Marriage is hard. I don’t believe many people, especially when they are really young, truly understand the weightiness of the marriage vows. In sickness and in health, in good times and bad, in richer and poorer, til death do us part. There are so many issues that arise that are unforeseeable. You can’t live on love only. A happy, lasting marriage takes a lot of work and A LOT of forgiveness. Bethany had significant marriage problems, but when she rededicated her to life to God, her life drastically changed. Her husband came to know Jesus in time and He became the center of their life. That’s when everything changed. Her story continues where we left off…
When Bethany moved in with her dad, she was dating a guy named Eddie. They had been together for a long time and planned to marry. Eddie graduated two years ahead of Bethany and moved to another state to work. The plan was that when Bethany finished high school, she would move there with him and they’d get married and she’d go to college.
“I really thought he was the one.”
Remember John? The guy friend who Bethany had been hanging out with? That sweet friend who witnessed her getting kicked out of her house? Yes, him. Well, he was there for Bethany through her parents’ divorce. They became inseparable, the best of friends. Bethany didn’t intend on falling in love with John, but she did. He always wanted to be with her and knowing what Bethany was going through made him want to be with her more. He was such a good friend.
“I felt abandoned by everyone who was supposed to love me.”
But John was there. He was a rock to her in her unstable existence. The time came to choose between John and Eddie. Bethany was very torn. She loved them both. She remembers having a conversation with her dad about it. “You know what you want to do,” he said. She did know, but she was really, really scared. Eddie was a sure thing in her life, but John was a risk. Would he hurt her? Would he leave her? Eddie was safe, John was a gamble.
“If I screwed up, then I would have nobody!”
Bethany came clean with Eddie. It was over. He told her, “If I ever see you anywhere, ever, I will turn around and walk away.” Ouch. That hurts.
“I was so sad that it was over, but by the time I got out of the car, I couldn’t wait to tell John, ‘I choose you!'”
Bethany moved in with John and his family for a while. John’s mother made her life difficult and she decided that she needed to get out of there. Her father allowed both of them to move back in with him. Needless to say, Bethany’s mother did not approve.
Bethany and John got engaged and were married one year later. Bethany was just nineteen years old when she found out she was pregnant, four days before the wedding.
“I just wanted to be married to him. I was never like ‘Oh my gosh,’ it’s my wedding. We had been living wrong for so long, I just wanted it to be right. I was excited to be pregnant.”
During the wedding, John got really drunk. “I had to drive to the hotel. I kept slamming on my brakes so he’d wake up at every red light. I thought it was funny.”
Nice start to a marriage, huh?
About nine months later, their first baby boy arrived. Life was all about the baby. That first year was wonderful for Bethany. She was so happy! This life that she was living was all that she wanted. Then they got a home computer…This is the point in Bethany’s story where I, myself, begin having flashbacks. This is the point in Bethany’s story where I can say, “Me too, me too.”
“That’s when I started finding the porn.”
“He never wanted to go to the strip clubs with the guys from work. I thought he was different. His mom always told me I was the only girl he ever brought home. He thought being with lots of women was just wrong.”
The next few paragraphs of Bethany’s story can be summed up in one word…SHOCKED. While interviewing her for her story, she said the word “shocked” more times than I can count. I have experienced this “shock” in my life too. Have you ever been shocked by an electrical outlet? A little jolt of electricity travels up your arm and makes your whole body feel weird and out of sorts. Then afterward, you’re like, “What just happened?”
My husband tells me a story of when he was in the Navy aboard a submarine. As a machinist, he was responsible for maintaining and repairing things. One day, he went to make an adjustment with a knob that had direct electric current flowing through it. The knob was covered in rubber so that when it was turned, it would not shock the person turning it. As he turned the knob, someone came up behind him and slapped him on his shoulder as hard as they could. All the muscles in his arm and upper back violently contracted and he jumped back a few feet. He turned to see who had slapped him. There was no one there. Then he noticed a slit in the rubber knob that had left him unprotected from the electrical current. He had been shocked. Because of the supposed protection of the rubber on the knob, he was not expecting to come into contact with a live electrical current. It was a complete surprise! That’s a sensation he remembers vividly to this day, even after twenty some years.
In a marriage, the vows we recite, the devotion we pledge to one another, the commitment we make, the covenant we enter together is the “rubber” on the knob. When that rubber gets a crack, we are left unprotected. The “shock” can come from many sources…pornography, affairs, drug addictions, abuse, etc. The effects of the initial shock is often emotionally violent and creates a huge gulf in the marriage. There is a breach in the “protection” of the marriage and trust is lost. This is the shock Bethany experienced…
One day, Bethany ran to the local gas station one day to buy cigarettes. She took John’s car. His briefcase was sitting on the passenger’s seat.
“Something told me to look in his briefcase. I was shocked by what I found.”
A magazine with naked women. This is just the beginning…
“When I found the porn on the computer, I was shocked. I honestly never thought that was the kind of person John was. I thought he was the exact opposite.”
When Bethany found the porn on the computer, she wasn’t looking or suspecting her husband. She was simply typing in the search bar for an unrelated subject. The porn sites just came up in the search bar as she typed. She called AOL and they taught her how to search the history.
“I looked back as far as I could. Every site, every picture he looked at. I printed out every single one. I used up all the ink in the printer. I had it all lain out on the kitchen table, waiting for him to come home from work.”
Bethany’s heart was absolutely broken. She was disgusted and felt sick to her stomach. The more porn she found on the computer, the more angry she got.
“I even remember some of the people he was looking at. Like naked pictures of Alyssa Milano…why would he want to look at that?”
When John walked through the door that day, Bethany was ready. The look on John’s face was like a child who is caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Bethany erupted like a volcano.
“If you want them, take them. You’re not getting me!”
She began asking questions. Remember, this was about a year after she gave birth to their baby. Can you understand where her mind was going?
“If I looked better, would you be more attracted to me?”
He said yes. What the? I’m sorry. He was an idiot. What kind of person says yes to a question like that from the twenty year old mother of YOUR ONE YEAR OLD BABY?!?!?!?!?
Can you also understand how Bethany STILL struggles with her body image to this day? No matter how many times her husband tells her she’s beautiful, sexy, perfect or desirable, her confidence, her security, her view of herself changed…forever.
“I thought I was happy. I married John, had my baby…everything. My friends were all in college and here I was already married with a baby. But, it’s what I had always wanted. I thought my life was set, then this happened. I was afraid my marriage was over. I regretted my decision to be with John. What was I going to do?”
More questions were asked. Promises were made. Apologies were given. Their marriage did not end this day. Life continued…
“For years after that, I remember crying myself to sleep, just wanting him to touch me. We hardly ever had sex. I wanted to be loved and I never felt like I was. It was because of the porn.”
Bethany did not have much faith in John or his love. His actions towards her proved her feelings correct. For instance…
“One of our mutual friends, a guy, starting hitting on me. He begged me to meet him. He told me no one would ever have to know. He kept asking me over and over. This went on for a while. When we went away for one of our anniversaries, I told John everything. He didn’t say much. We continued being friends with the guy and hanging out with him. It always bothered me that he never said anything to our friend about it. He never got even a little jealous. He just didn’t care.”
If some guy was doing that to me and I told my husband about it, he would be serving time for murder or at least assault. Just sayin.’
Bethany wanted another baby. She struggled with infertility for four years. After IVF two times and fertility drugs, she finally became pregnant. Another baby boy. Then another boy came a few years after that. Three boys! The third boy was quite a challenge and I will be devoting an entire blog on just him soon. He is different than the other two. She immersed herself in motherhood, caring for her three precious gifts.
Bethany says that “Life was fine,” during these years, but it wasn’t really. A family friend would frequently come over their house to fix their computer. It was always loaded with porn. John tried blaming their oldest son. Bethany knew better.
Bethany’s insecurities screamed at her mercilessly, “You’re not good enough.” But she tried to be the best wife she could be.
Bethany recalls their ten year anniversary trip. She was so excited to spend time with her husband. Her expectations of a joy-filled weekend of connecting with John were met with huge disappointment. She tells me of the ring he bought her. How he was completely disconnected. How hard she tried to get him to talk and open up to her. No response.
“He was just off. I didn’t want to push the issue because I didn’t want him to be mad.”
I ask her, “Do you think it was the porn or an affair that was causing him to be disconnected to you?”
“Those are things I don’t even want to know now because that’s not who he is anymore.”
John became a born-again Christian a few years later. He has surrendered his life to God and is a new man. He is 100% devoted to Bethany and their boys. I have witnessed the love and adoration he has for his wife and for his Lord. People have actually commented to them that they seem like newlyweds. That is the restoring power and grace of God right there. If you are at a place in your marriage where you think there is no hope, be encouraged. Placing God at the center of your marriage is the key. Nothing is impossible with Him. He is all about restoration and redemption. The how and why of Bethany and John’s relationship with God will be discussed in a later post. It is quite a story in itself!
How many of you have experienced what Bethany has experienced? I will raise my hand first. Pornography and sexual perversion are what destroyed my first marriage. I’ll never forget the first time I found porn on our home computer. Shocking. Painful. Degrading. Insecurity. Disbelief.
From my own personal experience and from what I know of many other women, this is what porn does to a woman:
You love this man. He loves you. You feel like you’re the only one for him and he’s the only one for you. You feel so close and connected to him. He makes you feel beautiful, sexy, smart and funny. You have no doubt that these things are true…because he says so. There is safety and security in your relationship. You think, “This is how marriage is supposed to be.” You’re best friends, lovers, confidantes, soul mates, you complete one another.
Then you find porn or a playboy or a text message or an email…all of a sudden, everything that you thought was true is gone. Like a mirror shattered into a million pieces. Like a basket of neatly folded laundry strewn all over the room. Like a brand new car that has been mangled in a violent crash. Pieces of your life, your self-confidence, the truth of your reality, your self perception, everything that you thought to be true and good…all strewn about in chaos. You can’t ever measure up to the women on the computer screen…and you don’t want to be like her. I remember saying to my ex-husband, “I’ll never look like that, ever. If that’s what you want, then you’re going to have to find someone else.” Though I try to be as appealing as possible, I will never look like a pornstar. It’s just not physically possible.
Porn kills our self esteem, our confidence, our security, our peace. Like Bethany, I struggle to this day with my self confidence. I never feel like I’m good enough. Even though I have a wonderful husband who dotes on me excessively, I still struggle. And I know that many of you do, as well. Perhaps you excuse your husband’s behavior by saying that men will be men. But, still, deep down inside, it hurts.
Let me paint a picture for you of how your Creator sees you. You are God’s masterpiece! You are His beloved! You are the apple of His eye! You are fearfully and wonderfully made! His love for you goes on and on and on! You are His princess! He loves you, no matter what you’ve done or said or thought! Nothing can separate you from His love! You are perfect and cherished by Him! Believe and accept His love today!
Read the Bible to find out more on God’s love for you. The Bible is God’s love letter to you!
I also recommend the book, “His Princess: Love Letters from Your King.” It’s a book of love letters written to you from God’s perspective. When I read it, I just cry. It is THAT good! I’ve included the link where you can purchase it online.
Or, here is a free sneak peak:
I’ve included links to resources for women dealing with husbands who have issues with pornography. These resources have been a great help to me personally. Check them out:
If you’ve been touched by this story or if you can say, “Me too! Me too!” let your voice also be heard. It matters to the women who are being so brave in sharing their precious lives with you. YOU matter to Bethany. She wants you to find hope and healing through her story. So please, leave a comment or contact me at the email address below. All correspondences are confidential.