** Note from Emily – Todays’ testimony is one that many Christian women find personal shame and guilt from. It is one that doesn’t get spoken about openly often enough. I am proud of my friend for being brave enough to share this testimony. I know, however, that not all marriages that have this stumbling block in them turn out well, so please know that there is support for you- you only need to reach out. **
I wanted to share my story but didn’t want to tell my husband’s sins to everyone. His sins have been forgiven by me, so I’d like to protect his name.
A year ago I did not feel this way. A year ago I wanted him to have to confess to everyone. I wanted others to know I was suffering because of him. Honestly, a year ago I had written a list on if I should stay married because Biblically it was ok to file for a divorce and I didn’t want to live in the mess our marriage was. But now a year later, I don’t want to share his name because I don’t want anyone thinking less of him. He’s my best friend, my husband. I’ve forgiven him and we have grown so much in this year. We aren’t perfect and our marriage is still growing. God has grown us both a lot.
This testimony is no praise to me for forgiving but to God for how great HE is!
Our child was having medical issues. Our marriage was struggling. We were in a high stress job and dealing with tough decisions. I felt attacked anytime we spoke. I truly felt God was telling me something and my husband did not see the same way. My husband was in a ministry role but something seemed off with him. Our conversations would get heated and he seemed to always be SO angry. I began to not really talk to him besides small talk because anything deeper and he would shut down or get angry. I prayed and asked God if He could help me to still be respectful and submit to my husband. But I struggled with how to submit when my husband wasn’t making a firm decision on anything but just getting angry with me about any decision I made. I then discovered he was addicted to pornography. Instantly I had my answer as to what was going on. Why he was acting the way he was. Why he was treating me the way he was. But then I was stuck… now what? I was SO very angry with him.
I wanted others to know so that they would know I was struggling. But felt like I shouldn’t tell anyone as something must be wrong with me for him to be looking at porn. I had so many mixed emotions from wanting him to suffer consequences to wanting God to restore our marriage and for us to be in a wonderful redemptive marriage story(those take lots of hard work!)
Before I had found out about his porn addiction I had read the book “Boundaries”. It was God’s timing as when I found out about his addiction, I knew we needed more boundaries in place. Porn had been an issue for my husband from his teen years and though he’d tried stopping on his own he couldn’t. He needed accountability and I knew it was unhealthy for me to be his accountability partner. So I put forth some boundaries in our relationship. I told him he must set up an accountability app on all his devices. And call and ask someone to be his accountability partner. The partner must be a Christian involved in a church. This partner would then receive all his activity reports from his devices. If he did not do this we were not going to move forward in fixing our marriage.
[There are ways around accountability applications and it might have already been in place in your marriage and your husband found a way around it. I’m very sorry if this is the case. Accountability app is not the way to end a porn addiction, it is a tool to help. At first my husband and his accountability partner met together weekly. Another tool we have used to help is my husband took a STEPS: Gospel- centered recovery class by Matt Chandler and Michael Snetzer. He has also attended counseling individually and we have gone together.]
I felt like God had laid it on my heart to give him a welcoming like the prodigal son after I hadn’t seen him for a while. When I saw him I gave him a hug and made small talk but it was SO hard to show love like the Father showed the prodigal son as I felt he still was not convicted of his sin. I felt if it wasn’t for me telling him to he would not be taking steps to be free of porn. It hit me that God loves us SO much. When we are lost and in sin He still loves us! God is calling me to be loving like He is loving. And this is hard! There are times when I want to throw myself a pity party because I have to be the strong one while my husband is dealing with getting over a porn addiction and depression. I need to keep showing love. But when I keep focusing on myself, I’m not looking to Christ and asking how I can be like Him in the situation.
A year or more before this all happened I had done the study by Priscilla Shirer on prayer, “Fervent”. It changed my prayer life. In the book she discusses 10 strategies to pray over yourself and family. Strategy number 9 is: “Your hurts: Turning bitterness to forgiveness”. After reading the book I made pages of the 10 prayer strategies and wrote down scripture to pray with each strategy. I also made cards for each member of my family. Each morning I would try to pray one strategy and for one member of my family.
A verse that really spoke to me from strategy 9 was 2 Corinthians 2: 5-11
“If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.”
This was very tough for me but I knew I needed to forgive and comfort him. And reaffirm my love for him. Again I wasn’t perfect at doing this but trying to really helped me forgive.
Another thing that really helped me during this time is I studied Luke 24:13- with someone. She had asked how I thought the disciples had felt on the road Emmaus. A back story to this story is that Christ had just died. He was put into the tomb. Then the women had just discovered that the tomb was empty. When Jesus appeared to them on the road they didn’t know it was Him. Their faces were downcast. She asked what I thought the disciples might had been feeling?
Some answers I gave were confused, lost hope, defeated, wasted 3 years, doubt, unsure what to do next, sad, betrayed, shame, abandoned, lost, and lied to. She then asked how I was feeling, many of my feelings were the same. At the end of the walk, Jesus acted like he was going to continue but the disciples urged him to stay. When I’m confronted with all these feelings am I going to allow Christ to keep moving or am I going to ask him to stay with me and cling to Him? Christ then revealed himself in a familiar way to the disciples over dinner. During this time and many in my life I’m realizing all the familiar ways God is speaking to me and how God can grow me when I’m facing trials.
I never hoped my marriage would struggle with a Porn addiction or that I’d contemplate divorce. I long for a marriage that others see and want. God brings growth through Hard times if we allow Him. Because my husband and I are both willing to aim for growth in Christ our marriage is growing! It is not easy and it takes a lot of work but our marriage is SO much better. A book that I read before all of this taking place in my marriage was “When God doesn’t fix it” by Laura Story. She also wrote the song Blessings. This book and the song helped me a lot to focus on growing in my trials and not focus as much on my trials.
*If your spouse has/had a porn addiction or an affair. I highly recommend “Hope after Betrayal: Healing When Sexual Addiction Invades your Marriage” by Meg Wilson.