When Porn Shattered My Fairytale World

When I got married, I wanted the sun to shine and the sky to be blue. I wanted the birds to sing and the flowers to bloom and for us to hold hands and just be happy together forever.

What I wanted was happily ever after.

And what I got was the mess of a lifetime, when it turned out that my husband—nice guy, great dad, and a missionary (heaven help us)—had been looking at pornography off and on, with less and less control, over a period of six years.

I’m often asked how he was found out. I found him out. He’s always been an early-to-bed kind of guy, but all of a sudden, he was staying up late, supposedly playing a flight simulator game. The time that I woke up at 3 in the morning and found him again at the computer, I finally asked, “Are you looking at pornography?” And he said, “Yes, I am.”

When Porn Shattered My Fairytale World

The Pit of Pornography

I tried to be calm and understanding. I didn’t want to make things worse. He seemed to be really sorry and he said he would quit, now that I knew. He was relieved that I had found out.

We were living overseas, and our mission agency had a policy on pornography use that included the possibility of being dismissed immediately. I didn’t know how to talk about it to anybody else, and I was terrified of what would happen to our ministry if somebody else knew.

I just tried to hold it together.

I thought we were just dealing with the fallout of something that was bad, but finished.  But I didn’t have a clue. He couldn’t quit on his own. It had been going on too long.

Eventually, he used someone else’s computer and forgot to erase the history—and he was discovered.

The Hand of Truth

I wrote in my journal that I felt like a bag of garbage thrown out on the side of the road. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t think my way through it.

It took two years for me to climb out of that pit of depression and anxiety. We returned to the States, went to therapy, and worked on remaking our lives into something real and true.

Pornography is all about fake relationship—it’s about filling the loneliness, the pain, the stress with a lie that makes you feel good for a little while. And the antidote to fake is real.

We were living in a whole lot of lies, and we needed a whole lot of truth to get us free.

For us, there has to be:

  • The truth that God loves us, no matter what, and that He is always waiting to welcome us home – Andy felt so bad, so shameful, so alone. He felt like he couldn’t be forgiven. We owe a lot to a pastor friend who lovingly wielded a spiritual 2×4 and helped Andy to tell the whole truth and know that he was still loved.
  • Truth between us as a couple – Paint-peeling, ugly, gut-wrenching, absolute truth. Andy had to tell me the truth. And I had to hear that truth, even when I didn’t like it. Then I had to tell the truth about how I felt, and Andy had to hear that. This was a process, and counseling helped us—having an arbitrator was good for us at times.
  • The truth about who we are as a man and a woman – How we are built, biologically. This isn’t about him being some kind of disgusting pig, and me being the spiritual one. This is about how God created us—different from each other.
  • Truth before God, about who we are as individuals, and what our needs and longings are – The truth about how each of us goes about medicating the pain that happens when our legitimate needs aren’t met.
  • Truth before our colleagues and our family – Early on, Andy took the initiative to tell our friends and family, which made it much easier for me to get the support I needed.
  • Truth in accountability friendships for Andy and for me – Covenant Eyes is a big part of that.

Telling the truth and getting real took a while and it hurt a lot. And it’s still a process, it’s still taking a while, and it still hurts sometimes.

Trusting My Husband Again

I get asked this a lot: how do you ever trust him again?

I trust him to be human. I don’t trust anybody, including me, to be perfect and sinless. The question really is, when we hurt each other, what will we do? Can we face up to the hard work of truth and pain and grief and forgiveness and restitution and reconciliation?

We’ve told our story to a lot of people over the years. One of the first things Andy will say is, “Put Covenant Eyes on your computer. It’s the single most helpful thing you can do for yourself.” And I’m frequently surprised at how long it takes people to follow this very simple advice.

But I think a lot of wives, a lot of husbands, a lot of parents are afraid. We would love for this to slink away into the darkness by itself. But in my experience, that just doesn’t happen. The temptation is always there, and the Internet is absolutely relentless.

We’ve got to be just as relentless.

We have to watch and guard and talk about it when things don’t go well. And Covenant Eyes helps us do that. It keeps us in the truth. And the truth keeps setting us free.

Over the past 10 years, God has brought our relationship to a place of real peace and deep intimacy with each other, which we never, ever had, back in the fairy tale version of a life that looked good on the outside.

So I am grateful. For all of this, for every step of the journey. I would crawl back over every piece of that broken glass to get where I am today.

Because God redeems.

He uses the truth to set us free.

And that is the real happily ever after.

Photo credit: acefrenzy

Pure Minds Online | Issue 33 | More in this issue: 5 Resources Every Accountability Partner Should Have | Social Pruning | 10 Ways to Help Your Pastor Deal with Pornography in Your Church