Over the last seven days, Tony swung from anger to shame to disgust to fear. What could he do to fix his relationship with Emma? Every time he looked at Emma, he saw her pain and distrust.
Tony’s Relational Risk
A couple of days ago, Tony called Bob to see if they could play a round of golf. Tony needed another perspective before he and Emma met with the counselor Thursday afternoon. Having known Bob for 15 years, Tony felt safe discussing this porn struggle. But knowing that didn’t decrease the sense of shame.
“Hey, Bob. Could I ask you a question?”
“Shoot,” Bob quipped after taking his tee shot.
“My marriage is in trouble. I’ve hurt Emma deeply and don’t know if she’ll forgive me.”
Tony took a deep breath, unsure how Bob would respond to his next question.
“Do you think porn hurts a marriage?”
Bob stepped back from his ball to give Tony his full attention.
“What are you telling me, Tony?”
Red-faced, Tony stammered, “I’ve watched porn ever since I was 12 years old and never thought anything about it. But Emma discovered some recent videos. I didn’t think it would bother her because every guy watches this stuff, right? I mean, it’s everywhere these days.”
“You’re right. It is everywhere. But not every guy watches it. I remember seeing some stuff, too. Though I didn’t get hooked on it, I can’t imagine the conflict you feel.”
“Emma and I saw a counselor last week. He says there’s hope.
I had no idea how watching porn would tear Emma apart.
I can’t stand to see the pain in her eyes. She doesn’t trust me or believe anything I say right now. How do I fix this?”
Bob suggested, “Could we pray together right now? We need God’s wisdom here.”
Tony nodded. Quietly Bob prayed for Tony, Emma, their marriage, and their family. He asked God for wisdom to take the next step.
“Tony, I can’t imagine what you’re going through. However, I will walk through this crisis with you. What you’ve told me stays with me. It’s good you have another appointment with the counselor. Are you still at the house, or did you decide to separate?”
“I’m still at the house. We decided to stay together for now. Emma says she wants to work through this. I’m scared, though. I tried to stop looking at porn a few years ago and did pretty well for a few months. Then I started looking at it again. I can’t seem to break the cycle. So I’m skeptical that counseling will help, but I’m willing to try. I don’t want to lose Emma. She’s my best friend. How could I do this to her?”
“If that’s how you feel, you’re motivated to change and let go of the porn. Would you agree?” Bob quietly asked.
Tony nodded. They finished the last few holes and headed back to the car.
Thanks, Bob. I appreciate your offer to walk through this with me; I need someone trustworthy. Are you open to meeting regularly or chatting on the phone?
“Of course, Tony. I’d be honored.”
Bob waved goodbye. Tony smiled. He felt hopeful because Bob didn’t reject or look at him like a monster. What relief!
The choice to risk together
Thursday afternoon, Tony and Emma reviewed the counselor’s plan for their recovery. This wouldn’t be easy, even though they both felt it was possible.
What would they uncover during these counseling sessions?
Though Emma felt raw and uncertain, she sensed a change in Tony. He seemed less defensive toward her. Would he quit watching porn? Could she learn to trust him again?
Together, Tony and Emma agreed to the counselor’s plan.
“One more thing before we end today. Who do you know that you trust to walk through this recovery journey with you?” their counselor asked.
Emma’s relational risk
“I’ve talked with my friend, Lisa,” Emma commented. “She’s a prayer warrior, and I’d trust her with anything.”
“Yeah, I talked with my buddy, Bob, the other day,” Tony responded. “He’s willing to meet with me at least every week. Plus, he’ll check in with me on the phone as much as I need.”
“Great. You two took another positive step in your healing process.” The counselor smiled. “You need safe, confidential support to make these life changes.”
Their relational risk
Before the session finished, they agreed to focus on recovery over the next 4-6 months and discontinue involvement in anything besides work and their children.
Tony and Emma received the help they needed to heal individually and together. With the help of Lisa, Bob, their counselor, and some marriage coaches, they did the hard work necessary to build a healthy marriage.
Where are you in your healing journey? If you need help defining your next step, please reach out. I promise to listen without judgment, provide safety and confidentiality, and show you a proven path to recovery.
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