Aaron, can we talk?” I found my husband lying in bed, ready to go to sleep.
Three and a half years of turmoil in our young marriage was too much of a burden for me to carry any longer. It was time to unpack everything . . . the fact Aaron and I had been unable to satisfactorily enjoy sexual intimacy, and Aaron’s pornography confession. God pressed on me to be completely honest with my husband.
I spent a lot of time praying about my struggle and knew it was time to talk to Aaron about it. My heart was pounding in my chest and my palms were sweaty. I tried to explain how the hardships coming against our marriage were affecting me. I felt it was important to address how each issue we encountered was exponentially adding up, ultimately feeding my depression.
I exposed part of my heart I’d never shared before, not with anyone. I stuttered through my words, hoping and praying Aaron would receive them with grace. I told my husband how our inability to have sex forced me to question and sometimes doubt the love we shared. I struggled to look at Aaron as I told him that during the times we attempted sex, it was difficult for me to get aroused. And though it may be been from anticipating that I would experience physical pain, I also began wondering if maybe I was not attracted to my husband for a specific reason—that perhaps I was attracted to women.
I could feel my face flush as I confessed such an idea. I didn’t want to think about the possibility of being a lesbian. I knew it contradicted my faith in God, his divine design, and his Word. I felt conflicted and ashamed about even considering such a thing. Yet I also recognized that the longer I kept it buried, the more I seemed to be tormented.
I opened up to my husband, unsure if he would accept the real me, the imperfect me. God helped me remove the barrier that had separated my husband and me for so long. A transparent river of truth, emotion, and uncertainty flowed from me, sentence after sentence. I explained to Aaron that questioning my sexuality came around the same time I began looking at pornography a year and a half into our marriage.
His jaw dropped.
I had been exposed to pornography when I was younger, and with easy access to the Internet, I knew where to seek it. I did not understand when or how it gained such a rule over my life; just like my husband, I became a slave to my own lust. I understood the weight of my husband’s addiction all too well, even though I never wanted to tell him. I felt like confessing such a sin would somehow condone his actions or make them less hurtful toward me. I was deceived, but unlike Aaron, who was honest with me about his struggles, I was left without any accountability to help me defend my heart or marriage against such evil.
When a craving to look at explicit images manifested, I stumbled through thousand of different photos, the majority of which included females. I fantasized about being those women. A desire to be sexy, to feel wanted, to experience a good sexual encounter, all pulled me into a world of lust where I tried to create an environment or circumstance that fulfilled me. I was filling my mind with these images, unknowingly connecting sexual gratification with females, which fed an intensely growing craving.
Looking at such graphic images stains the mind. But I didn’t care about the consequences. I just wanted something to fill the void. The lack of sexual gratification between Aaron and me was being fulfilled elsewhere, and the secrecy was killing our marriage.
Aaron locked eyes with me. His face was full of concern and worry. There was also a hint of sadness. Taking in a deep breath, I wiped my wet cheeks with my sleeve and then exhaled what was left inside me. During our conversation, I saw a glimpse of how deception weaves its way through life, suffocating the beauty of truth that God created.
It became obvious that the only reason I’d been questioning my sexuality was because of the sin I’d allowed to infiltrate my heart. As I realized how the unhealthy connections I was making through willfully using pornography to self-stimulate were affecting my body chemistry, confusing the very design God established, I no longer believed I might be a lesbian. My flesh was being satisfied even though it was not in the way God intended. I believe the enemy used my disobedience as an opportunity to oppress me by tempting me with the desire to lust for more.
The unhealthy connections I was making through willfully using pornography to self-stimulate affected my body chemistry, confusing the very design God established.
I had been terrified of being judged or humiliated for so long that I’d told myself I must deal with this embarrassing struggle on my own. I had also been hesitant to expose my struggle because women’s addiction of pornography is rarely talked about, especially in Christian environments. I didn’t want to be the one labeled and defined by my sin. However, it became evident I was not going to be able to overcome this problem without accountability. I also perceived that it would remain a source of contention in our marriage unless, with God’s strength, I exposed the truth.
I believe God anointed my conversation with my husband that night. A sense of relief washed over me. Aaron listened intently to all I revealed to him, responding gently and respectfully.
With his head pressed again mine, he said, “I know that wasn’t easy to share, but I appreciate you telling me. and I am positive you are not the only one who struggles with understanding your sexuality, especially when we are challenged with things like pornography.”
My husband and I held each other tightly and prayed over our lives, our marriage, and the various threats that come against us. We stayed up late into the night, talking through our personal struggles, perceptions, and doubts, as well as confronting those that affected our marriage. The more transparent we were with each other, the more we were encouraged to share, exchanging forgiveness and grace for our past behaviors. We gained an understanding of each other that night and an invaluable appreciation for transparency. Our connection brought to us a place of intimacy we had never experienced as a couple. We were making ourselves truly known to each other. I was grateful for the Holy Spirit’s conviction—and I was thankful I had finally obeyed and confessed my struggle.
I began to understand God was pruning the parts of my character that were unrighteous. The following Sunday, Aaron and I went forward after the sermon at our church to meet with a decision counselor. We entered the side room for counseling, sat together and once again, God gave me the courage to express how I was feeling, pushing me to reveal what I had been struggled with. When I finished, Aaron shared his point of view.
The prayer counselors, Chris and Joanne, prayed with us. Aaron and I recommitted our lives to each other and to the pursuit of having a fulfilled marriage. We were sure that the emotional experience would help us stay true to each other and give us the strength to fight pornography’s temptation as a team.
After that Sunday, our marriage began to improve dramatically. I discovered that the key to cultivating trust when my husband and I are being transparent with each other is to give each other the room to open up in a conversation. We both take turns listening and talking, while agreeing that no matter what we say, the desired result is reconciliation. But the most important thing I discovered was that I was only truly able to be transparent when God helped me through each and every moment. I simply can’t do it on my own.
Taken from The Unveiled Wife, copyright © 2015 by Jennifer Smith. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.