He Said/She Said (7): Warning Signs


Thank you for joining us in this very heavy topic for the last two months. It hasn’t been easy for us to write it or for you to read it. As we begin to wrap it up in the next few weeks, it’s our prayer that in the least, this series will open up some good discussion with you and your spouse.

She Said:

I’m going to be perfectly candid with you, I didn’t recognize the warning signs of lust and pornography that bound my hubby off and on in the first ten years of our marriage. I didn’t think my hubby was capable of being so terribly human. I thought we were above such a disgusting sin. I was wrong.
Looking back and knowing what I know now, there were some red flags. The last four years of our marriage, the transformation and deep level of intimacy we’ve experienced is proof enough. Sure, we had moments in those first years of marriage, but we didn’t live in the profound place of knowing each other in the soul’s lowest and highest moments, as we do now.
Once, I remember standing in the store watching my hubby’s eyes follow another woman. I remember being hurt and even making an accusation and picking a fight right there in the store. I clearly showed my hubby that I was furious with him and had a complete lack of understanding of man’s most natural temptation. I’m sure he buried his secret even deeper that day.
Whether or not you’ve walked this road, I want to encourage you in one thing: Don’t be afraid to ask your spouse if he struggles with lust, especially if you are suspicious. Suspicion only damages your relationship. Keep the line of communication open.
If your spouse is open with you, that is a good sign. If they are defensive or angry, you need to talk it out.
I gave my hubby an iPhone for our anniversary, his first phone that easily accessed the Internet. I wasn’t worried about him giving into temptation. I truly trusted him. But then we started this series and in order to answer and empathize with heart-wrenching emails and even phone calls, I had to go back to four years ago and to the place where my heart was broken in two.
I woke up one day and I just felt insecure. Rather than build a case against my husband or make a false accusation or hurt him, I simply asked my hubby if he would put a safety program on his phone.
He did so immediately and without hesitation. He said, “I want to do everything I can to be accountable and to make you feel secure.” And then he thanked me for suggesting it.
This man has been free for four long years. He wasn’t defensive, critical or even irritated. He was thankful. And that says it all.
He Said: DISCLAIMER: This “He Said” is mostly for women. I want to caution everyone about the intentions of this particular vlog. I do not advocate that wives or girlfriends go snooping around trying to “catch” your husband or boyfriend doing something wrong. If you are partnered with a Godly man just set down and have an honest conversation with them about lust and pornography and your concerns. Your goal is to have the most intimate, honest relationship possible. The “warning” signs that I talk about are for marriages where there may be a trust issue, or your significant other has been unfaithful in the past, or is unwilling to open up about this topic. I also want you to know that my heart is for you to have an incredible, intimate, Godly marriage!

We will be resume with the last post in this series week after next, Rebuilding Trust.

P.S. My hubby has lost TWENTY pounds since his first vlog! Just wanted to brag on him.

He Said/She Said (6): To Every Woman Who Walks This Road



She Said:

Four years ago: During random arguments in the first ten years of marriage, whenever my hubby would toss out “maybe we should go to marriage counseling,” it would make me furious! We argued over silly things, just like everyone else. I hated the thought of going to a professional, especially since we were pastors and people came to us!
It’s called pride, in case you were wondering. And I had it bad. Little did I know that his desire for marital counseling was one of many cries for help from my spouse.
The morning after his confession, I was desperate for a counselor. Our marriage was a disaster, I was a hysterical mess and my hubby was racked with guilt (he did feel better about confessing, but I picked up the giant load he laid down and put it on my back).
I’ll never forget our first session. I was there so the counselor could fix my husband. He listened to my hubby tell his story, while I sat on the couch, wearing my mask of grief, hot, silent tears soaking my hands and lap.
I wanted to bury my head. I’ve never experienced more shame and embarrassment than in that first session, listening to my husband, the love of my life, vocalize his sin struggle with a stranger. Beside humiliation, I felt something worse: guilt.
He gave my hubby some practical tips in “bouncing his eyes” and building a house to put all the harmful images in (see last week’s vlog).
And then he turned to me. I couldn’t even speak. He waited and waited. He leaned in, put his hand on my arm, “tell me” he coaxed.
The raw pain of the last few days poured out of me. I sputtered and hiccuped and blew snot bubbles. I spoke of my ignorance, my shame, of guilt and regret. I spoke of love for the man, weeping silently beside me, of hope and healing and freedom. I dreamed of a future.
I’ll never forget what he said to me, “Your husband is a good man. He just needs tools to fight this enemy. He has just scratched the surface of this dark vast world. He will be victorious. He has sinned, but he is forgiven. But now, I want to talk about you.”
I remember thinking, “What, me? No, please help him, please, we can’t leave without you fixing him….”
He touched my chin, like my father would do and looked deeply into my eyes, “Kristen, this is not your fault. You are not responsible.”
I sobbed. “But I’m so naive…I could have helped him.”
“You are exactly what God created you to be: beautifully naive, unscarred by the filth of the world, innocent, pure. Do not apologize for this. Can you help your husband? Yes, you can. But first, you have to stop blaming yourself.”
I can’t tell you how this helped me. I couldn’t possibly help my husband until I stopped blaming myself. Next week…how you can help your spouse.
He Said:
Thank y’all so much for your outpouring of love and support to my hubby and I . We are strengthened by your emails, comments and love. Please keep praying for marriages that are struggling.

He Said/She Said (5): Resources

We have updated this post with a more current list of Resources here.
She Said:

Just hours after my hubby’s confession, I knew he needed help. We needed help. We had each other. We had God, but we were desperate for tools to fight the sin of pornography.

I watched my best friend break into two as he described the years he’d silently fought for victory, counting off the days he’d remained pure with scratch marks in a secret notebook, only to rip out the page and start over when he failed. Again and again.

We immediately found a counselor who dealt with these issues through Focus on the Family’s site. We had to pay out-of-network fees, but we were desperate and money seemed so unimportant. This was our marriage!

We bought every book resource we could find (there were only about 4 or 5 at the time). I threw out every People magazine and catalog in the house because I learned even advertisements can trip a man up. I bought Internet safety software, turned the TV off and we focused our lives on conquering this. The counselor taught my hubby what to do with the images already burned into his mind (video below) and then he spent hours counseling me (I’ll share in a later post how he helped me).

It was God’s grace and practical tools that helped my hubby walk in complete freedom and helped heal the deep wound in my heart. For weeks now, we’ve been answering countless emails and doing our best. But the bottom line is -we aren’t counselors…but we want nothing more than to lead you to some powerful tools.

He Said:


 

He Said/She Said (4):Prayer


My hubby and I are working on a giant post of resources, links and practical ways to STOP the use/addiction of lust and pornography with the help of Jesus Christ, as well as sharing ways you can help as a spouse.

In my hubby’s vlog next week, he will teach/equip men how to STOP lust in it’s tracks and give men a practical way to put away all the harmful images from yesterday or 15 years ago that their mind catalogs.

We never imagined the depth this series would reach. We are answering countless emails, even talking on the phone with some who are desperate. Please pray for us. We are not counselors and while it is good for us to testify, it is also hard.

Shelley of Hopefully Devoted, shared this incredible article Hijacking the Brain: How Pornography Works
It is a must read!

A comment from a reader:

“I think this topic is CRUCIAL for married couples, and for raising our children. Up to the point you shared, my husband’s story is very similar to yours, except that he was not raised in a Christian home and the magazines he discovered were actually porn.


For years now we have discussed his struggle and we actively fight against it. Yes, I said “we” because I have helped and continue to help him in a number of ways: I let him be honest and didn’t give him the church lady response the first time he shared his struggle. Though I didn’t understand it, I trusted him and believe him, and frankly I was impressed with his honesty and obvious desire to turn from his sin rather than hide it and let it fester into an even greater secret sin.

I continue to give him a listening ear whenever he’s had an eye-popping moment (which unfortunately occurs more often than it should because of the way women dress!), and on occasion, have even given myself to him after such times just so that I know he’ll go into the next day with my body on his mind and not another woman’s. I have cancelled all catalogs from stores such as Victoria’s Secret, which are down-right pornographic, and we have an internet filter on our computer and I am the only keeper of the password.

Though it is much less harmful a sin, I struggle with eating whatever sweet food will make me feel good at the moment (I really have to fight emotional eating!), and the biggest way that I fight it is to not let it in the house. If it comes in, I will not be able to resist. Likewise, my husband knows the temptation is great and is grateful that I am helping him by keeping it out of the house. His desire to avoid temptation rather than have to resist it does not make him a weaker man; it indicates his humility as he fights his flesh and his fervent desire to remain pure before God.

We need to help our husbands with this strugg
le instead of keeping our heads in the sand. It is such a shameful topic that men often don’t feel comfortable sharing it with anyone (especially in church!), which only makes it worse. We need to be a safe place to which they can turn for help.

I have learned so much thru this journey. I am even able to thank God for it.

I’ll leave you guess with the passage of scripture I’ve been chewing on all week: Psalm 51

“I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.” Psalm 51:17 Message translation

There is hope.

While we pause this series this week, we’d like to ask you to pray for us and we will pray for you. Lust and pornography are some of the enemy’s best tools. He isn’t thrilled that you’re reading this. If you’d like your marriage lifted up, please just leave PRAY in the comments (even if you do it anonymously).

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: