Marriage Monday: Tammy's Guest Post - Finding Hope and Healing in Addiction

Addiction is a disease that lies and destroys.  Earlier this summer, the world learned of another young star whose life was overtaken and ended in addiction, Cory Monteith the well-known star of "Glee".  Drug addiction is a sad, tragic reality, but today I want to share on a specific type of addiction that is (in my humble opinion) more harmful and destructive.  I am talking about men who struggle with sexual addiction.  Why do I know or feel compelled to address SUCH a sensitive topic?

Because my husband struggles with sexual addiction.                            

I have to be honest, I am very nervous and hesitant about sharing this with you all today, because I have never written on this topic on my own personal blog for a variety of reasons.  They include and are not limited to the shame and embarrassment I feel as a wife/for my husband, I wonder if people who follow and read my stuff would judge me and/or husband/our get the idea.  It's tough stuff.  But I also reflected on how much I didn't understand or feel prepared to handle this at the time with only being married for just over a year.  I never knew just how MANY men (good Christian men) struggle with sexual integrity.  There have been many time over this year I felt ill-equipped to understand and know how to handle it all...and in talking with my husband, I have wanted to share my perspective and experience, with the main goal of helping other women who are in similar situations as I have been in.  I have talked and prayed about this with my husband, and he has willingly agreed to me writing this piece.

I knew my husband struggled with chastity before we married.  Honestly I didn't really understand it; why he felt the need to act out by looking at pornography or masturbating from time to time.  I honestly figured if he didn't really say much about how he was doing, that meant he was fine.

Six months into our marriage, my husband was in his last semester of grad school.  Between his internship, class load, and money being really tight his stress level went up.  For men who struggle this way (as I am learning), when they feel such tension stress it can provoke them to act out.  Shortly after the new year, Ken shared with me it was getting hard to remain chaste; he was acting out more masturbating and looking at porn.  He also had gotten a medical marijuana license to help "deal" with his stress and unpleasant feelings.  I was so hurt, shocked, and devastated.  So many feelings and thoughts just running through my head, and yet, at the same time, I also just felt numb.

This past winter was really. hard.

LOTS of yelling, fighting, crying, sleepless nights, going to bed get the idea.  There was a part of me that was SO mad at God, too.  I thought I knew who I married.  I married a good Catholic man, we waited till our wedding night, we prayed together regularly, we both loved Jesus, etc.

How the hell does this happen?? How could I have been so naive??

But, somehow we have and are making it through...not surviving but also recovering together and thriving.

My husband found out somehow that there is a weekly support group for men who struggle with sexual integrity at a Catholic Church just miles from us.  How amazing is it we are so close to it!  I've also started going to the weekly group that meets to help the wives of these spouses work through and deal with their own recovery process of it all.  It has been really really hard for me sometimes to talk and share about all this deep stuff in my marriage.  But I feel safe and really know that these women of anybody would understand and not judge me.  I've become close too with one of the group leaders, and she has become a second mom to me in helping me process and understand it all.

We have a found a great marriage counselor whom we both feel comfortable with; someone who holds each of us accountable and calls us out in a tough love way when needed. He is challenging both of us in area's of selfishness and forgiveness, and it has been a really good experience for us both.

Ken has also begun seeing a therapist to help him better understand himself and the wounds of his past that have impacted his acting out behavior.  He is growing in being more open by having accountability partners and taking preventive means by setting up things on the computer to help him in potential moments of temptation.

Our start to marriage has been much harder than I ever imagined form so early on.  And trust me I still have plenty to work and address with myself related to all of this...I struggle a lot with forgiveness and trust.  I have begun reading an excellent book called "Codependent No More" which is illuminating the self-destructive ways I try to 'help' my husband in being controlling but learning actually how that does the total opposite.  I am learning SO much from attending the group for wives, and some weeks it is just totally overwhelming to me.  I've come home several times in tears; crying over hearing the sad stories of women who are in marriages of 15-20 years, but sadly their spouse doesn't see or refuses to admit that he has a problem...I just cannot imagine living that way.

Yes my husband isn't perfect and struggles this way, BUT he has come a long way.  He is open and committed to doing all he can to be on a path of healing and recovery; not only for himself, but for me, our marriage, and our future children.  And seeing all his hard work challenges and calls me on to work harder to grow in selflessness and true forgiveness towards work on my own weaknesses so I can better become the wife he needs me to be to support, love, and encourage him. It has been really hard, and there is a lot of work ahead of the both of us.  But we both are so thankful that our relationship is so strongly built on a deep love of Christ and our Catholic faith; because honestly, those two things have been the spiritual super glue that has kept us going through it all. 

Are we out of the woods yet?  No of course not, and I know that.  I know all the stats of how much hard work it takes for both a husband and wife to survive and thrive through something like this. We made promises, a covenant with each other and God.  And we have been and will continue to be given grace to live this sacrament of marriage together well.  As we look back at things since the new year, we can see the glimmers of hope and grace; God leading us to the right people and places to help both of us.  Praise God, for allowing us to face this now rather than 20 years from know like some of the women in the group I go to.  And to really begin healing for both of us before we have children of our own.

If you know of a friend/sister/niece who is in a marriage where he spouse struggles with sexual addiction, please pray and offer sacrifices for her.  Do not judge her or her husband or her marriage, she doesn't need to feel more shame than I am certain she already does.  Encourage her to begin her own path of healing and recovery; seek out a good Christian counselor and find a support group for wives.  Share this post with her; it so important for her to know she is NOT alone fighting this fight.  I know for me I felt very alone at times, and finding women who understand, love, and accept me has been so helpful for me personally.

As I said, I have some anxiety about sharing this online, but if my story can help another wife than that is another good that has come from this struggle.  

I want to share and witness that yes even though addiction has taken a toll on marriage, you can find hope and heal in the face of addiction.  God is doing something to my husband and I through this; He is strengthening our resolve and softening our hearts towards each other. 

And I'm here to tell you there is hope and healing that can be found through it all.

What's the first song you danced to as husband and wife?
I've Got You Under My Skin by Frank Sinatra... we love the oldie tunes!

Fill in the blank: "When it comes to most things, he definitely wears the pants in the marriage.  But when it comes to _____, my husband may as well wear a dress."
Cleaning the bathrooms... poor guy, he doesn't get it that toilets need to be cleaned more than once a month! 

What is a dream you and your spouse share for your future?
To some day own a house... pay off my school debt... and have children together :)

What do you admire most about your significant other?
Honestly, his love of Jesus.  It was what most attracted me to him when we first met.  We take seriously together as a family a combined family prayer life and nurturing each others relationship with Jesus.

About Tammy*
Tammy blogs about her great loves: faith, food, family, & the fun she has along the way.  {Oh, and she's a Coca-Cola person!  My kind of woman!}  She's been married a little over a year to her sweetheart, Ken*.  She has got so much to share and I am so happy to have found her little corner here in the blog world!  It took a great deal of courage and poise to articulate the strength and struggles of her marriage; thank you SO much for blessing me and the rest of us with your story.

*Tammy and Ken's names have been changed in order to keep some anonymity.


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