My Story: How I Went from Living a Lie to a Life Worth Living—Part III

cover-mockupThe following story is the first chapter from my book, 10 Lies Men Believe About Porn, available now wherever books are sold. It is presented here in eight parts and should take you no more than ten minutes to read (You can find Part 1 here). If you would rather read it off-line, you can sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive a free PDF download of the first three chapters of the book as my thank-you gift for signing up.


Led Astray from the Wife of My Youth

I met the woman of my dreams during my senior year of college. She was the pure, innocent, Jesus-loving girl I had always dreamed of. She made me want to be the kind of man she actually deserved. By the grace of God, she had enough willpower for the both of us and we dated without giving in to the physical temptations that had plagued my previous relationships. This gave us a beautiful opportunity to grow in our love for each other without the distractions and false intimacy that comes from sex outside of marriage…or so she thought. She was more than I ever could have asked for, and when I finally asked her to marry me, she said yes.

When we married in 2004, she thought she was marrying the man of her dreams because I only allowed her to see the parts of me that were good enough to fit within that image. I never told her about my addiction to pornography. I believed the lie that my addiction would go away when we were married. I believed it would no longer be an issue once we could be physical whenever we wanted, so why would I bring it up and stir the pot? Unfortunately, my addiction actually became worse once we settled into married life.

lonely wifeMy wife kept trying to love me and be a good wife, but she had no idea our marriage was doomed from the start. She had married a man who didn’t exist. As long as I was pretending to be “perfect Steve,” the real me couldn’t offer her my love or even receive love from her. Because of this, we never developed the deep intimacy that is required for a marriage to survive, let alone thrive. We continued to grow further and further apart.

I kept spiraling deeper and deeper into the pit of my addiction. I would sense continual rejection from her, not from anything she was doing, but from me secretly knowing she wasn’t loving the real me. This imagined rejection caused me to become increasingly fearful of sharing my true self with her, which caused me to retreat into the world of my addiction, where I felt I was safe from rejection. After giving into my addiction again, I would feel so much shame and guilt, knowing that I was letting her down. I was scared of how much it would hurt her if she discovered what I was doing, so I continued to hide that part of myself from her.

My addiction drove me to become a pathological liar. When my wife would ask me what something had cost I’d tell her it was $5 when really it was $6, even though it didn’t matter either way. I’d lie to my friends, my parents, my boss, everyone. I’d exaggerate things in conversations for no apparent reason. I even acted as if I was a bad liar with little things so my wife would believe I couldn’t lie about the big stuff. If the truth might be damaging for me, I would lie about it without an ounce of guilt. It eventually became more natural for me to be dishonest than honest.

When my wife and I were together, I was present physically but distant mentally. I would frequently zone out, missing her questions and comments. It was as if I weren’t even in the same room. I had developed a deeper sense of connection with the computer than with my wife. Ridiculous? This actually makes sense when you think about it. The computer was where I had been going to attempt to fulfill my desires for intimacy and connection, not my wife. Because of this, I would come home and retreat to the study to avoid connecting with her any more than necessary. Connecting with my wife meant the possible risk of rejection or discovery, both of which scared me to the core. So I would sit in front of the computer and surf Facebook or eBay, not looking at anything “wrong,” but mindlessly killing time to avoid engaging her. I had put up these walls and barriers to protect me from having to risk myself with her.

Every time we came together physically, I felt immense guilt and shame, which kept me from connecting with her without feeling as if I was doing something wrong. The shame from my sin had penetrated my heart to the point that something which God created as good was distorted in my mind into something that felt shameful. I could no longer distinguish the redeemed, holy sexuality between me and my wife from my sinful sexual addiction. I would desire to be close to her and would flirt with her throughout the day, but once we ended up in the bedroom my shame took over and I would find excuses to pull away. She often asked what was wrong, but because I wasn’t willing to admit I knew what the problem was, she assumed there must have been something wrong with her. After all, it was only natural for her to blame herself in the absence of any real answer from me.

You would think that seeing the terrible effects of my sin on my wife would cause me to turn from it, but that unfortunately was not the case. I had reached a point where the most important thing to me was my own protection, even at the risk of hurting others. I had been justifying, lying, hiding, and manipulating for so long that I had completely lost the ability to sense or care about anyone’s emotions but my own. I no longer had the ability to feel empathy. I could sit and watch my wife cry herself to sleep and think “she’s just being irrational,” or “she’ll get over it.” Every now and then I would wonder if there was something wrong with me because I didn’t feel emotions, but I would quickly brush it off. I had no idea how destructive my life had truly become.

Continue reading: My Story—Part IV

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