you have been crushed by your husband’s behavior, and rightly so. you just found out that he was looking at porn or that he had an affair. where do you go from here? do you stay with him? punish him? dump him? all you know is that you cannot and will not compete with the images filling his mind.
and what of the emotions? these feelings are plain awful, and you know you will have to do something about them if you’re ever to begin rebuilding your life with him. but what do you do with them? you may be wishing you could just forget the mess and let these feelings go, passing them off as overreactions. so would he. but even if you could manage that, something tells you that this would be the worst thing you could possibly do. you can’t put your finger on it, but you sense that the effects of his sin range from far beyond the emotional chaos of your wounded heart. to let it go seems not only foolish but very perilous to everyone involved.
don’t ignore your intuition this time. you are right on target, and you must recognize the very real and treacherous spiritual dangers lying beneath the stormy emotions swirling on the surface.
now that I know much more about how men are wired sexually, my husband’s courageous fight to control and restrict his natural sexual tendencies for my sake and for the health of his mind, body, and soul has become the most priceless gift he’ll ever give me. since men are built by nature to look at women and porn, it takes a loving, daily commitment to keep that part of his nature pure. i can assure you that this is a gift i don’t take lightly. i cherish knowing that when he looks at me, i’m everything to him-that he’s fully satisfied with what he sees.
“come now! is that really possible?” you may ask. well, let’s look at what the bible says:
may your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. a loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? why embrace the bosom of another man’s wife? for a man’s ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all his paths. the evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. he will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly. (proverbs 5:18-23, amp)
obviously, it is possible for a man to take joy in the wife of his youth and to be always and only ravished by her beauty alone…if he exhibits the discipline to do so. what’s more, since it’s God’s Word that defines what normal behavior is for Christians, we’re also forced to conclude that the discipline of guarding the eyes and the heart is not only possible but that God considers such discipline to be normal among His sons.
we have every right to expect normal Christian behavior from our husbands, and when we don’t get it, it’s normal to feel hurt and disappointment. if your husband is not leading a disciplined life, he is robbing you, so you naturally feel crushed.
what other feelings will surge over you in the wake of his porn and the masturbation that follows? anger, for one. it’s normal to be angry at your husband’s sexual sin. you needn’t apologize for that. when i found out about the porn and then james sleeping with other women, i was furious, humiliated, and hurt and i had every right to be. i had so treasured the thought that he had no one to compare me to. i’m a normal, everyday kind of girl that wears glasses, has adult acne, hates washing my hair, and gets razor burn….i could never compare to those perfectly photoshopped bodies he was looking at. you, my friend, have every right to be angry as well.
don’t be surprised if you’re feeling like an outright fool too. what could be more normal? when you find out that your husband has been secretly looking at another woman’s bare body, you’ll feel utterly blindsided. you may even be kicking yourself for not having seen it coming, especially if your female intuition sent out early warning signals…signals that you, in your faithfulness to him, laughed off as paranoid or even out right silly. i knew deep within my soul for weeks and months that james was looking at porn and that he was sleeping with other girls, but i was not ready to truly come to terms with it. so i kept on dismissing my thoughts…my intuition. don’t be too hard on yourself. patrick middleton, a counselor to sex addicts, said, “it is not uncommon for wives to know for some time that something is wrong with their sexual relationship, but they dismiss their feelings of disconnection and shame as being crazy. for some reason, they refuse to trust their own intuition, which is plainly telling them something is wrong.”
so…what are you going to do with your feelings? if you’re to get through the pain and catch the vision for your role as a helper, you might begin with a few tough and penetrating questions.
for instance, what have you genuinely lost through the revelation of your husband’s sexual addiction? think hard about what your relationship or marriage was like before you discovered his sin. i suggest that you haven’t lost as much as you think, because the foundation you thought you had was never there in the first place.
was your relationship a mirage, like mine? that’s not to say i didn’t love james or that we didn’t have a lot of connection and fun times. our relationship and marriage was good in many ways. but something was definitely missing behind the scenes, and our marriage wasn’t what it appeared.
think back. was your marriage all you had dreamed it would be? at the time you may have thought you were living your dream, but in truth, you weren’t. your dream began to die with the birth of his sexual sin.
because of his sexual sin, your marriage was compromised. sure, you’re hurt and very angry. you’ve lost that warm, cozy image of your marriage, and that naturally wounds you deeply. but in another sense, you haven’t lost as much as you think, because your marriage wasn’t what it appeared to be. my point? there is a bright silver lining to this dark, billowing cloud. while you may not feel good about what has happened, this event could bring about one of the most hopeful times in your life. the discovery of your husband’s secret sin has revealed the true state of your marital union, and now you have the opportunity to experience something real with him. one thing james’ counselor said to us in the very beginning was this, “walking through this season is adding new depth to your relationship because of the vulnerability shared by each other that you would not have experienced had the addiction not come to light.” in a real, tangible way we started experiencing redemption, healing, trust, and true love. we had the opportunity to rebuild our foundation and decide how we wanted to walk out our marriage commitment.
it’s really helpful if you start viewing the discovery of your husband’s sexual addiction as God’s grace in your life. his sexual impropriety has been like a huge life-sucking tumor silently attacking your marriage. but now that you’ve found the cancer, there’s hope. now you can pray for healing, begin treatment, and seek a marital life restored and brimming with health.
you now have a choice. so what will you focus on – the pain or the hope? probably both at first, and i don’t blame you. i did. there were days when the pain of james’ betrayal overwhelmed me, and my anger drove hope far away. that’s okay. God understands, and He won’t condemn you for a lack of faith. he’d rather hug you and draw you near, if you’ll let Him. you’re His child, remember? and it was in those tender moments that i realized how much my Father in Heaven truly loved me and that His heart broke for james and for our marriage.
thanking God for the revelation and choosing hope for the future is the first step to your freedom. sure, your first faltering steps in this direction will be like crossing a stream by jumping from rock to slippery rock, which means it won’t be easy. but as you discipline your heart to the truth and choose to be thankful for what He has done in opening your eyes, your obedience will kick up a breeze of the Spirit’s breath in your life that’ll begin to dissipate your pain.
if you’ve walked through a similar journey or this is the battle you are currently facing, know that you’re not alone. we’re praying for you!
photo credit: forever wondering