“Is there anything else that I should know?” I asked my husband this question on the evening of our first anniversary. We had just clinked our wine glasses, toasting to a wonderful first year of marriage. I asked the question because I had known that my husband was struggling with pornography use. He was going to a support group for men, and I was going to the accompanying wives group. Yes, I had known about the pornography before we had married, and I decided that once he started getting help we could move forward with our dreams, thoughts and plans of marriage.
Ed looked at me, a bit stunned, then asked what I meant. I clarified, “Is there anything more than just the pornography that I should know about? Have you acted out in some way? Have you ever been with a prostitute?” He looked at me, then looked down, and replied that he had. With more prompting he told me that the first time was four years ago and that this behavior had continued into our marriage, as recently as just two weeks prior. I crumbled.
I had been praying and fasting from lunch on Mondays for two years prior to marrying Ed. I was living on the East coast, and I paired up with a dear friend on the West coast to pray together during her lunch hour. We both had been single for too long, and we wanted to continue to press into the Lord, beg and implore Him to bring our husbands forward. We also were praying for ourselves, that God would be preparing us for marriage.
Preparing us for marriage was one thing… preparing me for THIS?!
Yes, He was preparing me for even this.
In the days, weeks and months that followed, God was so faithful in carrying me and filling me with hope. There were so many days, weeks, and months that passed in my singleness when I also needed hope. Hope that I wasn’t going to be alone forever. Hope that I could one day be with a man that loved Jesus and also, loved me. I needed that same hope again. That Ed would love Jesus more than this sex addiction. And that Ed—would be with only me.
In some of my darkest days of singleness, I praised the Lord, “God, even though I don’t get this, I’m still going to praise you.” I had strengthened that praise-Him-in-pain muscle until I got married at 36 and now at 37 I was having to flex that praise muscle. I praised God for His love for me. I praised God for His love for Ed. I praised God for His redemption work. I knew, in my “knower,” that God was going to pull Ed out of this darkness and set him free. I also knew that I was being given the chance to watch it happen.
Ed and I got immediate help from a therapist who specialized in sex addiction. Ed went into individual therapy, joined a 12-step group, and started sharing his story with others. I also found a Christian mental health practice that specialized in sex addiction and had therapy groups for wives whose husbands had been unfaithful. I went every week for two hours for a year and a half. This group taught me first how to breathe again, then how to take care of myself again, then slowly and very slowly how to trust again.
Ed has now been “MAP sober” (Masturbation, Adultery and Pornography) for over 18 months. He has been faithful in our marriage for well over two years. He goes weekly to an accountability group and meets with his mentor. We have learned how to open up even more about our thoughts, feelings, and needs. We have learned how to take ownership for our stuff and to say sorry.
Today, our marriage is strong.
I believe it is stronger than if this pain had never happened. I’m grateful to God for my story. I’m so thankful that He cared for me so much during my years of singleness and that I believed it so deeply when I was in pain in my marriage.
Romans 12:12 says, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” God began to teach me that during my single years, and that practice has become gold to me in my marriage.