Early in our marriage, I surprised my husband with a weekend away. Keeping this secret from him for four months was tough. During that time, I scrimped and saved small amounts of money from our regular expenditures. Those carefully collected funds paid for the entire weekend. I knew that my husband wouldn’t enjoy the weekend if we couldn’t pay for it upfront.
I’m not good at keeping secrets.
At least that’s what I used to tell myself.
But in the most recent years of our marriage I discovered I am good at keeping secrets. And so is my husband.
Lurking beneath the happy surface of our marriage was a secret that shouldn’t have been kept. It was slowly destroying our family from the inside out.
Both my husband and I were keeping secrets. We believed, without telling the other, that if these secrets were revealed our lives would be ruined. Irreparably damaged. Life as we knew it would end.
We were right about that last one.
Life as we knew it did end. Thankfully.
On the day the secrets were revealed, I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t see it coming. Even though, as I look back, we were hurtling toward this train wreck for years.
Proverbs 18:13 in The Message version says, “You can’t whitewash your sins and get by with it; you find mercy by admitting and leaving them.”
We would learn the truth of this verse over the course of the next couple of years.
To my utmost surprise, my husband was addicted to pornography. It didn’t make sense because he was so loving and caring toward me, always had been. But it was the truth. Likewise, I’d hidden my own abuse which resulted in suicidal depression and PTSD. Basically, we were a mess.
If you suspect that someone you love may be addicted to pornography, take action. Don’t ignore the symptoms.
When a person is addicted to pornography, according to Peter Kleponis, they may:
- Tell you they can stop at any time.
- Spend increasing time looking at pornography.
- Exhibit degenerative behavior.
- Neglect relationships.
- Find additional ways to self-medicate.
- Exhibit narcissistic behavior.
- Justify negative behavior.
- Believe their behavior creates power.
Pornography addiction is destroying our marriages and families.
That’s a pretty bold statement I know. But it’s truer than many of us want to believe. And it’s not just a man’s issue. Women are becoming addicted to pornography at an alarming rate.
Here are just a few startling statistics (from http://archkck.org):
- 87% of young men report using pornography is acceptable.
- 34% of female readers of Today’s Christian Woman’s online newsletter admitted to intentionally accessing Internet porn in a recent poll and 1 out of every 6 women, including Christians, struggles with an addiction to pornography. (Today’s Christian Woman, Fall 2003)
- 47% of Christian families said pornography is a problem in their home. (Focus on the Family Poll, October 1, 2003)
- 9 out of 10 children between the ages of 8 and 16 have viewed pornography on the Internet, in most cases unintentionally. (London School of Economics January 2002)
- The average age of first Internet exposure to pornography: 11 years old. (internet-filter-review.com)
These statistics break my heart because each is a person trapped in a lie. Like methamphetamine addiction, pornography is progressive. The hormonal rush one receives combined with the secrecy is a potent cocktail that demands more and more to satisfy the cravings. But there is a way to break free.
It does not have to be fatal.
However, the person caught in the addiction does have to choose to get help.
If you are the spouse of the one addicted to pornography, there is hope for reconciliation and recovery. I’m sorry you are dealing with it. You are not to blame. You didn’t cause it. Please seek help to deal with your own issues that arise from this addiction. You and your spouse can recover. We did.
I cry every time I hear about a couple whose marriage is suffering or collapsing because of pornography addiction. My husband and I understand the pain. We know the burden of keeping the secrets from friends and family. That’s why we wrote the book, Choosing a Way Out: When the Bottom Isn’t the Bottom. In it, you’ll find our story of redemption, restoration, and reconciliation.
Our story isn’t finished, but it is now authentic. There is nothing hidden between us. And our marriage is truly better because that’s true.
That weekend I secretly planned? It was wonderful. I paid for everything with cash which delighted my husband. The kids had a great time with their friends. We took time to reconnect and refresh together, hidden away in plain sight. Yet, as good as that weekend was then, living authentically today is even better.
No secrets = freedom to be who we are.
If you need help, reach out to your local church to find a counselor who specializes in treating pornography addictions. Don’t keep the secret. If you want to talk to someone who’s been there and survived, please reach out. I promise to listen without judgment and help you take the next step.