I had the privilege of being born and raised as Catholic, where the Irish nuns during my schooling emphasized that Jesus is our very best friend.
That has made all the difference in my life.
After discerning my vocation, I married my college sweetheart. We shared our love for the Catholic Church and the Word of God. We both loved fishing, the beach, exercising, and eating healthy. He made me laugh! I was in love with the man he presented himself as. We wanted to have as many children as God would give us and glorify Him through our union.
Throughout our dating, I deliberately asked pointed questions about his sexual history, purity, temptations, and pornography use. I was trusting by nature, so I had no reason to question his favorable answers.
The year we were married, 1994, was also the “International Year of the Family.” That year Saint Pope John Paul II wrote his profound “Letter to Families.”
As a new bride, this was deeply meaningful to me. But on my wedding night, though I was a virgin, I intuitively knew something was terribly wrong. I attempted to lovingly and awkwardly talk to him in our first year of marriage about my concerns. But, to my surprise, he became unapproachable.
By God’s grace, I tirelessly sought help (based on what I knew). My desire to be intimate with my husband, and our vision to have a grace-filled marriage, seemed elusive.
We went to the best counselors, retreats, conferences, books…you name it. We invested well over $150,000 toward marriage help in the first two decades of our marriage, during which the roots of our problems remained secret. As a result, nothing helped.
In fact, some of the counseling, void of the truth, actually did more harm than good. Six years into marriage, (we had two small children at this point) I shockingly uncovered pornography in our home. My husband assured me it was a single instance of weakness for him and that he’d never do it again.
Though I chose to believe him, I became insecure. Within a year, while pregnant with our third baby, a friend from Church randomly told me that they had seen my husband in a peculiar place when I thought he was at work. My feelings of uneasiness grew. He had also been suspiciously taking phone calls, acting very mysteriously.
I started to realize I didn’t know this man who was supposed to be my husband.
Pressured by this information, my husband gave me one of many confessions motivated by guilt. When caught in something, he would tell me just enough so that I would feel like he was being honest with me and so that he could continue with his worst habitual sins. This “trickle-style” of disclosure was wearisome for me as a wife.
In 2014, after 21 years of marriage, I providentially caught him doing something horrifying: engaging in “peeping tom” behavior in a public place while we were chaperoning for a church event for our children. Soon after, encouraged through therapy, my husband gave me his “full disclosure.”
I learned that my husband had been viewing pornography regularly with his siblings since he was around nine years old. And that he and his siblings had been receiving this pornography from someone in his own family: his Catholic mother. When I confronted her about this, she told me that she thought it would prevent her kids from becoming gay.
I also learned that my husband developed an addiction to pornography and masturbation as he matured through puberty. Around the age of 13, he began his habit of voyeuristic behaviors, becoming a “peeping tom.”
In our marriage, he would often just disappear during vacations, outings, and in the evenings before putting the kids to bed. When I would ask him where he’d been, he would get enraged and accuse me of being controlling or paranoid. This was how he manipulated me into shutting up in order to make me look bad in front of the kids and to protect his sinfulness. This was part of the psychological abuse cycle that wore me down as a wife and mother.
I also learned that he was promiscuous his entire adult life before marrying me, seeking out one-night stands primarily. And that he had been lying to me about work and hiding money as well as lying in the confessional.
Certain things then came to light at his job, including his use of work computers to view pornography and building a perch for spying on women at night. As a result, my husband was fired from his job, escorted off the property, and reported to authorities.
I believe God was showing His love for my Catholic husband by throwing lifelines at him every time he was caught. Many men die suddenly entangled in sin, without ever being exposed and without a chance to repent and repair.
God had been chasing after my husband. Despite how painful it has been, I felt I was given the grace to cooperate with God in His loving efforts.
Sadly, my husband has been unwilling to sustain recovery. He has refused sponsors, insisting that we all “forgive and forget.”
My children and I have been subjected to dealing with scandal in our community because of my husband’s behavior, the loss of friendships, financial devastation, isolation, and having to move multiple times.
My husband and I have been separated since 2014. For me, it has taken supernatural strength and courage as a mom to navigate the various ways my children have grieved–all while enduring my own trauma. I cannot exaggerate how much suffering and trauma have come from my husband’s addiction and behavior. A year ago, I moved across the country to be further away from him.
Yet, throughout my 26-year-long marriage, the Lord has been unceasingly faithful and good. As I have walked through this “valley of darkness,” my faith has grown stronger.
I am ever grateful for the tools that Mother Church has given me. I am even grateful for the person I have become from this process. My broken heart now overflows with compassion for those bound to this evil and epidemic addiction of pornography and sexual compulsivity. Most personally, I feel for faithful wives and children who suffer tremendously because of this.
Sharing my experiences and what I’ve learned is a way for me to heal, serve God, and, hopefully, help others as well.
If you are suffering or have suffered in this way, I extend my veil to you to help ease your suffering and to comfort you in our Lord. May it please God for us to walk this road together with Christ.
Veronica, a faithful Catholic for her entire life, discovered her husband’s secretive addiction to sex after 21 years of marriage. Now prayerfully separated, she continues to seek healing from “Betrayal Trauma.” She is the mother of three children who are also on a journey of healing. Veronica hopes to share her experience with women who’ve had similar experiences to bring comfort and healing through one-on-one and group support coaching. If you would like to get in touch with her, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org (she will have a website available soon as well).