When his wife became pregnant with their fourth child, Greg panicked. But a focus on the family counselor put everything into perspective. He said, the first thing you need to realize is kids are a blessing. They're all of the blessings.
They're gifts from God. The second thing he said was, kids value relationships, not stuff. Greg and his wife found the encouragement they needed, and today they have a happy, thriving family of seven children.
We had been really influenced by the culture and by just the kind of overall negativity about kids. And to hear from someone, you know, just godly truth that kids are special, that they're wanted, and that they're a blessing was huge to us. I'm Jim Daly, and we love kids. Let's work together to give more families hope, like Greg's. When you donate today, your gift will be doubled at FocusOnTheFamily.com slash gift. Today on Focus on the Family, we're returning to a really serious, heartbreaking issue that is putting many marriages at risk today.
And it's a topic that's not going to be suitable for younger listeners. So even though for my eyes it looked like everything had fallen to ruins, and as though this great divine cosmic trick had been played on me, I still couldn't release that hope, that fear that actually he had a plan. He had a plan, and I just had to hang on and just had to stick with it and be brave and look at my own stuff. What do you do when in your marriage there's a defining moment?
It's a hard moment. You look to God, and that's Rosie McKinney saying you can trust God in those moments, especially as it relates to the impact of pornography on your relationship. Rosie and her husband Mark are here with that hope that God can heal, and your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly. Hey John, we had a powerful conversation last time with Mark and Rosie, who have lived through the pain and shame and the recovery process from pornography.
And today they are helping many, many other couples climb out of the pit of despair to live and love each other in the ways God intended for them to do. As we learned last time, pornography can hijack your brain. It's an addiction, and we need to recognize that. Users become addicted to the point where you can think of nothing else. It kind of consumes your thoughts throughout the day and the evening. We also discussed how pornography is hurting Christian marriages particularly today, and this is a serious crisis that we have to hit head-on in the church.
You might be saying, why are you covering this? You're focused on the family. Believe me, these are the things we need to discuss so that our families are healthy. And it's the enemy, in my opinion, that puts the thought into our head to keep this kind of quiet and in the secret place. Let's talk about it. I mean, God gave us the gift of sexual interaction in the context of marriage.
I want to celebrate that. I don't want to hide from that, but man, can it be manipulated by our flesh and the enemy of our soul. And that's why we're going to hit this topic today and give you hope that you can write these things in your life, not through your own power, but in the power of Christ. And remember, Focus on the Family is here to help you get there. And not only Rosie's great book, Fight for Love, but our counseling department and so many other resources are here to help you begin that journey of healing. And Jim, we were in a meeting recently in which our counseling team shared the top reasons that people call Focus on the Family. Pornography is right up there, one of the top ongoing concerns. So if you're struggling with this, give us a call and we'll schedule a time for you to talk to a counselor.
Our number is 800-AFAMILY and we've got all the details in the show notes. Rosie McKinney has a ministry to families, to couples, to deal with this this matter. It's called Fight for Love, the same title as her book. She has a podcast with that title as well and she works to empower and equip women in particular to fight against porn addiction in their marriages and families. And Mark has worked as a sexual addiction therapist for more than 10 years with hundreds of couples and individuals. And Jim, they were very authentic and raw and very candid last time. I love it and I think the reason is because they know there's hope for redemption.
That's the message of the gospel. So they're living it in a very tough spot, this idea of sexual addiction, porn addiction, and it's not the easiest thing in the world to lay out on the table for everybody to talk about. But I so admire their courage and willingness to do it because so many couples are dealing with this. And Mark and Rosie, let me welcome you back to the discussion. Thank you for being here.
Good to be back. I so appreciate your courage, I really mean that. I mean it's, this is a tough topic and I'm so glad you're willing to write about it, do the podcast that you do about it, talk, to actually become a licensed counselor to help couples dealing with it.
That is awesome. Well here's the thing Jim, it's a privilege because it's so easy to help people. You literally just tell a bit of your story, say there's hope, there's help, you're not alone, and people think you're amazing. So really it's kind of a gift for me.
Yeah, let me ask you this though. This is where I think the Christian community really makes an error that we try to project perfection rather than brokenness. And when we do that, people go, I can't, that's not me. When you do what you're doing, this is how we were broken, this is what we were dealing with behind the closed doors of our lives, people go, wow, that's what I'm suffering with.
And they connect to it. That's what I love about your story. It's real. So it's awesome. What I love when we walked in today, Jim, it said outside the doors of Focus on the Family, give the glory to God, right?
And what you said earlier is so perfect. And I have a question, is the cross enough? Absolutely.
Is it enough to save somebody who's addicted to porn? Yes. Of course it is. Yeah, anything, even from your own pride, another one. Amen, yes. You know with all the failure in Christian leadership, I've kind of deduced it to three core things, pride, sex, and money.
And that's been true for like 3,000 years, and it's recorded for us in Scripture. So certainly as Christian leadership, we got to say, okay, what are we gonna do to avoid these pitfalls of pride, sex, and money? And man, I'll tell you, the pride is equally as ensnaring. And what I mean by that in terms of the pride is like the guys that have it bolted down, I'm never gonna have an affair, I won't be addicted to pornography, I'll never take money. And they're very proudful of that, and then they look down like a Pharisee on the rest of the faith-filled people who are struggling too. So it's just, it's where we're at, be humble.
This is the most humbling thing, especially for women, because we stay in the shadows, if we're honest, for longer than we need to, because we don't want to destroy that image that we have actually managed to catch a really good guy, and our family's got it all going on, and it's really hard. Yeah. It's really hard to go, actually we're just a mess like everybody else. And that sense of failure every direction.
Yeah. For the guy that's addicted, for the woman trying to help her husband, I mean it's it's a mess. We shared last time that you two have lived through this addiction and the recovery process. Let's, for the new listeners and viewers, take us through the key points of that process, which involves disclosure, you use also an impact letter, and some serious counseling, obviously.
Explain each step of that process. The most important thing is that the guy be brought into the light. That's the most important thing. And the things I say to guys when I first call them, when they first call me, is I will not work with the guy unless he's willing to do a disclosure to his wife, and get into a good group. And I really want to emphasize, a lot of groups are too vague, and too this, and too that.
You need, why is that? Because it's the healing process only takes place when he's actually walking the light. So a disclosure has to be managed pretty carefully, in that you don't want to disclose thought life. That's just something that sometimes guys do. They kind of vomit at the kitchen table. But you want to be very thorough about your behavior, so that your basement is clean. So the devil doesn't have any, if they only knew this about you, they wouldn't love you, kind of thing.
You want to clean your basement. That's disclosure. Yeah. Tell me why it's so critical for porn addicts to understand the full extent of the pain they've inflicted on their spouse and family, because they believe this lie that it really doesn't affect anybody but me.
And this is just a quiet, this little problem I've got, but my wife's fine. Right. Well, it hardens your heart. Pornography is a sin, it hardens your heart.
It sounds like it, doesn't it? Yeah, totally, because what happens is, guys, they become unempathetic. Empathy is gone, and they, they're self-absorbed because they think that, well, it's only between me and God. Yeah. You know, and it's not true. So I always say to guys, your wife's pain, and anger, and sorrow, and grief, and even hopelessness is your medicine.
That's what God's using to actually soften your heart and give you a heart of flesh. That impact letter or disclosure, give us a few more highlights of that. That's, that's got to be just incredibly difficult to do.
Yeah. And to read as the spouse. I would say wives often find, some find it easy because they finally have a voice.
Others find it hard because they don't want to go there. They don't want to go to the fact that you, your behavior, and remember what Rosie said about our stories. It's not just the sexual behavior. What made her draw that line was all those, my anger, my criticism, all that other stuff. So in an impact letter, a wife will describe to the husband, this is what your behavior, your flesh, has done to me. And it's important for the wife to get that out because I don't want the wife to, to have an abscess, in a way, of, of dark emotions. I want them to get it out into the light, but I also, I really want the husband to, you know what I do, this might seem a little odd, but I make the husband read, there's 21 questions on a partner survey, and then they do the impact.
I make the husband read one a day, out loud, to the wife, with their answer, and say to the wife, thank you so much for your honesty, that was very brave, and is there anything more you want to say? Because I want this guy, it's not a one and done. I want this guy to absorb the pain of their wife. Yeah, boy, just hearing that, I mean, it makes me heavy-hearted just thinking about that, you know.
Wow. Rosie, recovery from a pornography addiction isn't always a one and done process. Sometimes there's that relapse factor, like Mark described yesterday, you know, Lord I got this in hand, I'm sorry I blew it last night, but I'm committed today, and then tonight comes, and it's a relapse. Explain what a safety plan is, and why a spouse needs a safety plan for relapsing.
Yeah, great point. We so want recovery to be a straight trajectory upwards, but it's really more like spaghetti, and you're just going round and round and up and down, and it's so important to plan for what you're going to do if he does relapse. They're not inevitable, but they happen, and to plan what you're going to do, so just like the safety drill on a plane, you know, if we start to go down, we're going to, the oxygen masks are going to drop, these are things you're going to need. So if your husband does have a slip in his acting out behavior, you're going to need probably emotional space, maybe physical space, you're going to need to call people, and you're going to need to put things in place so you actually do those boundaries, because your fear is going to be off the chart, and you, the person who you need the most in the world is the one who's just hurt you again, so it's really hard to have boundaries, because you want a hug, you want the comfort from that person, even though they've just hurt you, so you need the sanity of your fellowship to go, nope, you need to stick to your boundaries, go back to your safety plan, what does it tell you? Because a safety plan is not about consequences that will happen if you act out, it's not punitive, it's like this is what I'm going to need, I'm going to need space to actually process this new level of hurt, but also you need your fellowship around you to reframe it as this is an opportunity, this is awful that this has happened, I'm really sorry this has happened, however, let's look at how you're moving forward, did he confess within the allotted time, is the deception part of this getting less, because that's what you want, you know, he can't control the acting out, the lust in the same way as he can control the deception, so you're looking for progress in that to begin with, you know, is he being transparent with you, because that's what makes you feel safe, that's what enables you to start putting down those pebbles of trust, like I can see that he's working really hard and he's struggling and yes he's messed up again, but he told me he's not hiding anything, he's not letting me sit for two weeks thinking I've done something because he's being distant, that was the thing that used to really irritate me, he'd go distant and I'd think it must be me, it must be me, and beat myself up and then when it comes out that actually no he'd just done something, the anger would be off the chart, because not only what he'd done and the betrayal, but the fact I'd beaten myself up for two weeks, right, and that is like, undeserved emotions, yeah and that's when you you feel retaliatory and you want to hurt them back because you don't mess with my sanity and my recovery just because you're not being honest, boy and all of that, God going hey you two look at me, look at me, you know there's so much going on, yeah, emotionally, so much going on, it's got to be a bit overwhelming. Let's speak to this idea of disclosure, full disclosure, you mentioned it a moment ago about you expect that man who's in the situation to not vomit it all out, but to give full disclosure, describe the parameters of that. I give them ten questions, so it's unkind, remember just like a safety plan, when someone's in that state of either just acting out or coming into recovery, their brain is not working well, their emotions are all over the place, so it's unkind to give them a sheet of paper and say okay Bill you do it, so I give them ten questions and then I go over those ten questions with them to make sure. Another thing guys do inherently is minimize and be vague, so they'll say I don't know a little bit, a lot, sometimes, and so I get all that language out of there and try to get them to be as specific as possible about how, when, where, what.
Yeah, I mean that's and that's a good place to start, right, yeah, just get it out there, kind of like a police report. Yeah, but the beautiful thing is, I say to guys, I go hey this is not punitive, I don't, this is redemptive, so because it's not about, you know, it's really about teaching his brain that hey dude you cannot hide anything ever anymore again, because when you get all the nooks and crannies here, next time he wants to do this, I want his brain to be thinking I can do that, but I'm gonna have to disclose everything about it. Right.
And that's, that kind of kills the buzz, honestly. Right, you know, I, I think that's actually a healthy place for men. Yes. Because again, men inevitably, you know, we're full of testosterone, thoughts are gonna happen, but when you have that accountability, that's restrained. Right. Having the thought is one thing, acting on it is the problem. And it doesn't happen, you know, long-term relapses don't happen if the guy's in recovery and, and connected to their support group, because he'll, they'll say hey this girl at the office, you know, we talked, and the guy will immediately go dude, do not, you know. Yeah.
What you're doing with, with support is you're, you're outsourcing your thinking. Yeah. We're talking today on Focus on the Family with Mark and Rosie McKinney, and I so hope that you're gonna contact us for a copy of Rosie's book, Fight for Love, that's the name of her podcast and her ministry as well.
We've got all the details about Rosie's ministry, about what Mark and Rosie have been sharing, and resources for you, at the website, and you can find the link in the show notes, or give us a call, 800, the letter A, and the word family. Rosie, in the book you also use an analogy between polar bears, yes, and sheep. I think this is yours, Mark, isn't it?
Is this Mark's? Oh yes. So I say this to guys because it's how God made us, so what's the healing process look like, really? We have to live in accordance to the way we're made, and by that I don't mean just tuck your shirt in and be sweet and nice. I love what you said earlier, Jim, about that we put on a facade, you know, so the facade of being self-reliant. I always say to guys, you know, the Jason Bourne movies, every dude wants to be that guy, like I'm single-handedly taking on the government, you know what I mean? But we aren't that, Jesus made us a sheep, so, and a child, and both of them are vulnerable and not thriving when they're isolated. Now that is so good and so true, it appeals to the male ego to think we can conquer the world, and we're that good.
Typically we're not that good. You stress the importance of accountability in the recovery process. Some call that transformational community and openness. What does that look like and why is it so critical to be that way? Which God must love, a heart that's transparent and open. I mean I would say too that what, if you are struggling with pornography, what that says about you is this, that you are actually in the category of people that Jesus came to save.
He said, I did not come to call the righteous to repentance, the well did not need a physician, so I mean I know I'm not minimizing porn use, it's a bad one, but that's all it says. So the accountability thing, what happens is you actually discover the gospel in a whole new way, because now I can tell you all the guh, and not the guh is not just sexual acting out, it's the fact that you know you resent your boss, you resent your kids or whatever. You can get that out there and what you get back from the Spirit of God through the body of Christ is mercy and grace and challenge. We need challenge too.
That's what it should be. Yeah we can't just, you know the law came through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus. Men need both, but that's the power of the transformation groups. You talk about an accountability partner, you know I've got a mentor that I talk to once or twice a month and I've done that for the last 25 years. The one reality that when people talk about Christian leaders particularly, but everybody, you could get by with so much. You know having a mentor accountability partner, you have to be honest. It's like what you put into the relationship is what you're gonna get back. If you're deceitful and cunning and manipulative, that person can't really help you because you're gonna be lying to them. But you do talk about the importance of an accountability partner. Describe who that person is and how you maintain a healthy transparency in that relationship so that person can actually be a benefit to your life. Yeah I mean I assigned guys a sponsor as well and that's somebody's further down the road and that person usually is the one who has the capacity to cut them and to as I say clean their mirror so they can see themselves more clearly. And then in my group I make the guys, I assign a different partner, but I make them call, make three calls a week whether they're in a good mood or bad mood.
And if they had a great week I just say wait till somebody cuts you off in traffic then make a call. Because what I want to do is I want to get them in a habit of what it means to actually conduct your life in the light and expose these things. So when that moment comes when you are tempted with lust you will have practiced that kind of vulnerability before. Mark in your own story it seems like maybe some of this was in your own recovery.
How much of it wasn't and that's why you're so passionate about accountability and transparency and a mentor. Yeah I mean I tell guys that I'm you know God allowed me to be the bleeding woman you know that spent all the resources I had and got nowhere. So and I openly say to guys hey I'm the master of what doesn't work because I did them all. Like well I'm gonna do this I'm gonna read a book.
No you can try that God can do anything you don't want to limit him. But I know what works from experience of what doesn't work you know what I mean. Yeah so a book didn't help and and I put filters on and I did all that or even the accountability partner thing where you call them once a week what happens is you you're masking so you're like hey I did act out on Tuesday but I feel really that's not the kind of walking the light that the Bible talks about. What it talks about is raw accountability so you call when you want to act out before you act out and then all the kind of grit and well what's going on well my kids and my wife and my boss and you know all that stuff comes out that's what we need we need that kind of level of transparency. Wow no that's good that's a good point call when you're about to fall yeah so that they can help you not fall. Yeah be raw yeah that's good it's good vulnerability. Let's move toward closing we got a couple more questions here but you know you've gone through it and Mark particularly but I want to hear from you in a moment Rosie you stated that God often doesn't miraculously fix things by reading a book just a book but it can be a combination of things and for people to find out more they should get the book fight for love and that will help you but describe 2nd Corinthians 12 9 I think which is an important scripture for you and how it is fit into this process my grace is sufficient for you my power is made perfect oh yes beautiful I mean think about how beautiful that is you guys I mean I always feel like I spent my life wanting desperately to be a Pharisee like please Jesus make me a Pharisee make me good so that other people can look up to me make me wise that other people can look up to me so that I don't really need you now I never said that out loud but that's what my heart was you know wow and I love Jesus that he did not give me a quick answer because he said what I felt I didn't hear voices by the way but what I felt in my heart was I'm the Lord and you are not you're my servant I'm not your servant and you'll do it my way and my way is I want you to be transparent with with like Paul says you think about Romans 7 you know Paul says when I want to do good evils right there with me I am transparent with my failings so that I can point to Jesus because if he can save somebody like me he can save you that's what I want to say to guys yeah so good Rosie coming back to you now describe your marriage today what is different what gives you oxygen now how do you feel in terms of your emotional intimacy with Mark if I could ask that question I'll ask your permission first I feel seen huh and I feel able to be all aspects of myself like the good the bad the ugly and that's so powerful and I'm able to take that into friendships and have that in other fellowship I there's just a level of trust now that even if we have a you know a discussion heated discussion about something I know that within 10 minutes 20 minutes an hour he's gonna apologize and then I'm gonna apologize I know that's gonna happen it's just a very solid foundation because there's no pretense anymore which gives you great freedom yeah and that's beautiful there's no hiding yeah and even if I want to hide I can say I don't want to interact with you right now I want to be hide and I want to isolate I can actually communicate that so that's beautiful isn't it it's yeah the freedom is wonderful freedom yeah well boy the thread that I've heard throughout last time and today is just there's something that you recognized early on which is there's still hope and we're all sinners and you know sometimes in that situation the wounded spouse can just focus on the other person and their shortcomings and their sin and I think it's refreshing to hear that you were able as the wife to both say okay wait a minute his brains not in a good place yeah he needs healing and I'm willing to move with him that's not always the response that will be there and there's different levels of trauma so I would say the ability to turn around and look at your own stuff for me it was able to happen quite early just because of our circumstances not because there's anything particularly wise or self-aware about myself it depends it depends the level of the trauma that you're going through you're you're not even able to think straight for a really long time if you know you've just had this horrendous disclosure and your whole world is imploded and you you can't think straight and your body's falling apart and you don't know what's right and so you're gonna need to heal from that and then with the right support and guidance and hope you need people around you to hold hope then gently gradually you can start to look at your own stuff and that's where you're able to see your partner is an equal yeah Jim there was a moment I remember it was like after a couple of months and it's kind of humorous but when Rosie turned to me one morning and said I married you and it was really I mean and believe it I took it as a because she was thinking what she meant the annunciation is really I married you yeah I know it's awesome whoa but that was her moment of like okay so and she's right I don't make wives do that in the first you know you can't do that like okay you gotta look at yourself I think that's not right but you know when she said that is when we started to walk as partners holding hands down the path of we are both we both need Jesus yeah well and what's so beautiful is you know again there's not a formula but there's ingredients that are required right for a good outcome a godly outcome right humility by both is one of them right yeah and then you keep moving from there knowing who you are in Christ a sinner broken both of you and then accepting Christ and moving with him toward healing that's what we're talking about so this has been so good I mean we could keep talking about this but you guys have done such a wonderful job expressing it and I really appreciate your vulnerability and honesty today and now if this conversation has impacted you the listener I hope you'll reach out to us we mentioned last time that we have caring Christian counselors who can help if this is an issue in your marriage we also have Rosie's book fight for love which we can send to you and then I'd like to invite you to partner with focus on the family especially now as we approach the holiday season and the end of the year this is a critical time for our ministry's budget and we're counting on friends like you to help provide the fuel that we need to strengthen marriages and equip parents save pre-born babies from abortion and so much more as we head into next year and we'll say thank you by sending you a copy of Rosie's book it's a win-win for everyone it all begins with your phone call today our number is 800 the letter a in the word family 800-232-6459 and of course we'll connect you with a counselor if that's helpful for you as well you can also find details in the program notes we'll have all the links right there for you and coming up tomorrow we'll hear from Kirk Cousins he's playing in the NFL as quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings and you'll hear how the gospel influenced his life and I decided in that moment that'll be my life first and I'm gonna truly live that I'm gonna trust and obey him even when it's hard and I don't feel like it and we'll see where he wants to steer the ship it might not be football but let's let him steer the ship not me and I'm not gonna worry about it on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team thanks for joining us today for focus on the family I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ if the fights with your spouse have become unbearable if you feel like you can't take it anymore there's still hope hope restored marriage intensives have helped thousands of couples like yours our biblically based counseling will help you find the root of your problems and face them together call us at one eight six six eight seven five two nine one five we'll talk with you pray with you and help you find out which program will work best that's one eight six six eight seven five two nine one five
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