Last week the whole Ashley Madison website thing happened. I cried. Well, actually I bawled. It took me back…
12 years ago I left my husband. I found some pornography on our computer and I made the decision to draw a line and say NO MORE. I wasn’t completely surprised because I had found pornography before. I sensed something was wrong, as many women do when their husbands are cheating or addicted to porn or both.
My gut knew. My heart hurt. My mind was in complete denial. We were Christians. John led Bible Study and spoke at the Men’s Group at church. Nothing was wrong, right?
I have no idea why at that moment I decided ENOUGH! But I did and I thank God I packed my bags and said, “No More.”
Guess what? John thanks God, too. He now says the day I left was the best day. It woke him up.
I moved back home after John agreed to do 6 things my counselor and I had written down. For the next 9 months we went through extensive counseling, individually and together. I felt anger like I’d never felt before. John was covered in shame for many months.
But we both gave our marriage to God. We both prayed and we both worked.
12 years later, I can honestly say that our marriage is wonderful with no secrets and lots of laughter.
The past couple of weeks my heart has broken for the many women who have found out that their husband cheated with a live person or a fantasy on a computer. I know that pain. I know those first feelings of “Is it me? Am I not good enough in bed? Is it because I am not pretty enough?” I know the anger that eventually comes. “How could HE do this to ME? How could GOD give me a man like this?” I know the humiliation of telling friends and of hiding it from the “judgers.” I know the fear of the unknown and the horrible decision as to divorce or not.
My heart breaks for every woman or man who has to walk this path.
But my heart doesn’t stay in that broken place. Because I begin to pray for those women and those men. I pray that God will give them hope that reconciliation can happen. I pray that God will give them BOTH the strength to FIGHT for their marriage.
I pray for Anna and Josh Duggar. I was Anna and John was Josh. I can’t imagine how it would have killed me to have the world talking about our pain and his betrayal. I can’t imagine having blogs and blogs talking about how weak I was to not divorce his ass. I can’t imagine having fellow Christians look down their nose at our family because my husband was a hypocrite.
When I first left John, I went in to see my vice principal at the time, Laura Engelberg. I plopped down in her chair and cried and told her everything. I had to, even though I thought she would judge John or feel sorry for me.
But Laura simply said, “Robbie, it’s just sin. Horrible sin.”
At the time, I thought she was woefully ignorant to the horrors of my life and what John’s addiction to porn had done to our family. But with time, I’ve seen such wisdom in her words. IT IS JUST SIN.
Now before you get all holier than thou and say “JUST???? But sexual sin is horrible and kills relationships and hearts and lives.”
Yep, you are right. It does. It’s awful. Sin is horrible no matter what the sin.
I recently read part of a letter to Anna from a blogger telling her how she needs to stand up for herself and leave Josh. This blogger insinuated that Anna’s upbringing, as well as all those Duggar – types is setting up women to fail and not become strong, independent women. I mean look at Anna!! Shouldn’t she divorce him? IMMEDIATELY?
Wow. It takes my breath away sometimes. Reading the judgements we place on this family. I thank God that when it happened to me, I was not famous. Yeesh.
Marriage is a wonderful pleasure and gift from God. It is meant to be life-giving and purpose-driven and joy-creating. But we are all sinners and so our sin affects our marriages. All of us. But God in His infinite love and wisdom has given us His Word to guide us as we live with our loves. He tells us how to fight the enemy and flee! He tells us how to put our mates above ourselves. He tells us how to pray constantly for our marriages and our homes. He tells us how to resolve conflict and how to tell each other the truth.
And He tells us to forgive.
I didn’t forgive John instantly. It was a long process with many bumps along the way. I look back at that time and I realize John and I did two things that truly saved our marriage: we prayed and we worked. We had the difficult conversations. We laid everything out on the table. We allowed ourselves time to feel anger and shame. And we forgave.
Sin and temptation to sin still creeps into our marriage. How can it not if John and I are both sinners? But now we are quick to tell the truth and have no secrets. We are quick to confess and quick to forgive.
And we pray. And we work at it.
My mom always said, “Marriage is the hardest job you’ll ever love, Robbie.” Wisdom.
I LOVE being married to John Iobst. It takes work and prayer. But it is SO worth it.