The Woman I Couldn’t Compete With. Part Two.

Follow Up Post to The Woman I Couldn’t Compete With*

Dear Girl Who Lives in My Head,

Thank you for asking my to share my story. I’m sorry that it may not be the fairytale for which you were hoping. I may have been naive about a lot of things when I started dating my husband, but one thing that I was well aware of was pornography. I was personally exposed to it at a very young age by a neighbor girl and have since learned just how addictive and harmful it can be. That’s why, just weeks into a brand new relationship, I asked my then boyfriend about his experience with porn.

When was he exposed?

What did he see?

Did he still look at it?

How often?

He assured me that those other women would have no place in our relationship and that his struggle with porn was a thing of the past. Still, I continued to check in. I would ask him a few times a year if he was struggling? Were his needs were being met?  Was he ever in tempting situations?

He assured me, time and again, that all was well.

Fast forward, 5 years into our marriage. Things were crumbling. Everything looked great on the outside but in my heart of hearts, I knew something was wrong. Sex was dull. We bickered. I felt unloved. Still, I never suspected pornography because in our 7 years together, my husband never once admitted to looking at it. And after all, I had asked all the right questions.

Knowing something was off, I began to pray that God would shake my husband out of whatever he was going through. I prayed that he would feel unrest until the core of our problems came to light. A week into that prayer, my husband revealed the truth to me. He had been looking at porn on and off our whole relationship. Always thinking he’d get a handle on it on his own. Sometime he would go months without it. But handling an addiction in the dark on your own is never successful.

I was crushed. It wasn’t just the porn, but the lying. I felt betrayed. Deceived. And to top it off, I felt like the worst wife ever.

What did I do wrong?

How didn’t I see this?

Why didn’t he come to me sooner?

We went to a church counselor who suggested that maybe I wear something sexier to bed. I had never felt so low, so ugly, so inadequate in my life. In my mind, my husband’s addiction was now my fault. If only I had been more… (fill in the blank).

Clinging to Jesus, we slowly began to rebuild trust and my self-esteem. I had to look to Christ for my identity. I was reminded over and over that my husband’s pornography addiction was not my fault. I had to know who I was in Christ before I could forgive my husband and myself so that we could  move forward.

Finding my identity in Christ was not easy. I had to stop believing the lie that my husband’s choices were my fault. I filled my mind with scripture and tried to shove out the lies.

“We love because He first loved us.”

“Be kind and compassionate, forgiving as Christ forgave you.”

“God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of love.”

“God showed His love for us while we were still sinners.”

“Love one another as I have loved you.”

“Be humble and gentle, making allowance for each other’s faults because of love”

Once the blame lifted off my shoulders, I was able to see clearly. If I wanted my marriage to survive this, I had to forgive and move on. I would never feel the love or peace I was meant to have if my heart held onto that hurt and bitterness. Of course the hurt lingered, and the consequences of sin showed it’s ugly face in areas I never knew porn affected. But it was (and still is) a constant reminder to go to the feet of Jesus daily and ask for grace.

Here’s the deal, the moment I lose sight of who I am in Christ, things fall apart. It’s a slippery slope when you try to compare yourself to those photos and when you dwell on the “if onlys.”

If only I had been more sexy…

If only I had asked him about porn more often…

If only I had not been so naive…

That’s not where I want my mind, it’s not where my husband wants my mind and it’s not where Christ wants my mind.

I wish I could wrap our story up with a pretty little ribbon and tell you that if you follow these three easy steps everything will be shiny and new again. But the truth is, years later, we still deal with the consequences. Our marriage is great, but it’s not perfect. We are moving on, pressing forward, reaching for sanctification in Christ. And it’s beautiful, messy, wonderful and hard all at the same time.

All I know is that without Jesus, my marriage would not have survived. Without him, I wouldn’t know who I am. If you’re in the midst of something similar, cling to Jesus for dear life because He’s the only way you’ll come out whole on the other side.

Love, Love, Love,

The Woman Who Asked All the Right Questions