In Proverbs 27:17 we read “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” I believe this refers to the value of support and accountability. In my work I with men struggling with pornography, I usually recommend they find accountability partners. This is needed to help achieve and maintain healthy sobriety. Many ask me who can be a suitable accountability partner.
In this article I discuss what makes a good accountability partner. To do this, I first need to mention who should not be accountability partners. First, I don’t recommend that wives be accountability partners. Many wives are already traumatized by their husband’s pornography use. Being an accountability partner can intensify their trauma. Many have noted that being an accountability partner makes them feel like a “policeman.” Wives have their own healing to address. Being an accountability partner adds an additional stress they don’t need.
While many wives don’t want to be accountability partners, they do want to know that their husbands are maintaining good sobriety. To meet this need, I recommend a wife know her husband’s accountability partner. He can then give her regular reports on how her husband is doing. If there are any problems he will notify her immediately.
I also don’t recommend therapists, life coaches, or clergy be accountability partners. While a man is accountable to these people, they each have a specific role to play in a man’s recovery program. Taking on the additional role of accountability partner can be too taxing for these people. They need to adhere only to their intended roles.
I believe the best accountability partner is another man in recovery. He is someone who understands the struggles of addiction and resisting pornography. He is a fellow traveler on the road to recovery. They are usually found in recovery/support groups. Men who are accountability partners agree to support each another in recovery and be accountable to one another for sobriety. A man can have more than one accountability partner; however, I recommend no more than three. Those who have more than one accountability partner have an accountability team.
Accountability partners agree to contact each other daily to discuss how they are doing in their recovery. This is usually done by phone. They agree on a specific time each day for their check-in phone call. Those who have more than one accountability partner usually set up a system where every day each man makes a phone call and receives a phone call. While today many people prefer to communicate via text; I recommend phone calls. Nothing can replace the sound of another person’s voice. It helps a man feel more supported in recovery as well as more accountable. While these phone calls may only last 10 minutes, they are crucial for healthy sobriety. In addition to daily phone calls, I recommend getting together in person once a week for coffee. Again, it’s the personal contact that helps ensure greater success in recovery.
Check-in phone calls are to be made every day regardless of how one feels. During the calls man talk not only about struggles with sobriety, but also about any other stresses or struggles in their lives. For example, they can talk about struggles with their career, marriage, children, health, finances, etc. They can also share victories in recovery, such as times when they could have easily fallen into viewing pornography or masturbation, but were able to avoid it. Celebrating victories can encourage other accountability partners and provide helpful tips on remaining sober.
Having a successful accountability partnership or team takes initiative and a plan. No one is going to assign you any accountability partners. You need to seek them out. You can usually find them at a recovery/support group meeting, such as Sexaholics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, or Exodus 90. When you find someone who is suitable, you need personally to ask him to be your accountability partner. Then you need to work with him to create a plan for contacting each other daily. Once you’ve developed the plan, you need to stick with it every day!
While having accountability partners may seem like a lot of work, men in recovery often come to appreciate them. Many develop life-long intimate friendships. Imagine how wonderful it is to have a brother you can truly share you struggles with, who understands them, and is willing to support and challenge you to overcome them! In addition to success in recovery, I believe this can contribute to greater success in life. I believe this is the way God wants us to live.