If I have learned anything about marriage, it is that both of us play a part in whatever is going on. Sure, there may be times one of us has a more significant chunk of the issue than the other, but never the less we both need to own up to our part, no matter how big or small it may be.
If you were to ask us who has carried the largest chunk without owning up to it, we would both point the finger at each other because we bring different perspectives to the marriage. I, Robin, feel like I had been waiting nine years for Mark to come around. Mark had an addiction to pornography, and honestly, he had the addiction when we were dating, when we were engaged, and it got worse when we got married.
When we were dating and engaged, it was easy to brush it off in the act of forgiveness. Mark was genuinely sorry and repentant, making it easy to let him off the hook lovingly. As we went year after year in our marriage, I sought ways to be a good wife through his struggle. The book that impacted me the most was by the same authors of Every Man’s Battle; it is called Every Heart Restored. It is to this day still my favorite book, and I recommend it to other women struggling in the same situation I was.
The reason I loved it so much was that it did not give me the Christian answer to stay in our marriage, but it did not give me permission to leave it either. They openly talked about the emotional, spiritual and mental consequences of each choice. I felt like they gave large doses of grace and truth, acknowledging the deep levels of pain that existed.
The four times separation/divorce almost happened in our marriage was because the addiction had come to a point where it was a level of abuse. Maddie would wake up with nightmares, I would feel psychotic, and I had no respect left for Mark. The emotional and mental damage of living in our house was toxic and as a mom having to stand before the Lord one day to give an account of how I loved and protected my kids, staying did not seem a safe and healthy alternative.
Where would I go, what would I do and all of the feelings I went through are some of the darkest times I have ever gone through in my life. I felt alone, ashamed and guilty. I wasn’t the good, Christian wife anymore because the act of divorce had not only come into my heart but had made its way out of my mouth. Out of the mouth, my heart spoke. I was going to have to do what good, Christian women don’t do.
Thankfully, Mark took each time seriously, and each time I could see Christ working in his heart and life. If I had not trusted Christ and seen him working in Mark’s life, I don’t know if we would still be married. But, I did trust Christ and his working not only in Mark’s life but my own life as well.
One of the things that kept me lonely was Mark would not allow me to talk about his addiction to anyone. I wanted to respect him, but I got to the point where his addiction was so out of control I did not care how angry he got at me. I was way angrier than he could ever get at me. I decided I was going to bring close family and friends into the picture of what was going on. Family and friends I knew would respect him, love him and cheer him on to Christ. Not ones who would belittle him and cause him to go further into his addiction.
The last time his addiction got out of control was the last straw. If the Ultimate Journey did not work, then we were not going to work either. Ken and Mary Hood came into our lives, sweet, dear friends who have become like parents to both of us. These two blessings in our lives can scold and love us as a parent. God would also bring other dear friends into our paths to walk the long road of healing with us. Friends to this day continue to walk the long, painful road to healing.
I began grieving the death of my marriage while it still existed. As time went on more and more distance began to happen until it was the size of the grand canyon. Several times Mark would try to come back over to my side, and I would snip his zip-line. There was no way in hell he was going to hurt me anymore. I was done. My heart, my kids, and my sanity could not do it anymore.
Through the process of the Ultimate Journey, we yelled at each other, dropped swear words like they were melodies and we fought. Sometimes to the death of what felt like soul death. The days of darkness were often more than the days of light. Many times Mark wanted me to shut up and sit down, I would not. I was born stubborn, strong-willed and have never let anyone tell me what to do. I wasn’t going to start letting him boss me around.
After the last time I threatened to leave and not come back because his anger had gotten dangerous, Mark took me seriously. God brought Ken and Mary into our lives and began gutting, cleaning and reshaping both of us over and over, he would repeat the process for almost three years. More yelling, swearing, hurting and healing would happen.
God would change our story from a nightmare to a masterpiece. We would end up each other’s beloved, and we would fall in love with our best friend again.