Jeff Name: JeffLocation: TexasOccupation: MinistrySpouse Testimonial: Read Jan's Story HereChildren: 3Discovery Date: December 2005Summary: My life was characterized by when and where I would act out next and how I could continue to hide my secret life from my family. Through counseling, Affair Recovery, and a wife whose love I don’t deserve, I have found sobriety and peace at last.Story: I was raised in a Christian home that had strict moral values. My mother taught my brother and me the proper way to treat a girl. As we moved into the teenage years, my mother would give my brother and me talks about where not to touch a girl. My first exposure to pornography was via a Playboy magazine that I found in my parents room when I was about 6 or 7 (I think). I remember being fascinated, but realized that it was wrong when my brother caught me looking at it. I never saw another magazine of this kind in their room and I don’t remember having access to pornography beyond this one encounter, until I was 8-9 when I found an adult magazine while walking home from school. Again I was very drawn to the images, but always knew that it was wrong to view them and never told anyone about the magazine. During this time period, my parents were house parents for a children’s home. At the home there were 8 kids besides my brother and myself. One of the girls was about the same age as me. We used to play the child’s game “you show me yours, I’ll show you mine.” I wanted to see her, but I was embarrassed to show myself to her. I don’t remember the frequency exactly, but I remember that we played this quite often. I am not sure at what point my fascination became an addiction, but the older I got, the more I sought out pornography. We moved away from the children’s home to a new town when I was about 11 or 12. It was around this time that my attachment to pornography grew, and I would create elaborate hiding places for the magazines. I was generally open around girls but was when it came to anything more than just talking, I was very shy and would not even hold hands. When I was 15, I started dating a girl who had already had many sexual encounters. She made advances towards me, but I would pull away. It wasn’t until I was 17 that I first kissed a girl. After this, my inhibitions subsided. I still tried to be respectful of a girl’s boundaries, while trying to gratify my own pleasures. Although I had several girlfriends, these relationships were built solely on lust and my use of pornography continued. My future wife and I were very good friends in high school, but the dating thing never worked out for us. After Jan went off to college, I decided that I loved her. We soon started a long distance dating relationship. This relationship was built on more that lust, but we did not have a wholesome, Christ centered relationship. After dating for a year or so, we decided that we were going to have sex. This was mutually decided on and it was the first time to have sex for both of us. We said that this we were going to only have sex once, but of course that did not stick. I dropped out of college and moved to where Jan lived. Since we both grew up in the church, we knew that what we were doing was wrong, but we continued. After two months, we decided that we wouldn’t feel guilty anymore if we just got married. After a three day engagement we were married at my parent’s house. I also hoped that my marriage would “cure” me of my addiction to pornography.Struggle: Marriage did not cure me, but since I had another person around all the time, I had to be more discrete. I would stop at gas stations that I knew sold pornography. I also started going to topless bars and memorizing these images. After we had been married for about 6 months, I confessed to my wife that I had a problem with pornography. I avoided having sex with my wife, leaving her frustrated and angry. Our marriage became a battleground that included physical fighting that Jan initiated. We sought Christian counseling, but the “counselor” that we saw was a preacher who did not have a formal counseling education and since we were not honest with him, the experience did more damage than good. I was never honest with the counselor about my issues with pornography and what had grown to include topless bars. We had an opportunity to go on a summer mission campaign to Brazil. After spending six weeks there, we were convinced that we needed to pursue fulltime mission work in Brazil. We began the process of preparing for work as missionaries. Part of that training included me attending seminary. This was also about the time that the Internet became widely available for college students. The Internet was a “safe” (safe meaning private) way to access pornography and minimize my chances of tarnishing my reputation. After we both graduated from college, we moved to another state where I was able to attend seminary. While in seminary, my use of pornography continued, but I also discovered the classified ads that advertised nude modeling. When I was able to, I would schedule a session with a model, which was usually when Jan was out of town. I also discovered massages in the classified ads, and found the “right” type of massage. We did not have much money, but I would save money here and there or use credit card cash advances in order to visit a masseuse or schedule a modeling session. After scheduling several sessions, I discovered that one of the models that I scheduled was a prostitute and we engaged in sexual intercourse. I ended up having sex with this woman on two occasions. This was about 5-6 years after Jan and I had married and this was the first time that I had had physical sex with another women. God started to work on me and showed me that what I was doing was not only wrong and would hurt my wife if she found out, but that it was also damaging to me. A year and a half later, I made the decision to come clean with Jan and confess to her the whole truth. This is quite possibly the hardest thing I have ever had to do. My wife is a wonderful woman. Just as God had been working on me, He had also been working on Jan preparing her for something major about to happen in our marriage. She knew that something more than just pornography was consuming my life, but she committed to stay with me and try to reconcile.Course of Action: We knew that we had a lot of work ahead of us and one of the main things we realized was that if we were going to be missionaries, we would have to get our lives straightened out and that I was going to have to seek recovery. As part of our missions training, we had to have psychological evaluations. During one of the sessions with the counselor, I confessed to him the nature of my addiction. He recommended that we start going to counseling with a Christian marriage counselor on a regular basis. This was the best thing that has happened not only to our marriage, but also to me. Unlike our previous counseling experience, this counselor knew what to do to heal our marriage and to heal me. He realized that Jan’s eating was a problem, but that was a secondary problem to the fact that I had violated our marriage covenant. Since Jan was committed to me and I was committed to recovery, we immediately started following our counselor’s suggestions and assignments. I began going to Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings, had rigorous accountability with my wife, and began to see some sobriety. After continuing counseling for a few months, we joined an Affair Recovery group. This group gave us the opportunity to see that we were not alone, that others were trying to work their through their betrayal battle and it allowed us to be a help to others. We also had a few friends at church that were aware of our situation. We ended up not being able to pursue our dream of mission work. Because of an acting out incident involving a massage session shortly before we were to leave for the mission field, it was decided that I was not recovered enough to go to the mission field. Probably the second hardest thing that I have ever had to do was to make a statement before the church informing them that “due to personal reasons” we were indefinitely postponing our plans to do foreign missions. I knew that it was the right decision, but it was difficult to accept.Lessons Learned: I grew up thinking that I was a pretty good kid and judged others harshly. I didn’t drink, smoke, cuss and went to church to boot. I, however, learned that I do lie, steal, cheat, lust and hurt the ones I love the most. From this realization, I learned that I have no room to look down on or judge others. If I ever think myself better than someone else, I need only look in the mirror to be reminded of a man that would still be on a path leading to destruction. I learned that, although she may not be perfect, my wife is the most forgiving person I have ever known. She cares for me more deeply than anyone else. Because she cares more deeply, the pleasure that I might find outside my marriage is nothing compared to the pleasure that Jan can give. I discovered that confession builds intimacy. In a relationship where the other party is willing to forgive and love you, the more you know about that person, the closer you become. Most people realize this on a superficial level, but I am talking about the deep really dark secrets. If someone can still love you after confessing secrets like that to them, your relationship will only grow and blossom. Don’t get me wrong, honesty can be the hardest thing you do, but the rewards are seen a hundred fold.Encouragement: We did not expect a miracle, but we received one. I did not expect a recovery but day-by-day, God works on me to improve me and make me more a man of God. God has truly blessed our marriage beyond what we could have asked or imagined. I often think that couples that have not gone through an adulterous relationship don’t have the level of intimacy that we do. It is a horrible thing that I have done to Jan, but we are closer, share more and know more about each other than I feel we ever would have otherwise. One concrete way that our marriage has improved is our fights. In our early years, we would judge a good week by whether or not we had had one day that we did not have a fight that week. It was more the exception to not have a fight on a given day, than to have a fight. One of the beautiful side- benefits of working on our marriage is that we now have very few fights and rarely to the level that we once did (ask me about the black eye in my passport picture sometime). We also now have 3 beautiful and wonderful kids. We are so richly blessed.