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Snapshots of Dementia: Who Are You, and What Have You Done With My Husband?

Posted by on June 11, 2020 in Dementia | 27 comments

I know You’re able and I know You can/ Save through the fire with Your mighty hand/ But even if you don’t/ My hope is You alone.

I sang along with MercyMe as I drove to work, my voice quavering as the tears streamed down my face. Why did I even bother putting on makeup? It’s a good thing I have a long drive. Lord, give me the strength I need.

This scene repeated itself in my car almost every morning during the late spring, summer and fall of 2017. But why? Hadn’t the neurologist reassured us only a few weeks before?

Yes, by the doctor’s standards, Tom was fine. But more and more cracks showed up in his life.

As the days went on, some of these revealed themselves as fault lines. As they widened, the elements around them threatened to collapse.

Our communication. Tom’s job. Our finances. Our marriage.  

I love my husband and want to honor him. I pray that nothing I share makes anyone think less of this loving, creative man created in the image of God. But I also feel compelled to warn people of the potential effects of a disease I believe comes from the pit of hell.

Strong words. But words from the heart of a woman whose husband of more than 30 years went from caring and committed, leading others to walk in faith, to falling prey to various online scams, often with a sexual connection, and showing decreasing interest in both his family and spiritual things. One day, he called me at lunch.

“Someone is blackmailing me through Facebook.”

“What? What do you mean, blackmailing you?”

“They’re threatening me. If I don’t pay them, they’ll post on my wall.”

“What are you talking about? Who cares if they post about you? No one will believe it anyway! Of course you shouldn’t pay!”

But he continued in an increasingly frantic tone, telling me about connecting with someone he said was a woman and that if he did not comply, “she” would post a video he would never want anyone to see.

I took a deep breath. “You’re on your own. Do whatever you want.” And for one of the few times in my life, I hung up on my husband.

Through my shock, I realized Tom had a serious problem. But I had long believed God would make up for any perceived lack in my life. I could trust Him.

Hence the MercyMe song. The tears. The prayers.

Tom did pay the money, and he said the police told him nothing could be done. But this action and others that followed moved me to do something that helped me survive my heartbreak: I insisted we begin marriage counseling.

I knew he needed help. And that meant we needed help.

I contacted my friend Dr. Ted Roberts and Pure Desire Ministries. God had given me a connection with them through my writing work several years before, and I trusted their biblical and clinical emphasis. I wasn’t even thinking of dementia at this point; all I knew was that Tom was broken, and I wanted to see him healed.

Our many months of counseling helped me in multiple ways. But for the most part, Tom seemed disinterested. Unless I helped him with the required homework, he completed very little of it. During our online counseling sessions, his answers were often monosyllabic, and although he expressed sorrow at some points, he also showed a shocking lack of empathy for my pain.

That summer, we celebrated one daughter’s wedding as I wondered about the state of my own marriage. And because Tom had always been in charge of our finances, he was able to hide the thousands he gave away to scammers even as our counseling continued. (Because I know some of you will wonder, yes, once I realized what was happening, I opened separate accounts to protect the rest of our funds. He never even noticed.)

Tom grew up with many wounds, and I don’t think I’ll ever know the depth of his pain. Later, with tears, he described that season as the summer he “got stupid”—far more accurate than either of us realized.

At the time, if I had read anything like this post, I would have known to return to the neurologist. Remember, I still thought he had only a slight memory problem. I had no idea there was a type of dementia that medical professionals refer to as the “midlife crisis dementia” because of behavioral issues similar to his. I didn’t realize apathy and withdrawal from family members came along with it. And I didn’t realize its name was frontotemporal degeneration (FTD), behavioral variant—the diagnosis we would not receive for more than two years after these events.

I believe sexual addiction is real. I hate the entire sex trafficking/pornography industry and everything it stands for. If you know someone with struggles in this area, I beseech you to seek help. I believe the church needs to do far more to recognize rather than ignore these problems and the wounds they inflict on families.

But I also hate dementia and the horrible ways it wages war on mind, spirit and body.

Our months of counseling helped me find my voice. As our journey continued, I would need it more than I would ever have thought possible.

If you have a friend or family member with dementia, you have no doubt witnessed personality shifts. These may not look anything like what we experienced. However, if you know someone who has suddenly “gone off the rails,” with marked behavioral and personality changes, I urge you to consult with a doctor. The problem may not be FTD. But it may also be more than simply a moral issue. Even if you don’t share here, please tell someone. Your story matters.


  1. When I finally insisted on going to counseling, it helped ME very much even though my husband did not take any of it seriously or do any of the home assignments. But I did feel like there was a referee and a person who would say “now wait a minute. That’s not what she said. I heard her say ….” I don’t think my husband had dementia but he certainly had pornography snd sexual addiction and he withdrew from my and our children. He “thought “ he was hiding his secret life but I think the stress of it all finally was too much and he dropped dead on the kitchen floor at age 59. Not at all the way I wanted our marriage to end.

    • You love much because you have suffered much, Mary. I’m so very sorry. I do recognize there are lots of overlaps and uncertainties, but I do know that dementia has had a huge impact on our lives. You are one of God’s favorites–and mine as well.

  2. My heart breaks for you.

    • My heart is healing because of the grace of God and dear friends like you. HUGS!

  3. Oh, how my heart aches for you and for Tom. Such a soul-piercing journey.
    And my tears flowed as I read the beginning of this post. I played (and sang along to) Mercy Me’s song, Even If, countless times during Russ’s journey. It became my go-to song through buckets of tears.
    How I wish you were close enough to hug right now!
    Know I’m continuing to pray with much love!

    • It was definitely my go-to song for many months, and I still cherish it. Later, it became OUR go-to song in the moments when Tom has realized some of the impact of his disease. God has truly bound our hearts together in some amazing ways. I appreciate your heart and your prayers more than you will ever know.

  4. Your heart is so wide open and broken, your writing is beautiful your story horrific. May God our Father hold you tightly as you share this journey.
    Praying always…

    • He is holding us. He truly is. Thank you so very much.

  5. Thank you Marti for sharing. We can make a difference when we share our heartbreak because we are letting others know they are not alone

    • This is what I believe and cling to as I continue to share. HUGS!

  6. God bless you, my friend. I know these were not easy words to write. Your faith and strength are a beacon. You and Tom are in my prayers.

    • Hardest words yet. Thank you for being a true sister and a friend. Grateful always for prayers!

  7. Marti,

    My heart hurts for what you have endured and are enduring, but I see God’s Mercy, Strength, and Grace being lived out through your heart. You have not lost sight of where your First Love resides in our Savior Jesus.

    • I am continually grateful for His work in my life. The truth sets free. Thanks always for your own godly example!

  8. Marti, I am so glad you did not automatically kick Tom away. I see in you a godly woman whose love of Christ has molded her heart to love as our Father loves. Your wisdom, patience, and willingness to endure and to TRUST God through the tough, rough times is truly an inspiration to me. I wish we all would let ourselves be possessed by Him to this depth. It would turn the Church around and, by influence, the world around.

    • I love your heart and your vision. Thank you so much. Always grateful for your love for Him and for us! Hugs.

  9. Sweet Marti. As I read your posts, I am continuously blessed by your willingness to lay down your life for Tom and for your family. How far you’ve already come by the grace of God. I’ve watched as He’s worked miracles for you like selling your house and finding a new one and granting you employment at home and on and on. Your words show honest suffering but joyful appreciation for all that God is in your life. What a brilliant diamond you are in Christ’s kingdom! Love you so much and will continue to pray for you guys.

    • And I am joyfully grateful for faithful friends like you! Love and MISS YOU; always grateful for your prayers.

  10. Marti, Prayers for you and Tom. Thank you for sharing. I am sure your words will help someone else.
    My love to you.

  11. Dear one, what you have suffered. My prayers continue for you and Tom.

    • Oh, this is truly not meant to be about that, although my prayer is to offer all as worship to my King. So grateful for your prayers and friendship.

  12. Marti, I love your comment at the beginning of your blog that God use your writing for eternity. I see that happening. Your story, as you’ve described so far, is heartbreaking yet is it not a hopeless tragedy. All through your writing is the hope of God’s presence with you. I pray for you and Tom. May the Lord be glorified through your life, your relationship and your writing. May He bring healing to your heart and to Tom. Keep on sharing. We need to hear your story.

    • Lynne, this is way different than anything I thought I would be writing when I included that statement on my website, but you’re right. I am glad you see eternity in my words, and your prayer is also mine. Grace and peace!

  13. Marti, My heart goes out to you and what a Blessing you are in sharing your story. I personally have not been through this, but have been with friends , Martie Manwaring, Loretta, and my brother Woodie Allen with his wife. But in my own experiences in life, which at one time were horrific to me, I believe that Our Heavenly Father allows some of to go through things, knowing that as we share we will be helping others who are going through similar experiences. I will be praying for you and Tom and family and know that your faith will get you through. If had not been for God and my spiritual family, I would not be here today… May God continue to Bless you and five you the comfort and guidance you need.

    PS.. For some reason this area is so light that I can barely see what I am writing, so I hope I didn’t make any mistakes and if I did I apologize .. Love you in Christ and what a privilege to know you.

    • You’re so kind, Dottie, and I’m sorry that you have any experience with this! That idea of helping others is really my only reason for sharing. I do trust Him.

      I agree about the font; we are redoing my website soon so hopefully that will improve. You did just fine anyway! Love to you and Bill. <3

  14. Oh Marti, I am praying. Thank you for putting your hurt into words as a testimony for others.

    • Thank you so much, Cheryl. I pray it helps someone, even one.

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