It is so hard to know where to even begin when talking about my journey with a sex addict. It feels overwhelming to try and sort through all of the feelings I had and to somehow write something that makes sense. I don’t really remember completely what I said or did in the exact moment that my husband told me. I think I was in such shock and utter disbelief that I did not know what to do. We had only been married about three years. My first memory is later that night when I was home alone, my husband worked the overnight shift on that day. I was in our little garage apartment in West Palm Beach, Florida with our two little poodles, watching TV as I ironed. I remember the questions pouring into my mind. What does he mean he’s been looking at pornography? He’s married, why would he want to do that? Does that mean I’m not good enough? What am I supposed to do now? Why would he choose to do this? Am I not pretty enough? How am I supposed to compete with these “perfect” women? Does he think about them when we are together? Do I leave him? No!, I can’t leave, I made a commitment to God, besides, what would our families say? And here I am, ironing his clothes after what he’s just told me!! What’s wrong with me? On and on and on….the questions would flood my mind no matter how hard I tried not to think about it.
At this point in my life, I had no idea how to deal with this confession. I was not prepared in my head, heart or soul to even know where to start. We were both Christians and were faithful to our church. We participated in the choir, young adults’ class, Sunday morning and evening services, and I actually worked at the church. None of this made sense to me. In my small understanding, Christians don’t do stuff like this. He was supposed to love and cherish me ‘till death do us part! I was thinking this might need to be sooner than later.
I felt too ashamed to say anything to my friends, and I was not about to talk with family! What was I supposed to do? Who can I even talk too? How long have we lived this double life? If people find out about this, will I be the one blamed? For not being a good wife? Is that true? I have tried so hard.
I was not aware at the time, but my heart was already developing an ugly darkness I would have never thought possible. I had a relationship with Christ in that I was saved, but I did not know Him as my strength, comforter, helper, forgiver or as a friend to sinners. Right was right, wrong was wrong, and there was no room in between for struggle. Yes, my husband had hurt me and betrayed me, but because of my “beliefs” I was headed down a path that would be just as harmful and hurtful.
Please stay with me. I am in no way saying that what my husband was doing was in anyway acceptable and not hurtful. I have just learned that we are all sinners capable of doing things we would never dream possible. We are all longing to be seen and loved by someone, and that we can be and are greatly affected by our childhood experiences and traumas. I think we are sometimes too quick to get rid of someone because they have hurt us without digging deeper into their hearts. My husband is a recovering sex addict and I thank God for that, but this did not happen overnight and it did not happen without a lot of hard work, therapy, humility, forgiveness and a God that loved us both so much that He walked with us every step and over time changed both of our hearts and desires. I believe that God can do anything, no matter how hard it seems to us, but we must be willing to do the hard work and to open our hearts to what He wants. He will do His part when we do ours.
This would have been around 1987 and my husband and I had no idea the journey that would be ahead of us. Around this same time my husband was going to a sleep clinic and therapy, so I’m thinking this will be good. Hopefully he will be able to get help. In my naivety I’m thinking this should not be something that would take too long and something that could be “fixed”. Boy was I in for a rude awakening!
After a few weeks of the big announcement, life seemed to go on as usual. Of course, I struggled with being sexual with my husband and couldn’t get these thoughts and ideas out of my head. I would comply though because I wanted to be a “good wife.” You know, be submissive and all that goes with that. As I’m writing I can feel my insides cringe because of my complete lack of understanding as far as submission goes and all that I continued to allow because of thinking that was what I was supposed to do. I knew absolutely nothing about boundaries and had no idea how to put what I was feeling into words. Other than, I hate marriage and sex, and I hate you.
Week after week we would get into heated arguments about sex. For hours we would argue about submitting, how God created sex, and as the wife it was my duty to be available at any time. I despised these conversations and usually gave in just to end the argument and move on. I tried hard to keep the peace, but that never went very well. I was starting to question a lot of things in our marriage. Was this pornography problem the reason for so many of the hurtful things that had happened between us? Was that why too many times I felt cheap and used after we were together sexually? Was that why he would argue with me for hours and wear me down until I said yes? None of this made sense to me and it certainly didn’t seem like the thing the God I thought I knew would want for either of us.
And the truth is, this was not what God had in mind for us. What I was experiencing and hearing was not His idea of submission. What we were experiencing was not His idea of how we were to love one another. What we were experiencing was not God’s desire for our marriage, but somehow He still used the complete disaster of a marriage to change our hearts and our lives. Satan wanted to destroy our marriage, but God, He had a different plan!
“For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration – “plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. I will be found in you.” Jeremiah 29:11-14a