• Jess

Why Should I Stay?

3/19/2019


I walked into our apartment we'd shared for less than a year as newlyweds. The apartment where we'd had so many firsts - first shared bedroom as a couple, first meals cooked together, first place we'd ever called HOME.
We had picked out this apartment together, shared our marriage bed for the first time together, shared meals together, and dreamed of the future together.

I mean, there were definitely times when he'd play his computer games for hours on end (like, SIX HOURS at a time) and that was super annoying. But I eventually talked to him about it, and he seemed to come around to the idea it wasn't really the best use of his time. I'd made up in my head he'd only been playing games when he'd slip into bed at 1am after I'd already been in bed asleep a couple hours. There's just NO WAY he's looking at porn. We broke up for an ENTIRE MONTH when we were dating because it had come out he'd been looking at porn. He knows better than to look at it now - there's too much to lose. Besides, we're married now, and we finally get to do the real thing! There's just NO WAY porn is a temptation for him. He knows better.

The following 'first' is one I wish I could un-remember.

On that summer evening, I walked into our first home to find my husband engaged in active porn viewing. (If you need more clarification on what the 'active' part entails, you probably shouldn't continue reading.)

(Did I mention we'd been married LESS than a year?)

I had apparently come home earlier than usual that day, which explains why he was caught in the middle of acting out.

{Now that we've been married almost 12 years, it's somewhat embarrassing to remember how I chose to handle that situation back then. But I choose to remember how young and scared and naive I was.}

I was SO angry. I remember yelling with eyes wide, "You better go talk to the elders about this!!!" Then I slammed the door and ran to my car, where the tires squealed as I raced out of our tiny apartment parking lot.

"The pain of that moment still hurts as I type these words. I can barely go back there in my mind because it just hurts SO much."

Tears streamed down my face as I yelled at God and pleaded with Him to make it not true. How could this be happening to ME? Wasn't marriage to supposed to have 'fixed' this little problem he'd admitted while we were dating? Was I not enough??? He knows it's wrong - how could he do this TO ME?? What will people think of me for marrying a guy like this? What will people think of HIM when they find out? WHAT WAS I THINKING marrying this guy??? How in the WORLD am I supposed to compete with women who look like THAT?! This hurts too much!!!


The pain of that moment still hurts as I type these words. I can barely go back there in my mind because it just hurts SO much.

That night I remember returning to the apartment a broken, numb woman. I couldn't look him in the eye - I simply walked upstairs to our room and informed him I'd be sleeping in there alone.

With a locked door and an empty stomach, I pleaded with God, "Father, PLEASE just end it all and bring me HOME!!! I can't take this. I can't take this rejection, this pain, this life. I'm DONE!!! And how could You allow me to be hurt AGAIN? Both men I'm supposed to be able to trust more than all other men have betrayed me to the core of my soul - how can I POSSIBLY endure this betrayal now???"

*My Dad had betrayed my Mom when I was growing up. I don't know all the details, I don't know how many times, and I don't really ever want to know. All I know is, when he betrayed her, he betrayed all four of us kids, too.

It still hurts to this day.

Add onto that the betrayal from my brand new husband - and you've got yourself a BROKEN, numb, hopeless woman.
After praying and pleading with God until my eyes gave out, I collapsed into a heap on our bed - what I thought was our once-joyful marriage bed - and I gave into sleep.
I don't remember exactly how the following events unfolded, but Nic ended up talking with the elders at our church. As far as I knew, he had completely owned up to his struggles with pornography and asked for their help. I don't know exactly what advice was given, but I remember we eventually landed in the office of a guy named **Dr. Nickel.
Nickel was a bit of an odd duck, but he'd been recommended to us by a mutual friend. As a seasoned marriage and family counselor, specializing in sexual disorders and the sexual relationship, we trusted he could help us get our marriage back on track.

Nickel was very patient and listened so well to what Nic had to say. At first, we both attended these counseling sessions, with Nic being the one to primarily talk. This seemed just fine with me as this was totally HIS problem.

After a while, Nic began attending these sessions alone, and we both felt confident he was on the right track. Nickel worked with Nic in learning new habits to fill the time he'd been devoting to acting out with pornography.

Eventually, Nic and Nickel agreed it was time for Nic to move on from counseling, and Nickel wished us both well. He felt confident in Nic's newfound ability to cope with the temptations by adding in the new habits they'd discussed.

As a very (ironically) trusting newlywed, I assumed Nic had everything under control now that he'd 'graduated' from counseling, so I accepted our new normal of assuming Nic wasn't giving into temptation. In fact, I'd go so far as to say, I assumed Nic wasn't even being tempted anymore.

It seemed like everything was getting better now, and I was SO hopeful for our future. I was ready to move on to discussing details like when we'd buy our first home, what we'd name our future children, and when we could finally get a dog already!! I needed a furry friend to nurture and care for because I had baby fever so stinkin' bad! And we'd decided we wanted to wait a while longer before adding babies to the mix.

The future looked bright and shiny with the dream of a new house and chubby babies to fill it with... eventually. ;-) In the meantime, we dove head first into getting an adorable dachshund named Zeus (gifted to us from Nic's sister). Life was good, we were moving forward with our plans, and I didn't want to be bothered with what might be lurking underneath the surface.
There's no way I could have known what lay before us in the coming years with babies, sleepless nights, stress, financial troubles, and serious lack of communication and spiritual devotion. If only I'd known how many times over the coming years I'd find myself asking the same question, "Why should I stay?!" To read a more updated version of our story, click here.

*You should know my Mom & Dad have long since reconciled and they're still married today. They actually just celebrated 40 years of marriage in March 2020! This, like so many other stories, continues to give me hope in the power of Christ's love and redemption.

**Dr. Nickel is the name I chose for this blog post, but you should know that's not his actual name.
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