Hey, Shelby Abbott here. Just want to give a heads up before you listen to this next program. Today's conversation on Family Life Today covers some sensitive but important subjects that might not be suitable for younger ears. So please use discretion when listening to this next broadcast. Alright, now let's jump into it.
I can't hammer this enough. It is possible to be free, even if you think I've tried everything. I'm different. I'm special. I'm unique. You don't understand. I really am.
Because my husband spent, I don't know, $20,000 over 15 years trying everything, like every weird and wacky therapy you can think of to get rid of this apart from doing the one thing that works, and that's walking rigorously in the light. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at familylifetoday.com or on the Family Life app.
This is Family Life Today. So we go away to write our book Vertical Marriage years ago and had it laid out. Here's the chapters I'm going to write. Here's the chapters Ann's going to write. And the first day I'm on my computer writing one of my chapters, and I look out and I see Ann on her computer just like, wow. I'm like, I don't know what she's writing, but man, she's really into it.
So I pull up. She didn't know I could do this. I pull up her manuscript on Microsoft Word. So I can see, like, wow, she's really going after it. We've never written a book before.
How is she doing this? And I see this title of a chapter I've never heard of. I'm like, it's not in our plan.
What is Dave's neck problem? So go ahead and tell them what— Well, you know, if any of our listeners have gotten to know me over the years, they probably know that if Dave has a— She doesn't like to do what I tell her to do. They should know. I thought, okay, yeah, that's a good plan. I like it. But then I sit down, I think, but is that the plan that I want to take? And so I remember praying and saying, God— Well, now she's going to say this is God's idea. I remember praying.
Like, where should I go? And this idea came to my mind. I thought, ooh, this is what I want to write about.
And so I titled it Dave's Neck Problem. And a short version— Based on when we first got married, I remember being on the beach with him. And every time a girl would walk down the beach in a bikini— That's an exaggeration. Not every time.
No, it was every time. Could not stop his neck from turning and watching this girl go all the way down the beach. And I remember saying, I'm right here. And you're like looking at her.
He goes, what are you talking about? I never do that. I denied the whole thing because I really didn't think I had a problem. And then when she said that—and again, the chapter is all about this discussion—I then said, well, every guy does that. And then I sat down with God.
Again, this was very early in our marriage, 42 years ago. And I'm like, is this a problem? Yep. And it was. And so it was the first time in my life I said, I got to attack this. And I did. And so anyway, long story short, the next day, I go to write my next chapter. And I'm sitting there.
I'm like, wait a minute. If she wrote Dave's Neck Problem, Anne's perspective, I'm going to write Dave's Neck Problem, Dave's perspective. So I decided I'm going to talk about this conversation and where it led.
And here's where I'm bringing it up. I get halfway through writing that chapter, and I'm talking about how I got victory. I memorized scripture. I started to change this area of my life. And I was going to end the chapter.
Like, that's a good chapter. But it wasn't honest. Because about 10 years later in our marriage, I started to struggle with pornography. And this was before digital pornography. This was magazines, you know. And I had to deal with that. And I remember sitting there with my computer like, do I get that honest?
It says Christian Marriage Book. I have to. So I wrote it. And I talked about the struggle, telling Anne, the fights we had, and my battle to victory in that area that wasn't instantaneous. It took years, and it was a battle. And we later said, they'll never keep these chapters in the book. We even said that to Zondervan when we sent it in. Like, you know, we're fine if you don't keep these. And they came back and said, these are two of the best chapters in the book.
No Christian authors have been that honest. These are really going to help people. Why are we bringing this up today, Anne? Because we are talking with Rosie McKinney again today. And we're going to talk with her about her book, Fight for Love. Rosie, welcome to Family Life today. Thank you. You guys are awesome.
I love that you did that, Dave. And I love that you're talking about it again. Because it's hard. It's hard to come forward.
But don't you find that as soon as you get stuff out, it completely loses all its power. A thousand percent. And you know this better than anybody.
Your book, Fight for Love, is a similar story as you found out about your husband's addiction to pornography. And we started yesterday about that. And if you haven't listened, go back and listen.
Oh, you have to listen to yesterday. Because today is really part two. And I've always said, as a pastor, even in sermons, I've always said, if you keep whatever you're struggling with in the dark, the dark wins. The second. I mean, the second you bring it into the light.
I'm not saying you're healed, but the power gets less. There's something about bringing it into the light. And even as we talked yesterday, I was hoping that men were listening.
Because a lot of it was for the wives. And today will be as well. But if you're a guy struggling like I have struggled, you have to tell someone. That's the first step. Someone. It's probably a secret.
Nobody knows. And I know what you're thinking. I won't ever do it again.
You know, it's one time a month ago or a week ago. You're in a war, dude, and somebody needs to be told. A buddy. And Rosie, I'll ask you. Would you tell your wife if you're that guy?
Absolutely. Because she already knows that something's up. Even if she doesn't know what it is, she knows that something's up. I remember saying to Dave, like, something's wrong. I feel like there's something between us. Like, what's going on?
And he'd say, nothing. I'm fine. I was in denial. But I could feel it.
Something was up. And those couples where the guy has confessed instead of being discovered, it's an easier start. It's still really hard. But it really does go a long way towards helping the wife feel that she can trust you, at least on the aspect of telling the truth. And that's what guys don't really get.
They think they're protecting their wives by hiding the truth. But it's not just the acting out. The acting out, you might not have very much control over. It's a compulsion. That's what an addiction is.
It's doing the stuff even though you don't want to do it. But the betrayal, you can decide whether or not you tell her about it afterwards. You can decide whether or not you can tell maybe not her if you're sort of early recovery. But your recovery people before, like, I'm really triggered. I'm really struggling. I'm circling the drain.
I just need to get this out in the light. Because as you said, it's all in the Scripture. Walk in the light as He is in the light, and then you have fellowship. And the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, will cleanse you from all sin.
We don't have fellowship when we don't walk in the light. And I also love Jesus saying, I have come to set the captive free. And I think we get into this trap in our marriage. If a husband confesses or a wife shares her struggle, that we think we're just in this trap and we can't get out of it because it keeps coming up and it's this carousel.
We're never going to win. But Jesus says He can set us free. But I love that you're giving us steps of how we can become set free.
And I just want to give that hope. So the guy is, you know, if you're listening to this and you're thinking, okay, I'm going to tell her, and I really need to tell somebody, don't be surprised when you fall back into it. Like, unless you are in a really strong program and working your program, if you are not taking active proactive steps towards recovery, you will slip it back into it. Because that's the nature of addiction. It is your coping mechanism. So you can't just take the coping mechanism away and go, well, you know, I'm not going to have anything I need to cope with in life. You need to replace it with a healthy coping mechanism, which is intimate relationships with other people, other guys. Let's talk about that a little bit because, you know, as a pastor for 30 years and being in a lot of men's groups, the general theme in the church in this area, or really any really habitual sin area, was get the Word of God in your life. Get in a men's group.
And again, this could be a women's group. Confess your sin. People say, we feel bad for you. You're forgiven.
Go home. And next week you come back and it's like this cycle. It doesn't heal. It's just like a place where we sort of get our wrist slapped and then we just move on. It's like that just didn't work.
So what does work? I'm really glad that you brought that up because we have these sympathy circles, not recovery circles. Oh, that's a good way to say it. And the wife is going, okay, my husband's going to a recovery group, so I'm doing my part. I'm, you know, I'm surrendering this. I'm working on my, you know, healing the trauma. I'm working on... My response? Yeah, I'm working on my stuff and he's being taken care of.
However, if he's not in a good recovery group, and that's why I put in the book, like, you know, what to look for in a group because otherwise you can go to a recovery group for years and the only thing that changes is the wife's heart. And she goes, you know what? We've done this for five years. I am done. Nothing is changing. And we're like, you haven't tried the one thing that works.
I can't hammer this enough. It is possible to be free. Even if you think I've tried everything. I'm different. I'm special. I'm unique. You don't understand.
I really am. Because my husband spent, I don't know, $20,000 over 15 years trying everything, like every weird and wacky therapy you can think of to get rid of this apart from doing the one thing that works. And that's walking rigorously in the light and having someone who was brave enough.
I'm thinking of his sponsor at the time who apparently was giving up alcohol and was very bad tempered and very gruff. And we just give him the truth really hard. Like, you know, you're out of your mind.
Go make her a cup of tea. Shut up. Go back. Because he needed that. He needed to outsource his thinking because his prefrontal cortex was so addled from the sort of, you know, the damage that the pornography had done.
He needed to outsource his thinking to someone who went, did you take appropriate steps? Did you confess to someone that you were struggling? Are you looking at what triggers you? Are you looking at what else in your life is triggering you? Are you being intimate with other people to help you cope with the stresses that are now compelling you to act out, to relieve some of that tension? And it's really hard.
Who wants to be honest about themselves? This is different than just saying, oh, hey, this is what I did this week. We're going to pray for you. Not that that's not important.
That is important. But yesterday, you said we as women, as wives, need to take a stand. And so you said to your husband, well, I said to my husband, you get into help or that's it. I mean, what I'd say now, what I advise people to say is that you come alongside and you can only come alongside when you've received enough help and clarity about what's going on to take some of that emotional pressure off you. And then you can come alongside and, you know, look at it objectively, dispassionately and say, there's a hole in the boat and we need to fix it because you're the one who's just put an axe through the bottom of the boat. But I'm sitting in the boat. You're too busy swinging your axe around, but I'm going to, you know, ring up for the lifeboat because we are drowning.
We are sinking and our children are in the boat as well. And my husband, as I said yesterday, is a therapist. I asked him one day and I said, how do guys end up in the office? Do they just like one day think, I've just fed up with this. I'm going to spend so much money going to see a therapist about this. Does that happen?
And he's going, no, they arrive with the footprint of their wife on their back because the wife goes, you know, she goes enough. I can't do this anymore. You're destroying my love for you. You're destroying my faith in myself. You're destroying everything. You're affecting how I'm seeing myself. You're just wrecking everything and I can't do this anymore. And I don't know what to do.
And this is like my only option is to just say, stop enough. It's only when you feel the grace of God that you can take a good hard look at yourself. And that's for all of us, isn't it? I mean, in this process, I had to look at myself and my own junk that got me into this mess in the first place.
Not that I was in any way responsible for his stuff, but I came to the marriage with a lot of brokenness too. And I had to have a good hard look at myself and that will take you to your knees. And it's only when you realize that we're all broken, we're all sinners, but our hope, our confidence is through Christ. And that enables you to walk in the light. So walking in the light for a guy means you have to get in touch with all the horrible stuff that you've been suppressing. Whether that's anger or resentment or fear. And really be honest because none of us are very nice people underneath.
We need Jesus on an hourly basis. So if you're trying to suppress that and be a really good person and appear like a really good person, all that energy is going to come out sideways. And if you have conditioned your brain to have pornography as your outlet from a very early age, you're going to go in that direction.
Even if you know that it is destroying your wife and your works on the line. People do crazy things like the risks that they take or the behavior that they get into. It's insane. But it's all because this is a brain disease.
It's curable, but it is a brain disease and we have to treat it that seriously. And just going back to what you were talking about, Dave, about the groups that guys get into. Sometimes guys don't need to get into a full recovery program with a bit of accountability, maybe a bit of filtering software, maybe being honest with a few close people. They can have victory and stay sober.
Great. Some guys can't. And I think there becomes problems when the guys who can manage their temptations with a bit of accountability and a bit of filtering software try and present that as the model. If that makes any sense, because there's some poor guy sitting there going, I've tried that. It doesn't work.
I mean, my husband would say he would memorize scripture in the morning and then act out in the afternoon. It's like, I have tried so hard. I have really, really, really tried and it didn't work for me. So if you're sitting there and thinking, oh, that's me. I just want to tell you that is hope. And if you're a wife thinking, I can't imagine ever trusting him again or feeling any sort of love for him again. It is possible.
It really is possible. And, you know, it isn't by accident that this is happening. God is using this as an invitation for you both to draw close to him and to each other in a way that you might not have done without this external, horrible crucible of pain that forces you to deal with these issues. And I'd say to any family that has dealt with this, any couple that has dealt with this, not only are you getting a marriage that is so transparent and vulnerable and rich that you might not have got before. But also you are the greatest strength for your children.
Your vulnerability, your courage to tackle this and your openness is the best gift that you can give your kids. I think what you just said, this is God's invitation. I want to hit pause and go, wait, wait, let's talk about that. Because I think when a wife confronts a husband about this issue or really any sin issue, but we're talking about pornography today. So often the husband can feel attacked. I don't really have that big a problem.
But I don't think we've ever thought of it as like God's invitation is going to be using this sin area to say, I'm going to just lavish my grace on you and here's what it's going to look like. It's not going to be easy. It's going to be a wife who speaks up and says, I can't do this anymore.
We need to get help. And it's really a we thing, isn't it? That's what I was thinking too, Dave, is I thought for us as wives, this isn't just his problem. I remember the first time someone asked me, do you wish he would have never told you that he struggled in this area? I remember pausing for a minute and thinking, I'm so glad that he told me about it because I feel like I know him. There is an intimacy now, like I truly see, and he sees this in me, my weaknesses, my flaws, the ugly parts of me, and I see that in him as well. And I feel like, oh, I want to battle with him in this.
I'm not taking responsibility for it necessarily, but I'm saying he needs me. What would it look like me to battle the enemy who really is Satan? He's battling for our husbands, our marriages, for us, for our families. What would it look like for us to say no more?
Like I will, as you said in your book, I will fight for my man and my husband and our family. I feel like you've done that, Rosie. In marriage, two become one and we always go, oh yes, we become one heart. What about if we become one brain? And he's just scrambled his brain. He's rewild his neural pathways. He's got hypofrontality, which is a condition that you get in only two ways.
One is a head-on collision and one is through heavy porn use and it's a shrinkage of this gray matter, your prefrontal cortex, which is where you make your decisions and you weigh consequences. He's shrunk that. He's now become sensitized to pornographic cues.
He's got shame going on. His brain's fried. Your brain is still working. You can do the research. You can get supported.
You can get healthy. You have to be the prefrontal cortex of your collective brain right now and go, do you know what? We need help. You are used as a tool of repentance. However, it's not you who's bringing him to a place of repentance. You are being used as a catalyst by God for him to put godly sorrow. Basically, the fear of God will be put into him when you stand firm and you pursue chaste conduct, which is keeping yourself pure. So if he's doing this, you're going, okay, but that's not happening in our marriage and it's not happening in our marriage bed. And if you're filling your mind with this, you're not filling my mind with this.
It's like, you know, two become one. You have to stand firm and it's not just you drawing some moral line in the sand. It's you obeying God. And I think once we empower women to understand that we submit to our husbands, yes, but we submit to the word of God first. And if he's being disobedient to the word, we don't do that.
We don't capitulate. We stay godly. And that means keeping yourself pure.
If you keep yourself pure, you put the fear of God in him because he sees that and it becomes uncomfortable. It's like, oh, she's not playing this game anymore. She's not enabling. So without a word, you can just draw that firm line in the sand. It's a real, just a mind shift.
You know, as you say, take all those personal issues about like, if I just went to the gym more, if I bought more lingerie, if I somehow presented it to him in a way, he'd understand how much it hurts me. It's like, it doesn't matter. His brain's been hijacked. You need to do consequences. We wouldn't do that with our children. Well, actually, we do do that with our children, like we try and persuade them. Like, do you realize how much this is hurting mommy? It's like, don't care. I still want to go on the computer. I've had so many wives say to me, he's choosing this over me because he doesn't love me.
What kind of man would say he loves me, wants to be with me? He knows how much this hurts me and he chooses to continually hurt me with it. That's that brain part that you're saying. Totally, totally. And some of them really do think that it's your fault. And that's really hard. But you have to understand that their brains have been hijacked. Some of them know it's not your fault and they might just be, you know, sort of just gaslighting you, which is horrendous and shouldn't be condoned or overlooked or anything like that.
But there are many reasons why he might be resistant to just going, you're right, it's time to get help. You know, even as you write in your book, the brain science part of this was not understood for decades. It's somewhat in the last decade or so. I remember Anne and I were flying somewhere to do a marriage conference and we were walking through the airport and I saw Time Magazine in a bookstore in the airport and the cover was porn and had the big circle with the X, like, don't do porn. I'm like, Time Magazine?
So I bought it. And basically it was science. And this is not a Christian viewpoint. This is non-Christian man saying, I've grown up with this, it's the worst thing I've done, it's affected every part of my life, stay away. And I'm like, isn't this interesting? For hundreds of years, we've been saying from scripture, God says, avoid these sexual immorality because of this. Now science is confirming it. And the non-Christian world is saying, this stuff's really bad. Do you understand what it does to your brain, neuropathways?
None of that was ever talked about. It's like God from the beginning said, I have a life for you that's amazing. Be very careful, especially in this area. Because sexual temptation can mess with your brain in a way that other temptations don't.
Don't do it. And now the unchurched are saying, don't do it. I was thinking we were moralists. Well, actually God was a moralist, but he was saying, I know something you don't understand and now we do.
And so it's one of the best things you can ever do to protect your marriage and your family is to say no. I know. Isn't that wonderful when the Bible is just like, we were saying this all along. You weren't listening. There are reasons. There's a boundary around sex and we put it within marriage and we put it in covenant. There's a reason. And then science comes along and just says, and this is why.
It's beautiful. And I really think that the church needs to help people with that message. But they also need to be explicit about how demonic this stuff is. This is really nasty stuff. This isn't just watching consensual adults having sex.
This is really dark stuff and it's getting more violent and it's getting younger. And as you said yesterday, it's capturing, did you say one out of three women, girls now? And so now it's not only in men and boys, but it's taking our girls, our women. I get mad about that.
That's destroying families. And I look at this beautiful creation. I think about our sons and our grandkids and our daughter-in-laws.
I see the beauty in each of them and to think that Satan is going to come and hijack them so that they will never live in freedom and God's plan for them, that makes me mad. And so I love that you're writing about this. Thank you. I so resonate with what you're saying. And it's the reason why our whole ministry, we want to create an army of women.
Yes. We want a whole army of proactive women who are like, enough. Our children are drowning. Our husbands have been hijacked. If we don't stand up and say something about this, who is? And we need to help reclaim our husbands. And it's not us doing it.
It's just, we throw them that lifesaver. It's like, if you imagine like a guy in a swamp and we're going, we have these conferences to guys and they're like, who's struggling? And they're all going, I'm struggling.
I'm struggling. They're going, well, just come on out. And it's like, they can't, they're in a swamp. They literally can't. They might want to in that moment in the conference. And then on the way home, they're going to get triggered or distracted and they're going to go home and do pornography.
They can't get themselves out of the swamp. And we need to understand that. And so as a wife, you might be the only person in his entire world who knows he's in the swamp. If you don't do the brave thing and reach out for help, or just not even reach out for help, take the first baby step, just listen to a podcast, get on the journey.
If you don't do that, who is going to do that? And I'm telling you, your husband is so much more than who he is now. He might not even know who he is now. And we need our guys to stand up now more than ever.
We need our guys to be able to stand up. And you know, the beauty as we wrap up is you and Mark are a picture of God's redemption, God's restoration. You can have a porn free marriage. It's actually possible.
And I know some listeners are like, no, we are so dark. Listen to the story. Get Rosie's book. You can get there. God can do that. That's what he does.
He can raise a dead marriage back to life. You're listening to David Ann Wilson with Rosie McKinney on family life today. Rosie is going to end today's conversation comparing Cinderella and Shrek. It'll make sense when you hear it. Trust me.
That's in just a minute. But first, Rosie's written a book called Fight for Love. How to take your marriage back from porn. You can get a copy at familylifetoday.com or by calling 800-358-6329.
That's 800 F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. And in so many ways, this conversation can draw us into more dialogue about how ungodly attractions and addictions in our marriages have the ability to lead to even darker places. Well, our guest earlier this week, Dave Carter, wrote a book called Anatomy of an Affair.
How affairs, attractions, and addictions develop and how to guard your marriage against them. We'd love to send you a copy as our thanks when you partner financially with family life. You'll help more families hear conversations like today's. Conversations that point to the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.
You can give at familylifetoday.com or by calling 800-358-6329. That's 800 F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. Okay, here's Rosie on whether or not we should expect a Cinderella marriage or a Shrek marriage. The lie of the devil will come in and he'll say to the guy, but life is going to be boring without pornography. Life is going to be lackluster. Nothing is going to quite match it.
And it's true for a little while. Then when you regain control, you're going to realize that actually you have an amazing life and there are possibilities now open to you. It's so hard to come back from that. Like my fairytale wedding that I dreamt of, you know, has been utterly ruined.
I can't get that back. And I'm saying you have something better. Yours is not Cinderella. It is Shrek. Okay, he's an ogre.
You're an ogre, but they have a much better time. That's so good. So what does the Bible say about divorce and remarriage? Not allowed, right? Well, next week on Family Life Today, David and Wilson are joined by Wayne Grudem, who talks us through some Bible verses and points out a new view from what's commonly told. That's next week. On behalf of David and Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
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