There and Back Again: An Addict’s Tale
By Gavin & Kristina Croft
A fatal wound, it was the day she died. Her love died. Her assumptions died and her trust died. Her relationship died. Her ability to think clearly and her security died. Her beauty and self-confidence died. Her heart died. It was the day her world shattered, and she was left standing still. The rest of the world was flying by, unaware of her brokenness. And there she was, dead. Oh, parts of her lived. Her doubts, insecurity, jealousy, self-loathing tendencies, disdain for her husband, inadequacy, hatred, bitterness, anger. These things were very much alive. But she was still dead.
It was the day forever burned into the conscience of her soul. The day she learned she was not first. Not second. She wasn’t even in the top ten. It was the day she learned that her husband had a sexual addiction that had plagued him for sixteen years. It was the day her marriage died. There had been a battle going on for some time, but she never realized she was at war. Two weeks prior, she had been devastated to find out that her prince, the one that was supposed to be pursing her, was pursuing another. It hadn’t got to a physical level, but he pursued her emotionally. And here, two weeks later, she was forever changed. No longer was she the girl she once was. Now she was the woman that wasn’t good enough. Who wasn’t sexy enough. Who wasn’t satisfying enough. Who wasn’t smart enough or pretty enough. Who wasn’t worth pursuing. It was the day she died.
This is the way I felt the day I found out that my husband had been addicted to pornography since the young age of eleven. I wanted to make it perfectly clear to you that when you have discovered sexual betrayal in your marriage, it is soul crushing. It’s not something you have a good cry about and then move on. It’s monumental and it takes a lot of time, prayer, and the strength of Jesus to sustain you as you try to work through some of the most painful and, frankly, humiliating wounds that a couple can endure. But before I can tell you anything about our journey towards healing, I have to take you there, to where it all began, and then we can come back again…
(From Gavin) “The first time I remember seeing porn was when I was 11 years old. Internet pornography was a fairly new concept and my older step-brother had been collecting pornographic pictures on his computer. He had quite an extensive collection of photos and he showed them to me. After that I would show them to my friends, it was kind of a novelty thing. But it progressed. I began my own collection by trading and swapping pictures with others via emailing until I discovered websites that had pornographic videos. And it progressed even further. Growing up in church I knew that viewing this type of material was “wrong” but I never really knew why. Porn was more like being impolite by putting your elbows on the dinner table rather than being destructive and offensive in the eyes of God. I didn’t realize I was hooked until I tried to stop. Then I met this girl and I knew she was the one. I still had my secret, but I thought I could control it. We decided to get married after my freshman year of college and I thought that everything would be fine. I would stop looking at porn because I now had a wife. Well, that wasn’t true. My porn habit went from being an “innocent” teenage boy’s activity to a full-blown addiction. I couldn’t stop. This caused great shame, guilt and paranoia when it came to being intimate- physically, emotionally, and spiritually–with Kristina. Rather than let her in and be found out, I would push her away, making her feel inadequate as a woman, a wife, and as a sexual partner… I blamed her, mostly. I thought she was too needy, too emotional, always angry. Why couldn’t I ever please her? When in reality all I had to do was open my eyes and see that I was destroying everything. I was blinded by my sin. Finally, after eight years… I was found out. I had a decision to make: lie and deny, like I had done for so long and had come so accustomed to doing, or tell the truth… I chose to tell the truth.”
And the truth, although it set him free, seemed to take my hostage. It was there lurking over my shoulder, waiting to steal any joy that I might come across that day. My friends those days were depression and obsession. Depressed about the way things were. Obsessed about finding answers. Constantly questioning and doubting everything about “us” from the last 10 years. It’s like my world stopped, but everything else kept going. I’m a mother of small children. I can’t just sit and cry all day. I still have to take care of them. I still have to clean the house, get groceries, cook food, pay bills, go to church with a smile on my face, teach preschool, go to family gatherings, or whatever else I’m required to do, pretending to be normal, all the while I was dying inside. Devastated is really an understatement. There’s not a word to describe what a woman feels when she experiences that kind of betrayal. But every woman who has been through it knows exactly what I’m talking about. It was awful. I felt hopeless.
Then the healing began. It wasn’t quick, but it was sure. I started a Bible study called Captivating by John and Stasi Eldgredge. I’m not saying it’s the only resource to help women find healing, but its an excellent one. I also began using the book The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian that a friend gave to me. Gavin began attending a support group with other men who had fought the battle for sexual sobriety and were victorious. (Eventually this group incorporated the wives as well so I could have support too). He also began reading several books including Wild at Heart by John Eldgredge, The Game Plan by Joe Dallas, and Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker.
We began going to counseling together which, I believe, was vital to our healing. Gavin ended all contact with the woman he had been interested in. We also placed an internet filter on the computer that blocks inappropriate content and websites, as well as set up “boundaries” for computer use in our family. We found scripture that reminded us to guard our hearts, our eyes, our mind, scriptures regarding fleeing sexual immorality, fighting the flesh, overcoming temptation, etc., and began hiding it in our heart. All these things helped put us on the road to healing and victory, but there is one thing that outweighs the rest. Jesus. “I could not have survived my husband’s addiction without Jesus Christ… Jesus is my Sustainer, my Healer, my Comfort, my Strength, and my husband’s deliverer. Without Him, we would not have found healing and my husband would still be dying in his addiction. But because God loves us and desires to restore us, He allowed the power of Christ to come in and radically change our lives forever. He delivered my husband from a 16-year addiction to pornography and He brought tremendous healing to my heart in the midst of remarkable pain. Only God can do that” (more on how we survived the first year in my blog Rx: Survival ).
Through Christ, I began to see my husband differently. I saw him as God’s son. A redeemed heart that had been wounded, just as I had. A man who was in need of healing, just as I was. Sexual sin was not the final judgment on my husband; he is not identified by his sin. Jesus transformed him by the renewing of his mind and he is a new man. Our marriage is new too. God took something awful, disgusting, and painful and used it to transform our marriage into something lovely.
“(From Gavin) Despite the pain that was caused by my sin and also subsequent ‘finding out,’ I am so thankful that the Lord allowed us to go through this process. Yes, it has been hard. You do not get a day off of fighting for purity. Even though I was in Christian ministry before my repentance, I never understood the fact that you have to completely immerse yourself in Scripture to combat temptation and sin. Scripture reading and memorization, accountability, group sessions and lots of long, honest conversations with my wife is how God has transformed me and renewed and strengthened our marriage.”
It’s not easy. Purity demands a lifetime of diligence. But Gavin is willing to put in the effort and I am standing by his side. One passage of Scripture that really affected me when this whole crisis began was Galatians 6:7-9, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing well, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”
For years my husband sowed to his flesh. And he reaped corruption. After a difficult battle, he is now sowing to the Spirit. This Scripture encouraged me to understand that purity is a long road and we could not lose heart in doing well. In time, God would give us the harvest. We have reaped restoration, healing, strength, and joy. We have been there and back again. And GOD has proven Himself FAITHFUL.
For more information about our story or for resources, please visit our website at Isaiah 53 Ministry .