When your spouse reveals a sexual addiction, it is devastating. Whether you had any hints, the confirmation of your suspicions wreaks havoc on you emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically. You face an impossible choice.
I know. I’ve been there.
You are betrayed.
Depending on the extent of the sexual addiction, you may experience different responses.
But one thing remains constant in each scenario: you face an impossible choice.
Do you continue to fight for your marriage or do you cut your losses and walk away?
Based on your spouse’s attitude, desire to change or not, their faith or lack of, and depth of the addiction, that decision may or may not be in your hands. You need help. If you are in danger or feel unsafe, then please get immediate help.
If you are facing this type of decision, my heart cries for you. The only one who can walk you through this decision is God. Run to Him. Pour out your heart before Him. Then listen to what the Holy Spirit tells you. But know this, God will never tell you anything contrary to His Word. Whether He tells you to stay or to go, His Word remains constant.
In most cases, addiction recovery takes years, not months. And this only happens when both spouses are determined to get to the bottom of the addiction, to deal with the cause, and not seek another band-aid to cover up the problem.
As Dave and I worked through his revelation of his pornography addiction, I had to face my pain and make an impossible choice. In making that choice, I discovered some unfathomable benefits.
Did I want my marriage to survive? And if I did, was I willing to walk the long, painful, and difficult path toward restoring a shattered marriage?
I chose to walk a difficult path, but first. . .
I felt perfectly right in my anger, pain, and angst. After all, I was the wronged party.
I’d honored and kept all my vows. He hadn’t. He’d traded reality for an image. How could he? Every time it came to mind the pain of this betrayal poured gasoline on my burning anger.
“How could he?”
“How could I stay with him?”
“Do I have a choice? Or, being the ‘good Christian girl,’ do I have to stick this out?”
“Do I want to stay or leave?”
Yet I was haunted by one question.
“Was I a liar?”
“I told God, in front of everyone, that I would love, honor, and commit my life to Dave until I died. Did I mean it? Or was I a liar?”
I couldn’t get this question out of my mind.
“But, Dave is the one who’s addicted to pornography! He’s the one who traded me for some plastic, Photoshopped®image. He took our marriage vows and trampled on them!”
All the justification and excuses didn’t silence that voice. The question wouldn’t leave me, and then another question joined the choir, “Is God big enough to get you through this and save your marriage?”
This was my choice.
One evening, Dave and I were sitting in the living room, working through some questions from our Restoration Team. I believe the lessons were about honesty. Obviously, up until this time, we hadn’t been totally honest with each other. Now, what did we have to lose? Our lives were a wreck.
With a pain-filled voice, Dave once again asked if I was going to leave him.
Rather quickly, I said, “No,” but my heart rebelled because I wasn’t entirely truthful, though I hated the thought of divorce. And because of that, I wanted us to survive at some level. But I tasted that answer in my throat, almost choking on it. My sense of justice reared its head demanding payment. I wanted to scream, “Do you feel this? I want you to feel like this. Feel this pain. I want payment for my pain.”
I was wronged.
I was abandoned.
I was hurt.
I. I. I. Me. Me. Me.
In the middle of my internal tantrum, I felt a quiet rebuke, almost like a soft tap on my shoulder. An “ahem.” A not-so-subtle signal from the Lord that I needed to stop my ranting and raving long enough to listen.
It wasn’t what I wanted to hear at the moment. I wanted the agreement that I had every right to retribution. Dave had sinned. God didn’t like sin, right? I was in pain. I didn’t want to be reminded of my marriage vows. And yet the Lord patiently prompted me again to stop my ranting long enough to hear what He had to say. My guilty conscience betrayed me once more.
Reluctantly, with arms folded and jaw set (think of a preschooler’s temper tantrum scowl), the Lord began to unfold my arms and heart, and break through. The Holy Spirit began to remind me of my own words.
I, Kirsten, take you, David, to be my lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, forsaking all others and keeping myself only unto you, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance, in the presence of God I make this vow.
Was I going to keep my word or walk away?
I had other friends in the same situation who had walked away. They were the “wounded party.” I get it. They had been wronged. So had I, right? Yet, the question remained, waiting for my answer.
For the first time since Dave’s confession of this addiction, I had to confront more than my hurt and anger.
I had to confront my vows.
I had to confront my own words and decide if I was telling the truth. Or, would I choose to stand one day before my Lord and Savior and tell Him I was “just kidding, it was too hard to forgive.”
After all, God had forgiven me completely of my rebellion and sin. Was I really going to tell him this was too much to forgive?
My marriage was hurting because of sin. My sin and Dave’s sin. We both had broken our vows.
Love is a verb. It is also a choice.
This was my choice.
God did not allow me to walk away.
Dave was repentant and earnestly desired complete healing from this addiction. I’m grateful. It could have been a more painful scenario.
What were my unfathomable benefits in this impossible choice?
Developing an intimate relationship with God.
When I faced the depth of my sin, instead of being further broken, I experienced the depths of God’s grace. The Bible became alive. I asked Him to show me His way for me, and He did. As I continued to search the Bible for answers, God showed me His character and desire for His children. He answered my prayer to know Him more.
Healing my inner wounds.
I had to choose to trust God to heal Dave and my marriage, but first I had to trust Him to heal me. That healing meant I had to understand His character in a way I never had before. As the Holy Spirit revealed the pain I’d buried for many years, He also showed me passages of Scripture that spoke directly to that pain.
Each level of healing brought new freedom I didn’t expect. For the first time in my life, I felt secure enough in Jesus to be who He created me to be. I didn’t have to strive to be like anyone else, Jesus created me for a specific purpose, with unique talents and abilities, to live to glorify Him because I am exactly as He desires.
Remaking my marriage.
When Dave and I look back on the first 25 years of our marriage, which we thought were pretty good, we chuckle a bit at the lack of intimacy. Most married folks talk about the first part of their marriage being the close, intimate part. Not for us. How can you be intimate if you don’t KNOW each other? How can you love someone when you don’t understand forgiveness? Today we marvel at the depth of intimacy we now have. Daily we remember how Jesus forgave our sins which gives us the ability and desire to forgive each other.
God didn’t restore our marriage; He remade it.
It is new, exciting, authentic, and filled with hope. We don’t merely co-exist anymore. We know the depth of the sin that almost destroyed us.
Today, we are safe with each other. Having the hard conversations and disagreements no longer frightens us because we know we will get to agreement and resolution which makes us stronger.
Fearless is a pretty great place to be after three decades of marriage.
Do you fear your marriage is teetering on untruths? Do you have something you need to confess?
I welcome the opportunity to walk through the difficulties of this process with you. You can also explore the resources on my website or in the back of my book, Choosing a Way Out: When the Bottom Isn’t the Bottom.
Not sure if your suspicions are correct? Let’s talk about it, please reach out. I promise to listen without judgment and help you take the next step.