Outside the Crash Zone

by Marsha Fisher on July 16, 2014


breaking waveOur family spent a day at the beach recently.  Even though we only live two hours away from the coast, we don’t get down there very often and my boys are still getting use to playing in the ocean.

My nine year old was comfortable going out about waist deep in the surf, which happened to be right where the waves were breaking.   He was getting tossed around pretty good as wave after wave crashed around him.   I tried several times to convince him to come further out in the water where I was swimming.  Even though the water was a little deeper, it was much smoother because I was well past where the waves were breaking.

As much as he wanted to come, my oldest couldn’t force himself to head out for deeper water.  First of all, it meant that he had to walk towards the swelling waves in order to get past them.  If that weren’t frightening enough, he also had to trust me that he could still touch the bottom if he came out to where I was swimming.  He weighed the risks and decided to stay put.   I even offered to come pick him up and carry him to the deeper water.  No go.

So instead of enjoying smoother water and riding on top of the waves, my boy stayed where he was comfortable and got battered left and right as waves tossed him around.  It didn’t take long for him to get exhausted, not to mention water-logged.

There have been times in my life where the waves were crashing all around me.  The path to calmer waters was in Christ himself (obeying His Word and trusting His ways were better than my ways.) Instead, I chose to stay in the crash zone.

In hindsight, I can clearly see that I was too afraid to let go of control in order to follow Jesus into deeper but calmer water.  Because of that, I needlessly got tossed around by fear and circumstances to the point of exhaustion.  Looking back, what a waste of energy trying to live life in my own strength.

As our marriage approaches the two year point of recovery, I realize that Jeff and I are no longer living in the crash zone.  We spent the first 11 years of our marriage tossed around by the strongholds in our lives.  It has only been in the last year that we have trusted Christ to lead us into more peaceful water.

It wasn’t an easy transition.  We had to choose living in truth over living a comfortable lie.  We had to honestly deal with difficult issues that we preferred to not even acknowledge.  We had to let go of control, including letting go of unhealthy patterns of communication and intimacy. We had to be willing to move out of our comfort zone towards where Christ wanted to take us.

I feel our marriage is much deeper now and certainly more peaceful.  Even so, there are times when we are still tempted to revert back to our hold habits and ways. However, we have made a commitment to one another to keep our eyes on Christ, who is always leading us to deeper and more peaceful water.


She offers help to spouses of sexual strugglers through phone coaching and online spouses’ support groups.

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On a episode of the Pure Sex Radio Podcast called “Pressing Past Comfort”, the hosts were talking about different levels of relationships guys go through in their recovery.  They mentioned the importance of having healthy regular relationships with people who are not necessarily in recovery.

The sexual addict has to learn to move away from those relationships that destroy purity, and embrace those that are healthy.

Before our recovery begins, some of us are very social.  But we’re hanging around people who encourage us to act out sexually. We go to places where people like us are.  We pursue relationship with sexual people.  We develop routines and rituals around hooking up with people who are sexual addicts.  Sexual relationships become the outlet for meeting all of our needs.   

If we are homosexual, we surround ourselves with a whole community that things like us.

Addicts who are deep in their acting out begin to shut the people out of our lives that might try to intervene in our lives or correct us.  We become great at isolating ourselves, even if that means our own spouse, church or family.  We become experts at putting on a false persona, never letting anyone get close, and keeping ourselves at a distance.

Many sex addicts are not very sociable.  They are used to being lonely, they have a low self-image and a low self-esteem.  They become their own best friend and very resourceful at meeting their own needs.  Many times as they have internalized their lives they turn to fantasy and masturbation.  Sex becomes a way of medicating the pain and making us feel important.

We too shut off others from our lives.  We withdraw inward and into the computer.  We maintain an anonymity and sometimes act out in very anonymous ways like phone sex, chat rooms, voyeurism, and with prostitutes.

Most of the guys I know from group (including myself) are not the social types, but more isolated in their addictive relationships.

Whether you are a social person or an isolated person, you have to move toward healthy relationships.  People who come to recovery group start finding some important things:

  1. People who have been through the same things.
  2. People who are working on their junk.
  3. People who care about you and your junk.
  4. People who are learning to talk about their junk and struggles.
  5. People who are learning to lean on each other in their struggles.

One of the big lessons we have to learn from our recovery process is that we can’t do recovery on our own.  We need God.  We need one another.  We need skilled hands.  We need mentors.  We need a church family.  We need a strong support structure in our lives.

Developing recovery relationships is a major step to getting healthy in our relationships.  Those who are attending group and still trying to do it in an isolated way are not going to go very far.

At some point in recovery, the people who are maturing start realizing:

It’s not all about recovery.  My life does not always have to be centered around recovery.

The next phase of developing healthy relationships is to find healthy friends outside of support group.  We do not have to exclusively hang around our recovery friends.  We can step into non-recovery relationships and be healthy.  We need to learn to network with others who have different struggles and life stories.

The idea is not to abandon our recovery relationships, but to expand our range of relationships to others.

Q:  Have you totally broken away from your “acting out” relationships or your “isolation” relationships?

Q:  Are you actively trying to connect with others who understand recovery?

Q:  Are you looking for other relationships outside of your recovery circle?

Every entertainment program and magazine touts the latest Hollywood dream couple.  Reality programs always seem to include a former Playboy bunny, guaranteeing high ratings.  Yet these same programs months later report that these dream couples are cheating on each other.

What gives?  Don’t these people understand they are together with the most beautiful people on the planet?  Why on earth do they cheat on each other?

You may have thought the same thing:  “If I had a wife like that, I would never cheat! “ or “If I had that girl, my sexual desires would be met all the time and I’d be just fine.”

We probably have looked at our spouse with that type of comparison.  Here are some thoughts about why beautiful people still cheat on each other:barbie

  1. They have deep wounds from their past and backgrounds that they need healing from
  2. The have deep, unmet needs inside
  3. They are two imperfect people in relationship with each other
  4. They are selfish at their core.
  5. They relationship is built more on sex and lust than it is relationship and true intimacy
  6. Multiple marriages make failure easier
  7. They are not content, even when we get the prize of the trophy wife or hunky husband
  8. They have busy, independent lives that keep them from each other, and expose them to dangerous situations

Guys are especially bad.  They tend to think that if they just had a gorgeous, nymphomaniac wife, their life would be fine and they wouldn’t be tempted anymore.  But marriage is not about sex with the pretty girl.  It’s about growing deep in relationship.  It’s about serving one another.  It’s about struggling together with each other’s junk.

Don’t fall victim to the lie that the pretty girl is the answer.

Go to prayer and ask God to help you learn to “Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” (Proverbs 5:18) or @porntopurity on Twitter

On (yesterday’s blog) we shared 6 tips that will help you tell your spouse about your sexual addiction. Today we want  to share 5 more tips and offer some encouragement and prayer support.



7.  BE PREPARED FOR SOME LASH OUT – Some spouses have a strong to the news. That is why it might be good to share the news in a counselor’s office or have a close, trusted friend close. Talk to your counselor first about what would be the best strategy.




8.  NO MARRIAGE IS HOPELESS – If both spouses stay committed to the recovery process and allow God to be a part of the recovery, we don’t believe any marriage is hopeless. We have seen and read about many marriages recovering and coming out stronger.

The reality is that every marriage has problems. Every person in a marriage has problems. But most marriages don’t deal with the problems in healthy ways. Sometimes getting healthy means a lot of work, counseling time, and pain. But if you are committed to your marriage, you need to exhaust yourself in your efforts to work on it. You need to cry out to God for His strong power and help. You can do it.


subway_line9.  GIVE YOUR SPOUSE SOME SPACE – Spouses need space when they have heard shocking news. Asking your spouse if he/she needs some space is helpful? Asking, “How can I help you right now?” might be good also. But don’t expect a resolution to happen in a night, a week, or a month.



to-tell-the-truth10. ANSWER QUESTIONS TRUTHFULLY – We have already encouraged you to Be Committed to the Truth. Answer the questions you are asked. Different spouses want to know different things. Some want to know the details. Others don’t. You need to be truthful with your spouse and your spouse deserves whatever answers will help them process and work through this.


water-hands11.  BE PREPARED TO LEAD YOUR FAMILY INTO THE RECOVERY PROCESS – Hopefully, you’ve already begun your recovery process. You being serious about your recovery will speak volumes. It is not your spouse’s job to chart the recovery process, it’s yours. So have a plan in place. Get serious help.

We have found that addicts (including Jeff) are worse off than they think. They have been deceived to think that they are really OK. A professional counselor and a support group will provide some objective feedback for you to assess where you are.

Focus hard on recovery. Spend the money, it’s worth it! Spend the time, it’s worth it!


This all looks so hard.  You might be saying, “Why even bother sharing?”

Not sharing seems to be the easy road. It seems to be the painless way. It may even seem better to just keep lying. But these are all LIES!

CommitmentLying, deceiving, keeping secrets, leading a double life – these are all incredibly destructive to marriage. You will not be able to find intimacy. You will not be able to hear from God. And we believe that your secrets will eventually come out. Healthy sexuality and purity can not be achieved either when we are lying to ourselves and others.


If you are thinking about sharing with your spouse or preparing for it, let us know so we can be praying for you. Our email is private. We will not share your information or your story. And many people have emailed us to share their stories and the difficult circumstances they are going through.

We hope we can be a safe place for you and an encouragement. And we will pray for you.


As we have said many times, Jeff and Marsha are not licensed counselors. These are our thoughts and things we are learning from others on this matter. We recommend you discuss this topic with a professional counselor or minister.



Telling your spouse about your sexual addiction is a challenging thing. We want to share some helpful tips for those of you who are planning to talk to your spouses.

NOTE – As we have said many times, Jeff and Marsha are not licensed counselors. These are our thoughts and things we are learning from others on this matter. We recommend you discuss this topic with a professional counselor or minister.


1.  TALK TO SOMEONE SAFE FIRST – You need practice sharing your story, so find someone safe. Someone objective that you can trust and who can keep your confidence. Every situation is different and must be handled wisely. You need the skilled hands of a counselor or minister helping you with this. A good counselor will be able to help you with how to share and how to prepare for your spouse’s response. Your safe person can help you with timing. Your safe person can also be in prayer as you share, and may even want to be there with you when you share.


2.  COMMIT TO VALUING THE TRUTH – Strong marriages are built on truth and trust. True intimacy in a marriage is knowing each other deeply, and being able to share problems. You must believe that being truthful is better than lying. It is only when we are truthful that we can be real and authentic and intimate.


confront3.  DON’T BE DEFENSIVE – Your focus is on sharing your stuff. If you spouse reacts in anger, you have to take it. The worst thing you can do is try and defend your addiction. Admit the problems you have and what you have done and talk about it.


4.  DON’T BLAME YOUR SPOUSE – OK, this is actually the worst thing you can do. Your focus is on sharing your problems. There are a lot of things that have contributed to you becoming addicted (maybe even your spouse). But now is not the time to point fingers, except at yourself.


5.  COME HUMBLE, REPENTANT, SORROWFUL – This is the best attitude. You probably already feel a tremendous amount of guilt and shame. Just surrender. Be humble. Submit to the mercy of your spouse.


6.  DON’T EXPECT INSTANT SUPPORT AND FORGIVENESS – Your spouse will need some time to process this news. Your support will probably have to come from the safe people you have already shared the truth with.


We will share 5 more helpful tips tomorrow.

Sharing the truth is always hard. It means admitting you have a problem and have failed. It is a risk, and it messes your spouse up.

But we believe that marriages should be built around truth. You cannot achieve intimacy in your marriage if you are holding onto things in the dark.

It’s worth it to share!

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