Psalm 139:11-12

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. (PSALM 139:11-12)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Worth Fighting For

A story continued from "Tell Me the Truth"

I had to leave the room.

As the truth came pouring from his lips that night I knew I needed time. I sat in the rocking chair in the dark living room. I didn't know what to do. My husband had just told me he had an affair and had struggled intensely with pornography for years. Suddenly I doubted everything I ever knew.

Our toddler was sleeping soundly in the next room, oblivious to the chaos whirling outside his door. What debris would be left behind in the aftermath? Would our child's whole world change that night?

I suddenly found myself holding all the cards. I had the power to destroy my husband, but it would destroy our family, too. He had given it to me simply by being honest. We all had a lot to lose.

It's hard to go back there — to that awful, beautiful night. It was wrenching. I was so angry. So confused. I needed time to process — to make sense of the senseless.

And I loved him. Still loved him.

In my heart I knew, if he was really done with the hiding and was willing to work hard and get help, we were worth fighting for.

And this man I loved, he was lost and confused, just like me. And he needed someone to believe in him, to fight for him, and to show him he was worth it. And he is.

Healing produced a new found trust for both of us. I can trust in his commitment to be honest and accountable to me and to others in his life. And he knows that I will not take advantage of the power his honesty affords me. That I remain committed to our marriage and working through whatever comes up.

For my husband and I, the flicker of light in the darkness of that evening turned into the fullness of living in the light. It's not always easy. But it's better then the alternative.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tell Me the Truth

We had just gotten ready for bed. Settled under the covers, I reached over and turned the light on my bedside table off. I remember our conversation like it was yesterday.

He started. My friend told me his wife doesn't want to know when he looks lustfully at another woman. It's too upsetting for her.

I replied. Really? I'm just the opposite. I'd rather know. It's what I don't know that scares me the most.

And that's how it started. The conversation that began my husband's full and complete disclosure.

I was right. I did feel scared as he revealed a sexual history I had not been aware of. But in the midst of the pain and confusion I was feeling, I also felt…peace?

Yes, it was peace. I could deal with what was being laid out in front of me. Our room was still dark, but a flicker of light was shining out of that darkness.

It was truth. And I had waited a long time to hear it.

The beauty of his words of truth was that it was the start of something essential for our relationship. We were talking, honestly talking, for the first time in our entire marriage. This mixture of honesty and vulnerability was the hope I needed — our marriage needed — to have a future together.

I believe a marriage relationship cannot be strong without honesty and communication. When both husband and wife are willing to ask and answer the hard questions.

To tell me the truth, to risk losing it all, he had to trust me — and God. Because I had the power to destroy him and everything he held dear.

To be continued

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Why I Wasn't Enough, Part 2

Part 2, continued from this post

I knew some of his "sorted" past when I started dating him. At that point he had mastered the art of hiding. No one knew his secret struggles. He let no one know of his pain.

Sexual pleasure was like a drug. It consumed his mind, it dictated his choices. It was all about when and where the next opportunity would arise. He knew it was wrong, but it became like a noose around his neck — squeezing ever tighter, not letting him go. How would he ever be free?

To him, sexual addiction was like trying to fill a bucket with water, not knowing there was a hole in the bottom. No matter how hard he tried, he could not keep the bucket filled. And it became increasingly more difficult to fill it up. He had to find new and different sources, but nothing ever satisfied.

It was easy for me to think that his infidelity had something to do with me — who I was, whether or not I fulfilled him. The truth was, nothing fulfilled him, not even the sexual pleasure he was searching for.

I stopped accepting blame when I began to understand sexual addiction (reading Schaumburg's book, "False Intimacy" gave me great insight). It also helped when I tried to see the innocent boy inside the hurting man.

I began to realize how rooted the infestation was and found, to my surprise, compassion and a desire to help him.

Sexual addiction doesn't happen overnight. It wouldn't have mattered who he had married. The temptation to stray was more about filling the bucket, then about me.

I would never be enough until he broke free from the chains of addiction and started a path towards healing.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Why I Wasn't Enough, Part 1

"It was so hard to believe that my husband's addiction to (sex or) porn had nothing to do with me." — Anonymous

So if your spouse's porn, adultery, or sexual addiction isn't about you, then why? Why wasn't I enough? Why did my husband look elsewhere?

There once was a sweet, innocent boy. He loved to play with He-Man and the General Lee. Like most boys he explored the woods, made stick swords, and searched for crayfish in the stream.

But one day, when he was six, he saw something. It hung on the grungy wall of a back office and it made him curious. It was the first time he had ever seen pornography. (When was the first time your spouse saw pornography?)

Already curious and intrigued by the new picture in his head, he spent much of his elementary years "chasing" girls. Oh, how his mother would giggle and prod when he took an interest in a little girl his age. "Is this your girlfriend?" she would tease. (How old was your spouse when he/she had his/her first "girl/boyfriend"?)

Along with the inappropriate pictures he now had in his head, when he was between the ages of six and ten he experienced child with child sexual abuse. Confused and overwhelmed, he never told anyone. (Was your spouse ever sexually abused as a child?)

By age thirteen, he started dating a girl several years older then him. She had already been sexually active and seduced him, experiencing sexual intercourse for the first time. (When was the first time your spouse started having sex?)

The foundation for my husband's sexual addiction was being built, brick by brick, from the time he was six years-old. By the time he reached college, he was walled in and it felt like there was no escape.

To be continued

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

When Pornography Invades - Part 3

He arrived home early that afternoon, tail between his legs, so to speak.

I could tell by the look on his face he was sorry, but at that point I wasn't sure if he was sorry for what he had done or whether he was just sorry he had been caught.

I didn't want to imagine my husband ogling other women, let alone looking at THOSE pictures.

The conversation about finding porn on my computer is a blur. I know I didn't lose it. I didn't completely jump off the deep end.

Why did I find it that day? He had been so "careful" up to that point. He knew all the secret ways of hiding it, getting rid of it, so no one would know.

Maybe, deep down, he wanted to get caught? Perhaps he was tired of the facade.

Towards the end of our discussion, my husband told me that the hours between our phone call and arriving home had been agonizing for him, too. He had no idea how I would react. In fact, he thought this could have been the end of us. He had a lot to lose.

I would like to take credit for my reaction that day. I know I had a reaction. I didn't just sweep it under the rug and pretend like it didn't happen.

I also know that I gave him a clear boundary, without threatening him. Looking at porn, especially when he was supposed to be caring for our child, was not acceptable.

He had betrayed my trust and I wasn't really sure what it would look like to rebuild it. But I could also tell that he was sorry, repentant sorry, and embarrassed.

If you read my story, you know that this was the first of many very difficult and painful disclosures.

When my husband revealed his affair to me it was about a year or so after I found the pornography.

And before his new confession came flooding out, he remembered —

How when he thought it was the end for us, we committed to working through it. And how that gave him hope when it came time to tell me the worst.

Click here to read part 1 of this story; here for part 2.

Monday, December 10, 2012

When Pornography Invades - Part 2

My heart thumped loudly as I dialed. A cocktail of panic and anger stirred as I listened impatiently to the ring-ringing.

The call began in usual fashion. We discussed the morning routine of our toddler as my mind, like an out of body experience, wandered away from my body. Like a robot I answered his inquiries, worried my emotions would betray me as I searched for the "right" words.

Is there something wrong? He saw through my act.

I found something. We should talk about it when you get home.

Tell me now. You are scaring me.

So I filled him in on what I found on my laptop that afternoon. I explained how confused and angry I felt. And we reluctantly agreed to wait until he got home from work to talk about it further.

I felt betrayed. I wondered how long this had been going on in my home without me knowing.

How did I not know?

So I waited for an excruciating couple of hours, agonizing over what this all meant and wondering —

Wasn't I enough?

To be continued

Click here to read part 1 of this story.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

When Pornography Invades - Part 1

I was searching for something and what I found was not at all what I was looking for.

It was a day like any other. I spent the morning caring for my eighteen month old and was enjoying the respite of nap time.

I was looking for a missing file on my laptop when it hit me like a slap in the face. An image now seared in my memory.

My body froze as the warm burn of anger and disbelief rose within me. It was the first time I found pornography. The first time I became aware of its ugly invasion into our home.

What should I do?

A barrage of questions formed quickly in my mind as my heart raced to make sense of it all. I searched frantically for more files as I grew more and more impatient.

After filling the virtual trash can with all the filth I could find, I made an impulsive phone call. I didn't know what to say, but I knew I had to say something.

To be continued...

Monday, August 13, 2012

We Are All Connected


There is a moment when strangers become acquaintances, and acquaintances become friends. When eyes meet and we see each other's humanity. When we meet someone new and discover common ground; a hobby, a person, a place that connects us. When we open our hearts, even just a little, and vulnerably share a piece of ourselves. When shared laughter or shared tears confirm we are understood, we are accepted, we are not alone.

My deepest connections are often with shared pain. A fellow childhood sexual abuse survivor. A woman struggling with her husband's infidelity. These connections are honest, raw. They reel me back to the land of the living, inspiring and encouraging me to keep fighting, growing, and healing.

Perhaps most profound of all connections is with Jesus. A thread of faith tying me to the Creator. Knowing no matter where I go or what happens to me, that connection can never be severed or separated.

We are all connected, we just may not realize how yet.

Linking today with Lisa-Jo Baker at Gypsy Mama.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sharing Ideas: When Your Husband's Having An Affair

Came across a blog post that I thought might be a good resource to share. It is entitled, "What To Do When You Discover Your Husband's Been Having An Affair", written by Sheila Wray Gregoire at …to Love, Honor, and Vacuum. She makes five really important points to consider when you are in the crisis. I hope you'll check it out!

She's also written a post about "How to Stop an Emotional Affair". Although my husband's affair was physical (not emotional) I know a lot of men and women have struggled with emotional affairs. I encourage you to see what Sheila has to say on this topic, as well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Miss Consin's House - PART 2

This is the continuation of a post written by a wonderful woman who has been walking a path of healing from betrayal and her husband's sexual addiction (read Part 1). This past July, she & her husband had the opportunity to participate in a special counseling week with Dr. Harry Schaumburg, author of "False Intimacy: Understanding the Struggle of Sexual Addiction" and founder of Stone Gate Resources. I have asked her to share how attending this intensive counseling has impacted them. I hope you will find hope and encouragement in reading her heartfelt words!

In our group class during our week at biblical intensive counseling, Dr. Schaumburg used the word “depravity”. I don’t recall hearing that term before. After doing a quick internet search I’ve come to understand that “depravity” describes the sad state of our human existence, not just in times past, before our sins were forgiven by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but the sinful nature that all of us struggle with, even today. These sinful tendencies are so corrupt and so far gone that we could never enter into the presence of God had it not been for that offering of salvation by our precious Lord.

I was brought to my knees once again just weeks ago as I was helping my 6th grade son gather books for a research paper on “idolatry”. As we searched the library for books and I began to read excerpts from some of them I was humbled to learn that idolatry, in its more abstract form, is not just bowing down to a tangible golden calf statue as referenced in the Bible, but also “replacing God with something we revere more than Him.” I am sure it was not by chance that God placed the idea of idolatry as a research topic in this situation. God has a remarkable and unmistakable way of getting our attention!

As humans we are all guilty of replacing God, at some point or another in our lives, with something we revere more than Him. Deep down in our innermost beings there is a core of selfishness—a craving for self-gratification and we will seek it out any way we can get it. Personally, I have replaced God many times in my life without even realizing that was what I was doing. The most recent thing I continually replace God with is my reliance upon food for comfort. I often used my husband’s sexual addiction as an excuse because “I” needed comfort. Instead, I should have relied upon God for that comfort and not replaced Him with food to numb the pain from emotional hurts. Literally days ago, as I was flipping through radio stations in my car, I stumbled upon a Pastor’s sermon that caught my interest. He described how many people make New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier and go to the gym to exercise, but after a few weeks they go back to their old habits. Why? He said it was because of our deep down sinful, selfish desires—doing and getting what we want, when we want. So we can blame other things or other people for not doing what we know we should do, but ultimately we are responsible for our own sin.

There is a deep connection between this idea of idolatry and sexual sin. I wanted to share some of the “tweets” Dr. Schaumburg has written on this very subject.
• March 3, 2012: “The thing that keeps us from spiritual and sexual maturity is spiritual self-idolatry.”
• February 24th: “Sexual sin is always the act of self-will; turning from God to self. Sexual sin is always self-idolatry.”
• November 2nd : “All sexual sin is a symptom of placing one’s self above God. This is idolatry!”
• October 20th: “Covetousness is idolatry for the sole reason that we are satisfied by things rather than satisfied by God.”
• September 30th, he references Thomas Watson by saying: “There is no idol like self where I admire my own words, ideas, achievements, and possessions.”
Over six months ago I was asked to contribute to this blog, but until now I have struggled with my own selfish tendencies. I went in the opposite direction from where God was leading me. Ever since that early summer morning at a picnic table in Wisconsin, I have felt a strong nudge from the Holy Spirit to respond to the sin in and around my life the way I know God wants my heart to respond. Sometimes I feel like Jonah must have felt as he was going against what God asked him to do by not going to Nineveh. Sometimes I do only what I want instead of what He wants.

Easter weekend is here as I sit writing this, very humbled. I have asked two friends to pray for me—to intercede on my behalf so that I will do the will of God as He has called me to do. He can do through me what I humanly cannot do on my own. There is much more to what God has implored me to do besides putting pen to paper just now. But writing this is a fresh start in turning away from my comfort zone and heading straight towards Nineveh. Our own “Nineveh’s” are unique to each of us. I urge you to seek deep within your heart and ask God if there is something He wants you to do that you’ve not done and pray about that right now.

Searching for the elusive “Miss Consin’s house” put me on a path of discovery. There is so much more I learned and am still learning as a result of attending Dr. Schaumburg’s conference. I am so incredibly thankful to God for giving me the opportunity to go and for the constant nudging of the Holy Spirit to keep at it and never let go.

Email me at Light in the Darkness if you are interested in more information regarding this intensive counseling or have a question for our "Guest Blogger" and I will make sure I forward them on.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Miss Consin's House - PART 1

Through this blog I met a wonderful woman who has been walking a path of healing from betrayal and her husband's sexual addiction. This past July, they had the opportunity to participate in a special counseling week with Dr. Harry Schaumburg, author of "False Intimacy: Understanding the Struggle of Sexual Addiction" and founder of Stone Gate Resources. I have asked her to share how attending this intensive counseling has impacted them. I hope you will find hope and encouragement in reading her heartfelt words!

This summer my husband and I left our two young sons with their Grandparents for an entire week while we attended biblical intensive counseling with Dr. Harry Schaumburg. When we returned from our trip, our youngest son showed me a picture on the front of a vacation home rental magazine and asked, “Is this Miss Consin’s house where you stayed on vacation?” I had to laugh—it was sweet. He had heard us talking about going to Wisconsin for the counseling and thought we said Miss Consin. In all reality, we never met Miss Consin, but we did spend a lot of time with Harry Schaumburg, Ph.D. More importantly, though, we spent a lot of time with God and each other.

During the 14-hour drive up there I had a self-righteous feeling brewing inside of me. After all, I wasn’t the offender in this marriage. We were going there to deal with my husband’s sexual addiction. During our evening orientation Dr. Schaumburg asked that we spend the next morning having a quiet time apart from our spouse. He gave us each a specific Bible verse/passage to read and specific guided questions to ponder and pray about. Little did I know that through the prepared scripture and study questions, I was about to embark on something that would change everything.

That Monday morning, as I sat alone at a picnic table overlooking the waterfront, I was brought to my knees by our Sovereign God, who called me out on my own iniquity. Although we were ultimately there as a result of what happened in our marriage I quickly realized that this week was going to be about our own individual relationships with God, first and foremost. We would, of course, be discussing the concerns about our relationship as a couple, but God demands first that I be more concerned about my own sin towards Him.

Through our counseling sessions I learned many things about myself that I never anticipated at the outset of this journey. It started by looking deep into my heart. There I found selfishness that took me by surprise. For years, I put a label on myself as a “person with low self-esteem”. I did not think I had much value and worth. But under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, I was able to see something very different. Selfish pride was right there in my heart the whole time. Pride that demands, “I am indeed important….so important in fact that my husband deserves to feel guilty for what he has put me through in this marriage! Poor, pitiful me.”

Expecting to see evidence of low self-worth, I instead caught a glimpse inside my soul. I wanted my husband to pay for how much hurt he caused me. But what rocked me to the core was how God turned my thinking 180 degrees in an instant. He showed me that even though I have offended God, He doesn’t make me pay for how much hurt I cause Him. There is no doubt I have caused Him hurt over and over and over again. He is worthy of all the vengeance of my betrayals towards Him but because He is a loving God He has forgiven my sinful and deceitful heart and I needed to figure out how to do the same for my husband.

To be continued...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rise and Shine

Nobody likes that feeling. The one that starts in the pit of your stomach. The one that makes you so uncomfortable you just want to run away and hide.

Guilt is an ugly friend. Shame its evil cousin.

Hurts are too painful to face. Nobody likes that feeling.

I wish I could tell you differently. Pain is…painful. Guilt convinces us that it's all our fault. Shame tells us it's better not to think about it, feel anything.

For so many years I lived in the silence of denial, not wanting to face the hurt and betrayal of my own childhood sexual abuse. What did it all mean? Did I really want to know?

Flashes of memories, images better out of sight - out of mind. It is just better that way. You don't have to deal, you don't have to feel.

But I was way wrong.

Living in denial was hurting me. Although it felt like silence to me, I was drawing my own conclusions about what happened and why. I was believing the observations of my child eyes. I was believing lies…that somehow it was my fault, that somehow I should have known better. I was confused and I didn't know what to think about it, so I didn't. Or I tried not to.

What I know now that I didn't know then was the best thing I could have done was talk about it. That inside my own head I was deciding things about myself and others that were not true. My head was very subjective and of course, I took on all the guilt and shame of what had happened.

I was a married adult before I actually sought counsel. I didn't know what I wanted. Maybe I just wanted freedom? Maybe for the first time I wanted to understand the what and the why. It never made sense to the little girl in me. I hadn't been protected. I had never been heard.

That little girl knew only to trust. She loved and trusted because that's what kids do. Children are naive. They don't know how to pursue others sexually. It was never my fault.

Perhaps this is why I feel so strongly about something a friend of mine is working on. She writes a blog called Tamar's Redemption where she discusses sexual abuse, motherhood, and life. She is also a writer. Her own personal experiences with childhood sexual abuse led her to write a children's story, a tool for the prevention of childhood sexual abuse. She has started a non-profit organization called "Rise and Shine Movement" and is on the cusp of launching a website. On the website you will be able to view her children's book and find valuable resources for protecting your children from sexual abuse. Rise and Shine Movement is on Facebook if you are interested in getting more information about the organization.

For those of us who were not protected, it is a mission I believe strongly in. Back when I was a kid, no one was talking about this. Parents didn't know they needed to protect their kids from this. And if they did, resources were not readily available. We must talk to our children now about sexual abuse. We must equip them so they know what to do should someone try to abuse them. As parents, we need to become educated so we can do all that we can to protect not only our own children, but all of the children in our life.

Please join me in supporting my friend, Carolyn, in her mission to empower adults to protect children from sexual abuse. "Like" the Rise and Shine Movement on Facebook. Read her blog, Tamar's Redemption. Share her message with a friend. Once the website is up and running check it out and consider joining the movement.

UPDATE: The Rise and Shine Movement website is now up and running. Please check it out:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It's Not A Diet!

The clock tolls midnight to the sound of cheers, fireworks, pots and pans clanging, and a smooch. The new year promises a fresh start, a "clean" slate. We make resolutions to lose weight, do more exercise, stop smoking, spend more time with family, get out of debt. Apparently, only 3% of all resolutions are actually fulfilled and those that start often last only a month before they are back to old habits.

It seems that we can muster up the discipline for a little while, but unless we make a lifestyle change it's difficult to make it last, like a diet where you cut back and deprive yourself. It may be effective to losing those extra 10 pounds, but as soon as you "start eating again" the pounds easily creep back on.

In my last post I wrote about sexual moratorium or abstinence. You could also think of it as fasting. A friend of mine commented about not liking the name "moratorium" as it sounded so...morbid. My husband disagrees. He likes the label moratorium because it symbolizes to him a "dying to self". Unlike typical periods of fasting, my husband's goal is not to return to old habits the moment the fast is over. Like a diet that ends and the pounds return, our goal in moratorium is to make a lifestyle change.

A lifestyle change is modifying or eliminating long-held habits and maintaining the new habits over time. This does not mean that sexual intimacy will not return. The Bible is very clear that sexual abstinence in marriage only occur for a time (1 Corinthians 7:5-6).

Since the purpose of our sexual moratorium was to create more balance in our marriage, I have felt very anxious about what might happen once intimacy returned. Since it has been an area of weakness and struggle for my husband, it seems possible that, like unrestricted eating after a diet, it could find its way back to an unhealthy place in our marriage. Some of these feelings are my insecurity and I realize I need to trust God in this. However, the attitude and perspective of my husband is an encouragement to me. After experiencing the fruits of this sexual fast, he has no desire to return to old habits. He is looking at this as a lifestyle change, not a diet. One we both hope will be a new and permanent way of viewing sex in our marriage. One that balances healthily among the other important parts of our marriage relationship. One without expectations, bitterness, or guilt.

Change is hard. Lifestyle changes take more then just removing the problem. And change always happens with God's help.
  • Ask God to change your thinking, your perspective, your heart. Believe in your ability to succeed.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Psalm 51:10).
  • Understand why you want to change. What is your motivation for doing it?
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).
  • Change means not just saying you are going to stop or start doing something, but knowing how you are going to do it. What actions are you going to take to help you make a lifestyle change? Be specific.
Don't live any longer the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what he wants is right. His plan is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2).

Dying to yourself, changing, rather breaking, old habits is a desire of the heart. You have to want to do it because you know you are called to do it and out of love for yourself and others. It means sacrifice. Dying to self is sacrificing what you "want" for what you know you "need".

If anyone wants to follow me, he must say no to himself. He must pick up his cross and follow me. If he wants to save his life, he will lose it. But if he loses his life for me, he will find it (Matthew 16:24-25).

I am thankful that my husband was willing not only to deprive himself (through fasting), but desires to make this a lifestyle change and not a diet. We are also fortunate to have a lot of support and encouragement as we continue to walk this unchartered path by faith. I am certain it will not be easy, but we have an awesome Guide and we are trusting Him.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sexual Abstinence in Marriage

It's been the right choice for us. After years of struggling to put sex in its "proper" place within our marriage we decided, he decided to try it.

"Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command." (1 Corinthians 7:5-6)

Bruce N. Fisk writes in his book, "Interpretation Bible Studies: 1 Corinthians":
Through the years thoughtful Christians have recognized the value of periods of abstinence within marriage. In “The Spirit of the Disciplines”, Dallas Willard observes how “absolutely vital to the health of any marriage” it is “that sexual gratification not be placed at the center. Voluntary abstention helps us appreciate and love our mates as whole persons, of which their sexuality is but one part" (Willard, 170).
To some of you, sexual abstinence or moratorium as it's more commonly referred, may sound like a crazy idea. I believe for us, the concept of actually doing this was a long, God process. I can say with complete assurance that God was preparing the way for this moratorium and the success we find within it is the fruit of our obedience to His leading.

Although my husband is in recovery from his sexual addiction and he has not "acted out" since he divulged his secret sin many years ago, sex and intimacy within our marriage has continued to be a source of frustration for both of us. In some ways, it has been difficult to tell which intimacy issues are because of our baggage (my abuse, his addiction) and which are because I'm a woman, he's a man, or even our individual personality traits.

Of all the beautiful benefits to being committed and married to one person for the rest of your life, I have come to feel like sexual intimacy has always had an unhealthy, central position in our marriage. I would like to preface this by saying that I believe sexual intimacy is a very important part of a healthy marriage, but I do not believe it is the most important piece. I believe even though my husband has triumphed over many of his issues regarding his addiction, sex seems to be an easy idol for him. Sex had become like a parasite, sucking the life out of every area of our marriage and lives. Everything, yes everything, became tied to sex to the extent that he felt chained again. It seemed at times like it was okay because it was appropriately focused on me and not someone else, but he was still objectifying me. He felt a sense of entitlement and would often act bitter and angry towards me if things didn't work out for us in the bedroom. I wound up feeling overwhelmed and pressured, which led me to feel unsafe, shameful, and guilty.

This brings me back to sexual moratorium. After much prayer and the seeking of wise counsel, my husband (with my support) decided he wanted to try a sexual moratorium for a short time. It's almost been like a sexual reset. In the beginning we sat down and talked about other ways that we could love and enjoy each other. We made a list of some of the areas that felt lacking, like our friendship with each other. My husband and I have been amazed by the outcome of doing this. I emphasize that he went into this willing and open to the process. He felt led and ready to put the effort in. In his words, "I want this to be a permanent change" and I believe this perspective has helped him to fully embrace the experience.

So what's different? He is actively seeking to love me in other ways. It is reawakening our friendship relationship with each other, helping us to more deeply appreciate the things we always enjoyed about each other, and reestablishing the friendship attraction that ultimately led to us getting married in the first place. Moratorium takes sexual intimacy out of the equation for a time and by removing that "expectation" we can both enjoy more freely our time together without fear of rejection or the pressure for intimacy.

Honestly, my spouse seems happier and more contented then he has in a long, long, time. By removing the idol it has allowed the other areas of our marriage to increase. Hopefully when sexual intimacy returns, we can maintain a healthy balance in our marriage that had been missing in the past.

Sexual moratorium is not for everyone. There are some safe guards that you need to take before you decide to do it. I believe it should not be entered into impulsively or without prayer and wise counsel. Both husband and wife need to be on the same page, not only about doing it, but what you will do instead. It is not just about giving up sex. Like fasting, you should be actively praying and working together during the process. You should have a goal for the moratorium. It is something you are both doing together for your mutual benefit. When your spouse removes sexual intimacy from the equation, they should prepare for battle, especially in their thought life. It is a time to be on guard, but also to lean on God, the Holy Spirit within, your spouse, and a close friend or accountability partner for strength and support.

Sexual moratorium should be a mutual decision. It should be for a time, not indefinitely. I encourage you to pray about what benefits, if any, a sexual moratorium might provide you & your spouse recovering from sexual sins. It may be something God is leading you to consider in your marriage. It should not be undertaken lightly.

For more reading on this topic might I suggest a blog post from Purifying Grace, "Biblical Marital Abstinence: Abstaining from Sex in Marriage" or Porn to Purity, "Abstaining From Sex Will Help Your Marriage".

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How To Help A Loved One Battling The Storm

After years of healing from my husband's admissions I am not afraid to talk to others about my experience. I always held fast to the idea that part of the good that could come out of such a dark time in my life would be in helping others put the pieces back together or at the very least realize that they are not alone. As such I have met several women who were in the throws of dealing with an unfaithful spouse. I don't know statistically speaking, but I'd say most marriages do not survive.

The perspective of this blog is from a marriage that did not end. I have no idea which path is easier to take and frankly, does it even matter? For each of us we have a choice, to stay or not to stay. I believe God leads the answer to this. I know the pivotal factor for me was my husband's brokenness and desire to make major changes. By the time my husband confessed, God had already been working on him for several years. My husband knew what he wanted and it included me. He was done with the lies and was actively seeking freedom from the chains of sexual addiction. He was ready and willing to do everything within his power to change and allow God to change him, no matter how difficult it was going to be. Conversely, God was working in my heart to accept my husband, the infidelity and all his flaws, so that we could actually work together to rebuild what sexual sin had broken apart.

Whether you choose to stay or not, we have all experienced the pain, often shock, of finding out our spouse has been unfaithful. We have all cried and screamed trying to make sense of it all. As the details slowly unfold, we have experienced confusion and self-contempt as we ask ourselves "how did we not know this was going on?" or "how could he?". This is the pain we share. I remember feeling very alone. At the time not having someone I felt comfortable enough confiding in, reeling and wondering if there was really anyone I could trust?

I have friends who are trying to support loved ones who just found out their spouses were unfaithful. Friends who don't know how to help. What does wise counsel look like in the midst of this?

1. Be a listening ear.
Betrayal is a very lonely place. It causes self-doubt and you tend to isolate because trust becomes such a difficult issue for you. If your spouse could betray you then is anyone really trustworthy? Be available to them. Give them a shoulder to cry on. Call them and check on them. There were many days when I was hurting so badly yet wanting someone to care, to make sure I was okay.

2. Be a reminder that they are not alone.
Adultery is commonplace anymore, but people rarely talk about it unless it ends very badly. Help them to see that there are other people that understand their pain. Even Jesus was betrayed.

3. Reflect the truth back to them.
There is a stigma associated with being the one betrayed, if not put on them by the world they put it on themselves. "I was betrayed because there is something wrong with me." Too fat, too skinny, not enough sex, blah, blah, blah. You name it we will find ways to blame ourselves for the whole thing. It may be true that it takes two, but adultery, lust, pornography, any sexual sin is a choice, a sin, and they are responsible for that. Many people willing to have an affair have deep issues of their own (having nothing to do with you).

4. Encourage professional wise counsel.
In the heart of my crisis, I did not want to reach out to a counselor. I didn't really know what I wanted or what I was supposed to do. A kind friend and counselor called me up and offered to meet with me to talk about what was going on. I am so glad I did that. Both my husband and I went to intense counseling during the height of the crisis. Although the frequency of the counseling has lessoned, we still seek counsel when things come up. I can think of nothing better then having objective counsel to deal with the depth of the issues betrayal reveals, even if you choose not to stay married.

5. Don't spouse bash.
As the betrayed spouse is sorting and sifting through all the ramifications of what has happened TRY NOT to bash on the offending spouse. I'm not suggesting you do not offer an honest opinion on the situation or what he/she has done, but it should only be done in an effort to help and encourage. Besides, you never know what God has planned for their marriage and staying together might be a viable option for them.

6. Walk beside them.
The journey of healing from this kind of betrayal is usually long and hard, especially if they choose to stay together. You should understand that this is a process and just because they are no longer in crisis does not mean they don't need your support. Things are not going to be better for awhile. They will experience many ups and downs. They will need time to rebuild trust. There is nothing more meaningful then a friend who commits to walking this journey with them. A friend that they can hash things out with, bounce things off of, and who is willing to speak truth to them.

There are many ways a spouse can commit adultery. According to the Bible, "anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). Just like there is no such thing as a "little" abuse, I believe betrayal is betrayal. It hurts the same, it destroys the same. I believe a spouse who commits adultery (and the man or woman they do it with) have deep issues. Issues that usually require professional counseling. Sometimes the lustful spouse has a sexual addiction they don't even know they have. Part of your process may include encouraging them to get the help they need before you can even focus on repairing your relationship.

If you have been betrayed or you are looking to help someone who has been, please see the book resource tab at the top of this blog for more information. And as always, I invite you to email me with any questions, concerns, or comments you may have.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sexual Sin

A very blunt, but important sermon by Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church discussing sexual sin and addressing the question, "How should Christian men and women go about breaking free from the bondage of sexual sin?” Whether you like it or not, sexual sin and immorality effects all of us in one way or the other. Please take a moment to watch (below) or listen and/or download this important message.


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