The age-old question for a man struggling with sexual misbehavior is "How does he involve his significant other?" We know that transparency is important, but how much is too much? Is there such a thing or should the woman know everything? Based on experience, there are actually some very clear answers on the matter.
For starters, you should know that I have mixed feelings about this whole "accountability partner" thing. Many of the accountability systems that exist today are deeply flawed. When I was addicted, I had an accountability partner at one point. He was a friend who was also struggling. We signed up for a accountability software that tracked our web viewing and would compile a report of any illicit websites we viewed, and send them to the other. I'm sure you're familiar with these kinds of arrangements.
The problem is that the URLs in the report were hyperlinked, so these reports of my friend's slips suddenly became catalysts for my own slips as I began to click around.
I had another accountability arrangement where I would reach out when I was tempted or after a slip. This was an exciting arrangement at first – it was nice to have someone there and the support was valuable at first. But it lost steam over time...
Ultimately, I was doing nothing to solve the roots of the issue. These accountability arrangements were just another dance that failed to move the needle forward.
Now let me be clear – I do believe there is such a thing as healthy accountability and I deeply believe in the power of transparency in a committed relationship. So if you are wondering if your partner should be your accountability partner, here are a few thoughts...
1) Redefine Accountability – True accountability is preventative in nature. It holds the person responsible for their thoughts, emotions, perceptions and beliefs. If you can be accountable in these areas, you are much less likely to find yourself in those desperate moments where you feel tempted and need an SOS.
2) Ask Your Partner How Much They Want To Be Involved – It is very common when partners first find out that they want to know EVERYTHING. This is often why a significant other would become an accountability partner in the first place. But truly what partners want more than anything is safety. The logic is that if I know everything, then there is a less likely chance of me being hurt because there is no other information that will shock me/catch me off guard/cause me pain. The logic makes sense, but practically this almost always fails. Which leads me to...
3) Don't Let Your Significant Other Be Your Accountability Partner – At DeepClean, we help guys find "spotters" in their lives...men who are able to give them a bit of extra support and provide preventative accountability. We strongly discourage assigning your significant other to this role. Having someone apart from the relationship that you can share with openly, confidently, and with little to no ramification regardless of what you share, is supremely valuable in the recovery process.
4) Be TRULY Transparent With Your SO – Your significant other should not just hear about your slips and struggles. Share your victories and successes with them as well! If all they hear is the bad news, you are going to quickly erode the trust in your relationship. Let them in on the small wins and discoveries you're making – it will paint a much more accurate picture of your journey.
5) Confess Temptations, Not Mistakes – The sooner you get ahead of the curve, the better. If you decide to go against my advice and assign your SO as your accountability partner, then confess temptations not mistakes. It'll be much more effective. PS – you should do this if your SO is not your accountability partner also :)
Cheering you on,
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