The Redemption of Men

I remember when a man pummelled a woman’s head with the heaviest part of a telephone receiver in a phone box outside of Liverpool station. I remember getting out of my car down the street, screaming from a distance to save her life.

Whoever she was.

I remember him looking up, grasping from his violent breath, to see who had the audacity to interrupt him, leaving the half-conscious woman to now run after me. I remember the police being just around the corner. I remember how vivid and monstrous the sound of him beating her was – 16 years later.

Those are the trials that we define as traumatic in domestic violence, the ones people fight for years to overcome. For as much as physical abuse is the definition of evil in relationships, we seem to sideline the emotional torment, the slightly less burdensome journeys we never signed up for when he first asked us out on a date.

For the majority of us, hurt is very subtle, yet it’s startling how lasting that can be, it’s startling how bruised the heart can get with their emotional punches.

I remember being lied to. Regularly. By different boyfriends.

I’ve fought for a man who didn’t want to fight for me.

I’ve been the victim of verbal abuse, I’ve ducked away from being in a domestic violent one.

I’ve been on his mind and in his living room for a thousand hours and still he can’t decide whether he wants to date me.

I’ve been the confidante to the mistresses; I’ve been the confidante to the wives.

I’ve been the butt of their self-hating jokes.

I’ve been involuntarily part of a smear campaign so they can cover their own reputation in a mutual church community.

I’ve lost Facebook friends, I’ve been ignored in the streets, all based on the fact I decided something wasn’t right.

I’ve had to defend my right to exist with other women in his life.

It was the luxury apartment or me. And he took the apartment.

I’ve been controlled.

I’ve not been talked to for ten minutes in a car ride because he didn’t like my shoes. And I liked my shoes.

I’ve been advised to do my homework and by homework – he meant more squats.

I’ve been advised to eat more. I’ve been advised to eat less.

I’ve been told it’s between me or another girl he’s interested in – he ended up dating both.

I’ve been promised babies and weddings, with it never following through.

I’ve been flirted with to discover I was just the stop-gap girl to appeal to his own emotional needs.

I’ve been uncovered to a whole ray of people who knew my name, but I couldn’t have placed theirs.

I’ve been ditched because I wouldn’t put out. I’ve been ditched because I did put out.

I’ve been the apple of their eye in one week and a stranger to them the next.

I’ve had the biggest smile on my face when I finally found out their fickle fabrications. Yet my smile swiftly vanished when I learnt how long the lies had gone on for.

But this isn’t an invite to some pity party. This isn’t a recall on some of the poorer relationships I’ve endured.

 


This is a reality check to all those women that say that there aren’t any good men out there.


 

‘How could she start this piece of writing with her horror stories of male encounters and expect us to have hope?’ I hear you cry.

I declared it myself that there were no healthy men.

I have said that line more in my Christian days than in my atheist ones. It seemed I found more brokenness in men, who longed for God yet forgot about goodness, the problem was, I was functioning from a hopeless ache that looked for physical evidence; back-up stories that proved that men weren’t kind. After so much hurt, a back catalogue of dating misdemeanors – how could we have hope?

It’s a line that is spoken not from a bitter edge or a negative personality, but from a heart that has been hurt so much, their lens is now faded to a duller tint and it protects, it keeps out, it stops us from messing around our own hearts and disempowers the ability to be vulnerable. We think this jagged edge of pessimism will be realistic, however vulnerability is your greatest protector and hopelessness is your sharpest opponent to love.

Despite the subtle pains I’ve faced, masked in the phrase of ‘long-suffering’ there are men out there that turn all these stories into redemption, that make the rainbows finally shine through the treacherous thunder.

They are there. Once you clean your own lens.

Sometimes with purpose in your pocket, some self-love and friends that adore you, you wipe the bi-focals yourself. Other times it takes an encounter with a great man.

Here’s where the redemption arrived at my door.

I had men who complimented every detail of my dress. Choosing the very shoes the previous one hated.

I’ve been the reciprocity of his affirmation.

I’ve faced his honesty with an apologetic smile and a change of behavior.

I’ve never had to raise my voice, because he already heard me.

I trusted his next moves.

I’ve not needed half the amount of basic boundaries because the dude finally showed up with his own.

I found men who said sorry in the moment – not a year later.

I’ve had a man sacrifice money, travel, and dreams for the day, just to meet me.

I discovered men who sought advice from a small committee of healthy friends, never seeking comfort from half of a broken world.

I’ve found the mightiness in a man’s humility to tell me the truth even if it might hurt his own pride.

I’ve found men who wanted my soul over a posh duplex.

I no longer had to ask why, because his words were always followed up by action.

I’ve been loved in my complexity as well as my diversity.

I was loved in my mess so much that perfectionism jumped out of the window.

I found security in myself because he didn’t rest on my confidence – he had his own.

I’ve been asked questions, instead of be accused.

If I had a need, it was a pleasure for him to fulfill it thus I was no longer seen as a drain.

I was gently confronted with a soft tongue and a trust to resolve.

I no longer blamed myself for another person’s behaviour. For he took ownership of every step he made.

I was satisfactory to him, without using my body.

 


These are the redemptive ones. These are the mighty men, who will restore your past experiences. These are the ones who will never speak anything less than highly of you, despite their own pain of losing you.


 

I promise you: the ‘you’ who is out there wondering if there are any good men. If you did something wrong. If you’re too old. If you’re too young. If you’re not good enough. If you’re too picky. If you’re too too too…

Take off the self-questioning so you won’t question men so much. Take down the wall of protection so you don’t ooze distrust. Take up discernment to another level so that you can avoid one more horror story to the storage unit of poor experiences, and raise up the standard to encounter kind men, gentle men, men with back bones, men with justice hearts yet a teachability to always be able to say sorry and grow. We were never looking for perfection, we were looking for humility. And it had to start with us.

It was never about how good the men were out there, it was always about how much we truly believed we deserved it in the first place.

 

Originally published on www.herglassslipper.co.uk

 

CARRIE LLOYD IS AN AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST FROM THE UK, WRITING FOR GRAZIA, COMPANY MAGAZINE, HUFFINGTON POST, CHRISTIANITY MAGAZINE, MAGNIFY, ALPHA LIFE, THE DAILY MAIL AND MORE. SHE IS THE AUTHOR OF ‘THE VIRGIN MONOLOGUES (AUTHENTIC MEDIA). HER EXPERIENCES HAVE COVERED PREGNANCY CRISIS COUNSELLING, TO PASTORING YOUNG ADULTS AS AN INTERN AT BSSM IN REDDING, CALIFORNIA. HER PASSION IS FOR ABOLISHING SEX TRAFFICKING, HELPING UNLIKELY HEROES, AS WELL AS SPEAKING TO TEENAGERS AND YOUNG ADULTS ABOUT HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS. HER BLOG ON THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF CHRISTIAN DATING CAN BE FOUND AT WWW.HERGLASSSLIPPER.CO.UK

9 Steps To A New Life

 

Countless people are imprisoned by life-controlling sin and mind-numbing fear. Here are nine strategies on how to escape the grasp of the enemy and win the battle against hopelessness. If you are held hostage by the fear of failure, despair and depression, these steps will help you break free from the chains that hold you captive and win the victory against sin. Get ready to unlock divine opportunities and be released into your destiny!

1. Admit that you’re wrong and that it was no one else’s fault but yours.

2. Ask yourself what the real root cause of your failure is – what’s really wrong?

3. Repent; be truly sorry and change your mind about the core reason why you failed.

4. Clean up your mess; ask forgiveness of everyone and anyone that your failure affected. It doesn’t matter that they failed also. That’s not your business when you are trying to change your own life.

5. Find somebody who’s really strong in the place that you failed and ask them to mentor and disciple you.

6. Ask God to give you strength every day to turn your life around. When you fall down get right back up and don’t feel sorry for yourself.

7. Refuse to give up; don’t make excuses for your failures or defend yourself when you’re corrected. Receive wise people’s input into your life.

8. Forgive yourself because God has forgiven you. Refuse to live in regret of the past.

9. Have a big YES in your life; find a reason to live for Jesus, a purpose that you are willing to die for.

Have these steps spoken to you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

 

KRIS VALLOTTON IS THE AUTHOR OF NUMEROUS BOOKS, CO-AUTHOR OF THE BEST SELLING SUPERNATURAL WAYS OF ROYALTY, AND IS A WELL-KNOWN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SPEAKER. KRIS IS THE FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF MORAL REVOLUTION, THE SENIOR ASSOCIATE LEADER OF BETHEL CHURCH, AND THE CO-FOUNDER OF BETHEL SCHOOL OF SUPERNATURAL MINISTRY.  HE AND HIS WIFE, KATHY, HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR 36 YEARS AND RESIDE IN REDDING, CALIFORNIA.  THEY HAVE FOUR GROWN CHILDREN AND EIGHT GRAND CHILDREN.
WEBSITE: KRISVALLOTTON.COM
FACEBOOK: FACEBOOK.COM/KVMINISTRIES
TWITTER: TWITTER.COM/KVMINISTRIES
INSTAGRAM: INSTAGRAM.COM/KVMINISTRIES

Trust Is Key

A while back I dated a girl who was extremely insecure and for some reason I took on the responsibility of “fixing” her. I made it my goal to make sure she knew how incredibly beautiful and lovely she was. The problem was, I was very insecure myself and we had both put each other in a place that only God should have had in our lives.

 

No matter how much I tried to love her, she struggled to receive it because she didn’t think she was worth it. And to add to that, I had some trust issues that weren’t helping matters. I recognized that there were various things damaging our connection, but I never addressed them because I was afraid of hurting her feelings. I also realized I had gotten into the relationship for the completely wrong reasons. It was unhealthy, co-dependent, and smothered by insecurities. I began to build a case and get frustrated, and she didn’t seem be getting any less insecure. With insecurity comes a lack of trust. There was such a low level of trust that we didn’t feel safe, which makes sense, because when you don’t know who you are, it is impossible for someone else get to know the real you.

 

Trust takes time to build and should increase as the relationship progresses, but there was very little in this relationship. Not only were we individually not whole; we didn’t trust one another enough to protect the other’s heart. The relationship became stagnant and did not develop. For a relationship to work, you need to fully trust that you are seeing the real person and that you like the real them. I learned this the hard way by entering a relationship with little trust already built. Since learning my identity, not taking on other people’s responsibilities, and choosing to trust, my life looks, and is, so much healthier!

 

Ashley-James, 24, California, US


One Day at a Time


I never learned about love and intimacy and being romantic, nor to love my wife as Christ loved the church. If my parents taught me about that kind of love, I missed it. I heard about love and intimacy and being romantic to objectify females and allow me to seek out sexual gratification. The adult entertainment industry has been in my life since I was approximately 4 years old. From the age of 10 until a week before I graduated with my degree in Biblical Counseling (May 15, 2010), my parents owned an adult book store.

I was the cool guy; the “go to guy” for condoms, etc. Even had teachers in junior high jokingly offer me higher grades if I provided them with an item from my parents store. At the age of 19 I worked there for a year and was exposed to much more than I had ever expected. I had a hard time maintaining long term relationships, seeking out sexual gratification from every female I met or dated. I made it a point to count all my sexual encounters; often forgetting their names and the fact that they had emotions and feelings that I took for granted.

I have been married 4 times, with my current marriage of 14 years. I have been a Christian since 2006 and I love the Lord with all my heart, yet I struggle with internet pornography. I seek it out more than being intimate with my wife. She has caught me and I have sought forgiveness, yet I haven’t repented. This is part of my fight of giving up everything and submitting to God. I have a lack of trust from my youth, still hold a grudge against my step-dad for his alcoholism, and the fact that he physically abused me and I am mad at my mom for not protecting me. I share this for the youth and for the young adults and adults my age or older who still struggle.

There is a reason for everything and there is a reason for God. My struggle continues, because I have allowed my prideful nature to reject all help and this has led to a dysfunctional marriage and family. I never thought that pornography would have any type of effect on me as I grew up, because I was sexually active, yet it has. Even more STD’s are a result of my lifestyle and something I will have with me for the rest of my life. God, nothing is too great for You to handle. Break us down and allow us to see Your glory. Tell us that we can live without these habits and hangups. Speak to our hearts and teach us that intimacy is in the heart and soul, not the sexual organs. Romance is for love, not seeking sexual gratification. Lord, I ask for forgiveness for those feelings I disregarded and fill my heart with conviction and the desire to repent and never look back at this sinful desire. Let me be one of your disciples to get this message out to others and to teach them Your way is the right way and there is no other satisfaction than an intimate relationship with You. In Jesus’ beautiful and glorious name, AMEN.

I pray for everyone who has posted here and who hasn’t. Know that you came to this site for a reason. It is HARD to write here and open yourself up not only to God, but to total strangers, yet remember we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and came here for help and support. Pray out to God for strength and direction. I pray for every visitor, whether the one who struggles, the spouse or significant other of the one who struggles, the victims of sexual abuse and those who are the abusers. Seek God and He will give you shelter. Your testimony is the beginning of healing and restoration. May your heart be heavy no more and may your walk with be more Christ like.


 


Should I Pursue A Girl Who Is Still Healing From Her Past?

Should I even consider pursuing a girl who has pain and possible trauma from her past? Let me explain: she was bullied, hated, raped and suicidal. If she has not been completely healed from all the inner wounds yet, what should I do if we both like each other a lot?

Thank you so much for sharing your concerns. You may feel like you want to help her in the process, but remember that you can’t fix or heal anyone. You’ll have to be 100% okay with where she’s at, and 100% okay if she stays there. I would encourage you to consider thinking about some questions before entering any dating relationship:

What do I want from a relationship?
Am I ready to date?
What am I looking for in a girl?
What is it about her that interests me?

I personally believe that it is extremely important for us to have an awareness of ourselves before focusing on someone else. One of our speakers, Jason Vallotton, wrote a chapter in the Moral Revolution book that focuses solely on “the pursuit”. In this chapter, he mentions that we know we are ready for a relationship when we can benefit the other person no matter the outcome. I think it would be great for you to ask yourself whether you think you will be a benefit to her and whether she will be a benefit to you.

Jason also mentions that any cracks in a person’s foundation will be magnified with the pressure of another person. I do agree with this statement and would honestly not suggest that two people start dating when deeper healing needs to first take place.

I would also recommend that you talk with those that you are close with about this situation. Whether that’s a parent, leader, pastor, etc., it’s always beneficial to talk with someone who knows you both well, and who can give you their perspective throughout the process.

As for what you should do right now, I think it would be great for you to continue pursuing friendship with this girl. If she gives you a place in her life, then communicate freely about where you’re at, what you’re concerned about, or anything else. There is no reason why you can’t develop your friendship while she goes after healing.

Additional resources:

Jason Vallotton’s chapter (chapter 5) in the Moral Revolution book. I believe this will really help you and give you some clarity on what being in a relationship should look like.

You should also check out the following teaching series on dating by Louie Giglio and Andy Stanley:

The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating (4 part series) by Andy Stanley (free)

Boy Meets Girl (6 part series) by Louie Giglio ($1.99 a session)


Dealing With Abuse

 

When people counsel women (or men for that matter) to stay in dangerous situations in the name of “submission” they need to have their heads checked. A wife was never called to be a zookeeper, a lion tamer, or a punching bag. She was born to be protected, adored, cherished, and empowered. Submission must be mutually experienced and unilaterally applied, or it’s a slave-master relationship, not a marriage. Submission is not powerlessness and fear hammered out on the anvil of mindless religion, but it is truth forged in the furnace of servanthood and passion.

If a man abuses a woman and then tells her he loves her, he is a liar and a certified coward…period. Love is more than a bunch of words strung together in a sentence. I am not suggesting here that a woman divorce her husband (although that may be the only solution in some cases), but Tarzan should stay in the jungle by himself until he can prove he can be kind to the animals. Then MAYBE he will be ready to try and slowly rebuild trust with humans.

If Tarzan uses threats and manipulation to try to bully his way back into the relationship, he can stay in the jungle and live among the other gorillas.

All marriages require sacrifice, but forcing your wife (or husband) to be a sacrifice is a substitute savior and a false religion. Many people who drink this Kool-Aid die of a broken heart in the arms of their abuser. Contrary to popular opinion, children that grow up in this environment are being trained to be terrorists, not Disciples of Christ. Enduring abuse is not an expression of covenant love; it’s a slow march to the death camps of the devil. I’m convinced that some people who stay in dangerous and highly abusive marriages have a martyr’s complex. These people honestly believe Jesus requires them to stay in a cruel relationship. I think these people are reading the Bible through the eyes of self-hatred and a lack of self-respect. I do understand that some people call any conflict “dangerous abuse.” In no way am I trying to encourage divorce. I have been married for 40 years, so I am a covenant man. But I am also the victim of two extremely abusive stepfathers (thankfully one has changed his ways and is still married to my mother). I could literally write a book entitled ”A Practical Guide To Surviving A Violent Family.”

 

KRIS VALLOTTON IS THE AUTHOR OF NUMEROUS BOOKS, CO-AUTHOR OF THE BEST SELLING SUPERNATURAL WAYS OF ROYALTY, AND IS A WELL-KNOWN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SPEAKER. KRIS IS THE FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF MORAL REVOLUTION, THE SENIOR ASSOCIATE LEADER OF BETHEL CHURCH, AND THE CO-FOUNDER OF BETHEL SCHOOL OF SUPERNATURAL MINISTRY.  HE AND HIS WIFE, KATHY, HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR 40 YEARS AND RESIDE IN REDDING, CALIFORNIA.  THEY HAVE FOUR GROWN CHILDREN AND EIGHT GRAND CHILDREN.
WEBSITE: KRISVALLOTTON.COM
FACEBOOK: FACEBOOK.COM/KVMINISTRIES
TWITTER: TWITTER.COM/KVMINISTRIES
INSTAGRAM: INSTAGRAM.COM/KVMINISTRIES

My Spouse is Addicted to Porn … Help!

QUESTION


How do I move forward in my marriage? I have been married for 23 years and there has always been a third in our lives: porn! Any way he can get it, he would, and the Internet has opened up the biggest hurt. When he gets caught he is sorry, but I’ve reached breaking point.

SEX THERAPIST’S ANSWER

Being married to someone who struggles with porn is so painful – I am so sorry that this has been your experience for 23 years! But let me tell you, there is hope!

The best thing you can do to move forward in your marriage is to be in a group yourself that is for partners of sex addicts. I am not saying that your husband is a sex addict because I don’t know him, but the tools that you will learn there and the support you will receive will be helpful to you regardless.

Many wives think, “Why do I need to be in a group when it is his problem?” That is understandable. But as you unfortunately know, his problem really has affected you. And you have been affected for a really long time.

What we are finding out is that spouses of sex addicts frequently have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) just like the soldiers coming home from a war zone. The spouse has been traumatized and needs to get help to heal. The checking behaviors and hypervigilance that we used to label codependence we now are seeing as related to trauma and feeling unsafe – when the trauma is dealt with, those behaviors stop. So for many years, spouses felt like they got either overlooked and all the focus was on the addict or they got blamed as having their own addiction and were co-addicts.

Getting help for yourself will get you in a place of strength where you are more empowered to make good decisions for yourself and for your marriage. You are the only one that you can change – if you could have changed your husband, I’m betting you would have done that long ago!

So really the only thing you can do is to work on yourself and getting yourself in a place of strength. If there is not a group in your area for spouses of sex addicts, then join an online one. There are multiple ones available. I would also suggest a couple of books:

Shattered Vows by Debra Laaser

Mending a Shattered Heart by Carnes

Your Sexually Addicted Spouse by Steffens and Means

There are many others out there but these are the ones I usually recommend first. I pray that your husband will get the help he needs to get well. But whatever happens, you can do what you need to do to help yourself move forward.

It is not easy but it is so worth it!


How Do I Renew My Mind After A Porn Addiction?

QUESTION


I stopped masturbating and watching pornography awhile ago and God set me free from it but the way I look, think about, and treat women is totally wrong. It’s like porn has left an imprint on me of wrong lustful desires. How do I tackle this problem?

 

SEX THERAPIST’S ANSWER

I am glad that you are noticing this and want to do something about it! It really does leave an imprint – that is a good way to describe what happens when you look at porn. Our brains change with patterned, repetitive, focused attention over time. So when you look at porn, you are changing your brain because it is patterned, repetitive, focused attention over time. You are rewiring your brain to think about women in the way that porn depicts them even if you do not want to do that. So the way to change it is with patterned, repetitive, focused attention over time – you just want it to be about women the way that God sees them.

A helpful exercise is to write down the messages that you got about women from porn. Do something like this: “women are (blank)” and then answer what comes to mind. Don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it or you will edit out what you really think. So just write down the first things that come to mind. Be completely honest – don’t put down what you ought to think but put down what you really think. No one has to see this but you. I find that people are surprised by what they are really thinking. But once you are aware of it, you can change it. So look at the list and ask yourself, “Is this true?” Then if it is not, change it to what is really true. Even if you don’t feel like you believe the truth, put the truth next to what you wrote down. If you don’t know, then ask other Godly men what they believe about women, how God views women

I would recommend the book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge – it will open your eyes to amazing truths about women.

Then because you have negative images of women in your head that are from porn, go through the Bible and read the stories of real women there. Read about Deborah, Esther, Abigail, Ruth, Elizabeth or Mary. Then imagine that you are there with them. Ask God to make them real to you. Then imagine what they were like from the stories that are in the Bible. Begin to see what a real woman is like – she has a body but she is not only a body. There is strength and depth of character. Deborah is a judge and a warrior. Esther uses her beauty with wisdom in a way that is alluring without being seductive. See what each of these women is like. They can teach you how to think accurately about women. Then begin to use those traits as a context to thinking about the women in your life. Feel the feelings that go with right thinking about women such as joy, delight, hope, peace. Find a list of positive feeling words on the web and focus on noticing those feelings when you are thinking about women in this way. If negative feelings come up for you, then write them down and ask God to show you what that is about. But continue to focus your attention on the positive feelings and thoughts about women.

Begin to see real women in your life as made in the image of God, as the apple of his eye. Because she is the apple of his eye, she is so worthy of honor and respect. To love her means that you treat her in a way that is consistent with how God views her. That means that you love her, not use her for your own pleasure.

A bottom line question for me is always, “What does love look like?” If you ask that question, you will treat women with honor because loving someone means that you have their best interest at heart. I had a professor that used to say to men, “You want to treat the women that you date or are in relationship with as if they are someone’s Eve. They might not be your Eve but they are someone’s Eve and you want to treat them in a way that they are better off for having been in relationship with you. You are saving them for the man that they will ultimately be with. You do not want them to have to overcome damage that you have done in order to be in relationship with someone else.”

When you intentionally do these things – you pay attention to what you are thinking and actively change it, you are retraining your brain. The good news for you is that you are actively wanting to change it – you see it as a problem. That is so encouraging – I wish that more men who have gotten free from porn would realize their distorted thoughts about women. Bless you as you renew your mind!


Sex in Marriage … After a Porn Addiction

QUESTION


I feel God has delivered me from pornography, but after I have sex with my wife, I feel like I’m fighting those same demons again! Right now we expect different things from sex. However, I feel the most victorious when we abstain all together. How can we move to our sex being more love centered and intimate?

 

SEX THERAPIST’S ANSWER

I am so glad you are not looking at pornography! I don’t know how long you have been free so it makes it hard to answer your question. But let me say a couple of things. It takes a wife 9 months to a year after her husband has quit looking at porn to feel like she can begin to be vulnerable with him. I don’t know your story, but I want you to remember what it is like for your wife. Put yourself in her shoes. If she did not know about the porn and found out, it was traumatic for her. Her whole world has been turned upside down! In fact, we are finding that spouses of those who are sex addicts – and I am not saying you are one since I don’t know you – need to be treated for PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, which is the same disorder soldiers have when exposed to the horrors of war.

Real intimacy has to have vulnerability and trust. For her, that might be impossible until she is convinced that her husband has changed. She will need to see behavior over time which means she will need to see her husband change and keep that change over time. Sometimes guys who look at porn and stop, just stop the behavior and do not deal with the underlying issues. So it feels the same to his wife – he might not be looking at porn but he still is not kind or loving. So she doesn’t trust it. Then she finds it hard to let down her guard and be vulnerable enough to be intimate. Again, I don’t know you so I don’t know if this is true for you. It might be a good conversation for you to have with your wife, where you listen to her heart and begin to restore intimacy. Just a warning though – really listen and persevere. Ask questions and don’t defend yourself. The goal is to understand her heart, not to be right!

When you say that after you have sex you are fighting those same demons again, I am not sure exactly what you mean. But it sounds to me like you are saying the lack of intimacy with your wife when you have sex triggers a desire to act out with porn. You say it is easier just to abstain. When someone has been addicted to porn, sometimes they swing to the other extreme, to a place of just not having sex because it is easier to stay sober – it’s called sexual anorexia. It is unfortunately very common. But it is not a place of freedom; it is actually the same disorder (an intimacy disorder). It is just the opposite extreme. So I am so glad you are wanting to have love-centered and intimate sex! That is the place of freedom. Hopefully, your wife will be willing to work on that with you. A good sex therapist, if you have one available, can help you with intimacy exercises. There are a couple of books you might want to read with your wife if she is willing. Two Become One by the McCluskeys or Sheet Music by Kevin Leman are good places to start. Reading together, having conversations about sex and intimacy, doing the exercises really will be a help to your relationship.

Intimacy is so much more than having sex – knowing her and understanding her heart, as well as physical affection, are just as important as having intercourse. Talk to your wife about what you are wanting. Be tender and compassionate. If she is not ready, then you need to be able to deal with your lack of intimacy in a way that is helpful to you and not triggering. Abstaining from sex is not the answer. You can stay present when you have sex even if your wife is not. Maybe that can be your goal along with learning to be more and more tender with her. Tools that deal with anxiety-maintenance will help you. They are readily available on the internet.

Let me encourage you. Learning to be intimate yourself is not a waste of time even if your wife cannot be intimate with you. Intimacy allows you to know God, others, and yourself in ways that are deeply satisfying and freeing. So keep moving forward yourself in learning how to be truly intimate. If you will do this, you will have the best chance of having what you want: an intimate relationship with your wife. Hopefully your wife will join you on the journey.


Giving God Control

TRADING SHAME FOR JOY


From an early age, sex became an interesting and a secret desire. It wasn’t until I was in middle school that it became a daily struggle in my life. I began masturbating every night and it always led to shameful feelings. It led me to feel like I wasn’t worth very much and I couldn’t ever be anyone special. I was so shy that I could never raise my hand in class. I didn’t have very many friends. And I wouldn’t desire an intimate relationship with God because I felt so dirty. I grew up in church and I felt like such a liar when I sat on the pew every morning.

Sexual desires completely controlled my mind and how I expressed myself. It got so bad that I couldn’t even sit in class without thinking sexual thoughts. It wasn’t just a thought that popped into my head, I would intentionally do it. I would go to church camp and awesome things would happen, but I wouldn’t fully commit to God. I played tug-o-war with the Man who intentionally died on the cross for me. I thought that I was the only one who masturbated. In fact, I didn’t even know there was even a word for what I was doing. Nobody ever told me and I was hurting myself and the people around me every day! I was depressed, I was hurting, I was shameful, I was fake, and I had no idea of what God’s love was and how He could completely transform me beyond my belief.


“I would go to church camp and awesome things would happen, but I wouldn’t fully commit with God. I played tug-o-war with the Man who died on the cross for me.”


It was right before spring break in my 8th grade year that I decided to give up the life I was living. I was going on a missions trip with my church and I had recently been digging into the Bible more. I felt like it was time to start living a different life. Little did I know what was in store for me. God knew and now that I look back, He was helping me through it all. After the missions trip, our whole youth group began reading a book about sex, dating, and relationships. The book, thank God, approached the topic of masturbation. It was then that I realized I wasn’t the only one, and now I knew there was actually a word for it! I was and am so thankful that somebody was brave enough to write about such a touchy issue.

Since then I am a completely different person, not just because I gave up masturbating, but because I gave God complete control of my life. I am a new person in Christ. God has helped me so much. He has taken away my shame and hurt and I am responding to the calling He has on my life. I am so grateful that I can wake up each day with the joy He has put in my heart, rather than the shame of what I did when no one was looking last night. I am now a Junior in high school I can gladly and thankfully say I have been free since the 8th grade! Thank you Jesus for lifting me up out of the place of darkness that I was in. Thank you for healing my heart and enabling me to find identity in You and not finding identity in my past. Thank you Jesus!

Stephen, 16, Colorado