Dan Carlson* stares out a window. Susan*, his wife of 26 years, sits beside him—sometimes wiping away tears. She nods her support as their story unfolds—a story of sexual addiction and deception that they would give anything to rewrite.
"My secret life began years before," says Dan, cradling coffee in a Styrofoam cup. "Back in Colombia as a missionary kid, a friend introduced me to detective books. The graphic sexual scenes excited me. I stayed away from Playboy-type magazines, but I began reading these books and fantasizing. My thought life was out of control. And I never asked God for help."
At 17, when his parents threatened to send him back to the States if he didn't end a relationship with an older Colombian girl, Dan began sneaking around with her. "There was nothing sexually inappropriate, but my parents didn't approve of my romance. Once it was forbidden, the danger excited me for a while," he recalls. "I wanted adventure. Something beyond my dull existence."
Though that relationship didn't last long, and he returned home to the States shortly after, Dan's lust for the forbidden remained in him, even after meeting the woman he would marry.
"I remember the night we met," says Dan. "In August 1972 the church put on a hayride. That's when I noticed Susan's pretty smile, the way she talked."
Susan takes his hand. "I liked the way you were shy and quiet," she laughs. "So different from me."1