Understanding Your Wife’s Heart: Part 9

The Wife of an EMB Attendee

I just spoke to you (you are currently at the Every Man’s Battle workshop) and you requested that I share some of the effect your sexual addition has had on me. This may be hard for you to hear, I will try to be honest and I will try to not exaggerate. I want you to realize I am not trying to hurt you, although I am sure it will hurt; to hear what I feel, think and what your behavior has done to me and our children.

1. First and most painful is my loss of PHYSICAL/SEXUAL SELF ESTEEM. I feel in some ways you deceived me before we married. I thought your lack of sexual desire for me before we were married was because you didn’t want to sin by having sex with me. The truth was that this was an established sexual sin in your life that you did not plan on giving up. Yet, sexual intercourse is one of the things that married couples look the most forward to. I was not prepared for this and I was blown away by your rejection that started even during our honeymoon.

Physically I feel repulsive. I am ashamed to have you look at me naked. I feel ugly and fat. I feel I can NEVER NEVER become an object of desire for you. The truth is I have felt this way for many years of our marriage. Long before I gained my weight. My weight was my excuse I created so I would have a reason for you to reject me. To reject me because I am fat was less painful than being attractive and still not being desired. Your lack of willingness to make love in the daytime or with the lights on only feeds this rejection. I have stopped dressing in sexy nightgowns because I feel it wouldn’t make a difference. It isn’t that I think that fat women can not be attractive or even sexy. I know I can be sexy even as I am – but I feel I will NEVER be sexy to you! I feel like I am asking you to do a chore like scrubbing a toilet (totally disgusting) any time I ask you to make love to me or touch me sexually. I feel guilty, like my need for sex is a burden that you hate to bear. Often when we are done, giving ME sex, I feel more hurt emotionally than I did before. Why? because it is so mechanical and one sided. Usually and in the past you tended to do the bare minimum. No kissing, definitely no talking, or moaning or even smiling. You keep you eyes shut the whole time; like your thinking of someone else or anything else as long as it isn’t me. I have asked for french kissing our whole marriage but to this day you avoid it. Our kissing is mostly picking, rarely does it involve putting your arms around me or caressing my body. I love to be kissed on the neck! Just thought I’d remind you! How about kissing my body. Looking at my sexual areas instead of avoiding them. You have looked at me 3 times in 24 years of marriage, and only because I requested it! I have counted, maybe that was stupid, but it hurts me so much, to be that unattractive to you. It was an everyday event in my first
marriage and I have such a hard time understanding why I am so repulsive to you, yet you can look a pictures of other women and that turns you on.

Sorry if this is getting intense, I guess the pain is just pouring out of me. You see I really was a good lover before you; I felt like a woman, like I was beautiful and sexy. You have taken all that away from me. Words will be helpful but the only things that can even begin to help the healing is going to be PHYSICAL CONTACT/SEXUAL CONTACT. Consistent and often. You need to take the risk to give me the type of love and physical affection I desire and need. It would be really nice if I could feel that someday it was genuine desire on your part, but that will take some time. I need for you to communicate about YOUR sexual needs. I feel totally useless trying to touch you. I don’t know what to do, how fast, harder, slower… you need to teach me and interact with me. You prefer masturbation by yourself, you don’t even care if I touch or see you when we are in bed together. Only my physical needs get met and that makes me feel guilty, unloved, useless, ugly and angry.

2. Second and just as important is what your sin has done to me SPIRITUALLY. I know that my depression and obsession with wanting to heal you and the pain your sin caused, has stunted me spiritually. When I chose you for my husband I was very careful to choose a man who knew and love God. A man who I could lead me and walk beside me as I tried to become more Christ-like. Whether it was as a couple or as a parent, I always felt that I was pulling you along, many times unwillingly, to do Bible Study, ministry, attend helpful seminars, read a book, do family devotions… I don’t want to be the spiritual leader in our home! I want you to be. But because of the constant guilt and sin in your life you had a hard time staying close to God. I suffered and the kids suffered because of it! Yes I am responsible for my own faith and in many ways I have gone on without you. Even the pain of your sin has made me grow in my faith, but how much more would we had grown individual, as a couple and as a family had you not had this addiction! I have 40 years more (if I am lucky) to reach people for Christ, to show God how much I love him and to grow in my knowledge of Him. I would like to do this together. I have great respect for your knowledge and you have good insight and you must agree that I sometimes have some Biblical wisdom – how much easier would it be if we could walk down this road together, hand in hand. We have wasted so much time and I feel I have so much I want to learn and do for Christ. Lets stop wasting our time do the trivial things, constant TV (mostly my fault), lack of self-discipline and everything else in this busy world that causes us to focus on the instant gratification or the urgent but not the most important.

3. The third things that your addiction has done to me is change my personality and my behavior. I was not always this ANGRY. I think I was a pretty happy person before all of this. Habitual sin and a lack of repentance has made me angry. I still am angry. I will be for some time. I have forgiven you and I am dealing with the anger when it comes up, but until some of the hole in my heart is filled with real love from you I am afraid that anger is going to still flair up. I have always had some DEPRESSION in my life because of my father, mother and divorce from my X. But no one, no one, has depressed me more than you have. Living with you this past 24 years had made me feel useless, meaningless and unlovable. In the height of your addiction you would avoid me like I was a disease. I became so AFRAID of your presence that the mere touch of your hand on mine brought me great fear; I became sensitized to you hurting me.

This has got to be very hard on you and if you need to stop and take a break please do so. I don’t want you to be overwhelmed with pain and despair. But it is important you know the truth, so I am going to go on.

4. Your sin caused ME TO SIN. You became a stumbling block. I am not trying to make excuses and I definitely made the choice to sin, but often that choice was made because I was either sexually and emotionally unfulfilled or was angry at you. Whether it was my SEXUAL FANTASIES or my DISRESPECTFUL BEHAVIOR TOWARD YOU; almost always these were the backlash caused by your addiction. I came into this marriage with a strong sexual desire toward you and I still want sex with you even after all these years of pain. However it became too painful to think of you during sex because I knew you really didn’t want to be there; it was less painful to think of someone else. Likewise, I did not come into this marriage not respecting you. I was very proud of you, your character and your abilities. You are a very intelligent person and have some great qualities. Your sexual sin and lack of control and LACK OF DESIRE TO CHANGE that behavior, made me lose respect for you… so I began to treat you like a child or treat you with disrespect. I am not saying that my behavior was justified but only that your sexual sin was the main reason I lost respect for you. I hope you also realize that this respect can be regained. And you have been doing a great job trying to pull everything back to where it should be. My respect and wiliness to be submissive to you grows with each new day.

5. Your sexual sin and the impact it has had on our children. This is the most painful of them all. I am willing to bear the pain of my marriage but it is really hard when I see your sin and how it has impacted our children. This one is going to be hard for you to hear.

Our Son – I feel in several ways you failed to show your son what a real man is suppose to be. He was searching for a role model. How do I love a woman? How do I handle sexual temptations? What should I look for in a woman? How should I communicate with a woman? Am I a man, what does that mean? All these questions were left with fussy answers. He and our daughter knew you were into porn. They knew we had marriage problems, they saw me crying often enough. Why didn’t Dad grab mom once in a while and act like he wanted her? Why doesn’t Dad stand up and express his opinions? Why does Dad stay away and hide in the basement so much? Are my parents going to get a divorce? All these questions must have gone through his mind. Now I know that our son made his own choices when he chose to sin sexually with his girlfriends, even to the point of living with his current fianc’, but might he have chosen differently if he had had a father who handled his sexual needs biblically? All I can say is we can make a difference from this point on in his life. You have the chance to answer those questions even now. You can still be a role model of what Biblical sexuality is and a Biblical marriage. I think you need to take an active part in answering these questions and discussing this with him.

Our Daughter – This one is hard. Hard because the effect is more subtle but not any less severe. I think she has a hard time being intimate, especially physically even though they are newly weds. She has seen a lot of my pain and I am sure she had been thinking: I will never let myself be that vulnerable. I love him, but… I am going to protect myself. I pray our daughter will know what it is to love unconditionally. To love and be self-less, thinking of her husbands needs and not her own. The example we set as a couple, in our lack of communication, our dysfunctional sex life, weak faith and so on, will definitely have an effect on our children’s interactions with their mates. If only we had learn what we know now 20 years ago! I also think it is going to take time to earn back your children’s respect. I feel the more you share about your problem and it’s successes the more respect you will earn.

Another area was your unwillingness to disciple the kids. You even spoke of it tonight in our conversation, and felt your sexual sin had changed your personality and you had retreated and were not the father you could have been. Whether it was discipline or having fun, sometimes you just avoided the kids. I think you were too caught up in yourself; whether selfishly fulfilling your needs, or feeling so much guilt that you just tuned out of their lives. Well we have lost those years, we can’t go back and discipline the kids but we can give advise and we can have fun and be encouragers to them. I can tell that you and your son’s relationship has really grown over the last month, I think in time both of the kids will get to know the REAL YOU and really have a richer life because of it. Sexual sin can be devastating; you have a chance to show them that the power of God can overcome anything. That is one of the most important lessons in life that you could teach them.

That’s all I am going to write. I have shot from the heart and exposed some pretty raw stuff. But I felt it was important for you to know the truth. It is hard to take correction, to look at the pain you have inflicted on others. I am so proud of you, that you are willing to listen and then try to change. Going to this conference has really proven to me you are sincerely desiring to change. That takes a very strong man, a very Godly man to take that step. I love you very much, I love the man you are right now (not just the man I hope you will become). I look so forward to us growing closer together.

Your loving wife.

After attending Every Man’s Battle, we strongly encourage you to attend our marriage program at our New Life Weekend
This weekend will help your marriage to heal from the wounds of
impurity and will especially help your wife with questions that she
still may have.

The Courage to Come Out of Hiding

Sam Fraser

One of the consequences of the fall is that shame makes us hide. It is the natural outcome of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When we sexually act out, instead of turning to the Father and asking for help we run 180 degrees in the opposite direction. Moving out of the light to conceal our secret into the darkness to hide our shame and sin. We put on our fig leaves and hide our nakedness. We prefer the wilderness instead of remaining in the garden in His Presence. We know we have sinned and have done wrong and our first impulse is to hide. That is what shame makes us feel. We judge and condemn ourselves.

Then there is the self-talk: you did it again, how could you? Was it worth it, the bad feeling in the pit of our stomach? How dare you ask for forgiveness again? We can get depressed. We beat ourselves up. Often many of us will essentially voluntarily isolate ourselves, feeling unworthy and deserving of banishment. Our sex drive seems impossible to overcome. As rebellious reprobates, we deserve judgment and punishment for our failings and shortcomings. So we feel we have no other choice but to do what Adam and Eve did–we’re naked so we hide and cover ourselves. We stay exiled, self-imposed. Because of our shame we feel we have no other place to turn. Even though we know there is good news because of what Jesus has done on the cross, it no longer seems to apply. We may feel that we have already used up all of the grace from what Jesus had done on the cross. Even though mentally we know this is not true, it feels like it is true.

Let’s spend some time unpacking that spiritual truth in this context because what good is this truth if we can’t apply it to real life situations? And this qualifies as a real life situation. It takes trust to believe that we are forgiven. That this latest acting out or series of failures is under the blood as well. Particularly after we have failed for the umpteen thousand millionth time. The audacity to believe that God’s love for us can once again be extended to us takes real bravery of the most spiritual kind. It takes trust that His love is still greater than our self-condemnation. It takes faith that this is true. We know that mentally, but to let it minister to our hearts is more difficult.

For some of us, we can accept that the Lord has forgiven us. We can believe that alone with the Lord, but to share it with someone else can be frightening. It takes courage to once again confess our acting out and the resulting shame and humiliation time after time. Feeling hopeless and full of despair we often prefer to quit than to open up to someone else and risk humiliation. We feel like quitting since there is nowhere to turn, and we can’t seem to resist this powerful drive. We may feel that there is no hope, and we are to remain as an outcast. We can play church, but as a hypocrite, in our shame and guilt, concealed by our fig leaves. To be exposed in our naked state and remain there takes courage of the most spiritual kind.

We need to realize that we have gone as far as we can alone by ourselves in isolation. We have to choose disclosure. The isolation of trying to wrestle with this issue alone only result in more of the same, bondage. We have to come out of hiding. It is important to find other men that will provide a safe compassionate place for us to confess our sin and shame and allow them to be Jesus with skin on for our repentance. Being associated with Every Man’s Battle, the workshop, we have seen over and over again the power of God being ministered one to another because of the fellowship that takes place there. The information and tools that can help us move into recovery is important. But by far the most common feedback we get is how powerful it is to be in the fellowship of other men who struggle with this same issue. The experience of being with other men who love God and love their wives and at the same time are shamed by this bondage is extremely salutary. Almost to a man the report is that they thought they were the only one. The healing power of being in the presence of other men and finding a common bond in the sharing the shame and humiliation of this addiction and having other men confirm their own struggle is very redemptive.

It is sin that many of us act out in isolation, or if it is acted out with someone else, we dare not share with people who care about us. It is a precarious situation. There are men and groups that can offer that place of mercy and compassion. We may have to spend some time and energy to seek out these individuals or groups. Sex addicts need the body of Christ for support and encouragement to experience victory. At this point we cannot do it alone anymore. My prayer is that you will find such a place. If you cannot, maybe the workshop is the place to start. There is also a roster of men that have been to Every Man’s Battle, the workshop who are willing to make themselves available for contact. You can also call 1-800- NEW LIFE to find other resources.

Thoughts on Joy in Recovery

Mark Verkler

“Short is the joy that guilty pleasure brings.”
‘ Euripides (484 BC – 406 BC)

“Joy is not a substitute for sex, sex is very often a substitute for joy.”
‘ C.S. Lewis (1898 – 1963)

ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES!
We find in Galations 5:22, that Joy is the second fruit of the spirit. It is high on the list of ‘fruit’ that clearly comes from heaven, through the Holy Spirit and to us.

Let’s look at the definition of Joy:

The passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; pleasurable feelings or emotions caused by success, good fortune, and the like, or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire; gladness; exhilaration of spirits; delight.

Joy is a delight of the mind, from the consideration of the present or assured approaching possession of a good.” ‘ John Locke (1632 – 1704)

Look at a significant part of joy’meditation, consideration, and expectation of future good. This is at the heart of Joy. Not simply a delight that is happening now’though I may rejoice about the present’but, significantly, the prospect and expectation of future good. To overcome the temptation of today, and to enjoy today, I must focus on: the joy that will come tomorrow by saying no to that sin; the joy that will come from all the good that God has for me today and in the future.

We find in Hebrews the power and need for joy for endurance and overcoming. Of Jesus we read ‘Who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame.’ Hebrews 12:2

What are some of the good things that will ‘come tomorrow’ if I say no to sin today? Some things we find from scripture are: reward in heaven, good reputation, clear conscience, peace that comes from not having the fear of being caught.

Another vital part of Joy in Recovery is about coming to the end of my own strength and coming to the beginning of God’s strength. As long as I focus only on what I can do, arrange or manipulate, I can have no lasting joy. When I come to the end of my strength I am at the beginning of God’s.

In 1 Corinthians 12:9 the Lord told Paul that ‘My grace (God’s) is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore I (Paul) will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may overshadow me.’

I think it seems strange on the surface to consider that I would ‘glory’ in my weakness. However, as I look closer at this I realize that the ‘glory’ is not about me, but about my absolute need for the Lord’s strength and power. As I embrace and acknowledge my weakness I naturally begin to look for strength and power from another source. As the power of Christ ‘overshadows’ me, I begin to find the joy that I could not find while looking to my own strength or my own prospects for the future.

And in James 1:2 we find that James exhorts us to ‘count it joy’ when we fall into temptations. He tells us the trying of our faith works patience. This prospect of giving thanks or rejoicing with temptations seems difficult if not impossible. We must do this by faith and not according to our emotions. The joy seems to be about the good that it will bring to me as I overcome in the strength of the Lord and about the God who is sovereign over all my life and circumstances. I can count that joy.

In Nehemiah 8:10 we find the exhortation that ‘the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ I pray that the Joy of the Lord will be your strength and my strength today and from this day on.

“The joy of a spirit is the measure of its power.” ‘ Ninon de Lenclos (1620 – 1705)