He Chose Something Else: A Wife’s Story
He chose me. Nobody held a gun to his head. In fact, he asked me to marry him. Of all the women in the world, I am the one he wanted; I am the one he promised to love and cherish, forsaking all others. Me.
A few years and a few kids later, I am not exactly the same woman he married. I have a few extra lines and a few extra pounds, but they are merely the scars from bearing what our love has created. He reassured me all the time that he loved the way I look. So as hard as it was, I tried to believe him. I mean, he isn’t the same either. The years have changed him a little too, and it hasn’t affected how I feel about him one tiny bit. We were each other’s, bound to one another in love and spirit, sanctioned by vows we took before God, and physical appearances don’t enter into that. He belonged to me and I to him, and nothing else mattered. This was as God meant it to be. It was holy, set apart, sacred.
Or so I thought, until I found pornography on his computer. In that moment, all of my doubts and fears of what he thought of me became a horrible reality. He obviously didn’t think I was beautiful. I was not “enough”. In fact, I was so unworthy of satisfying him that he had to resort to images on a screen—images that look absolutely nothing like me. While I was at his beck and call, live in the flesh, he instead chose the cold comfort of a computer image to meet his needs. How horrible I must look to him to choose a lifeless image over me. All the words in the world cannot cover over the fact that it was not me. No, he chose something else on which to let his desire fall. Not me. Words can’t change the reality.
And worse, I now fear that as he gazes at me, makes love to me, it isn’t really me he is seeing. Perhaps he is playing out a scene in his head and simply using my body in his fantasy life. He claims he was never unfaithful. Really? He has, in my mind, been having sex with hundreds, thousands of women…he just used my body to do it. I have to fight the urge to hide myself from him. I can’t stand knowing that my body doesn’t measure up to the impossible standards of what he has been looking at. When I look at my body, I see every flaw ridiculously exaggerated. What I once felt was sacred, honoring to God and to our marriage, he has now defiled and tainted with the presence of other people. What was once beautiful and amazing is now suspicious, degrading, and ugly to me. As he looks down at me, instead of seeing love in his eyes, my mind is filled with doubts. Does he see me or is he lost in a fantasy world where I don’t even exist? How can I possibly give myself to him when I feel so much shame and pain? Pornography has turned our sex life into a battleground, and I fear that I will never feel that beauty and oneness that God intended ever again.
Forgiveness. So easy to sit in our little Christian circles and say that we all should forgive, as we have been forgiven. But this??? I have been lied to, cheated on, heartbroken, and yet I am to forgive?
I prayed and prayed and prayed. At times I really just wanted to hear from God, to feel something from Him that would release me from my obligation as his wife. But, at no point did I ever feel like God was telling me it was ok to walk away. My husband sincerely wanted to rid his life of the pornography, and he was committed to doing whatever it took to make that happen. I wasn’t sure if I was. What if he kept hurting me? I didn’t think I was strong enough; I didn’t even know if I wanted to be.
As he entered into a time of recovery from his addiction, I entered into a time of learning how to forgive. My emotions were up and down for the entire year. I struggled with insecurity, doubt and anger. But through it all, I learned a lot about forgiveness. Walking away would have been the easy choice. Staying was much harder. I’ve found that often the right thing to do is usually the hardest. I was immersed in counseling appointments, meetings with pastors, and difficult conversations I never thought I would be having. I had to learn to rely on God as my source of strength and comfort. Now, on the other side of the fight, I do not regret it. I have had a front row seat to an amazing life transformation that can only be credited to the power of Jesus.
To all the wives out there going through this, I want to tell you there is hope if you are in this situation. It’s not easy, and it’s not pretty. But there is hope that your husband can break the addiction. There is hope that you can learn to forgive him and return to a loving relationship with your husband.