Broken Together: Stories of marriages that work, even if they're broken (based on Casting Crowns' song)How do couples recover from deep wounds?

I recently received this heartbreaking letter:

My husband and I have been married for 4 years. He brought me to God shortly after we started dating and have done everything we can to have a God based marriage. I thought that we could overcome anything. We have gone through being homeless, moving 7 times, job loss, family deaths,marriage classes to make sure we have the tools to overcome obstacles and are currently seeing a counselor to work on our childhood demons together. We are constantly working on improving our marriage in almost everyway. Except for in the bedroom.

I struggle with past sexual abuse. I also grew up in a home where I learned to never love myself and my self worth…well there was none. I thought that my husband understood and was willing to work though it with me. But I have never been able to communicate why because I never fully understood why sex was so hard for me.

The longest we have gone was a month. As of right now it has been over 3 weeks. I have never been able to tell him why. It’s mostly because I never realized that I can’t have sex because I can’t seem to put emotion into it because I’ve put walls up.

I woke up last night to him trying to get me in the mood which sparked a fight at 1am. After sitting quietly and listening to his side about how hard it is for him, I finally felt like I could explain my side (what I had discovered last week).

Before I could tell him; he decided that moment was the time to tell me he had been unfaithful. He had taken 2 separate trips out of town with a friend and had gone by himself to a strip club where he received a lap dance. He explained that he was afraid to tell me and that he was looking for emotion and that he knew that wasn’t the place to find it but did it anyway. He was grasping for the affection and attention that he wasn’t getting from me.

I told him that I had forgiven him but this will be the hardest thing we have to go through. I then expressed how pissed I was.

I love my husband. I love my family. I want us to work. I want to overcome this. But how do you get over something like this? I feel like I contributed to this. Like its somehow my fault. That if I would have been able to get over my own demons that he never would have done this.

We are both seeing the same counselor right now and have been for a few months to try to work through our individual pasts but to do it together. I want to continue seeing him and have him help us through this but does that make me weak for staying?

What a sad story. I’ve written before on how to tackle huge problems in your marriage, and I think that post will help.

But today instead I want to share a story and a song.

A couple that I know has a similar story: she had abuse in her background; he had porn in his. She would withhold sex and affection because she needed to feel in control of everything; he responded by withdrawing, working harder, and, at times, viewing porn.

Over the course of a decade they grew further and further apart. She was sure all the problems were his: he was a gross male with a porn problem. He was sure the problem was hers: she was uptight and walled off and wouldn’t admit it. But they loved their kids. And so they stayed.

And then one day God really got a hold of him. He started to grow spiritually. The porn issue went away. But he realized he couldn’t stay in this marriage unless she got help. He didn’t want a divorce; he wanted them to go to counselling. But she wouldn’t because she was sure there was nothing wrong.

He moved out for a while, and a few months later she started counseling. And when she did, he did, too. And an amazing thing happened.

They both found a huge dose of humility.

They both started owning their problems instead of pointing to other people. They both started in recovery groups. And now he’s moved back in, they’re praying together for the first time in their whole marriage, and they’re serving together in church.

But they’re still in recovery. And that’s okay. They’ve realized they both have childhood issues. They’ve realized they both have addiction tendencies. And they’ve realized it’s better to work on these things together, in honesty.

Because one of the most beautiful things that God does is He helps rebuild broken people. And we are all broken. All of us.

I heard this song, Broken Together, by Casting Crowns a few months ago and I thought it summed up marriage and what God wants to do so beautifully. We have these dreams when we’re children of a knight in shining armour–but it doesn’t always work that way. Life isn’t perfect. But that’s okay. God’s most beautiful work is when things are broken. Broken doesn’t mean a relationship is over; broken means that if you’re both willing to humble yourselves, God can work.

If you’re both broken, remember: It’s okay to be broken together.

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