Another Letter to the LDS Woman Who Suffers in Silence Because of Her Husband’s Porn Addiction

How LDS women can know if their husbands are sexually sober—and what to do if they’re not.

[The following is a response to an internet forum post by an LDS woman who was trying to make sense of things after discovering her husband’s pornography and sex addiction.]

TO THE WIFE Who Suffers in Silence:

I’m the guy who writes the rowboat and marbles essays about recovery from sex and pornography addiction (www.RowboatAndMarbles.org). I’ve been in recovery (i.e., no porn, no masturbation and progressive victory over lust) for long enough now to know that complete and lasting sexual sobriety is possible both for me and for other LDS men. Although I’ve seen a number of LDS men find this same recovery, sadly I’ve seen many more that don’t. I have come to recognize some trends.

First, those who get into and stay in recovery do four things: complete honesty with their wife or some other person, complete honesty with their bishop, therapy with a professional person experienced in treating sexual addictions, and active participation in an effective 12 Step group more than two times a week. Second, those who don’t get sober and find true recovery don’t do those four things. This is not to say that this is absolutely the only way to get sexually sober and stay in true recovery. I don’t know that it is. What I do know, however, is what I’ve seen and what I’ve seen is that men who stay in recovery do those four things while those who fail to recover don’t do them.

Most of the LDS men I see who fail to stay sober tend to view therapy and 12 Step as unnecessary inconveniences for men of their intelligence, strength and spirituality. They think these things are crutches for the weak among us (apparently, that would include me). Those of us in actual recovery scratch our heads. We’re indeed weak and yet we’re completely sober sexually. They’re strong (at least in their own minds) but can’t seem to string together more than a couple weeks without porn and masturbation. In recovery, we’re happy and getting happier. They, on the other hand, continue to be scared, confused and miserable.

You said your husband has gone to support groups but they haven’t helped. It’s important to know that not all support groups are equally effective. This is certainly true with 12 Step groups. The Church’s pornography addiction support group (PASG) unfortunately tends to be in the fledgling stages in many areas where it exists. These meetings often lack the experience, strength and hope of men who have achieved long-term sobriety and who can help lead the newer men in the program to sobriety. Without men in serious recovery, these meetings can end up being a group of scared, embarrassed, ashamed and humiliated men who sit and talk about how sorry they are and how much they love Jesus. This is not an effective 12 Step meeting. Also, the Church’s 12 Step groups tend not to have sponsors, another key component of effective 12 Step groups and recovery.

Oftentimes, LDS men will attend twelve meetings of the Church’s PASG program (one meeting a week for three months, one meeting for each of the 12 Steps) after which they announce to their wife and their bishop that they’ve been miraculously cured of their “little problem.” Probably, they actually believe this, as do the wife and the bishop. They’re not cured, however, as they will find out again a few weeks or months later when they once again find themselves acting out and lying about it.

In contrast, many LDS men are finding sobriety in 12 Step groups outside the Church. In particular, Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) is very effective. It is my experience and that of many others that SA is the best way for LDS men to deal effectively with pornography and sexual addiction. It’s amazing and inspiring to see them transform from scared, ashamed, empty shells of men into the confident, worthy priesthood holders they’ve always wanted to be. I expect that at some point, enough LDS men will take their SA experience and sobriety with them to the Church’s PASG groups and fortify them so they become effective as well.

We all need to understand that porn consumption is really just a manifestation of an addiction to lust; lust is a drug that addicts use to self-medicate with when they feel overwhelming negative emotions like resentment, humiliation, fear and anger. If a guy keeps focusing on fighting the “temptation” to look at porn, but never does anything to deal with the lust addiction or the emotions fueling the desire to medicate, he can never get into recovery.


Comments

Another Letter to the LDS Woman Who Suffers in Silence Because of Her Husband’s Porn Addiction — 35 Comments

  1. I just found out that my fiancé “used to” have a pornography addiction. I had to find out myself. I came across this because He gave me his phone to look something up on Instagram and I saw that he looked up porn. I wasnt purposely prying or anything..he forgot to clear his searches. This happened about 3 months ago. I went into denial and didn’t address him about it until two days ago because it kept eating me up inside. I met him while he was on his mission and he is the most amazing, spiritual, most religious man I’ve met, and I didn’t ever think this could happen to someone as good as he is.
    At first when I asked him about it..he denied it, and I told him I would ask him one more time and that if he lied to me it was over because I had proof. He confessed, and told me that he had a bad patch after his mission for about a month or so, but that he hadn’t looked at it since (he repented before he went on his mission). I’m honestly scared. I’m young, engaged, clueless, and I don’t know what to do. I feel like he is being honest and not looking at it, but there’s always the chance that he may be lying to me. I don’t want him to touch or hug me. I can’t even kiss him without thinking about him looking at other women(or men). I love him more than my own life, and I want to help him. I want him to be honest with me.
    But I’m just scared that this will tear us apart. Does anyone have any advice?

    • I would say share this sight with him, tell him if what he is saying is true, he might just be at the beginning, but if he is willing to nip it in the bud now, and actually takes action by taking these steps, you might still marry him, because you do love him, but you should start off right. No secrets, for secrets will destroy your future. Trust me, he will thank you for it later. Stand your ground, and make sure he knows how much you love him, and believe he can do this IF he will take steps to address it by going to a 12 step program that can set him up with a mentor. He has already shown that there is at least some inkling of addiction within him, and left alone, that WILL grow. But if he can get into a state of recovery now (no denial) then you have a GREAT advantage to a long and happy marriage, because you already know you have addressed the great issue most common among young lds married couples. (50-80%)

    • dear lady who is engaged to the guy with porn on his phone. I’m a porn addict/ lust addict. this was a secret for about 2 years of my marriage. My wife stumbled across some disturbing internet history. At that stage in my life its no guess, but should be obvious that my spirituality and emotional health was very poor. The first thing an addict does in this situation is to minimize the sin/crime. Why? i don’t know but its what we do. How do i know this? because the very next day after “D” day(Discovery day) i started attending the lds 12 step meetings at the stake center down the street. I went every day for months, then it tapered off as the semester started up again. (UVU). in the 12 step recovery manual it address this minimization that addicts do especially when shame is involved. i am willing to bet a large sum of something worth something very valuable that he minimized his sin/crime. its just the statistics. and statistics are statistics for a reason. He more than likely has a porn addiction. I do not consider my self to be in strong recovery, i am approaching a more solid state of recovery, this pornography is extremely powerful. it is THE tool satan uses this day and age to ruin the priesthood, marriages, lives, and families. THE tool… My advice… love him. if you decide to stick around i would certainly post pone the wedding date. just plan on not getting married in 2015. If you really want to marry a man that is in recovery or that is not involved in pornography or sins of lust it will take some real time to prove him. just follow the spirit on this one. don’t get too excited about having the dream life and being the dream wife. i can imagine that this feels like a big rock just got thrown into your soup. i am truly sorry that you are experiencing this. as my wife and i have entered the world of sex addiction recovery it is common knowledge to us now that almost every marriage has been affected by lust/porn or will be affected by it. in the book “He Restoreth my Soul” Thalmage states that a study done on pornography shows that by 12th grade of highschool 100% of boys have been exposed to pornography. So now the question is how do you keep from going crazy? Go to meetings for victims of sex/porn/lust addicts. Educate yourself on the matter. Your not alone. This is a very common thing. Most who face this challenge shrink away. This is a real test of faith. But thats why He put us here.

    • This is a long time after this post but here goes. If it is on the phone he wants it ever with him. Also, having been married to a man with the same problem, the phone was only the tip of the iceberg. I wish I married a person who devoted their time to me and our family rather than sneaking off to do what he did. Addicted persons can do this for years only thinking about themselves and their own wants. No one else matters ever. My husband neglected me and our marriage and children with ongoing excuses and lies, I stayed because I loved him-not knowing this was going on- If I had known that he was such a great deceiver, I would never have married him. What a waste of me…..

  2. What if it’s the wife who’s struggling with a porn addiction? I don’t see that addressed anywhere on your site. Sorry this comment is so late in coming. I just recently stumbled on your site. I don’t know if you’ll see this or not. Thanks!

    • Most of the posts on the site are written from the perspective of an LDS man who is working in his own recovery from sex addiction. There are other sites written by LDS women who are recovering addicts.

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