How to Have Sex after Betrayal

SexAfterBetrayalRecently, Jake* contacted me via email. He’d listened to almost every interview we had done and agreed with almost everything we had said, except for this: Porn is not about sex, but about fantasy.

After some back and forth discussion, we realized at the core, we both agree that, fundamentally, porn is about escaping into an alternate reality to avoid things like real-life pressures and rejection. It’s a self-medicating “fix” where you can get a need met without sacrificing your independence or taking a real risk.

Our argument was one of nuance, but he brought an interesting perspective that’s worth exploring. Because porn is so rampant, because marriages are shriveling and dying, and because I don’t want to give the enemy any ground, we are diving into this: what role does sex have in a relationship that’s been marred by porn?

His point is this: When sex becomes a tool used by someone who is betrayed to shame or hold sin over her partner’s head, it encourages the cycle she ultimately wants to stop. What’s the cycle?

1. Fear rejection

2. Escape into porn.

3. Momentary release and subsequent “high.”

4. Shame, which then compounds the fear of rejection, setting the cycle to begin again.

Rejecting your spouse when he desires to be with you sexually because of his previous sin reinforces why he might have turned to porn in the first place.

On the one hand, as someone who has been betrayed, I can make this argument: How can I trust my spouse with something so intimate when he has selfishly turned to something else to satisfy his needs? Even when I know his porn use is not a direct reflection on me (as I finally learned), it still feels like he is cheating me, cheating himself, and cheating us out of the intimacy we could have if he hadn’t turn to porn. Furthermore, does this mean that anytime I say “no,” he use this an excuse to justify returning to the cycle? What if I’m not withholding because of bitterness but because I really do just have a headache? (It’s true – sometimes we really do just have a headache.)

On the other hand, I know if I  use my grief, anger, and insecurity to build an impenetrable wall to try to shut out and shame my spouse, how could he practice real intimacy? How could he truly know whether or not true intimacy (emotional, physical, and spiritual) could satisfy him and meet a need he had been trying to fill most of his life?

“One of the most powerful ways a wife can encourage, affirm, and minister to her husband is by responding to him sexually. I’ve already discussed a man’s need for affirmation and respect; probably the most powerful way you can affirm and respect your husband is when you respond to him sexually.” (Bob Lepine, Family Life article)

We know two things: it is powerful for a man to be accepted and affirmed sexually and it can be exceedingly difficult for a woman to affirm his sexuality when she feels betrayed. This conundrum is a cycle unto itself. How do we break it so that our marriages can flourish and so that both partners find freedom from addiction and bitterness? Here are some places to start:

  1. Affirm your spouse’s feelings. Husbands, porn is forgivable, yes. Excusable, no. Porn is never okay.  Your spouse needs to hear you own up to the sin. She needs to know what you’re doing to be proactive about fighting the addiction. Validate her when she’s struggling with hurt, anger, insecurity, and frustration. Really listen, even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. Difficult conversations are often not fun, but it’s when we are truly honest and authentic with each other (no matter how messy that is), intimacy begins to grow when we give our partners space to be real. Understand she needs time to heal, to grieve, to come to terms with what has happened. Wives, chances are, your spouses has been spent a lifetime looking for validation in something that is false. He is probably genuinely afraid of what it takes to be fully intimate with another human being. Validate the fear. Come towards him with the understanding that recovering from porn addiction isn’t easy, that he’s having to change a mindset along with a whole host of behaviors. He’s unlearning and relearning all at the same time. Ask him about his childhood and young adulthood. Help him identify what might have been missing from his life when he was a kid. Find ways to show compassion as he processes his struggle.
  2. Check your intention. Wife, before you say “no” to your husband’s advances, stop and take stock. (You always have a choice – sex is designed to be between two consenting adults. It’s okay to take some time and space for healing.) What is the true motivation for your “no?” Are you trying to prove a point? Are you using it as a form of self-protection? Is your “no” a proverbial stone you are casting at the adulterer? I understand – I’ve been there. But I’ve also seen the benefit of allowing intimacy to grow, even when I was afraid I might be giving away too much of myself or when I thought giving of myself might be misconstrued as deeming porn use as no big deal. At the core of what God intended, sex is about creating and growing intimacy. It’s about oneness. When you say “yes” to your husband, you are taking a step toward the healthy growth of your marriage. You’re committing to being one with him, just like you did when you said your vows. You may not want to engage, but be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and ask if He is leading you into this for your mutual healing. Husband, before you ask your wife for sex, stop and take stock. You want affirmation and pleasure. How have you affirmed and pleased her? Consider how you’ve shown love to her outside the bedroom. Have you talked with her? Have you asked her about how she’s doing? Feeling? Dealing? Have you been physically affectionate with hugs, kisses, or a back rub (or two)? Have you done something that makes her life a little easier? A little sweeter? Paying attention to all of her makes her feel safer, more understood, and more known. She knows you’re choosing her.
  3. Understand that sacrifice is necessary. Be ready to not get what you want sometimes. No one person on this earth can ever meet all of your needs all of the time. Sometimes you will both have to go without what you feel you want or need. Our issues can prevent us from giving freely, our sin can derail our best intentions, and our selfishness can fortify our walls. But just as Jesus’ sacrifice was necessary so we could have right relationship with God, our personal sacrifices are necessary for us to have right relationships with each other. Being willing to sacrifice shows love. Love builds intimacy. Intimacy fuels connection. Love makes sacrifices for the betterment of the union. Now that is a cycle worth repeating.
  4. Ask God for help. It is hard to resist porn. It is hard to forgive. It is hard to trust and it hard to regain trust. It is hard to learn how to be intimate with another human being after you’ve been burned or if you’ve never had the opportunity in the first place. It’s hard to give and it’s hard to receive. It’s hard to be selfless, have healthy boundaries, an express your feelings in a constructive manner. Face it, with or without porn addiction, marriage is hard. BUT, we don’t have to go at it alone. The only way Craig and I have been able to have a real, intimate, connected relationship is because we plug into a God who helps us be better than we ever thought possible. Jesus has revealed our sin, forgiven our sin, healed us from our sin, and used our experiences – good and bad – to mold and refine us individually and as a team. He is the One we can turn to when we feel hopeless, when things look bleak, when we don’t know what to do or if we are really perceiving things correctly. When we try to go at things alone, things can go downhill quickly. But when we turn to Him in prayer and thanksgiving for what we already have, our perspectives shift. We begin to rely on God’s protection instead of our own. We are able to love more freely because He first loved us. We are able to recognize fear and turn our worries to Him. He has creative solutions to our trickiest problems and He longs for us to invite Him in, no matter what state we, or our marriage, is in.

Is porn about sex? No. But, can having sex with our partners breed intimacy and foster healthy (real-life!) connection? Yes. But if we use sex as a weapon or withhold it as punishment, we will continue to break down intimacy and trust in our marriages. Remember, your spouse is not your enemy and you have a God who has more than enough resources to help you have a healthy, happy marriage.


*Name has been changed to protect privacy.

**Note: I know that porn can also be an issue for women and the ideas in this article can also work in a marriage where the husband has been betrayed.


We have a new marriage community called The {K}Not Project! We’d love to see you there! Connect with us on Facebook & Instagram while we continue building our new site!

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Your spouse may not struggle with porn, or any addiction, but I guarantee he/she needs prayers. Life is hard – there are temptations that pull us away from Jesus, old wounds that need healing, and obstacles that come up that impede our ability to be truly intimate with each other. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to pray. If you would like a resource that you and your spouse can use to pray for each other 52 weeks of the year, we have one! 

Introducing Marriage Matters cards!  Each deck contains 52 prayer cards – one for every week of the year. Each card has a theme, scripture, prayer points that relate to the scripture, and an action. The cards are not in any particular order, so you may choose one at random or by a theme that is pertinent to your relationship. If you are using these as a couple, you can pray the same card for each other or pick a different one. We encourage you not to ignore the actions – these are designed to increase the level of intimacy with your spouse and your relationship with God. 


If you would like this resource to help you pray for your spouse, please 
click here.

Marriage Meltdown Monday: How to Survive a Road Trip with Your Spouse

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Craig and I have started a new video series @ The Knot Project on Facebook. New videos will post each Monday morning about topics that most marriages face. Some will be humorous, while some will tackle some of the more serious issues that threaten to weaken or destroy our marriages.

We’ve struck a lighter tone this week, but we hope you’ll come by and see us, whether you’re road tripping or not! We’d love to hear from you!

To see this week’s video, click here (it will stay pinned to the top until I post the next video in the series).

Marriage Matters: A Tool to Help Spark Your Prayer Life {and Marriage!}

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{Are you new here? We’d love for you to come join us at our new community called The Knot Project. You can find it here!)

For a long time, I thought prayer was a last resort. Fortunately, God corrected my erroneous way of thinking and showed me how prayer is actually my most powerful weapon.

I truly believe that prayer had an impact on how Craig found freedom from pornography AND how I found freedom from control. Not only has prayer transformed our personal relationships with Jesus, but we have found that praying for each other helps us to grow together in ways we never imagined possible.

I admit, there are days that go by where I forget to pray for Craig. There are days when he forgets to pray for me. Life gets in the way, right? It’s easy to get busy, to get sidetracked, even lazy. But Satan waits for us to let our guard down and then we realize how important it is NOT to let life get in the way of praying for our spouse.

To help us remember and to keep us on track for praying for the variety of things our spouse needs, we developed the Marriage Matters cards. Each week showcases a theme that is an important marriage matter. It gives you scriptures to read so you understand why God calls us to pray for these things, some prayer points to help guide you in your prayer life, and then an action. Because as James says, “Faith without works is dead.” 

These actions are designed to help you and your spouse talk about some of the marriage matters that you might not know how to talk about. They also help you step out of your comfort zone and try some new adventures together. All of these things – prayer, reading scripture, and putting our faith in action – build intimacy, which is what God desires for our relationship with Him and with each other.

Each Marriage Matters card deck comes with 52 themed cards, an “about Marriage Matters cards (complete with instructions), and a biography card so you get to know Craig and me a little bit better. They come in a hardshell plastic case, which works well for storage and display.

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Each deck is $10 + shipping. You can order your deck today by filling out the contact form below. Have questions? Just leave them in the comments section of this post.

When Your Tool Doesn’t Fix What’s Broken

I’m guest posting today over at Heather Gillis’ place. Thank you so much for having me, Heather! Here’s a little teaser and then you can head over there to find out what tool really does work to fix your marriage.


Prayer Changes Marriages

It didn’t seem like it could be enough. How could simply praying save my marriage? How could words, words that most times weren’t uttered aloud, end my husband’s porn addiction?

For many years, I treated prayer like an “add-on” item to my Amazon cart. Something good, but not something that I truly needed. It was a way I could vent my frustrations, rail at God, and ask Him for healing, but I didn’t really think it had enough power to transform a life. I viewed porn addiction as something that required the “big guns,” though to be honest, I had no idea what those really were. I was in my early twenties and just learning one could be addicted to something called porn.

I had no tools to fix my husband, so I did my best to fashion one using the materials I had. I made one called Control. (Maybe you’ve used this one, too?) My control tool felt comfortable in my hand – tell him what to do and all our lives would be so much better. Though it was a very easy tool to use, it didn’t quite fit the job. I found myself frustrated often. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t follow my simple rules to keep him safe: Don’t close the door to the study, read the bible every day, keep the history so I can check it, tell me when he felt tempted, etc.

One day I realized how much all my drilling him with rules and regulations wasn’t keeping our marriage together. In one of my darkest moments of despair, I heard God right there in my puddle of tears in the middle of my bathroom closet.

To continue reading, please click here. Make sure you head over – we have a new resource for you to help you on your prayer journey!

How One Guy Found the Key to Amazing Sex

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A guest post by Andrew Hamlet

I picked up some night shifts at the group home where I worked. Figured it would be some easy money because the residents were asleep. Besides I was going to be working with Chris and despite not getting to work together a lot, we got along.

Our conversation started out very normal that night. Hi. How are you? I’m good.  Standard banter for us. Then Chris got quiet. He moved passed the door that separated the two halves of the house and said, “Can I ask you a serious question?”

“Sure, why not?” I replied.

“You’re a Christian right?”

 “Yes, I am.”

“I’m just gonna come out and say it. I love my girlfriend, but I don’t know…the sex is just ok.”

Chris and I had never talked on this level. I was taken aback just for a moment. And then I responded with an equally serious question.

“I need you to be honest. How often do you watch porn and masturbate?”   His eyes went wide and then his head dropped a little.

“A lot,” he said.

“Chris, I’m not judging you right now. I can’t say that I’ve been perfect in that area at all. But what I’m getting at is this: using porn to take care of yourself is robbing your sex life. You’re creating a fantasy world that your girl cannot live up to and frankly, shouldn’t have to.”

Understanding seemed to flood his eyes at that moment.

“You’re not suggesting that I stop having sex with my girlfriend, are you?  ‘Cause I don’t think that I could do that,” Chris said.

“That would be the best, but how about this?”  The Holy Spirit, at that moment, just filled my mouth with words. “You stop watching porn and masturbating I promise your sex with your girlfriend will be the best it has ever been. Do you think you can do that for a month?” I said

Chris thought for a moment and told me he’d try.

A month went by and the first shift with Chris since our conversation was coming up. I wondered if he had stuck to the deal.   Did he give my crazy idea any thought?   I was also praying to God I wasn’t wrong – that abstaining for porn and masturbating did really make sex better.

We got to the house, did our rounds making sure that residents were settled in.

Chris could hardly contain himself.   He looked at me, grabbing both my shoulders.

“It worked. Andrew, it was the best sex I had ever had!”

He couldn’t wipe the smile of his face. I let him bask in the realization for a moment.

“I wasn’t wrong, was I?” I said

“No. I never imagined it could be like this,” Chris grinned.

“You know what I’m going to say now Chris, don’t you?”

“Yeah.”

“Imagine how awesome the sex could be if you waited till you were married,” I said.

“ I know, Andrew. I know, but I can’t do that,” Chris exclaimed.

“I know, Chris. You can’t.  You need Jesus to do that.”

Chris paused a moment, then spoke

“I know what your saying. I’m just not there yet.”

Chris walked to the other side of the group and it remained silent between us for rest of the night.

A few weeks passed and not a day went by that I didn’t think of Chris’ statement. I wondered, Should I have pushed him that night? Did I miss a chance to have Chris meet Jesus?

Another late shift came up and I took it. I was surprised to see Chris since he had already worked the day shift, but it wasn’t uncommon to do a double at our jobs. Turns out, Chris had another reason for picking up that shift.

Just as the house was settling for the night Chris passed through the door and he uttered this simple words: “Andrew, I need Him.” I was so caught of guard by his statement that I answered, “Need who?”

Chris paused and spoke again. “I need Jesus. I need what you have. I don’t want to go another day without knowing what you know.”

Wow, I thought to myself. Is this really happening? Is God about to use to me lead this young man to Christ?

We prayed right there in the group home that Chris would receive all that God had for him, that he would become a son of the King.

Chris got engaged a few weeks later, determined to find some accountability to help him abstain from sex with his fiancee until they became married.

I got call many months later.

“Chris, is that you?” I said “Aren’t you suppose to be on your honeymoon?”

“I am. Just had to call and tell you it was worth waiting for. I had the best sex of my life last night with my wife. You were right. God was right. Thank you.”

I hung up the phone amazed at what God had done. And so, my message to you is this: It’s not to late to abstain from sexual immorality and watch God bless it.   I promise that sex done the way God intended it has no equal. No website, movie or one-night stand will ever satisfy you in the way you seek to be really satisfied. But you can’t do it by your own willpower. Just like Chris discovered, you need Jesus. And no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, He wants you, too.

AndrewAndrew is a gifted story teller and teacher who uses his skills to further the truth of the gospel through his stories.  He’s sung and told stories through 80 songs and countless stories. He wants to engage culture and influence change. He wants to ensure the marketplace is filled with strong stories that challenge people to seek out God, not just pleasure.   Andrew completed a 4 year degree at Cornerstone University with a Communication Arts major. He completed film school at Compass Arts Film Academy, where he focused on creating compelling stories and characters. He resides in Grand Rapids, Michigan with his wife and four children. You can connect with Andrew on his Facebook page here.


A note from Craig and Jen: Are you struggling with porn addiction? Is it ruining your sex life and/or your relationship with your partner? You can kick this – with Jesus. How do we know? We did it. Read our story.

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Why Giving Up Porn is Risky

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Did you see the cover of TIME magazine recently? Did you hear what the state of Utah declared as a public health crisis? Or maybe you attend a church that isn’t afraid to address this same issue from a scriptural viewpoint?

What are all these people talking about? Porn.

And right now, you might want to look away from this post. Maybe you’re afraid of being judged. Maybe you assume, because I’m a woman, I’m going to be preachy and that I won’t understand. Maybe you just don’t get what the big deal about it is. You think, I’m a man. This is what men do.

If you are one that repeats that last sentence over and over again, you’re right. A lot of men look at porn. One survey revealed that 77% of Christian men between 18-30 years of age look at porn monthly. 36% look daily. 44% admit, or think they might be, addicted to it.

Men are definitely looking. Maybe you’re one of them?

But here’s what I want you to know: I am not here to judge you…

Come follow me over here to learn how my husband took the risk to give up porn and for what he traded his addiction.

Sharing the Pain of Porn: Podcast

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Please come join me on Delight Your Marriage with Belah Rose. We’re talking about:

  • That you are not alone in dealing with porn addiction in your marriage.
  • The real reason men escape into pornography…(spoiler alert: it’s not your extra 20lbs!)
    • The world will lie to us and say we’re not x enough, that’s why our husband’s are addicted, but that’s only because they want to sell you something.
  • How to overcome shame.
  • What can you do to share your pain?

Join me over here!

Four Secrets the Porn Industry Hopes You Never Find Out

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Porn’s power is largely based on the element of fantasy. Whatever you lust for, you can pretty much find it. All those things you’d thought you’d try or acts you think might satisfy you are available at a click. And because these things play out on the screen in front of you, it seems like you’re getting everything you’ve wanted for nothing–no consequence, no repercussion, no risk.

You’re wrong.

I get that you have reasons for turning to porn. My husband did too. And right now, you may think no one suffers a single consequence for what you’re doing. Maybe you’re not married. Maybe you are, but your wife doesn’t seem to care or you’ve successfully kept it hidden. Maybe porn seems to be a safe release for you because of how you’ve been treated and burned in the past.

But maybe this isn’t just about you.

I’m over at Covenant Eyes with the rest of this article. You can read the rest here.

Healing from Porn can be Fun?

Healing Fun

Yesterday at Gateway Church in northwest Austin, they talked about porn.

Porn talk in church on Sunday. God is moving, y’all.

With all that I am, I know God desperately wants healing for His people and He is stirring hearts to bring this issue into the light. Because where light is, darkness has to flee. And anyone who has been touched by porn addiction knows how much darkness surrounds it. It’s suffocating. It’s overwhelming. And Satan wants to tell us that it’s a hopeless situation or that it’s not worth the risk of confessing or that it’s not really hurting you.

Satan is really good at tailoring lies that speak to our exact situation.

But God is also really good at bringing Truth that touches our heart in just the place where we can receive it. Not to condemn us, but to convict us. And this conviction serves to let us know that there is something painful separating us from Him. He wants to show us how we can move it out of the way, how we can break down this wall that keeps us from knowing the fullness of His love and forgiveness. He wants this wall gone because He wants us.

God wants you. Even if you’re a porn addict. Especially because you’re a porn addict. He knows that if you’re turning to anything to fill this aching hole in your heart that what you’re really searching for is unconditional, totally fulfilling, audacious love.

And He has it.

And He feels it. He feels this love, this way, about you. And He’s going to keep after you with the Truth you need to be set free.

I saw this happen yesterday. I saw Truth spoken about porn addiction and healing in a new way.

This couple on stage (members of the church!) sat in front of hundreds of people and confessed the struggle with porn in their marriage.IMG_0657

And they said they were having fun.

FUN, y’all.

In all the testimonies and interviews and articles Craig and I have written about porn addiction and healing, we have never called this fun.

And yet.

I realized what they were saying, what they were exuding on their faces, was that building intimacy is fun. They were addressing hard questions. They were exploring their thoughts on things they had buried for so long. They were getting to know each other on a deeper level. They were learning what it means to really be one flesh.

As they learned that they could be fully known, they learned that they could be fully loved.

And isn’t that fun? Isn’t that a radical idea that our marriages can be places where we can have all our flaws and all our childhood pain and all our early adulthood baggage and still be loved. Still be someone that another person wants to be with? I mean, really be with.

Freedom is fun.

Porn addiction isn’t so fun. But having a spouse who will help you unravel it, who isn’t afraid to explore the real you, is. And the less you feel you have to keep up a facade, the easier it becomes to laugh, to enjoy, to give of yourself freely.

That’s fun.

Of course, it took this couple time to get to where this kind of exploration was fun. And for sure there were hard nights and tear-filled conversations. But the point is, there was more to it than just hard.

There were dates and late nights playing board games. There were road trips with deep conversations. There were revelations and inside jokes.

And how like God is that? To intersperse joy in the midst of pain? To bring moments of laughter when so many tears have been shed? To give us something to hold onto when our world has been blown to bits?

Just like God.

To watch the sermon about porn addiction by Ben Sledge and to hear the Skalko’s personal testimony, click here.

*And Gateway Church, thank you for allowing us to be a part of your Sunday.

An Easter Message for your Marriage

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Yesterday was Easter Sunday, the day where God conquered death once and for all, where He took every sin we could possibly commit and paid for it with the ultimate sacrifice – Himself.

I think about the three days He laid in the tomb from Good Friday to Easter Sunday and the immense grief and darkness that came during that time. I imagine Mary, the disciples, and Mary Magdalene huddled at the foot of the cross, their anguish overwhelming. I envision Mary Magdalene at the tomb when she finds the body of her Savior and friend gone. It amazes me that she was even able to get out of bed to go to the tomb in the first place. Grief can be paralyzing.

The sermon on Sunday resounded with this simple message: Keep moving through grief, even if it’s simply putting one foot in front of the other, because you don’t want to miss the resurrection.

You don’t want to miss the resurrection.

As I sat in church, I pondered how this has played out in my own life, specifically in my marriage. Craig and I wrestled with porn for a decade. For 10 years, I was shrouded in grief, some times darker than others, as porn continually stole joy and safety and wholeness from us.

There were times we were unsure we would make it through. The darkness was so palpable we could barely see any light. The pain was so isolating, the problem so infuriating, the mountain seemingly insurmountable, the waves increasingly pounding against us. How could we ever survive this?

But we did.

It was long. It was hard. It was painful.

It was worth it.

Jesus’ death was long. It was hard. It was painful.

It was worth it.

The Resurrection came. The darkest of dark turned to light. The veil got torn. God won.

Our marriages can experience this same resurrection. While porn addiction feels like a death sentence, Jesus has overcome the grave.

What was dead can be brought back to life. What has been destroyed can be rebuilt. What seems insurmountable can be overcome.

Perhaps all you can do in your marriage right now, whether you are the one addicted or the one betrayed, is put one foot in front of the other.  That’s okay. It’s enough.

God is with you in the moving forward. He is in your every effort. He is there to receive every surrender, to forgive every sin, to trade every weakness for new strength. He’s already assumed every ounce of your shame so you no longer have to wear it.

The resurrection is coming.

Don’t miss it.

**************************************************************************Satan wants you to believe that you are beyond hope. Just as he thought he had won when Jesus was nailed to the tree, he thinks that porn addiction is a death sentence for your marriage.

But with Christ, we can do all things through Him who gives us strength. (Philippians 4:13)

This is not a cliche. This is Truth. May the ultimate resurrection breath new life into your heart and your marriage.

A Couple's Journey to Freedom from Pornography