“Who’s that in my bed next to me?”
Mountain Haven Newsletter- January 2015
Sometimes you find yourself laying next to that person you married feeling like you don’t even know them. It is interesting. In marriage we share so many intimate activities. We see each other without clothes on- getting changed in the walk in closet, getting in and out of a shower, we sometimes share in seeing the the birth of a child, we may pray together, we hear the disgruntled whispers our spouse may feel towards a situation, we eat together, plan together, dream together, vacation together, raise kids together, spend money together… whatever the activity, when we marry we vow to intertwine our body, mind and soul with another living person. That feels like heavy stuff to me, two becoming one. What a mystery.
There are many things that interfere with oneness- secrets, deception, anger, unforgiveness, ongoing habits that won’t change, sexual activities with another person, and the list can go on and on. There are two related areas I want to focus on in this newsletter. The area of sexual violation against the marriage specifically as it is related to pornography, and the impact of sexual trauma on the love life, and intimate connection, of a marriage. These are tough issues to talk about but they are prevalent in the destruction of many marriages.
DISCLAIMER: ***WE recognize and know that men are also victims of sexual trauma and that women may also have issues with sexual addiction but for the purposes of this newsletter we refer to women as the victim but this does not preclude the reverse being true.
Sexual violation comes in many forms, a straying eye, extramarital affairs, withholding sexual intimacy, but the one we will focus on here is pornography. It is pervasive because it is readily available. It is shameful and ugly, not only for how it objectifies women but how it has the power to hook the eye of the viewer through brain chemistry changes, desensitization to imagery that would otherwise be mortifying to watch, and the immediate gratification the act of watching can often provide. However which cannot be duplicated in every intimate interlude with ones spouse. It creates an alter identity where the viewer can indulge their most lustful thoughts and desires without the other person interfering. It is the great divider of people, as well as the great multiplier of desires. There are a myriad of books written about helping with the addiction of pornography. There are self-help groups and even the church is starting to talk about it more openly.
We have found in ministering to couples, that if a man is struggling to be free from this addiction usually the wife is afraid to confront the reality of the pornography. There seems to be a few common responses. Either the wife engages in the pornographic indulgence in order to “keep it in the home” and liberate her husband from his secret. This seems to backfire because both persons in the marriage allow themselves to be defiled and ultimately the appetites awakened through watching porn together cannot be satisfied. Also men typically have a more physical response to pornographic images while women tend not to have the same physical responsiveness. Another common response is to rage against the person addicted or struggling. Judging their behaviors as sick, twisted and gross. Staying angry and resentful becomes commonplace and withholding sexual connection is typically how that anger plays out. It is an ongoing circle of defeat where neither person is living honestly or intentionally towards freedom or connection in their marriage. Anger breeds contempt which breeds acting out which breeds anger which breeds contempt and so on..
The last response seems to be to just hide ones head in the sand. Ignore the problem and it will go away. This does not seem to be intentional, it appears often to be an indoctrinated, almost religious, reaction of wives to submit to their husband and not rock the boat and be a loving wife. This seems to create a hamster in a cage type of affect. The wife can feel trapped by her “obligation” to love and stay and serve her husband faithfully so she spins her wheels doing that, but the secret is never revealed or brought into the light where the person doing it can receive accountability, freedom and truth. The relationship is not authentic but it appears spiritual and good.
The ultimate response to this addiction or trap is to make it ok to talk about it. Yes, it is a sin like many other sins so God’s love doesn’t change towards the person offending. The issue becomes the ramification of the choice to continue in it. It is destructive to the created psyche of man that was designed to love, nurture, protect and live with his wife in an understanding way. The images depicted are not meant to connect a husband to his wife but to connect the man to himself and his lusts and wants. This creates a deeper level of selfishness that hungers for more, and can never get enough-not just sexually but in many areas. The wife can feel that pressure ‘to be enough’ in many areas that are not just sexually related. This is why this particular addiction or weakness requires such strong accountability like no internet, polygraphs if necessary, group support, an honest inventory of the images and activities engaged in, and therapy; to name a few. Forgiveness is ongoing in the marriage, its not just a one time thing in areas of sexual addiction or struggle. Some people are miraculously set free from any desire to engage in it; but often it a slow road. A road where the spouse must be actively, honestly and intentionally brought into the journey or the two cannot become one. Consider your life, your struggles and have the courage to step out in faith to share this struggle with someone you trust if you are in the middle of this battle. Honest revelation is a beginning.
The next area to explore is the area of sexual trauma and how it can affect the intimacy of a marriage. I just completed a curriculum for my sexual abuse survivors group called “ “Reclaiming Hope.” This curriculum is used in conjunction with a 16-week support group for survivors of sexual abuse or trauma. The victim of sexual trauma can be the man or the woman because sexual trauma is so prevalent. The new statistics about sexual abuse often state 1 in 3 have been sexually assaulted on some level. That is a horrifying statistic but we see at Mountain Haven that it is holding true for what we do. Sexual trauma like incest, stranger abuse, rape- date rape, stranger rape, spousal rape, fondling, witnessing sexually inappropriate activities or even just verbal sexual assault all have the power to create lack of unity and discord in the marriage relationship.
The first thing again is to be honest. Disclosure is the first step to freedom. Telling is powerful because it helps release the pain and let the shame start to go. It is a process whereby a person tells the narrative in a safe environment. Acceptance, empathy, grief and compassion reshape the story, and help connect the survivor to other healthier reactions to their story. So rather then believing the lie that they are the victim, or it is their fault, or they are disgusting- they see themselves as they are. Strong, a survivor, not alone, courageous, and ready to face life. Through support, people that have been sexually violated, or traumatized can learn to feel safe with others and with themselves. Through talking about it the shame can lift and they can express doubts about where God was and why people hurt each other. From there, the spouse or partner can be drawn into the conversation to build strategies and ideas for support for the survivor. All the areas that have been affected by the trauma such as sexual relationships, defense mechanisms, shame identity, and belief systems can be brought to the surface and discussed deeply.
Sexual pornography addiction, trauma and abuse do not have to destroy a person but understanding their impact on a deeper level and helping your spouse unpack the pain and recognize their coping mechanisms can bring healing, wholeness and unity. The person laying next to you can be known on a deeper level and the complexity of becoming one can be less complex when embraced by the truth about trauma, abuse or addiction. Dare to take the step today.
Join the effort to impart hope to people all over the world that need healing
Healing takes time, effort and compassion. We have been blessed to walk with many through their raw pain and see them come out on the other end stronger and braver. God has been good.
Pray about how to support this effort. Give at www.mountainhavenmarriageministry.com or mail a tax-deductible donation to 1160 Diamond Back Trail Canon City, CO 81212. Stay in touch with praise or prayer requests as well. Thank you and we love you!
MINISTRY AT A GLANCE
Financials: Monthly Revenue Required: $3,800.00 and Monthly Revenue Received: $12,819.00 Remaining Need: $0 Praise God for an incredible end of year for 2014!!
Something Interesting or Unique that happened last month: 1.) Kevin spoke with a manufacturer of wood boilers and the gentleman was kind enough to give us the plans and specs so that Kevin can build the wood boiler for us! 2.) Kevin built a snow plow for our skid skeer to make snow clean up even easier on the ranch.
Top Praise of the Month: We’re so blessed with real heat from the Outdoor Wood Boiler that Kevin Built. It has mad life in the winter so much easier, and we are so grateful all those who helped us financially make this happen.
Top Prayer Requests: 1.) We are still in need of more monthly support. If only 20 people could give $50.00 a month we could support Mountain Haven and start to be more consistent on the income we give ourselves from service to Mountain Haven. Please pray about partnering with us. 2.) Please pray that the couples and individuals we are seeing would continue to persevere through the trials they are going through. 3.) Please pray specifically for couples in need of true intimacy in their marriages. We are seeing so many hurting in this area that need true healing.
Looking Ahead: 1.) We already have an intensive and a refuel weekend set up for the next couple months. Please pray for continued wisdom for Chris and I as we walk along side couples in their pain and healing.
Thank you to all of our faithful supporters for the year 2014. If you are looking for a ministry to support as we came to the end of 2014, or for the 2015 year please consider Mountain Haven.
It has been an unbelievable year. We have been blessed to minister to couples, families, children and individuals. We have almost completed the ministry home, completed 5 groups, and are looking forward to an even busier year next year. God has been good.
Pray about how to support this effort. Give at DONATE or mail a tax-deductible donation to 1160 Diamond Back Trail Canon City, CO 81212. Stay in touch with praise or prayer requests as well. Thank you and we love you!