Two years ago, we launched something called the Live Free Community App to help men struggling with sex, porn, and lust find the support and resources they need to begin their journey to freedom.
Almost one year ago, we also launched the Live Free Wives Community to help spouses find healing from sexual betrayal and assist them through the difficult process of walking out the recovery journey with their husbands.
I’ll tell you this because being a part of launching those communities and seeing the impact they have made has been such a tremendous honor. And beyond that, seeing the growth that has occurred with both of them over such a short period of time has been mind-blowing and a real confirmation that what we are trying to do offers huge value to those who need it most.
However, truth be told, I can’t tell you every story or every journey that has come out of Live Free or Live Free Wives has ended well. Don’t get me wrong, those cases are more the exceptions and not the rule, but it happens. And to be honest, in most cases, I believe it’s usually because those individuals have come into their recovery journeys with some flawed preconceptions.
The reason I am bringing this up is that this month we are going to be focusing on how one can help a friend, spouse, child, or accountability partner with their addiction or unwanted sexual behaviors.
Let’s be real, statistics show that most people know someone who’s struggling in the areas of sex and porn. And unless you are some sort of cold-hearted individual, hopefully you want to help those folks, but realistically you may not know the best way to go about doing that.
So we want to walk you through some of those concerns this month, so you can better understand the situation you and your relatives/friends face while helping you both avoid some common misconceptions floating around out there about recovery and accountability.
Today I want to offer three 3 Key Principles you need to understand and digest before jumping into the often tumultuous waters of recovery.
1) They must want to change.
This one is basic and extremely critical. Too often I see people or spouses trying to forcefully insert themselves into the wreckage of someone’s poor sexual choices in a well-intended effort to help them. But these attempts to force recovery inevitably fail.
Usually you see this type of thing play out in one of two ways. Either they…
A) try to take on too much and carry the load for the other person, hoping that eventually that individual will wake up and start doing the work themselves.
B) try to force the issue through threats and coercion. Basically an “either you do this or I’ll do that” type scenario.
But what you need to understand is that if someone doesn’t want to change, they won’t. They may put in a half-hearted effort for a short time to get you off their back, but it won’t be anything sustainable.
You know why people often need to hit rock bottom or face losing their families before they get serious?
Not because of the threat of loss, but because what they risk losing or have lost is so important to them that they sincerely want to change, so they can hold on or recoup what they had.
Yes, help those who need help. But make sure you have a real honest conversation with them to ensure they are in it to win it, or you will most likely face a lot of frustration.
2) You can’t KEEP them accountable.
Accountability is one of those funny things that is often so misunderstood it can take on an almost toxic quality.
Let me be clear, accountability is a choice.
It is a relationship more than anything, where one person chooses to be fully known for their life choices, good or bad, to someone else (or a group of people) and brings themselves to the table every time rather than being dragged there.
This is why many accountability arrangements break down over time and why accountability software is only helpful if there is a real commitment from the person seeking to be held accountable.
You can’t ever KEEP someone accountable. They are the only ones that can do that. You can agree to HOLD them accountable, but they ultimately need to carry the responsibility for that relationship. And if they are not toeing the line, inevitably they will shut you out or just lie to shut you up.
3) You don’t need to have all the answers.
I think it’s just part of human nature, but many of us (myself included) like to play the hero whenever possible. This doesn’t discredit one’s sincere desire to help someone, but when the opportunity presents itself, it can feel very deflating when we aren’t able to swoop in with our big red capes and save the day.
Honestly, I see this type of thinking with churches many times in that they sometimes avoid difficult conversations surrounding porn and sex because they lack the resources and knowledge to offer real solutions to those who need help. Consequently, because they don’t want to look lame or inefficient, or worse yet, risk sending their members into the arms of another church or ministry, they find contentment in holding the line lacking the ability to offer anything comprehensive as a solution to the problem.
Believe it or not, people wanting assistance in these areas are looking for a helping hand more than an answer. Yes, they want solutions, but your empathy and willingness to jump into their mess means more than your knowledge or “proven” process.
There are quality resources out there.
There are trained counselors and therapists in your area.
You don’t need to have all the answers, just a willingness to get your hands dirty and help in a way that’s best suited to your abilities. People need people more than programs and products. Be that person for the one who needs you most right now.