Most of the guys that I knew at my secular college viewed pornography openly. It was at countless college parties and joked about with friends like it was the punch line of a joke. I don’t remember porn ever bring treated like the threat that it is so I never really viewed it as one. With this naive view of porn I wasn’t very surprised when pornography made it’s way into our marriage on our honeymoon. I was only 25 years old and I honestly thought that this is just what men do.
We continued to occasionally view pornography together and while it was somewhat uncomfortable at first I figured that as long as we are viewing it together it would be alright. If fact there were times when I even found some of the images exciting. About six months into our marriage I discovered that my husband was viewing pornography on his own. I found a magazine in his desk drawer and I felt very hurt, very angry, and very betrayed. My husband told me he was very sorry and that he would never view porn again. And I believed him.
Only a few months had passed before I found adult websites on his computer history. That was when I realized that this was actually a problem. That was the point when he admitted that he had an addiction to pornography and confessed that he had been using it regularly for years. That was also the point when my illusion that this is something “natural” that all men do was shattered. He and I yelled, cried, made promises to get help, and started to move though the initial stages of the recovery process.
In those first months of confession and recovery I carried a tremendous amount of guilt and shame. I constantly asked myself questions about my role in his viewing porn. If I hadn’t allowed it in our bedroom would it have come to this? Was watching porn together the same as giving permission? Since I allowed it was I just as guilty? If I hadn’t allowed it could I have stopped this or prevented it from happening? These questions were always running through my head. At their core these questions really boiled down to one thing: Is this my fault?
As I asked myself these questions and replayed all of the events of our first year of marriage I began to feel an overwhelming shame for what I had done. The guilty assumption that I had caused this began to eat away at me. It didn’t take long for me to plug into a few good supports who had been down this road before me and spoke truth and healing into my experience. What I came to understand is that there is no condemnation for me in Christ Jesus – my part in our sin was forgiven. Most importantly, I learned and accepted that his addiction was not my fault. Let me say that again: It’s – not – my – fault. It’s not your fault. Even if you have passively given permission, missed signs, or looked the other way you did not cause this and you could not have prevented it.
If you have been struggling with guilt or shame associated with your husband’s addiction there is hope. There is hope and power in our weakness (2 Corinthians 9). His grace is sufficient to cover your guilt, your shame, and your hurt.