Welcome to the first day of Restored Vows. We hope and pray that this is another step towards restoration in your marriage.
This is a two-week challenge. It’s designed to help get you thinking deeply about your past and how that impacts current porn use, as well as how your behaviors affect each other. This is not instant healing. In fact, depending on the state of your marriage, this may just be the beginning of a very long journey. But we’re here to help you every step of the way.
Your guides for this journey will be Covenant Eyes employee Brandon Clark and his wife Tonia. They are an ordinary couple who went through years of marital struggles while Brandon used, and eventually recovered from, pornography. Throughout the next two weeks, they’ll share their story and encourage you to talk through their struggles and healing so that you can apply it to your own marriage.
Brandon was exposed to pornography as a child. When he learned as a teenager that pornography use was a sin, he tried to quit but was never successful for long. It even led to him acting out sexually after college .
Brandon and Tonia met in college, though it took them a few years to start dating. By that point, Brandon already had a bit of a bad reputation, so early in their relationship, Tonia asked him point-blank if he watched porn. He said yes, so she decided that as long as he was honest, she could work with his porn use. She didn’t realize until they were already married that she was wrong. She couldn’t replace porn in his life no matter how hard she tried.
Their marriage was difficult for several years. They fought over porn; they fought over money. They struggled with infertility, which deeply grieved Tonia in particular; if she couldn’t have a good marriage, she at least wanted to pour her life into children. Brandon periodically took steps towards sobriety, and their marriage usually improved while he was sober, but he never dug into the roots of his porn or really applied his faith to the problem, so sobriety never lasted long. Eventually, after Tonia sought out counseling for herself, they attended a retreat for couples like them. That retreat helped Brandon understand the depths of his sin and the pain that lay beneath it. Once Brandon had a deeper understanding, he was able to apply the lessons he learned to truly find healing and restoration, and Brandon and Tonia finally have the marriage they dreamed of.
This is an oversimplification of their story, of course. Brandon and Tonia will go into depth during the next two weeks. But we wanted you to have an overview of their story. At points, parts of your journey will sound very similar. At other points, they may be wildly different. Regardless, they’ll use their story to help apply practical advice to your marriage.
Each day we’ll provide some questions or ideas for you to talk through together. We encourage you to be raw and vulnerable and listen well. (That means not interrupting each other to react or defend yourself.)
Today, we want you to do three things:
1) Commit to this series. Commit to being honest and listening well. Commit to being caring and understanding to the best of your ability. And commit to asking Jesus daily for His help.
2) Read Psalm 139 out loud together and reflect on it. The Psalmist says that God knows everything about us and begs for help against his enemies—in your case, porn. Not each other. The enemy is porn. Take comfort in the fact that God knows your story.
3) Begin living a life of accountability, if you haven’t already. The day-to-day journey to healing in your marriage continues with committed, consistent sobriety from porn. Don’t wait any longer. Take advantage of a 30-day free trial from Heroic Men and Covenant eyes here: https://rb.gy/gb9zkn
Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up;
you understand my thoughts from far away.
You observe my travels and my rest;
you are aware of all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue,
you know all about it, Lord.
You have encircled me;
you have placed your hand on me.
This wondrous knowledge is beyond me.
It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.
Where can I go to escape your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I fly on the wings of the dawn
and settle down on the western horizon,
even there your hand will lead me;
your right hand will hold on to me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me,
and the light around me will be night”—
even the darkness is not dark to you.
The night shines like the day;
darkness and light are alike to you.
For it was you who created my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I will praise you
because I have been remarkably and wondrously made.
Your works are wondrous,
and I know this very well.
My bones were not hidden from you
when I was made in secret,
when I was formed in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all my days were written in your book and planned
before a single one of them began.
God, how precious your thoughts are to me;
how vast their sum is!
If I counted them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand;
when I wake up, I am still with you.
God, if only you would kill the wicked—
you bloodthirsty men, stay away from me—
who invoke you deceitfully.
Your enemies swear by you falsely.
Lord, don’t I hate those who hate you,
and detest those who rebel against you?
I hate them with extreme hatred;
I consider them my enemies.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my concerns.
See if there is any offensive way in me;
lead me in the everlasting way.