A conversation I had recently went a bit like this (protecting names & details for confidentiality):
“Greg, do you have anything you have written about the issue of attraction, similar to what you shared at group last time? One of my (many) growth areas is what to do with attraction. I definitely was an “Every Man’s Battle” disciple for years, bouncing the eyes and putting up guards, but that lacked transformative effectiveness and power. If you have more on how to deal with the mental, emotional, hormonal challenge of attraction, I’d appreciate it.”
“George,” I’m not the least bit surprised that bouncing your eyes and putting up guards “lacked transformative effectiveness and power.” What a great statement! You’re most certainly not alone in that. “Every Man’s Battle” was a good, early step in the battle with lust. When it was written the church had abdicated its responsibility to address the issue and “Every Man’s Battle” was the result of someone, anyone, with a Christian perspective, attempting to take on the monster of lust & porn.
Having said that, I offer up Pure Desire Podcast #222: Rescuing Our Marriages From Porn w/ Sheila Wray Gregoire – Pure Desire Ministries. Not everyone will appreciate it but I think it’s spot on and worth a listen.
Regarding attraction, at some point, you have to make a heart-choice to train your brain that “your wife”, Candace is:
1. The only one for you;
2. Enough for you!
3. You ONLY have eyes for Candace;
4. Remind yourself that YOU ARE MARRIED and TO WHOM YOU ARE MARRIED and never forget what that means;
“How? How do I do that, Greg?”
I believe very strongly in these things:
1a. Forgiveness. If Candace holds a traditional Christian view of forgiveness, it is quite probably inaccurate and she will forgive George too easily and too quickly, effectively “letting him off the hook” when she would be well within her rights to drive in a stake. Harsh? So is betrayal;
1b. Forgiveness does not include reconciliation. Forgiveness is for Candace. Forgiveness is intended to protect her from becoming bitter and being further harmed. Neither is she required to forget it or never discuss it again. The pain you’ve caused doesn’t go away when she forgives and still needs processing;
2. Consequences. If Candace falls into #1 above, she will probably have difficulty drawing firm boundaries and even more difficultly enforcing consequences. I believe this is counterproductive and hinders your progression. THIS IN NO WAY, WHATSOEVER, gives you an excuse. It’s not her fault she’s a good Christian woman and wife. You’ve abused her faith for your own selfish ends to facilitate your addiction. Harsh? Yes. Like you, I’ve been there and had to face this realization;
Lynn was correctly advised in her Betrayal & Beyond group to hold back forgiveness until she was good and ready. It was 14 months after discovery. AND – there were dire consequences to my choices. Without Lynn’s strong and appropriate response to discovery I am certain I would not be where I am today. I owe Lynn (through God!) a debt of gratitude I can never repay, no matter how ‘good’ or ‘pure’ or selflessly I love her. And I do love her.
Lynn’s response also helped me see that I owe my Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit an even greater debt.
Finally, George, GRACE. Grace takes many forms. Sometimes it’s warm and fuzzy and comfy cozy. And sometimes, it looks like consequences that lay you out, flat on your back at rock bottom, stark, dark and all alone, staring at the only place you can, up into the eyes of a Loving God who gently asks, “Are you ready now?”
“Yes, Father. I’m finally ALL yours.”
Freedom is a gift from God. It is also His Promise; and He ALWAYS keeps His Promises.