But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28
Gwen wrote about infidelity and her subsequent divorce. I guess it is my turn. But I never divorced, despite the multiple pleas from friends and family that I should. My husband died instead.
To write about this hurts, especially since it damages my late husband’s reputation. But just as my mother kept my father’s alcoholism a secret to save face to their friends and church, so I followed the pattern and kept silent about my husband’s addiction – to nude women.
In the 35 years of wedlock before my husband died, the last fifteen were spent with a silent infidelity that had become the elephant in our marriage – my husband became addicted to porn. It began when he got a second job at a convenience store to help us make ends meet. He had to restock those magazines they keep hidden from the kids. For almost a year I was clueless, but wondered why our intimacy had become less tender. Then he began requesting us to do odd positions and acts, and would become irritated when I refused. Finally, I found the magazines tucked beneath his out of season clothes in the dresser drawer. He told me he had caught our teenage son with them and had hid them until trash day so I wouldn’t know. But they had talked. Right.
Two years later when we were visiting his brother, I woke in the middle of the night and saw he was not beside me. I heard low voices and saw the flashing light from the TV in the darkened living room. I caught the two of them watching pornographic movies. My husband had been driving there quite often on weekends to help his brother with a building project, leaving me at home.
As the years went by we were less and less intimate, until it was time for bed. Then his motions were rough, brash and non-emotional. I felt as if I was in the backseat of a car with a lusty teenager. He had never been one to “talk” and always got gruff and evasive when I tried to figure it out. The deterioration continued. No hugs, no hand holding, not even a pat on the back. But in bed, he’d come close to rape. He also became more and more disgusted and said I didn’t please him anymore. He began watching a lot of rated R movies on TV, so I’d get up and leave the room. He’d coax me to watch saying it would add spice to our marriage, but I refused. He’d get up in the middle of the night at least five times a week to watch TV because he could not sleep. When I’d finally had enough and put a parental control on the TV, he blew up and told me our marriage was over since I no longer trusted him. Yet he never would head to the courthouse to file. By now, I no longer let his turning it around to be all my fault affect me. I knew better. But he was right. I didn’t trust him.
The last five years of our marriage we slept in separate rooms – his choice. The last three we had no physical contact. I’d find porn sites on the computer and pictures buried in our saved files under false names – supposedly again left by our now grown son when he visited. Then, I got an email from one of the hits he’d left on a “dating site”. Now I knew why he went to the office at 6am on Saturdays and was taking out $200 a week from the ATM when he said it was for lunches and cigarettes, yet he always used the debit card. At one time, he even began following me to my Toastmasters and Christian writers meetings to see if I was having an affair.
His attitude darkened as he swirled deeper and deeper into this world. He quit talking to me for days on end, and fell asleep in church, when he went. He became more and more angry at the world and depressed, yet would not seek help. My knees wore out from prayers, my eyes from silent tears into my pillow. Being rejected by the one you vowed before God to spend the rest of your life with is hard.
What drives men to porn? What drives church going, raised with Christian morals men to it? Poor self esteem? Low libido? He was a heavy smoker and had high blood pressure, yet refused to change his habits so I am sure that effected his functioning. He also had had many a setback in his career. Was it my hitting middle age and having a bit more around the middle that drove him to lust after firmer, younger bodies? I will never know.
I do know a month before he died suddenly while taking a shower, he told me he thought God would never forgive him and he was not good enough to get into heaven. He refused to listen to my talking of Christ’s death on the cross and left the room. He kept having an evil, angry look in his eyes and spent more and more time alone. Satan had latched hold and was not letting go. There was no happy ending. I only pray that He saw Christ at the moment of death and asked for forgiveness. I guess most of us who have lost a lapsed believer or unbeliever prays that. I am confident my Savior loves His own so much He will do everything to un-harden the heart – even until that split second after the last breath and before eternity.
Ladies, if you live with this silent hell or suspect you know someone who does, do not suffer in silence as I did. I thought if I revealed my silent torture, it would affect my career as a Christian writer and speaker. People would think less of me if my marriage was not perfect. That was my pride – my sin. My chest still tightens as I write this, but I feel God is calling me to do so – not for your sympathy – please! But, for your awareness.
Talk to your pastor or a Christian friend who will pray with you and keep confidences. Seek help. Porn is adultery. It will destroy your marriage. But know this, I clung to Philippians 4:13 and I know I survived because I had Christ’s strength. God was there to hold me every day. He still does. He is my faithful companion. He will hold you as well.