What did COVID add to your life? Think of one positive thing.
Rebuilding our health.
COVID restrictions brought some good things to our house, like walking daily with my husband, Dave. We get great exercise (me more than Dave due to our height difference), and we hold hands and talk about all kinds of things.
Recently, one of our walks took us through a new house construction zone. We navigated around incomplete sidewalks, rubble piles, pipes stacked on the newly paved roads, and wondered aloud about houses tented in plastic.
Seeing this construction reminds me about how our lives can be construction zones.
Rebuilding our marriage.
After Dave revealed his porn addiction, our house felt like it collapsed from the earthquake that ripped apart our life as we knew it. The aftershocks reverberated for days, weeks, while the roof seemed to be caving in. There were so many changes in such a short time.
Eventually, the aftershocks subsided. And like those houses under construction, we could see the potential amongst the mess.
When the dust settled, the time came to remove the rubble. We discovered piles of false expectations, the dust of hidden wounds, and scattered rocks crafted from lies. What a mess!
Dave’s porn addiction confession created the earthquake that shook our house to its foundation. Questions, pain, fear, and residual after-effects reverberated through our lives for weeks. As I look back, it seems like life went into warp speed and slow-motion simultaneously. Anyone who has experienced these aftershocks understands.
Where do you start rebuilding your life? Here’s one way to approach it.
Removal of the mess is the first part of the new construction process.
What can you salvage, and what goes in the dumpster? It’s often muddied. Our emotions get in the way of seeing the genuine trash. Because our minds feel cloudy, slow, or scattered, we get that warp-speed-slow-motion sensation creating further disorientation. What would be obvious to most of us seems confusing.
I worked through the rubble of our relationship and my life with the help of our coaches. For starters, they helped me sort the wreckage. I’d voice something that I’d been stuck on for days. Through their thoughtful questions, the answer would become clear. This rock needed to go. That memory kept. What about this expectation—true or false? As we worked through each one, the answers eventually evident, our new construction site emerged. We carefully shoveled away the rubble and swept up the dust.
Once you clear the mess, it is time to rebuild.
Our previous foundation and framework led to the earthquake we’d just survived. We couldn’t go back to “life as normal.” As we stood looking at the construction site, we realized it was time to start fresh, to find an improved way to design our life and relationship.
But how did we do that? We needed a new framework because our original one didn’t create the solid structure we required.
ARM—Aftershock Recovery Method—is a new framework to rebuild after the destruction of pornography addiction.
It is the result of analyzing what happened and then envisioning a better future. Here’s how we did that.
Part One: Evaluate the Impact
- What’s happened
- What do I know
- What do I need
Part Two: Excavate the Rubble
- What’s salvageable
- What needs to go
- What do I desire
Part Three: Construct the Shock Absorbers
- Who supports me
- How do I see myself
- What do I believe
Part Four: Establish the Foundation
- Who am I
- Who does God say I am
- What truth do I need to apply
Part Five: Create the Frame
- Decide my preferred future.
- Determine healthy boundaries
- Develop new communication strategies
Part Six: Celebrate the Future
- Practice gratitude
- Speak truth
- Celebrate daily milestones
Two rebuilding approaches to choose from.
Depending on your personality, it may help to see the construction process as a series of many small steps. Or perhaps thinking about it as two steps feel more manageable: remove and rebuild. Either way works. And we both know that your husband will need to process this differently (and maybe at a different pace) than you. He may need to pour over the floorplans before he commits to rebuilding. While you may feel like “let’s have the experts do what they do best and get on with the process of rebuilding.” Or the other way around.
Being under construction feels uncomfortable. But how else does the house get built?
It’s only through the struggle that we grow.
My coach reminds me that you can choose chronic pain or acute pain. Choosing to do nothing keeps you in chronic pain. Nothing leaves us with what we’re used to and familiar with but doesn’t bring change or healing. Acute pain requires tackling the problem(s) head-on. It feels more painful at the moment, requires hard work, but results in healed wounds and relationships. Not making a choice is still a choice. As shaky as things feel right now, you still have a choice. Your next steps are your choice.
You can rebuild your life after pornography addiction.
I work with women whose husbands are addicted to pornography. Often, addiction stories have similar roots. The addict didn’t wake up one day and say, “Hmmm, I wonder how I can ruin my wife’s life.” There is a root issue that hasn’t been addressed in a healthy manner. But it can be.
My husband was looking for “medication” more than he was looking for a thrill. But his choice rocked my foundation. His behavior brought another person into our relationship, and that’s not okay. But leaving him in the pile of his destruction wasn’t okay for me either. God helped me see that we could rebuild something bigger and better if we’d start over in a new way.
Walking through the neighborhood, you feel the new homes’ energy and delight. A new beginning. New memories to be made. A special place of safety, peace, and hope. Your marriage can survive all phases of the construction and emerge better. Just like COVID dealt us a lot of distasteful things, we can choose to find something good. I can help you find the good in your pile of rubble. There is hope.