Today I have the honor of sharing an amazing story about forgiveness and freedom from a sex addiction. Thank you, Laura, for bravely sharing your history with us. May God use your marriage to bless many others!
"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins."
1 Peter 4:8
"My name is Laura and I was sexually abused when I was a little girl by a relative. When my parents found out they chose to keep it quiet and not seek justice for me. That made me feel unloved and unwanted.
I married at 18 to my best friend Adam. I didn't realize the abuse had an effect on me until we married. Every time we were intimate I either had some sort of flashback or just felt like I was being abused even though my husband didn't do or say anything to make me feel this way. On the contrary, he was always compassionate and gentle, waiting on me to lead the way.
It was such a mental task to be intimate. I craved that kind of passionate intimacy everyone else seemed to have so I sought it elsewhere. When I was with someone else sex was just sex, no emotional attachment or mental task. It satisfied that desire but I had a guilty conscience..."
Your conscience is a blessing from God! Don't ignore it!
"I told my husband. Surprisingly, he forgave me... each and every time... until the fifth affair when he told me to leave. I reassured him he made the right decision because I couldn't be faithful. I hated what I did but I didn't have enough will power to stop it. I would be faithful for about a year before I started to crave it again and seek out another.
During that time our church and some family members had been praying for us. Praise God! But it didn't come without a struggle. We would flip flop. Sometimes Adam wanted to work it out while I didn't or I wanted to work it out while Adam didn't.”
Laura shared how her conscience was pricked and she knew God wanted her to return home to her husband.
“Many months after we were together I told my husband I was starting to have those thoughts again. He told me that he couldn't hear anymore and that I needed to talk to someone else about this. We had actually sought counsel over the years but we couldn't afford to see the psychologist anymore.”
Sadly, the cost of counseling is a huge barrier for couples seeking help in a crisis.
“…[I recalled] the face of a lady that recommended a book my old psychologist told me to read at one point. I can't explain why I never thought of her over the years but I believe the Lord’s timing is perfect. She was an abused victim herself but didn't struggle the same way I did. This was what I needed.
In the beginning I met with her every week. We first started with the book but mostly we'd just talk about life. She was kind and humble and prayed for me every week. I trusted her and gave her veto power over my choices because I desired change. I remember one time I told her that there was a man at the gym I was working out at that gave me his business card but I told him I wasn't interested. She told me to give her my gym card and asked me not to return. I protested and said that I wasn't interested in him and that I had a lot of money invested in the membership. She reminded me in a very loving way of my tendencies, that my marriage was more important and that I needed to protect it. So I gave her the card. She cut it up and I never returned."
Recognizing temptation and setting boundaries is vital! Extreme measures are never extreme when it comes to protecting your marriage.
“She helped me discover what those boundaries looked like for me to safe guard my marriage. It seemed ridiculous to me at the time that I couldn't do some things that most other people could enjoy but I had to learn that those things were feeding the appetite I so desperately wanted to starve to death. I also learned that I needed to be intimate more frequently than we were so that my physical need was met. And that is a challenge for an abused victim because intimacy is a mental battle you have to prepare for at times. She also taught me how to recognize those things that triggered flashbacks and what to do differently. In the end I found it helpful to memorize Scripture.
I am forever in her debt. I wouldn't be the person I am today without her mentoring me through the years. As we felt progress we would stretch the times to monthly to bi-monthly and so forth. I did notice that when we didn't meet in person and she would just call and check on me that I wouldn't share everything I should have. We later corrected that when I brought it to her attention.
I would love to say that I never had another affair after that but I can't. I remember crying over and over asking her "why doesn't God just heal me?" I needed to be completely broken and surrender but I didn't know how. Those words meant nothing to a hurting soul that was plagued with addiction but I had to experience that to be set free. Praise God, He set me free!
The last time I fell flat on my face I was truly broken. I didn't even want to tell my husband. I told my mentor first and we wept bitterly together. She, of course, encouraged me to confess. This time was different. I was so afraid I was going to lose my husband that I desperately wanted in my life and the family we had built together. I really didn't want to tell him but I did. He, not surprisingly, but shockingly forgave me. I still remember the words he spoke to me after moments of silence, “You have a sickness. I agreed to love you in sickness and in health so I am going to choose to stay.” Adam's loving kindness and God's loving kindness brought me to repentance and finally brokenness. Humbly, I say I have been adultery free for over a decade now. I am not sin free. God is not done with me yet. But I will say that the Lord took that desire away from me completely. It's no longer a struggle. It grieves me so much it pains me to think such thoughts.
Our marriage is much stronger and more unified than we ever were before. I don't deserve Adam. I never have but I am so very grateful to God for him. I want to spend the rest of my life being a blessing to him instead of a curse. I can't imagine loving anyone more than I love him now and I wouldn't want to grow old with anyone else. All praise, honor and glory belong to God forever!"
This post is part of the "Happily Ever After" marriage series, sharing stories of hope after crisis. It is our prayer that these stories will be an inspiration to couples who are struggling to rebuild their relationships, and that we will all be encouraged to keep fighting for our marriages.
Has your marriage survived a crisis? Do you have a story of hope that you are willing to share? Contact me at servingfromhome[at]gmail[dot]com, or leave a comment below!
[Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and Jomphong]