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)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Confession and Healing (Part 2)

This post is a continuation from here.

Confession or being caught doesn't necessarily secure a happy, walk away from my sin ending. There's far more to it than that.

Exposing the sin is just the beginning of a complex process. The spouse with the figurative pornography noose around his/her neck has to want to remove it.

By the time my spouse confessed, he was already fed up with himself. He desired change and spent too many years trying to do it on his own. Confession freed him from the burden he carried alone, but it wasn't easy and it sometimes comes with a cost.

But sometimes, a spouse is sorry he got caught instead of being sorry for the hurt he's caused or the sin itself. What do you do then?

I can't speak from that experience specifically since everyone's journey through this looks different. But I can tell you that sexual betrayal, via adultery or pornography or lust, impacts your marriage and requires healing for both husband and wife, whether there is repentance or not.

Dealing with the pain of betrayal is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but the work was necessary. My husband's sexual addiction became an opportunity for me to do some self-examining.

And since I chose to stay and fight for our marriage, I knew my attitude towards his healing would effect everything. I could remain withdrawn, bitter, and angry or I could become his biggest ally. Neither option was a guarantee that he would not slip again, but one could lead to more hiding and the other encourages open communication.

If you suspect your spouse is struggling with pornography or sexual addiction:

  • Talk to him about it. Show him you are a safe person by the way you approach/respond to him.
  • Share/confess your own sin. God knows you struggle, too! Does your spouse know you're not perfect either?
  • Establish accountability to protect him from temptations. Who can he call on when he's feeling tempted? Who can both encourage him and help pick him back up if he falters?
  • Become partners/allies/teammates — together fighting against temptations. Can you help guard his heart? How can you help establish/support healthy boundaries for him/for both of you (what he sees, reads, hears)?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Suspecting and Confronting (Part 1)

I was not one of those ostrich wives that happily preferred to hide my head in the sand. If anything, I was more suspicious and distrusting than most.

I didn't suspect my husband was viewing pornography until I found it on our computer that day. And I certainly never suspected my husband was having an affair with another woman. I was never naive enough to think he could never do that to me. In fact, unfaithfulness was one of my greatest marriage fears.

I have learned that liars always get caught at some point. It's like a built-in safety net and I have a great deal of faith in that.

I also believe that our intuition is stellar. You may not know specifically what's going on, but eventually, your gut will nag you into suspicion of something. Maybe you just have to ask the right questions?

Far too often, we talk ourselves out of or allow our spouse to minimize our suspicions. And I often left those conversations feeling selfish and guilty for second-guessing him.

We have a sin nature that doesn't like to get caught. Our shame and guilt is so powerful we would rather hide it from everyone then face the embarrassment and disappointment of others. The deeper we are in the sin, the harder it is to break free alone. So we're caught in this ugly spiral, in a state of contention, where right and wrong tug and pull at us, and we feel like there is no way out.

Cue the hope.

One of the best ways out of sin is confession. And maybe a close second is when someone who loves us confronts us about our sin. I shine a light over the darkness of my own sin or someone else does. Either way, I can no longer hide from it.

And that's a great place to start.

To be continued here

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fantasizing About Mr. Right

I'm not sure why, but my parents didn't talk much about the birds and the bees.

I learned about relationships from television and movies. I took notes on kissing from the soap operas the women in my life watched daily.

And I read romance novels. They certainly appealed to my blooming curiosity.

After a while they became quite predictable. Girl meets boy, they flirt, they fall in love, and everything is happily ever after. I was so enamored with that.

Every girl imagines finding the man of their dreams! And romance novels stirred my "knight in shining armor" desires and set me up with unrealistic expectations.

As I "matured," so did my taste in romance novels. And they became racier and racier as you can imagine.

My real life wasn't going so well then. My relationship with my new husband was shaky at best. I knew the Lord, but I wasn't in relationship with Him. And I was just coming to terms with the ramifications of childhood sexual abuse. There was a lot of turmoil. It's safe to say I was quite unhappy in my life and in my marriage.

Betrayal had shattered my trust of men. I started using fantasy as an escape — imagining in my mind the perfect life with an adoring and affectionate mate that would always chose me over anything else that happened to be going on. It was a welcome respite from the chaos and emotions of my real life.

I thought nothing of it then. But many years later, as my marriage relationship improved and we began the long road of healing from my husband's infidelity and sexual addiction, I realized what I was doing was wrong, too.

If my husband was going to be accountable for his lustful actions, so should I. And reading romance novels and fantasizing about Mr. Right in my mind were not honoring my spouse.

As much as I wanted to downplay it, explicit romance novels are a form of pornography (check out the definition). Although we may turn to romance novels, fantasizing, or other forms of pornography to find "fulfillment," all they serve to do is make you dissatisfied, especially with your spouse.

I believe pornography can be a struggle for women. And I have met women, even some in good marriages, that fight the urge to fantasize. If you can relate, please know you aren't alone.

I have not read "Fifty Shades of Grey" and I don't intend to. Call me a prude, but I don't want to get caught up in author EL James' personal fantasies.

My husband has worked so hard to protect himself, why shouldn't I?

In the same way that I want to be the focus of my husband's affections, I need to focus my affections on him.
So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It's better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet. (Matthew 18:8)
If you're confused about the role pornography may play in your marriage, read this article from Covenant Eyes.

Be honest with your spouse. You are teammates fighting for your marriage. Help each other, encourage each other, and try to avoid situations that lead to temptation.

And if you cannot avoid it, protect yourself from it. Do not allow yourself to be drawn back in. Stop the thoughts before they take you down a road you do not want to take.

The catalyst for me was experiencing true intimacy with my husband, both physically and emotionally. At that point, I no longer felt the need to escape because the real life we were working to build together was much better than anything I could dream up.
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