The Phil you all have come to know in the pages of this blog is not the Phil I spent most of my life married to. When Phil was trapped in the sin of lust, it was evident in his actions and reactions. His reactions many times seemed exaggerated for the situations.
I remember very early on in our marriage we got into a fight, I don’t remember what the fight was about (probably sex), but Phil got so mad that he punched the wall near our bed and put a fist size hole in it. That hole stayed there until we moved out and our landlord fixed it. That’s not the only hole he’s made as a result of anger. The house we currently live in has a hole in one of the doors. For most of our marriage I lived with the Phil that was angry a lot.
Let me be clear, I never felt like I or the kids were in danger. He never hurt me (us) physically. There were emotional and mental scars however. There were times when he would make me feel so small. He would attack my ability as a homemaker, as a cook, as a wife and as a mom. Those attacks hurt so badly, but when I would show emotion, he would belittle me for crying.
I mentioned sex before. That was what most of our fights were about. The infrequency and quality was always the problem, even though in my mind it wasn’t infrequent. I was rarely in the mood for intimacy because I didn’t feel loved or respected and I didn’t respect him. And I was exhausted from basically being a single parent (more on that below).
I wasn’t the only one who had to deal with his anger though. I was always more concerned for our kids. I would try to shield them when I knew he was upset or I knew he was going to be upset. When he would come home from work, I would send them to their rooms to play so he could have some peace. There were a few times I would leave the house and take the kids to the park to play if he came home in a particularly bad mood.
We were in full-time ministry at the time and he worked extra long hours most days. They were weird hours too as sometimes he would get calls in the middle of the night. There were ministry obligations that had to be taken care of and that took him away from us a lot. Even though this meant I was doing most of the parenting, I was ok with him being away from us. I dreaded him coming home. Even though we were in ministry, we rarely prayed together. As far as I knew, he never prayed for me. We weren’t in the Word together outside of church. We were really just going through the motions of a pastor’s family. We were dying inside.
I began to find a pattern in his behavior and the Holy Spirit began to reveal to me that his mood was tied to his pornography use. If he started belittling me and yelling at the kids, it was almost guaranteed that he was struggling. I would approach him and ask if he had been having issues. Sometimes he would admit it and sometimes he would deny it. Sometimes I would just come right out and tell him I knew he was looking at porn. I’m grateful for the Holy Spirit’s role in bringing all of this to light and I’m grateful for the role he continues to play in our lives.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a saint. I definitely contributed to some of the issues we had. I was bitter and angry too, but I dealt with my anger differently. Even though our relationship was pretty unhealthy, there were some moments of good. Some moments of really good. We have lots of home videos and pictures to prove that we really loved each other and that he was a pretty good dad even during those more difficult times. Thankfully, our kids don’t remember very much about angry dad.
The Lord had been working on Phil for a while, even before naturism. The atmosphere in our home had already begun to shift, but 2 ½ years ago I began to notice an even more drastic shift happening. My first indication that something was different about him was that I began to notice him treating me better. He stopped yelling. He started speaking to me with kindness and genuine interest. I noticed he was more patient with the kids. He was loving on them more. He started asking me how he could pray for me. I didn’t say anything to him about what I was noticing. I think I was afraid of jinxing it.
Looking back I believe I was able to embrace naturism so quickly because of the changes I had seen in him. Today, I am married to a new man. He has the same name, the same physical DNA, but his spiritual DNA is different. He is the man of God I always wished he would be. Actually he is more than that. I have loved him for a very long time, but my love for him has grown exponentially through everything we’ve been through. The Phil of today is kind, compassionate, understanding, patient, caring, emotionally available and so much more. He encourages me constantly and makes me want to be a better person. I have so much respect for who he is. I am so grateful for him and honestly feel like the luckiest girl in the world! How did I get so blessed??
Today, Phil prays for me regularly. As we are getting ready to sleep he often begins praying for our family or situations we are aware of. We talk through the Scriptures often. He takes care of me so well! Our kids have felt the shift too. It’s been amazing to watch how they have taken notice of the changes in us and have begun to make changes in themselves too. They are making their faith their own and that is such a cool thing to watch in your kids! We’ve gotten to have some really authentic conversations with them and in turn our family has grown much closer to each other.
Every once in a while a situation will come up that makes my amygdala scream. I’ll expect Phil to act one way and when he doesn’t I’m reminded that the Lord has redeemed him. Phil will remind me in these moments that he isn’t that man anymore. The Lord has done an amazing work in Phil’s life and in mine and we feel so blessed to experience this life together!
I don’t look at that hole in the door anymore with contempt. Today I look at it and I’m grateful that the man that made that hole has been made new.
Isaiah 43:19, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Revelation 21:5, “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'”