The following post is the 3rd in a series of posts on pornography. The story has been told by a husband and wife who suffered through the horrifying consequences of porn in their own home. You can read the introduction to the series here or the first post of their story here.
Fighting for His Soul
When I married my husband, I chose him because he was “a man after God’s own heart.” It was his pure heart that attracted me more than anything else, and I knew this was a man that would help me get to heaven. More than anything, I wanted to make that journey together, “being heirs together of the grace of life.” When I learned about my husband’s addiction to porn, I recognized that Satan held my husband’s heart, and I was not going to just let him continue to go that evil way. I was determined to fight for his soul. I look back upon the night before he came home from the trip and call it my “all night vigil.” I prayed for his soul continually through the entire night. Never before had I prayed so intensively, so fervently, and so tearfully.
When he came home, we talked for hours. I tried to understand why he would do this and wondered if I had done anything to cause him to turn to pornography. I felt terrible about myself, knowing that no matter what I did, I would never be able to measure up to what he had been seeing on the computer screen. He assured me that it had nothing to do with me and his satisfaction in our marriage, it was just a sinful habit that he turned to when he was bored or stressed. This was incredibly hard to accept, but I believed him.
- 47% of Christians said pornography is a major problem in the home
I wrote a long letter to him expressing my feelings. I still have it saved on our hard drive. He was penitent and was willing to let me help him overcome his addiction, so I made some pretty tough demands of him. It was the best I knew to do at the time, though looking back, I’m shocked at how strong it was, and I can see now that my anger did not help him overcome his sin. I think there is a fine line between anger and righteous indignation, and I did not always have the self-control I ought to have had. I was fighting mad and I tried to direct that anger towards Satan for destroying my husband and our marriage. I was going to do battle for my husband’s soul with every ounce of strength I possessed.
The Second Fall
It took time and lots of painful conversation, but we got used to this new way of life and used several tools to help us out. We ended up getting my husband his own laptop and installing *Covenant Eyes on it to monitor his Internet use. He only ever used this computer and learned to think of it as his safety net. The eye icon on the toolbar was always watching and everything he did on the Internet was reported back to me. As painful and difficult as it was to bring up this terrible subject all of the time, I kept my word and periodically asked him about his internet use. We worked on being open with one another. He confessed his moments of weakness and temptation, and I consistently asked him how he was doing. I always wished that I could just avoid talking about it altogether, and go back to being blissfully ignorant, but I knew that if he was allowed to hide in secret from me again, his heart would be lost, so I had to be willing to open myself up to more pain. He hated weighing me down with more emotional burdens, and he therefore struggled between wanting to be open and honest—which sometimes meant hurting me—and wanting to protect me—which hurt because of the secrecy. We worked on communicating and rebuilding trust, but we both had a long way to go.
What I did not know at the time was that my husband would still find ways to lust after pictures of women. As the prophet Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (17:9) It is so easy to deceive ourselves and this is one of Satan’s most powerful tools. My husband played all sorts of mental games, making justifications for what he was seeing or stumbling onto things knowing full well where he was going and what he was doing. For example, he would browse through Facebook photos knowing that he might stumble upon someone’s pictures from the beach. He was looking at images that were not as bad as before, but his heart was still fighting the sin of lust. At some point in the year or so after I first discovered his addiction, I confronted him about something on his Covenant Eyes accountability report and he confessed that he had slipped back into his sinful habits. I was crushed and heartbroken all over again. This second fall was somehow even harder on me than the first. We had worked so hard to re-build trust and we were back at square one.
When we first began battling the pornography, my husband and I had made an agreement that if he wasn’t able to get this sin under control between the two of us, he would have to seek wise counsel and tell someone else about it. Now he would have to do that, and I wanted to wither in shame. His shame was my shame, and I felt so humiliated. But, despite our embarrassment, we both kept to our agreement, and he chose an older man to confide in and he asked this man to help keep him accountable. Looking back, I am so glad we did this; I feel like it was a major turning point. It wasn’t until we started to break the secrecy of this sin that Satan finally started being defeat and that we began experiencing victory.
After that, our lives changed dramatically. We chose to make our environment one that would help my husband purify his heart We cut out almost all television and I got into the habit of previewing magazines and catalogs, ripping out pages before my husband saw them. We also just unsubscribed from some of them. We avoided walking by certain stores at the mall. We read the book Hedges: Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It (by Jerry Jenkins) together and made adjustments to protect ourselves and our marriage. We were also delighted to be blessed with our first child and were adjusting to life as a family of three. We seemed to be working and communicating well together and God was piloting our lives. This is what made the third fall such a shock.
Truth is the medicine that treats lies. Stay in the arena of truth. Some truth, however, is harder to accept at first. I remember when it dawned on me that, even though my husband was getting help and working on his issues, he could still fall. I saw the men who tried and failed —over and over. These men are forever one poor choice away from slipping right back into their addiction. This truth created a wall of fear that closed in on me whenever my husband traveled. Then God gently showed me that the potential for betrayal is a reality in every relationship and every person. Even if I divorced my husband and remarried, I’d get another person with baggage. My faith had to be placed in God and no one else. (Meg Wilson, from the book “Hope After Betrayal”)
* Covenant Eyes is a program that will monitor web-usage on all registered computers at a very low monthly cost. It is designed in such a way that any attempt to hack around it will lock down the user’s computer. Weekly reports on internet usage are e-mailed to “accountability partners”. For more information, check out www.covenanteyes.com My husband and I use this program and I can personally testify that it has been very effective. You can install it on multiple computers, so he can install it on his work computer as well as the home computer, etc… It is unobtrusive, and is only noticeable by seeing a tiny eye icon in the toolbar. My husband says that it makes him feel very safe to be working on a Covenant Eyes computer. Any temptation that pops into his mind is immediately put out of his head when he is reminded that there is no possible way he could look at anything even questionable without my knowing it. This is a great tool to use to begin getting some accountability