Jan

Name: 

Jan

Location: 

Texas

Occupation: 

Stay at Home Mom

Children: 

3

Discovery Date: 

December 2005

Summary: 

I had found the man every parent dreams of for their child: respectful, kind, raised in a good home. I was completely blindsided by his sexual addiction. Thankfully we both committed to do the work and are now reaping the benefits of a restored and thriving marriage.

Story: 

I once thought I would never be able to travel the major highway in my city again without reliving the pain of Jeff’s confession. Though for many months Jeff had been becoming more transparent about his sexual addiction, on that December night, traveling home from a training meeting with a mission team that included my best friends in the world, Jeff finally told me about the massages and the prostitute. My first thought was, “This would be a good time for the Lord to return.” However, it was only four days later, in the chapel at the Christian school where I taught, that the realization of all that we had lost and would continue to lose really dawned on me. When I started crying that day I thought I would never stop.

But we travel that road several times a year and now, 7 years later, the memory has changed. Usually, I don’t even remember at all. But when I do, I can look at the heavens and smile. As a Bible study teacher, I have more than once been able to say, “I remember a terrible day when my circumstances led me to fear the future. I am so glad today that I had the chance to see how it all worked out.” Though Jeff continues to struggle with the sin that almost destroyed us, I have been amazed, blessed, and taught by the healing we have seen in these intervening years.

Struggle: 

When Jeff and I got married at 19 and 20, we were clueless about what it meant to love, honor, and cherish one another. We just wanted to keep having sex without the guilt. When at 6 months into our marriage Jeff told me about his struggle with pornography, I had two thoughts: “I hope no one ever finds out!” and “I must be so ugly!” And with those thoughts I lost control of the situation in my heart for the next 3 years. I told no one about Jeff’s problem or my fears and the despair about my own appearance led to cycles of binging that I cringe to think about today. Ironically, though we got married so we could have sex, at our 1 year anniversary, our marriage bed was a war zone that included physical fighting. And throughout this time we were increasingly in roles of leadership in our church. 

Jeff read books on protecting our marriage and listened to tapes about purity. He tried at some level to be confessional with me during those years. I remember a time when I checked in with Jeff as he had asked me to do: he told me he had some magazines hidden in the house but wouldn’t show me where or get rid of them until I left the house. He couldn’t let go of his hiding places—and he couldn’t seem to stop.

We each come from families where hiding sin is the norm—our dads had both hidden their own use of pornography. Neither of us had any idea that there was anywhere to go for help. But we prayed a lot—together and separately-- during those years. Our prayers were answered by a summer mission trip that led us to a missions organization where we were required to have some incredible Christian counseling before we went to the mission field full-time.

When we moved to a new city for Jeff’s seminary training, we began counseling for marital problems caused by my appearance and/or food addiction. During that time, Jeff told me almost daily that he was not and never had been attracted to me. Our fighting grew worse and though I knew Jeff struggled daily with wanting to use pornography, I had no idea how it had taken hold of him. I honestly believed that his use of pornography was some separate thing—unrelated to our sex life, unrelated to anything—and that all of our problems were my fault. Our task during that time was to convince our counselor that we were healthy enough to be missionaries. Our counseling time ended and we were given a tentative okay to go.

Course of Action: 

My first year teaching at a private school had just ended and we had just made plans to go on the survey trip that would seal our commitment to foreign missions. And Jeff had just emotionally beaten me almost to death—the rejection that had abated during our weekly counseling was back and Jeff had become more brutal in his insistence that our problems were my fault. I was lying on the floor, crying and begging for hep when the phone rang. It was our counselor telling me that—though he had finished our release to work in missions—he needed to have one last session with us. When Jeff got home that day I told him about our appointment and begged him to tell our counselor about his struggle with pornography—this was our last chance! And to my astonishment he agreed.

I was even more astonished at the questions our counselor asked when Jeff confessed. He wasn’t surprised, wasn’t taken aback. I was sure that he would turn to me and say, “Look what you have done to this man.”  Instead, he said, “You know, Jan, this has nothing to do with you.”  Then he used question after question to unfold the details of Jeff’s addiction to pornography. He gave us a whole new vocabulary. I hated these vocabulary lessons! But it was the beginning of knowing who we really are, the beginning of transparency.

The next six months seemed to last years and years. Besides vocabulary lessons for me, Jeff’s recovery involved 9 weeks of celibacy (which seemed so unfair to me), attending support groups, telling the mission team we worked with about Jeff’s addiction, and lots of reading and talking and crying. During these months, he only confessed his involvement with pictures.

Our counselor told me I had to tell two people so that I would have someone to talk to. These parameters really protected me. If you are struggling with where to go for support, think hard about the people you share with. I almost told some friends that I know now could not have handled that kind of responsibility, but I eventually found an acquaintance who had endured the same “vocabulary lessons” and a wise, understanding friend. Both of them assured me of God’s plan and protection.

Perhaps one of the greatest fears of someone married to a sex addict is that there is more that they haven’t told you. And when Jeff finally confessed that there was more than pictures, that he’d had sex with a prostitute, I wondered if there would be an end to the revelations. In counseling session after counseling session new information surfaced—erotic massages, topless bars, nude models and on and on—things I didn’t know were possible anywhere, much less in my own home. My husband has an honest face and a gentle spirit. I could never have imagined him to be capable of such deception over such a length of time.  I had a whole range of emotions –fear, anger, shame, doubt.

This was where the healing for my struggle with anger began, too.  Our marriage had been polluted by a force I couldn’t see.  Identifying the problem and recognizing the damage that had been done—learning to speak the truth and walk in the light--healed every aspect of our lives.

The Affair Recovery group we joined was an incredible blessing. The women in that group were precious blessings that changed my life. It was a place to come completely clean, be completely accepted, and to have a fellowship of sufferings.

The hardest day was when I had to tell my closest friend that we were not going to join them on the mission field. By then, I was confident about Jeff’s healing, but this seemed like a permanent loss.  She and her husband honestly expressed both anger and support for Jeff.

I’m happy to say that four years later I was given the opportunity to help start a missions organization that has allowed me to not only visit my dear friend, but to attend to her needs as a missionary.

Lessons Learned: 

I cannot imagine a force more powerful than forgiveness. I am grateful daily for the opportunity to forgive and be forgiven. After our counseling ended, Jeff found an accountability partner among our closest friends. Jeff has had two solid years of sobriety in these last eight years; though the struggle has resumed in these last few years, Jeff is not giving in. His continued commitment to be transparent and seek help is a blessing and a challenge.

Encouragement: 

Jeff is my closest and dearest friend! I can honestly say that I am proud of the man that he has become. Though it might be nice to have the luxury of putting my trust and security in my husband, I have learned that people fail us. This is not cynicism—it is reality of life east of Eden. There is joy—great joy-- in letting go and no longer trying to control Jeff so that I can get my needs met.

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Comments

wow,

wow,
how did you handle the shock of the prostitution.. honestly how..