Healing Broken Trust in Marriage, Part 1: Managing the Crisis

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Healing Broken Trust in Marriage, Part 1

Managing the Crisis

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"Who is my husband?" I realized I no longer knew this question! We were emotionally and spiritually disconnected. He pursued porn, lusted after women at work, and reunited with his high school girlfriend. I felt rejected and unloved by my best friend, my husband. I had to ask myself, “Where is my anchor?” Being in crisis mode, I realized my anchor was fastened onto my husband. My focus was on him and I was sinking! The sand was shifting beneath me. I lost sight of who I was as God’s daughter. I didn’t know how to be in a group of people at church. My place as a wife and lifelong friend with my husband unraveled, and I was completely unsettled. I hit bottom and sat there with God in prayer and fasting.

God brought me to Hebrews 6:19-20. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. As I meditated on these scriptures, I realized I needed to pull up my anchor that sat in murky waters of confusion and lies. I had spent years believing my husband’s words instead of his actions. I experienced my husband’s manipulation and deception as he lived two lives, one private in his sex addiction, and one for everyone else—including me—to see. It was time to pull up my anchor by believing his actions over his words and get myself out of denial. It was time to anchor myself in Christ and my loving Father, and let Him be the safe harbor of my life. Christ understands shame and betrayal because He lived through this (see Hebrews 12:2).

I prayed for my husband as I watched his heart darken and become callous towards me and our marriage. He became fully addicted and obsessed with sexual fantasy. For him, deception became a primary coping strategy.  I felt outraged at the intense betrayal, deception and manipulation that was used against me for selfish addictive purposes. It took all my courage to decide to leave the familiar chaos and deception, to find a place of truth and allow God’s Spirit to guide me. Courage comes from trusting God. Thankfully, He is faithful to meet us where we are as we learn to lay trust in Him. I called a pastor in our church, shared what was going on and asked that my husband be removed from our home. Two men came to our home and asked my husband about his addiction and his high school girlfriend. He didn’t deny any of it and showed no remorse. They asked him to pack a bag and leave. I had my locks changed and cried myself to sleep. The following week, we filed for divorce. I cried, prayed, fasted, and learned to secure my anchor in Christ instead of my husband. I looked to God for my needs, acceptance, and love, instead of focusing on my husband’s addiction.

God was busy working in both my husband and me. I had hit my personal bottom and finally released my husband into God’s most capable care. After three months, I was contacted by our pastor and an assistant pastor who said my husband had hit bottom, and wanted to come back to church, to see if reconciliation was possible with me. I realized that I had no feelings of love towards my husband because the trauma and pain were so deep. I think my numbness was a way to protect my heart. I prayed and fasted. I believe God led me to the book of Hosea; it was so applicable to the situation. I spent hours in the book of Hosea, trying to understand God’s perspective with His beloved unfaithful children. This book was a great encouragement to me as I saw how God worked with unfaithful Israel. After Israel repented, God reconciled with Israel. I called our pastor and said I would be willing to consider reconciliation if we both went through individual counseling, and later marriage counseling. I learned to set healthy boundaries to protect my heart, so I could begin to heal.

My big question was, “How can I trust him?” We remained in separation for the next six months because I needed to see if my husband was sincere in moving toward healing emotionally and spiritually. I needed to see my husband’s commitment and ability to follow through before I could begin to believe his reliance on God. My husband put a filter (Covenant Eyes) on his computer. He joined a 12-step group that focused on sex and love addition (Prodigals International) and began counseling with a CSAT (certified sex addiction therapist). He began opening up and sharing feelings through trusted male friendships instead of isolating them. I began to see his durability in taking care of himself physically, spiritually and emotionally. We both learned in our individual counseling that it takes 3 to 5 years of healing before in-depth oneness happens. In a way, that’s a long time, but what was most important, we were on the path to God’s healing power.