Why did you stay? A simple, 4-word question. The answer is more complicated than one could imagine. Why would anyone stay with a sex and porn addict? Through years of betrayals, lies, blame shifting, aggression, being ignored, more “false starts” than a group of 3rd-grade boys on the starting line of a race and a host of dysfunction. Yeah, why WOULD anyone stay? It seems simple. Divorce is fairly simple these days. Start over, a fresh beginning, a new man, one who doesn’t have all this baggage.
That wasn’t in the cards for me. I am not ruling that out, one day I may be there. But as for now. I am staying. So – WHY?
In the beginning, I stayed because I was just as dysfunctional as he was. I may not have been a porn or sex addict but the trauma caused by finding out my marriage was the exact opposite of what I thought it was, brought out every hidden piece of my own dysfunction. The dysfunction buried deep, from my childhood. All the dark stuff I refused to deal with as life moved fast. It all surfaced, like a tornado, turning over everything I knew and who I thought I was. I woke up one day and my sky was literally purple. NOTHING made sense. I genuinely did not know how to function in a world where my Husband had an affair (I didn’t know the rest of the rest for 15 months). Depression and my own long ago dealt with addiction to pills surfaced.
When I started to get a handle on my addiction and got sober again, the depression crept in. Realistically it wasn’t a creep but a mad dash. So, I stayed for his paycheck and the fact that I was barely able to take care of myself, let alone my family. I stayed because on a good day I was lucky to eat a full meal.
Some days I stayed because leaving just felt like too much work. Denial was easier.
Some days I stayed for his health insurance. I have a host of rather intense, long-term health issues, while dormant now, they have the ability to knock me flat on my back any day.
Some days I stayed because I wanted so desperately for our story to be different.
Some days I stayed because he was all I knew.
Some days I stayed because I believed the lies. The promises of change and undying Love seemed so real, despite the actions showing otherwise.
Some days I stayed because he made me believe I was crazy. Like I was exaggerating how bad things were.
Some days I stayed because I thought the affair was MY fault.
Some days I stayed because my kids loved him.
Some days I stayed because focusing on fixing “us” was easier than looking in the mirror at ME.
Most days I stayed because the concept of boundaries was foreign to me.
That was the first 15 moths after I found out he had a 2-year affair. Then I found out about the porn, the other affairs and assorted evils of the like.
Surely THAT would make leaving easier right?
In some ways, it almost did. I did kick him out after this but not right away. Those first six months after the second large hunk of discoveries, my reasons for staying did shift toward a slightly healthier version of reality.
I stayed because I had a name to what was wrong in my world. ADDICTION.
I stayed because I *KNOW* there is redemption, even from the depths of addiction. I know because I have had my own very long stretches of sobriety, totaling 27 years.
I stayed because he started to have bouts of sanity. They never lasted but they were there. I saw traces of the man I married.
I stayed because I didn’t have a job yet and he did still.
I stayed because I found a way to “live” separated, in the same house while I began the enormous task of healing ME.
I stayed because my life was now in complete chaos and I was trying to dig out. The concept of tackling all my issues at once would send me back to the pit of despair, the one I was in when I sat in my car and researched how many of one of my medications it would take to end my life.
After I kicked him out, I didn’t divorce him. Why? Why was I still married to this man? He wasn’t sober, he was still lying and I was finding my way back to my one true love – Christ. I was learning to like ME again and seeing there was a whole world out there, one that didn’t include him.
I stayed because I didn’t feel like God was done with this story yet.
I stayed because while I was getting much better, reacting on emotions was the biggest threat to my own fledgling sobriety.
I stayed because I still saw hints of the man I married at times.
It has now been a year and a half since I kicked him out the last time. Neither of us are the same people we were that day. That is both good and bad, mostly good, though. He is now in a residential, Christian discipleship program (he graduates April 1, 2016) and I have been employed, on the front lines fighting pornography for over a year. He quit his job and gave up all he owned to commit to the program. I was a month away from divorce when I felt God leading me to offer him one more chance with this program. To say he has handled this chance poorly is an understatement. But. He is still there.
I stay because I agreed to see who he was when he graduated.
I stay because he doesn’t live here and we don’t talk anymore, so really I am doing what I would do if we were divorced anyways. I am working on me.
I stay because God hasn’t released me yet.