He Said/She Said (3): Confessions

Thank you so much for the love and support you offered on last week’s post to my husband and I. Your reception of our hard-to-tell-story was beautiful. Sometimes doing the right thing is hard, but you helped us handle it with grace.
Please understand, this is our story and we aren’t making assumptions about your marriage or your spouse or proclaiming that every marriage has or will face something like this. We are simply telling it to help others. Maybe even you.
She Said:
I will never forget the night my husband confessed his sin to me. We were on our way home from Disney World of all places. We had just spent a magical week on our first real vacation after nearly 11 years of marriage. I was still on a Disney high as we drove our van deep into the night, our two children asleep in the back.
Up until this point in our lives, we’d had a really great marriage. We’d been out of full time ministry for two years and were finally getting back on our feet. For the first time, we had a 401k, we owned a nice home (the one we still live in) and my husband had a promising new sales career. Everything seemed perfect.
So, in the dark, as my hubby and I talked, our conversation began to take an uncomfortable turn. And then he just said it: “I have a sin problem. I’m addicted to lust and pornography.”
My world stopped. I knew from that moment, I would never be the same again.
I’m not going to candy-coat this: I freaked out.
I was so disturbed and disgusted that while we sped down the freeway, I climbed into the backseat to separate myself from him for awhile. I wept, held onto my babies and wondered if this is what if felt like for your marriage to breakup.
I asked a lot of questions. I hated all the answers. I couldn’t understand, couldn’t wrap my head around this different person, my mind screamed. “Who are you?” This was before counseling, before I gobbled up every book I could find on the subject. This is the night I lost some of my innocence.
But even on this first night, as I cried bitter tears, I couldn’t stop loving this broken man. My broken, hurting man. I didn’t understand this new ugly place. I didn’t know how we were going to make it, but I knew that I wanted to help him find freedom.
(And he found freedom like he’s never tasted, and we both found intimacy on a level we didn’t know existed….)
Next week, we will talk about some warning signs and then practical tools that would help fight this battle.
But before that, I just wanted to share some reassurances that helped me during this time (from For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn)
Reassurance #1: His temptation is often not primarily sexual (physical, yes, but not always sexual).
Reassurance #2: Every man is different (some can experience an involuntary sexual image and dismiss it without being tempted, while another can see the same image and struggle deeply).
Reassurance #3: It’s not because of you (this was the main point hammered over and over to me by the counselor…”your hubby had this problem before he even met you.”
Reassurance #4: This doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you (it was hard for me to understand how he could love me and still struggle with lusting after others…but this was a struggle with sin and even though it affected our relationship, these were separate in his heart).

He Said:



Comments

  1. 3

    says

    Thank you guys for doing this! This is so needed today. Christian couples being honest with others about this real and ugly struggle so many men today have! Thank you and God bless you!

  2. 6

    Anonymous says

    I check daily to see if She said/He said is posted. I check and read your wife's blog all the time. I don't remember who started me on your wife's blog but I am certain it was so I would hear this particular story. AMEN for victory.

    This IS a powerful thing your doing. Don't Stop.

  3. 7

    Anna says

    Thanks for sharing. It is so refreshing to hear a real story like that. Unconditional love is a powerful concept that we all love to talk about; it is much harder to practice. Thank God for forgiveness, and unconditional love!
    Love you guys!

  4. 12

    says

    We have 2 separate couple friends who have a similar story — one who lost a ministry position because of it. I'm so glad you are free to address this topic and reach out to other hurting couples. My hubby is committed to helping couples pick up the pieces — he even wrote his doctorial dissertation at the Seminary on this very topic. God bless you!!

  5. 13

    says

    Thank you so much for sharing this and letting others know with God there can be freedom. We too have dealt with this. With tears streaming down my face, I realize we never talk about it anymore. My hubby fealt like he had freedom too, and had some tools to help him. I'm concerned since he never talks about it, it may be a problem again. It is the HARDest problem I've had to deal with in our marriage.! Maybe showing him these videos will open up the communication again. I'm not looking forward to it, but it needs to be addressed. Thank you to both of you! I pray this will help many marriages!

  6. 14

    says

    WOW! THANK YOU! While we all struggle in different areas in our marriage, it takes a lot to even admit them to ourselves, let alone our spouses and the whole world!!! You are truly inspiring and a gift to us all! (BTW- you have an award waiting for you over at my blog! http://zachsgang.blogspot.com )

  7. 15

    Anonymous says

    I discovered my husband's addiction to pornography 2 months into my marriage. It has been an issue that has haunted the last nine years of our marriage as he has fought, lost and fought again the battle within his mind. He feels called to be a pastor and will graduate from bible college this spring – which makes this struggle harder for him because he wonders if he has disqualified himself from ministry. This is something we're still dealing with but I can see so much change in him in the last few years that makes me hopeful that we too can someday share this difficult struggle we've gone through so others can know they're not alone. I so appreciate your courage to be open & share your story. I'm posting this anonymously only because my husband is still in the midst of his recovery process and I know he is not ready to talk openly about it. I'm praying that someday the shame and guilt he feels will be replaced by a desire to share so that other men know the destruction that this sin our society sees as normal and accetable can cause in a marriage.

  8. 16

    says

    what an encouragement you two are! thank you for your obedience in sharing this part of your lives with us and helping others. i'll be passing this one to all my friends.

  9. 17

    says

    Bless you both for being genuine and honest… and in public.

    That is a place where God is free to do His very best work.

    Blessings and warm regards,
    Robert

  10. 18

    says

    amazing, amazing! Thank you both for being so open and honest. I've heard many of the same words come from my mouth and thought many of those same thoughts (as Kristen). And heard the plea from my DH for freedom over this sin.
    Blessing to you both!

  11. 19

    says

    I am going to have an unpopular view here. I have never understood feeling threatened by pornography. I may not go look at the pictures, but I read novels that can be as explicit as any picture. As long as it isnt done in secret…if the "thrill" is in the hiding of it, then there is way more of a problem to me. We have subscriptions to a magazine, and enjoy flipping through it together…but its ME he wants to be there with and is with, its never done to the exclusion of each other and I think its been an awesome thing for us because its really easy to read something to each other and say…hey that sounds cool than to come out cold and say no hold me differently or something.
    I do understand that there ccan be problems, I just always felt like Secrecy would be waaaay bigger than the actual looking @ magazines.
    Steff

  12. 20

    Anonymous says

    thank you both for being willing to bring this sin into the light. i was just lamenting and crying out to God not even ONE month ago–screaming, "what do i do with this? it's taboo and no one is talking about it. and i don't know anyone real who is in the battle like my marriage is this very moment. who can help me?" and here you two are! for the whole world to see. i can't explain how even a tiny glimmer of Hope can make a difference in my heart, in my soul. i wept as i listened, not in despair but with Hope. thanks so much for loving the Body of Christ enough to NOT pretend and play act. i am praying fervently RIGHT NOW that He would begin a similar miraculous work in my heart, and in my man's broken heart. thank you again. thank you. thank you.

  13. 21

    Anonymous says

    Our church is doing a series called "The Naked Truth" on marriage relationships. It is good. HARD … but good; good and rewarding. Even though my husband and I have been married for 23 years, it is helping us to face and deal with issues we never have. We had a good start, son of a pastor, good Christian girl, but it wasn't enough. We weren't young when we married, but went into it naively. We've learned that the thing keeping us from a great marriage is a good marriage. We are doing the work and seeing the benefits. Your series fits so perfectly into what we are already doing, and we are so grateful. We, as Christians, are not immune to the difficulties, hurts and struggles that marriage brings. Without the courage to face them we will never know the joy of true intimacy, committment and unconditional love. I applaud you both for moving past your struggles and hurts and for helping others to do the same.

    And … you thought you were out of full-time ministry? WELCOME BACK!

    Destiny

  14. 22

    Anonymous says

    steff, when and where does it stop? i know of men who started with the "innocent" thrill provided by peeks and then when that didn't satisfy an insatiable need to be titillated, they looked at or participated in harder stuff. in the end, these "God-loving" men raped their own grandchildren. the human heart has an incredible ability to justify the most despicable atrocities. they did their repenting in prison. God still brings His grace and forgiveness but the consequences are so steep. it isn't worth it–you play with fire–our sensual flesh left unchecked, undisciplined, without boundaries–and you may get burned. so maybe you and your man can get off now without the ramifications, but that doesn't mean that others who follow your advice won't. i didn't wear a seat belt growing up and am no worse for the wear. my mom chain-smoked around me my entire childhood and i don't have lung cancer from secondary smoke. i rarely washed my hands before eating as a child and survived. is that good sense or God's grace? the jury is NOT still out–it is proven pornography and lust hurts innocent people. even if the secrecy element is eliminated. read the papers, listen to the voice on the video in this blog, watch the news. you may not be threatened by porn, but many many marriages, families, men's souls are.

    btw-you say it is never done to the exclusion of one another in your marriage–how do you know when those images are popping up uninvited in your husband's mind-eye?

  15. 24

    says

    Thank you for sharing your story. I was moved to tears as I read and listened while at work today. You guys are truly amazing. I am praying for you because I believe this message of freedom is not a message that the enemy wants to be told. I am praying protection over y'all against his attacks upon you, your marriage and your family.

    Covering you with prayer,
    Donna

  16. 25

    says

    If you're in the midst of this in your marriage-there is hope! Praying for you!

    And if you think pornography and lust isn't a problem or a potential problem for you/your mate-praying for you too.

  17. 26

    says

    Amazing. Both me and my husband are following you daily and look forward to the He Said / She Said days! Thanks so much for your honesty and for sharing!

  18. 27

    says

    Terrell – This is a great series. Thanks so much for offering this to others, and your courage!! I am with you guys!

    One of my readers at themarryblogger.com suggested I hop over here and check out what you guys are doing!!!

    Looking forward to the coming weeks!!

  19. 30

    says

    I already said so much last week, so I'll hold my tongue. I just wanted to encourage you once again. It is a hard message, but you are pressing through it with humility and a true desire to see transformation in others. You are doing a great thing and God is surely going to use your message to set others free.

  20. 31

    says

    God is so good! I am so glad that you and your husband are able to share your story. I think sometimes this sin is one of such embarrassment, and also we're living in a culture that makes pornography as "not a big deal".

    This is such an encouragement!

    I don't know how you didn't just run to your husband after this taping and just give him a big ol' smooch!

    Thanks, again, for sharing this wonderful testimony of God's Grace!

  21. 32

    Anonymous says

    Wow. Powerful. I have been there and your story is so real to me. I couldn't describe it any better. The things that you said are exactly what my husband has also tried to explain to me. Please keep encouraging others in this area. It is a problem that affects to many, but it is also a huge secret. Wives, like myself, often feel very alone when this happens. THANK YOU for sharing your story. May God richly bless you. I am praying for your family. Please keep mine in your prayers too.

  22. 35

    Anonymous says

    I can't thank y'all enough for this series. The timing couldn't have been more perfect for me. One day before your first post I discovered my husband's secret addiction and the walls came crumbling down. I have cried so many tears alone, having noone to talk to, as I don't want to ruin his good name to others…but that leaves me all alone. We just started seeing a counselor, he has an accountability partner, and he's involved in an online bible study with a mentor that is guiding him through things. I can see the changes already God is helping him fight through this. I can't wait to read/see more as you guys are a tremendous help and encouragement in this dark time for me.

  23. 36

    says

    Thanks for posting this! My husband and I speak at marriage conferences, and I do a ton of marriage mentoring, and this is the #1 issue right now.

    So, a word of advice to all your moms: keep your computer clean. Use porn blockers. And DO NOT let your sons hang out at other people's houses you don't know well. Being exposed to porn at 11 or 12, when you're just beginning to get sexual feelings, even if you didn't mean to see the porn, can be so dangerous.

    And for us adults: I think one of the primary problems is that our culture thinks of sex in terms of only the physical. We miss the spiritual intimacy that comes with sex, that is far deeper and far more intense. Because we're missing out on that, the only way to get the next high is to do something weirder and more extreme. And hence our pornography culture is born.

    There's two main difficulties with porn: What to do when you catch him and he's not willing to stop, and what to do when he has stopped, but he can't get those images out of his head. I have some advice for the latter in this post here, and for the former in this podcast.

    I hope those help!

    Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

  24. 38

    says

    I can't thank you and your man enough for sharing this part of your lives! I had my man read/watch the 3 He said/She said's last night and it opened up some amazing dialogue of a touchy subject. We're both looking forward to the next installment!

    Thank you for being obedient!

  25. 39

    says

    OK since two of you specifically called me out, I will answer what you asked.
    We were older when we got married, in our thirties and had both "BTDT". We talk about everything, we talk about likes and dislikes, what we want from each other and we set ground rules and signed a contract with each other BEFORE we made our covenant in front of God and everyone.
    You ask where I draw the line…there is no line…I don't care if he looks, he wasnt a monk before we got married. I just know that He loves me to the exclusion of all others. Its me he wants to be with and come home to, so what does it matter if he sees a picture of some chic in a magazine. But it goes both ways, we joke about the fact that I find a couple of country singers super hot, and he doesnt get offended that I still think Bon Jovi is one of the sexiest men on the planet. It just isnt a big deal to us.

    Secondly, it becomes a perversion in some cases, but there are very many where it does not. I was a criminal justice major and actually took a class on deviant sexuality. It was very interesting, but as with any medical and psychological study, you can slant the findings to prove whatever you want. They have even found recently that the supposed Y supergene that was supposed to be an anomoly that caused men to be more violent and more of a throwback genetically was skewed by the doctors who performed the study, because they wanted to prove that more violent criminals possessed that trait.

    I am not saying that I am right and anyone else is wrong, it is all in how your marriage works, all I was trying to say was that I don;t feel threatened by some 2 dimensional photo in a magazine thats been airbrushed 47 times of a chic who probably hasn't a brain in her head.
    Steff

  26. 41

    says

    Amy Lynn and Steph,
    You don't have to agree with what I've said/or my husband. But this isn't really the place to continue to vocalize it. You have both stated how you feel, let's end it there. You are in the minority on my blog and you're opposing opinions aren't going to change The Truth. This isn't really the setting where I want it debated. I believe it's wrong and extremely damaging. I pray for those who don't feel the same.

  27. 42

    Amy Lynn says

    @Kristen, understood, it's your blog. However, why post about a very controversial topic if you're not inviting debate? It might give you a different perspective.

  28. 43

    says

    @Amy Lynn Because to me, this is NOT controversial. I'm a Christian and pornography is a sin. It's something that nearly destroyed my marriage and we are putting it out there to help people, not for debate. The end.

  29. 46

    says

    God Bless you for your blog. I'm not a blogger or blog reader, but my wife told me about the He Said/She Said post and so far it has been a real blessing.
    I had a father that exposed me to pornography at a very young age, and my mother never cared if I saw her naked or any of her friends naked. As I got older there never was even a second thought about giving me and my siblings Showtime, HBO, and Cinemax in our bedrooms. Those things throughout my young life caused me to have a great struggle with lust as I became a man. I was born again when I was 18 years old, but I quickly found out that I was not free of the sinful desires. I was always ashamed of my struggles. I got married to a wonderful Christian woman and I hid my secret sin from her. I never confessed my sin to her or anyone. Thank God that one day my wife discovered my hidden sin. I was free from the secret, but it hurt her in ways that I could never know. I have found since then how valuable it is to confess your sins to one another (God's word proved true again).
    When I became a Christian I hated what I had been exposed to and the desires that I had. I never understood why my parents had exposed me to such things.
    But, the history seems to repeat itself. My wife found out about my sin because my 4 year old son saw me looking a filthy image on the computer and he told his mother. I tried to deny it, but eventually confessed it all and I'm amazed at how God has helped me. I wasn't totally gone, but God strengthens me when I choose to seek his help and daily put on the mind of Christ. Even though as a Christian I hated what I had grown up seeing, I unintentionally showed my son the same things.
    I have committed to the Lord to make a difference in my son's life and teach him that it is not something that he has to give into. God can give every man the victory.

  30. 47

    says

    This particular issue isn't a problem in my marriage but, dealing with something you are ashamed of is a topic that is of interest to me. So even though your He/She isn't exactly pertaining to my life, it is in a broader sense and I thank you for the insight it is bringing me.

  31. 48

    says

    I am reading "For Women Only…" right now! Thank you for suggesting this book! It has been incredibly eye opening for me and I'm telling every woman I know about it! really.

    I admire your courage (and your hubby's!) in sharing your story what a strong man and woman the two of you are… you MUST know that God IS using you!

    Thank you!

  32. 49

    says

    My husband and I are in the midst of a very similar difficult situation in our marriage. I thank you for making me realize that this is a battle with the enemy who is looking to destroy our homes and our families.

    I have blogged about my season of hurt and I am thankful for your courage to blog about yours. I have linked you up on my blog and I hope that anyone else who is battling would find encouragement to "fight for our marriages".

    You and your husband are in my prayers.

  33. 50

    Anonymous says

    Can I make a suggestion to all the women out there reading and responding to this topic?
    As a Christian brother who has struggled with lust and "overcome" it (I honestly don't believe men will ever truly overcome it because of our sinful nature). I'm truly encouraged by the number of women that are reading and being exposed to this. I agree that confession and honestly is the only way to truly be set free. I know that what I'm going to say may come across as chauvinistic, but I'm hoping you'll trust that I'm actually saying this out of Christ-like love. When you get ready in the morning, rather than just asking "will what I'm about to wear look good," how about asking "will what I'm about to wear stumble another man?" I don't say this to put all the blame on women for men struggling with lust, porn, etc… Hey they're our eyes. But if you look around (just stroll your closest mall) men are totally bombarded with sexually provocative images. Help your brothers out by not adding to barrage! Especially at church! I'm not saying wear a potato sack, but just know that your freedom to wear what you want may be causing men, men who are seeking to overcome lust in their life, to sin.

    To Men… find some good accountability partners that are seeking purity in their lives. These are some tough questions and you need men around you that will hold you accountable on a frequent basis. And going through this struggle together will bond you for life! One thing that works for me is realizing that any woman you look at is someone's daughter, wife, mother, sister, etc…

    I would also definitely recommend reading "Every Man's Battle." It's particularly interesting because all of the authors are pastor, I think.

    Also, one last word of advice that my mentor gave me many years ago… "We need to start treating sin like a cliff, rather than seeing how close you can get to the edge without falling off, beacause you're destined to fall off, why not set up a good fence so you don't even get close?!" I really wish I had heard this advice when I was younger.

  34. 51

    Anonymous says

    Thank you again for this series. We are on the road to recovery, and your honesty in overcoming this problem is such an inspiration. I'm interested to know how Kristen dealt with the times that confession occured again, maybe after a slip-up, and how you learned to trust again. These are the things I am struggling with now. While I am seeing a good counselor to help, it means more coming from someone who has been there. Thank you again!

  35. 52

    says

    My husband's problem is of another nature, and I am still struggling over it. We have also been active in church, which makes understanding the sin more difficult, but forgiveness and healing easier by God's grace. Thank you so much for the reassurances, especially #4. I never knew that before. I'm bookmarking your site so I can return again and again for help. Thanks again.

  36. 54

    says

    I wanted to address the last anonymous commenter–I strongly recommend your hubby finding a Godly accountability partner to share with. I think he needs to confess obvious sin to you and God, but having a man he can share his temptations with, will help protect your heart some.

  37. 55

    says

    Would you please someday share how you went about finding an appropriate and qualified counsellor? It seems there are such extremes out there – either people who just say "trust Jesus" and offer nothing practical etc. or they ignore the power of the Holy Spirit.

  38. 56

    says

    Hi Tina,
    We're going to be sharing some great resources this week, but start with Focus on the Family-that's who we used. Go to their site and type in your zip code to find one of their counselors in your area dealing in this issue.

  39. 57

    says

    It is incredible the way the our Amazing Lord can allow good things to come even out of our failures if we will surrender to Him. Not only do you have a stronger marriage and yoru little ones are (and will be ) incredibly blessed but judging by the number of comments, you are able to provide encouragement and hope to many. Knowing that God truly can work it to His glory by exposing sin to light.

    Thank you for your honesty. I don't think that my husband has a lust issue however this really reinforces that many men battle with it alone and awareness helps!

    I read the comment above about modest dress and I believe that if more women were truly aware of the devastation, severity and consequences of lust, they would be more concerned about modesty. I agree that it isn't the woman's fault if a man lusts but with what is "acceptable dress" in many cases certainly opens one's eyes as to why lust is something more and more prevalent today!

    (and though my little man is only 18 months, much of what I have learned will be filed away for a future date. I hadn't given any thoughts to catalogues and such!)

    Sorry. Long comment :)

  40. 58

    says

    THANK YOU both for sharing this difficult story with the world. My husband has dealt with an addiction to pornography for over 20 years now. In our nearly 8 year marriage, he has stayed in denial even though he revealed to me his sin in our dating days. I think the key to this recovery is removing both parties from isolation. It's impossible to recover and heal when we're in hiding. Though he remains in denial, I have found healing in my own recovery through LifeStar for spouses. I hope to learn the tools to help me be healthy to provide the love and support he needs to find help for himself. Thanks again for sharing your story.

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