Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Pam Vuke was devastated when her husband confessed his use of pornography.

Tony Vuke: Well, I had come home from a church service and told Pam, confessed to her my struggles with pornography. That was ten years into our marriage and eight years after we were Christians.

Leslie: Can a marriage be restored after this kind of prolonged betrayal?

This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, July 23.

Nancy: Well, if you weren't with us yesterday on Revive Our Hearts, you'll want to go back to our website and pick up the audio version or the transcript of yesterday's program because we're talking with a couple who are new friends of mine. I had a chance recently to hear their story and so wanted to share it with our Revive Our Hearts listeners. We introduced yesterday Tony and Pam Vuke, and we're picking up with that story again today.

Tony and Pam, thank you so much. You just told me as we were on a break here that you haven't ever shared this story together before. Thank you for being willing to share out of what God has done in your lives and to share it with our Revive Our Hearts listeners.

Tony: You're welcome. We appreciate the opportunity.

Pam: Thank you.

Nancy: I was just telling you, Pam, the first time you came up to me, I was (we mentioned this on yesterday's program) with some friends vacationing. We were in a restaurant, and you came up and introduced yourself to us at the table and shared a thumbnail version of your testimony.

After you left the table, my friends and I looked at each other and just said, “That was so rich. That was so sweet,” so it's been a privilege now to get to meet Tony and to hear the two of you share.

Just a recap for those who weren't with us yesterday. You both grew up in very different kinds of homes—Tony's a very stable family environment and, Pam, you with a dad who had violent and abusive tendencies related to alcohol. You just wanted something stable and secure and sure in your life, and so both of you entered into marriage.

Tony, you had said that as a teenager, in spite of the stable family, you had gotten into drinking, sexual activity, and pornography. You both took these things as baggage into your marriage and went into your marriage without Christ, but then just give us a short recap here of how, in that third year of marriage, you did come to know Jesus Christ in a personal way.

Tony: Well, the alcohol and the irresponsibility of my life became a huge wedge in our marriage relationship and in what we had going on in our household. I remember coming home one night, and Pam had her bags packed. She was ready to leave me, and I'd realized I'd messed up. I didn't want to get divorced.

I also realized I needed to change, yet I didn't feel that I knew how or had the strength to make the changes in my life that needed to take place. Looking back, God had taken that huge, negative thing in our relationship, in our marriage, and turned it around and used it to draw us to Him. He brought us to a point of brokenness.

Nancy: A point of desperation, really.

Tony: It really was. We both, through a series of events that took place, we both made a decision to give God our lives and see if He could help us out of the struggles and problems that we got ourselves into.

Nancy: That was a huge turning point for both of you. You shared yesterday, Tony, that God took away the desire for alcohol.

Tony: Yes, He did.

Nancy: And you had this new hunger for the Word of God. How did that affect your marriage and the atmosphere in your home?

Pam: It was a huge effect because I had always wanted that security, to feel secure and to feel safe. I saw the change in what God had done in Tony's life and in our marriage relationship and how we were starting to communicate with each other. It was amazing. I just felt that love and security that I'd always desired to feel, so it made a huge difference in our life.

Nancy: You unpacked your bags.

Pam: Yes. I think those were always just threats trying to get Tony to realize the hurt and the pain that he was causing in my life and potentially our children's lives. Again, I was raised in that type of atmosphere, and I desperately did not want that for my life, our marriage relationship, or my children's lives.

Nancy: The Lord really started both of you on a whole, new track, a whole new direction.

Pam: He did.

Nancy: You got plugged into a church.

Pam: We did. We couldn't get enough of church, and God just surrounded us with mentors, people that were in healthy relationships, affirming relationships.

He just surrounded us with those people that taught us how to communicate with one another and to be more transparent with each other, and we just began to see our marriage relationship blossom, and we began to see our family blossom. Family's just always been so important to me because that's where we find love and security and encouragement, and that's something that I so desperately wanted and started to sense that in my family when we came to know Christ.

Nancy: God had you now on a whole different path, and I think it's easy when we talk about the Christian faith to think, Okay, your life's going a wrong direction before you're a Christian. Then you get saved. You come to Christ. Your life gets turned around, and now everybody's going to live happily ever after—no more problems. I mean, you have to grow spiritually, but that's kind of the end of the story. We just hang on till the rapture.

Pam: Right.

Nancy: In your case, as in so many other cases, there was still a lot more that God needed to do in your lives. It was several years later that God took you both to a whole new and deeper level of your marriage relationship and your relationship with Him, and it started out with a bomb that, Tony, you set off in the marriage. Tell us how that came about.

Tony: Well, I had come home from a church service and told Pam, confessed to her my struggles with pornography. That was ten years into our marriage and eight years after we were Christians.

Nancy: Pam, you were not aware that this had ever been an issue with him or something he had struggled with?

Pam: I had no clueno idea. As a matter of fact, when Tony came home and shared with me that he had been addicted to pornography for the first ten years of our marriage, I was absolutely devastated because he was the type of person that I had become very vulnerable with, that I totally trusted and loved.

I can just remember thinking to myself, How could somebody say that they love you and then do something like this to you? I think the thing that was so hurtful to me is that he kept it from me for ten years, and so I felt very confused at that point in our life, thinking, honestly, I didn't know—I felt very betrayed.

I didn't know if I would ever be able to really trust Tony again. Anything that he said to me, I was always questioning it and wondering if he was telling me the truth, so we worked really hard at trying to put the pieces of our marriage back together after hearing that. We did make some progress, but it was very difficult.

Nancy: Now, let me back up a minute. Tony, what brought you to the point of, after ten years of marriage, bringing this out into the open?

Tony: Well, prior—before knowing Pam and being married, I had believed the lie that once I met the woman of my dreams and we got married, that there would be no more need or desire for pornography.

Nancy: I think a lot of people probably think that.

Tony: Had I had someone tell me before, that would have helped my situation a lot at that time in my life.

Nancy: It turned out not to be true?

Tony: No.

Nancy: This is still a struggle after you got married?

Tony: Exactly, and then after we were married, I was still struggling with it, and when we became Christians, I thought that God would, hopefully, maybe take this away like He did the alcohol. I knew He could, and that didn't happen either. God had a bigger plan. We know that now.

Nancy: It's something that bothered you a lot during those years?

Tony: Oh, I was really struggling on the inside. It was a type of torment that you know what's right; you know what you want to live, how you want to live, yet you struggle. You're in bondage.

Nancy: Did you try to stop?

Tony: Well, I guess one of the other lies that I believed was that I should keep this to myself. I would spare myself the shame and guilt of others knowing. I would spare my wife the hurt and the pain of the knowledge of what I was involved in.

God and I would work together, and we would get through this. I would lick this thing on my own. That way no one would need to know about it, and everything would be fine then.

Well, that isn't how it works, either. That didn't take place, and so in my times of prayer and seeking God on this, I would hear His still, small voice. I can just remember this as like it was yesterday. The one word confess would come back in my mind.

Nancy: Confess.

Tony: Confess. Yep, get it out in the open. Get it exposed, yet I would hear all the other voices in me that just would flood in and give me 15,000 reasons why I shouldn't confess. There was that struggle and battle going on. We became Christians a couple years after marriage, so it was eight years of that type of struggle and battle that was going on inwardly.

Nancy: You were growing spiritually.

Tony: Yes.

Nancy: But you were still having this losing battle.

Tony: Oh, I was teaching Sunday school. I was a board member at the church, involved in the worship team, so you can imagine the double standard. It was only by God's grace and the knowledge of His love and mercy that I had in God that got me through that time, yet I still struggled.

I had victories. There were periods of time where I felt like finally it's over, but yet there was no consistency. I would struggle again and fall back into it. It just brought me to that point of saying, “I don't care, God. I will do whatever You want me to do. I want this over with.”

Nancy: You never told any other men or asked them to pray for you?

Tony: No, no, there was nobody. Nobody knew. I talked to Pam about it.

Nancy: Just like you felt you had to as this “end of yourself” effort here?

Tony: Exactly, exactly. I'd tried very hard for ten years to try to get over this, and I knew that I couldn't. I knew God's way. At that point, it was evident what God's way was, and that was to expose it, get it out of the realm of darkness and into the light where it can be examined and can be dealt with and worked on.

Nancy: Was that a huge relief to you when you did?

Tony: That was a turning point in my life right there.

Nancy: In your battle?

Tony: Yes, it was, and God had given me a new freedom. He had lifted that burden from me.

Nancy: After you told Pam?

Tony: Yes, it wasn't until I had talked to Pam and got it out in the open and just believed in my heart that God had given me what I was working for for ten years, and God had finally blessed me with it.

Nancy: You really began to experience victory over sin and temptation?

Tony: Oh yes, yes. I had been delivered.

Nancy: Wow!

Tony: It was a powerful event in my life.

Nancy: So you were a happy, free man?

Tony: It was a strange dynamic to all of this that started at that point. I was excited. I was happy. Something I had looked for for a long time had finally taken place, yet I had hurt my wife tremendously.

Nancy: Pam, you're seeing his newfound freedom, but you are now in a bondage of your own?

Pam: Right. I wanted to be happy for my husband because I had experienced some bondages in my life with fear before, and so I knew what that was like to be in bondage and to be set free. I wanted to be happy for him.

It was hard for me to be happy for him, especially when I saw him experiencing this joy and this peace, and I was hurt so badly by what he had shared with me that honestly—and this is very hard for me to say—but there was a time in my life, our first ten years of our marriage, that I didn't think I could live without this person. But because Tony wasn't able to tell me, “No, I will never do this again,” I thought it would be better that he would be dead and not alive than to have to maybe have him fall back into this sin and hurt me again.

That's how much pain I felt inside when he told me, not that I wanted to hurt him. I never wanted to hurt him at all, but I didn't want him alive if he was going to hurt me again.

I can remember asking him several times (I just needed that reassurance, and I needed that security), “How are you doing? Do you think you're ever going to fall back into this?” And he would say, “Pam, I don't want to. No, I don't think that I will, but I can't really answer that right now. I know God's done something in my life. He's delivered me. I don't want that to happen, but I can't say a hundred percent sure I'm not going to fall back into it.”

I remember that sent a message to me that you really don't know how deeply you've hurt me because if you knew how deeply I was hurt, you would be able to tell me, “I will never do this again.”

At that point in my life, the thoughts that were going on in my life were revenge. I wanted to get back at Tony. I wanted to dress immodestly. I wanted to do whatever it took to hurt him, to show him—"maybe you can see if I hurt you, the pain that I'm experiencing, that I'm feeling."

By God's grace, Nancy, and His love, I never took that route. I knew that that was the wrong road to take. I knew in doing any of those things that it would give Satan an in-road to cause more destruction and more damage in our relationship. So instead of choosing that road, I decided to find out more about dressing modestly myself.

That's the road that I chose for our life, and I can honestly say that as time—we did seek professional help. I do want to mention that. I just could not seem to get over the hurt that this had caused in my life, and so at that point, we decided to seek some professional help.

Nancy: You got some wise and godly counsel that really was helpful.

Pam: It was so helpful. God showed me, first of all, that I needed to make Him first and foremost the center of my life.

Nancy: Not Tony, but the Lord.

Pam: Exactly. I needed to put my hope and my trust in God and that I needed to worship Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and not my husband, and that was a huge burden lifted from me. Looking back now, I think that Tony was like a savior in my life, and God doesn't want that. He says He's a jealous God. He desires all of us, and so I could see God working, bringing me to that place to fully trust Him. It was hard for me to trust God.

Nancy: Did you view Him at all the way that you saw your dad being—as not trustworthy?

Pam: Yes. When we got saved, and we gave our life to the Lord, I grew in my relationship with the Lord, and I learned. There were so many things that I learned that I was able to apply to my life. But still, that connection of God's love and His grace was not familiar to me.

I still was also trying to gain God's approval and His acceptance in the things that I was doing in church, and so I realized through counseling that He is a loving God and that He loves me, and He accepts me no matter what. Yes, I'm going to fall. I'm going to fail. There are going to be those times in our lives, but God is always there, always there with me to help me through those things. And that no matter what, He will always love me unconditionally. Those things were just ahuge burden lifted from me, and helped me to find healing and trust again.

Nancy: We want to pick up with the next chapter of this story because it has been an ongoing story that God's writing in your lives as He is in each of our lives, but before we wrap today's program, I just want to go back, Tony, to something that I think you've helped us understand. That is the power of honesty, the power of confession.

Proverbs 28, verse 13 says, “He who covers his sin will not prosper, but whoso confesses and forsakes it shall have mercy” (NKJV). For you it was an addiction to pornography. Pam, in your life it had been issues of fear, and there were moral issues in both your lives.

For all of us, there are things that we are tempted to keep hidden, to keep secret, and to think, “I can just handle this.” Besetting sins—we all have them, and you're right. We believe the lie that, “I'm the only one going through this,” or “If I bring this into the open, it'll be worse fate than death. I can't afford to.” Yet you found what God's Word says, that there's freedom; there's forgiveness; there's victory through being willing to come into the light and let the light expose. That's painful.

Tony: Yes, very painful.

Nancy: That is hard, and Satan wants to keep us hiding and in the dark. I think the power of bondage many times is in the secrecy.

Tony: Yes.

Pam: Right.

Nancy: I'm confident we have people listening to us today who have some issue, some sin issue in your life. You may be a child of God, but you are fighting a losing battle.

It may be an eating disorder. It may be a battle with greed or spending or lying or infidelity, something in your marriage, something in your life, something you battle with, something you struggle with, and you think, I've tried a hundred and eleven times. I can't get victory. Could I just encourage you with what we've heard from Tony, that there is power? There is freedom when you're willing to open up to the light.

I've been memorizing and meditating in Psalm 32 over the last several days, and David said, “When I sinned, and I kept silent about my sin, when I tried to cover it, I was miserable, but when I was willing to uncover it, to bring it into the light, I found forgiveness and grace and mercy,” (vv. 4–5 paraphrase). There is forgiveness available for you today.

You may need to go talk with your mate about something. You may need to go talk with a mature believer of the same sex, a mature, older woman or older man or brother in Christ if you're a man, or a pastor. If you're a woman, go find an older woman, a spiritually mature woman, and get honest and say, “Here's what I'm struggling with. Here's what I'm dealing with.”

Maybe you've never told anybody before. I remember the day, after I had spoken at a conference, a woman came up to me. She was crying so hard I could hardly understand her, and I thought, What in the world is she going to tell me?

She said, “I've never told anyone this before,”—attractive, young mom. She said, “I steal.” She was a shoplifter, and for years, she had been in bondage. She said, “I don't even need the stuff!”

She had never told her husband, and she was in bondage. She could not get free till she went home, got honest with her husband, brought it into the light, and God set her into a place of walking in freedom. You can get free.

There may still be a process of restoration, and we'll hear more about that from Tony and Pam tomorrow. It doesn't mean there will never be any more battle, but you can't start to win that battle until you get into the light.

Father, I just pray right now in the name of Jesus that You would penetrate and pierce and prompt hearts that You've been shining the light, and You're calling them to walk into the light, to come out of the darkness, to speak the truth, to confess, not only to You, but if need be, to another believer, to the person who's been affected by that sin or to someone who could help them walk in freedom. Lord, I pray that there will be true, biblical confession that takes place and that You will set many, many captives free as we walk into the light by Your grace. I pray it in Jesus' name, amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with Tony and Pam Vuke about the destructive nature of sin and the power of confession. 

Tomorrow we’ll continue hearing Tony and Pam’s story. Is it possible to forgive a husband after he’s spent years in pornography? Pam and Tony will tell us about God’s power to heal, forgive and reconcile.

Maybe you’re wondering, Could I ever forgive something like that? 

I hope you’ll explore that question by reading Nancy’s book, Choosing Forgiveness: Your Journey to Freedom. Nancy takes you through God’s Word and helps you see why it’s so important to forgive. She shows you how destructive it is to not forgive.

She’ll also take you through a process of forgiving those who have wronged you, helping you discover freedom.

We’d like to send you Choosing Forgiveness when you support Revive Our Hearts with a donation of any amount.

You've heard me say this program is made possible by our listeners. I should go on to explain you're hearing this program in large part thanks to donors in your area. When you call with your donation, we'll ask you for the call letters of the radio station that brings you Revive Our Hearts. You can also let us know whether you listen online.

Your support helps us stay on the air in your area. When you make a donation of any size, make sure to ask for the book, Choosing Forgiveness. Our number is 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

After Tony Vuke confessed to pornography use, his wife, Pam, says she tried controlling everything in their relationship. 

Pam: I remember trying to control every situation in our marriage. Because I didn't trust Tony, I thought I needed to take control of our lives so I could feel safe and secure. Who can do that? I was wearing myself out by trying to do that.

Leslie: They’ll explain how trust was rebuilt, tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

Join the Discussion