For better or worse,
For richer or poorer,
In sickness and in health,
To love and to cherish,
Til death do us part.
While the vows seemed to encompass all of the possibilities that life can bring--wealth, poverty, sickness, health, good times and bad times--they don't really address what happens to a marriage when pedophilia is present. Maybe the last line should be amended to read "Til death or pedophilia do us part." How many brides would agree to that promise?
Aside from the very serious implications of criminal behavior towards a child, pedophilia impacts every facet of the relationship, even if miraculously the pedophilia is contained and no illegal activities take place. I recently described it this way:
Here's what I know about child pornography or pedophilia from a personal and professional perspective. It is progressive--what titillates and excites today won't work tomorrow so more graphic material must be found. It is all-consuming--it will demand more and more of his time and energy. It requires secrecy and hiding, which will spill over into all of his relationships. Even when he seems to be present to you and your children, he isn't completely--his mind is absorbed with maintaining his secret life or reliving what he has watched or viewed. It will eventually render him incapable of normal relationships and work productivity. One day he will be caught and you and your children may be in harm's way when that occurs.
If I could give advice to that pregnant 23 year old who was me when I first learned of my ex's behavior, I would say "Run!" I am remarried and the layers of grief and pain that are now healing are rooted in my marriage to a man who was and is a fake. I have over three decades of junk to heal from--times when I was blamed and accepted the blame for his criminal behavior, times when I felt less than as a woman and wife because I could not satisfy him after I "grew up." I still struggle with disrupted sleep because I learned as a 23 year old to stay alert during my sleep to the potential cry from one of my children. I struggle with trust and with shame I struggle with fear and anxiety. I live waiting for the other shoe to drop. I live with trauma responses.I went on to note that pedophiles have a different relationship to truth than do most people. The deceptions inherent in living a life of secrecy and of hiding your true self, colors every day and impacts every facet of a marriage. My ex and I once spent days, if not weeks, arguing about what constituted a lie. For most of us, this is pretty straightforward and simple--a lie is something that is intended to deceive. My ex argued that it was not a lie if it could be construed to be technically true, though the intent was to deceive. It was maddening! But for someone whose entire life was a lie, his definition didn't seem too important or too big a stretch for him.
Trust is foundational to the living out of those vows and if trust is broken, the vows have been broken. It is astounding how easy it is for some perpetrators to discard those vows and see them as meaningless. They never became meaningless to me but I was dumbfounded to discover how little my ex-husband thought of them. Maybe they were never meaningful to him in the first place. I don't know.
If marriage is based on promises that are made between two people, and one of the individuals has no intention of keeping the promises, is it a marriage? Is it possible for a pedophile who is intent on hiding his true self from his partner, to honestly make such promises?
On the anniversary of my divorce, I can truly say that pedophilia brought the worst of times and left me below the poverty line. The actions of a very sick man who was unable to love or cherish anyone other than himself destroyed all that I thought we had built together. So death would have been an easier separation than this.