The Porn Addict’s Wife Wears Lingerie (or tries to)

I was innocently walking through the mall last week. Christmas shopping. Making my list and checking it twice. When in front of me appeared the store that cleverly beckons me. The one that stirs a longing within my heart at the same time it brings a knot to my stomach. Enticing me while rousing my insecurity, fears and loss. A store filled with both hope and grief.

The lingerie store. Filled with intriguing pyjamas, bras, panties, and other attire.

Now, if you are one of my children, this is where you might want to stop reading. But if you are the partner of a sex or porn addict, or have lived with the rejection of a sexless marriage or any type of sexual abuse, you may very well understand the conflicting emotions of wearing lingerie. Or of even buying lingerie.

In my case, I want to wear lingerie. It makes me feel pretty and sexy. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. But it also makes me very sad. And a little bit angry. Because I can’t. My sexuality has been damaged. Sex and porn addiction stole my husband’s healthy sexuality. It has also taken mine even though I was not the one viewing it.

I have read articles on the harmful effects of pornography on the addict’s sexuality. I have witnessed those effects in my husband. And I have experienced them on a very deep, personal and painful level. And yet, there is little information on the harmful effects of porn on the partner’s sexuality. But I, the partner, have suffered immensely too.

When my husband chose pornography and masturbation over sexual intimacy in our marriage, my sexuality eroded. I fought to regain it. I read the magazine articles on how to please a man and drive him crazy in bed. I tried it all. Problem was, he was not interested in any of it. My sexual needs and desires were shamed and ridiculed. I finally gave up and did my best not to have them. I stuffed them. I buried them. I accepted a sexless marriage.

And now, almost three years into our recovery programs, I am still struggling in my attempts to accept myself as a sexual being with needs and desires. Even with my husband’s tremendous healing and recovery from his sex addiction, it continues to feel like he holds the power in our sexual relationship. His addiction and recovery influence every choice I make in expressing myself sexually. There is little freedom, fun or lightness when every move I make, every word I speak, every article I wear is funnelled through the lens of porn addiction and the possibility of relapse.

I want to feel pretty and sexy in what I wear to bed. I want my husband to think I look pretty and sexy in what I wear to bed. I do not feel the need to dress provocatively to get his attention, but I do want to clothe myself in ways that please him. That also adds to my pleasure and helps me mentally prepare for sex.

But therein lies the conflict. I want my husband to desire me and my body. I need to be assured that after twenty years of sexual rejection he is attracted to and aroused by what is underneath the lingerie. It is necessary for my mind to avoid any connection to the world of pornography so that I do not unfairly compare myself to the thousands of naked women that have aroused my husband.

The first time I walked into a lingerie store after we began our recoveries, I was overwhelmed. I hadn’t expected that reaction. Approaching the store, I had been filled with nervous anticipation. Feeling excited and bold with this new sexuality that was emerging from deep within me. As my eyes scanned the merchandise, my heart leapt enthusiastically at the possibility of being daring with my sexuality.  And then I froze. Bewildered. Closely followed by my mind screaming “Nooooo. What are you thinking?!”, and an urge to flee from the store. But I stayed, took a deep breath and swallowed the teary lump in my throat.

I soon realized that neither myself or my marriage was emotionally ready for any of the overtly sexual lingerie options on display. But I also knew that with careful consideration I could find something that would make me feel both sexy and comfortable. My focus was not on what my husband would find sexy, but on what would enhance and help me embrace my sexual healing.

I intentionally avoided certain colours, fabrics, and styles. But then I found something that kindled a spark in my soul. And I left the store with more than a new little nightie. I had hope.

That little nightie spent several months in my dresser drawer before I gathered the courage to wear it for my husband. It was a promise and gift to myself as much as it was to him.

I’ve returned to the lingerie store a few times since then. But like my first purchase, the items often stay unworn until I feel safe enough to reveal the growing acceptance of my own sexuality. It is vulnerable exposing not only my body, but also my soul.

Last week the winter and Christmas themed pieces on display reignited the yearning in my heart for sexual lightness and fun in my marriage. I walked into the store with a twinkle in my eye that soon faded with the realization that this could easily be a triggering problem for either my husband, myself or both of us. The sense of loss washed over me once again. I dejectedly wondered if my sexuality and healthy fantasies would be forever tainted by my husband’s past pornography addiction.

I don’t know the answer to that question. But I do know that I wasn’t emotionally ready to find out this year. I don’t believe it has anything to do with me being scared, or insecure, or not brave enough. Simply, God is laying a foundation and rebuilding a healthy sexuality in both myself and my husband so that one day we will be blessed with holy sex in our marriage as He designed, created and intended it to be. That will be a gift delivered from God, not Santa.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Matthew 6:25

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I Was Married and Alone

I was married and alone. Very alone. But not very married. We had a wedding ceremony. We had a marriage certificate declaring us husband and wife. We lived in the same house with two amazing children and a dog. But other than that, there was little evidence of a union of hearts and flesh between this man and woman.

There was a constant ache of loneliness deep within my soul. It led to despair, hopelessness and eventually resignation and acceptance that I was unloved and unwanted. After years of trying everything to make my husband love me, to notice me, to offer me a crumb of affection and attention, I realized that the deafening noise in my brain was from me banging my head against the wall. It was not going to happen.

After ten years of marriage, I gave up. I seriously considered leaving my husband. But I didn’t. In all honesty, my decision to stay was not a commitment to my husband, marriage or family. I was not trying to be honourable and stay together for religious or moral reasons. Simply, I was defeated and not brave or strong enough to make such a monumental change to save myself and my children. I was more afraid of the future than the present. In my hidden pain, no one was able to offer me hope. No one recognized the destruction occurring within our home. I was insignificant. And so I did what I did best. Adapted and learned how to survive the abuse.

I no longer had any illusions that my love could change my husband. Neither was I praying and dreaming of the day that God would transform him into my Prince Charming. My heart still ached and longed to snuggle in bed with my husband. To hear the words “I love you.” To hear the words “Good night.” His back turned to me in cold silence every night wounded my heart just a little more, no matter how much I tried to convince myself that it didn’t.

One fantasy I did cling to was that my husband was a good man. I was shocked the day God jolted me out of this fantasy and into reality with a DVD by Dr. Doug Weiss entitled Married and Alone. Many times over the years, I had persuaded myself into believing that my husband really was a good man. I would list in my mind all the bad things that he didn’t do. And the good things that he did do. There were many. But that is what he did, not who he was. At least not with me and our children. It wasn’t that he only did good things for others. He did good things for us as well, but we also privately received what others did not. Or more accurately, things were withheld that never should have been.

If you feel married and alone, more like roommates than best friends, there is a good chance that intimacy anorexia has ravaged your marriage and home. And if you can identify with the following characteristics, you may be faced with the same ugly realization that I was: my spouse is not a good person.

  • Busy: has little time for you, does everything they can not to be with you
  • Blame: every issue is your fault
  • Withhold love: you are like a sponge that gets drier and drier
  • Withhold praise: no verbal acknowledgement for the positive qualities you have or things you do
  • Withhold sex: not being emotionally present during sex, or withholding sex from you
  • Spiritual: withholding spiritual connection with you
  • Feelings: unwilling or unable to share his/her authentic feelings with you
  • Anger/Silence: uses anger or silence to control you or push you away
  • Criticism: has ongoing or ungrounded criticism, either spoken or unspoken, towards you
  • Money: controls or shames you regarding money or spending

Sex addiction is one of the causes of intimacy anorexia. And just like my husband’s addiction, I did not cause his abusive behaviours. But I had accepted them. I had agreed with him for twenty five years that it was okay to control and withhold from me. My mistreatment was by mutual consent.

My belief system for my personal and marriage survival began to unravel that day. I received a reality check. Everything was becoming clearer. I felt foolish and naïve in how I had convinced myself of my husband’s goodness. Of how my own actions had enabled my pain to continue and grow. I saw each one of us differently.

My flickering hope for healing from sexual betrayal trauma also grew stronger that day. For me, the educational resources I was utilizing validated my pain and empowered my recovery. The knowledge that my feelings and situation were real, that others experienced and understood the utter chaos and insanity of intimacy anorexia, and that there was a proven and effective recovery plan available to me, my husband and my marriage, gave me the courage to make the changes that I needed to make.

My husband and marriage have been miraculously and wonderfully transformed over the last three years. When an addict finds freedom and salvation, the change is evident. My husband truly is a good man. And so much more. When a husband and wife begin to cherish and respect each other a new strength and love radiates from them. I have seen this. I have experienced this.

But to the people who know me, and have walked the journey with me from beginning to where I am now, they see the change and healing in me too.  And that makes me feel proud. I am rewriting my own story. My husband can’t do that for me.

We need to become our own hero. Married and alone were never meant to exist together.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

I Don’t Want to be Strong

I don’t want to be strong. I don’t want anyone to tell me to be strong. I don’t even want anyone to tell me that I am strong. In my experience, if that character trait is being mentioned, and I need to muster courage and resiliency to get through a situation, then something must be difficult. And distressing. And quite possibly, wrong.

Certainly there is a well meaning encouragement behind the words. An offering of support. Perhaps even given as a compliment. Or a reassurance of hope and the calming of a storm.

Early in my recovery from sexual betrayal trauma and the effects of my husband’s sex addiction and intimacy anorexia, I was tired of holding it all together. I didn’t know how to. And the thought of fighting the destruction was exhausting and overwhelming.

Hearing the exhortations to be strong made me want to scream “But I don’t want to be strong!” I just wanted to be. Whatever that was, I just wanted to be. I wanted someone else to be strong for me. Or better yet, to not have to be strong at all.

If my husband wasn’t a sex addict, I wouldn’t have to be strong. If I hadn’t lived in a sexless marriage devoid of love and affection for twenty years, I wouldn’t have to be strong. If I remained silent and willing to live in an emotionally abusive marriage, I wouldn’t have to be strong. If. If. If.

I thought I had to be strong. And I couldn’t do it. I felt defeated. I remember waking up in the morning already beaten down by the fog of a day covered in pain and uncertainty. My prayer before I arose from bed was not a petition for God to provide me with strength and courage to tackle my day, heal my wounds or save my marriage. My prayer was much simpler, honest and broken. “God, please hold me today.”

God, please hold me today. And He did.

I didn’t have to be strong after all. In my brokenness and weakness, God was more than able to step in and be strong for me. And what I found was that as I ceased fighting, and rested in God’s arms, He began to infuse me with His strength. It just came because it wasn’t mine. I didn’t have to put on my big girl pants because God put His armour on me instead.

God made me ready for my battle of restoration. My Defender. My Protector. The Mountain Maker. The Ocean Tamer. The One who put my life back into place when I thought it was falling apart. The One who showed me that He really does bring beauty from the ashes.

This would be a nice, tidy ending to the story now. But……that’s not how it always works. At least not for me. Sometimes I forget and try to do things on my own strength again. Someone may tell me that I am a strong woman, and that makes me feel proud of the recovery work I have done. I feel affirmed that someone has noticed the changes in me. Sometimes I forget that it wasn’t my own strength that brought me to this place of healing and restoration. Or worse, sometimes I don’t forget, I just don’t acknowledge the One who carried me through and lifted me above my circumstances.

Recently, as my husband and I have committed to improving our emotional, spiritual and sexual intimacy, I have found myself once again relying on my own strength. And that isn’t working very well for me. I am struggling. Doing the one step forward, two steps back dance. I pray. But sometimes it isn’t with all my heart. Sometimes it isn’t with a surrendered heart.

God’s grace is sufficient for me. If I let it be. His power is made perfect in my weakness. If I give Him control. But I am still a teeny bit scared of trusting my husband with all of my heart and body. Which also means I’m not trusting God to protect me either.

I have the same power living in me that rose Jesus from the dead, and yet I stifle that power even when God has proven Himself faithful over and over and over again. Even when the battle has already been won.

Now, it is time for the tidy, happy ending, but I don’t have one to this part of my story yet. But it is coming.

God, please hold me today.

O Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress. Isaiah 33:2

Restoring Sexual Intimacy After Betrayal

I almost made it through last week’s D-Day anniversary and birthday celebrating. Of course, that depends somewhat on how you define celebrating. There wasn’t a party or a cake, but since Halloween is a day of significance in my story of betrayal, there were costumes, smiles and mini chocolate bars involved.

I regret telling my husband that Halloween was a triggering day for me. He did not know that until this week. Now we will both experience a layer of darkness to this holiday that has nothing to do with scary or sexy costumes, trick or treaters, pranks or stomach aches from eating too much candy.

My husband and I have chosen not to reveal our triggers to each other. We decided that knowing these things provided little or no benefit to either of us in our healing and recovery from sex addiction and each other’s sexual betrayals. There may be times it is necessary to communicate when something is bothering us, but for the most part, details have remained unspoken. It does not cause me to wonder or obsess. It allows me the freedom to walk beside my husband not worrying about who or what may be vying for his attention. I am not responsible for his recovery, nor can I control it. There is no point in me watching and questioning everything he does, or heaping more pain upon myself by avoiding places and situations that I have always enjoyed. I will save my energy for my own recovery and growing a healthy me.

To explain my emotional instability and edginess the last few days, I could have just indicated I was being triggered. That would have been enough said. I instantly felt remorseful and defeated for providing details that hurt my husband but that also made me feel like I had just fallen backwards in my own recovery. Because, truthfully, although I was being triggered, that wasn’t the main cause of my unhealthy behaviour. It was just the easiest excuse.

I was anxious. I was scared. I was feeling challenged and stressed. I was taking a risk. A risk that I initiated, but nonetheless, was about to stretch me thin as I began picking at the scabs mending the sexual wounds of my life and marriage.

I assume that rebuilding and restoring genuine sexual intimacy after a relationship has been ravaged by a porn addiction, affair, or any sexual betrayal or infidelity is challenging for many. I say assume, because apart from my own experience, I have heard or read very little about it. The silence roars and adds to the shame and stigma of the struggle. It is incomprehensible to me that other couples affected by sinful sexual behaviours aren’t having difficulty returning to the mutually fulfilling emotional, spiritual and physical intimacy of sex as God created, designed and intended it to be in marriage.

I have suffered immensely through twenty five years of a sexless marriage filled with neglect, rejection and emotional abuse. In our case, we are not rebuilding, but building something that we have never had. The inexperience and awkwardness of new lovers; the harmful and destructive effects of a porn addiction; the baggage of an affair and past sexual history and abuse; and age and health issues combine for a long, slow process of recovering healthy sexuality and intimacy.

I have become frustrated, disappointed, discouraged and impatient. I am angry at God. I have never received the gift of sexual intimacy in my marriage, and even now, with the wonderful healing and recovery we have received individually and in our marriage, it remains elusive. And that makes me cry. And it made me cry last week. I grieve for what I have lost. I grieve for what has not been returned. And when I dare to hope for more, my heart aches.

Last week, my husband and I bravely took a giant leap of faith for our sexual recovery. We have begun working through a book, 31 Days to Great Sex, by Christian author Sheila Wray Gregoire, which has daily readings and challenges designed to improve emotional, spiritual and physical intimacy in marriage. I am nervous, and it scares the heck out of me, but feels so right at the same time. I feel empowered by the format that is holding us accountable to having uncomfortable conversations, while providing a safe environment to do so. I am proud of myself, for both of us, for persevering and pushing through the hard stuff in search of God’s complete plan for marriage.

God sees my tears. And He cares. God knows the desires of my heart. He put them there. I am learning through this process that mutually fulfilling sexual intimacy is a gift in marriage. None of us are entitled to it. I try to reconcile in my mind that it may be something I never experience. That makes me sad.

I am holding on to the truth that God is a Redeemer. I must believe that He either is, or He isn’t. He either redeems, or He doesn’t. And if I trust God is a Redeemer, then I must have confidence that He is able to redeem all of my marriage. Not 50%, not 80%, but 100%. If redemption seems to halt somewhere along the way, it is not because God stopped. It is because I did. I don’t want to do that anymore.

As I wept and prayed last week, my Heavenly Father spoke these words to my heart:

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their Shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Revelation 7:17

I am listening. I am trusting. I have hope in my Redeemer.

Celebrating My D-Day

If I had a D-Day, it would have been this week. My three year anniversary of Discovery Day. This generally refers to the day sexual sin is exposed in a relationship, forever changing the unsuspecting partner’s life. It is a moment of utter devastation and complete betrayal. However, for me, D-Day has a somewhat different meaning.

D-Day was the day I discovered me. Buried deep underneath the fragmented layers of a life destroyed by the neglect and rejection of a sexless marriage. It was the day the broken and crushed spirit within me found enough courage to fight for my soul. It was the day that I recognized the pain of staying the same was becoming greater than the pain of changing something. Anything. It was the day I decided I didn’t want to hurt anymore. D-Day was the awakening, not the breaking of me.

Not only was my soul awakened that day, but my eyes were also opened. My naivety and embedded beliefs that had accepted sexual and emotional abuse throughout my life were greatly challenged.

My husband was away from home. I sat down at his computer. I found pornography. That day, and the next, and the next. The magnitude of his porn use slowly sinking into my mind and my stomach.

I didn’t confront him. This was about me now. For the first time, this would be about me, not him. I needed the time to prepare and strengthen myself against the attacks of shame, blame, anger, and complete insanity I knew from experience would be deflected back to me. This time I would not allow him to confuse me and twist the truth so that I no longer knew what it was. I needed time to gain clarity and confidence.

A few days later, I was shaken by the revelation that my husband was able to look me in the eye and blatantly lie to me. As odd as it may seem, I had never actually considered that my husband was deceitful and untruthful with me at any time in our marriage. Finding out he was a liar disturbed me just as much as the pornography. I wondered how many times he had lied to me. How many times he had laughed at my gullibility. I felt foolish and stupid and betrayed.

The overwhelming emotions pushed me into action. I was no longer willing to be the wife who accepted a marriage devoid of affection, companionship, respect, intimacy, love and sex. I did not feel brave. I did not feel courageous. I felt battered and abandoned. I was about to change the role I was playing in my marriage but it did not unduly scare me. My life would be different, and have new challenges, but it couldn’t be worse. I might be married. I might be alone. But I would no longer be neglected and abused.

My D-Day is a birthday more than an anniversary. A celebration of a new beginning and a new life. I began to value me that week. More than my marriage and more than the façade of a happy family.

I began the journey to healing and wholeness on my own. Without my husband. And without inviting God to join me. Leaving God out wasn’t a deliberate omission, rather I just didn’t think about it at all one way or the other. Although I went to church regularly, and considered myself a Christian, the protective walls I had built around my heart were also a barrier to a functioning relationship with God.

Years earlier, I remember attending a church service where I clearly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and heard the whisper to open my heart and fully let Him in. And I also recall distinctly telling God no, I can’t do that, it would hurt too much. I believed that opening even the smallest sliver of my heart to God would release the floodgate of all my suppressed emotions and pain. It was my belief that my heart could not be both open to a relationship with God and closed to my husband. I chose to keep my heart wrapped up tight.

Many times throughout my marriage, God beckoned me to Him. He stretched out His arms to me and I consciously refused to draw close. My heart had been broken too many times by the people who were supposed to love and protect me. Even in the despair of the events leading to my D-Day, my distrust extended to God.

It took me a few weeks before I finally approached God with my shattered heart. And He was right there waiting for me. He gently took my heart and my hand in His, and set me on an unbelievable path of restoration and healing.

Looking back, I can see God’s orchestration all along. Even when I rejected and pushed God aside He waited patiently for me as a loving Father does. Even when I did not feel His presence He was there.  Even when I thought it was only me against a husband and world that had let me down, it wasn’t.

My D-Day was the end of my life as I knew it. I thank God every day for that new beginning. What the devil meant for evil, God meant for good. And it is good.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20

Trading Labels for Tiaras

I’m feeling kind of lost these days. Not sure where I belong. As much as I dislike labels, right now I am struggling because none of them fit. Or maybe because all of them fit and therefore none of them just right.

When I began guest writing on this blog, I knew I was going to share my story of being married to a sex addict. And how God has miraculously healed and transformed my husband, my marriage, and most of all, me. The gift of pain and the gift of recovery.

I also knew that to be authentic, I would one day confess my own affair. In my feeble attempt to share the magnitude of God’s goodness and redemption, both sides of the sexual sin equation needed to be brought into the light. The abounding grace and forgiveness of our marriage redemption story grows exponentially in my eyes with the hurt of both a betrayed wife and a betrayed husband.

What I didn’t count on was my identity shifting in the process. Switching name tags from wife of a sex addict to cheating wife has left them both crumpled on the floor with me having one foot in each group and not fulling belonging to either.

This happened to me once before. Feeling like a fraud. Which is ironic when it is my transparency and honesty that leaves me standing alone in the center of the playground.

I read and write comments on other blogs. Mostly of other women who have been sexually betrayed by their partner. Women who have been devastated by pornography, affairs, emotional abuse. Because I was too. And my heart passionately wants to offer them the hope for their own healing and freedom that I have found.

But then I wonder……what if they knew the truth about me? What if they knew that I had been the same liar and cheater as the husband that has ripped their heart and life apart? Would they feel betrayed by me too? I couldn’t bear the thought of causing anyone additional pain.

At the second partner’s recovery support group meeting I attended, my eyes scanned the circle of broken and beautiful women, all in different parts of their journey and varying degrees of healing. My heart dropped at the possibility of further hurting these precious souls because of my past infidelity.

I didn’t speak a word that day. After the meeting, I hung around and spoke to the leader. I confessed my affair to her and told her that I could not return. I felt that I was betraying these women simply by being present in the same room with them. I did not belong there. The leader assured me that I was welcome. My counsellor said the same. I was still wounded and seeking healing from my husband’s sex addiction and intimacy anorexia regardless of my own infidelity.

I didn’t know how to wear both labels. I couldn’t. So I didn’t. I stopped participating in the support group and focused on healing the damage caused by my own sinful behaviours. Two months later, God nudged me and whispered to my weakly beating heart that it was time to return to the support group. I did.

And since that day, the two have co-existed as I have sought complete healing and wholeness from the wounds that were created by myself, my husband and others. All separate offenses that together make my story what it is. Mine.

The women in my recovery support group, unless they have read my blog, do not know of my affair. That no longer troubles my heart. I have come to an understanding that not everyone needs to know. It does not change anything. I am in recovery. I belong standing alongside the courageous women mending hearts shattered by sexual betrayal and emotional abuse.

But this is where things differ here in the blogging world. Everyone knows. Everything. Both sides. And I haven’t fully reconciled in my mind how that works. Surely it will matter to some and not to others. It may very well change things. Sometimes there are consequences to disclosing flaws and sin. But there are also blessings. I was willing to take that chance.

I could worry about which team will accept me as a member. I could fear rejection from both sides. I could anxiously hold my breath pridefully hoping that both groups will welcome me.

The best choice would be to stand tall, identify myself as a woman receiving God’s unrelenting outpouring of grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, redemption, restoration and healing, and wear the only name tag that matters – Daughter of God. And logically, since God is the King of Kings, that would make me a princess.

I am trading in my labels. Now I just need to decide if I want a sparkly tiara or a jewelled crown.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.            1 John 3:1-3

I like emeralds. My crown will have gleaming emeralds.

Breaking Bread and Broken Hearts – The Morning After

Our first communion together. After 25 years and 6 days of marriage. Four days after my husband’s salvation. And less than 24 hours after shared disclosures of our sexual history, sin and betrayals.

The day before, I heard details of my husband’s sex and porn addiction behaviours. He was blindsided with the stinging news that his wife (that would be me) had an affair many years earlier.

The morning after had arrived. In the two months that my husband had regularly been attending church with me, we often left home separately, as he served on the worship team and needed to be at church early for practice. This Sunday was different. There were guests leading the worship service. He would be operating the sound system but had set it up the evening before. In God’s grand design, we drove to church together. Raw. Quiet. Each of us immersed in our own unrelenting pain. Separate yet united.

We walked into the sanctuary. He headed for the sound station. I sat with a friend. Disappointment weighed heavily on my heart that we were not able to sit together as a couple for our first communion.

The immensity and weariness of our brokenness kept me from singing. My heart was breaking that even here at church, circumstances and seating arrangements were disconnecting us on a very special occasion.

I decided that once I had received my bread and wine (or rather grape juice and cracker) I would go and stand beside my husband at the sound station. There was enough division in our marriage. This would not be another time.  God’s sanctification and redemption was for us to claim.

I was too late. A movement beside me. I looked up and there he was, joining me on my pew! He said we had to be together for his first communion. It was a bittersweet moment. The joy of partaking in our first communion together was covered with an overwhelming sadness. We could not move. Or sing. Or pray and reflect. My husband had his arm around me. I had my head tucked in his shoulder. And we just cried together. Walking to the front of the church for prayer was not a possibility. The weight of our pain immobilized us. Our pastor came to us. Never before or since have I seen him approach anyone seated in their pew for prayer. Nothing was ordinary about that day. After a bit, my husband went back to work the sound system. The rest of the service was a blur. Except for the words of one worship song that resonated deep within me:

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning

It’s time to sing Your song again

Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me

Let me be singing when the evening comes.

(10,000 Reasons)

The morning after the most difficult day of our marriage, with the day stretching darkly ahead of us, these words brought me a glimmer of hope and light. The sun had come up. And nothing would ever be the same again. We were both now fully aware of all the “whatevers” that had combined to ravage our hearts and marriage. The devastating effects of sexual sin and betrayal were very much our present. And would be daily for a long time to come. But the actions and behaviours were in the past. It was the “whatever” lying before me that remained unclear. And yet it wasn’t. Unknown where the details and timing of God’s plan to rebuild our lives and marriage. Known was the commitment to the process I felt during the communion service from all three of the components in the trinity of my marriage – God, husband and wife.

God gathered a broken man and woman to Him that morning. In the brilliant setting of a communion service. Where we were called to remember the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ as He bled and died on the cross for me. For my husband. For every one of us. Where extravagant love and overwhelming sorrow were forever united at Calvary so they could one day join us on our church pew. Cleansing. Purifying. Transforming. I am forever humbled and grateful.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22,23