Can The Internet Make Or Break A Marriage?
CBN.com -“It was one of those things that just consumed me. But it gave me the odd feeling of pursuit.”
It was also something Tim kept secret – his addiction to pornography.
Tim explains, “It was filling a void, right or wrong, it was filling something that I needed filled.
It began with teenage curiosity and a magazine. But the images sparked a desire in Tim to see more. By the time he reached adulthood, a boy’s fascination had grown into an addiction fueled by the internet. “It started slowly. And was a short period of time and I was fully addicted.”
Yet no one ever suspected Tim had a problem. After all, he was a Christian who was active in his church. Even when he married, his wife Stephanie had no idea Tim was hiding something. Stephanie remembers. “I knew we had some issues but I didn’t think they were horrific, by any means. I thought we had a pretty healthy marriage.”
Tim also travelled for work and as a member of a vocal group. The travel allowed him to indulge in his addiction. But also, opened the door to something else he craved – the attention of women. So Tim pursued one affair after another. “Later there would be disappointment and I would be frustrated with myself,” says Tim. “I’d be angry at myself. ‘I know I shouldn’t be in this place; because I know if I’m here I’ll go down this road.’ And I would.”
Eventually, Tim and Stephanie had children. But nothing changed. Tim knew what he was doing was wrong but the addiction had taken over. “I was so gone, I just... When the devil has that kind of grip on you, you don’t realize it. You’re just numb, and I was numb.”
One day, Tim was confronted with the truth when a friend at work talked to him about something he’d read in the Bible. Tim’s guilt became overwhelming. “I think it was just where I was at that day. I just totally lost it. I left and I remember praying and just saying, ‘God, I’m done. I’m done. Do what You want.’ And He took it away. The addiction was gone. The desire for affairs was gone. That to me was probably the most impactful moment of my life, because it was so real, and that’s when my faith became real.”
Tim still had struggles. He continued chatting online with women. Even so, he worked on being a better husband and father. Stephanie noticed the change, buts she didn’t know why, because Tim still hadn’t confessed his secrets. One day it all came out when Stephanie came across a FaceBook entry from her husband to a women she didn’t know.
Stephanie was shaken. “I was crushed. I was devastated, because that kind of conversation should not have taken place between somebody else and my husband. That’s totally crossing the line.”
Tim had to deal with her discovery. “The way she reacted to that was absolute disgust for me. She didn’t know the rest of the story.”
Stephanie continues, “I went to bed that night with a pit in my stomach knowing something was up.”
Tim adds, “She knew. She knew something was up. It’s still hard to talk about. So I just spilled. What do you do at that point? I just spilled, told her and she left.”
Stephanie adds, “I got the keys and immediately drove to church and I sat at church and just cried out for help.”
Tim had one thing to hold on to. “The only hope I had is that I knew my wife. And, I knew that she loved me.”
Now Stephanie knew. “I remember standing in the kitchen and Tim saying, ‘I’ll respect whatever your decision is.’ And I said, ‘I can’t have you leaving. You stay here for the kids.’ Later that night, our pastor shared with me, ‘You need to grieve for your marriage. You need to grieve what was; what you had; and you need to grieve the fact that your marriage will never be the same ever again.’ But also, he just said the simple words, ‘Forgive as you have been forgiven.’ I remember telling him, ‘I don’t know if I can ever forgive him for this.’”
The couple stayed apart for 10 days. During that time, Stephanie came to the realization that at the time was very hard to accept. “In order for me to heal, I have to forgive him. It doesn’t mean I have to forget. That doesn’t mean the pain is gone, but I can start to heal now that I’ve given him that. Then we can heal together.”
The path to forgiveness and rebuilding trust would take time. “He had to gain it back. So it was by him being open and honest; by saying, ‘Here are all my passwords. Check my email. Check my FaceBook. Check this.’”
Tim explains, “Once we were able to do that, the path to recovery for us was rapid. She accepted where I was, it wasn’t an issue for me anymore, but I needed accountability.”
Stephanie tells how it happened for her. “By him being honest with me it made it a lot easier to start to trust him.”
The couple understand that healing and forgiveness come through God.
Stephanie adds, “Without God, I don’t think we could be sitting here today. I know we wouldn’t be sitting here today.”
Tim shares one final thought. “We were taught that Christ has to be the center of our home. I think that’s backwards. I think Christ needs to be the center of your life. If He’s the center of your life and the center of your wife’s life, by default, He will be the center of your home”.