Has my husband been to a strip club? Yes. Did my husband have a bachelor party in which his groomsmen and family members hired a stripper? Yes. And today, twelve years later, my husband will tell you it was the absolute worst thing he ever could have done to begin our marriage.
It’s okay, right? We have a strong enough relationship to be able to allow each other to look intentionally at the other sex in a sexual way and still be okay, right? I’m not a cool wife if I don’t pretend it’s okay with me, right?
Wrong. All wrong.
Just so you know me a little better so you keep reading, my husband and I have been married for 12 years this year. We have had ups and downs and have been through more than many married couples could even imagine. From suicide attempts to a near-death accident, then on to sharing our entire reality with the world in a published book, “Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith.” Now, we have begun our mission and started “Jeremy & Bailey Koch: Anchoring Hope for Mental Health Ministry.” We run a support group for individuals suffering from mental illness, for those supporting someone suffering, and also for anyone who just wants to understand mental illness on a deeper level. We speak to anyone who will listen, always in support of the quest for mental health and an end to the stigma attached to mental illness.
Jeremy and I spend a lot of time together, as we co-own a landscaping and greenhouse services business and are also parents to two young boys, currently ages 9 and 6. Raising boys has had a way of really making us think about morals and values we want to instill in our children’s lives. So this topic came up recently at a marriage conference, Family Life’s Weekend to Remember. The topic was sex. I know – steamy. But I would certainly hope anybody whom is married is comfortable with this topic.
So Jeremy and I, as part of our homework for this weekend to remember, discussed strip clubs, pornography, and their effect on our relationship. It was so enlightening to hear from my husband’s point of view. Essentially, Jeremy shared with me that he did struggle with pornography in the beginning of our marriage. What really got me was the fact that he told me one of his friends actually led him to the website he looked at during that time. One of his friends told him to go look at other women in a sexual way. Just like his friends and family members cheered with him as they watched a woman strip weeks before we were to be married.
Do you know how much that hurt to hear? Do you know how hard it was to hear Jeremy tell me this had happened during our marriage? Do you know how scary it was to hear men sometimes share this type of information and support each other in this way? But do you know something else? What hurts more is the fact that I am the one who started this. I am the one who lied in order to be the “cool wife” before we were even married and led him to believe looking at other women like that was okay – that it didn’t hurt and that it didn’t affect how I looked at my husband. I lied. A lot.
I remember in the beginning of our marriage when Jeremy bought a book. It was called “Every Man’s Battle” and it was about a man’s natural addiction to sex, to looking at other women, to sexual curiosity, etc. More importantly, it was about being a strong Christian man, intentionally fighting the urges, and living with respect for his wife. I was so young; I looked at the book and was hurt. Wasn’t I enough? Why would he need to read that book? But again, I said nothing. And he didn’t tell me that was the time he really was struggling with pornography. He was trying to help himself; the book was a good thing. But at the time, I didn’t understand that. We didn’t tell each other how we felt, what we were afraid of, or what was really happening in our brains and bodies. We both lied and pretended the issue wasn’t there.
So when we were at this marriage retreat and learned the truth, we both shed some tears. We revealed hurts we both had hidden for years, and we dug deep into where this came from. Before Jeremy and I were married, he had that bachelor party and he went to a couple strip clubs with friends. I knew. He didn’t lie. So he believed it was okay. He truly believed I didn’t mind. But even as he was there, he felt unbelievably uncomfortable. It wasn’t fun for him; he felt guilty.
His guilt was legitimate. He made a mistake. He never should have put himself in that position. But I made a mistake too; I never should have allowed him to believe it was okay with me and with our marriage.
A friend of mine and former student is newly married, literally the same age I was when I got married. She’s young and vulnerable and she had a legitimate question. Thank God for social media as so much positive can come from it. She asked this:
“So my question to all the married ladies on my friends list is what’s your opinion? Do you let your hubby go? Do you go with him? Do you limit him to what he can partake in? Do you let him go and act like it didn’t happen? How does this work with you?”
I responded quickly and simply:
“After being married for 12 years, I can tell you a healthy marriage doesn’t involve control. “Letting” your husband do or not do something is not healthy. That being said, your husband has a choice. Does he choose to go to places like that and disrespect his marriage? Does he choose to allow those thoughts in his head when research specifically shows that attendance at those places leads to greater chances for pornography issues in the future? Intentionally looking at other women in a sexual way is cheating, plain and simple.”
I get that blogging about this is opening myself up a lot on social media, but I believe this topic is worth covering. Every man has a choice. Every woman has a right and a responsibility to tell her husband how she feels. It’s mutual respect for your marriage. Jeremy and I did not do our parts early in our marriage, but we have learned a lot through our mistakes and we can share to help others.
Don’t allow this into your relationship. Don’t open yourselves up like that to make room for worse problems down the road. Save it for each other.