We live in a day and an age where sexual immorality is infiltrating our society. TV shows wanting to push their show to the edge are bringing in more sexual content, promiscuity, and moral impurity. Advertisements try to make even tires look sexy!! These are the things our men are facing!
Some statistics of men’s struggle I found on Barna.org are:
* “Nearly one in five Americans (18%) say they are tempted to view pornography or sexually inappropriate content online. Men more commonly admit being tempted to view porn than women (28% versus 8%).” (site)
*Moasics (Age 25 and under) are twice as likely to view porn than Baby Boomers (site)
CitizenLink – affiliated with Focus on the Family – gathered research on men and pornography in an article posted in January that shows some startling facts:
* “In the Focus on the Family/Zogby poll, 21 percent of the public polled said they had ever visited a sexually oriented website, while18 percent of married people and 18 percent of those who call themselves ‘born again’ Christians had done so.”
* “According to a survey of more than 500 college students in 2006, 73 percent reported having seen pornography online prior to age 18, including 93 percent of boys. An article about this study in Cyberpsychology & Behavior reported that the mean age for first online exposure to pornography for boys is 14.3.” (To read more, please visit Citizenlink.com)
Malcolm and I were married in the summer or 2011, and these past two years have been a big learning curve for me in the ways of men. Especially how they think and view the sexualized world around them. Now, I realize I’m still young and have much to learn in this area of marriage. I am far from perfect in this area, and still can’t seem to get even these points down!!
But here are 5 things that I have learned to encourage my husband in the area of sexual integrity.
1. Encourage healthy communication with your spouse about the area of their struggle with lust. One thing that made our first year of marriage difficult was having very open, almost too blunt communication about everything – including Malcolm’s struggle with lust. Though not always fun, I’m so glad we kept it up! It’s easy to sweep uncomfortable or hurtful things under a rug and “move on”, but when sin is kept in darkness it multiples. Sin NEEDS to be exposed to the light so you both can truly heal.
This is a two-way street. Both man and wife participate in keeping the sin in the light. Wives can ask good questions about how their husbands are doing. Here are some questions I ask:
*How did you do on campus today? Did you struggle with what the girls were wearing?
*I noticed so-n-so wearing this – did that bother you? Would you like me to talk to her about it?
*How were your dreams last night? Did they lead you to fantasize or go where your shouldn’t go?
Husbands should also be willing to open up about their struggles. Sometimes Malcolm is a little to open with me (which I will cover in the next point), but I now know that Malcolm will tell me as soon as possible when he struggles. Whether it’s lingering too long on a picture, a bad dream he had, whatever – he knows he can tell me anything. And when he asks for forgiveness, and he knows I forgive and accept him (which I will cover in point 5).
2. Encourage your husband to have accountability with other men. As much as I think healthy communication with a wife is super important, being accountable to other men is also a vital need for every husband to have. Just like we can talk with other women and they can understand us better then men can, men understand mens needs far more than we do. Encourage your husband to have accountability with other men where he can share all the details of his struggle. Men have a harder time being vulnerable than women do, so it might be harder at first to get things rolling and consistent. Overtime, when it becomes part of their routine, your husband will know that he is accepted elsewhere, he will have more success in his struggle because a need is being met.
3. Encourage and acknowledge when you notice acts of integrity. When you see your husband suddenly stare at the cement when a pretty lady walks by, or hides his face in your back when a provocative scene on TV comes on, or asks to leave a movie with too much sexual content you weren’t counting on – thank him for it!! Here are some phrases to show your man that you appreciate what he’s doing:
* “Thank you for looking away! I respect you for your integrity.”
* “I’m sorry that you had to see that. Thank you for guarding your eyes!”
* “Do you forgive me for putting you in a situation that would put you in a position to lust?”
* “Thank you for taking a stand on sexual immorality! I’m so thankful God gave me such a man of integrity!!”
* “I respect you for decision.”
4. Encourage integrity by initiating intimacy. While asking Malcolm on what encourages him in integrity, he brought this point up and was adamant on me putting it in here. He stated, “Wives are going to read this, right? And sex is a part of marriage!” I’m not a guy, so I figured I should put in what men would really want!
Ladies, when we initiate in sex, it tells our husbands that they are seen as desirable to us. Take time to replace the images they see everywhere else by creating better images with you at home. When they know that they are desirable to us, they have no need to go elsewhere!
This has been difficult to put into words (and kind of awkward) – because the point isn’t that it’s all about sex. Though sex is a legitimate need, it’s not the main point. Here’s how Malcolm explained it to me: When he buys me flowers, coffee, Burt’s Bees, etc., it makes me feel wanted, appreciated, desired, special, and loved. Instead of going to other people or things to find the need for attention that I have, I go to Malcolm. Malcolm invests in the areas that make me feel most loved and appreciated so that I am encouraged to go to the right place for my marital needs. You dressing up sexy for only your husband to see, showing him that you’re thinking about him in the area that hits closer than all other areas (sex), taking time with him in his area of need is investing in his integrity – you are encouraging him to go to you instead of anywhere else. He’s coming to you to meet his marital needs instead of the temptation of the world dragging him towards sin.
5. Encourage your man with truth and grace. Your husband is human and will not always do everything perfect. I’m often tempted (not only in sexual integrity, but any area of our marriage) to nag Malcolm to do what I think is best, or even to belittle him to show him that he did something stupid. I actually did this a lot our first year of marriage, and it actually did not help Malcolm in his struggle with lust. It goes back to the principle in point 4 – he didn’t feel respected nor encouraged to come to me for his needs. He had a harder time when he was on campus, surfing online – you name it. A lot of that changed when I realized that I was treating him worse than anyone else, and there was no way that Jesus Christ would ever talk to him the way that I was talking to him!! I was mortified and ashamed of my behavior.
There is no sin big enough to make God love us less or put our salvation on the line (Romans 8:38-89, 1 John 4:18). When Jesus died for our sins, He died for ALL sin – big or small, past, present or future (Hebrews 10:14,17)!! If we are to have the mind of Christ, then we need to forgive as Christ forgives (Ephesians 4:32).
I realized that Malcolm already knew what he had done wrong – he needed to be reminded of God’s grace and knew that he was accepted. Being able to talk through the truth of what happened calmly and respectfully, and asking clarifying questions instead of harsh accusations, has made a huge difference in how he responded after that! The more he saw that I accepted him and was dedicated to him, the less he struggled.
There is so much to learn about men, and I have obviously only scratched the surface!! I am still young and learning much, but this is an area that women don’t talk a lot about that probably should be a discussion we have more as we see our society deteriorating in moral standards such as these.
What have you found that encourages your husband in sexual integrity?
What can you do today to encourage your husband tomorrow?
For women only by Shaunti Feldhahn
Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
Covenant Eyes – online accountability service
Leah works with Master Plan Ministries at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. Other than watching college students' lives change, she enjoys getting her mind blown by God and His Word, watching sci fi, baking cupcakes, and spending time with her hunky husband.
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