When you hold your marriage up to a mirror what do you see? What should you see?
The image I pray to see is that of the image of Christ and his relationship to the church. He set the example for us to follow. Unselfish sacrificial love and devotion is the height of the bar.
The book of Ephesians in chapter 5 puts it in God's words. Some of the words your about to read have fueled our culture to become quite upset. Sometimes the truth is hard to take, but it's still the truth.
Here we go. Eph 5: 22-24 "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."
What proceeds verse 22 in 21 is this; "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."
Ok, husbands pay attention. God has a command for us. Eph 5:25-27 "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."
You now know his secret. Your husband is addicted to porn.
More than likely, you caught your husband looking at porn or you found it by accident on the computer. You were hoping it was just a slip up, a wrong click of the mouse, a one time event. But as time has gone by and more truth has been revealed, you realize it wasn't a one time event but an ongoing obsession. The choice that you will eventually have to make is whether you should tell somebody or not.
Your husband, most likely, will not want anybody to know. He may be telling YOU to keep it a secret. After all, it is his secret not yours. It's his to keep. The truth is, you feel so shameful about this new discovery that you are okay with not telling anyone. What would others think? You begin believing the lie that it is best for nobody to know. It could destroy the "perfect" christian family image that you portray to those around you. So you hide your pain. You put your mask on every time you leave your home. You smile, determined to not let anyone see your wounded heart. You pull back from others. You seclude yourself, so fearful that those who know you best may catch you at a week moment and see your brokenness. You make excuses for not going out with your girlfriends. You cry yourself to sleep at night. Nobody knows what it is like to be you. And part of you is just fine with that. The other part of you wants so badly to be heard, to be understood, to be free from the secret that has left your heart so painfully shattered.
What do you do?
When it comes to wives of husbands who are addicted to porn we often hear words like co-addict, enabler and co-dependent. Then we add a few labels of our own to the mix and before we know it, our true identity is hidden and soon lost amid the pain and brokenness of our circumstances. No wonder our journey to healing and wholeness is filled with roadblocks and obstacles.
I find it disheartening that because you and I have been a wife of a husband addicted to porn, we are given labels that bring MORE shame into our already broken world. We can mistakenly perceive some of these labels as indicators that we are somehow partially at fault for our husband's addiction.
Because we love a man who is or has been addicted to porn, we are quickly labeled as a co-addict. Meaning, we have an addiction, as well. Not to porn, of course, but our addiction is to our addicted husband. This is our disease. It does not matter that we had no clue of our husband's addiction when we began our relationship with him, we are automatically labeled and need to seek recovery. The good news is, there is no cure and the best to hope for is remission in which we must engage in for the rest of our lives. Really???
The other labels such as enabler and co-dependent also gets slapped on us. These labels have to do with the way we responded to our husband's addiction once it was brought to light. For example; the months following if we were at all fearful of being hurt again and showed this by checking up on our husband in any form or fashion this meant we were co-dependent and just as "sick" as our husbands. Hmm....sounds more like a woman who has experienced some trauma in her life to me. Although I do not want to focus on these labels and theories that go along with them, I would like to clarify my own thoughts. I believe even though some of us could have some unhealthy tendencies that we need to address due to the trauma of betrayal, it does not mean we should accept the labels that go along with them.
To the wounded wife, these labels only add to the pain and hopelessness that we are already feeling.
What about the other labels that we begin to believe about ourselves? Labels like victim, inadequate, failure, doormat, ugly, stupid, rejected....do those sound familiar? Which ones have you accepted about yourself? What labels are you wearing?
To be frank, your husband's addiction to porn has the power to destroy you OR to develop you into the woman God created you to be! If you are wearing labels God never intended for you to wear then you are on a slippery slope.
Dear friend, I want to encourage you to look to God's Word and what HE says about you! Do not accept the labels the world tries to give you. Do not allow the words you have spoken over yourself OR ones that others may have said over you to measure your worth. Allow God to strip those labels from you, and replace them with TRUTH. Your husband's addiction to porn does not define YOU!! What does God say about YOU? Sweet friend, what God says about YOU is who YOU are!! You are unconditionally loved, completely accepted, and chosen by the creator of the universe. Read it for yourself.....
You are a child of God!
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith... Gal 3:26
You are Called!
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, God's own purchased special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who CALLED YOU out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9
You are Chosen
For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.
You are Redeemed!
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1
You are a masterpiece!
For you are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10
You are royalty!
You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord's hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
You are beautiful!
The King is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your Lord.
You are wonderfully made!
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14
You are not alone!
...God has said, Never will I leave you nor will I forsake you. Hebrew 13:5
You are victorious!
For everyone born of God, overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:4
You are dearly loved!
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
You are COMPLETE in Christ!
So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. Colossians 2:10
You are clothed with strength and dignity!
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Proverbs 31:25
Can I challenge you, dear friend? Start TODAY believing the Word of God no matter how you feel or what you are going through this very moment. His Word does not change. His Word is His love letter to YOU!! Read it, meditate on it and let it FILL your thoughts. You are His beloved daughter and He will use your painful circumstances for good.....that's a promise, HIS promise to YOU!!
We are assured and know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his plans and purposes. Romans 8:28
Life was good! My husband and I were getting along so well. I had NO reason to believe that he was acting out again. All the signs I had learned to watch for were not there. I believed my heart was safe. I thought I had it all figured out. I was WRONG! The fact is, the indicators I had depended on in the past, now had failed me.
You see, Over the years I had learned to read the signs. Signs that indicated my husband was secretly satisfying himself with porn. His attitude in general was different. He was MORE angry, MORE prideful, and showed LESS interest in the things of God. He was impatient and just plain irritable. I am not talking about having a "bad" day once in a while, but an on going attitude that followed him until his sin was exposed. Somehow, knowing those "signs" gave me some security to hold onto, especially when the indicators were nowhere to be seen. I was confident that when those "signs" were not visible, my heart was safe and secure.
The truth is, the security I had built around my heart was false security. False security that I held onto MORE than I held onto trusting God. I felt so foolish. My world came crashing down when the truth was revealed that my husband had learned how to "act" so that I would not suspect a thing. The hurt and pain I felt was deeper, darker than ever before. The security blanket that had become so comfortable and what I depended on, had left me uncovered, ashamed, and vulnerable.
Last January, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Tim Challies on the topic of my book, which is slated to be released on (or about) October 1, of this year. Since then many women have contacted me after discovering that their husbands are addicted to porn and they are looking for answers.
If you are looking for help in this area, I want to give you one piece of important information; my book now has an official title. (This was not the case last January and "Mosaic Heart" was just the working title.) The title you will want to be looking for is When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography ~ Healing for Your Wounded Heart. New Growth Press is publishing my book.
Here's what you can look forward to ...
My prayer is that you will focus your eyes on the God of Hope, rather than basing your hope and happiness on your husband’s choices. Learning to allow God to meet your greatest needs is a long and learned process, probably longer than the amount of time it will take to go through my interactive book. It’s a slow dance through brokenness in the arms of the Almighty. I know. I’ve been in your shoes and I’ve learned the intricate steps to finding Hope in the midst of a husband’s addiction to pornography.
As you work your way through the book, learning how to let God heal your heart, you will also be dealing with your damaged emotions and painful sexual experience—total healing.
More than anything, I want you, my reader, to know you are not alone or abnormal in your experience and the ensuing feelings that come with a husband’s choice to engage in pornography. I do this by providing true, first-hand accounts from 26 other women who have made it through or are successfully navigating sexual betrayal.
When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography is interactive, giving you ample opportunity to engage in Scripture related to the stages of healing your heart. Guiding questions and plenty of white space give you a place to process your own story and discover how what you are learning in When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography applies to your unique situation. As a result, you are able to redeem the pain of your own sexual betrayal in the wake of your husband’s pornography addiction, and embrace personal and spiritual growth.
I do not have any great accolades behind my name. I am not a counselor or psychologist. I am simply a wife, mother of five, and a follower of Jesus. I am a woman whose heart has been broken because of my husband's addiction to pornography. If you are reading this, your heart has probably been broken, too. From my heart to yours, I am so sorry. I understand. Betrayal hurts. Just to say it hurts doesn't seem sufficient for the pain I know you are feeling. It goes deeper, way deeper. From a woman who has been where you are now, please believe me when I say there is hope and healing for your wounded heart.
My husband and I celebrated twenty-seven years of marriage this past July. That sounds all wonderful and I am thankful but can I share with you that twenty-five of those years he battled an addiction to porn? Being married to a man with an addiction to porn isn't my idea of the life I would have planned for myself. What about you? There have been so many times that my husband's choices left my heart broken and my hopes crushed. I lived a life of shame and secrecy for years to hide the pain I felt. I felt so alone. His secret was my secret. After all, I went to church; I was a “Godly” woman. NOBODY could know the truth of what was going on. What would they think?
I am sad to say that I know there are MANY women who are sitting in our churches Sunday after Sunday hiding behind their own masks. I know this, because, as I shared, I used to be one of them. I know all too well the uninvited thoughts and feelings that can consume and control a woman who has been wounded by this kind of betrayal. Some are thoughts that are too shameful to admit. We hide behind our own shame, our own toxic thinking all the while hoping that nobody can see the pain in our eyes. That is one reason I want to join you here, on your journey to healing.
It is my heart’s desire to expose the lies that we believe when it comes to this addiction. These lies have the potential to paralyze us and keep us from fulfilling the plans and purposes God has for us. The Truth is what will set us free but we must know the truth and believe the truth for it to have a lasting impact on our hearts.
I can tell you that I have not always handled the situations I have faced in my marriage with grace and wisdom. I have failed too many times to count. Just as my husband was held captive, I too, lived a life of bondage. I was held captive by fear, suspicion, jealousy, and insecurity. I put my husband on the throne of my heart instead of God. We were two people both in need of transformation.
I am so grateful that even though there were so many times when I wanted to give up, God’s gracesustained me. God saw my future and knew what I didn't. He knew that ONE day, my husband's deliverance would come. He knew that we would have a "story" to tell that would influence others for good and bring hope to those whose marriages have lost hope because of this addiction. Today, my husband is walking free and helping others to do the same. I say that behind tears and a heart full of thankfulness. God is so faithful!
Through it all, I have learned a lot about myself and about my relationship with God. I am still not where I want to be but I am so thankful I am not where I was. My life has been messy but God is creating a tapestry of beauty from the brokenness. The marriage I once had has died and Christ is resurrecting a new one, day by day. I have a heart covered with scars but those scars serve only as a reminder of God's amazing grace and faithfulness.
I do not have all the answers but what I do have is a heart that desires to encourage women who are hurting and broken due to their husband’s choices. My prayer is that you find significant meaning in your suffering and a deeper, more intimate relationship with God. I want you to know that you are not alone and there is healing for your broken heart. No matter what your husband chooses to do, God desires to heal you totally and completely. His plans for your life aregood and have not changed because of your husband's choices. God is your healer. You are extravagantly loved by the ONE who is enthralled by your beauty!! Believe it, my friend!
If you are looking for a great resource, Vicki Tiede's book titled When your Husband is Addicted to Pornography-Healing Your Broken Heart will help you so much on your journey to healing. I have read many books on this subject and I believe this is one of the best ones available. If you haven't yet got a copy, I would encourage you to do so. I am so thankful for Vicki's ministry and the opportunity to be a part of what God is doing here at FBH. I believe both will be used mightily to bring hope, healing, and deliverance to the lives of many.
You see her, Sunday after Sunday. You notice how pretty she is. She seems to be everything that you aren't. Everyone seems to like her. She seems to have the "happily ever after" that you only dream about! Her marriage is perfect. Great family, great kids. She always smiles, always seems to have it all together. You have her all figured out. You assume she never gets angry. She never yells at her kids. She never misses her daily time with Jesus. You are so sure that she never feels awkward or insecure. There is a big part of you that wishes your life was more like hers. For you, life has been so unfair. You think if she had half the problems you do, she certainly wouldn't be smiling so much. She is so intimidating to you. Why would she want to be friends with someone like you? Your life is so messy. She certainly wouldn't understand.
So what do you do? You keep your distance. You may even avoid her at times. Even though she has tried to reach out to you, your assumptions about her will not allow a relationship to take root.
But, what if your assumptions are all wrong???? What if the thoughts you are having are not reality at all?
Can I be frank with you, dear sister? If you look closer, with your heart and not with your eyes you may see something you never noticed before. She is a woman just like you, a woman with a story. Her life is not perfect as you have invisioned. She may look peaceful and happily married but it did not come without a price. She is not what you think. Maybe if you befriended her, you would find out that she struggles, has insecurities and a heart that is covered with scars. Maybe if you reached out to her, got to know her, shared your own story with her...you would know the truth about her instead of the imaginary picture that keeps you at a distance. Maybe you could help her and she could help you. Please, dear sister, stop the assumptions. Open your heart and allow the walls that keep you from connecting with your sisters in Christ to come down once and for all.
Bottom line....we need each other. We were not created to go through this journey of life in seclusion. Relationships are what God uses to fulfill His plans and purposes on this earth. It is through these relationships that we learn more about ourselves and the LOVE of Christ.
It is in the confines of community that our character is molded and shaped to be more like HIM. We need real relationships with our sisters in Christ. Not only do our relationships challenge and change us for His Glory, they also are a mighty force against the enemy and his schemes. Satan is quite aware of what happens when we come together in the name of Jesus. That is why he wants you to be paralyzed by your perceptions in such a way that you miss what is real. He WANTS you to stay in seclusion. He knows how powerful the encouragement and wisdom of a Godly woman is to a sister who is broken. He knows how powerful the prayer of agreement is when sisters in Christ unite. The giftings, the sensitivity, the passion and the discernment that God has placed in each one of us is a force to be reckoned with. He knows that when we engage in spiritual warfare on behalf of our sisters, our husbands, our children, our communities....... something changes.
Together, we are stronger and together we can win battles as we lock our shields in prayer. We must not be blinded by what we percieve to be truth about our sisters in the body of Christ. We must not allow the enemy to separate us or to seclude us.
I have been BOTH of the women mentioned above....too insecure to befriend a woman who seemed to be all that I wasn't AND I have also been misjudged to the point that I was kept at a distance. In both cases, wrong assumptions and perceptions stole the blessings that might have been.
Lord, help us to not allow insecurities and our perception of others keep us from the divine connections that you have for us. Convict our hearts where we are judging instead of loving. May we see others through your eyes. Help us to reach out and befriend those you place in our paths. Lord, you know this can be scary. For those of us who have been hurt by others, this can seem downright risky. Deliver us from our fears and help us to live life in community with our sisters in Christ. Help us to find joy in our journey as we share our lives with others. Help us to be real and transparent so that others will not be intimidated by what we seem to portray on the outside. I pray for my sisters that you will send divine friendships their way. That your daughters may embrace all that you have for them. May our influence point others to YOU in such a way that lives are changed for YOUR GLORY. May we be a powerful force that pushes back the enemy as we join together in friendship and love. For such a time as this!! AMEN!!!!!