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My Job Robbed My Wife of the Intimacy She Deserves
I now think my search for significance does not just trip me up in the area of porn. In my last entry, I said,
Porn was a quick, easy, and safe outlet that affirmed me. Surfing the net for virtual sex is safe sex. No one needs to know, and I’ll never experience rejection from the cyber women. They love me, which is how I pretend. Of course, it’s not real love, but it’s my small fantasy world; it’s my drug of choice to feel better about life. When I’m depressed or discouraged and need a pick-me-up, I flip on the computer and enter my safe sex zone. No harm, no foul, right?
Though I realize I am on the right track to understanding the depth of my sin, I am still not seeing how comprehensive my sin is. Porn wreaked havoc on my life, my marriage, and my family. It is much more extensive than I ever imagined.
I can’t remember the last time I genuinely loved others more than myself. It is not that I don’t love others. I do love people. I do love my wife. I love my kids. I’d do anything for them or my friends, but a sinister something is lurking in the shadows of my heart.
Even when I do nice things for others, it is more about my reputation than about them. I want to hear their approval. Their appreciation for the things that I do is important to me. Yes, I fish for compliments and say things that can turn the conversation back to me or something I did. It is sinfully soothing to my insatiable craving for praise.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing (Ecclesiastes 1:8).
I’m beginning to understand why my wife says she feels more like an employee or at best a business partner rather than a real lover or confidant. Part of the problem with our relationship is that I seduced myself into believing that things are not as bad as others have been telling me.
It reminds me of what I read from Frederick Buechner, though I did not think it was about me. When I first read it, I thought it was a profound quote. Now I see that it’s about me.
It is important to tell at least from time to time the secret of who we truly and fully are because otherwise, we run the risk of losing track of who we truly and fully are and little by little come to accept instead the highly edited version which we put forth in the hope that the world will find it more acceptable than the real thing. – Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets
There is a highly edited version of me that has become so real that I’m not able to discern the difference between my authentic self and the person God wants me to be. I am self-deceived, and for the first time in my life, I’m afraid.
Though I have many false lovers, my work is probably the most alluring one. If my addiction to porn is a perverted intimacy, my addiction to my job is a deceptive intimacy. It is easy to see how masturbation and flirting with women have damaged my intimacy with my wife. It has only been recently that I see how my job is another false lover.
I fell into my job. The work came so naturally, or maybe it was always something I wanted to do. I think now it would be more accurate to say that it was something I always wanted to be. I get more pleasure from being known as an engineer than doing the work of an engineer…even though I do enjoy the work.
My peers say, “You’re a natural” and as my customers say, “You’re the best rep we’ve ever had.” I would be quick to tell them that it was “all God,” but down deep in my heart, my craving for affirmation, acceptance, respect, and significance festered. These idols are “my rat pack of secret sins.”
The more my peers (or customers) applaud, the harder I work. My vocation used to be just a job. Now it is an obsession. I think about it all the time. The ironic thing is that I’m getting all the “props” a man could ever want, but it is never enough.
There was a time when 9 to 5 was enough. However, over the past seven years, my 9 to 5 has nearly become 24/7. My job is my mistress. I bring her home with me each night. There have been many nights when my wife would wait to see if I would walk away from my mistress to spend time with her. She does not wait anymore.
Can you help me? Is there any way my heart idolatry can be rooted out?
Is there grace for me?
Last August my dad asked me about my career. It was one of those rare moments where he seemed to show interest in me. You better believe I made the most of the opportunity. Of course, I couched what I told him in my “grace of God language,” but I knew what I was doing. That conversation was all about me, and I poured it on.
The damnable thing about the discussion is that he hardly responded. It was like he completely dismissed my glowing report about myself. I was angry. To top it off, my wife was laughing under her breath. That hurt too.
When will enough be enough? I am addicted to people’s opinions. The craving is so alluring that if my job does not give me my daily accolades, I turn to the cyber girls. If porn is not enough, I look for other ways to please people.
I fear if I do not change, I may lose my wife and family. I’m sure you’ve already discerned that my motive for fixing my marriage is partly because of the potential loss of reputation.
If you’re similar to the person described in this article and would like to learn more about how to work through this type of problem, here are five long-term assignments.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).