Friday night has become our date night. We usually head to a local pub for pizza and drinks. The conversation is never Big Stuff. We talk about our work days, chat about updates we’ve seen our friends and relatives post on Facebook, daydream about things we’ll do once we’re truly empty-nesters, and laugh.
The other night, my husband dropped a bombshell—only he didn’t even know it was a bombshell, so my reaction caught him off guard as the bombshell caught me. Okay, maybe it wasn’t really a bombshell, even though it felt like one for about 15 seconds. It was a stark lesson that our marriage had been further along a path to destruction than I’d ever guessed.
During our sexual desert years, my husband got hooked on an online game where people had to join together in clans to fight wars. He became Facebook friends with most of his clan members. One of the people in his clan was a woman. I frequently noticed him involved in Facebook chatting and would occasionally ask him who he was online with. A lot of times, it was this woman. She had a series of bad relationships and bad jobs, and my husband and others in the clan served as a sounding board for her. A couple times, it would strike me as odd that he was chatting with her so much, but I was also spending time chatting online with people I’d never met in real life (not men, though), so it felt hypocritical to say anything. Besides, he was telling me about their conversations; he would even ask me for advice and wording suggestions sometimes. How bad could it be if he was telling me about it?
Eventually, he stopped playing the game, and I wasn’t aware that he was still in contact with her other than occasional chats when she went through another breakup. My husband is a good guy, and I know that he was talking with her as he would if it were my sister.
But….(you knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you?) the other night, as part of our casual conversation on our date night, he mentioned that he used to call her his “sister wife.” (HBO’s Big Love was at its peak in those days).
Say what? Sister wife, as in your other wife? I could feel the blood drain from my face. I don’t think a man would use that phrase in reference to another woman unless there’s a part of him that wants to have a deeper relationship with her. I’m pretty sure that if another man referred to me as a sister wife, my husband would be pretty unhappy and would think the man was hitting on me.
He sat there, truly puzzled as to why I was upset. He knows that nothing inappropriate is going on between them, she knows he’s married, and he hasn’t even called her a sister wife since our sex life started improving. (Uh, big guy, that right there is an indication that something in your relationship with her was connected to your sexual unhappiness with me.)
While I feel completely safe and secure in the marriage we have now, it was an earth-shaking sign that showed me that I had made my husband more vulnerable to temptation than I had ever realized. I knew I’d been pushing him away. I knew he’d been feeling unloved and disrespected at home. Here was a woman who sought and respected his advice, when I refused to take any of it at all. Here was a woman who enjoyed chatting online with him, when I could barely spare a minute of the day for a meaningful conversation with him. I shouldn’t have been surprised that his emotional starvation had made him desperate to be fed by anyone. I shouldn’t have been surprised. But somehow, I was.
I’d been oblivious to the fact that my husband had taken a step on a path that could’ve led to an affair. The hardest part of any journey is the first step, and once that first step is taken, every step thereafter is just a bit easier.
I’ve known in my mind that my sexual refusal put my husband in a place of vulnerability and made him ripe for temptation. My sin against him and against God easily could have created the environment where it was harder for him not to sin. But Friday night, I realized it with my heart. By not being the wife God called me to be, I easily could have led my husband to sin as well.
I had a glimpse of a reality that didn’t happen—but it so easily could have. Had my husband continued down that path, that sin would’ve been completely on him. But his vulnerability? That one’s on me. It was a closer call than I’d realized.
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