My marriage was heaven and my marriage was hell.
On one hand my husband was loving, caring, supportive, and protective. Absolutely everything a woman dreams of in a husband. Everything God intended a husband to be … or so I thought. He was financially secure, well educated, read the newspaper for something other than the comics …
During our early marriage (yrs 1-3) I was ecstatic in our relationship. I thought I had finally met my soul mate, the man God intended me to spend my life with. We were passionate, loving, and laughing all the time. It was the time of my life. But that came crashing down hard on our 3rd anniversary when he accidently left his computer on. The screen revealed an email from a female he was planning to meet in Las Vegas. I was devastated! My heart burdened beyond belief with betrayal. I had known betrayal in the past but this was current, fresh and broke my heart. I am not even sure betrayal has a depth … betrayal is betrayal and the pain felt is like no other.
I remember one time when he said he thought he was being a good husband because he did do a lot of the right things … loving things, passionate things, protective things for me. This sex addiction/intimacy anorexia was such a "small part of him" that he could not understand why I cared about it at all. So I painted him a picture. I reminded him of the time he broke his little toe. He was in such pain. But I said it was such a small part of his body why didn’t he just forget about it. Forget the pain even existed. Impossible! Well the same was for this constant betrayal, this part of him that claimed to be just a tiny part of who he was, hurt me to the depth of my heart.
When I was still not understanding his sex addiction/intimacy anorexia, I remember once he told me if I had sex with another man … it would be ok with him … as long as I came home loving him. It was then that I began to realize that this is exactly what he has been doing … going out having sexual encounters with other women … but claims to come home loving me. My response to that comment was that if I did have sexual encounters with other men, I might still come home loving him but I would not come home loving me!
It wasn’t long before I realized that his addiction went beyond just emailing and 'playing' on the internet. His masturbation and his unprotected sexual encounters with other women put me in jeopardy; not only for my emotional well being but for my physical well being as well. This relationship had to end.
I think he hit bottom when he became so tired of feeling trapped; trapped in his world of sex addiction/intimacy anorexia. I believe he began to realize he would lose this potentially wonderful God given relationship and the wonderful wife God had given him. We separated after 6 yrs of marriage. During that time he found the Heart to Heart Counseling Center by googling 'sex addict'. He attended a few men's groups. At first he thought he was crazy but then he began his journey to recovery.
His recovery appeared to be more successful than mine, at least at the beginning. Where he was making steady progress, I seem to have been on a roller coaster ride. Some days were good; some days really bad. You see, I had become a person I really didn’t like very much. I was sneaking around looking through his email, checking his phone calls and phone bills. Wondering, worrying where he was if he were even 10 minutes later than expected. What kind of relationship was I in anyway?
For a time, I attended a meeting for ‘partner’s’ of addicts. This group was not lead by a therapist but by a lay facilitator. It was often not as healthy as I was. I had made some friendships and established phone calls with some of the women. I realized from my conversations that those who remained in this group were not getting recovery, while those who left did. I knew that I did not want to be one of those partners who 2 or 5 or even 10 yrs later would still be in pain. I did not want to be in this pain for one minute longer than I had to be. I quit going but I did continue to pray for my husband and our relationship and talk to those close friends.
I am not sure why but God has graced me with a very forgiving heart. I mean that I can truly, genuinely forgive and not carry the pain and burden in my heart. But believe me, it is one thing to give a 'blanket' absolution and quite another to forgive the personal, intimate betrayal and pain inflicted on you from the one you love the most. But, as I watched my husband's recovery (and I watched very closely) I began to see God's hand guiding him.
We were separated for 8 months. During those 8 months we encountered and overcame numerous obstacles, passed at least 6 polygraphs and began to fall in love again. But that was only the beginning of the recovery process; I believe we live it to this day.
Now it has been more than 15 years since the day my husband began his recovery … actually when we began our recovery. Though at first it was a struggle, it did become easier as the days turned into weeks, weeks into months and months into years … I saw him changing his behaviors and attitudes and becoming the man God intended him to be.
Today we share a relationship based on covenant love, based on trust, forgiveness and a passion to live in relationship the way God intended.