Thinking back on 2013 and the previous 4 years, I can see clearly now more than ever how much my addiction hurt my wife. I’m thankful today for my continual sobriety AND for my wife’s continual healing but if I could go back 4 years ago to my former self and share some of the lessons I’ve learned since then, I would do it in a heartbeat.
Specifically, I would share with my past self some serious steps I needed to take to show my wife that I was for real about recovery.
Here’s a list of 10 recovery steps I wish I would have taken sooner in life:
- Be 110% honest about your addiction. One of the bi-products of being a sex addict is that you’ve basically become a complete liar. And while I shared with my wife Tracey my addiction, I wasn’t continually honest with her about porn relapses and chose to cover up, minimize, even justify my actions.
- Confess everything. The major idea here is that we as men are afraid to bear all of our weaknesses to a complete stranger, let alone our wives! But the more we deceive and try to skirt the truth, the deeper we go in our addiction and the more distance we put between those we love, especially our wives.
- Don’t hesitate to give up all sources of struggle. Believe me when I say this: You can live without your MacBook, iPhone, and your iPad. You can’t afford to lose your marriage and your family. Even if it is for a season, ask yourself: “What am I willing to give up so I can be free?”
- Find support NOW. While you are always accountable to your wife, it’s probably not wise to use her as your sole source of accountability. Finding men who can encourage you and ask you the hard questions is the key. Accountability partners and a good support group can make all the difference between success and failure.
- Learn where the addiction came from. Most likely, porn hooked you before you met your wife. It’s important for your own life (and the welfare of your marriage) that you know what the source of the addiction is.
- Give your wife a brief weekly update on your progress. My wife loves to know how I’m doing. And far too often, I just “assume” she knows that I’m doing good when I may not be. You don’t necessarily have to go into extreme detail, but keeping the lines of communication open is always a win.
- Pray for your wife’s continual healing. Your addiction has devastated her. As you take action against sexual struggles, ask God to help her see the difference in your life. Encourage her to seek out healthy outlets where she can work through her pain too.
- Be sensitive when she is triggered. This was a very difficult one for me at first. I translated it as her being upset with me or not happy with me. But just as you’re triggered by a sexual stimuli, she will be triggered by a painful memory or feeling. Be understanding.
- Remind her every day of her beauty. So many wives think because of their husband’s porn use, that something is wrong with them or that they are unattractive. And while we know this is untrue, our wives don’t.
- Never give up pursuing sexual integrity. Your wife needs to see that you’re in this for the long haul, not just for a few months. Yes, it will be difficult at first to stay clean and there will be relapses. But becoming sexually pure is worth fighting for. Your marriage and your family are worth fighting for.