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New wife finds out about hubby’s porn addiction – how a forgiving heart and dependence on God is helping her

We ran a testimony last week on someone who was struggling with sex addiction and how God has guided him out of this living hell. Today, we have a testimony from a wife whose husband is addicted to porn. This is her story and her spiritual journey. APRIL 7, 2022.

There are many nuggets of wisdom that our elders impart to us over the years. But the one thing I wish someone had spoken to me about before marriage is how to uphold the promise of the wedding vows, especially in “the bad times”. How should a spouse respond upon discovering the other’s addiction? How it would affect them, and how to navigate life together from that point on?

The first year for most marriages seems to be a blissful one, riding from the highs of happiness from the excitement of being newly married. I thought mine would be like that too but clearly plans were very different for me. Perhaps there should be an extension in the marriage preparation course that warn newlyweds about the opposite end of bliss.

Shattered trust

I found myself in that situation when my husband’s addiction to pornography got the better of him and he struggled to be honest and truthful to me – the only two things I had asked from him before we got married. In my mind, I thought that by being honest and truthful, we are open and are not withholding secrets from each other. Or so I naively thought. I realised that in his case, he was also struggling to be forthcoming and it truly strained our relationship. I do not approve of pornography, so it affected me deeply and the trust I had in him. My relationship with my husband after that moment was anything but filled with affection and love. When I discovered his hidden online files, it made me question if he was even happy with me, and it unlocked a magnitude of insecurities for months to come. 

The hurt and betrayal I felt as a new wife was indescribable and a very lonely journey. I have never heard of any newlywed couple going through anything like this nor did I know anyone who went through this. I wanted to find answers and solutions, but I also had to deal with my emotions that came in like waves – some days raw and crippling, other days, blinding anger and resentment. I also really tried to forgive and show kindness. That was a daily struggle I faced.  How do I show forgiveness when I treated him the way I wanted to be treated only to be given the opposite? I had a lot of questions that I didn’t know where or who to turn to because it is also not in our culture to talk about these things. This was where I understood the feeling of being ‘lonely in a marriage’.

‘I wanted healing and I wanted to forgive’

There were many days, months even, where all my prayers were just the tears I cried and the pain I felt. Words I said felt like they meant nothing or didn’t carry weight. So, I offered my battered heart and spirit because ‘He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds’ (Psalm 147:3). I didn’t feel hopeful because the days ahead seemed bleak, the mountain I had to climb was challenging and steep. It felt completely hopeless. All I knew was that I wanted healing and I also wanted to forgive. I went through many tidal waves of emotion, and forgiveness did not come easy. While we are asked to forgive, at that time, I was more focused on protecting myself and my vulnerability so, there wasn’t an ounce in my being to offer forgiveness or even have the ability to put it behind me. It just kind of sat in the forefront of my brain and heart taunting me daily.

Throughout these trying months, I found some solace in an online group of women who were also affected by their spouse’s addiction to pornography. The only thing was that they are located in the West. The members of this group consisted of women who have been married between 5 to 20 years who had established family units. While learning of their stories and battles, it was a sad realization that no one talks about these matters, perhaps for obvious reasons- how do you even begin to talk about these things and sometimes, like in my predicament, it’s taboo in my culture.

It was a very lonely road because I didn’t know who to turn to or how to talk about this. I was incredibly fortunate to have someone who I could confide in and to offer me some words of support and encouragement in those bleak days. I also found comfort in worship songs as some of the lyrics felt like God was speaking quietly to me. One of the songs from a well-known Christian band sings ‘take this mountain weight, take these ocean tears, hold me through the trial, come like hope again’. I clung onto those words on difficult days when I felt it was a struggle to get through the day.

‘He was hurting too’

The months that went by were filled with so much pain, anxiety, and mistrust. At that time, I struggled in my relationship with God because I could not feel any part of forgiveness or compassion – it was all anger and bitter hurt. Everything felt weightless and meaningless but at the same time, I also knew that my husband was also hurting because of how he had hurt me. No matter how much we talked and shared our feelings to work on our relationship, it felt like I was trapped in these emotions and it probably controlled me for the most part of my ordeal. How do you have a positive and growing relationship if there is no trust? How will the trust be regained?

I had come across this verse “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). It felt like a veil had been lifted from my eyes, that I realized my bitter resentment had kept me away from seeing my husband as a person and that he has his own battles to fight or that how I was supposed to learn lessons to grow and experience God’s grace throughout this trying time. This took me close to two years later. These moments of ‘awareness’ trickled here and there – it helped also when my friend, who was my only support in this journey, sat with me during tough days and reminded me of God’s graces that were awaiting me, if only I were open to it.

Dropping coping mechanisms and surrendering to God

Having her own share of mammoth trials and tribulations, she shared with me how she was tested. In moments that no one understood what she was going through, her blind faith in the God she worshipped kept her going. Her wisdom and faith are admirable. All that gave, and still give me, hope that I will get through this too – I just needed to be patient. I also began to feel exhausting living this way, living with so much anxiousness that paralysed me and sent me on a spiral of crippling dark thoughts. God felt very far away and I just couldn’t put emotions into words to make a prayer. In that moment, the feeling of hurt and betrayal felt like it had enveloped me and there was no way I could see past it. As I had to confront these demons during the duration of the first and second MCO, it was tough to navigate days of flashbacks and the trauma of it while trying to be civil and in close proximity with my husband. Mass was all celebrated online and confession was unavailable at this point. So naturally, when you’re backed into a corner, you do what you know best. For me, was to dissociate from all the painful emotions as a coping mechanism and eventually surrender.

When I finally did have the opportunity to go for confession, I was at a place in my life where I had been so numb from the pain but I wanted to be better for myself – to move on and be forgiving. I felt that during those months-long of anger, resentment, and vile bitterness, I had used those emotions as a way to protect myself and relied on my own ways to get through the days. I acted on selfish survival instead of asking for God’s guidance to show grace, as God shows us endlessly. So, when I went for confession, being in the presence of the priest truly, truly humbled me and reminded me that there is hope with God and he makes all this new if only we surrender and repent. I wanted so badly to let go of the bitterness that ate me from inside because I wanted better for myself and my well-being.

When something of this magnitude rips through your life, it is so easy to be blinded by all the emotions you experience at the same time. But we are also human, we feel and react. Why did God allow this to happen? I wish I knew. But I know that I had lessons to learn from this – who I was as a person, where my strength ended as a person and where God’s grace began, how I could be a better person and what marriage actually meant. It is probably a lonely road and journey for a good reason. All our lessons are not the same and it is always by God’s timing and never ours. So, after fighting and struggling for so long, I felt like I had to throw my hands up in the air, surrender, and say “not my will, but yours be done”. Healing did not happen immediately but I felt a sense of calmness that I had not felt in a long time.