One couple that is an inspiration to me in my work is Mark and Debra Laaser. Over 30 years ago, when they were a young married couple, Mark was pastor of a protestant church and a counselor.
Unfortunately, Mark was also a pornography and sex addict. This led him to have sexual relationships with the people he counseled. Eventually this was made known to the church elders and he lost his job as pastor and counselor.
Because of Mark’s addiction, the Laasers lost everything – career, friends, reputation, etc. As you can imagine this was devastating for Debra. The mother of three small children, her world seemed to shatter in an instant. Her first reaction to this was to go into crisis mode. Mark went into a residential rehab program and Debra had to figure out how to support their children. This was not easy because it seemed as if most of their friends had abandoned them. Somehow through faith and ingenuity, she made it through.
Assessing Her Situation
After the dust of the crisis had settled, the gravity of the situation set in. Debra was devastated. The trauma of the situation had her cycling through many emotions. One minute she loved Mark and felt deep compassion for him. The next minute she hated him and wanted nothing to do with him. She felt deeply hurt and betrayed.
Then there were times when she blamed herself, believing Mark’s behaviors were because she wasn’t good enough for him. Above all she felt a deep shame because of the situation. Not having anyone to talk to about her ordeal, she felt all alone.
Throughout this time she kept praying and asking God why this was happening to her and what she should do. She came to realize that she had three choices:
1. Leave Mark. Because of the deep hurt and betrayal he caused, Debra knew she had every right to divorce Mark. She knew she was smart and resourceful and could manage without him. And no one who knew her situation would blame her for leaving him.
2. Stay married, but in name only. Debra also knew she could stay with Mark for the sake of keeping the family together. This would prevent their children from having to go through the pain of a divorce and a family breakup. While they would look like a normal couple on the outside, there would be no love, trust or intimacy in their relationship.
3. Trust that God had a plan for their marriage. Deep down Debra knew that God would not give her more suffering than she could handle. She knew that God loved her and Mark, and could bring healing and restoration into their lives. It would take great courage and faith to trust God to heal their lives. But she knew He could if they allowed Him.
After spending time in prayer and considering her options, Debra chose to trust God with her marriage. Every day she prayed that God would heal her, Mark, their marriage, and their family. While Mark was working his recovery program, she embarked on hers. This included individual counseling, marital counseling, and support group attendance.
While there were many ups and downs in this process, she never forgot God’s promise never leave her nor forsake her. While it took several years, Debra did experience incredible healing in her life and her marriage. She and Mark were able to restore their marriage. Today they have a healthy and fulfilling marriage.
They now minister to other couples that struggle with the effects of sexual addiction and betrayal. They are living proof that by trusting in God and being committed to the work of recovery, individual lives and marriages can be restored!
If you are a spouse who is struggling with the pain and betrayal of pornography/sexual addiction, you have the same three choices that Debra had. However, take time to consider God’s love for you.
It may be difficult to believe that God has a special plan for you, your spouse and your marriage, but the fact is He does! He wants to bring healing and restoration to your life and your marriage. It will take a lot of faith, patience, and courage, but the outcome will be worth it.
When both spouses are willing to trust God and do the work on recovery, God can completely transform your lives and give you the healthy and happy marriage you’ve always wanted!
To learn more about Debra Laaser’s healing journey, read her book, Shattered Vows: Hope and Healing for Women Who Have Been Sexually Betrayed.