Porn: The Shadow Over Our Marriage

I've always had a simplistic perception of life. I thought if I set my mind to something, I could make it reality, or if I thought positively enough and pushed every obstacle out of my way, I could overcome any hardship. In my mind there was always a way, there was always answers, and I thought I had them.


I had a very difficult and dysfunctional childhood. I endured a lot of pain at the hand of my father taking out his anger on me with his ongoing physical and emotional abuse. My mother was unavailable emotionally and allowed it to happen.


The feeling of worthlessness I felt as a child cut so deep and it seeped into every facet of my life. As I grew, I understood my family's dysfunction and was determined it would be different when I had my own family. I thought I could choose different. So as soon as I could get away, I moved as far I could to be free and to create a new life for myself. I was completely oblivious that this dysfunction followed me.


Shortly after I moved to Manitoba, I met my now husband. He was a hardworking and upstanding man, raised in a good family. Best of all, he was everything my dad wasn't. We got married, had a few kids, and I thought everything was great. I had everything I dreamed of. What I didn't know is my husband had a secret. It was like a shadow that hovered over our marriage.



One day, what felt like out of nowhere, my husband confessed he had been looking at pornography. He felt so much shame and wanted to come clean about it. I remember my heart sinking to the floor and the blood drain from my face. It was one thing to be betrayed by my father, but it was a whole other level to be betrayed by the man I loved and gave my heart to.


Learning my husband’s secret confirmed the deep seeded beliefs I had about myself. I was worthless and not worthy of love. I didn't understand why he looked somewhere else for something I so freely gave. Did he not love me? In anger I threatened if he ever did that again, I would leave him and end our marriage. He begged for forgiveness and promised he wouldn't do it again. I thought it was over and done and we moved on with life as best we could.


As years past and the pressures of life began to build with jobs, raising kids, and running a household, I began to notice my husband and I drift apart. We did life together and went through the motions, but emotionally we were miles apart. We were hardly ever intimate, as I saw my husband’s desires as something I could never satisfy.


Then our church did a message series on pornography. I remember sitting through the services barely listening because my husband didn't have this issue anymore. But on the drive home, something compelled me to ask him if he still looked at porn. He looked at me and said nothing…and I knew. All the old feelings opened like old wounds that had never fully healed. He was so afraid I'd leave, was repentant, and promised he'd get help.



In that moment, God gave me empathy for him. I realized that by making empty threats of divorce, it pushed him to hide his addiction very carefully in fear his marriage would end. It pushed his problem into the dark right where Satan wanted it. In my heart, somewhere I felt God's deep love for me and I felt called to support my husband in his healing. So we banded together and were unified for the first time in years to restore our marriage.


My husband went to the Conquer series offered at our church, which was a good first step, and we purchased accountability software for our devices and computer. We were finally on the right track.


Over the coming year, we worked on our relationship and I thought for sure his porn addiction was a thing of the past. We had done what we could to overcome and this was no longer an issue. So when old habits crepted back in, I willfully tried to ignore it.


About a year later, I had a vivid dream. The dream was of my husband in bed with me, along with many other women. In the dream, I felt mortified and so angry. I was relieved to wake up and find it was just a dream. But it got me thinking…he wouldn't be doing it again, would he? I dismissed the thought and gave it no further mind.



A week passed and my husband needed to work late on the computer for his job. I was tired so I went to bed. Before I could fall asleep, I heard a voice in my mind telling me to check on my husband. The thought wouldn't go away, so I finally gave in and went to check on him. To my dismay and shock I walked in on him doing what we had worked so hard to overcome.


This time the anger reignited. How could he be so careless with my heart and our life together!? Did I even know this man!? I felt like everything we built together was a complete lie. I felt worthless, helpless and completely alone. I didn't threaten to leave, but I didn't want to stay. I didn't know what I was going to do. I knew walking away wasn't that simple. I couldn't hurt my kids like that and throw it all away. I knew I still loved him and there was still something to fight for. But I knew this was something much bigger than we could overcome in our own strength and it wasn't going to go away easily. I didn't feel like I had anything left in me to fight this, but at the same time I felt God was so close and giving me the strength to not back down at Satan's attempts to destroy our marriage.



We sought specialized, in-depth and ongoing help. We had to discard our old dysfunctional ways of living and being, as individuals and as a couple. We saw a local sex addiction counsellor in our area. Our church also offered great programs to help couples dealing with pornography addiction.


In Seven Pillars (a program for men with sex addiction), my husband learned how this problem started when he was very young and how the addiction changed his brain, keeping him trapped in the endless cycle. He gained many new tools that helped him break the cycle and start to build his brain and mind toward healing.


As for me, I went through a program called Betrayal and Beyond. I learned so much about myself and my husband’s addiction. I learned that his addiction has nothing to do with me and his intention was never to hurt me. He was trapped and it happened to hurt me along the way. I realized how my abuse as a child set me up to live in dysfunction myself. The program opened my eyes to the truth and changed the way I thought. I began to see what Jesus saw in me - I was precious and worthy of love.


In all of this I've learned there is no overcoming and moving past this in our own strength and agenda. We have to partner with God to help us keep in step with Him.


Even though both programs have ended, we are still living in this reality. Each day fighting to rebuild our marriage and mutual trust. It's not easy, but we have great support of our cell group and accountability partners. My husband meets with a couple guys each week for accountability. It gives me peace of mind knowing he is working on his stuff, which gives me the freedom to work on mine. We are each on our own journeys of healing. But as we come together, I see how individualized healing also heals our marriage as a whole.


I wanted to share my story to bring light to this problem. I think it's more common than we'd like to admit. If you are affected by the addiction of pornography, please know there is hope and you are not alone. There so many great resources out there. I list a bunch below in hopes they will be a help to others like they have been for us.


www.livinginfreedom.ca/index.php


www.mysouthland.com/support-groups


www.covenanteyes.com/


www.amazon.ca/dp/0764215663/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_i_mSywEbK1ZMG6Y


www.amazon.ca/dp/1400204682/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_apa_i_b.ywEbM0WWKR9


www.amazon.ca/dp/B07TWCBXYR/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_i_eazwEbPV93TWH

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