The Hidden Epidemic Destroying Marriages and Families

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Guy on a computer

Dear Laurie,

I'm grieving the loss of my young womanhood and the countless nights I went to bed wounded in heart and frustrated sexually. It's hard to look at my face in midlife and wonder how my husband rejected me when I was at my best—I was really pretty.

I went through the stages you did. I was obedient, submitting even over tiny issues. I ministered to his needs and enjoyed it, even when he was oblivious to mine. For years, I've suffered from exhaustion—afraid that if I went to bed before my husband, I'd be neglecting his sexual or emotional needs. I did try saying, "I'm tired," but he felt rejected, and it took days to build him up again.

In the process, I was punished by his lack of involvement in our home and our children's lives. Worse, he'd spend days picking at me until I exploded. Looking back, I realize that I was so hungry for an emotional connection with him that I was willing to get it through anger if that was the only way he would hear me.

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Meanwhile, I suffered terrible guilt from the increasing breakdowns I was having due to exhaustion. When I fell apart because I was overly exhausted or confused by lies, I was viewed as "the problem."

Once, when I ran out of a Bible time he was having because I was upset he was demeaning me, my husband shoved me, tore the keys out of my hand and swore at me. I was afraid to tell him how I felt. I thought that would be unsubmissive since a good wife should like everything her husband does and not suggest any changes.

Afterward, I ran to all his counseling books. Not a single Christian source I checked told me these "minor" abuses not only weren't minor but were repugnant to God. I had to go to a secular book to find information on abuse.

It seems Christians assume the wounded must be under some sort of judgment or discipline from the Lord. It's almost a Hindu approach to life—fatalistic, instead of good, clean anger after a wrong done.

I constantly wonder what I could have done differently. The question absolutely hounds me!

I was living within the context of a lie. I wasn't responsible for that lie. The false data gave me wrong clues as well as wrong ideas about myself, the Lord and my husband. Looking back, the one thing I should have done is pray more for truth.


Are you as moved by that letter as I am? It came from a woman who eschewed the feminist philosophy of self-fulfillment. She came home from the workplace to give herself to her husband and children.

Highly respected by both their church and their community, her family appeared to have it all together. Her husband, a well-known speaker on family issues, seemed to be a godly man.

But the truth was, the husband was hiding a secret life filled with pornography and sexual betrayal. The guilt accompanying his deceit showed up in the form of mind games that he played on his wife.

The Truth About Pornography 

Hurting's letter is only one of many hundreds of letters that poured in after the publication of my book, An Affair of the Mind, which explores the devastating impact pornography has on marriages. I am saddened to discover that so many others have experienced the betrayal that pornography brings to a marriage.

My letter-writers and I are not alone. Studies show that 40 to 50 percent of Christian men are involved in pornography. Wondering if your husband is one of them is scary.

But some of you already know. Some of you have friends who are suffering through this. Some of you are wondering what you should tell your teens about why they should avoid X-rated websites.

Whatever your situation, the truth will set you free to be a healthy wife, supportive friend and loving mother. So let's look at some of the truths about pornography.

1. Pornography is addictive. Dr. Mary Ann Layden, director for the Center for Cognitive Therapy, says that an addiction to pornography is harder to break than a cocaine addiction and that recovery from it is more likely to result in relapse than any other addiction. Why?

When you view pornography, a powerful mix of hormones is released in the brain. Two hundred times more potent than morphine and more addictive than cocaine, endorphins and enkephalins bring on a "rush." The brain is just as driven to want this "rush" as a drug addict's body is driven to want drugs.

2. Pornography causes sexual dysfunction. Many people believe that pornography, especially "soft core" erotica, is simply a depiction of normal, healthy heterosexuality. Nothing could be further from the truth. Pornography contains much false, misleading and scientifically inaccurate information about sexuality, especially female sexual nature and response.

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