Definition of DISCOVERY
c obsolete : exploration
3 – the usually pretrial disclosure of pertinent facts or documents by one or both parties to a legal action or proceeding
Is it normal to have an intense aversion to a word that should be fairly innocuous? That’s how I feel about the word DISCOVER.
I often tell people that if their spouse came to them and confessed their struggle with pornography, they should count themselves among the lucky for two reasons. First, the “good guys” struggle with pornography while the rest of the world seems to just continue swimming in those shark-infested waters with no concern. Second, if they don’t confess the problem and you know about it, then it means you were left to discover it yourself and that stinks. You will always wonder if they would have ever told you their dirty little secret and you aren’t certain whether they are truly sorry or only sorry that they got caught.
How about you?
In hindsight the red flags were all there and were waving in my face. I don’t know if I was naïve and didn’t recognize them, gullible and too quick to believe the ridiculous lies I was told as way of explanation, or in serious denial, but I never expected to discover an addiction like this. The red flags? They were typical … not coming to bed until the wee hours of the morning, sequestering himself in the office with the doors closed, attempts to keep me from seeing bills, zip/zero/zilch interest in intimacy with me. There were others, but you get the idea. I thought these indicators were screaming that I was insufficient, inadequate, and unappealing to my husband.
Then I made the discovery.
One of the few things I asked my husband to do to help around the house was to take the garbage out to the alley and put it in the bin. Instead, he would often stack it inside the door of the office, which was adjacent to the back door. (So close, but no cigar.) I would get so disgusted and angry as one garbage bag turned into a pile of bags. (Yes, I could have taken them out myself, but it was the principle of the thing and frankly, I have my own issues and stubbornness might factor into them.) Nevertheless, the garbage kept me out of the office for quite a while, which was his goal.
Eventually reason overruled my determination to avoid that room; and I set out to tackle the job of restoring order in the office. I pulled out a filing cabinet drawer to make space for stray paperwork, but I wasn’t prepared for what I found.
My husband had printed out several reams worth of paper documenting graphic online conversations and disturbing pictures. I was sick. Literally.
I’m a dreamer. In fact, I dream big dreams in Technicolor, so I had great hope that our relationship could and would be restored by the Wonderful Counselor. More than once I discussed the porn with my husband. Funny … I’m not sure I ever called it porn. Sometimes those “discussions” were calm, gentle, and encouraging. Other times they were flat out confrontations that bordered on the loud side.
NOTE: There are several things about this story that stink. Discovery stinks. The garbage (both in the bags and in that filing cabinet) stank. Confrontation stinks, but then it’s better than leaving someone you love in shark-infested waters.
Back to my dream … I believed that one day my husband and I would be able to stand in front of others and share our story of God’s restoration in our hearts and in our marriage. Hey, we might even write a book together!
In a fairytale, this is when the story turns a corner and we realize that there is going to be a “happily ever after.” Many, many people have fairytale endings to their pornography story. I call some of those people my friends. (I got a fairytale ending too, but it wasn’t until the sequel.)
After three years of Christian counseling, it was pretty clear that my husband wasn’t struggling with his pornography addiction. He never once admitted that he had a problem, that our daily life was significantly impacted by his choices, or that he needed freedom from pornography. Instead, his habit increased in frequency and spiraled into greater depravity. When my physical, emotional, and spiritual health were endangered, I made the most difficult decision of my life and ended my marriage. (Before you send an onslaught of comments shaking your finger at my lack of confidence in God to restore my marriage, please take my word that there is significantly more to my story, but the truth of the matter is that it’s not just my story. It’s also his story – my ex-husband’s. For you to really see the whole picture, I would have to tell more of his story, and that’s not mine to tell.)
Here’s the part of MY story that you mustn’t miss … I still had restoration, not in my marriage, but in my heart. God values the heart that puts complete trust in Him. First Timothy 5:5 says, “Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day.”
I do not carry bitterness, anger, vengeance, unforgiveness, or any other unproductive emotions for my ex-husband. Instead, “The joy of the Lord is my strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). Getting to this place, however, was not an event, it was a process … a long process.
Regardless of your circumstances, God can and will take the pieces of your broken heart and He will make something beautiful. Psalm 147:3 assures us that “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” He can do that right in the midst of the havoc of a husband’s addiction to pornography. In my case, it didn’t happen until after the marriage ended, but I didn’t know then what I know now … and you can only do the best you can with the information you have at the time. I have seen countless marriages restored and hearts renewed regardless of a husband’s daily choices.
Discovery doesn’t have to be the end of your story or the word that defines it. While the discovery of your husband’s sexual addiction knocked the breathe out of you, it came as no surprise to God. He sees the sins committed in a darkened office or bedroom just as clearly as those done in broad daylight. “He reveals deep and hidden things: he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him” (Daniel 2:22). Discovery can be the door that allows the Light to be shed in the darkness so that healing may begin.
Vicki Tiede is the author of WHEN YOUR HUSBAND IS ADDICTED TO PORNOGRAPHY Healing Your Wounded Heart, New Growth Press, 2012. www.vickitiede.com