A Special Guest Post: The Demise of Guys

I hate pornography. Just the word makes me want to vomit. Every week I get emails from wives who’ve discovered their husband’s struggle. Lately, the emails have been from mothers of boys.

I’m passionate about keeping it out of marriages and I’ve written a lot about it.

But with accessible technology at every turn, our children have become the target, specifically our visually-enticed sons.

I rarely have guest posters. When I do, it’s significant.

Please read. And join the fight.

I recently read the book entitled, “The Demise of Guys” and was totally shocked at the statistics reinforcing what I instinctively already knew in my head. As the author put it, “guys are flaming out”. Crashing and burning. Biting the dust.

Well, I for one, am not letting my guys ages 15, 10, 8 and almost 6 “flame out”. Nope… over my dead body is that going to happen.

These guys are growing up in a world that would have no problem if they just completely wasted all the potential they have wrapped up inside of them. Just chewed them up and spit them out. These guys need a man that has been down the road a little further than they have been, to help lead the way and educate them about all the pitfalls out there. That is what a real man does right?

So why are guys going down in flames? Well, there are a number of contributing factors but the two biggest reasons fit into the same category: technology. Specifically, video games and online pornography.

The average young person will spend 10,000 hours gaming by age 21. What? With so many boys running around now with a gaming device in their front pocket, I’m not really that surprised. Every time there is a spare minute, out comes the video game and the time wasting begins. The author put this in context when he stated that it takes the average college student only half that time – 4,800 hours – to earn a bachelor’s degree. Let’s see here… a college degree or hours of mind numbing gaming? Unfortunately, many guys are choosing the latter to their own demise. I’m not bashing the occasional virtual adventure on a winter day, but 10,000 hours? Come on.

The pornography business is picking up speed at a staggering rate and destroying guys left and right as it barrels down the tracks. One in three boys is now considered a “heavy” porn user, viewing nearly two hours of porn every week. Really? Seriously? Worldwide, pornography is almost a 100 billion dollar industry. This filth is peddled to anyone that will take a look, with the hope that they will take another look and yet another until they are stuck in an addictive cycle that destroys their ability to have normal interactions with others, especially those of the opposite sex.

Well, as disheartening as these statistics may be… take courage, I have a few simple solutions to consider:

First, boys need more to do. They need to be given more responsibility earlier on in life. How about some jobs around the house for heavens sake? It’s hard to game or get in trouble on the internet while you have a lawn mower or a paintbrush in your hand! Have them get off the couch or come out of their room, where they are more than likely gaming in seclusion, and do something productive. They might cuss you under their breath when they are younger but I believe they will praise your name later in life. Shoot, maybe even sincerely thank you face to face! Wouldn’t that be nice? The men that have my respect are real men that know how to work hard.page1image25440

Secondly, boys need some goals. A clear vision of what they could or should be doing with their time. If they aren’t gaming so much or looking at porn, that leaves a lot of time to do something worthwhile. So sit down with your son, nephew, friend, whoever, and help open their eyes to the many other meaningful things that they could be doing with their time. Read good books, learn how to play an instrument or take on a new language. Get interested in a hobby like hunting or fishing or enroll them in some other organized sport. Maybe it’s weight lifting or running or mountain biking. Help them set some financial goals and teach them how to make good financial decisions. Help them understand that good things come to those that wait. Maybe it’s saving up for the car they might be dreaming of when they get into High School. As they set some goals and then make the effort to achieve those goals they will have an increased sense of self worth. Not some lame, fake, and fleeting self worth that comes from achieving another level on a video game or being momentarily aroused by yet another pornographic image.

You know what’s going to happen if we can keep them out of this technology trap? They are going to do better in school, have better social skills, be more self-motivated, learn how to work and make good money decisions. All in all, they are going to be more pleasant to be around. Bonus!

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying to go on complete and total technology lock down. Don’t freak out and pile up the iPhones and start a bon-fire or anything. These little gadgets are totally amazing if used for the right purposes. We just need to make sure that these guys that we are raising are given some guidance so they aren’t the ones that get run over by this technological train barreling down the tracks.

The demise of guys? Well, for my 4 guys it’s going to have to be over my dead body.

written by Gregg Murset is the Founder of www.myjobchart.com and father of 4 boys and 2 girls.

A Marriage Redeemed [Our Story]

Magical. It’s really the only word that described the week our family had just spent at Walt Disney World. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime trips — the kind you dream, plan, and save for — and it had been a fairy tale.

We were on the long drive home to Texas, the kids asleep in the back of our van, still wearing their mouse ears. I was tired, too, but on a high that comes from making dreams come true. I didn’t know my “perfect world” was about to end.

My husband, Terrell, and I had been married for 10 years. We were good friends in Bible college, and our friendship was one of the best parts of our marriage. After many years of full-time ministry, we had recently settled into the new roles of salesman and homemaker. Life wasn’t perfect with two preschool-aged kids, but we were happy … happy and hiding a dark secret.

Terrell and I were talking on the drive home.  I don’t remember what led to his confession. It just happened. I remember thinking, This can’t be real. I must have misunderstood him. He’s telling me about a friend; this isn’t my best friend’s secret.

But it was: My hubby had just told me he was addicted to pornography. Just like that, the fairy tale ended.

I’ll never forget what I did next: I unbuckled my seatbelt and climbed into the back of our van where my children were sleeping. I crouched between their two car seats, pulled my knees up to my chin, and cried. I stayed back there for a long time, until I could finally make eye contact with the stranger in the rearview mirror.

This was the beginning of a dark and painful journey that would change my entire life. Perhaps it was my naivety about men and how they are created, or my ignorance about the vast world of lust and pornography, but Terrell’s confession hit me hard. Although I never once contemplated divorce, I did suggest living as roommates at opposite ends of the house.

We embarked on a long, gut-wrenching healing process. My search was for forgiveness. Terrell’s was for freedom. We went to a marriage counselor who deals with this specific issue. He dealt more with me than with my husband, by the way; the counselor was so proud of my husband for resisting and fighting against the deviant, sinful world for so many years and offered him simple tools to resist temptation. But I was scared. I didn’t know how to trust Terrell again. I was emotionally fragile and spent a lot of time blaming myself.  I wondered what I could have done differently.

Terrell and I dove deeply into recovery. It became our full-time job. We existed to overcome. I threw away every magazine and catalog in the house and installed securities on our computers and phones. We read books and online articles. We prayed, cried, begged, yelled, and tried to find each other again.

There were setbacks along the way for both of us. I was paranoid Terrell would be tempted. Terrell was tempted and paranoid to tell me. But we waged war against the enemy that tried to destroy us. Ultimately, we knew with God on our side, we would win.

In the midst of such devastation, something unbelievable began to happen just days after Terrell’s confession: With the secret exposed to the Light and focused attention on our relationship, we began to experience an intimacy that was previously unknown in our marriage. God birthed something new through our pain and began turning our ashes into beauty.

My husband learned to kill lust by starving his eyes. He refused to even glance at an image that was tempting, and in doing so, I became his only target — just the way God intends. My family (mostly unaware of our struggle at the time) mentioned on more than one occasion that we’d better be careful or we might end up with a third child.

We did — about a year after our Disney vacation. Her name is Grace because that’s what God gave us. We renewed our marriage vows and exchanged rings with a secret inscription that still fills my eyes with tears.

Forgiveness is a choice and one I made. It was instant, and it was gradual. It was easy, and it was hard. It was something I had to choose more than once. I’ve learned that forgiveness is a way of life. Trusting again is the challenge. And since husbands tend to be human, I knew Terrell would let me down at some point. The greatest lesson I learned is to put my trust in God, who has never disappointed me.

Six years later, I don’t think I fully grasp what it cost my husband to risk it all on that drive home. But he was tired of fighting, he wanted total freedom, and he was willing to lose everything — the wife he loves desperately and the kids he cherishes — to have it.

His Story:

I was 10 or 11 years old when the deep, sharp hooks first stuck in my soul. My innocence was gone, and a 25-year fight began: the battle between desiring God and satisfying the flesh. Like most young men, I was unequipped for a war like this. No one ever talked about lust and pornography, except to condemn it as sin.

I lived a vicious cycle of repentance and sin in isolation. I thought marriage would be the cure. It helped, but then Kristin and I purchased our first computer.

On that drive home from our dream vacation, I couldn’t take any more of my private nightmare. A week earlier, I had finished the book Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker (WaterBrook Press) and I wanted freedom. With every word I spoke,  I knew that I might lose my marriage and my kids. I was scared, but I had more to lose living a lie. True repentance is a 180-degree turning from sin toward God.

I wasn’t prepared for the damage or the pain my secret would cause our marriage, but God was ready. He graciously stood by us. My beautiful, innocent wife became Jesus with skin on and offered forgiveness. I dove into God’s Word. With each day, counseling session, accountability meeting, and late-night talk, our marriage began to heal. Sin cannot live in the light.

Six years later, I can declare that God is faithful. If you struggle with pornography and lust, let me encourage you: Don’t believe Satan’s lies. Lust is not a “problem.” It’s sin. God’s Word declares, “If we say, ‘We have no sin,’ we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). Freedom is available.

Reprinted from HomeLife, January 2012, 34. © 2012 LifeWay Christian Resources. Used by permission. Be sure to check out future articles from Kristen Welch in the February 2012, April 2012, and June 2012 issues.www.lifeway.com/homelife.

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How to Talk to Your Husband About P*rn

Not a week goes by since writing our He Said She Said Series that I don’t receive an email from a broken wife telling me about her broken husband and their broken marriage. She shares details of how she caught him looking at images on the computer, of how she doesn’t know what to do, how to help him, where to go from here…

Just last week, my hubby and I handed in a lengthy marriage article to Lifeway’s Homelife Magazine on the very same subject (due out in January). We understand the vastness of the problem and just how difficult it is to find freedom.

We certainly aren’t experts. We’ve just been thru the battle and now stand on the other side, pointing to Him. Because God turned our trial into a testimony.

I don’t think 100% of men have a lust or pornography problem. But I promise it’s much higher than you think. I believe if your husband won’t talk to you about it (when you ask), or if he gets angry or defensive, the problem may be at your own front door.

If you have never had the conversation, you must. Don’t assume it will never happen to you (or him). By and large, this is the number one temptation many, many men face, including Christian men.

How to talk to your husband about porn:

  • Ask, don’t accuse. You might say something like, “I understand with the Internet being so accessible, that pornography is an issue for a lot of men. How do you handle the temptation?”
  • Suggest installing filters for all Internet-based technology (phones and computers, etc).
  • See if there’s any interest in reading the book Every Man’s Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time (The Every Man Series) (it does say every man, after all)
  • Most importantly pray. This is not easy for anyone to talk about, but so necessary.
  • If you  have tween or teen boys, ask your husband if he would talk to them about this subject.
  • Count the cost: It might cost you something to “go there” or it might relieve you to know that this isn’t a battle for your husband. True intimacy is worth the risk.
  • Prepare your heart because if you ask, “Do you struggle with pornography?” he might say yes.

If He Says Yes

The first thing I want to say to you is you’re not alone. I’m not trying to minimize your pain-because believe me, I know it’s real. I just want you to know that healing is possible, freedom is available and restoration is hopeful.
  • Pray for your husband. He has a very big decision to make if he is to live in freedom
  • Don’t be his accountability partner, but insist he find a Christian one
  • Buy and have him read (to start with) Every Man’s Battle and you need to read For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men
  • Be proactive in your home-cut off cable, throw out magazines and catalogs with women’s clothing, get filters for phone and Internet, etc–your home needs to be a safe place
  • Ready and watch our He Said She Said Series
  • Ask him to stop viewing pornography, come completely clean and seek counsel.

And, please, find someone to talk to about this. Ask a Bible Study teacher, a friend in confidence…One of Satan’s biggest lies is to try and convince you that YOU CAN’T TELL ANYONE. Obviously this isn’t something that is easy for my husband and I to talk about, but there’s power in the word of your testimony and we feel passionate about helping couples expose this dark subject to The Light.

Talking to your spouse about this subject isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

photo source

The Love of a Man

I closed my eyes and relaxed as the hair stylist washed my hair (the best part of a haircut!)

She stopped, her hands still in my tangled hair. I squinted open an eye. She leaned in and said in a quiet voice,”You are a lucky woman. Do you know how much your husband loves you?”
My face posed a question mark.
She answered, “I cut your husband’s hair last week and you were all he talked about. You should have seen the way his face lit up talking about you!”
I smiled and warmed at her words. Until, I recognized the longing in her voice and the loneliness in her eyes. It’s a look I recognized, the one of a woman who isn’t loved well.
This was the second time in recent days, someone commented on my husband’s love for me.
“He talks about you. I see love in his eyes when he says your name. He is proud of you.”
I feel unworthy of such adoration and remarkable love from my spouse. But it’s a true reflection of His love for God, and God’s love for me.
The love of a man is reflected in a wife’s face. Her steps are lighter, her burden is eased. She scowls less and laughs more. Every wife needs her husband’s love.
I asked my hubby to tell me what makes him love me so well.
He Said:
Five Reasons a Man Loves His Wife
(This is what I heard):
  1. A man who loves Jesus naturally loves his wife. A wife who loves her God is irresistible.
  2. A man who is respected by his wife loves her deeply in return.
  3. A man loves watching his wife care for his children.
  4. A man who is heard and listened to by his wife finds her intriguing and desirable.
  5. A man who is satisfied talks about his wife when she isn’t around.
Tell me: Are you a loved woman?

He Said/She Said (8): Rebuilding Trust

He Said/She Said (1): Intro
He Said/She Said (2): Lust and Marriage
He Said/She Said (3): Confessions
He Said/She Said (4): Prayer
He Said/She Said (5): Resources
He Said/She Said (6): Healing
He Said/She Said (7): Warning Signs

This is our last post of this series “Lust and Your Marriage.” We really want to continue the He Said/She Said Series…. please leave topic ideas, questions or comments in my community to help us decide what topics to look at next from his/her perspective. Thanks!

She Said:
For me, rebuilding trust in my marriage was very difficult. I was insecure about even recognizing truth because for so many years I was oblivious to many lies. I wanted to trust my forgiven husband. From the beginning of his confession, I knew something significant had happened in him and to him. I knew he was different.

But I struggled.

He wanted to be trustworthy, but I couldn’t make myself trust him.

It took time. Days of watching him in his new found freedom, turned to weeks. Weeks turned to months. If he admitted being tempted to lust or giving into that temptation to look too long at a passing woman, it was a huge disappointment and regression for me.

Trusting after pornography is a painful dance, two steps forward, one step back, but we were both seriously committed to beat this at whatever cost and we were gaining ground.

I also struggled with trusting men in general for months after this. It was just another reminder that God is really the only One who will never fail me. Everyone else is capable of being nothing more than human.

This article on Rebuilding Trust by the author (and his wife) of Every Man’s Battle, is powerful and very effective. I urge every wife and husband to read it.

Trouble is, when it comes to trust, there’s a catch. No matter how desperately you want it, you can’t manufacture trust on your own. Trust requires two ingredients: Your husband must become trustworthy, and you must trust again. Each of you is responsible for bringing one of the ingredients to the table.

Neither will be easy to provide. Becoming trustworthy will require an immense character change on his part, and that’s no small task. On your end, trusting your husband again will require obedience and submission to God, in spite of your scars. That won’t be easy, either.
– Brenda Stoeker, Every Heart Restored

I recommend open communication. We talked about everything (and we still do!) I wanted to help him fight. But at some point, it became unhealthy for trust-building for me to know of every temptation. Remember, it’s not wrong or sinful to be tempted. Jesus, Himself, showed us that. My hubby got in an accountability group and shared those temptations with other men. This was a tremendous help to both of us.

As time passed, and we were three months, four, six months out, each day got easier. I learned to trust again because my spouse became trustworthy.

Many of the women who’ve emailed/left comments are struggling with men who are not trustworthy. Their hearts have been damaged over and over because their mates have failed over and over. You cannot be expected to trust someone who isn’t worthy of it. Put your trust in God, ask your spouse to clean up their act, get counseling or schedule an intervention with family, friends.

Rebuilding trust isn’t easy or done quickly, but it is possible.

(We apologize for the quality of this video–serious technical difficulties this week! Turn down your volume)

Click here to watch.

Please visit my community to leave topic ideas, questions or comments in my communityfor future He Said/She Said posts.

He Said/She Said (7): Warning Signs

Thank you for joining us in this very heavy topic for the last two months. It hasn’t been easy for us to write it or for you to read it. As we begin to wrap it up in the next few weeks, it’s our prayer that in the least, this series will open up some good discussion with you and your spouse.

She Said:

I’m going to be perfectly candid with you, I didn’t recognize the warning signs of lust and pornography that bound my hubby off and on in the first ten years of our marriage. I didn’t think my hubby was capable of being so terribly human. I thought we were above such a disgusting sin. I was wrong.
Looking back and knowing what I know now, there were some red flags. The last four years of our marriage, the transformation and deep level of intimacy we’ve experienced is proof enough. Sure, we had moments in those first years of marriage, but we didn’t live in the profound place of knowing each other in the soul’s lowest and highest moments, as we do now.
Once, I remember standing in the store watching my hubby’s eyes follow another woman. I remember being hurt and even making an accusation and picking a fight right there in the store. I clearly showed my hubby that I was furious with him and had a complete lack of understanding of man’s most natural temptation. I’m sure he buried his secret even deeper that day.
Whether or not you’ve walked this road, I want to encourage you in one thing: Don’t be afraid to ask your spouse if he struggles with lust, especially if you are suspicious. Suspicion only damages your relationship. Keep the line of communication open.
If your spouse is open with you, that is a good sign. If they are defensive or angry, you need to talk it out.
I gave my hubby an iPhone for our anniversary, his first phone that easily accessed the Internet. I wasn’t worried about him giving into temptation. I truly trusted him. But then we started this series and in order to answer and empathize with heart-wrenching emails and even phone calls, I had to go back to four years ago and to the place where my heart was broken in two.
I woke up one day and I just felt insecure. Rather than build a case against my husband or make a false accusation or hurt him, I simply asked my hubby if he would put a safety program on his phone.
He did so immediately and without hesitation. He said, “I want to do everything I can to be accountable and to make you feel secure.” And then he thanked me for suggesting it.
This man has been free for four long years. He wasn’t defensive, critical or even irritated. He was thankful. And that says it all.
He Said: DISCLAIMER: This “He Said” is mostly for women. I want to caution everyone about the intentions of this particular vlog. I do not advocate that wives or girlfriends go snooping around trying to “catch” your husband or boyfriend doing something wrong. If you are partnered with a Godly man just set down and have an honest conversation with them about lust and pornography and your concerns. Your goal is to have the most intimate, honest relationship possible. The “warning” signs that I talk about are for marriages where there may be a trust issue, or your significant other has been unfaithful in the past, or is unwilling to open up about this topic. I also want you to know that my heart is for you to have an incredible, intimate, Godly marriage!

We will be resume with the last post in this series week after next, Rebuilding Trust.

P.S. My hubby has lost TWENTY pounds since his first vlog! Just wanted to brag on him.

He Said/She Said (6): To Every Woman Who Walks This Road

She Said:

Four years ago: During random arguments in the first ten years of marriage, whenever my hubby would toss out “maybe we should go to marriage counseling,” it would make me furious! We argued over silly things, just like everyone else. I hated the thought of going to a professional, especially since we were pastors and people came to us!
It’s called pride, in case you were wondering. And I had it bad. Little did I know that his desire for marital counseling was one of many cries for help from my spouse.
The morning after his confession, I was desperate for a counselor. Our marriage was a disaster, I was a hysterical mess and my hubby was racked with guilt (he did feel better about confessing, but I picked up the giant load he laid down and put it on my back).
I’ll never forget our first session. I was there so the counselor could fix my husband. He listened to my hubby tell his story, while I sat on the couch, wearing my mask of grief, hot, silent tears soaking my hands and lap.
I wanted to bury my head. I’ve never experienced more shame and embarrassment than in that first session, listening to my husband, the love of my life, vocalize his sin struggle with a stranger. Beside humiliation, I felt something worse: guilt.
He gave my hubby some practical tips in “bouncing his eyes” and building a house to put all the harmful images in (see last week’s vlog).
And then he turned to me. I couldn’t even speak. He waited and waited. He leaned in, put his hand on my arm, “tell me” he coaxed.
The raw pain of the last few days poured out of me. I sputtered and hiccuped and blew snot bubbles. I spoke of my ignorance, my shame, of guilt and regret. I spoke of love for the man, weeping silently beside me, of hope and healing and freedom. I dreamed of a future.
I’ll never forget what he said to me, “Your husband is a good man. He just needs tools to fight this enemy. He has just scratched the surface of this dark vast world. He will be victorious. He has sinned, but he is forgiven. But now, I want to talk about you.”
I remember thinking, “What, me? No, please help him, please, we can’t leave without you fixing him….”
He touched my chin, like my father would do and looked deeply into my eyes, “Kristen, this is not your fault. You are not responsible.”
I sobbed. “But I’m so naive…I could have helped him.”
“You are exactly what God created you to be: beautifully naive, unscarred by the filth of the world, innocent, pure. Do not apologize for this. Can you help your husband? Yes, you can. But first, you have to stop blaming yourself.”
I can’t tell you how this helped me. I couldn’t possibly help my husband until I stopped blaming myself. Next week…how you can help your spouse.
He Said:
Thank y’all so much for your outpouring of love and support to my hubby and I . We are strengthened by your emails, comments and love. Please keep praying for marriages that are struggling.

He Said/She Said (5): Resources

We have updated this post with a more current list of Resources here.
She Said:

Just hours after my hubby’s confession, I knew he needed help. We needed help. We had each other. We had God, but we were desperate for tools to fight the sin of pornography.

I watched my best friend break into two as he described the years he’d silently fought for victory, counting off the days he’d remained pure with scratch marks in a secret notebook, only to rip out the page and start over when he failed. Again and again.

We immediately found a counselor who dealt with these issues through Focus on the Family’s site. We had to pay out-of-network fees, but we were desperate and money seemed so unimportant. This was our marriage!

We bought every book resource we could find (there were only about 4 or 5 at the time). I threw out every People magazine and catalog in the house because I learned even advertisements can trip a man up. I bought Internet safety software, turned the TV off and we focused our lives on conquering this. The counselor taught my hubby what to do with the images already burned into his mind (video below) and then he spent hours counseling me (I’ll share in a later post how he helped me).

It was God’s grace and practical tools that helped my hubby walk in complete freedom and helped heal the deep wound in my heart. For weeks now, we’ve been answering countless emails and doing our best. But the bottom line is -we aren’t counselors…but we want nothing more than to lead you to some powerful tools.

He Said: