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When Porn Shattered My Fairytale World

Last Updated: August 25, 2014

Kay Bruner
Kay Bruner

Kay Bruner has been married to her husband Andy for over 25 years. For 20 of those years, she served with him at Wycliffe Bible Translators, working in the Solomon Islands preparing a New Testament translation into the Arosi language. They have four children and two rescue dogs. They live in the Dallas area where Andy works for SIL International, Wycliffe’s sister organization. Kay is a Licensed Professional Counselor with Rapha Christian Counseling. She is the author of As Soon As I Fell: A Memoir. You can read more of her articles at kaybruner.com.

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

  • Comments on: When Porn Shattered My Fairytale World
    1. Serena Abdelaziz on

      “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?”

      I could not agree more. I wanted a fairy tale, too, but I got a story that brings more glory to God than anything I could have ever imagined. Thank you for sharing your story.

      Reply
    2. Christina Farmer on

      I understand that neither him nor I are perfect and we are both going to mess up. That being said the trust is still gone….how do we rebuild that? I have been looking for resources and can’t find any. I’m not sure where to turn. Are there any practical ways to start rebuilding the trust in a marriage?

      Reply
      • Lisa Eldred on

        Christina, have you read Porn and Your Husband yet? It will give you some practical tips.

      • Christina Farmer on

        I have not yet. Just downloaded it. Thank you so much for the recommendation.

    3. Eugene on

      What an amazing story of God bringing two people through such a difficult trial. I am encouraged by it, and it reminds me of how in God’s Kingdom the right thing to do is usually the hard thing to do. But in the end it always yields a good harvest and has lasting results. I know from my experience with this addiction that the attitude of total surrender to Christ and self denial is not easy in our culture, but making it a practice ultimately leads to peace. It just takes a while for our minds to be renewed ( Romans 12:2) but it is possible, by God’s grace.

      Reply
    4. Sarah on

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. My husband has viewed pornography in the past, and he told me about it before we were married. It’s hard, but I’m SO thankful for God’s grace. We’re both sinners. I would also add, if somebody is struggling with pornography, get a TRUSTED accountability partner. My husband also has covenant eyes on his computer which helps a lot.

      Reply
    5. Joshua Brooks on

      Yay! God redeem us from our sins. I feel like Andy at times.

      I’m so happy that we can be open and honest about this pernicious problem. I have Covenant Eyes on my laptop and smartphone (I wish I never would have gotten one). I’m brutally honest with my accountability partner(s). The temptation, nevertheless, is still strong but I know my responsibility. As John Owen said, “The chief responsibility of every Christian is to avoid entering into the temptation to sin (Matt 26:41 rough paraphrase). That is my goal tonight and for the rest of my days.

      Postlude: As a single male in my early 30’s, I recognize that there are seasons of my life. My goal is to pursue purity prior to marriage so that I can maintain it during marriage. May the Lord hear my prayer and help me purse holiness and sexual purity (Eph 5:3; Heb 12:14).

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        It’s refreshing to read a comment of victory and encouragement, Joshua. Thanks for coming by!

    6. muchalone on

      My husband installed CE on our computer, and it seems to be a great relief for him to know discoverey is certain in that area. Unfortunately, the rest of his actions do not line up and the lies continue in all areas of life. Too bad he can’t download a lie detector…
      I’m so glad to read a story where the husband is motivated to change! How wonderful for your family!

      Reply
    7. Tim P. on

      What a great article that gives perspective from the spouse who is sinned against. I really appreciate the section about replacing lies with truth. It’s such a simple idea but terribly difficult to live out. It’s so worth it though. I’m afraid I disagree with downloading Covenant Eyes as one of the first things. It’s a very powerful tool, but it is just that, a tool. The first thing is to find an accountability partner or counselor who isn’t your spouse. Based on what I have read, your spouse shouldn’t be your partner since they are most likely already under great strain.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Hey Tim,

        I think Andy’s advice of putting Covenant Eyes on your computer actually includes the accountability partner step. Our Accountability service only makes sense when an accountability partner is present: a report going to nobody is worthless.

        I would agree that a spouse does not make the best accountability partner, especially not after an initial discovery of porn viewing. I think there needs to be balance in this. On one hand, no wife should be put into the position of her husband’s purity coach or the one who rides him about his sexual sins. That puts her in the position of playing cop or being his mommy, and that is very unhealthy for a marriage. On the other hand, a man should not be tempted to have a secret “recovery life,” just like he had a secret porn life before. He should be open and forthright with his wife about whatever she needs to know to build trust again.

    8. Pete on

      Reading these stories and testimonies brings tears to my eyes and that lost feeling deep down within. I lost my wife (divorce) after I was caught. I blame NO ONE BUT MYSELF! I too had CE on my laptop and phone, but my addiction provided me with a solution. I just purchased on e-bay an iPod touch. This allowed me access to the web and it was small enough to hide in my truck. Well it all caught up with me in June of 2012! Although this may sound like a sad story, I lost an awful lot but gained so much more! I checked myself into the VA psych ward because I was suicidal and thought my life was over. Well God sent an angel to me and made me realize that I had never truly been alive before, but once I asked him into my life and repented…,…MY LIFE BEGAN! Yes I lost my wife (story book fairy tale of two old friends reunited after 20+ years) but I also lost my desire for porn! God truly is the ONLY ANSWER, your tool is an essential part of recovery and I recommend it to anyone who finds themselves struggling with accountability. Let’s face it……sex is thrown in our faces on a daily basis and the world seems to think it’s OK. Well it isn’t and as Christians and children of God, we need to help each other rather than judge! We are tools also and are intended to be used accordingly. So if you have a spouse, a friend, or suspect someone using porn, be SUPPORTIVE and help them loosen Satan’s stronghold. Christ defeated Satan on the cross, so let’s not give him any of our resources by condemning our brother or sister. God bless you all!

      Reply
    9. Grace on

      I feel that there is another piece of the porn issue that isn’t being addressed often. Viewing porn is participating in sex trafficking (as it is recorded). Even through XXX sex stores existed before, the sense of terrible shame from becoming an active participant in something so harmful, was enough to stop most men from participating in pornography. How and why has that changed? Some sort of rationalization – lies being believed?

      I lost my three-decades-long marriage because of my ex-husband’s porn addiction. He began to believe the lies of porn, and the natural result was violence in our home in real life. He was a seminary graduate. I still can’t believe that porn’s addictive pull became so strong that he chose it over me (and our kids). It blew the lives of our whole family apart.

      Reply

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