Addition to original post: My friend April expressed some concern about this post. I want everybody to know that my husband read this long before I put it up for public consumption. I never post anything about him without having him read it. Our relationship is too precious for me to mess it up. We have spoken in our church about this topic before and both feel rather strongly that it needs to be addressed by Christians. Nobody is perfect, certainly not us. So, feel safe, we'll talk to anybody about this post, even if you don't like what we say. :)
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A dear friend of mine is leaving her husband. I don’t have answers for this situation, just thoughts… In fact, dear friend, if you are reading this I wasn’t writing specifically for you. I’m writing out of a need for understanding. I feel like I can relate a little to your decision…
This situation makes me so sad... This couple was married two months after Jake & me in 2000. Her reasons for leaving him are completely legitimate. We’re not talking about a “he won’t take out the trash” or “he puts the toilet paper in upside-down” kind of situation, nor are we talking about a “he’s on drugs”, “he beats me”, or “he’s sleeping with prostitutes” kind of situation. However, her reasons are real, and they are serious, and frankly, they are her business.
While marriage has brought me more delight and pleasure than I could have ever dreamed, it has also brought more pain and sorrow than I could have ever imagined. The male mind is still a complete mystery to me, and trying to communicate with it can be an aggravating disaster. I’m quite sure I will NEVER understand the male sex drive, and there are times when I just don’t like my husband. His interests are weird, sometimes disgusting, and trying to understand them is like visiting Mars. (I know, I know, I don’t agree with the whole book, but boy howdy, I have got to admit men ARE from a different planet.) My husband is totally self-focused and selfish. (Okay, okay, so am I, but I’m talking about him right now). Frankly, there are times I want to tell him to just go away. Sometimes I want to pull out my hair and run screaming into the night. And sometimes, I want to pull HIS hair out, break his arms and fingers and then run screaming into the night.
We’ve had two big on-going factors affecting our marriage- the first of these is our financial situation, which we have both caused. Both of us are very unwise with money, and came from families that did not save. We each tend to want to spend whatever money we have, and our current job situation brings in a very small amount. We have disagreements about what we will spend, on what we will spend it, and where the money went. When we agree on something other factors frequently force us to change our plans, which causes us frustration and we frequently take it out on each other.
The other major on-going factor is my husband’s pornography addiction. This has been a huge big deal in our marriage, and I rarely discuss this with people because if they don’t have personal experience with the issue they probably won’t get it at all. This addiction either horrifies them, or they think it’s nothing at all. Neither of those reactions is helpful at all…
There are some very legitimate reasons for his addiction- He was pursued, you might even say “wooed”, by a child molester when he was 13. Part of this wooing involved this man showing him pornography. Although he escaped without any physical damage Jake has emotional and spiritual scars from his experiences with this man. (addition to this story- Somehow Jake's Dad got wind of some of the stuff this guy was showing Jake and talking to him about, went over to this neighbor and beat him up. Jake was pretty much clueless about the guy until then. It is only as an adult that he can clearly see what was going on.)
My husband was married right after he turned 18 to somebody you would not call a “good girl”. I believe she seduced and chased him down because she knew he was one of the few guys around her who would take responsibility for her. Pornography was a part of their life together. After his divorce, he lived with the weight of depression, which led to a rededication and decision to get serious with God. At this time he struggled with his pornography addiction, and had very little success over it. This was the whip that Satan repeatedly used to scourge Jake and convince him that he was worthless, disgusting and would amount to very little. Certainly this would prevent him from ever being pure or serving God.
Like many men, he came to a point where he believed that if he were to get married this problem would go away. When we got married I did not know about this problem, and at first it did go away. But after about 15 or 16 months of married life Jake experienced a series of set-backs which affected his self-image- he was in a serious car accident that totaled his car and forced him to quit his job, he got pneumonia and couldn’t find another job…
At about the same time we had made the decision to get Internet so that I could keep in contact with family and friends. And Jake discovered Internet pornography- free, right there in our home… Because he is the man that he is, he immediately admitted it to me. And I forgave him. And then he admitted it the next day, and I forgave him. And he admitted it the next day, and I realized something more was going on than I could understand or casually forgive. He was ripping my heart out and treating it as if he’d accidentally bumped me in the kitchen. I was viewing it from the point of view of Jesus saying, “If you look at a woman with lust in your heart, it’s adultery.”
To make a long story shorter, we have seen two counselors, one in Fairbanks and one in Seattle, and Jake has been involved with two sex addiction groups, Prodigals in Seattle and Hope Counseling here in Fairbanks. Currently, Jake is having success over this addiction, but it is an on-going process.
I’ve now read about 6 books on the subject- most recently Every Heart Restored from the Every Man series. What I appreciated the most about this book is that they spent about six chapters going over all the reasons that this is NOT the wife’s fault. They talk about the male sex drive, the way men’s brains are wired, and the factors in society that contribute to this problem. Then they talk about how this problem is a couple’s problem because you married him so his problems are your problems, just as your problems are now his problems. (For example, if you were molested before you got married to your husband, he now has to deal with some of the knee jerk reactions that come with being touched in certain ways. Doesn’t mean he caused the problem, but he will have to live with it for the rest of your marriage.) They talk about spiritual warfare and how Satan uses this to defeat men, and explain that in many ways he is a spiritual victim. They also talk about how trust and respect can be separated, that I can still respect him and his position as husband even as my trust in him has been damaged. I had always considered them to be irrevocably tied together.
Recently, I’ve also read the book Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas. What I appreciated the most about this book is his emphasis that God did not design marriage to make us happy, but to make us holy. This is a hard truth. During one of Jake’s relapses, I realized I never wanted to deal with his sex addiction again, and that I was quite ready to just quit. It took a lot for me to let God keep me in this marriage. I was very angry and very negative. It seemed to me that my husband didn’t care at all that his actions were destroying my heart, my respect for him and my trust in him. Jake has been able to slowly regain my trust and he is changing. We both want this relationship to work, and we both have changed to keep it working and strong.
So, back to my friend- her situation is completely different. Their issues are not the same issues we have. Their problems are not the same problems we have. But I can relate to having serious issues in a marriage relationship. Really, in the big picture, the biggest difference between our situation and hers is that her husband does not see any need or problem in their relationship, is unwilling to change in any way, and will not see a counselor or pastor. I don’t know what I would do in her situation. Jake is one of my best friends. I can’t imagine not sharing my hurts with him. I can’t imagine him not taking our relationship seriously, as one of the central parts of his life. We don’t agree on everything, we have issues, but we are working together on our relationship.
God, hold my friend close. Give her your peace and wisdom. You know this situation- Please grant healing for her heart, and direct her steps. Thank you.
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