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January Flashback: Originally published on FC, July 2014
No one is ever ready for this to happen. We can’t even entertain the possibility it could happen. It sounds like a story out of a seedy gossip magazine, not real life, right?
Unfortunately, the below scenario did happen to a close friend of mine—We’ll call her Kate.
She was home from work with bronchitis on a spring day in 2012. Thankfully, her mom was taking care of her two small children while she tried to nurse herself back to health.
A family friend called her that afternoon and said, “I saw something weird today on the Internet, and I think you need to see it.” Not long after, Kate was staring at a craigslist ad posted by a man soliciting for free sex. He offered a no-strings-attached romp on Thursday afternoon. Next to the ad was a photo of someone whom she immediately recognized: her husband. It was unmistakable. Attached to the ad was a selfie her husband had taken in his truck, wearing a recently purchased shirt indicating that the ad was placed during the previous two weeks. At that moment, the world stopped spinning on its axle. Everything came to a grinding halt. Even her breathing seemed to stop as the bottom seemed to fall out from under Kate’s feet.
Kate’s next thought was, “How is this possible?????” Shock washed over her. She kept trying to make sense of what she was seeing. Her brain was in a loop as she kept wondering how 1 + 1 could equal something other than 2.
When her husband returned a couple of hours later from work, Kate shoved the ad in front of his face and said, “What is this?” He denied that he had placed the ad saying that it must have been a sick joke by one of his co-workers. The conversation became a game of “he said/she said” when Kate was unable to prove what seemed to be obvious.Her husband had not included his name, email address, or his known phone numbers in the ad.
The questions loomed large, and Kate slowly slipped into a depression as the days ticked by. During this time she recalled several warning signs that might have portended this awful moment or at least suggested that something was gravely wrong in their marriage. But how could she know for sure what her gut was telling her?
As Kate tried to figure out what to do, her husband’s behavior appeared more and more guilty. He now had passcodes installed on his phones and computer, he acted nervously, and seemed to perpetually look like a “dear in the headlights.” He would get up in the middle of the night, and she would realize he wasn’t going to the bathroom or grabbing a glass of water, he was texting someone.
Kate kicked her husband out of the house.
Although she knew deep down that something was massively wrong, she really needed to prove it. Kate’s brother, a computer technician, came over to the house and was able to break the code and access her husband’s two hard drives. One contained family pictures and the other had been largely wiped out by her husband—possibly in anticipation she might check his devices. However, they were able—by the grace of God—to recover one email. And it turns out, this was all they needed: That was the email that broke the camel’s back.
The email indicated that Kate’s husband had been a member of an online sex club since August 2008.
He was one of many “johns” that rated the prostitutes they had slept with online. The higher the rating, the more the girls were able to charge for their services. The men were what you might call the “upper crust” of society. They were lawyers, businessmen, dentists, physicians, etc. Based on this information, Kate and her brother were able to gain access to her husband’s account on the illicit site. When they accessed his account and Kate read his messages–the words her husband had used, the language he communicated with, the topics of his conversations, and the things he was allegedly doing–she thought, “Who is this person?”
Finally, Kate had the proof she needed to know that she was not crazy.
Her husband had been leading a double life: During the same period in which Kate and her husband were holding Bible study courses in their home and she was bearing their children, he was addicted to pornography and having sex with strangers. He met women during the day when he was supposed to be at work or on his way home from work—even carrying out some of his activities with two child safety seats in the vehicle. Even worse, he had subjected his wife and kids to numerous risks by sleeping with at least 10 prostitutes and an unknown number of strangers over a four-year period, which meant that Kate now had to get tested for AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Not a place any of us would like to find ourselves in.
The Warning Signs and a Strong Intuition
Kate now realized why they never seemed to have enough money. Her husband managed the finances, so was able to hide the fact that instead of taking his wife out to dinner or purchasing needed items for the new baby, he was liaising with expensive prostitutes.
The warning signs stood out like sore thumbs: The lack of intimacy in their marriage, the hours spent on the computer, the shifty behavior, the lack of emotional support when the babies were born or when Kate’s father passed away, the feelings of perpetual loneliness Kate felt in response to her husband’s distracted and detached nature, etc.
But one factor stood out as the biggest warning sign of all: Kate had a very strong intuition that she should not marry this guy. Her intuition appeared to have been triggered by her fiance’s behavior when one of his friends offered to throw him a bachelor’s party with a prostitute. It was the nature of his reaction to this activity that threw her into a tailspin and made her wonder whether the marriage should proceed. Sure, a lot of guys do that kind of thing, but something felt very wrong.
Kate’s gut knew what her consciousness couldn’t quite grasp. Her guttural response to this event is still beyond words, but deep down inside her spirit, Kate knew there was a problem. She just didn’t know exactly what it was. In any case, against her better judgment, Kate married her fiance after dating for more than five years.
Great Honeymoon – Then It All Fell Apart
Kate says that the honeymoon was great, but things started going poorly soon thereafter. Her husband seemed to regress from life and find solace in his own little hole. She eventually found pornographic pictures on his computer which may or may not have been the beginning of his issues. When Kate confronted him and told him that she sensed a real lack of intimacy in their relationships, he would repeatedly tell her that she was imagining things. He minimized her feelings, withdrew from her, communicated less, etc. Kate felt like she was crazy, but kept working hard to save the marriage and fix what was broken. This one-sided nature of the relationship had such a profound impact on Kate, she had to check herself into a short-term facility to deal with strong feelings of depression.
It Doesn’t Have to Destroy You
After Kate discovered the terrible truth about her husband, she had to deal with the heart-rending fall-out which occurs after a life-changing event.
She still wrestles with the “why” as her former husband does not seem to grasp the extent of the pain he has caused or the damage he has done. He admitted that he married her “to try to feel normal,” but says very little about the roots of his addiction or the causes of his behavior. Kate thinks there may be a lot more to the story—possibly even dating back to his childhood–and she may never know or understand. Regardless of her husband’s inability to acknowledge the suffering he has caused because of his addictions, Kate knew she had to move on.
Thank God, Kate is doing well—so well that she was enthused to share her story. That says a lot about how far she has come in her healing. It’s been a long, tough road, but she and her children are making it. And I am certain they will come out of this stronger than ever. I think she is one brave lady, and I am exceedingly proud of her. She didn’t allow this tragedy to destroy her. She has a fighting spirit and a resilience that she attributes to her strong faith in God and support of her family. She has fought her way back from the brink, and wants to share her story in order to help others who may be struggling with similar situations.
Here are the lessons she wishes to impart to our readers:
- Listen to your instincts as a woman. They are invaluable.
- Lean on God for strength, hope, and protection.
- Understand that it is not your fault.
- Kate tried to control and manage the deficiencies in her marriage for 12 years and God showed her that ultimately, it was beyond her control. She was not powerful, but God is. This realization was key in breaking Kate, and it enabled her to begin the process of healing.
If You Are Dealing With a Similar Situation
If you are facing a similar situation, please know that you are NOT alone. You do not have to suffer in silence or feel shamed by what has happened. It is not your fault and does not reflect on you as a woman, wife or person. Unfortunately, Kate has met many women who have endured a similar tragedy, so this is a much larger problem than our society has acknowledged. As women, we need the help of our families, friends, and knowledgeable therapists to get through it, but there is healing and restoration on the other side.