Recently I had one of our Brave One partners ask a question about her husband’s porn use. More specifically and painfully the extent that he went to cover-up for his behavior. As I was responding to her question I thought it would make a good blog topic as so many of us have situations that are very similar.
Buckle up as this story made me feel dizzied just by hearing about it.
Original Blog comment:
“The issue with my husband is pornography. The problem is, he denies he looks at it, even when I show him the evidence. To this day he swears he was pulling up those websites to see if I was checking on him. How can I move forward and trust him when I feel in my gut he HAS to be lying? I have literally begged him, sobbing, to please tell me the truth and take this burden off me. It was at that point that he came up with the story of accessing the site on purpose to see if I would say anything. This whole experience is very new. I have only known about it for about a month. He gets angry when I mention it and he always tries to turn the argument around so that I’m the one who is doing something wrong. It’s infuriating, and I literally feel crushed and stupefied by it all. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if God wants me to stay here and forgive or if I’m justified and right about wanting to leave. I literally can’t think about anything else right now. I just ordered your new book and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Thank you for everything you are putting out there and for putting God in the middle of it.”
First off, I want to point you all to a chapter in my book “Intimate Deception: Healing the Wounds of Sexual Betrayal” called “Gaslighting, Deception, and Blame…Oh My!”
It’s filled with really practical tools that help you to do 3 things:
- Empower you to hold onto yourself
- Encourage you to remember what you saw
- Embrace your truth and trust your gut.
Second, I want to tell you about something I keep in my office just for this very conversation: 3 Coconuts and a Red Ball
The red ball represents the evidence you saw. It’s known as discovery or what you found. The coconuts represent the sleight of hand; lies that are aimed at covering up what you found. These are the lies that seem to move around on the table, right in front of your eyes. The hope is to make you lose track of that red ball. When we lose track of that red ball the original event seems to vanish into thin air. What your husband is doing is not only lying, but it’s a form of lying called gaslighting.
So let’s go back to the original comment and think about 3 things he said.
- He’s pulling up porn in order to see if you are checking on him.
- He thinks that something is very wrong with the idea that you would be “checking on him” after you found evidence of him looking at porn.
- He tells you he’s decided to look at porn websites to make sure that you’re not checking on him.
This is CRAZY-making at its worst and best. “Gaslighting happens when someone strategically twists the truth to make us believe we’re crazy or something’s wrong with us to cover their own deceptive behavior.” (pg. 241 in Intimate Deception). Gaslighting eventually causes us to question ourselves. It can cause us to question our own intuition and gut. Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse.
Truth – you are not crazy. Crazy is happening around you. Deception looks that way. You didn’t do anything wrong. I want you to trust yourself and what you remember seeing right in front of you. You do this by keeping your eyes on that red ball. When someone is gaslighting you, we can’t build trust.
We can confront the lie and hold onto our truth by saying one of these 3 things:
- “Interesting. That’s not how I remember it.”
- “I don’t remember saying it that way.”
- “We may have to agree to disagree on this one.”
Lying erodes trust. We can’t build trust on deception. See if your husband will listen to how his lies are hurting you. Some men wake up and change how they’re treating you when they become aware of what they’re doing.
If there is no effort or change. Why would you forgive someone who is currently lying to you to the point that it’s causing you grave harm? As I talk about in my book, when someone is gaslighting you to cover up their deceptive acts it’s not the time to forgive. It’s time to focus on getting safe.
Your gratitude for putting God in the middle of it is interesting. In fact, check out God’s point of view about lying as reflected in the Proverbs.
There are six things that God hates
No, seven things that God detests:
a lying tongue,
hands that kill the innocent.
a heart that plots evil,
feet that race to do wrong,
a false witness who pours out lies,
a person who sows discord in a family.
Looks to me like gaslighting made the list. It’s not okay, yesterday, today or tomorrow. Hang onto your truth because you are worth it!