Catholics Do What?,  feast days,  guest post,  Marriage,  Pornography,  Sex,  sin

How Real Men Beat Lust {guest post}

Today I’m sneaking in my second-ever guest post of the masculine persuasion – John, the husband half of the writing duo over at The Whitford Life. I’ve been reading this married couple’s blog for a couple weeks now, and when I stumbled upon this post I knew I wanted to invite them to share it here. Suzi and John have one little lady who keeps them running and another on the way. Hope you enjoy getting to know the man of their house.

How-Real-Men-Beat-Lust-www.thewhitfordlife.com-with-text

“You can look, just don’t touch!”

I hear it all the time. A seemingly innocent joke as she catches her husband’s eyes wandering a little too long.

“It was just a harmless peek…” he will defensively retort. “I’m a warm-blooded American man! You know you’re the only one for me.”

Well gentlemen, I’m here to tell you that peek is not harmless, and lust weakens yourself and your relationships. Put lust out of your life; it’s time to live intentionally.

Before we get into it, this is not a holier-than-though speech. I struggle with this every day of my life. I know my weaknesses, but also know what I have to fight for. And it is so worth it.

Lust Breaks You Down

Lustful thoughts slowly break a man down.  Every time I slip, whether in thought, word, or deed, I can feel the guilt. I just broke the promise I made in front of God, my wife, my family, and my friends.

Lust is an addiction. Pornography is as addictive as alcoholism and gambling, and has its own rehabilitation programs to overcome. These addictions take away your freedom. You become a slave to your impulses.

And as with all addictions, the more you indulge in lustful behavior, the more you need to satisfy your ever-growing urges. We reduce ourselves to base animals, simply following instinctive behaviors and disregarding the willpower and sense of right and wrong that were given to us by God.

If we accept the weakness of our lustful behaviors, we begin down the slippery slope. Additional vices are not far behind. And as our self-control slides further from reach, so too does our effectiveness as leaders.

Lust Breaks Down your Wife

Every time we fall, we chip away at the sense of self-worth of our most precious gift, our wives. When she sees our eyes wander, she begins to doubt herself. She wonders if she is meeting our expectations, if she is pretty enough, or if she has done something to lose our interest.

You are called to lift up your wife, not break her down.

But lust isn’t confined to impure thoughts of other women. Lust can be equally damaging when we lust after our own wives. It becomes so easy to objectify your wife, and skew the lines of love and lust in marriage. We forget that sex is intended to deepen the bond of marriage, not just provide physical pleasures.

Lust Breaks Down your Family

We are called to be leaders in our family, the foundation upon which it stands firm. It is our job to protect the souls of all those in our care.

Your daughters will seek out your behaviors in their boyfriends. Your sons will mimic your every move, whether in vanity, humility, charity, or greed. Act accordingly.

If you create self-doubt in your wife, your children will see it. They may not fully comprehend what is going on, but that self-doubt will be transferred to them. They may think it is their fault. You may come from a broken family, a broken past, but we all have the decision to make of what legacy we will pass on.

So what are you going to do about it?

Build Yourself Up

To be strong in virtue, it helps to be strong in body. Eat right. Get enough sleep. Go for a run. Treat your body like the temple it is. The weight of the devil on your soul and a weak body and mind, is a recipe for disaster.

And when you do fail, go to confession. Just as the addiction is enslaving, reconciliation is liberating. Be a man, take courage, and face your failures.

Build Others Up

If you won’t keep yourself accountable, find someone who will. I meet every month with a group of young fathers. Discuss your struggles, pray for each other, sharpen the saw. In helping others, you will learn volumes about yourself.

You are not alone. But are you man enough to ask for help?

Build your Wife Up

Remember your dating days, the effort you put in to every planned date, every perfectly timed compliment.

How has it gone since marriage? Since children?

For a while, my date nights became more like status reports: Listing out future chores, reviewing the upcoming calendar, discussing our struggles at work.

I wouldn’t even notice the dress she was wearing…

Once I realized how much I was neglecting my wife, I committed to:

  1. Regularly tell her how beautiful she is
  2. Splurge on occasion to remind her she is special
  3. Ask about her day, every day
  4. Focus on couples-based ministries together
  5. Learn and practice her love language

Remember, it’s a journey

Your lustful habits did not develop overnight. They will not be gone tomorrow. But I urge you to embark on the journey to reclaim dominion over your instincts, and to become the man that He has called you to be.

Love your wife, love your God, and you will succeed.

22 Comments

    • John

      Dave, thanks for the comment and reading the article. Although small acts like maintaining health and external signs of affection seem trivial, they can help keep complacency at bay, which further the vices of many men. I also find reconciliation, strong fraternity with other men working through similar vices, and a strong focus on couples ministries to assist in the effort.

      Perhaps my title was misleading – I don’t think anyone is going to “solve” lust in 800 words – I was merely providing actionable tips to help men fight the good fight to be the best fathers, husbands, and catholics they can be.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • Haley

      I think more the blog is directing men to put their wives first rather than their own wants or desires. Engage in time and activities with your spouse to build up your relationship and keep a strong foundation.

    • Suzi Whitford

      My hubby’s comment is not going through and he’s off to work now, so I’ll post it. 🙂

      John: “Dave, thanks for the comment and reading the article. Although small acts like maintaining health and external signs of affection seem trivial, they can help keep complacency at bay, which further the vices of many men.
      I also find reconciliation, strong fraternity with other men working through similar vices, and a strong focus on couples ministries to assist in the effort.
      Perhaps my title was misleading – I don’t think anyone is going to “solve” lust in 800 words – I was merely providing actionable tips to help men fight the good fight to be the best fathers, husbands, and Catholics they can be.
      Thanks for the comment!”

    • Norm Chouinard

      Dave, One more thing. You never beat lust permanently. Come up with a good morning prayer and start each day with it. That helps me.

  • David

    Dave,

    He also mentioned confession, having an accountable partner, participating in small groups, asking for help, praying for others, etc.

    All of these ideas are great. Personally, what has helped me the most is adoration, which has strengthened my relationship with God like nothing else has.

    I would add adoration, Mass, praying the rosary, and, for those that may find it helpful, some other type of penance.

    In summary, this is not something you do on your own. You do it with the grace of God. The more you allow Him into your life, the purer and holier you will be.

    • John

      David,

      Those are all excellent additions to the toolbox in this fight. As a new convert to catholicism, I have still not explored adoration as much as I would have liked, but I will definitely be making time for it after reading your comment. Thanks!

      • Kenneth

        I’ve found adoration to be phenomenally effective for combating lust and a desire to view pornography. I’m paraphrasing, but JPII said to go to adoration and look upon the flesh of God instead of looking at the flesh of man. That’s been terribly moving for me…

  • Kathryn

    Clearly you didn’t read that piece, Dave. He talks about the journey, and all the steps he takes along the way to stay focused. Maybe you need to re-read that last paragraph. Bravo, John. A well written reflection!

  • Devin Rose

    Suzi and Jenny, thanks for sharing this post. Certainly peeks are not harmless, nor is lust, as you point out.

    For those men wanting even more concrete actions they can take to win freedom from pornography and lust, I recently created a video course to help them do just that: http://catholicmenconquerporn.com/courses/overcome-porn-addiction

    I struggled with this vice for many, many years, and know so many men who have. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to be able to tell my wife that I do not lust after women, that I do not look at pornography. Catholic men, you can do it by God’s grace.

    Thanks again Suzi!

    • John

      Devon, your course sounds like it will be able to help thousands of men willing to regain dominion over their senses. I’ll also recommend the Victory app:
      https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/victory-lt/id993500076?mt=8
      It was built intended for teenagers, but it is still a helpful way to log your journey. My small group of fathers are all connected and are able to pray and support each other when one calls out for help against temptation.

  • Bricklin Holmes

    We all fail, all the time. This includes married men. We just have to make a new start every day and try to be better, with the understanding that we will never be perfect.

    • John

      Great point Bricklin. I have listened to many incredible priests and theologians who put it wonderfully: “We are called to become saints, to be perfected in charity, to grow in holiness. Not only are we called to that, it is now made possible through Jesus Christ.” Because Jesus became man, He was tempted in the same way we are every day. By Him rejecting sin, it creates a template for us to live our lives. It also proves that it IS POSSIBLE….. but incredibly hard.

  • John

    The only time I experience freedom from lust and the compulsion of pornography is through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin and St. Catherine of Siena, patroness of those facing sexual temptation.

  • Will

    Wow! Im blessed having read this early in the morning after Misa De Gallo (Dawn Mass), this is my very very very struggle. Because of technology and access to internet, that struggle on Pornography always killing me softly, especially after doing what most men do while looking on porn materials (sorry, can’t type that lustful word). Now, Im a leader that handles a group of young professionals to journey with God, I give speeches as well and work with Organization that basically proclaims the Good News of our Salvation through Jesus. But everytime I hook up on that immoral acts, I feel that kind of guilt that forcely staining my entire humanity. I read Scriptures and do honor my body as Gemple of the Holy Spirit. I need your prayers, sites suggestions, etc to conquer the devil inside of my life. Im 30, Single and don’t have any girlfriend since birth. God bless from Philippined.

  • Michelle

    I tried three times to comment on John’s website but for some reason, it’s not going through so I’ll post it here in the hopes that he sees it. 🙂

    I wanted to say that I love this post. I would say that these tips are on point and very helpful and I hope that men read this because it’s such an important topic, and very difficult to discuss openly.
    I would also add that women are not exempt from this temptation! Lust can dominate our hearts too. I’ve also found help through Adoration, saying the rosary, daily mass, etc. I haven’t had enough guts to write specifically about my personal struggles with it on my own little blog, but reading yours, I’m kind of inspired to.
    Thank you again for sharing!

    • John

      Thank you for the kind words Michelle! I had to step away from the keyboard several times while writing this post… definitely not the easiest subject. Whether you publish your own story or simply write it for yourself, I definitely encourage you to do so. You learn so much when you open yourself up to your own weaknesses. Saying it in confession is one thing, but reading it on paper is another 🙂

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