I was totally unaware of the imminent crisis. It had been an uneventful day. An ordinary, comfortable, predictable day. A typical Monday workday—catching up on email, planning the various tasks for the rest of the week, attending several meetings to prepare for the later upcoming fall. School would be starting soon so we were in final planning mode at the office.
For once, I actually left work on time to get home and finish dinner before Dave walked in the door.
That night Dave was unusually quiet at dinner and didn’t eat very much, saying he wasn’t hungry. I thought it strange but perhaps he’d eaten a late lunch.
After I cleaned up the dinner dishes, I noticed Dave had gone to our bedroom and was lying down on the bed, which was odd for that time of evening. As I approached, I could tell he was very upset. Without raising his head from the pillow, he quietly informed me that it was very likely he would be fired.
Sinking quickly onto the other side of the bed, I asked, “Why?”
With no trace of color in his face he responded, “Because of a moral failure.”
I couldn’t breathe. It felt like the air was sucked out of the room.
With a calmness that had to come from the Holy Spirit, I asked a few more questions and listened as he revealed his lifelong struggle.
I heard only one word. “Pornography.”
And my world shattered.
(excerpted from Choosing a Way Out)
When I heard my husband’s confession, I couldn’t breathe. But as the weeks went on, my own deception came to the surface. I, too, had been hiding throughout the years of our marriage. My own story needed just as much healing as my husband’s.
Marriage isn’t about happily ever after.
It is more about learning what it means to forgive someone when they have hurt or betrayed you. A lifelong love takes daily practice. Choosing to believe the other person always has your back. And when you’ve been betrayed through adultery, pornography, or habitual lies, or any other abhorrent behavior, it takes supernatural intervention.
To my surprise, being married to me wasn’t all that great either.
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. Dave is the one who’s taken 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?”
One evening not long into our Restoration Team meetings, Dave and I were sitting in the living room, working through some questions from the Team. I believe the lessons were on 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.
Are You Leaving?
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. I. 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 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.
(excerpted from Choosing a Way Out)
As we worked through the multiple hidden lies in our marriage, the trust had to be built both ways. Not only had my husband lied to me throughout our marriage, but I also had lied to him about my past.
One year ago, I released Choosing a Way Out: When the Bottom Isn’t the Bottom, on our 35th wedding anniversary. It was a fitting day to remember that God is much bigger than our pain, disappointment, heartache, and lies.
God alone is the one who brings beauty from the ashes—if we allow it.
Today, we celebrate one more year of marriage. We are grateful and thankful for what God has done in us and in our 36 years of marriage. Statistically, pornography addiction is linked to 56% of divorces in the United States. The fact that we survived and now have a healthy, thriving marriage is not because we are an anomaly. It is only by the grace of God, hard work, and a supportive community.
To celebrate, I’m offering you a free autographed paperback copy of Choosing a Way Out for those who live in the United States. All I ask is you pay the shipping.
If you’d like a hardcover autographed copy, I’ll send it to you at a promotional rate of $16 plus shipping.
For those who prefer e-books, hop over to Amazon and get the Kindle version for $.99.
If you and your spouse are struggling, there is hope. Your marriage can survive if you are both willing to fight for each other and do the hard work.
This pornography addiction does not have to be fatal.
Thanks for celebrating with me.
If you need help, please reach out. I promise to listen without judgment and help you take the next step.