Mark: 2 Corinthians 1:4 tells us that, “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.” When we go through tough times, God often redeems the pain by allowing us to share hope and help to others going through something similar.

Jill: Today’s Marriage Monday comes to us from Lynn Marie Cherry who is living out 2 Corinthians 1:4. Lynn is the author of Keep Walking: 40 Days to Hope and Freedom after Betrayal a daily devotional that helps women find a way through the pain of sexual betrayal.

Mark: Pornography is also a part of our story. I was exposed to it at an early age…similarly to Lynn’s husband, David. We’ve traveled a similar path of healing that Lynn and her husband have experienced.

Jill: If you’re dealing with a pornography addiction in your marriage, Lynn shares today to inspire hope and shine a light on the path to freedom. Lynn and her husband David have been married for 26 years, and have two boys. You’ll find her at www.lynnmariecherry.com.

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Online pornography allows users to create the perfect partner. She is always waiting. She is ready anytime or anywhere for anything. She is more than willing. She never says no. She knows the perfect thing to say and the perfect thing to do for your pleasure. And she requires nothing in return.

When people become accustom to this fantasy world, their less than perfect spouse is a constant cause of disappointment. There is no competing with pornography’s perfect partner.

As Mark and Jill put it in their book, “If a guy dabbles in pornography (and most guys have been exposed to it at some time or another), his expectation of how a woman should respond, both emotionally and sexually, are greatly skewed.”

I am so grateful for the vulnerability I found throughout No More Perfect Marriages, but especially when it comes to the issue of pornography. I know first hand the damage pornography causes in a marriage.

I had a feeling early on that something wasn’t quite right in my husband’s life, but I made excuses.

…Men just think differently about sex.

…They are visual.

…It’s not a big deal.

The week we brought our millennial baby home from the hospital, I walked in on my husband while he was viewing porn. The thing that wasn’t quite right was right in front of my eyes.  It was a crushing blow that left me mostly dead.

Four years later, I was a basket case. Depressed. Lonely. Angry. Tired. Rejected. Numb. My life was a tangle of emotion and I was unraveling from the inside out.

I believed my husband’s use of pornography was about me. Surely, if I were just prettier, curvier or more adventurous, he wouldn’t have this problem. That was a lie. The truth is, although his use of pornography had a profound effect on me, it wasn’t about me.

He was exposed to pornography as a seven year old when he and his buddy found a stack of magazines in the woods behind their tree house.  Porn became a part of his world. He rededicated his life to Christ in his twenties and was radically changed. He stopped drinking and swearing immediately, but lust maintained its grip on his mind. He thought getting married would fix it. He could have all the God-sanctioned sex he wanted and he would lose his appetite for porn. But lust is never satisfied. And I made a lousy savior.

One of the most vital tools in our recovery was empathy.  The porn industry is a massive machine out to capture the hearts and minds of men and woman by targeting children. Knowing my husband’s story and understanding the impact of exposure on his developing brain allowed me to feel empathy for him. I saw him not only as the man who broke my heart, but the child who was robbed of his innocence in second grade.

As Jill and Mark suggest, “Look at your spouse through God’s eyes. See them as broken. Wounded. In process. In need of a Savior. Struggling. Lost. Confused. Imperfect. See them through the eyes of grace and love.”

In 2004, I mustered up the courage to ask for help. I made an appointment with a counselor. I invited my husband to join me and thankfully, he was willing to go. We went to that first session scared out of our minds, wondering how our story would end. That began two years of group therapy. We learned how pornography use is like an affair. My husband had to reprogram his brain and I had to work through the trauma of betrayal. But here’s the good news – we made it through together. We both surrendered to the healing process. We did the work of recovery. Over and over again we chose to have patience and grace with each other, and then more patience and grace. It was the hardest thing we’ve ever done.

We don’t have a perfect marriage. We are fair from perfect partners. But we have a partnership that was forged in the fire, the tools we need to keep rebuilding, and the fortitude to see us through whatever comes our way.

We know there is freedom from sexual addiction. Freedom is not the absence of temptation. Freedom is knowing what to do when temptation comes.

What about you? Is it time for you to ask for help? 

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