Recently, I began thinking about one of the most fundamental building blocks of addiction recovery: Honesty. The willingness to drop the walls, drop the façade, and allow others to see inside of your life. A life of honesty refuses to hide, cover up, or deny the truth. It seeks only to be completely transparent, allowing light to shine upon anything unseen.
I have to admit that in the past I’ve really struggled to write posts that center on this particular topic. Not because sex scares. Not because I’m not a fan of sex.
But quite honestly, it’s because I don’t feel like an expert when it comes to sex. I know that it’s an area that my wife and I are still learning and growing in together. It’s also one area of intimate connection that we have to regularly fight for in our marriage.
Again, not because either of us doesn’t enjoy it, but because life can get crazy!
We take on many roles: Spouses, parents, co-workers, and ministry partners to name just a few. There always seems to be a demand right around the corner or something to take care of.
Don’t get me wrong, we have gotten better over the years in all of these areas, including fostering healthy sexual intimacy within our relationship. But as I was thinking through this post, I felt the biggest truth you need to be able to take away from it is this:
Healthy sex has to be consistent.
At the risk of sounding legalistic or forced and in no way am I advocating for obligation sex*, I believe there’s more to that statement than meets the eye. Specifically, the two words which are emphasized: Healthy and consistent.
First, sexual intimacy between you and your spouse should be healthy. What does this mean?
Straight to the point, sex shouldn’t be just about meeting YOUR desires.
It actually should be first about meeting your spouse’s desires. When we come together with our spouse with that kind of motivation, it makes the union that much sweeter and that much more enjoyable for both.
I’m not going to detail in this post tips and techniques for better sex. That misses the point behind this article. What I will say is that healthy sex is the kind that you and your spouse both discuss and agree to TOGETHER.
I love what Philippians 2:4 says to us:
…not looking to YOUR OWN interests but each of you to the interests of the OTHERS.
I understand that Paul wasn’t specifically referring to sexual preferences here in this passage, but he was talking about what humility looks like. Humility disregards what is important to me so that you can receive what is important to you.
This is one of the hardest things for us as humans to learn. And I suspect this may be true as it relates to our sexual needs as well.
I think “healthy” sex isn’t just a time where two people enjoy intense physical pleasure, but it’s where they can connect deeply on an emotional level.
And even a spiritual level. The idea that you’re fulfilling what the Bible talks about in becoming one flesh is a beautiful reality.
Secondly, healthy sex is something that should be consistent. Perhaps it’s better to start explaining what this doesn’t mean versus what this does mean.
For starters, consistency is something you and your spouse need to discuss together.
What does a healthy connection look like for you? Perhaps this is 2 or 3 times a week. Or 2 or 3 times a day. Or 2 or 3 times within a month. The bottom line is that there’s no “one size fits all” for sexual intimacy. And don’t let anyone ever tell you there is.
The one caveat I would add to that though is this: If it’s been SEVERAL days, weeks, months, or yes, I’m saying it — years since you’ve connected with your spouse intimately, there’s most likely a problem there. And it’s your responsibility to figure it out if you want your marriage to thrive.
Look, I get it…life can be crazy! Between our jobs, families, kids, church commitments, ministry appointments, it seems as if there is always something or someone demanding your attention. And by the time the evening rolls around, you’re fried! I know I am.
But again, connecting with your spouse physically, emotionally, spiritually needs to be a priority.
And when something is being done with consistency, deeper intimacy will grow as well. Perhaps for some out there, it means you and your spouse schedule your time together.
Now before you roll your eyes and make any assumptions, hear me out: We schedule things and put things on our calendar that are important. And isn’t sexually connecting with our spouse important?
If not the calendar, keep the lines of communication open with your spouse and be looking for the moments and minutes you can steal away for time together. I think there’s sometimes been a misconception in the past that says sex needs to be this glorious thing that lasts for hours.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Sometimes, when you don’t have a very long time to get away, it can be more functional and may not take much time at all. There’s no judgment there! Remember, you’re still connecting with the other person in a meaningful way.
I believe that it’s possible for you and your spouse to have an intimate and thriving relationship with each other. But it takes work, that’s for sure. It must take priority in your life. It takes consistency. And when those things happen, you will find that your time together will become
healthier and healthier.
Remember, one of the greatest keys to health is consistency.
If you want to read more about healthy sexuality, go buy The Good Guys Guide to Great Sex by Sheila Gregoire and her husband Dr. Keith Gregoire which will be available on March 15.
This is an excellent article from Amen Clinics on the power of human touch and boosting important brain chemicals. Enjoy!
In times of our greatest celebrations, our darkest sadness, and in the moments in between, we seek out hugs from family, friends, and loved ones. Big bear hugs make you feel safe, warm, happy, comforted and connected. But with the pandemic, people aren’t getting these much-needed embraces. That’s bad news, because hugs don’t just feel good, they come with a host of brain benefits.
BRAIN BENEFITS OF HUGS
Some of the psychological and neurological benefits of wrapping your arms around your loved ones include:
- Triggers the release of oxytocin. Sometimes referred to as the “cuddle hormone,” oxytocin is a hormone and neurotransmitter that promotes a sense of well-being, relaxation, and bonding. It may be best known for its involvement in childbirth and breastfeeding to strengthen the bonds between mother and baby. More recently, it has become known as “the love hormone” as it brings forth feelings of trust, security, connection, calmness, and contentment. Some research suggests that intranasal oxytocin may be used to enhance relationships interpersonal connections.
- Boosts moods. Hugging increases levels of the feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin to elevate moods. Receiving a hug also helps protect people from negative moods, according to findings in a 2018 study in Plos One.
- Decreases the stress hormone cortisol and lowers stress levels. Hugs protect against chronic stress, which reduces “brain reserve,” the extra cushion of brain tissue you have to deal with the curveballs life throws your way. Uncontrolled stress is also associated with reduced immune system function, increasing your risk of infections and illness. To keep stress at bay, it’s a good idea to “hug it out” on a regular basis.
- Lowers anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness. The simple act of embracing another human has positive impacts on psychological well-being. For example, a 2013 study from researchers at the University of Amsterdam found that hugs help reduce anxiety and fears in people with low self-esteem.
Read the rest of this article by going here.
As I continue to walk in recovery from a pornography addiction, I often remind myself that it is only by love and grace that I’m at the place I am today. Eleven years ago, I received an insurmountable amount of forgiveness from those closest to me, including my wife. And even as I continued to minimize or justify the relapses I would have and the lying that accompanied it, I would experience healing in life. Little did I know then the ways in which freedom would come.
At the age of 16, I invited Jesus into my life and accepted the free gift of salvation He died to give me. And while I thought I was giving Him all of my life, I really wasn’t. My secret life of binging on pornography that had started at the age of 13 only continued, many times late into the night. It wasn’t until the age of 26 that I hit rock bottom and started to walk in freedom & healing. My secrets were uncovered. I had finally chosen to shine light upon the darkest places of my heart.
I truly believe that most of the change in my life has occurred through the love of my heavenly Father and the grace I experienced from others. How does transformation happen in a person’s life? For me, I believe that my life changed through pain, position, and purpose:
- Pain — Before I could begin walking in freedom and healing, I had to acknowledge the damage that I had caused myself as well as the pain I had caused others because of my addiction. Throughout the course of my battle with porn, I’d been given so many opportunities to get healthy and yet nothing really stuck. I lived in so much shame and guilt over what I was doing. I was convinced people would think I was a pervert. I’m so thankful to this day that the Lord used even the most painful moments in my life for good. The moment my fiancé slid her engagement ring across the table was one such moment. It helped me to see that I wasn’t healthy. I was sick. And so I think pain was one of the only effective means left for me to see who I was and who I was becoming.
- Position — It wasn’t until I literally took action upon my addiction that I began to see any difference. My routine, schedule, and priorities all needed to change. There needed to be movement in my life where for so many years I was stuck in one place. Thankfully, through the help of counselors, pastors, and support groups, I was able to find freedom from the quicksand of pornography addiction. Again, it wasn’t until I got off my butt and took action. I couldn’t wallow in shame forever. Or point the finger at someone else as the cause of my behavior. If I wanted to get better, I needed to embrace healthy outlets for processing emotions and feelings I had long ignored. My position had to change.
- Purpose — As funny as it may sound, when I began walking in recovery, I found a passion begin to stir inside for helping others do the same. Strangely, one of the bi-products of my addiction was that it helped me to find purpose in life. Today, I tell people that I sometimes feel like my former porn addiction was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me! It was because I had found a sense of purpose that I felt like I could really be an influence in someone’s life. I could help someone else find the healing that I had found for my life. I believe that is something we’re all called to do in our recovery journey. Get all the healing you can, but don’t let it stop with your life. Be a funnel, not a flask.
As I reflect upon my recovery journey, I can see how love overcame my addictive behavior through pain, position, and purpose. Each one of these ways has been instrumental in helping me take further steps to become the man that God wants me to be. This process continues daily until I take my last breathe in this world. I’m of the belief that it was Christ’s death on the cross that is really what has made my recovery possible. Jesus’ death on the cross has helped me to understand there is no challenge, no circumstance, no addiction too big for God’s love to overcome. How could I do any less than to honor Him with a life of sexual integrity after He has given me so much?
For me, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 sums it up pretty well: “For it is Christ’s love that fuels our passion and motivates us, because we are absolutely convinced that he has given his life for all of us. This means all died with him, so that those who live should no longer live self-absorbed lives but lives that are poured out for him—the one who died for us and now lives again.”
You may be reading this convinced you’re trapped in a vicious cycle that never ends. You’ve tried time and time again to stop your behavior on your own or maybe you haven’t even tried at all. And yet, you feel the emptiness inside. The well inside of your heart has no end.
Believe it or not, there is hope. Whether you feel it or not, freedom is possible. But it can’t be found by yourself. You can’t get better alone. Healing requires that you allow people into your world to see the real you. Do you want that for your life?
Small Groups Online is an incredible opportunity for you to meet others who are struggling the same way you are. It promises a safe and healthy atmosphere. Through communication with others in the group about your addiction, you will find a renewed sense of courage spring up in you to become a person of sexual integrity.
Check out Small Groups Online today!
Understanding that fear isn’t something you have to live with is hard. But it’s not impossible. In this episode of Pure God, Frank shares from 2 Timothy 1:7 and encourages listeners to not allow fear to drive their lives, even in the midst of pandemics and elections. For more information on this podcast & other great resources, visit pflhome.com.
If you and your spouse are struggling and would like help on your journey, please feel free to contact us! Or, if you’re a wife and need some extra help from another wife who’s walked through what you have, head on over to the “Support for Wives” section and shoot Tracey a message by filling out the contact form. All communication is strictly confidential.