Q: Vicki, I know that the accounts shared in these pages were not easy for you and the other women to share. Many thanks to all of you for your willingness to be transparent. Why do these stories need to be told?
A: When a woman discovers that her husband is struggling with pornography, the information becomes her secret to bear. This is not something women talk about. As a result, when one does want to share with someone, she doesn’t know who else will understand all that she is feeling. Silence is healing’s greatest enemy. I never wanted to make my story or any other woman’s story the central message of the book. (The central message is about the healing Christ can and will do in her heart, as the Wonderful Counselor.) At the same time, I wanted my readers to know that they aren’t alone and that their feelings are typical. While no two stories are exactly the same, the grieving and recovery processes are similar.
To be honest, I think these stories also need be told because we’ve heard much about the impact pornography has on a man, but not enough about the ramifications on the wife. “A brief survey on the effects of cybersex shows how wives of porn users develop deep psychological wounds, reporting feelings of betrayal, loss, depression, mistrust, devastation, anger, and sexual inadequacy.” (Jennifer P. Schneider. “Effects of Cybersex Addiction on the Family: Results of a Survey,” Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity 7, 2000, Pgs. 31-58. Web. 11 Dec. 2009. <http://www.jenniferschneider.com/articles/cybersex_family.html>.)
Q: I was very encouraged that you addressed the topic of divorce right away in the introduction. So many people seem to have the illusion that divorce will solve all of their marital and familial woes. As a kid who grew up in a broken home, I know that’s not true. Why was it important for you to address this issue right out of the gate?
A: If I was going to write a book based on Truth, then I had to begin by being truthful. My first marriage did not survive pornography. Some issues may make a marriage irreconcilable. A recent study indicated that 56% of divorces today involve at least one of the people having “an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.” That’s the unfortunate reality about the state of our world right now. Obviously, for many people divorce, not restoration, is the outcome. But the truth of the matter is God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16 NIV) and He is all about restoring hearts and marriages (Job 22:23). Because I’ve been in the shoes of the heartbroken woman, I know that more than anything she longs for hope. I want my reader to know that there is another answer besides divorce, and that regardless of how deep her pit of despair feels, God’s hand can reach her.
Q: Throughout the book you speak of four levels of sexual addiction. Sadly, nearly every man I know has struggled with level I (lust, fantasy, masturbation, and pornography) at some point in their life. As you mention in the book, mainstream society largely considers this “acceptable” and I would say even encourages it. I know that many women just look the other way when they discover that their significant other is operating in that first level of sexual addiction. After all, boys will be boys. Why should this be taken very seriously?
A: Shaun, you are so right about this. Just as you have experienced, of the 25 women who shared their stories with me, all of their husbands started at level 1 (described above), but I was shocked to discover that 25% of those ended up at level 4, which is characterized by violent criminal behavior including sexual assault, rape, and child molestation. Level 1 pornography is the entry level just as alcohol is a gateway to stronger, more dangerous substances.
Let’s be honest, pornography is a counterfeit sexual experience that damages healthy relationships as God intended for us to enjoy. Porn decreases a man’s interest in real relationships and increases his hunger for more porn. The likelihood of physical marital infidelity increases by 300% and greater than 50% of men involved in cybersex eventually lose interest in true intimacy with their wife. (Statistics from www.fightthenewdrug.org) It’s naive to think that his porn addiction isn’t hurting anyone but him. His wife concludes that she is not beautiful, competent, sufficient, desirable, worthy … the list goes on.
A man who stays at level 1 is still defiling his marriage bed if he lusts after even one woman other than his wife and then engages in self-gratification. For many women, a husband’s pornography addiction may be more painful than an actual physical affair. Consider how ludicrous it would be to say, “I only sleep with other women a couple times a week,” yet somehow it’s “acceptable” for a woman to find her husband in the arms of countless computer-enhanced women numerous times a week. Society would suggest that men looking at porn on the Internet is the new national pastime.
The good guys struggle with the issue, all the rest just do it. We need to fight for the good guys who choose to honor their marriage covenants and their wives.
Q: I really liked the layout of the book and appreciated that readers are encouraged to work through each theme one week at a time. Between this format and the questions throughout, it seems that you are intentionally trying to get your readers to slow down and internalize what they’re reading. Do you feel readers will get more out of the book if they take it in at a slower pace?
A: The simple answer is “yes,” but I was intentional about why I wrote the book this way. At one time or another, most of us walk a soggy painful path. In When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography, though I don’t use this analogy, I lead women down the healing path of Emmaus. Many people might not know that Emmaus means “warm springs,” and warm springs have long been heralded as a place of healing. I set the book up to create an opportunity for guided discovery, much like the two men on the road to Emmaus experienced.
- I ask her to slow down and fix her thoughts on Him. He will catch up to her in the pages of the book that are saturated with His Word. (I assure her that He walks with her whether she acknowledges Him or not.)
- I ask her to listen to what He’s telling her through His Word and in her stillness– even the gentle rebukes .
- I remind her that when the destination/healing seems to be near, she’s going to want more time with him, so she should invite Him to stay. (He’d never refuse an invitation from His daughter.)
- Finally, when He reveals Himself to her anew, I encourage her to bask in His presence and acknowledge His care for her.
My hope is, that by breaking the book into day/week sections rather than chapters, it will encourage the reader to slow down and really consider what Christ (the Wonderful Counselor) is saying to her. Taking time to apply the questions to her personal life, and writing out the work that is being done in her onto the pages of the book will substantially enhance the healing process.
Q: What are the top two things you hope readers will take away when they finish reading your book?
A: More than anything I want my reader to be assured that her husband’s addiction is absolutely not her fault, regardless of anything she may have been told to the contrary. It has nothing to do with her appearance, her performance,or her availability. She can’t control her husband’s choices, nor can she do anything to fix this for him, other than working with Christ and a couselor on her own damaged heart.
I also want her to know that Jesus can and will take the broken pieces of her heart and make something beautiful of it. Psalm 147:3 assures us that “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography is saturated in His Word because it is through His Word that she will learn to trust and hope again.
Q: Let me close with a final question I ask of all published authors. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
A: Write. I have so many people tell me they want to write, but when I ask what they’ve written, they can’t really say. Figure out your niche, find your audience, then get started. Maybe you will start small with articles for the church newsletter, then build to a blog or a guest column in the newspaper. My first published pieces were for devotionals to which I was a contributing author. They were super short, but seeing my pieces published in a book gave me the confidence I needed to tackle larger things. I jumped right into writing books, some of which will never see the light of day (and for that we can both be grateful)! The bottom line though is that you have to park yourself in that computer chair, get your hands on the keyboard, and write.
Read. Be a voracious reader and take notes. I have a running list of “words I like.” They are words, phrases, analogies that tickle my fancy. I write them in my iPhone and wait for the perfect place to use them. The wider read I am, the more ideas I have percolating for my next project.
Pray. I truly ask God to help me represent Him well no matter what I’m writing. I don’t think you can go wrong if you do that every time you sit down to write. While you’re at it, you can pray that He will put whatever you’re writing into the hands of those who need it most. For the last three years, that’s been my daily prayer for When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography.
Books by Vicki Tiede:
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