HOW TO REBUILD A MARRIAGE RAVAGED BY PORN! PT. 3

By Biz Gainey

Self – Preservation is Not the Place to Stay

From the moment we come out screaming from the womb, to the moment we begin sliding toward the tomb, we are taught the virtue of self-preservation.

While self-preservation is instinctual and, at times, necessary for survival, I am concerned with the underbelly of this instinct.

Decades ago, when I was a child, I did something with a friend that I knew I’d be punished for if my parents ever found out.

My friend’s father found out and spoke to us about our behavior.  When I told him how scared I was of telling my parents, he said, with a smile, “Son, you need to tell the truth, but you don’t always have to tell the whole truth.”

Boy did the lesson sink in that day – tell the truth right up to the point where it can get you into trouble.

That is what I call self-preservation!  Getting right up to the line, but not crossing it and, when you do, intentionally developing a plan to tell a portion of the truth so that you can avoid the fullest responsibility of your actions.

Self-preservation is both a part of nature as well as nurture! As such, self-preservation tends to become the default orientation of many adults – especially those who remain trapped in pornography.

Yes, self-preservation is a natural response that has been habitually nurtured.  It is not, however, the place to stay if you hope to rebuild your life from the brokenness porn has caused.

Wondering if You are a Self-preservationist?

If you normally experience one or more of the following reactions to viewing or being caught viewing porn, you might be a self-preservationist:

1.       Do you hide all the evidence?  Are you deleting your browsing history, covering up your phone history, erasing viewing history, etc.?

2.       Do you pretend that someone else did it?  When practicing self-preservation it’s easy to try and lay the blame somewhere or on someone else.  For instance, on a colleague, teenager, spouse, etc.

3.       Do you try to minimize what you saw or why you clicked, viewed, or acted out?  Any rationalization, at this point, is usually birthed from a desire to protect oneself from the full consequences of one’s actions.

4.       Do you use the ‘Well, at least my acting out wasn’t as bad as it was the last time’ line when caught?  While this acknowledgement is important, it’s not the place to start.  Starting here reveals a normal desire to avoid the pain of confrontation but fails to allow for the freedom of redemption that accompanies genuine acceptance of the behavior.

If you can say ‘yes’ to one or more of these, then you may be struggling with the natural tendency toward self-preservation and blame-shifting.

The problem with practicing self-preservation is that it leads into patterns of isolation, deception, and mistrust. Once trapped in this world, we find it is very, very hard to break free.

In fact, this is what I call the compounding shame phase of the addiction. Already shamed by the addiction, we compound our shame by entering a self-preservation pattern.  

This pattern is designed to continually hide the addiction.

Shame, invariably, moves one back into the first response of self-preservation and blame-shifting.

From Self-preservation to the Life-giving Rhythms of Honesty, Openness, Perseverance, and Engagement

Honesty.  Self-preservation prevents honesty!  If you have acted out, or continue to struggle, it’s best to be honest with those whom this impacts the most! Be honest with yourself, the Lord, and your loved ones.  This is a difficult place to begin, but if you practice honesty, then you will find that – over time – the deceptive power of porn does decrease.

Openness.  Developing a rhythm that is open to scrutiny will help you as you move forward in this walk out of porn.  Be sure others have access to your devices.  Ask others to hold you accountable, particularly in those areas of known triggers.

PerseveranceDon’t give up!  I have spoken with countless men who feel like giving in and giving up.  Don’t swim in that shame.  Once you practice honesty and experience openness, then you can assess where you are and reaffirm your desire to be free from porn’s pull! 

EngagementRelapse into addiction can lead us into an isolated island of guilt and shame.  Don’t let that happen.  Have an action plan in place that includes re-engaging in meaningful ways with the people you love and those who love you.  Engage in a craft, hobby, the community, your church, a special skill or talent.  Engaging into the meaningful people and places God has granted will lead you into a life of honesty, openness, perseverance, and engagement. 

These rhythms will birth HOPE that porn can never steal and from which you can begin to rebuild your life from the ravages of porn!

Remember, as ones who have been there and done that, we are here to walk with you and assist you on your long journey home.

If you find our resources helpful to you and those you love, we ask that you share them with your friends, neighbors, and communities!

Together we can experience a porn-free life and help usher in the end of porn addiction in our lifetime!