09 May 2012

Refiners Fire

**Just a note, while I appreciate the well-wishes about our weekend away I want to say a couple things. 

1.  We had a good time, but our weekend wasn't without it's frustrating moments.  Ladies, taking sex out of a relationship doesn't take away the problems.  And as lovely as it sounds to have a romantic getaway without sex, for most of us there are so many complicated under-lying issues that while it was much needed it wasn't perfect.  To be honest, it was an opportunity to peel away some more layers of hurt and disappointment.  It all turned out well, and we both learned a lot, but the grass isn't always greener on the other side, eh?

2. The human part of each of us probably gets some satisfaction in hearing that someone else is jealous of us.  But a little humility and a good taste of reality have taught me that none of us have it all.  I will once again defer to someone else's wisdom.  This time it is Mara, and I loved this post she wrote because I am so guilty of falling into that trap.  She says this: "Coveting and envy is the energy of ignoring whatever it is that you have."   Once again, the grass is greener ... blah blah blah. 

Okay, having put that business behind me, I'll write what I really want to write about. 

On our way home, Pete and I were speculating about the types of relationships other couples have.  Do they have deep resentments and disappointments about their marriage?  Do they discuss them? Do they know how to fix them? 

I've been thinking a lot about this as I do my 4th Step inventory.  Obviously many people are blessed with guidance, wisdom and seek learning without having to go through the 12-step program.  But there are also many people out there who are unhappy and don't know how to change it, who are living with addicts and don't know where to turn or how to heal.  And I'm not just talking about addiction, but other trials as well. 

I know many of us have already made the point that it is easy to blame all our troubles on the addiction.  But truthfully, Pete and I had issues with intimacy and other things before the addiction even became established, in fact some of his resentments were the root of his bad choices.   And yet, until this addiction made our lives unmanagable we did little or nothing to address our unhappiness.  We probably thought we were trying, but not with the desperation that motivates us now. 

So I'm left to believe, that for us, and many other couples, without coming to terms with this addiction we would have continued on in a mediocre marriage.  And to me this is the meaning behind the phrase "you can't know the sweet until you've tasted the bitter."  Isn't it true then? That we can find gratitude for our trials, because before them we lacked the desire and/or capability to TRULY find meaning and joy in life?  

I know this isn't true for everyone.  Some choice individuals are blessed to have good priorities, daily gratitude, and endless charity without suffering.  But I know, without a doubt, I am not one of those choice individuals.  

What do you think?


  1. I have to remember, every one has trials they may different than mine but they are still there. My mother used to say "If everyone put there challenges in a paper. Put them on a table and then everyone could pick any bag, I promise you would pick up your own bag. And if you didn't you will wish you would had." And this coming from a woman with health problem to numerous to count.

  2. I love this. No, not everyone needs to struggle with a pornography addiction to truly come to the Lord and experience a fulness a joy, but I think it is true that we all must face trials and suffering of some sort before the joy. Some of us might just learn it faster/easier (not me!).

    When I finally hit bottom, I could see that through everything I had never given up my pride. I had held on to the illusion that I could somehow get past this myself. And I could see that it took all of that suffering for me to finally relinquish my pride and turn my life over to God.

    Even once I got to that point, it still takes a lot of reminders for me to not trust in the arm of flesh, but it's not nearly as painful now.

    Thanks for sharing. I love the image of the refiner's fire, because now as I experience trials, I can think of Christ purging my impurities. I don't quite welcome the trials, but at least I don't fight so hard against them.

  3. Oh my goodness, this is so true. "We probably thought we were trying, but not with the desperation that motivates us now." Sometimes I think we are getting closer, but sometimes I think we are moving farther apart. Either way, we are aware of our relationship in a way that we weren't before.

    And I completely agree about not coveting what other people have. Mara's post really was great. Sometimes I find myself coveting, but then I remember that it's pointless. Chances are the people whose lives we are coveting have a slew of their own problems hiding deep within as well. I'll take my own.

  4. I think for a long time we just assumed things were good, that we were in a good place . . . only in stripping this all down to bare bones to build it back up are we seeing all the ways we need to improve. And as I'm more aware of our unhealthy cycles, I am making a real and solid effort to improve where I am weak and be more loving -- it's a really good thing, and J and I have said often in the last month, that if we do this right, we will end up in a place that makes all the pain more than worth it.

  5. You said, "in fact some of his resentments were the root of his bad choices." I'd take it a step further in my marriage. I think resentments are the crux of my husband's addiction. Pornography isn't his problem, it's his solution. As he's been digging through his issues and analyzing slips, we've seen the triggers aren't often images or thoughts. His triggers are almost always stress and/or feelings of failure. When he allows these feelings to fester and build to resentments towards those who are, in his mind, holding unreasonable expectations, he turns to the one things that can get him so high all those pressures magically disappear.

    I've also wondered where would I be without this trial in my life. I've always considered my faith in Christ strong, but until this whammy I didn't NEED Him like I do now. The atonement has come alive in my life and it's been a slow process learning exactly how to access it. I don't know that I can say I'm grateful for this trial, but I can say I'm grateful for the growth that has come because of it.

  6. Oh my friend I do hope that when you taste the sweetness after the bitterness that you won't ever have to go back. I've known couples go through the fire of pornography and emerge triumphant and stronger than ever. I wish you and yours the best. It is such a hard fight and I'm encouraged by your faith and steadfastness

  7. I tend to covet as well...I'm working on it. I agree with you - I think our marriage will become better because of this. We are so much more aware of the little things and we are working on them, rather than just flying through life ignoring them. It has been so hard (and will continue to be) but we are being refined. I love your insights and perspective...thank you.

  8. This is really, really good stuff, Jane. One of the reasons I'm so motivated to share stories of women facing this trial is because I have seen time and time again that women (and often couples, but my main audience is women) often end up being so much the stronger because of their husband's addictions.

    I feel like my trials (like my health) have opened up my need for God more than I ever would have understood had I not experienced the hard.

  9. When I say stronger because of the addiction, I mean stronger because of the recovery they chose to pursue because of the addiction. :)