“Vulnerability is not about winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up even when you can’t control the outcome.” Brené Brown
My heart ached. Some days I wondered if it was worth getting out of bed. I had a ton of shame. I felt so alone. It seemed as if I had been dumped out in the middle of nowhere and left to survive on my own. I was afraid of what a new day might bring. How did I get here? Who could I talk with? Is porn really betrayal? Why do I feel so yucky? Is this my fault? Am I crazy? What do I do?
These are just a few of the things I wrestled with for many years in my marriage. Never knowing what would suddenly set off the rage in my husband. Never knowing when he would confess his last use of porn. In the beginning it was more like a confession to make him feel better. He was relieved and “set free,” I was devastated. It felt as though a tornado had ripped through my heart and soul leaving everything flattened and in shambles. He had no clue the impact of his confession. I never told him of my fear, pain, loneliness or shame. I assumed he should know.
I learned early on that my husband was not trustworthy. Not because I knew of his porn problem, but because of the “little white lies” he would tell. I would hear him tell lies to others and I knew he was probably doing the same with me. Then I would eventually learn the truth and knew he was not being honest. Being raised to be honest and dependable, I am amazed of how tolerant I became of half-truths. I knew our marriage would never be safe as long as “a version of truth” was allowed.
Proverbs 12:19 says, “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” It did not take long for me to know I could not put stock in what I was told any longer than it took for the words to come out of his mouth. If I was told a time my husband would be home, I could almost always add at least thirty minutes to an hour to that time. If my husband said he would do something for me, it could be weeks, months, years or never. Too many times I learned that whatever was said was usually not followed through on or not the whole truth. I learned not to believe or trust my husband. My trust in him had been broken by the words he spoke and the actions he did. It was crazy making, and I thought I was the crazy one. He could spin a web of lies as skilled as a spider. Sadly, because I so wanted to be able to trust my husband, I would get caught in the web every time.
When a husband is being unfaithful to his wife, there will be lies. It will cause you to feel like you are losing your mind, but it’s not true. That’s part of the whole secret life. As difficult as it is, we as wives, have to separate ourselves from our husbands enough to see the truth from the lie. We must take a step back and look at what’s being said with what we know to be true. Even if we are not aware of everything, when we start believing that something must be wrong with us, we must listen to our gut and the questioning voice we hear. Part of the betraying partners game is to keep us off balance and cause us to think it must be me. As long as we are trapped in this cycle it is almost impossible to see the truth for what it is and set boundaries to keep us safe.
How do we separate the truth from a lie? I think first and foremost we have to be in God’s word and listening to what God says. Psalm 86:11a, “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth….” When we are seeking God, He will show us the truth. I seriously learned to “trust my gut.” I may not have been able to make sense of everything in the moment, but I would always have a sick feeling in my gut. When I began paying attention to my gut feeling, I was able to discern better. I believe God has given us this gift as wives as an alarm system, if you will. Often times when that alarm goes off inside of us, there is a reason. I eventually realized, although I really did not want to know because I knew it would cause tremendous hurt, not paying attention to the warning and burying my head in the sand helped no one. Especially me. Even without the facts, I could spin a story in my head creating fear and pain as bad or worse than reality. Can anyone else relate?
It takes courage to see the truth. I have to be honest ….. I got tired of trying to have courage just to be devastated again. Denial “feels” so much better, yet leaves me empty, fearful, angry, and alone. Through years of counseling, reading, listening to therapy radio and hearing the powerful Word of God preached each week, I began to see I needed to show up for my own life knowing the only one I could control was me. I started to see that God wanted so much more for my life. He was not okay with the abuse and betrayal that was going on. Eventually, I realized I had a voice and what I had to say needed to be heard. It hit me so hard one day that Satan was desperately trying to destroy me, my husband, and our marriage. It was the last straw. I’d had enough! Enough of the betrayal, lies, abuse and misogyny. Either God was who He said He was, or He was not. I refused to believe the lies of Satan anymore.
This was the day things started to change drastically in my heart. Through an entire summer of reading the Bible and asking God to work in my heart and reveal the sins in my own life (Psalm 139:23-24), my journey with Christ became more real and alive than it had ever been. I looked forward to waking in the morning to have my time with God at the kitchen table before anyone was awake. During this time God did an incredible work in my heart. Revealing my sin and giving me fresh eyes to see my husband. I began to have compassion for my husband and the abuses he endured as a child. I started to see him, not as my enemy, but as my fellow sojourner on the path to Christ. I realized we all have a story and God loves to redeem those stories no matter how painful. My story started way before I ever met my husband and his did as well. He could not be my “Knight in Shining Armor” and I could not be his “Wonder Woman.”
This sounds great now, but truly believing and living in the truth of Christ was not as easy as it sounds. I fought through battles in my own heart. I had to deal with a lot of anger, bitterness, the inability to say ‘no’, learning boundaries and how to put them in place and truly loving someone that sometimes could be hard to be around. It was incredibly difficult for me to work with a spouse that was literally the complete opposite of who I was. It still is at times. The Lord has taught me on many levels that relationships and people are more important than everything being perfect and in order. What others feel is just as important as what I feel. Christ died for all sinners and that includes me. I am to love others as I love myself, no matter the color of their skin, their financial bracket, their sexual preference or how much I may not understand them. My closest neighbor is my husband, and if I am not willing to love him then I’m not sure if it matters how much I love others. Loving my husband does not mean allowing him to do and live any way that pleases him, but encouraging him to be the man God wants him to be by asking for what I need, saying no when necessary and praying for him daily. There is no guarantee your husband will change, but I can guarantee you will if your heart is truly open before the Lord.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalm 139:23-24