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DivorceWise Newsletter
Issue 4 - 2001 by Kari West - Garden Glories Publications
Topic: Pornography's Devastation

Welcome Survivor!

Welcome! You are among friends. You are safe. Understood. Treasured.

Whatever you face right now, you won't always be standing in the same pool of tears or thrusting your fist in the air. There is a future, but it takes time to get there. Along the way, some of us discover secrets we wish we had never stumbled on. Like an ex-husband's involvement in pornography. That's the subject of this newsletter.

Pornography's groundswell is tumbling marriages off their foundations. Even our church family is not exempt. Take a look at these statistics:

  • One California pastor says he's shocked at the number of church lay leaders he counsels who admit to watching hotel room X-rated movies when traveling for church-related events.
  • A staff member for Navigators, who leads a support group for Christian men involved with porn, says: "These men want help, but not because they think they're doing wrong; they're just afraid their wives will find out."
  • At one Promise Keepers event, 50 percent of the attendees admitted to dabbling in porn during the previous week.
  • Chicago's Minirth-Meier counseling center claims sexual addiction is the number one reason Christians come to them for counseling. The greater percentage of the men who come are lay workers or pastoral staff members in evangelical churches.
  • Books are now available on how to write porn for fun and profit. The Internet makes erotica easily accessible to anyone in the privacy of their own home.

Here's what's new:

On November 1-2, Focus on the Family is airing "The Hidden Enemy of Marriage" that Laurie Hall, Noelle and I recorded in 1996. The topic is pornography. To request a copy, ask for tape number CT009/17709. Call 1-800-A-FAMILY (1-800-232-6459). In Canada, 1-800-661-9800.

For more information on pornography, visit www.ptm.org to view the following articles: "Pornography--what's the big deal?" by Laurie Hall and "The Price of Unkept Promises" by Kari West and Noelle Quinn. Search for the May/June 1998 issue of The Plain Truth magazine.

In this 4th issue of the DivorceWise newsletter, the featured survival story from a woman just like you comes from Jane in South Dakota. Her ex-husband's sexual addiction toppled their 25-year marriage.

Personal reflection ... by Jane* in South Dakota (*a pen name)

Eleven days before my 25th wedding anniversary, I heard these words that changed my life forever: "I don't know if I love you anymore."

I had known my husband for over 30 years, lived with him in seven states and one foreign country. We met at a church camp as teenagers and married after I graduated from nursing school and he graduated from military school. We had vowed "...til death do we part." I loved him. How could this be happening to me? I was surprised and shocked.

Within days, money was moved; bank accounts closed; and credit cards changed. A secret post office box was opened to receive his and our mail. Within three months divorce papers were served to me. This was a battle plan created by a military mind. Operation: Divorce Jane had begun.

In the early days of our marriage, the military assignments were exciting. My husband stayed in the military for six years, then took a job with a major corporation that moved us to the Midwest. Although we left behind all the Christian friends from Officers Christian Fellowship, we were now closer to family. I was thrilled since we had a one-year-old son and my husband traveled a lot. It was at this time that he first informed me that he had cheated on me. We both had to be treated for STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases). I could tell that he really did have remorse, so I learned to forgive.

We became active in a church where he served for several years in a leadership position. During this time our daughter was born, representing forgiveness. We moved several times during those years. I began to sense something was wrong, but my husband always denied it. Soon I made a discovery that almost destroyed me. In my search for a mortgage payment stub, I opened the wrong briefcase. To my horror, I found pornography. Magazines. Letters. Pictures. Papers. And the name of a woman my husband had worked with.

In the days that followed, I learned that he was a Sex Addict. That he hadn't been working all those Saturdays after all, but had been in topless bars, adult bookstores and only God knows where else. He went to counseling for his addiction; and I went for depression.

I was so ashamed. I told no one. Then my counselor started a group for women who were spouses of sex addicts where I met others experiencing the same thing. Focus on the Family's brochure on sexual addiction states: "The spouses of sex addicts are the loneliest people in the world." It's true!

Over the next few years, I thought my husband had recovered. He attended Promise Keepers three years in a row. I was learning to trust again--until he said those life-changing words.

Now as I faced divorce, not only was my life turned upside down but also my children's. My son was in college and my daughter had just turned 16. I tired to keep them out of the middle, but sometimes I just blew it. I wish that I could take back some of the things I said to them. But I was overwhelmed. The house was sold out from under me. I financed my lawyer on two credit cards. Company stock was sold without my consent or knowledge. I moved from a four-bedroom house to a two-bedroom apartment. My husband even obtained a court order forcing me to see a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.

That March, my daughter said she was moving out of state to live with her dad. At the time, I was shocked. But looking back, I realize this was a blessing. I worked a half-mile from Littleton, Colorado's Columbine High School. On April 20, 1999, as I watched helicopters, ambulances, fire trucks and police cars arrive after that fateful school bombing, I knew I was one of the most fortunate mothers alive. My child was safe with her dad. She had known one of the killers, his girlfriend and some of the mortally wounded and injured.

Once we were a family of four. Now I was the only one left. So I decided to move closer to my son. In 25 years, this was move number 19 for me. I never expected my son to leave town without informing me. My children's behavior puzzled me.

The answer came with a phone call. My ex-husband called to tell me that he had remarried the day before. That my children had known for months and he had asked them not to tell me. I finally realized why. My ex-husband's new bride was the woman he had worked with years before. She was the woman named on that piece of paper I found in his briefcase with the pornography. She was the woman he had given money to from the sale of company stock. She also has two sons he is going to adopt.

My lawyer told me to assume the worst. Later, when I called to confront my ex-husband about my suspicions, he hung up on me. I immediately called back. He told me "to leave him alone, as he was trying to get on with his life. Why didn't I?"

Today, I can't help wondering: Did my husband live a double life all these years? Was this woman his mistress during that time? Is he the biological father of these two boys? The verdict is still out. But I have asked God to please reveal the truth to me in His timing. I don't know if I can handle not knowing the truth.

I have listened to tapes, read books, taken medication for depression, prayed, walked, enjoyed good music, and talked with friends. These past months have changed me. My faith in God is being challenged.

Laurie Hall's book, An Affair of the Mind, opened my eyes as to how this addiction hurts the whole family. In This Very Hour by B.J. Funk is a great comfort. She shares that divorce isn't a terminal illness, but one of life's biggest heartaches. She asks, "How can anyone get through divorce without Jesus?" I agree!

I didn't like many books on divorce, but found one that changed my life. When He Leaves by Kari West and Noelle Quinn touched my heart. They had credibility. They knew exactly what I was going through; we shared the same goals in life.

Daily, I need to deal with bitterness and forgiveness. I found a story about the dandelion that reminds me of my need and I placed silk dandelions in two rooms of my apartment as a constant reminder. You know, you can remove dandelions from your yard; but if you don't deal with the roots, they always come back stronger than ever. It's the same with bitterness.

You know, I still can't believe that this happened to me. I keep hoping that it's only a bad dream and that I'll wake up and have a husband who loves me. I know that I must have new hopes and new dreams, but right now, I just hope to make it through the day. I pray for my children. I hope they will find Godly spouses and will never know the pain of being betrayed, deceived, or abandoned--and that they'll never turn their backs on God. --Written by Jane in South Dakota

Help for today ... by Kari

Divorce is the most destabilizing process you will ever go through, says a psychotherapist in New Mexico. Not only does divorce shatter everything you were taught as a young girl about life, men and women, and marriage but it also wrecks havoc with how you see yourself. Rebuilding is often slow and tedious.

But when you discover that your husband has been comparing you to air-brushed erotic photos in a magazine, a video porn queen or a flurry of women on an X-rated Internet site, you begin to comprehend why he felt you never measured up.

How can you? Fantasy and reality are as different as apples and oranges. There is no way you can compete with "The Look"--that ideal woman who exists only in a man's imagination.

It helps to remember that this doesn't mean that you were not enough. You are an average woman who fell in love with an ordinary man who took a wrong turn. Now you must examine and acknowledge the ugliest things about the man you once loved. Jane dittos what many of us already know: Pornography is not a victimless crime.

If your former husband indulged in sex play--real or imagined--apart from emotional intimacy with you, he violated your body and spirit--and himself. What you didn't know then does hurt now.

Don't be afraid to wrestle with truth as it surfaces. Realize that the ravages of pornography creep slowly. In increments, a man allows them to invade his mind, seal off his conscience, stroke his ego and massage his guilt. Experts say that often imaginary sex is better than real sex because one's partner, the performance of both participants and the surroundings are controlled by the mind. "Reel" sex or cybersex is an instant tension release without responsibility. It is shaped by wandering thoughts spliced together in a steamy fantasy bank. But too quickly one gets bored with airbrushed pictures and moves toward perverse deviations and acting out with real images: prostitutes and one-night stands. With anonymity and lack of accountability, a man figures no one need know.

If you were married to a sex-addict, the enormity of it all may seem overwhelming. Ruthless rejection is inevitable. You feel so ashamed. Humiliation dogs your steps as you drag yourself to the doctor for AIDS or STD tests. In fear, you face the ultimate consequence of your husband's irresponsible behavior. It takes raw courage to confront your fears and face the pain that comes with truth.

A recent study shows that 3.5 million U.S. women are at risk for STDs because they mistakenly think their partner is monogamous (Source: USA TODAY, 10/7/99, p. D1). So ... please DO NOT hesitate to be tested. And know that others have gone before you.

I'll never forget what my own doctor told me that terror-filled day I sat in his office with tears streaming down my cheeks. "You're not the first woman to go through this, Kari, and you won't be the last."

In closing, I encourage you to hold tightly to the truth. You are a good woman. You were a good wife. You did the best you could with the truth you knew at the time. When a man dabbles in pornography, it is not about you--but about him. Only by facing the truth can he be freed from this sexual addiction.

Jane leaves us with these thoughts: "It's been so hard giving those who hurt me over to God. They have caused so much pain and suffering to me, my family and our friends. But I must believe that God will deal with them. Romans 2:16 says, 'God will judge the secrets of men...' and Luke 12:2 says 'There's nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.' II Timothy 5;24 says 'The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment. For others, their sins follow after.'

"I know that the battle is the Lord's. My hope has to rest in Him. I know that He's in control and is teaching me to depend on Him. It's a daily struggle, and I know that God doesn't make mistakes. His children just make the wrong choices. I know I must wait on Him for guidance. But it's so hard to just be still and listen."

A promise you can trust

"'Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband--the Lord Almighty is his name--the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer....The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit--a wife who married young, only to be rejected,' says your God." ---Isaiah 54:4-8

Please stop by again soon

Please let me hear from you. I answer every letter and e-mail. Also, be encouraged to share what helped you through your divorce so others know they are not alone and that they too will survive. E-mail by Clicking Here or write Kari West, P. O. Box 11692, Pleasanton, CA 94588.

Copyright 1998 - 2002 by Kari West