Being the wife of a husband who has struggled with an addiction to porn is a difficult cross to bear. Isolation and loneliness can become the norm in order to hide the shame this brings to the heart of a woman. I understand. However, as I have found in my own life, in order to become healthy, you MUST at some point, reach out to someone that can encourage you and help you make sense of the emotions you battle everyday. Not only do you need a trusted Pastor and/or counselor but a woman who understands....one who can share the road to healing with you. One who knows what it is like to walk through this kind of betrayal.
How do you find such a person?
First and foremost is prayer. Pray that God would send that friend to you. A divine connection in which she can help you and you can help her. A woman who will encourage you and be quick to point you to Jesus. Chances are, you may already be friends with a woman who has been broken by her husband's addiction to porn, but too ashamed for others to know.
Beyond finding a sister to share this journey with you I want to encourage you to become involved with a support system, a group of women that you meet with on a regular basis who are passionate about becoming the women God has designed for them to be. Not in spite of their husband's addiction but because of it! No doubt, God will use these women to strengthen you and help you on your journey to wholeness.
How do you find a support group?
Depending on where you live, there may be one available. These are popping up more and more as the christian community is realizing that this is an issue that can no longer be ignored. Check with churches in your area. However, you may find that there is no such thing. SO what do you do?
Start. Your. Own.
I know......sounds scary and of course that is what the enemy wants. Sister, frankly, hasn't this addiction caused enough fear in your life? Hasn't it stolen enough from YOU? Do not let the enemy rob you any longer. The truth is, when you reach out to others with transparency and love, you will find that your own heart hurts less. As you share your own unintended journey with those whom God brings your way He will use your story for His Glory. Friend, your pain has a purpose and frankly, it is not all about you but about reaching out to sisters that need to be encouraged by what God has brought or is bringing you through. Trust me, you do not have to have all the answers, you do not have to be a counselor...all you have to be is available. As God has comforted you, you can comfort others and give them hope.
Still not convinced? Think about these questions. Do you have a willing heart who desires to encourage other women? Are you determined to not let what you have went through be in vain? Are you tired of doing this alone? Does your heart break when you think of all the women who are silently dying inside because of this shameful addiction that has bound their husband and practically destroyed their marriage? If you answered yes to most of these questions, then you have a door of ministry just waiting to be opened.
So, who would come? Remember the woman that you are praying God sends your way? That's who! A support group can start with no more than you and one other sister. However, that my friend, is just the beginning! As time goes by, God will send more hurting women who need hope. Did you get that? HE WILL BRING THEM! You do not have to concern yourself with numbers. This is not about that. It is about being available so that God can use you for His Kingdom purposes however big or small. Can I just encourage you to be obedient to what God calls you to do and allow Him to take care of the rest? You will be amazed how He will orchestrate what He calls you to do. I began by sitting across, one on one, with women who were broken, who needed to talk, who did not trust ANYONE. We met at a local coffee shop. Those were special, God moments that I will never forget. It may also mean talking on the phone...encouraging a dear sister whom who have never even met face to face. Sometimes, all a sister needs is for someone to listen. Someone that will not judge her or her husband but just love her with the love of Jesus.
Today, there are currently eight woman whom I consider part of my community of support and a few more whom I share with via email or by phone. These women are precious to me. They are women of great courage who have chosen to step out of fear by faith, and allow others to share their unintended journey with them. They have decided to take off their masks and be transparent and real about their daily struggles. We have much in common. Our hearts have been broken by the ONE who meant the most to us. Broken by having to share our husband with fake and fantasy. We have been tattered, we have been torn, but together we are moving forward. We are dusting off the ashes of pain and extinguishing the lies that were meant to strip us of our dignity and worth. Together, we are becoming the women God desires for us to be. We are a picture of what the church can look like when we come together in community wanting nothing more than to help each other rise up from the ashes and cling to Jesus. Our pain is real, our hearts broken, but we are finding beauty that we would have missed had our lives continued on as usual. Friendships formed because our lives were interrupted by pain and now we are seeing the beauty of what God can do. Our husbands are at different places on their journeys. Some have been delivered from a life of sexual addiction. Others are still in the trenches. You see it doesn't matter. It is not about our husbands but about what God desires to show us through what He has allowed us to suffer. These are special sisters who share burdens, insecurities, fears and faith. Sisters who understand. Sisters who will pray.
What do you do at a support group?
Pray. Share. Encourage. Study God's Word.
The community of support that I am speaking of is there to encourage, uphold, and love one another. A safe place for those who are hurting. This is NOT a place for a pity party nor a place to do some husband bashing. Our goal is for our hearts to become healthy.... not remain unhealthy by feeding selfishness, bitterness, and pride. One of the very best resources I have found is Vicki Tiede's book titled When your Husband is Addicted to Pornography. You can find it at http://freedombeginshere.org/collections/dvds-books/products/when-your-husband-is-addicted-to-pornography-healing-your-wounded-heart. She has written it in such a way that you can pick a subject (Identity, forgiveness, surrender, etc.) or you can go straight through it....either way it is a wonderful tool. You don't have to be a bible study leader or teacher to do this. You only need to facilitate. It is all about creating an environment for growing and healing all for the glory of God.
Where do you meet?
It all depends on your group and the needs of that group. You can meet in someone's home or a restaurant with a private room. We have tried both of those but we ended up reserving a room (for free) at our local library and that has been the best option. It is private and quiet! So far it has worked out great! Be creative. Look around your city and find out the options that are available. Again, God will lead you as you seek Him for wisdom about every detail.
When do you meet?
Again, that all depends on your group and what is best for you. We try to meet every other week. That seems to work well with everyone's busy schedules. You can also set up a private facebook page in which you can encourage each other in between meetings. It is a great way to stay connected.
The statistics show that around 50% of men in our churches are struggling with porn. When I think of that do you know what comes to mind? Hiding behind those men are wives who are broken, isolated, and don't know where to turn. They are hurting deeply but afraid for any one to know. They need help. They need a safe place where they can be understood and encouraged. They need other women who will come along side them in love, support, and encouragement. Someone like you who knows what it is like to face what they are facing. You may still be in the difficult season of this journey, you still may be hurting yourself.... that is all the more reason to reach out to others and do this thing together! Dear sister, can I challenge you to pray about it? Think about it. AND if you have to..... DO IT afraid! Not only will it help other women but it will bless your life in ways you never imagined!
He comfort us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
2 Corinthians 1:4
I am eager to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. In this way, each of us will be a blessing to the other. Romans 1:12
As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17
If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. Ecclesiastes 4:10