The wife of disgraced US pastor Ted Haggard says counselling has successfully freed him of his gay urges and made their marriage “better than ever”.
Gayle Haggard appeared on MSNBC’s Today programme to say that her husband’s therapy had given him the “tools” to deal with his compulsions.
The founder of Colorado’s New Life Church, Mr Haggard was forced to resign leadership of the church and the presidency of the National Association of Evangelicals in 2006 after allegations emerged he had hired rent boys and taken drugs with them.
The evangelical preacher, who counselled George W Bush, was a vocal opponent of gay marriage but was plunged into scandal when prostitute Mike Jones revealed they had had an three-year sexual relationship.
Speaking to Today presenter Meredith Vieira, Mrs Haggard revealed that on the night her husband admitted some of the allegations were true, she allowed him into the marital bed.
She explained her decision: “Broken people need to be touched, and by reaching out, Ted was pleading for my help.”
Mrs Haggard continued: “In Ted’s case, he had had some experiences as a child that kept replaying themselves in his mind. Once he went to therapy he was able to identify that and was given the tools to deal with it. Because of that, he no longer has those compulsions. That’s not true for everybody. That’s his story.”
She added: “Our relationship is better than it’s ever been. Going over this mountain together has given me the marriage that I’ve always longed for.”
Mrs Haggard revealed that her husband had confessed to an incident with another man early in their marriage but had gone to a counsellor and she had forgiven him.
She said: “I felt as though the problem was pretty much solved. . . Through the years, what I’ve discovered is that it would reemerge in Ted’s life from time to time, but he didn’t tell me about it.
“When I would ask him, he would say it was no longer a problem, since it was something he was ashamed of and trying to hide.”
In January last year, Mr Haggard told chatshow host Oprah Winfrey he wanted to kill himself after the revelations surfaced.
He said: “I was dying. I had settled in my mind exactly how I was going to commit suicide. I was preparing, and in my life, Jesus came to me and he said, ‘Now, now I can save you.’ ”
Mrs Haggard appeared on the MSNBC show to promote her new book: “Why I Stayed: The Choices I Made in My Darkest Hour.”