I am happy to share with you today’s post from Bonny Logsdon Burns. She is the author and founder of OysterBed7.
Robi’s blog name is dead-on. Active hope is how God continues to lead me after our marriage’s initial devastation with pornography. Thank you, Robi, for allowing me to share my hope with your readers.
With our 2-year-old son asleep in the next room, I try to haul my pregnant belly into bed. I’m 35 weeks ginormous with identical twin boys. I lift my feet off the floor just as I hear the sound of a freight train outside, the tell-tale sign of a tornado.
A lifetime of tornado drills put my husband and I in auto-pilot. We know exactly what to do to have the greatest chance of survival.
It takes 60 seconds for the violent, F4 tornado to clear a path in our neighborhood. I barely have time to ask God for help.
The break of day finds me trembling in a hospital bed as I watch the aftermath on television. I weep from horror and gratefulness as I see the massive debris field of my neighborhood.
The first decade of my marriage was like this tornado. It was only in retrospect that I saw clues that a tornado was coming. We had foul weather swirling; nasty attitudes, disregard, dismissive and condescending behavior; until it all converged in devastating fall-out.
The storm included a burgeoning sex addiction for him, a burgeoning food and alcohol addiction for me. Our children were being horribly affected by both. And, of course, I was in constant prayer to God to come out safe, somehow, from this mess and misery.
We were church-attending Christians. The advice we heard was, ‘just read the Bible and follow Christ,’ it’ll all work out. We were doing that and it wasn’t working out.
In the tornado, skills drilled into me helped keep us safe. In my marriage, I didn’t have any secret skills to fall back upon. I was confused. Nothing made sense or came instinctually. Was I losing my mind?
I couldn’t seek shelter to avoid this storm in my marriage. I had to find my courage to stand in the center of it.
God led me to find a fearless love that revealed Satan’s lies and allowed me to see my husband through Christ’s eyes.
15 years later, it’s evident the storm was cleansing. It ripped away from our marriage the rotting flesh of darkness to reveal life and light.
I’d like to help you find courage to face the pain.
Immerse yourself in Jesus.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly,” John 10:10.
The thief is Satan. He has polluted your marriage’s sexual intimacy.
Abundant life is full of His peace and Paul’s contentment (Phil. 4:11). His abundant life is full of the Holy Spirit’s fruit. The abundant life has nothing to do with earthly things and everything to do with pursuing relationship, yes, even relationship with your husband though you might be furious with him. Most of all, it’s about pursing relationship with Christ.
Commit to thoroughly reading and studying one gospel this year.
Commit to listening to Christian music stations.
Most importantly –
Commit to quiet time and prayer (for more than 60 seconds) everyday. Get up before the kids if you have to. Pray for wisdom, because apparently God likes to answer this one (1 Kings 3:9).
Pray for God to place resources tailored just for your marriage directly in your path (books, blogs, classes, counselors, podcasts, etc.) Then act when you see them! God used both Christian and secular material for us, I just had to be discerning with the secular. Our story included God plopping a marriage class in our laps.
If your husband is willing to pray these things with you, all the better.
Allow Jesus to transform your pain.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin,” Hebrews 4:15.
You’ve been betrayed and you are angry. Even Jesus exhibited righteous anger and turned over some tables (Matt. 21:12). But, he didn’t stay angry.
Unresolved anger leads to bitterness. Bitterness is unforgiveness fermented. Bitterness leads to a withered spirit, and eventually loneliness, despair. A bitter miserable heart is the opposite of everything Jesus has done for you and wants to give you.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you,” Ephesians 4:31,32.
With bitterness present, you will have no chance of reaching an ‘abundant life marriage.’
The anti-venom for bitterness is forgiveness. Forgiveness is a muscle that you develop through prayer and action. If you just forgive for 5 seconds today, try to forgive for 10 seconds tomorrow. You will sustain a forgiving spirit longer and longer each day.
I wonder. Since sexual sin is said to be different from other sins, is forgiving a sexual sin different than forgiveness of other wrongs? Forgiving sexual betrayal seems to take an extra yielding of yourself to the Holy Spirit’s power. Are you willing to allow the Holy Spirit to help you become merciful? Trust that the Holy Spirit can do what seems impossible to a human who has been wounded to the core.
To help me even want to forgive, I began praying this verse over my heart.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh,” Ezekiel 36:26.
Allow Jesus to reveal your husband from a different perspective.
It was only through the Holy Spirit’s power that I was able to lay aside my bitterness about my husband’s battle with strip clubs and pornography. As my anger subsided, I worked hard to develop a deeper emotional relationship with my husband (this took a while). I become a safe shelter for my husband to share his dark places.
Dark places are where addictions are born. Addictions are pain-killers for the abuse and neglect many of our husbands experienced as children. 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused. 1 in 10 children (boys and girls) experience physical abuse. Emotional abuse and neglect are closely related and statistics are difficult to tabulate, but I believe this kind of abuse is most prevalent.
A hard, honest look at family history is telling. You and your husband can stop the cycle.
Seeing my husband’s dark places didn’t excuse his pornographic choices. But, it revealed to me the complete picture of his brokenness.
Seeing your husband from this perspective dispels one of Satan’s lies. You grow in understanding that porn isn’t really about you or sex. It’s about dulling his emotional pain.
“From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” 2 Corinthians 5:6-17.
Christ’s courage living in you makes it possible to face the pain of betrayal and transform it into fierce hope and fierce help for your husband.
It barely took 60 seconds. A discovery of F4 proportions devastated my world. But, now, I weep less from horror and more for gratefulness. Our storm of porn cleansed us both (I held just as much responsibility as he did for our misery – that story is for another post).
As painful as that cleansing was, it revealed a healthier marriage. Have hope, my sister.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,” Romans 15:13.
Oh, and those identical twin boys? They were born healthy just 5 days later. I was kept in the hospital until my water broke.
My husband, Dave, and I were born and raised in Indiana. Currently, we live near West Palm Beach, FL. We are candid about our sexual struggles and victories. In addition to three sons, they now have two daughter-in-loves and a grand-princess. I love to travel with Dave, jazzercise, try new foods, and laugh at Dave’s corny jokes.
You can find me writing about Christian sexual intimacy at www.oysterbed7.com where I encourage the low-libido wife understand the many dimensions of desire.
Resources I recommend for your journey as a whole:
Sex, God and Men by Dr. Doug Weiss
Surfing for God by Michael John Cusick
The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee