The Pastor, His Porn, His Bride

I’m a Pastor’s wife. And, as a couple who lead people, we are meant to have it together. What does together even mean? Does anyone know? Can anyone explain it to me? I’m struggling to understand the word or combination of words at all ‘have it together’.

On the contrary, what I do understand is suffering in silence. Dying a little bit every day yet raising my hands on Sunday, smiling at everyone I see and sharing in small talk that washes over me as I do my best to keep it together.

Why do I sound like a frail piece of thin glass? Because that’s exactly what I am. I am a shadow of my formal self and by that, I mean the once vibrant teenage girl who saw the world as something to be explored. I’m the one who wanted to go to the edges of the earth and speak to people about hope, about an everlasting love. I wanted to live out of my backpack and leave my hair unwashed for days. The dirt and soil of foreign countries was what I desired. I felt the call from a deep place within my soul.

So how and why am I this frail version of my young self? It certainly wasn’t through dengue fever caught whilst on a mission serving somewhere my heart longed for. I had become this frail version of myself because…. And it pains me to say it. I got married young.

I was in youth group and was focussed on heading out and embracing the adventure, the wonder and the mess of everything a life on the mission field promised but in my last year of high school, I met the man that everyone thought was the man of my dreams. Don’t get me wrong, he is the man of my dreams but I let my dream go because it was suggested that we marry early as we didn’t want to fall into ‘sin’. By that, I mean having sex before marriage. The big no-no that determined everything.

Now, some 30 years later, I kind of wish we had had sex rather than rush into marriage for the sake of what was piled on us which was purity and shame. And as I consider the last 30 years of life here’s what’s interesting. It seemed that when we started dating it was my purity that was in question. No one wanted me to be tarnished so a quick walk down the aisle was what was best for us.

‘Why wait they said, you’re going to do it anyway so why not just do it now? Who wants a long engagement anyway?’

Oh, if I could turn back time.

My purity was the consideration yet no one seemed interested in talking about the fact that my now husband, our Pastor, was struggling with an addiction to pornography. The answer for him was, ‘get married, it will help, you won’t have to look anywhere else, you’ll have a wife.’ The suggestion for me was, ‘why wait, start enjoying life together.’

30 years on and here I sit, riddled with pain, heartbroken and more alone than I have ever felt because that addiction hasn’t stopped. He hasn’t got help. Oh, he tried the elastic band around his wrist answer and we all know how effective that is. He’s gone through spits and spurts of ‘trying his best to stop’ but alas the images, the webcams keep calling his name and there I sit, Sunday after Sunday. Leaders meeting, morning teas, hospital visits and countless nights alone crying. We live under a cloud of shame. Unmet dreams lost desire and a world apart.

We must start talking about this. The conversation needs to happen for all of our souls.

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