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.
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!
“Honesty is the best policy.” Perhaps you remember hearing this often repeated phrase in your childhood. I know I remember hearing it. As a child, I grew up learning that good things came from being honest. And bad things came from lying. Conviction came very easily for me a child as I think I had a pretty sensitive heart, which I would later learn could be both good and bad depending on the situation. But for the most part, I tried to be honest in everything I did. I knew that lying was wrong. It wasn’t until my world was literally shattered when I viewed hardcore pornography for the first time that I really began to learn how to lie.
What happened? The diabolical mixture of both excitement and shame broke down the walls of my heart and my mind. I entered a world that I didn’t know how to get out of. It was as if I could’t get enough of what I was watching. And yet at the same time, I hated it. This pattern continued in my life for 13 years — through middle school, high school, college, and even through a ministry position I took in a church. Thankfully, by the grace of God, I found freedom. I found a way out of the darkness. But it wasn’t until I rediscovered something I had lost early in adolescence: Honesty.
Honesty was and continues to be to this day one of the greatest keys to my freedom. Who did I need to get honest with? They are the same people I believe every man and woman must be honest with if they are to find the same freedom and healing I did. You must learn to cultivate honesty with the following people:
- Yourself — This is the first place that healing either starts or stops in a person’s life. For me, I had to come to a broken place, a place of reckoning where I became so aware of the state of my heart and how my addiction was affecting those around me. You’ve probably heard it described many times before as a “rock bottom” place. But even when I hit the bottom, I had to drop the shovel I was carrying. I had to stop digging the hole even deeper in an attempt to find fulfillment. My point of honesty finally occurred in two different places: In the face of complete devastation from my fiancé which then led me to a counselor’s office. I had to realize I wasn’t healthy. I was sick. My life was a complete lie. It wasn’t until I was really willing to bring all of the ugly into the light that I could take the first step.
- Your Spouse — The next person you need to be honest with is the person you’re meant to become one with: your spouse. And therein lies the reason why we always need to be 100% honest with them. To achieve that kind of unity with your husband or wife requires that they really know you. That you allow them to see inside of you. You don’t hide anything. You don’t keep secrets. You allow them to see the good, the bad, and the ugly. Even the ugly you think is too shameful. Perhaps you’re reading this and you’re not married yet. All the more reason why it’s so important to cultivate honesty in your life! If you are desiring to become married, your credibility tank needs to be full before, not after you say “I do” on the altar. Be honest with your spouse. Or, if you’re not married, be a person that someone can trust their life to when the day comes.
- Your Accountability Partner(s) — This may be one person or a few in your life. But an accountability partner’s specific job is to know you. And your specific job is to allow them to know you. It requires honesty with someone in order for them to effectively encourage and challenge you to be better. More than ourselves and our spouses, we need other men and women who are at a healthy place to be able to ask us the hard questions we don’t want to answer. Because the reality is we can’t walk on this journey alone. We can’t expect to get healthy by ourselves. We were never designed to live life alone.
- Your Support Group or Small Group — Another group of people we should be honest with about our pornography addiction is a support group or small group. The difference here between accountability partners and members of a support group is that within a support group there are other individuals like yourself who are also struggling. Part of the journey of healing is walking with others who need community just like you. Others whose lives have been broken because of addiction. One other note on this: The men and women in a support group are not only meant to be there for us, but we’re meant to be there for them too. You have something so valuable to offer to those without hope.
- Your God — Assuming you’re a person of faith, your honesty with the One who created you is so important. The ironic thing about this is that our God knows everything there is to know about us (see Psalm 139) and yet His desire is for truth to come from our lives. I love what Psalm 51:6 says in The Passion Translation: “I know that you delight to set your truth deep in my spirit. So come into the hidden places of my heart and teach me wisdom.” As I referenced earlier, it was only by the grace of God that I found ultimate freedom in my life. I believe this is one person that we cannot ignore on our quest to become healthy. He not only cares about your eternity…He cares about your heart too.
One of the greatest ways you could start your journey towards honesty is to become apart of a community that values and fosters the truth each and every week. Small Groups Online is that community. It promises a safe and healthy atmosphere with other men who struggle just like you. Through sharing time and 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.
Don’t buy the lies anymore! Join Small Groups Online today!
I recently read a brilliant article on the negative effects that masturbation has within marriage. Thank you to Marriage Today and Dave Willis for providing such truthful insight for married folks AND single folks. Great read!!!
In marriage, sex and honesty are like two wings on the same bird. You need both for your marriage to soar.
My wife Ashley and I recently wrote a book called The Naked Marriage which is designed to spark some very honest and intimate conversations between a husband and wife that can help them improve their sex life and all other aspects of their marriage too. We’ve found that one issue in marriage that needs greater honesty and clarity in marriage is the issue of MASTURBATION. Is it helpful? Is it wrong? Is it harmless? I believe these questions about masturbation are more important than many people realize.
As an important clarification, when I say “masturbation,” for the purposes of this article, I’m NOT referring to the self-stimulation or sexual play that happens during foreplay or intercourse with your spouse. Those can be just a fun part of sex between a husband and wife. When I’m referring to masturbation, I’m talking specifically about someone pleasuring himself or herself to the point of climax when NOT in the presence of his or her spouse.
Here are three reasons you may have never considered why masturbation can negatively impact your marriage…
1. It can negatively impact the sexual intimacy, performance and pleasure with your spouse.
We receive a lot of emails and messages from frustrated wives whose husbands have lost their drive for sex because they’re “taking care of it all on their own.” Men, when you choose to masturbate, you may be gaining momentary pleasure, but it’s happening at the expense of your wife’s needs and desires and you’re also missing out! This doesn’t impact men’s masturbation only. Ladies, a recent article in Women’s Health Magazine pointed out that some women are experiencing what they call “Dead Vagina” which is a numbness in the genitals caused from excessive manual stimulation (mostly from vibrators). This is making intercourse with their husbands much less enjoyable and much less frequent. Never let the substitute sabotage the real thing!