I can remember countless times, especially during the beginning of my husband’s recovery from sexual addiction thinking this phrase and sometimes even shouting it out loud…”I didn’t choose this!”, followed by thoughts of “I didn’t ask for this….”, “I didn’t choose to be treated this way!”, “I didn’t want this….”
For my husband and I, this journey of healing began when we were engaged. This was a critical time in our relationship, a time normally filled with excitement and anticipation. Those emotions were felt, but as we began to discover the great impact this addiction had had on my husbands life, and in turn mine as well…..things got rough. I am thankful each day for the men who surrounded my husband with accountability and truth during this time. And also for the women who listened to me endlessly and spoke words of hope. This was an addiction he struggled with for about 13 years, after accidentally stumbling across videos as a child. Although his addiction to pornography and fantasy never led to any physical relationships with anyone else, the pain of betrayal and unfaithfulness was still very real and overwhelming. I wouldn’t have been quick to believe this 5 years ago in the heat of it all, but God truly does know how to bring restoration and healing. Our relationship as husband and wife is closer, deeper, and more open and honest than I would have dreamed. I am so thankful for God’s faithfulness.
For me, as a spouse of one who struggled with this addiction, the greatest battle I faced was learning to walk in a constant state of forgiveness. This was not a simple, one time event. It was a process that took time. It’s important to remember that the decision to forgive is different from the process of forgiving. Everyone heals and forgives differently. It would be foolish for me to give out a 5 step process because it honestly doesn’t work that way. I do know that opening my heart to God foremost, and other trust women of God made all the difference in that stage of the journey. Realizing that Jesus was enough to fill me and complete my every need, including the healing of my broken heart.
There are many things that God allows us to walk through that we didn’t “choose” on our own. I would not have chosen this journey for myself. Knowing the pain it would take to get to the other side, not to a place of perfection but a place of wholeness, I don’t know that I would have lined up for the journey. However, the truth is….I did choose this. I chose LOVE. I chose RESTORATION. I chose WHOLENESS. I chose FORGIVENESS.
My encouragement to the spouse of someone struggling in sexual addiction: Don’t escalate yourself. I know that is a difficult thing to hear because the last thing you want is for someone to know this “secret.” Freedom for your spouse can’t come in secrecy, and neither can it for you. The lie the enemy loves to convince us of is that we need to keep things in the dark. If your spouse has began the journey of recovery, it’s time for you too. At the beginning it’ll feel like it’s never going to end, but 3 months, 6 months, 1 year later you will look back and you won’t believe how much has changed. This can only take place in a marriage if both husband and wife are walking in a place of humility, complete honesty, and forgiveness. I know it might seem hopeless now, but I promise you things do get better….they even become GREAT! My love, trust and respect for my husband who is constantly pursuing purity and helping others do the same is greater today than ever before. Hope is alive!
My encouragement to the one struggling in sexual addiction: There is freedom, but it comes at a great cost of desire, sacrifice, and most important, surrender. Addictions like this can cause you to lose those things that are most valuable in life, things that don’t have a price tag on them such as your marriage, your integrity, your character, the trust of your spouse, sometimes your career. Thankfully, there is healing, victory and a great peace that lies ahead of each individual who takes this journey. If you are married this addiction has definitely impacted your spouse. Probably much more than you know or can understand. When trust is broken, it’s not an easy thing to regain but it can be done. Walking in true brokenness, humility, and HONESTY before God and your spouse is the key to unlocking trust again. It doesn’t come overnight, it comes with a great fight and constant desire for freedom. Trust and wholeness CAN be restored!