On October 16, 1986, my world turned upside down. I'd been reared in a loving Christian home and had earned a teaching degree at a Christian college where I'd met John*, my husband of 13 years. I'd stayed home with our two children, Anne and Tommy, until 1984 when I returned to the classroom part time at the school where John taught, and where Anne was a now a fifth grader and Tommy was in second grade. We were members of a church, and enjoyed many family activities together. I felt John and I had a good marriage, although I wished we could communicate on a deeper level. Reading my husband's heart was like trying to see the bottom of a deep, murky well.
But over the past several months, I'd noticed he'd grown even quieter and more withdrawn. I knew his childhood had been difficult and that his father was an alcoholic with a violent temper. Understanding that sometimes the past can rear its head and cause depression, I encouraged him to meet with our pastor, Walter. He finally agreed, and they set up weekly sessions.
The morning after their third session, John was waiting for me as I came downstairs. I was shocked to see tears streaming down his ashen face.
"I have something to tell you," he said as he took my hand and led me to the couch. He paused, choosing his words carefully. Finally, he blurted, "I've been involved in homosexual relationships, before and throughout our marriage."
I felt as if the room started to spin and I was dangling upside down. But I also felt as if John had thrust a dagger into my stomach.
I glanced down at our intertwined hands, then looked into the face of a stranger. I yanked my hand away.
"I was sexually abused between the ages of 9 and 15 by a male relative, and I've been struggling with these desires since high school," he said. "Even though I became a Christian when I was 17, I never lost the lust. Instead, I just dealt with the guilt.
"When I met you, I honestly fell in love with you and I thought marriage would solve my problem. But the yearning was too strong, and I fell. I'm so ashamed. I know I've sinned against God and broken my marriage vows." He started to cry again.
I sat on the couch trying to detach myself from his confession, wishing this were a bad dream. Throughout our marriage I never once had questioned John's faithfulness; trying to comprehend that he had a secret sexual identity was impossible. Thoughts started to creep in: When did he do this? How did he meet these people? How could I not have known? I feel like a fool. What if he gave me a disease?
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