A Marriage Restored
The following is a testimony by a couple from Illinois who shared at an IBCC Fall Praise Banquet. Plain text = his story, Italics = her story
My life began with rejection, which would define me for the next 48 years. I was given up for adoption by a mother who already had two boys and could not afford another child. The parents who then adopted me would one day admit—in a moment of typical parental frustration—that they wish they hadn’t. This was a heart-crushing stamp of rejection to a child. My military father was rarely present, and when he was, he was frequently angry and verbally abusive. I was made to feel stupid and ugly and could never perform well enough. With all this, the desperate need to please to feel love and acceptance took root.
There was no physical affection in my home growing up. I don’t remember my parents ever hugging me or saying they loved me. This impacted me as a young child, creating a deep soul wound, and I built up walls around my heart to protect myself. I was not taught healthy bonding skills from my family. My need for love and acceptance was so great that it began consuming my life, turning me down the road which would lead to sexual addiction.
At the age of 15, a boy at school asked me out, and I begged my parents to let me go. A boy wanted to go out with ugly me! I had to go! They gave in and I went. This resulted in a date rape—my first sexual experience. I was humiliated, and my friends made it clear to me that they would never think of me the same. Subconsciously, my mind decided it must have been my fault. Satan planted the seed that my only worth and ability to get attention was to be used physically by men.
As an older teen, I was an angry young man. My dad would yell at us boys over trivial things which left me feeling degraded and devalued. I hated my dad for that and couldn’t wait to get away from him. On the outside I was pretty much an ideal Christian, but inside I had thoughts that clashed with my Christian values and secret behaviors that I didn’t want to claim as my own. My life was heading in the direction of losing control in certain areas.
My husband and I had a rocky relationship from the start. Now we know that we were two young people completely confused about our own identities and salvation. But back then we could only look to the other for fulfillment, or leave the other when we weren’t fulfilled. Our marriage was similar to our courtship, with many break-ups. The addiction and the affairs ultimately were too much, and Satan won another battle. We divorced in 2007 after twenty-seven years of insanity. We both continued in our behaviors, however, still seeking to meet needs only God could meet.
Even after I was saved in 2006, I had an issue with seeing God as my father. God was impersonal and distant in my view. I continued to counsel and look for answers in books and my relationship with God. In August 2009 I started seeing Jeff Pokone. By that time, I had been wrestling with things about myself and looking for answers for ten years. He helped to put my missing pieces together. It was refreshing that Jeff understood sexual addiction and recovery, and it gave me new hope.
Forgiving those who had hurt me was difficult. My hurt was deep, and it wasn’t easy to forgive those who had cut my heart. This was my first big issue Jeff dealt with. It was difficult to get past the anger and pain to address the real issue. Getting in touch with my feelings and thoughts was a process as we went through listing the offender/the offense/ how that made me feel, and then speaking out forgiveness. The ones that were real issues brought on deep emotional responses.
Near the end of last summer, my then ex-husband gave me Jeff’s name, and I arranged an appointment at IBCC. With Jeff’s help, I learned that the date rape was not my fault. He shared with me scripturally how I had been “defrauded” and how Satan had planted this seed. I was broken to tears, and the weight put on that 15 year-old girl was lifted from this now 48 year-old woman. I was free! Through continuing study on who I am in Christ, I now believe that I have value and worth and will never, ever be rejected by Him. My past no longer defines me. I am complete; I am free.
Jeff helped me see my primary issues—my view of God as my father and my identity in Christ. I had a wound as a child, and that wound was blocking my relationship with God and distorting my concept of God as a loving father. God has brought me through a process to help me understand that He actually loves me and always has. I was created for relationship with God. Therefore He wants to be with me. This relationship with Him is to be the most satisfying, fulfilling, and intimate relationship I will ever have.
Colossians 2:10 says, “In Him you have been made complete.” The answer for me was finding out that this is really true. All I need and all I am is in this relationship with God. With that as the focus, God has been changing me on the inside. He has been working out my character defects, changing the way I see myself and the way I think, and teaching me how to have a real relationship with Him, my wife, our kids, and others. Understanding that I am complete in Him, and that He is my father that loves me, has given me the ability to say no to my addiction. The emptiness that I was trying to fill with the addiction has been filled with God and my relationship with Him.
As I looked to God and realized that He is the one who satisfies me, I was then ready to have a healthy relationship with my wife for the first time. We remarried in the summer of 2010. With my focus on God instead of my wife or myself, I am free to be myself, to understand unconditional love, and to experience what the Bible calls a “new life in Christ.”
Tracing Marriage Conflicts to Unresolved Childhood Wounds
Our need was great! We were close to divorce, except that, because of our faith, we knew this was not an option. I came to IBCC with my husband, thinking we came to fix him, but only to find out that it was I who needed fixing.
Having been adopted, I struggled with feelings of abandonment. I also came to realize I had built “walls” around my heart that I was not even aware of. These “walls” hindered my relationship with my husband.
God has brought me to freedom. I have come to realize that the people who love me will let me down. But Jesus will never let me down. He will always allow me to “crawl up in His lap and get the comfort that I need.”
- Marriage Oneness Model (READ)
- Resolving Marriage Conflicts (READ, LISTEN)
- The Lord Builds House (LISTEN)
- Ministering to the Heart of Your Wife (READ, LISTEN)
- How Wives Can Bless Their Husbands (READ, LISTEN)
- Developing Marriage Oneness (READ, LISTEN)
- The Lord Builds the House (READ, LISTEN)