered much longer, I knew his betraying intentions would soon lead my addictive actions.

I began throwing my Evil Genius under the bus by waking up my wife. I asked her if we could trade places. Without question, she got up and went out on the couch in front of the TV. I lay down feeling safe from the temptations at hand.

Suddenly, our little one cried out, “Mommy!” As my wife returned, I knew I was headed back out to the couch. In that moment, I imagine my Evil Genius dusting himself off, preparing for his victory dance. But to his surprise, I leveraged his momentum against him, landing him swiftly back under the bus. I cemented my victory by placing both the TV’s remote and my glasses by my wife’s bed, closing the door. Feeling free from the power of my Evil Genius, I crashed on the couch. I slept soundly the rest of the night.

The next day, I shared the story of struggle with my wife. She thanked me for noble choices made in the silent hours of the night.

When it comes to my Evil Genius, it’s till death do us part. Truthfully, my Evil Genius lives in me. I must never underestimate his power to persuade me with cunningly creative words. The better I get at spotting him, the stronger I’ll get at stopping him. My Evil Genius is right here, but right now I respond in active opposition. It’s my Evil Genius or me. One of us is going under that bus. And it ain’t gonna be me.

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