This week Dave and I celebrate another milestone. It’s one thing we weren’t sure would happen when our world erupted thirteen years ago.
Looking back at that August day, when Dave revealed his pornography addiction, it still hurts. The pain of that moment rears its ugly head periodically. To this day I look at Dave sometimes and think “Really?” and I have to choose to trust again.
But we made it. Correction: we are making it.
For those of you questioning if pornography is an addiction or thinking maybe it doesn’t affect anyone but the person using porn, Dr. Sheri Keffer, in her book Intimate Deception, explains it this way: Porn kills love.
Every conversation I have with a woman whose husband is watching porn, I hear the same thing, “I feel punched in the gut.”
“Sexual betrayal causes posttraumatic stress and changes the way women feel about themselves and how they live. Much like an earthquake, women caught in sexual deception feel the layers of impact that turn their world upside down. Their lives . . . crumble right before their eyes. They feel tremendous grief and many losses that leave a permanent scar.” Dr. Sheri Keffer
Porn shakes the foundations of marriage.
Just like an earthquake has aftershocks, pornography addiction, sexual betrayal, and secrecy create real and palpable aftershocks in your life. Your entire being responds to the news like a traumatic event. You aren’t crazy. Many husbands try to convince their wife it’s no big deal or that she is crazy. This is the husband’s attempt to cover his guilt and deception.
Our counselor, Rob Jackson, told Dave that his pornography addiction equated a marital affair. Hearing that validated my feelings and the ongoing aftershocks I felt deeply.
Thirteen years later, every time I hear another woman voice this pain, the aftershocks reverberate in my body.
Yet, I know there is hope. I live it daily. I watch it daily and our entire family, grandkids too, are the beneficiary of that hope.
As Dave and I approach this wedding anniversary, we reflect on the one thing that changed our lives.
Being Accountable. The one thing that changes everything.
Merriam-Webster defines accountability as “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.” Bingo.
As you’ll hear in this video Dave and I recorded for you, only when he took accountability for his choices, could he make the decision to heal his relationship with God, himself, and me. I’m convinced our marriage would have dissolved had Dave not accepted full responsibility for the pornography addiction.
But, there’s another side to being accountable that I didn’t see at first. I was responsible for my decisions as well.
And that’s the rub when you are wounded to your core. How I wanted to blame every bad thing in our marriage on Dave. I wanted him to suffer the pain I felt and sought others who would vindicate me as the wounded party. Interestingly, while I received affirmation from Rob and others that my wound was valid, these people weren’t “on my side.”
Instead, they were more concerned about Dave’s healing and my healing—not with picking sides.
Accountability means taking complete ownership for you. That’s the one thing we had to learn.
I wanted others to hold Dave accountable for his sins.
Looking back at the definition, you don’t see accountability as someone holding another responsible. It says, “account for one’s actions.”
I misunderstood accountability completely. No one can hold you accountable for anything. When you think that way, as I did, you fall into a victim mindset. You waste your time and energy on blame, excuses, and denial. That was me! I was a blaming fool until God got my attention.
You can read the many ways God knocked me on the head and life laid me out while the pornography addiction stalked Dave in our book, Choosing a Way Out.
Only when you and I accept full responsibility for our actions does true change occur. In that decision, we choose to be victors instead of victims.
Like I say to my coaching clients, “I can’t promise to change your marriage. But, I can show you how to ride the aftershocks of this revelation and recover you. Your healing starts with taking care of you.”
If your husband chooses the one thing he needs to heal and become whole, then your marriage has a chance to not only survive but thrive.
Dave and I gratefully acknowledge this milestone. We’re still married thirteen years after pornography killed our love. But, God the Miracle-worker, gave us a new marriage. One built on truth, trust, accountability (the real kind), and authenticity.
Only by focusing on Jesus, submitting to His way to live, and admitting we need help, can we agree with these words from Paul:
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
If you feel trapped in the continuous aftershocks of your husband’s pornography addiction, reach out for help today. The pain and problem won’t just go away. You must choose to be accountable for your life. TechCrunch reports a 300% increase in infidelity in marriages where one person is viewing porn. Keeping secrets, allowing porn to continue in your marriage, kills your marriage, and deeply wounds you. It’s not okay. Ever.
You deserve healing and practical ways to emerge from this dark season into the light. I’d be honored to help you.