I have my husband’s full support and permission in sharing the details of our story. He and I are completely different people now and are eager to share our story of redemption, because our desire is that God would use it to give others hope.
Whether or not he was coming home that night, I was leaving. On the nights when our 7 week old, colicky baby who rarely napped would finally sleep, I slept fitfully, worrying when or if my husband would come home. I was exhausted. My pastor’s wife invited the baby and me to sleep over so she could help with him while I rested. They were having home group that night, and we hadn’t been there in a few weeks. I knew if I showed up our friends would wonder where my husband Will was, but though I was ashamed of the answer to that question, I was too weary not to say yes to the invitation.
I took a nap during the Bible study, but when it was over, once again I hardly slept. I wished with all of my heart that Will would come home after work and worry about the baby and me since I didn’t leave a note. I wanted him to get a taste of what it was like to wonder where your spouse is when they should be home. He never called. I called the house multiple times in the middle of the night just to get the answering machine. When I returned the next morning, he came home after me, never to have had the chance to worry.
Let me back up a bit. At some point during our yearlong engagement, Will told me he needed to talk to me. I knew it was serious, and I was a little afraid that he might call off our engagement. After all, he had broken up with me once already. He told me that his roommate urged him to come clean after he had found pornography on the computer. Will cried. He said he had had this addiction before he was saved, and it recently reared its ugly head once again. He told me that he would do whatever it would take to get free, and I agreed to help however I could. I got rid of the internet in my apartment, so if he came over to work on school work while I was at work he wouldn’t be tempted. We went to our pastors for counseling. They gave us a few books, some counsel, and referred us to another couple who had walked through addiction. Things were looking good, and the few times Will would get caught up in porno again, he’d always tell me and repent.
Though we didn’t have sex, we did not stay sexually pure before marriage. I was helping him feed that sin, and I didn’t even know it. I didn’t understand how those two things were related, because in my mind, one was fantasy, and one was real life. I thought they were separate sins. James 1:14-15 says, “But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” We were trying to heed to our counseling and “starve the beast” by getting help for Will to stop his addiction, and at the same time, we were participating in things that fed it, giving birth to death rather than freedom.
I was naïve. I wouldn’t realize until later the power addiction can have over a person, even over someone who desperately wants to be free. I thought he could repent, get counsel, and it would be behind us. A few months after we got married, it started happening more often. First, he’d secretly keep one of those AOL CDs that would come in the mail, and he’d download the internet without my knowledge. Then he’d buy a TV and hide it in the attic for a few days before telling me. One night, I found a tape he had bought and watched. It made me sick to my stomach. While he was at work, I walked down the street and threw it in someone else’s garbage so he couldn’t find it.
This is how the cycle went. He’d mess up for a few days, tell me, ask for forgiveness, and then desperately beg God to be free. He read every book we could find on how to be free from sexual addiction. He saw multiple counselors. He thought he must be more messed up than most guys since he couldn’t kick this. He’d fall into a deep depression, then eventually have a good week. We’d move on with life hoping this was behind us, until, boom, the cycle would repeat itself. In another post I’ll talk about what I did during these cycles.
We got pregnant with our first baby 7 months after we got married. Sometime during the second half of my pregnancy, there were times Will wouldn’t come home after work. He would leave his late night serving shift and drive up to Canada to go to a strip club because, “They are allowed to do more than they can do here,” he told me with remorse one day.
I remember calling my mom close to Thanksgiving and crying. Our baby was due in about 4 weeks, so the doctor didn’t want me travelling, and my parents lived 5 hours away. I was trying to figure out if I should make the trip and stay with them, transfer my medical records, and plan on having the baby in their town. I decided to stay home for the time being. Then, a few weeks before our son was born, I heard Will come home in the middle of the night. He fell asleep on the couch, but I woke him up and asked, “Do you realize the stress and worry you’re causing me? I’m really worried that it will affect the baby somehow. What am I supposed to do if you are hours away up in Canada, and I go into labor? Do you even want to be at the hospital when the baby’s born?” He said he didn’t know.
When our baby boy was born, he was so happy to be a father. He loved our little guy so much, and the excitement of all the newness carried him for about a month. Sometime during my maternity leave, he quit his fulltime job and picked up more hours at the restaurant. Our plan was for me to be a stay at home mom as soon as my maternity leave was over, but the pressure of taking care of and providing for our new family was too much for him. Depression hit, and he fell deep in the addiction once again.
Sometime before Valentine’s Day, I called my parents and asked if our son and I could stay with them for a while. I decided that it was one thing to hurt me, his wife, but I wouldn’t let him hurt our son. I didn’t want to raise a baby in that kind of environment, and knew it was my responsibility to set up healthy boundaries whether or not my husband would change. My dad rented a car so he could later help me drive down to their house, drove the 5 hours, and helped me pack up what we would need for a few weeks. We would come home for my baby’s next doctor’s appointment and make more permanent decisions after that.
Will and I had been staying in a house my parents still owned in our city. To my surprise, my dad told Will he’d have to find a new place to live while we were separated. He scrambled to find a room to rent. I left him with no apartment, no working car, and after closing our joint bank account, little money. Oh, and I was taking his 2 ½ month old son away from him. He was so angry. He was sure divorce would be our only option, because he knew he could never forgive me. I didn’t want to divorce him, but living together would be condoning his sinful behavior, and as a wife and mother, I couldn’t stand blameless before God if I did so. My desire was that a separation would help us work toward an eventual reconciliation. The problem is, as I had learned during our break up, he had free will. He could choose not to work toward reconciliation.