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I’ve always prided myself on being smart. One step ahead of the game. I see what’s coming, nothing surprises me. I understand how it all works.

Usefully, I applied this tool to my marriage. I knew all about my husband. He was a kind, caring, sensitive guy who saw my heart. I loved that about him.

He didn’t have soft porn pictures in his room as a teenager, he didn’t drool over other girls. He was keen to discover me, but wanted to wait until we got married to have sex. He was interested in spending time with me—I had hit the jackpot!

Tim and I pretty much grew up together, dating from when I was 16. We’d both “saved ourselves” for marriage and together, waited to have sex for the first time on our wedding night.

Our wedding night disaster

It was a bit of a disappointment to me that on our wedding night, neither of us really knew what to do to make “it” happen. I was keen to keep experimenting and trying new things, and we managed to sort things out the following night, but when I tried to initiate again the night after that, he told me to back off.

He made it clear that I should not expect too much from him sexually. This was a really big shock to me. Growing up in a family where attractiveness was rated very highly, this immediately cut straight to the heart of my deep-seated fear of being undesirable.

While we did have sex throughout our marriage on an irregular basis, I became more and more frustrated with his lack of enthusiasm, his unwillingness to initiate and his total inability to communicate anything about what the experience was like for him. He would say nothing about what he liked or didn’t like, or would prefer to do.

Many reasons why

I might have known something was up, but when I tried to pin him down, his reasons seemed true:

  • I suggested not using condoms to make it more intense; he wasn’t fazed either way.
  • I asked about porn use and masturbation; he said he did a bit before we got married, but not now. He simply preferred to sleep.

Eventually we put it down to satisfaction lasting a long time for him.

What kind of fool believes her husband, who suddenly turns out to be disinterested in sex after marriage?

My dissatisfaction was prolific. I felt totally rejected by him and the pain began to show in the way I slyly ridiculed him and flirted with other male friends to fill the void. I believed there was something wrong with him, that he wasn’t a normal man and I was cheated out of the husband that I should have had.

His 12-year secret

One day, out of the blue, 12 years into our marriage, with two small daughters in the picture, he told me he’d lied. For the past 12 years he had masturbated and used pornography weekly, rather than making love to me.

My world fell apart.

In the video below, sexologist Dr Patricia Weerakoon discusses pornography in marriage.

He asked my forgiveness for making our marriage the way it had been. He admitted this freely without any likelihood of being discovered. More than that, he feared that when he told me, I would leave and he’d lose his wife and young family.

He did it to save our relationship.

Turns out, that first night of marriage—when we’d tried to have sex and it didn’t work—it was a bit disappointing and embarrassing to me, but to Tim, it was a death knell. Because his greatest fear wasn’t like mine, being undesirable. It was being incompetent. Upon discovering that sex wasn’t something he was good at, he immediately took a step back from the sexual arena. His pain had been so great he had not been able to talk about it at all.

What kind of fool is married to a man for 12 years and doesn’t know the first thing about his heart?

How had I, in all this time, missed the shame he was carrying? The pain he felt when he wasn’t good enough at something, so bad he would withdraw from it completely? How had I missed the strength of courage that emerged when he made his confession to me? Who was this man? Did I know him at all?

The road to recovery

Camilla, her husband Tim and their two daughters.

I was reminded of a Bible verse: “Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.”

That night, after his confession, we made love passionately for the first time in our lives. The barriers gone. I finally saw his heart and he saw mine.

This was not the beginning of our journey towards true love. It was the middle. We had started on an intensive journey of relationship therapy three years earlier.

Twenty-four hours later, the resentment hit and I was extremely grateful to have amazing relationship coaches already working with us to guide us through this incredibly difficult period. Using the model of feminine purging and masculine strength they had taught us, I witnessed Tim sacrifice his right to blame me for my part in our relationship’s demise and shoulder the entire responsibility himself. The result was breathtaking.

In the next few weeks, he allowed me to share everything that was on my heart about his revelation: the “wasted” years, the rejection, the betrayal, the reinforcing of my wounds over and over again, questioning how I could trust him now when he’d lied for so long, asking whether he’d really stopped, did he do it today, had he wanted to . . . everything.

He let me say everything and never once came back at me about my part in it. In that month, he modelled Christ’s sacrifice to me in a beautiful example of Ephesians 5:25: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

I grew to see and admire him in a way I never had before.

By shouldering all of the sins of selfishness in our relationship, he won my respect and my heart forever.

Love over blame

Looking back, there’s nothing I would change about any of the years of our journey. Things do not come to light all at once.

His journey had led him to see things he was holding in the way of our relationship. My faults became more evident because of it: The way I belittled him for his lack of “manliness”, the way I made him feel that I was too good for him and that he had let me down.

By accepting our foolishness in thinking we knew all there was to know about ourselves and each other, we became fools in love. Through this, we found the wisdom of choosing love over blame and the beauty of discovering another perfectly imperfect being.

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