redefining-love-2Love is a fight. Love is what happens when you’ve been hurt and you want to quit. Love is what happens when you decide not to. Love is not the beginning of the story but the ending.” — Jon Foreman

I never aspired to be the wife of a recovering sex addict. As a young woman in love with a godly young man, I would not have guessed our road would take us here, but one thing is for sure: love looks very differently in 2014 than it did in 1997 when I said, “For better or for worse.”

At the beginning of our marriage, love felt sweet and easy. Today, I am well aware that love is something we must fight for, and it requires more strength than we can muster in and of ourselves. In fact, the most strengthening thing I ever did to fight for my marriage was to surrender myself fully to the Lord.

In tearful daily prayer, I gave my expectations, disappointment, shame, and anger to the Lord. I gave up my “right” to have life go the way I planned it, and I gave up my desire to control the outcome of my husband’s spiritual health. I learned the power of being crucified in Christ so that His life would be in me (Galatians 2:20).

A big shift came when I chose to see my husband through the eyes of Christ, with compassion (Tweet This). Ironically, a misguided comment from a friend helped me step over that line. She simply said, “I just wish men would love their wives.” 

At that moment, I instinctively knew something our long road to restoration would confirm over and over: my husband did not act out because of love or the absence of love.

He did it because of pain – his pain.

Cycles of insecurity, stress, shame, and guilt were well-worn paths in his soul, dating back to the addictions of his parents. Porn had been a way to medicate since he was 11 years old, but of course, it never actually satisfied any of the pain.

An older and wiser woman spoke great truth and affirmation into my situation one day. “Look at what your husband’s done to save your marriage. That’s love.” It’s true. Because of my husband’s position in ministry, he courageously resigned with a public confession of sin. From that point forward, he allowed leaders to hold his feet to the fire and keep him accountable. His actions of repentance redefined love in our marriage.

As I have walked alongside my husband in his recovery, I have learned a new way of love as well. My husband is my best friend, and despite the tremendous pain he had brought on our family, I knew that God was calling me to love him by laying my life down for him (John 15:13).

I admit that my husband’s repentance made it easier for me to walk this road. My heart breaks for the spouses who will read this knowing that they are alone in their fight to save their marriage. No matter the outcome, there is still strength to be found in Christ who is the only one that can redefine love for anyone. His strength does not depend on another person’s choices, but on your singular decision to lay all of your hope, expectation, and future at the foot of the cross saying as Jesus did, “Not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

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