I have two different directions I need to go, in writing about being married. And I am having a hard time deciding which way to go first.
Both of these areas revolved around the same thing, and both were completely heart breaking for me to walk through. One would require me to learn to be surrendered to something completely out of my control with one of the biggest dreams of my life, and the other would require me to learn to forgive and forgive and forgive and try to learn to trust and forgive once more, the man that I had committed my life to.
I think, that I will choose the second to write about first.
I want to be really careful as I write this, to be sensitive to my husband. And yet I know, I have his approval to share these life lessons, because the way we both feel about weaknesses, are that we would rather share and have God use our hard times to help others, than to keep them to ourselves.
I remember a few years ago sitting down for dinner with some friends that were about to be married. They both had the prewedding glow, excited for the dreams and plans for their future. And they asked us, if there was any advice we could share, what would it be.
Nick was quick to respond to the husband. "If you struggle in the area of lust, pornography, sexual addiction of that sort, try to get it figured out now, because marriage won't fix those struggles." And it is so true.
When I met Nick I admired him very much. He was a true gentleman, had plans for his life, was confident, and he and I shared many of the same life goals. He really was a gift from the Lord.
Several months into our relationship, Nick broke down and told me about his struggle in the areas listed above. He felt terrible about them, and didn't even know what he was doing when he got started in them, and all of a sudden he felt in the midst of a struggle that he didn't know how to solve.
I was pretty naïve to those things, and was quick to forgive. The following years of our courtship, would involve every so often Nick breaking down and confessing he had struggled once again, and then once again stepping up and starting over again to try to do the right thing.
As we got closer to marriage, I figured that those struggles would be taken care of once we got married. That I could meet those needs in him, and he would no longer fall into those traps.
We did get married, and I don't remember exactly the first time he fell in this area, but I do remember being confused and devastated when he told me.
I knew that sex was an area of struggle for us. It was and sometimes still is a hard area to communicate our needs and desires in this. I had started reading a few recommended books to help me be better in this area. But it still wasn't easy.
Knowing that he still struggled, I would blame myself for not meeting his needs well, and I would want to figure out how to provide for him. But then he would still struggle, and I would be hurt.
The hardest parts about these struggles is that often I would get a feeling that maybe he had stumbled in this area, and then I would ask him, and he would tell me that he had not. But then an hour, or a day, or a week later, he would be ridden of guilt from lying and come back and tell me the truth, that he had struggled and that he had lied to me about it.
It was this huge cycle of not trusting him from his lying, and feelings of insecurity started to creep in more and more.
This went on for several years.
I had a few friends that God richly blessed me with that I felt safe with to talk about these things, and they would encourage and pray with me. Please know, that Nick knew I would talk to these ladies about these things. Sometimes us as women can come together and start bashing our husbands down and tearing them a part with our words - and that was NOT at all what was going on during that time. I felt helpless, because I could not control my husband's choices. And I didn't know what I could do to make myself be a better wife for him. I read books and prayed and read my Bible and did everything I could do to be the wife I was suppose to be. But still, I could not fix him. He still struggled. And it hurt so bad.
During this time we were struggling with figuring out why I wasn't getting pregnant, which I will go into in another blog, but I just wanted to say a side note, that I think that was one of the blessings in disguise with my infertility, was that it did not let me settle to not work at things and figure things out - God used that to give me a desire to try with my husband, to spend time working in this area of our marriage, and I am grateful for that.
Almost 4 years into our marriage - we were in the middle of helping plant a church and just starting the adoption process, and it was very exciting times. However, Nick was still battling with this, which made me nervous about being parents, if Nick couldn't figure this area out, would he be able to help his children someday in this area?
During the middle of the summer of 2004, my friend Leah found a book that God used to change Nick's life in this area. I was sitting by the pool at our current apartment with my friend, talking about these struggles, and she told me she had a book, and to see if Nick would consider it. It is called "Every Man's Battle."
I gave Nick the book that night, and he was not to pleased about it at the time. I asked if he could consider reading it, that Leah had bought it with us in mind. He didn't really commit to it, and that was that.
I don't remember exactly when he started to read it, but when he got half way through the book his eyes started being opened to what needed to happen to help him change. I don't know what it was, or the exact details between him and the Lord, but I just know I began to see a huge change in my husband.
I ended up reading a few books from the same series including one called Every Heart Restored. God began to restore us in this area of hurt and pain and healing areas of brokenness, and helping my husband surrender what I would call the biggest battle of his life.
I can't explain it. It was just a work that the Lord did in Nick's life. What I can say, is that even though it has been a long time since Nick has struggled in this area, we do recognize that it is something that he could stumble in again anytime, and we do try to stay on guard in this area.
As a wife, and now as a mom to a 6 year old son, I do my best to make sure the movies or shows that are viewed in our home would not cause any stumbling - and even magazine articles. I get Real Simple Magazine, and I go through it first thing, and rip out any ads that are inappropriate. I want to keep our home a protected place. But also, as Josiah gets older, we want to equip him as he goes out of the home to prepare him to handle the things this world will throw at him. We have had talks about how we don't look at naked pictures. We want to teach him to not defraud women.
We live in a very twisted world.
There was one time when I went into Gap Body with my kids - which in the past never had pictures that were inappropriate. But last fall when I was there, Josiah immediately turns his head, and then with his head bowed I followed to where he had been looking, and there I saw a picture of a gal with her belly button showing not fully dressed. I immediately apologized to Josiah, and he told Ava not to look at it, and I laid down what I had been considering purchasing and we left the store.
Another time though, I went into the attached store to Gap Body, and caught Josiah trying to peek into Gap Body. That brought up a new discussion. That also brought up the realization that I need to be extra wise in where I take him in the future.
We are definitely not done in the training and preparing Josiah to be equipped to face the world in this area. But through Nick's struggles it is something extra near to our heart in raising our children.
It says in the Bible to FLEE sexual immorality. It's not something to leave room for any open doors.
There has definitely been healing this area, but there are also scars that still hurt from time to time.
I know that Nick and I would definitely want to put out the message to figure this out in your marriage - especially to the guys. There can be healing and forgiveness through Christ. He wants us to be able to surrender our hearts in this. And set us free.