I don’t want to be different! I want to fit in, be part of the crowd! No, this is not your child talking. It’s me – hitting my fists against a pillow. Resisting, screaming, begging to be normal. So many questions surface: Will I be accepted? Loved? Chosen amidst the difference?
You see, we have a story of broken love.
In a nutshell, my husband chose porn and affairs over me.
Looking back, there were things that predisposed him to these choices. His sexuality was awakened at a young age when he was exposed to pornography. He was lonely and disconnected emotionally from those he loved – so much so that he thought he was a mistake. He started to use his sexuality in order to cope with the negative feelings of life – all in secret and in shame.
By the time we were married, he was living a double life. A life where he appeared to only have eyes for me; but when I wasn’t around, he acted out sexually with other women both online and in the flesh.
It’s been 13 long years of recovery and today our love is mended. Sure, there are scars, but God has given us a second chance on life, on marriage. God has blessed us with three young boys that we desperately don’t want to set up for failure when it comes to sexual integrity.
So when it comes to parenting, we are trying to do life differently. (And I’m kicking and screaming half the time!) Because honestly, sometimes I feel like it’s the kind of different that isn’t even cool. It’s the kind of different that offends others and makes other moms roll their eyes and smile cruelly. I’m going to be really brave here and share a bit about what we are doing different in raising our boys to give them the best shot at a life with sexual integrity. Deep breath …
We are making choices now to help prevent our boys’ sexuality from being awakened too early. An example of this is making sure our boys don’t watch commercials or play video games. The objectification of women in both commercials and in video games is overwhelming. Tight clothing, cleavage and curves are the norm.
We are intentionally trying to prevent our boys from being exposed to pornography. You might be reading this and thinking, “I have a long time before that’s a concern,” but that might not be the case. In a recent survey by the Barna Group, 27 percent of American adults between the ages of 25 to 30 started viewing porn before puberty. A couple of things we are doing in order to combat this: no cell phones or iPads, and computer use only with adult supervision. In addition, we set expectations with other parents before a play date to keep our boys safe; we ask that our boys don’t watch any media while at someone else’s house.
We are working at giving our boys the words and the space to express their emotions. We work at sharing our emotions with our boys and naming what we are feeling. We use mealtimes and bedtimes as an opportunity to engage at an emotional level; talking about what we are experiencing emotionally, socially, physically, intellectually. We also work at honoring each other’s feelings rather than shutting them down. Of course, there is a balance with all of this – just because our son feels frustrated doesn’t mean he can yell, scream and push his brother.
For the sake of our children, I believe it’s important for each of us to honor our unique stories and to feel “normal” to do life differently. It won’t be long before my boys are going to realize how different our family operates. I believe it will be another opportunity for me to grow up just a little bit more alongside my boys; learning to embrace uniqueness, understanding why it’s OK to do life based on our stories, and respecting others for how they choose to live differently.
Read more about Jason’s porn addiction and Shelley’s battle with anorexia in this honest interview. You can also read more from Shelley about how she faced the realization of her husband’s porn use and infidelity, then how she bravely confronted the issue despite fear and uncertainty.
For more resources check out:
Redemptive Living for Women: This is my website where you’ll find a helpful workbook, weekly blog posts and support.
Redemptive Living: My husband Jason’s website where you can find the book he wrote about his journey, free resources for men and more.
Kitchen Convos: This is a series of conversations that my husband, Jason, and I put together to help couples find redemption after betrayal. There is a fee associated with this, but if you choose to participate, we will donate 15% of the proceeds back to MOPS International.
Fight the New Drug: An edgy non-profit that advocates for the fight against porn.
This Christianity Today article shares eye-opening recent stats on porn use in Christian circles.
Shelley Martinkus loves to encourage women and has a special place in her heart for women with a similar story to hers. She is a blogger, speaker and writer. Her first book, Rescued, was released in 2015 and is a guide to help women survive and thrive after sexual betrayal. She is proud to call Denver home where she lives with her husband, Jason and their three young boys. Some of the things that help Shelley survive are comfy pants, running around Wash Park and long talks with Jason after the boys are in bed. You can connect with Shelley at rlforwomen.com.