When Your Days Are Not So Nice



So many times, we go about our day and those we come in contact with wish us a nice day. Seems typical, right? You run into the grocery store to grab a gallon of milk because your toddler who is in the “”I do it” stage spills the entire jug on the floor. You go through the self-checkout, because you don’t want to interact with the checker, but of course, your adorable little cherub places his hand on the contraption that weighs what you have scanned and the checkout glitches and you have to call the checker over to reset the scanner. The checker or customer service representative – whatever they call checkers these days, says, “Have a nice day.”  What if a woman discovered her husbands’ sexual betrayal that morning? For that matter, even if it has been a month, or maybe 6 months since discovery, it is not all right. She is not having a nice day, she did not have a nice yesterday and she doesn’t see change for tomorrow. She is in deep pain, yet she must go about her day. She gets up, gets her kids ready for school, drops them off, does her errands, cleans her house, picks her kids up, and helps with homework, makes dinner and then does it all over again. She has to hold it together for the family, so she stuffs her feelings. She is in painful turmoil all of the time. Her friends know something is up, but they are afraid to ask. Likely because they have their issues they are dealing with also. So many women we come in contact with on a day to day basis are effected by sexual betrayal. One thing that will help is to break the silence. While we want to be careful who we tell, it is important to be vulnerable and authentic with a few people. When we share with a few people the power of our story begins to break down. We need a therapist who is experienced in sexual betrayal (see www.iitap.com for a list of qualified therapists in your area), a safe support group (see http://www.prodigalsinternational.org/find-a-group.html) and we need trusted friends to support us and help us through this time.




The term gaslighting was coined by Florence Rush in her book on child sex abuse in 1980. The term originated from George Cukor’s 1944 movie Gaslight staring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer. Florence writes, “Even today the word [gaslighting] is used to describe an attempt to destroy another’s sense of reality.”

Clinical work around the concept of gaslighting as part of betrayal trauma is derived from Omar Minwalla, Jerry Goodman, and Sylvia Jackson MFT.

The plot of the movie is a husband (Boyer) who is stealing his wife’s (Bergman) family heirloom jewelry and money from the attic of the house. When he goes into the attic, he begins to dim the lights, powered by gas, of course. When she questions the dimming lights, he insists she is imagining that. He continues to manipulate small elements in her environment until she and others begin to believe she is becoming insane. While this seems like an eccentric plot, this deception happens often in psychological abusive homes. Oftentimes, men who are involved in sexual betrayal, will gaslight in order to cover up their activities and make their wife believe that they are the problem and therefore emotionally unstable. I believe at times husbands aren’t even aware that they are doing it. They can be so sick (and stuck) in their addiction that even this manipulation has become a pattern.

So, what does gaslighting look like in a relationship with an addict? For the purpose of this article, we are discussing a male addict and his wife. You could be the husband reading this and your wife is a sex and/or love addict and you are experiencing gaslighting from her. Or, maybe you are a girlfriend or fiancé of an addict. Whatever your experience, you may be able to relate to some of these activities in your own life.

A person who is gaslighting manipulates other people so that he does not look bad. He may manipulate a situation so that his wife will think everything is normal. Often, the wife will begin to second-guess herself. “Maybe there is something wrong with me that I can’t seem to fix dinner and get everything on the table at the right time.” She might begin to think she is confused, crazy or overly sensitive. She may find herself hopeless, without joy, unhappy, maybe even depressed. Oftentimes, women begin to make excuses for her husband or else she may withhold information in order to make him not look bad. Overall, she likely knows something is wrong, but she is unable to put her finger on the problem.

She gets to the point of believing that she can’t please her husband when there are circumstances out of her control, yet she knows that he has expectations. Although her desire is to please her husband, there are times she needs to stand up for herself and ask him to take care of some of the to do list. One woman shared this: “There was a time when I felt my husband would be angry if I forgot something on the shopping list. What he didn’t understand was, shopping with 4 little kids in tow was a challenge and I as much as society and even my church told me I was supposed to be super-mom, I could not do it all. When he began doing some of the shopping and picked up Cashew Salty and Sweet bars instead of Peanut, or forgot my lemons or tomatoes for dinner, he realized shopping was difficult even without the kids.”

If this sounds like something you might be dealing with, I would urge you to explore this further with a therapist who understands the concept of gaslighting. A therapist can help you to stand up for yourself and see things as they really are rather than what another wants us to believe.

The Promise Found in a Rainbow



Fall RainbowThis has been a particularly difficult week. While the weather has been unusually warm despite the cloudy skies, there has not been the typical fall rain. As I drove to exercise class, I cried out to God to show me how we were going to get through this challenge. I drove into the parking lot and sat in the car for a few minutes. When I grabbed my gear and looked toward the west, there was a beautiful Fall Maple tree with brilliant orange leaves and a rainbow coming out from behind it. It was a beautiful sight, but more importantly, it was there for me. Rainbows have long been a sign of promise since God sent the rainbow after the flood. Today, this was for me, a promise that God has this situation, He is in control and has me and my family in His care. That I can rest in his care of my family and I can have hope.

The Unintended Journey


Mountain TrailThe Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies was released in theaters in December, 2014. I remember well the release of The Hobbit: The Unintended Journey, in December, 2012. My teens went to the midnight showing of the long anticipated movie. I began to think about how many of us are on or have taken an unintended journey. Not the exciting journey where we anticipate the adventures around the next corner, but rather the one where we fear what is around the bend.

Many women are attempting to navigate the uncertainty of this unintended journey. This journey is full of pain and loss and it can be void of any hope for the future. Whether your husband is viewing pornography or has had an affair, your life is not what was, or what you expected it to be. You are on the unintended journey.

This journey doesn’t have to be one void of hope. My own unintended journey began in 1998 with the revelation that my husband was addicted to internet porn. I likened my journey to climbing a mountain. As I navigated the precipices and valleys, I had to often stop and catch my breath, checking my course against God’s Word, conferring with others and reading books. I needed to learn as much as I could about sexual addiction and what that meant for me and my family. I scoured the Bible for God’s truths and any hope that I could hold on to. I counseled with a qualified, understanding therapist and joined a support group so that I could drain my pain on a weekly basis.

As I reached the pinnacle of my mountain climb and could begin to see the other side, I continued my journey of seeking counsel and looking for that long term hope for my marriage and my life. Once I pulled out of my depression and despair, I was able to focus on what God’s intention for this journey was. Through a very difficult recovery, I began to see that I had areas that God needed to change and refine in me. Although my journey started alone, I invited others to join me in my journey. After 2 years of climbing the mountains and valleys, I was able to forgive my husband and we began our journey together. God restored our marriage to better than it was before my husband’s confession.

In 2001, God was working in my heart to help carry other women in their journey. This started in 1996 or 1997 as I was attending a Bible study at Westminster Chapel, going through the study, Experiencing God. In it, Henry Blackaby encourages us to “look for what God is doing and join Him in his work” and to “do a God-sized thing.” Working with women, encouraging them and helping them to navigate this difficult journey of betrayal was exactly what God was calling me to do.

Along with 4 or 5 other women, I helped start a support group for women through Prodigals International. In 2003, I was asked to join the Prodigals International board of directors and became the women’s director for the ministry. In 2005, I started another support group on Mercer Island, and facilitate that group to this day. In addition, I oversee the women’s groups in Tacoma, Mill Creek and Calgary, Canada. Along with an amazing team of women, I organize an annual women’s conference designed for women who have experienced or are experiencing betrayal in their marriage to come together to learn and find hope that their marriage can be restored or in the cases of those whose marriages don’t make it because of denial or abuse by their husbands, they can learn to be whole and enough in their singleness.

If you are finding yourself on this unintended journey, I would encourage you to seek help. Search for a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) at www.sexhelp.com/sex-addiction-help/sexc-addiction-help/sex-addiction-therapist. Check out www.prodigalsinternational.org.

Call some of the large churches in your area and ask about sex addiction support groups for partners in your area. In any case, find help from a qualified person.

There is so much poor information circling around, it is imperative that you are receiving correct information. You want to make sure that your map for this journey is current and correct. If it is not, you will travel the wrong direction or become lost completely. If you need help, check out our website at www.prodigalsinternational.org.

An Open Letter to My Porn Watching Dad


Dear Dad,

I want to let you know first of all that I love you and forgive you for what this has done in my life. I also wanted to let you know exactly what your porn use has done to my life. You may think that this effects only you, or even your and mom’s relationships. But it has had a profound impact on me and all of my siblings as well.

I found your porn on the computer somewhere around the age of 12 or so, just when I was starting to become a young woman. First of all, it seemed very hypocritical to me that you were trying to teach me the value of what to let into my mind in terms of movies, yet here you were entertaining your mind with this junk on a regular basis. Your talks to me about being careful with what I watched meant virtually nothing.

Because of pornography, I was aware that mom was not the only woman you were looking at. I became acutely aware of your wandering eye when we were out and about. This taught me that all men have a wandering eye and can’t be trusted. I learned to distrust and even dislike men for the way they perceived women in this way.

As far as modesty goes, you tried to talk with me about how my dress affects those around me and how I should value myself for what I am on the inside. Your actions however told me that I would only ever truly be beautiful and accepted if I looked like the women on magazine covers or in porn. Your talks with me meant nothing and in fact, just made me angry

As I grew older, I only had this message reinforced by the culture we live in. That beauty is something that can only be achieved if you look like “them”. I also learned to trust you less and less as what you told me didn’t line up with what you did. I wondered more and more if I would ever find a man who would accept me and love me for me and not just a pretty face.

When I had friends over, I wondered how you perceived them. Did you see them as my friends, or did you see them as a pretty face in one of your fantasies? No girl should ever have to wonder that about the man who is supposed to be protecting her and other women in her life.

I did meet a man. One of the first things I asked him about was his struggle with pornography. I’m thankful to God that it is something that hasn’t had a grip on his life. We still have had struggles because of the deep-rooted distrust in my heart for men. Yes, your porn watching has affected my relationship with my husband years later.

If I could tell you one thing, it would be this: Porn didn’t just affect your life; it affected everyone around you in ways I don’t think you can ever realize. It still affects me to this day as I realize the hold that it has on our society. I dread the day when I have to talk with my sweet little boy about pornography and its far-reaching greedy hands. When I tell him about how pornography, like most sins, affects far more than just us.

Like, I said, I have forgiven you. I am so thankful for the work that God has done in my life in this area. It is an area that I still struggle with from time to time, but I am thankful for God’s grace and also my husband’s. I do pray that you are past this and that the many men who struggle with this will have their eyes opened.

Love, Your Daughter

*This has been posted anonymously due to the nature of the topic.*

This article has been reposted from:

My Marriage as I Knew It Was Over


First glance at that title, and you are likely thinking this blog post is going to be very negative. In actuality, I can look back and view that day of discovery and thank God. I thank him not for restoring my marriage, but for building a new marriage and molding both my husband and I into adults who understood pain, loss, addiction and a life fully leaning on Him  Don’t get me wrong, it was an extremely difficult time of growth. For about 3 or 4 years, I was in great emotional pain, and couldn’t imagine what God would do with this mess of a man and his wife. Would I do things differently? I certainly would, but isn’t it easy to look back on our life with 20/20 vision? I didn’t have the knowledge or the tools that I possess now.

My story of redemption began in 1996 when I walked in on my husband searching for pornography on the computer. Through confrontation and setting difficult boundaries, he began the arduous journey of recovery. This set me on my own journey trying to find my place in all of this. The first thing I had to grasp hold of was it was not my fault. There was nothing I said or did to cause him to go down that path. If this is an issue that has touched your life and marriage, please connect with this: it is not your fault.

There were so many days of self-doubt and wonder. I wondered what I could have done differently. If only I was prettier, smarter, skinnier. If only I had worked harder around the house. My life was filled with “if only’s.” But in actuality, none of that mattered. My husband had a hole in his soul that he was attempting to fill with air-brushed images that I could never live up to.

His recovery consisted of therapy by a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, a therapy group, an SA group and an accountability group. He was gone most evenings and some early mornings. But, other than having to care for four children, ages 6 and under, I didn’t care. At that point, I didn’t know if I would be a single parent or not.

My thoughts and attitude didn’t begin to change until I started in recovery. I needed to get myself grounded. I sought a therapist and while she boosted my self-esteem, she wasn’t helping me deal with my feelings about my husband. I changed therapists to one who had dealt with the issue of infidelity personally. This made all the difference. She knew what I saying, she understood me and could empathize with me. Now, as I was seeking recovery through therapy and a support group, I was able to better deal with this hippopotamus in the living room. In time I helped this therapist start a support group which has since  turned into a 12 step group where we can offer support for women just finding out about their husband’s issues and step work for those who are further along in their journey.

If you are going through your own struggle with your husband due to his internet pornography use or affairs, I pray that you will find compassion and support through the writings on this blog. If you need immediate help finding a therapist who is experienced in what you are dealing with check out http://www.iitap.com and click on the Find a Therapist banner for a list of qualified therapists in your area.