• Jess

Our Story (As told by Jess)


It’s fall at school in Western Kentucky University, and the air is just starting to feel crisp again. I LOVE this time of year! My friends are hosting a Bible study at their apartment tonight, so I think I’ll go to that. I just love being around people my age who challenge me to think more deeply about scripture.

But WHOA. Who’s this new guy? I think his name is Nic… he keeps making such deep, insightful comments about this passage. Why have I never noticed him before? And oh MY is he cute. He’s so funny, too! I need to get to know him better…

I can’t believe we’re finally dating!!! I wish so badly he could come home with me to AL for Christmas, but I know he has to go home to CA and see his family. I’m just already so attached to him. I mean… I think he’s THE one. I felt it almost immediately. And I’m pretty sure he feels it, too. But we can’t get married until at least one of us is done with school, so maybe in 2007?

We broke up today. My heart hurts SO much. It’s like my heart has been thrown onto the street and cars keep running over it. I’ve never felt so much pain. And I’m just SO sad… He says he’s been looking at porn, and he’s so ashamed about it. I know it’s the right thing for us to break up until he can get that problem taken care of. I know I’m going to marry him… but he definitely needs to take care of that before we can be together.

Our wedding is just a few days away!! I can’t believe it’s finally happening! Graduation was just 2 weeks ago, but it’s all coming together. I have finally found ‘my person’, and I can’t wait for us to start our life together.

And I’m sure that whole ‘porn issue’ will just resolve itself after he can finally experience the real thing.

Not even one year into being married, and I feel trapped. Betrayed. Deceived. Heartbroken.

How could he DO this to me?? I saved myself for him!!! I thought this would all be over once we got married and he could finally experience intimacy with an actual, live human being that LOVES him. But boy was I wrong! I’m just SOO mad. This is so unfair.

How could he DO this to me??

Here we are at counseling. I know I certainly don’t need it because this is alllll HIS problem. At least we can get this whole issue taken care of before our first baby arrives. Just found out a couple weeks ago our first child is on the way, and I just know this will motivate Nic to get his act together once and for all.

We have no money. Nic shows ZERO sign of having any motivation to push himself in his career or to offer to get a second job while I’m slaving away all day every day taking care of all these babies. I’m homeschooling, nursing, getting zero sleep, doing all the household chores, cooking, living in a shady part of town, and I’m PREGNANT AGAIN.

If I want to have clothes I can wear or be able to celebrate these sweet little boys when it’s their birthday or a special occasion, then I have to put it on a credit card so they can have these memories as they grow up! I know I can’t depend on Nic to step up and fill those gaps. He doesn’t even seem to be aware of how bad our financial situation is. He won’t even look at the bank account - that’s all my job, too.

UGH. I’ve never felt so incredibly helpless and stressed and trapped and TIRED and angry and lonely in my entire life. This is NOT what I signed up for when I said, ‘I do’.

(June 1 2017)

I’m done.

Just when I thought he’d finally made a change. When he’d almost made it an entire year sober… and I caught him in the act AGAIN.

This is the 6th time in our 10 years of marriage, and I can’t take it anymore. I’m taking the boys, I’m packing up our stuff, and I’m leaving. I have NO idea how I’ll make a living, where we’ll live, or how this life will look from here on out, but it will certainly be better than constantly being lied to by that man that continues to fail me.

God, has it really come to this? Is this what you meant when you joined us together 10 years ago? Did you really mean to give me FOUR boys to raise on my own? How in the WORLD am I supposed to do this?

I am completely broken. There is just no hope.

"I am completely broken. There is just no hope."

It’s September 20, 2017, and we are about to walk into the ‘Full Disclosure’ counseling appointment. We’ve been in intense counseling for the past 3 ½ months, and it’s come to the ‘big moment’. Today is when Nic will reveal all the details on a timeline of his addiction. Larry, our counselor, has been working with Nic individually to prepare him for this big step in our ‘road to potential reconciliation’.

After I hear all these details, I’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether or not I feel I can proceed with our marriage.

I feel so anxious, sometimes terrified, at the possibility of what my heart is about to hear. Will he say he struggles with a type of pornography that I won’t be able to reconcile over? Will he say he isn’t even attracted to women? I have no idea what to expect other than expecting ANYTHING to come out of his mouth.

Jesus, I don’t know what today will bring, but this is in Your hands. Larry has worked with me one-on-one for the past 3 ½ months to help prepare my heart for what’s about to happen. Whatever happens, it’s in Your hands.

It’s the end of October, and we’re about to have family pictures made. I’ve never been so genuinely happy in all my life.

I’ve never known how FREE I could feel. And I never knew how much I needed faithful friends who were THERE for me. And I didn’t know how much I needed my Savior until these past five months. He helped Nic work through all his shame and regret and guilt, but he also helped ME. I needed help working through all that betrayal trauma, anger, bitterness, and depression. I didn’t realize how much this entire experience with Nic’s addiction had impacted me, too.

Who knew angels could be named Larry?! It’s obvious on this side of the counseling just how badly we needed this man in our life. He was an instrument of God’s grace, mercy, and unconditional love. Our marriage and our boys’ lives will NEVER be the same as a result of His good service in the name of Jesus.

Who knew reconciliation was even possible for us after Nic’s TWENTY-YEAR BATTLE with pornography addiction! But isn’t that what God loves to do? Just when we think something is dead, beyond repair, without life… that’s when He steps in and does His BEST work. And I continue to witness this with my own eyes every single day.

I’ve witnessed a soul COME BACK TO LIFE.

By the grace of God, Nic and I will celebrate 13 years of marriage this May. We didn’t get here alone. And God has called us to share our story to help YOU have hope again. We are definitely flawed, but the blood of Jesus makes us whole. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned through this entire experience, it’s this:

If you don’t choose to surrender to God’s plan for your life, you can’t become who you are called to be. Ask for His help, and He will FREELY give it.

©2020 by Nic & Jess Gardner