July 10, 2011,
J.T. asks from McKinney, TX on June 21, 2010
Husband Battling Lust and I Struggle to Forgive
I'll make this as short as possible.
My husband and I are Christians. We've been married ten years. Since we were engaged, my hubby has struggled and given into pornography off and on. I know this is a struggle for about 70% of men. I know it is something he's ashamed of and what he truly battles. He is out of town right now and just confessed to me today that he'd been chatting online with a woman for a year now. The very fact that he confessed is HUGE and I appreciate that. I know he is really trying.
Everytime this has happened, I forgive him. But, this is really getting harder and harder. It's harder because I can't understand why we (his kids and I) are not enough to fight this. I know this is the hardest thing he batttles, but I still struggle each time it happens.
Here is my problem...I want to be a safe place for him to confess when he's screwed up. I was able to remain calm when he told me this morning, but I also made myself go numb as I listened to him. But, since then, I've cried harder than I think I have before. I won't answer his phone calls until I have a better idea of how to respond to him. He knows this hurts me and springs up my own demons of self image. So, how can I balance being honest about how deeply this hurts but not do it in a way that makes him never want to be open with me again? This is absolutely huge that he confessed. He didn't have to because I obviously never would've known.
Please don't tell me I need to kick him when he's down or that he doesn't deserve my forgiveness. Please give me wisdom on how to share how I feel without scaring him off.
Thanks, mamas. And, please pray.
So What Happened?™
***Now that I have had some time to clear my head, I wanted to clarify a few things...
1. I didn't mean scare him off as in I'm afraid he'll leave us. He won't do that. He's got too much to lose. I know this 100%. He would be embarrassed in our community, our church and with our friends. I meant scare him off as in I want him to be able to tell me when he's messed up. I'd much rather know than be in the dark or find out on my own.
2. Porn in our relationship is not an option. For one, it goes against our faith. Adultery is listed among the ten commandments and the Bible defines adultery not just as a physical connection, but "who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." So, I appreciate where you are coming from if you believe that allowing a little will keep him from doing a lot, but it is not an option for us.
3. If my hubby were unrepentant, the option to leave would be easier. But, as he is sincere in this, I forgive him. I am also not naive to believe this will just go away with confession. I am seeking things I'm going to require of him beyond what we already have in place. He has told me he will do anything I ask, so I am trying to find out what is worth asking of him. Counseling? Dropping the yahoo account? Whatever it is, it needs to be realistic. We have internet blocks at home, but asking him to never get on the internet is nearly impossible to implement.
4. I have no fear that he has any thoughts about meeting her in person or pursuing this any further. Until last night, he hadn't chatted with her in a couple of months. I believe he is once and for all ending this with her or he wouldn't have told me (because, believe me, I'm going to be checking). But, what I'm trying to figure out is what it is about my hubby that makes him an easy target. He tries to help women too much (he had a friend in college that caused us problems, he struggled to get his ex-girlfriend to stop contacting him when we were dating and he has had two internet relationships that I'm aware of where he's had depressed girls wanting to find a good guy and he feels like he has to be their encourager). It's like empty, clingy women are his weakness. I think, at this point, if he goes to counseling, more than anything, he needs to figure out why he has hard time with boundaries. He lets girls get close and attached to him.
Thanks, mamas. I'm taking this a minute at a time. For those of you praying, I honestly feel those prayers. I am in a much better place than when I sent this out. My hubby and I have talked several times with me asking very direct questions and he's answered them in a way I know is sincere.
I have not had time to read everyone's responses, but thank you so much. I have a feeling I'll get some good advice here. One thing that occurred to me after I had time to really think about it is that this IS an emotional affair, not "just" porn. What began as a sexual fulfillment turned into a "friendship" as my husband decided cut off the sexual talk. He should have stopped ALL talk at that point. However, he continued with the friendship and she told him that she was depressed and felt like she was never going to find Mr. Right. He should've realized that, sex talk or no sex talk, this was an affair. I'm still trying to piece this together, but she lives in another state and they've agreed a couple months ago to stop talking. Before then, he said it was infrequent, but that doesn't make it any better. He decided to check in with her last night because they'd talked about faith awhile ago and she had a lot of questions. Stupidly, he decided to contact her again last night because she'd been asking about his faith and he wondered how she was doing in that area. They agreed again not to talk anymore, but we'll see. I do know he felt horrible about restarting the conversation after it'd been a couple of months and am glad he's being so honest about this. I've asked some very specific questions and believe he's answering honestly. And he admits this is adultery, not just a "friendship." These emotional affairs are so easy to fall into.
Anyway, I'm not saying my hubby deserves any kindness from me. What I am saying is that we have a marriage and I want to find the balance between grace and tough love. That is hard to do. Thanks for all your compassion and help, though. This is only day one, so I'm very confused.
E. answers from Dallas on June 21, 2010
He's been "chatting"(I'd like to see what those messages say) for over a YEAR and he keeps admitting his faults! I totally believe in forgiveness, but after a year...he's playing you for a fool. I think he's playing the confessing/she'll forgive me card. As a Christian, you repent and turn away from sin. A year is not turning away...yes, he needs deliverence(sincerely), but enough is enough!! Please put more value on yourself and your children than that!!! Unless he's willing to go through major Christian counseling for the both of you and you get to check everything he does, I would have to put the brakes on him. I am curious why your so concerned about scaring him off? That seems like a big red flag to me. Please just don't sell yourself short.
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K.N. answers from Austin on June 21, 2010
Honestly, I'd be more upset that he had an online relationship with another woman for a year than about looking at pornography. If it went on a year, it probably had an emotional value for him on some level; was this relationship sexual too... as in did he get pictures of her, did they talk dirty, talk about fantasies, etc.?
It sounds like he is not fulfilled, in regard to the nuts and bolts of what makes him tick, what excites him. As much as you want your family and Christian values to be enough, it sounds like he has an unfulfilled sexual-based void. Perhaps the interpretation of your church's values create a conflict between who he projects himself to be and who he is on a very carnal level. He may need counseling (if his behavior is truly addiction oriented)... However, you and him may also need to have some very explicit and intimate conversations on what you can do together (sexually) to help strengthen his bond to you as his ultimate partner "in all things". Because, it strikes me that he is searching for that--and he really wants it to be you. Maybe you and him should watch adult movies together....? I dunno, but it sounds like your sex life may need to evolve beyond what it currently is. It just strikes me that your shared intimacy needs to change/deepen into something you and him share together within your marriage instead of him being sneaky (and developing relationships with online women) to get emotionally fulfilled.
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D.F. answers from Boston on June 21, 2010
I do not feel the he is the one that is DOWN. I believe he kicks you while you are down by doing this to you. I would make sure he knows how this hurts you by you leaving his suitcase on the porch. This will scare him into reality not scare him off. I would tell him to get Christian counseling , after 6 months of intense counseling you will consider taking him back. You sound afraid like you did something wrong. Protecting him with a safe place to tell he cheats. Why would you do that. He is a coward, he did not confess to your face. Your a good women who needs a good man. Take care of YOU and go to counseling alone. I will say a prayer for you.
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D.W. answers from Indianapolis on June 21, 2010
Have you given serious consideration to going to counseling together for this issue? I'm going to keep my opinion to myself on the issue for the most part, but I think it's hugely important for you to understand why he's compelled to do it, to learn if it truly is an addiction or a means to fulfill something else, and to figure out how to repair your marriage and your trust.
The fact that he disclosed this to you is huge. It means he trusts you and recognizes that he wasn't acting 100% appropriately the past year. But, before any of us passes any judgment, the underlying reason why he does this needs to be understood.
Oprah did a series with Gary Neuman last year on "Why Men Cheat", and it was really eye opening that in almost 100% of cases, it had nothing to do with the physical aspect of it - it was the need to feel wanted and needed.
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A.P. answers from Los Angeles on June 21, 2010
Urgh, I really don't like when people respond to posts and don't take the time to really read what is posted.
From my understanding you both are dealing with the pornography viewing as a couple and as Christians right?
HE needs to seek counseling, perhaps begin with your church pastor. I'm sure that sooner then later, you will be invited to either join, or begin your own couseling. Until then, I would call the church yourself and set something up for when he gets home. Also, I would express to him how hurt your are without placing blame, use I statements as to not come off as you are attacking.
I pray for you and your family, but don't blame yourself. This sexual desire has nothing to do with you and your family as a unit. Perhaps you can re-learn how to desire and enjoy your husband in due time, but deal with the deeper issues first.
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A.T. answers from Bloomington on June 21, 2010
You need to have him go to counseling. Not negotiable.
He should be the one worried about "scaring YOU off" with all of his cheating. Stand up to him and tell him that while you appreciate the fact that he is telling you the truth - If he wants to stay in the marriage he will need to TREAT his problem and not just confess every time. He needs to be a little scared of losing his family over his addiction!!
I have been where you are. We are Christians too. My husband and I are still together because he loved his family enough to get therapy for his issues.
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C.P. answers from Provo on June 21, 2010
You are a bigger woman then I am because I would be able to forgive but not forget!
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E.C. answers from Fayetteville on June 21, 2010
I agree with Denise P he needs to get help for this addiction. He cant just think its okay to do it, ask or forgivness, and do it again, I dont know how may time you have went through this but twice would be enough for me because i feel chating online with another women is cheating. Im not sure i can give you wisdom but to tell you to speak from your heart when you talk to him. I notice from one of your other posts your pregnant or have you had her yet?
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