Those of us who suffer from sexual addiction tend to look at our “private” sin as one that has no consequences for those in our lives. If they don’t know about it (and much of our energy is spent making sure they don’t), then it won’t hurt them. Right? Wrong!
My addiction has caused nearly irreparable damage to those in my life. I say it’s “nearly irreparable;” the truth is, it really would be irreparable without Jesus to repair it. But, there is much that I need to do to make that happen, too. Rebuilding damaged relationships is a long and difficult undertaking, especially compared to how quickly they can be ruined. It’s an undertaking that I have begun and will only get through with Jesus helping me through every single step. More on the specifics of that in a later post.
WHAT HARM DID IT DO?
Because I grew up with little to no understanding about emotions (that I had any, or that anyone else had any that I needed to be aware of and care about), I was not prepared to enter into any type of relationship. I don’t just mean romantic ones, but any relationships at all.
Needless to say, the few relationships I did have over the years were extremely shallow and one-sided. Unfortunately, my marriage is included in that list. As my wife and I have finally begun the process of rebuilding our relationship…wait, allow me stop here and clarify something. What my wife and I have started doing is building, not rebuilding, because we’re really creating our relationship for the first time.
NO “NORMAL” MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP
I didn’t realize it when we got married, but my wife and I really had no relationship as one thinks of a relationship between a husband and wife. We didn’t share our hopes and dreams, our deepest thoughts, or our emotions. I was so overtaken with sexual thoughts, confusion over my attractions, and keeping my activities secret, that I couldn’t share any of those things with her. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, I was completely out of touch with my emotions, so I had no idea what I was feeling much of the time, even if I wanted to tell her.
FEAR OF DIVORCE
If I had shared with her all those deep things that spouses are supposed to share, I would have risked ending the marriage, because my secret would have come out. And, as screwed up as I was, I at least knew I loved this woman and wanted to be married to her. So, let’s try this again. As my wife and I have begun the process of building a relationship, we have begun realizing it’s going to be an enormous task. I’m seeing why the divorce rate is so high when infidelity is involved. My sexual sin was infidelity, even though my activities were online and not with someone in person. It was still sex with someone other than my wife. To make it more difficult, I was told that the divorce rate among couples where the husband announces he is attracted to other men is 98%. I’m learning the reason for that now, as I see how difficult it is going to be to put together a relationship with someone who I have wounded so deeply.
I CAUSED HER DEEP, GUT-WRENCHING PAIN
The level of pain I caused my wife over the years is unimaginable. I didn’t open up to her, I lied to her with lies of omission (not telling her about my struggle) and lies of commission (telling her I was doing something else when I was sinning against God and her). I was lazy and selfish. I was cold and emotionless (except for anger – I never had a problem expressing that). I didn’t defend her when members of my family ganged up on her (a situation unrelated to my sexual issues, but a pain-causing situation nonetheless). I gave her very little help with raising the kids, housework, anything a husband normally does. I didn’t give her the security she needs: spiritual, emotional, financial, or relational security. I was, basically, the husband from hell – the worst possible person she could have married and a useless person all around.
HOW IT MADE HER FEEL
She felt alone, unwanted, overworked, stressed, unloved – bottom line: rejected. Rejected by the man who was supposed to be her soul mate, her knight in shining armor, her Prince Charming, her shoulder to cry on, her best friend, the person she laughs with the most, her source of the deepest love possible between two human beings, and the one with whom she would live happily ever after. All of those things really can come true and don’t have to be a fairy tale, if Jesus is permitted to control us – control our every thought, word and action. I failed on all those things and she, quite understandably, felt rejected by me. And for most of our marriage, she had no idea why.
BUILDING ON A ROCKY FOUNDATION
So, this is where we are as we start to build something from the rubble that is our marriage: two people who have just a thread of a relationship, held together only by God. We have to start somewhere, and that is better than giving up and letting Satan have the victory that he’s been trying to have over us (with which I have cooperated all too frequently). We are making an attempt at talking every day. Not talking about the kids, schedules, chores, or things that need to be fixed. We do have to talk about those “household” things, as we call them. But, we’re talking more now about us, and trying to be purposeful in setting aside time to do so.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
I won’t sugarcoat our situation. While things are better, they aren’t great. At least, not yet. What keeps me going is the faith that they will be great one day. One day soon, I pray. The reasons I have such strong faith that we will be okay are:
One: We’ll be okay because she has stuck with me since 1986, wanting God glorified in our marriage and not to end it in divorce, which God hates and never intended, but allowed due to man’s sin. Just for the record, I don’t believe a woman should stay in an abusive relationship (in this case, emotionally abusive) with no exceptions, even if she is doing it to be obedient to God. I marvel at her incredible strength and tenacity (gifted to her by God), but I must not take advantage of it. Instead, I must do everything in my (and God’s) power to become the man she thought she married. That is the same man that I know God wants me to be.
Two: We’ll be okay because I have seen what God can do, firsthand. He has the power to change me from a man obsessed with other men’s bodies (and my own) into what I am today: a man who is continuing his journey through the process of God revealing to him all the reasons for those unwanted attractions, who doesn’t lust for himself or others any longer, who doesn’t act out in sexual sin anymore and who is seeking to serve Jesus Christ in everything he does. I fail regularly, but no longer in the sexual arena, and He is continuing to work in multiple areas of my life to change me. Since I have seen Him remove my desires for sexual sin, I know He can make what I now realize is an even bigger change in me: helping me to understand my (and her) emotions, make me a man who can think deeply, who is no longer stuck in adolescence in many ways, who can truly live out the life that his Creator has for him to live, and in the process, be a blessing to his wife, their kids, and others He might allow us to help through similar issues.
To God be the glory, great things He has done (is doing, and will do)!
Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? Psalm 71:19
To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. Philippians 4:20