According to an interview with over 350 divorce attorneys, internet porn played a significant role in 60% of divorces. And Huffington Post estimates “at least 30% of all data transferred across the internet is porn-related.” All data.
Those statistics are staggering, but not surprising.
My marriage contributed to the statistics. My husband was addicted to pornography.
That was almost 12 years ago. We are still married and far happier than we were before my world came tumbling down.
One question I often get asked is why I stayed.
Why did I stay in my marriage after being betrayed? It’s a hard question to answer. Many believe that infidelity or sexual betrayal of any kind is biblical grounds for divorce.
Honestly, I believed the same thing.
With the initial shock of Dave’s revelation, I was numb and reactive. When he asked if I would leave him, I replied, “No.”
However, I didn’t know at that point. I reacted. Probably from my deeply held beliefs that divorce was not an option.
When we married I promised to stay with this to the end. Promise. My word. My integrity. All this was on the line.
But he’d broken his word already.
My mind and emotions ricocheted from one end to the other. I had grounds for divorce. He’d rejected me by turning to something unreal to fulfill his desires.
I hurt. No, that’s not strong enough. I gushed pain I didn’t know existed from every fiber of my being.
Then came the panic. What should I do? I had no idea. I’d never been in this position before.
Who could I talk with? My spirit screamed, “No one! No one must know. You’ll be destroyed.”
But I knew I needed help—quickly. Which is the smartest thought I had that night in the midst of the vilification of Dave and other less productive thoughts.
Once I overcame my fear of exposure and rejection from others, I found the first words of hope. And I needed those words.
“This isn’t fatal.”
Yes, my wounds, my pain was real. Yes, my marriage was broken. But could it heal? With those simple words, I hoped it could.
So why did I stay? The reasons varied greatly.
- Fear. Yup, you read that right. I was afraid to leave. Where would I go? Where would I live? How would I support myself? Could I survive on my own? Did I want to leave? These questions and many more bombarded my conscious and subconscious mind. In my pain and anger I was also afraid.
- Belief. I did, and do, hate divorce. Notice I don’t hate those who have divorced. I hate what divorce represents. If marriage is a picture of Christ’s love for and relationship with His Church, then divorce blackens that image. Could I add to that blackened image? I didn’t want to. Nor was I certain it was the right decision in this situation.
- Dave. He was a broken man. After living with him for so many years, I could at least read that in his face. His shame and disgust at what he’d done was palpable. He humbly submitted to every restriction and requirement given to him by the first people we went to for help and by his employer. Deep in my gut I knew his response to the discovery and revelation of his pornography addiction was truthful. He desired healing. And that gave me hope that our marriage would survive, we could rebuild it, and our relationship could be salvaged. Even though I was devastated and couldn’t trust him at the moment, I wanted to believe he was telling me the truth.
- Pride. This is hard to admit. I didn’t want to be another statistic. No way did I want to tell my family I’d failed in my marriage. Plus, I believed that if I stayed in my marriage, I was doing the Christian thing. I was spiritually arrogant. Staying meant I was the better Christian. Ugh. Just writing that down makes me sick to my stomach. What a farce.
- God. There are times when God tells us to go. This wasn’t that time. I never felt peace about filing for divorce. I wanted it. I asked if I could go. Surely, I had grounds. But, Heaven was silent to this plea. All I heard was, “Do you believe I am bigger than this betrayal?” Based on what I knew about God at that time, the answer to that question was a reluctant, “Yes.” I couldn’t imagine Him bringing anything good out of this. There was too much pain, broken trust, and anger.
- Children. We’d taught our children that God would always provide a way through our difficult situations. He was in control of our lives. How could I tell my children that God wasn’t big enough to fix our marriage?
My reasons for staying in my marriage were muddled, messy, chaotic, and selfish.
At the time, I couldn’t tell you why I didn’t walk out. I only know I didn’t. And I believe that was God directing stubborn me, even when I didn’t want to listen.
As Rose Colón writes,
“We have seen countless situations in which husbands have been involved in homosexuality, prostitution, self-gratification, pornography or habitual affairs for years. The wives of virtually all of these men felt they had biblical grounds for divorcing their spouse when his sin was exposed. However, many have seen God miraculously and suddenly grant the gift of repentance to their spouse. These “re-born” marriages are living testimonies of the power of the Cross—a power greater than any sexual sin known to mankind! I’m thoroughly convinced that no marriage is beyond God’s ability to restore.”
Looking back (hindsight always clarifies things), I know that God protected me from myself.
And in the process of healing us individually, God worked a miracle in our marriage. He didn’t simply restore our marriage, he remade it into something entirely new and exciting.
The full story is in my book, Choosing a Way Out: When the Bottom Isn’t the Bottom.
If your marriage has been hurt by pornography addiction, I understand your pain.
There is nothing like the pain of betrayal in your marriage. However, there is a way out besides divorce. It’s not an easy choice to make, and it’s not for everyone.
But I know that you can make the difficult choices to claim your worth, define your healthy boundaries, and seize God’s best for your life. Wives, come talk with me.