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. My husband has been an addict for several years. We have been married for over twenty years. I’ve just recently found out about his addiction. This disclosure has also brought out his adulterous affairs and time spent on online date sites. I do not understand this kind of addiction. It`s tearing me apart. Are there any support groups for the wives of porn addicts? Please let me know if there is help out there for me. Thanks, J

    • J: Sex and pornography addiction is insanity. It has made the people we love do crazy things. It has turned them into liars. Your husband can recover and never act out again if he will get into an effective 12 Step program, get a sponsor, work the steps and attend meetings. You too would definitely benefit from a support group for spouses. I attend S-Anon. It’s not LDS-affiliated, but its principles are exactly in line with the Church. It has saved my sanity and helped me figure out what I need to do to protect myself and my kids from the damage caused by my husband’s addiction. The Church also has a spouses’ support group for wives but you have to be very careful with it. In a lot of areas, it’s not well organized and doesn’t have helpful literature or sponsors to help the newer women get their bearings. Unfortunately, it can sometimes lead to great confusion, isolation and pain. That’s why I say you need to be careful and decide if your local group is effective. Most of the LDS women in our area attend S-Anon because that’s what works for us. If you want, you can contact me privately through the website and leave your phone number. I am happy to chat with you by phone and share my experience with you. We’re praying for you. Claire.

  2. I love the hope and knowledge you have on this website. I am the wife of an addict. We have been “working” on recovery for the past two years. I go to a 12 step S-Anon group online and on phone meeting one to two times a week. I attend group therapy once a week. I see an experienced counselor one to two times a month with my husband.

    I know that this is all a process, but I can’t help but feel that we are just spinning our wheels here. I must add that within the next month or so, we are moving to a different state that does have strong support groups and meetings. My husband tells me this is his main reason for moving because he knows he can’t get the help here. (Which isn’t completely true, but the help there would be more easily available).

    I want to believe him, but am afraid to hope/hold out/or set up expectations around that happening when we move. I don’t want to live through that disappointment again. Promises to change with a move, then using it as an excuse of being “too busy” to put it off.

    Though I have seen great changes in myself and my behaviors and thinking, I know I have a long way to go and am definitely not perfect. I feel like the relationship with my husband gets in the way of my recovery right now. So much drama!

    My husband feels he has made great progress, and I have to give him credit–there have been some changes. But every time I read something about recovery, whether on your website or somewhere else, I just know that it is not my husband.

    I appreciate the recent post on boundaries. It came to me at a most opportune time. I have worked and reworked my boundaries more than I can say. I’ve poured sweat, tears, and hours of my time into these boundaries. I have stressed, prayed, read and educated myself about them, thought and pondered some more and yet they just seem to cause more problems and to drive us further apart.

    Every time I rework them, they become more and more complicated. I have counseled with my therapist, my sponsor, and other support group members. My husband thinks of course they are controlling and rigid and are pushing him away. To be completely honest, to a point I agree with him.

    Your post on boundaries is exactly how he feels. The fact that he completely disrespects them, blames, criticizes, and refuses and tries to manipulate them makes me feel confused, however, as to the true reasons for his disagreement with them.

    I want something that works for me. That’s really what they are about, right? Me! I need to feel safe.

    I am tired of fighting about them. I finally came to a point the other day (the day before I read your post) where I just ripped them up. They weren’t working for me and I knew it. No matter how I want it, I don’t feel safe.

    Even with my boundaries, it is only temporary security that comes along with distancing myself from my husband–usually in the form of me sleeping on the couch, which then feels somehow like the addict is getting comfy in my bed and I’m letting him get away with it.

    Still it feels like I have some control over my life and this security mostly comes from a feeling of me being true to myself and not getting walked all over. It is a good feeling to stand up for myself and say that I won’t be treated that way. That I do deserve better.

    I don’t think we are at the point of separation, and honestly where we are right now it really isn’t possible. But I don’t know what else to do short of living in another room. And won’t that just foster more distance and disconnection?

    Besides, I don’t see how being in the same house and just sleeping in separate rooms would be effective for us. The drama would still be there. I really don’t know if I could get the space I wanted, and it would cause confusion with connection. I just don’t think that THAT is the answer.

    I am discouraged. He is discouraged. He has a lot of resentment. I feel like I’m on the crazy train. Lately he really has resentment because he doesn’t “get” sex. I just can’t right now. I don’t trust him. He isn’t consistent. He will have a couple good weeks, then completely falls off for another two or three and blames me for it. He claims he hasn’t acted out, but I see things that I can’t ignore.

    It is obvious by his behavior toward me that his addiciton is alive and well. I feel like he is limping along. I can’t connect with that. I have been so hurt and I feel so unsafe. I long for connection, but it seems like that comes with a price, that when we are “really connected” then we “should” have sex, and if I refuse, then he goes into victim mode, is depressed and hurt, and the resentment returns because a husband “should” be able to have sex with his wife and so on. Then I am made into the bad guy.

    So this kind of “connection” actually adds to my lack of trust. Even when we have our “good” weeks and I feel like I am living with the man I love and care about, a man who is working his recovery, humble, taking responsibility, accountable, working hard, and is honest and transparent; I can’t trust it because it doesn’t last. Because I can’t get over the history. Is that something I need to work on? Is that somehow not “letting it go” or not “forgiving”?

    I just feel like I need some serious time to heal and to trust again. And I really feel like that will only come with consistent steps in the right direction to rebuild that. Somehow, the blame keeps getting pointed back to me, my emotions, my fears, and my hormones. Ha ha!

    Even though some of that may be a factor (I know that I am definitely not perfect in my recovery and I am really working on getting healthier) I know that I am only responsible for the way I act or react, and the same goes for him.

    We keep getting stuck. He feels like he is never good enough. I feel like things aren’t getting better. I have that feeling like something is not right, and though I practice surrender and my tools, that feeling never quite goes away.

    I can get peaceful, but I still feel like we are really struggling. Is this normal in recovery? Do I just need to take a big breath and give it time? Or should things progressively be getting better here?

    I know most couples talk about the ups and downs. When does consistency come into play? I can’t ignore that he is still in a lot of denial (even if he doesn’t recognize it) and that he is still not actively seeking his recovery.

    I really get the feeling that he is probably still active in his addiction to. Like seeing that movie he knew had a “scene,” watching to that point, then getting up to leave so he could tell me how “good” he did. I just hate that false recovery.

    He thankfully did admit later that he was in denial, which he wouldn’t have done a year ago, but that is as far as he took it. He does stuff like that several times a week. Isn’t that a problem? I know that all of this is HIS recovery, but I can’t feel safe with that.

    These “triggers” feel more like acting out to me. Putting himself in the situation, and then doing the false “taking care of it.” Maybe I am wrong here, but it just doesn’t feel right to me.

    According to my “old” boundaries, I would be sleeping on the couch for a week from this kind of ritualizing behavior (dare I say, acting out?). He feels like I take everything to the extreme and I feel like I am pushed and pushed until I am cornered and have to. To keep from going on an on, we are struggling.

    I don’t feel safe, I don’t feel respected, I feel manipulated and I feel a lack of true connection that matters to me (emotionally, mentally, spiritually) most of the time, and I can’t trust the times we do connect. My sexual connection with him is just all messed up.

    I feel used to “safely” act out his addiction, even though he would disagree there. I have heard of couples observing a period of mutually agreed upon sexual abstinence and I think that it would be a healthy thing for us. I have been wanting to give him the opportunity to do this together. I just don’t think it works if it is me “enforcing” it. I might as well just move out if that is the case.

    • S, I completely understand and get what you’re going through, sound very similar to what I’ve experienced.

      I’ve been married to a sex addict for 11 years, though the addiction started way before that. I first discovered pornography on our computer/magazine a year before we were married. We were living together and I didn’t like this presence in our home. I was torn apart inside, but thought that it was just a thing that men did and that there was nothing I could do about it, so I repressed that hurt and tried not to think about it.

      A couple years later, after joining the LDS church, I learned that pornography is definitely not okay(as my inner gut feelings had told me), is a form of adultery, and that masturbation is not okay. I caught him several times over the first couple years of our marriage acting out, and I was torn to pieces each time. I was in a state of shock, depressed, and completely broken. At this point we had a young child at home, and I was alone and miserable. I told him he needed to go to the Bishop. He’s gone in to talk to several over the years, unfortunately, they don’t have a lot to help him with, just told him to repent and not do it again. That didn’t work.

      Over the next eight years or so, and another child, I’ve been broken and broken over and over again. He acted out on a frequent basis. My self esteem was so bad then that he had me doing things I wasn’t comfortable with. He would complain about not having sex, but he made me physically and emotionally sick to be around. I would give in, feeling more broken afterwards. I would wake up in the middle of the night to him touching me. All I could think was that he was sick in the head. I’ve felt alone and sad and broken and alone. I can’t describe to you the pain I’ve felt. I’ve wondered what I’ve done in life to deserve this, why this pain is allowed. All I’ve ever wanted is a husband that loves me and is devoted to me and is a good father and role model. I want happiness.

      Two years ago, the bishop sent him to a PASG meeting. He went to them and made a lot of progress and started making huge changes. However, he doesn’t have a support person, the group is new. A few months later I was directed to the support group for spouses that the church does. I was the only one going, so not as beneficial as I’d hoped. I did learn to make boundaries. I initiated a period of several months of abstinence, because I felt I was feeding his addiction by being intimate with him.

      He respected my boundaries and things have been much better, but I just found out yet again that he lied to me about being sober for the past year and a half. Now I’m broken yet again. I’m sad and angry and done. I point blank asked him and he deflected and lied to me, straight to my face. I don’t know what to do anymore, I’m so done with the ridiculousness of it all. This is not a happy marriage and I’m done. So, for now, he’s sleeping in a different room and we have no marital relationship, he’s not allowed to even touch me. I told him I’ll be friendly for the kids sakes, but I don’t know how much longer I can do this. I see no hope for the future of our marriage, just a life of lies and deception and hurt. Divorce will hurt too, it’s a no win.

  3. I am a newly wed. My husband is amazing and was totally honest and up front with me from the beginning. I thought I could handle it and things were going great. He was getting better. He even took me to meetings with him. We met and got engaged at [one of the BYUs], and then moved to [another state].

    Since then things have gotten harder. We just moved back to school to finish our degrees and to get help. We are going to start counseling in the Fall with the same counselor he went to before.

    We are trying but I feel so hurt and scared. He tells me his struggles and it relieves him and breaks my heart. I am really struggling with sex. I don’t trust him, and there have been many times where I feel like we are having sex for him and not for us. Like I am just glorified masturbation.

    Then it’s like a Catch-22 because I feel like my not having sex with him makes it harder for him to stay good. I am 20 and most of my friends are not married and I feel so isolated. Who can you really talk to about your husbands pornography problem?

    I love my husband so much and after reading a few other posts, I see how lucky I am that it was never a secret, and that he knows what a serious problem it is and wants help. I am just scared that I am not helping as much as I should or could be.

    I want us to work on this now when it is just us and try to get it better controlled. I am just scared that it is never going to end, that I am going to be scared the rest of my life, always wondering what is going on if he spends too much time in the bathroom, or if I leave him home alone.

    But telling your husband you don’t trust him does not help him either. Do you have any advice? How can I work on my fears and trusting him more, and being more open to sex. We have only been married 4 months this should be the best times of our lives. Now we are stressed, both feeling so sorry for hurting the other.

    • I have been married for 10 years now and my husband has been struggling with an addiction the entire time. I used to feel like I couldn’t leave him home alone, or send him into a store by himself. I always wondered what he was doing in the bathroom…ect! Something I have learned over the years is that you cannot babysit him. You cannot fix him. He has to do that himself and if he isn’t then it is NOT your fault. I used to password protect all the computers and I won’t even do that anymore. I am getting to the point now where I do nothing except listen and be supportive. As long as he is honest with me, and he trying to overcome this, (attending his 12 step meetings, reading his scriptures, fullfilling his callings, ect…) I will stand by his side, but as soon as he gives up and says it is too hard, then I take my kids and go! I also have a hard time giving my husband sex because you never know what is going on in his mind. It is really hard. Use lots of prayer and Heavenly Father will guide you as to what you need to do.

      • Thank you so much for your comments. My husband was caught doing porn after he retired. He denied it and denied how long it had been going on. He traveled for his work so now I am devasted to think what he may have been doing there also. I know he got into gambling that put us $75,000 in debt. We have managed to pay that off. He has severe heart problems. Two bypass surgeries, several stents. etc. He has since retired. I don’t know if it started then due to boredom. At least that is what he says. I am still working. He lied about how long, first a month. then two months, as I dug deeper it was for almost a year when I went through his emails to places he had prescribed but canceled.

        I think that the only thing he is sorry for is that he got caught. We have had such a close relationship.. I thought…we had sex all the time and always cuddled at night.. So this is
        disabling to me. I don’t what to talk to my grown children. I don’t want them to hurt as i am.
        I feel the same way I did when my mother passed away. I truly feel like someone that was my best friend who we shared lots of memories and fun sweet times together is gone. I am just crushed.. I want this feeling to go away..

        I told him that he had to look up a counselor. He has been looking and talked to one today that he can do in an online group because the counselor lives far away.

        It is a six week course and the wives are there. After we spoke to the counselor. He said so
        now what I have to do this the rest of my life? In a very sarcastic way. That just killed me all over again. Is he doing it only because he got caught? He doesn’t seem humble about it.
        Later today I told him that what he said hurt me. He jumped all over me and said.” I just said a dumb thing! Okay!”

        But his words to me each day I leave for work is. I won’t do porn today.

        I do feel like a baby sitter. He coos and woos me when he wants but other times I have no idea what is in his head.

        Thanks for listening. I just need to get it out of me. I literally hurt all over.
        I know I will need counseling and I think he needs private counseling too. He just doesn’t want to put it in the budget. We were hoping by January I could retire too. He is 68, I am 59
        How can I ever believe him? If I go out of town he heads for the casinos.

        He doesn’t want me to take classes that I want to take to be a trainer in hypnotherapy. But he doesn’t have any trouble going to a casino. He also said he was going to put his income into our joint account so I would know better what he is doing but he hasn’t done that yet either.

        I feel like I just want to be a grandmother at my age. I have fibromyalgia and dystonia from a car accident. Stress makes it 10 times worse. Now this. I have always tried to not let those problems stop me from doing what I want to do. But I feel now I need to keep working. I don’t know what will happen in my future.

        A wife who thought her sweetheart was in fact her sweetheart…

  4. My husband told me 5 years into our marriage that he was participating in ‘adult entertainment’. I was surprised, scared and hurt. A very different time. Our Bishop was unable to help. My husband told me then that IF I trusted him he would discontinue his behavior BUT if I did not trust him then he had no reason to stop. Hmmm. I was young. I was convinced my trust in him would make the difference. 20 years later I learned that I was wrong. Seek counsel and get advice from those experienced in sex addiction.

    • I’m sorry for the misery that your husband put you through. We understand a lot more about addiction now than we ever did. One of the goals of this website is to get truth and reality in front of the eyes of the spouses of sex and porn addicts. As they learn truth and reality, they become able to see through the smokescreen that addicts send up.

      I’m sure you understand now that if your husband tried to pin his recovery in any way on something you must or must not do (i.e., “You have to trust me again or I won’t be able to stop.”), he wasn’t serious about recovery or didn’t understand the serious nature of his addiction. Today, you’d undoubtedly look him straight in the eye and tell him to get real. He is responsible for his recovery. Nothing a wife does or does not do is any excuse for a man not being able to find recovery from his sex and pornography addiction.

      Blaming others or dumping responsibility on them is another hallmark of addiction.

  5. Thank you for this website. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I found out about my husband’s pornography addiction 5 years ago. I was naive. He was repentant(ish). I thought all was solved and mostly tried to forget about it! Six weeks ago I discovered that he was in the midst of pornography all over again (I’m ALWAYS the one to discover it), even while serving in a prominent church leadership calling. He “thinks” he stayed away from pornography for “maybe” a year, which (IF true – big IF, means that he was still acting out for the last 4 months and the past 6+ months have been ‘really bad’). Later I asked if he had masturbated during that “maybe year or so” and he admitted he “probably” had. That is not sobriety or recovery. Right now he is repentant again…working it through with a loving, but inexperienced bishop. My husband insists, “It wasn’t as bad as LAST time,” but I refuse to believe him and those words only make me hear the addiction talking.

    It is all so different this time around for me. I’ve learned so much and knowledge is power. Thank you for your articles. They are spot on. Even the ones that have been difficult for me to read have prepared me for various things my husband has later admitted to and made that part less painful. I feel like some of your articles have been an answer to prayer. This addiction is bigger than I ever realized, but I love that there is so much hope as well.

    He LOVED your lower lights article, which is the only thing I have ever been able to share with him and only because I was listening to the song on youtube and he mentioned it was his favorite hymn and then let me read your post. He is just like the person you described in this letter here. He thinks he has it beat…he swears he went from “really bad” to no temptation and the last 6 weeks he has been “clean.” He says he’ll do whatever it takes, but refuses to learn anything about pornography addiction because he already knows everything he needs to. He refuses to learn about pornography addiction’s affect on the wife because he says he learns that from me. Thank you for your article here. It just confirms everything I am thinking and feeling. I’m working through my own recovery right now and I’m grateful. It’s a bumpy, painful road, but I’m in so much better of a place this time around. Thank you for sharing your story!

    As an ex-addict, I’m sure you understand my husband who refuses to do anything, but go straight to the Master Healer himself (because the 12 steps are not for “him” just like you say) – because prayer and scripture study are all he needs! Any tips on getting my husband to wake up?! I WISH I could force him to read your website and internalize it, but obviously that won’t work. 🙂 I know I need to just work on my own recovery, but it’s hard to be married to someone and try to have a relationship in the present when there are so many uncertainties.

    • M.M did you every answer your question about ‘tips to get him to wake up?’ It would be interesting to hear. I will let you know if I find out because I am in a similar situation. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  6. What do you mean with “It also means progressive victory over lust.”? What does progressive means in this case? Are you saying that even if the recovery is real my husband will still be tempted by other women for the rest of his life, even if he doesn’t act out?

    • No, that’s not really what I’m saying at all. In fact, it’s the opposite. Men and women who are addicted to lust have lost the ability to say no to lust. When the sexual image pops up on the computer screen, for exemple, they can’t look away. They go to pieces and start binging. When the attractive woman walks by, the lust-addicted man can’t help but lear and fantasize.

      As part of the recovery from sex and pornography addiction, however, addicts gradually re-acquire the ability to “look away” both with their eyes and their minds. In order to stay in recovery, they absolutely eliminate everything lust-related that they possibly can from their lives. They work an effective recovery program and with time arrive at a point where the incidental exposures to lust in their lives are harmless or very nearly harmless. And they have a mechanism for surrendering the lust and letting it go before it eats them alive as it had in the past.

      What I’m saying is that sex and pornography addicts in recovery are very likely some of the most honest, pure, upstanding, exemplary spiritual giants in the Church. I would be proud to associate with them at any time and in any place. Their spouses have confidence in them. These men and women are men and women of God–with no asterisk next to their names.

      • Thank you for your answer. It really helped me. I understand what you saying now. It was confusing to me how you said no porn, no masturbation and progressive victory over lust. It made me think that you never really overcame lust. My husband is going through the repentance and the recovery process again (it wasn’t real the last times) but this time he is saying that it is the real deal. He is going to meetings, to a therapist and talking to the bishop and doing his dailies and being more open with me. I can see some differences from the other times and I really want to believe him and help him but I’m really tired and afraid that I have reached my limit and this is the end of the road for me because I have zero tolerance for relapses. I read a lot on your site it gave me hope and the desire to find help for myself and try to focus on my own healing.

  7. Thank you for this web site. It is a blessing for me to understand how recovery works from an LDS perspective. I learned that my husband had a “problem” 5 years ago. At the time, he blamed me for his actions. I accepted this blame because I did not understand what sex addiction was and how sick my husband is. The next several years I experienced a range of emotions: depression, rage, anger. I could not understand why I could not just feel normal. Sadly, my three young children witness all of these “up and downs.” Over a year ago, I found salifeline and started to become educated about sex addiction. I found a counselor who specializes in sex addiction. Fortunately, this woman practices in the same town where I live. I live in an area of the country where there a few LDS members and this woman is the only therapist who specialized in sex addiction in the state; I felt blessed to have this resource. I set my boundaries with my husband and told him I would not leave him because of his addiction but he did not get help then I would have to leave him. Needless to say, he has not embraced recovery. He has stopped going to 12 step meetings, does not have a sponsor and does not meet regularly with his therapist. He says he is in “recovery” but by his actions, I know this is not true. He has made excuses and deflected blame. He just recently met with our Bishop for the first time since going to see a therapist. He continues to be mean and rude. He is getting all of the “stuff” together so he can file for a divorce. The Bishop called and wants to meet with me; I am getting ready for the “bomb” to drop. I asked him if there is anything more he needs to tell me (he gave me his “confession” last summer.) He tells me I know everything, but judging from his behavior and his lack of humility I think otherwise. Reading this web site has helped me understand that my husband is in the type 1 or 2 category of addiction, he has not hit rock bottom. I do not know what rock bottom is for him. But, for me, I have been learning about interpersonal relational trauma that help explains my reactions. In addition, I do feel more grounded and more at peace. I can see my husband is in a panic mode because I really do not care if he chooses to file for a divorce. (I personally think it is a big smoke screen, he wants to be in control when he is so clearly not in control.) I know I will be o.k.
    Thank you to everyone who comments on this site. I have appreciated your honesty and the courage to share your experiences. As I mentioned, I live in an area that has few LDS members. Having a forum to discuss and learn from our perspective has given me courage and strength.

  8. Years ago we moved to a place that lacks real support for this addiction. There is now a general addict lds group and spouse group. The spouse group was nice for spiritual thoughts but unhelpful otherwise especially when anonymity was not respected by one of the few attendees. The fallout has been rumors, loss of business clients and the loss of ‘friends’. My h is seeing a c but says he’s tired of being the ‘bad guy’ and they tell me that even if he struggled the rest of his life he could return to HF because he’s trying. I believe that could be true, but feel like my pain is minimized.
    Recently he has come to me in an interestingly broken yet perhaps twisted thinking. He’s not ok with the lack of sx in our current situation- which was his choice for the last couple of years because I have difficulty with a sx act that he feels is the only way he truly feels loved. I have been counseled to ‘overcome’ my problem in this area and meet his needs yet I feel objectified and can not engage without anxiety meds and I feel pretty worthless afterwards. Now he says he can’t even hug me because it makes him want to have sx with me which hurts his recovery since he doesn’t want sx without it being this act too. What he wants isn’t ‘bad’ but it’s upsetting to me especially how I feel he treats me.
    He says it’s not about punishing me but about his survival. He has also shared with me and others he is considering divorce as he can not live this way- not having his needs met through his desired sx.
    I’ve been really struggling with what I should do and how I am feeling. Today at church I felt a sweet assurance that I wasn’t wrong for feeling this way and that his treatment of me wasnt loving or respectful.
    I found this site and I feel encouraged that there are people out there that would believe me and validate the real pain and struggles I’m experiencing.
    What you say about possible real recovery is not what I’m hearing in our face to face support and leadership. I’m still unsure my next step but feel like its ok to say no this is not ok with me as I don’t feel loved. My h doesn’t think lust is bad in a marriage but I feel icky thinking I’m just a tool, a more acceptable outlet for him.

    • Macey: Thanks for reading and sharing a bit of your story. I’m sorry for the pain you’ve experienced. I will say, however, that your thinking appears clear and sound. You recognize lust in your marriage, the lust hurts you (because that’s what lust does), your husband and others around you just want you to get used to the lust, but you are tired of the lust and want the pain to stop. I think you’re right on track. No rule or law anywhere says you are required to submit yourself to the lust of another person, not even your husband. If he is addicted to lust, you are not obligated to be his drug.

      It appears that too few marriage counselors, local priesthood leaders and practically no participants in the Church’s Addiction Recovery Program understand that LUST is the big problem that’s killing LDS marriages, not porn. Too many of us seem to have this idea that if we just keep from looking at porn, that’s going to solve all our problems and that’s all we need to do. We don’t see that porn is just one of the many ways that we take lust into our brains through our eyeballs.

      Married LDS men who are addicted to lust and give up porn with no real understanding of their lust addiction merely refocus their lust on their wives. Even though they may love their wives, they nevertheless objectify them, essentially insisting on treating them like a piece of meat to satisfy their lust obsession. Mormon women who object to this painful treatment at the hands of their husbands are often made to feel like there is something wrong with them (the wives).

      From the way you describe your situation, it certainly sounds like your husband is a lust addict, he doesn’t recognize lust, he confuses intimacy with lust-driven sex, and wants you to feed his lust. He wants you to provide his drug and he feels and acts like a victim because you don’t want to be his drug.

      I believe there is a solution to lust addiction. Through Sexaholics Anonymous, I have experienced recovery and I have met a lot of other men and women who like me have found a release from the mental obsession with lust that is caused by their addiction. We used to be like your husband, but now we enjoy lust-free intimacy with our spouses. We aren’t settling for anything less than the standard Jesus Christ set when he spoke of lust in the heart. We are eliminating lust completely and it is saving our lives, marriages and sanity. We are happy and free.

      Because there is a clear solution to addiction, I believe that people who refuse to address the roots of their addiction and die in their sins never having been able to forsake them, are going to be very uncomfortable after this life when they have to explain to God and the Savior why they (the addicts) weren’t willing to do their parts in the repentance process.

      People who try to excuse the lust-driven behavior of the addict have simply never seen true recovery. If they had, they would be horrified by the lust-drunken insanity we have come to accept and embrace even among the Mormons. If more Latter-day Saints would get involved in Sexaholics Anonymous and S-Anon and then bring what they learn about recovery from lust addiction back into the Church’s recovery programs, it would be a completely different story. Those LDS men and women with a sex, porn and lust addiction would get sober and stay sober. Their spouses would find recovery from the damage of the addicts’ lust-driven behavior and would demand lust-free intimacy in the marriage. And they’d get it–because lust-free intimacy is possible with true recovery.

      It ain’t rocket science, but it requires LDS addicts to give up ALL of their drug LUST in ALL its forms, including lust-driven objectification of and lust-drunk sex with their spouses. Sadly, most LDS addicts aren’t willing to give up ALL of their drug. They just want to stop looking at porn and think that will be sufficient.

      I encourage you to read Rhyll Croshaw’s new book, get all the S-Anon literature and read it, and attend as many S-Anon meetings as you can. They have phone meetings if there are no nearby face-to-face meetings.

      Again, I’m with you 100%! You are a daughter of God. Nowhere did He ever say that you had to subject yourself to being the object of your husband’s craving for his drug LUST. I’m convinced that Heavenly Father wants so much more than that for you. It sounds to me like the Holy Ghost is speaking that same message to your heart. I hope you’ll continue to listen and stick to your guns.

      Encourage your husband to educate himself about lust and lust addiction and to quit demanding that you be his drug. That’s not your job.

  9. I appreciate the honesty in your blogs. My husband is an addict and blames me. I struggle dealing with feeling safe and the lying, emotional abuse, passive-aggressive behavior etc. The honesty about how serious this problem is feels validating and scary at the same time to me. I now know that “his little porn problem” is his dysfunctional way of dealing with the emotional and sexual abuse enabled and ongoing in his parents’ family. It is not my fault. He does not admit any of this it is what I have observed over sixteen years of marriage. It is scary to face that for my own and my children’s safety our temple marriage will likely end in divorce. I especially liked how you addressed in another post the confusion about receiving a confirmation from the Lord before getting into this marriage and then wondering what did I do wrong to get into this mess. Thank you

  10. Thank you so much for this site. I found out about a year ago that my husband has a porn/sex addiction. It was a total shock to me when I discovered his behavior which along with porn consisted of him interfacing with other women from an online sex site. This is his 2nd marriage and it turns out that he did the same thing in his first marriage, but she didn’t recognize it to be a pattern of sex addiction, rather just having an affair (which to me are two separate issues).

    Last summer he went through the repentance process with the bishop and did the whole LDS support group thing, but the group here isn’t specific to sex addiction. We had marriage counseling, but didn’t seem to focus much on the sex addiction.

    He seemed to be doing better, but I don’t think he was ever in recovery after reading your description. And over the weekend I discovered text messages and emails once again.

    I was really thinking that I would just have to get a divorce. And I’m still not sure what will happen. But I feel a lot of hope having seen this site and realizing neither of us were really using the right tools.

    He says he’s willing to do whatever it takes. Of course I don’t totally trust that. But what I do feel really good about is the resources I’ve found for spouses so that I can work on me and make appropriate boundaries and decisions.

    I appreciate all the great resources here. Thank you!

    • Thanks for reading and commenting! I hope you’ll look into the resources of S-Anon and, if you haven’t already, find other women with positive recovery experiences. There are a bunch of them in S-Anon. They are some of the happiest, strongest women I know.

      Also, I think you keyed in on something important in your husband’s situation. He repented, yes. It was apparently sincere. He really meant it from the way you describe it. Unfortunately, if it’s an addiction, he can’t just forsake the sin by forsaking the sin. He has to get serious about an effective addiction recovery program. I recommend Sexaholics Anonymous.

      What you’ve identified is a very vital point for Mormons that we ignore at our peril: There is a difference between repentance from sin and recovery from addiction. Just because I repent of my sinful behavior, it does not automatically follow that I have entered recovery from my addiction. The flip side, however, is also true: Finding recovery from addiction is just part of the repentance equation, not a replacement for it.

      I hope you’re husband is so desperate that he becomes willing to do whatever it takes and then actually goes on to do whatever it takes. If he does, he will find recovery, he will stop acting out, he’ll become 10 times the man he ever was before and he’ll be happy. That’s what recovery promises and delivers. I say from experience, however, that if he thinks he’s going to beat this on his own, he will be the first man on the planet ever to overcome addiction solo.

      I wish you all the best in your recovery.

      • “There is a difference between repentance from sin and recovery from addiction.” This is HUGE and something I hope my Stake President can come to understand. I just shared some resources with him last Sunday, including Dr. Hilton’s book (maybe one day he will want more info and I can point him here – baby steps right now!). Thank you so much for the truths of recovery you share. Many of the things you have said have resonated with me from the beginning and others have taken more time. And yet, the more I learn through my own recovery process, experience, and work with a therapist, the more I see that the information about addiction that didn’t resonate with me in the beginning are actually dead on. Thank you again.

  11. First of all, I just want to thank you for starting this website. I just discovered it last night and it has already brought so much insight and comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one dealing with this issue is my marriage. Some of these other comments seem as though they have come straight from my mouth. My husband and I have been married for a little over a year and I discovered his addiction shortly after we were married. He is currently in the military and a few months before we were married he had mentioned to me something about him watching a pornographic movie and I flipped out. I didn’t speak with him for a week and even threatened to call off our wedding. When I did end up talking to him again he assured me that he “didn’t like it” and would “never watch it again”. I tried with everything in me to believe him and go on with our engagement. Not long after we were married I realized that he was constantly deleting he history on his phone and computer. His excuse was that it made the computer run faster, but I knew better. I had a previous relationship with a man who was a porn/sex/alcoholic so I knew the signs. I have a son with the previous man and left him because I wanted a better life for my son. Little did I know, I’d be right back in the same position. I kept quite about my current husbands addiction for our first year of marriage and just prayed that something miraculous would happen and he would be fine. He has spoken with one of my family members who is a recovering sex/porn addict and who is now serving in the bishopric. That family member and his wife mentioned to me that after they talked with him that they were certain that he would seek out help. And they were in shock once they learned he hasn’t. He’s a great manipulator and can get anyone to believe what they want to hear.
    There were months that would go by that I would think he was doing better, only to find hidden files on his computer that were downloaded during those months. He always would come up with an excuse as to why he was looking at something or even try to flat out deny it even though I had the proof right in front of me. It got to the point where I caught him watching it one morning while we were out of town visiting my family. I believe that was my breaking point. I also found out that he had encounters with prostitutes while out of the country for work. I feel like I have lost all respect and love for him. He says things just like you mention in your letters like, “I haven’t watched it for a few weeks, I’m good” and “I just need to go to church more and I’ll be cured”. Which I know is just lies. He has almost admitted to me that he has a problem but usually just laughs and tells me he doesn’t have an addictive personality and that he’s fine and can get over it himself. I know better. A comment you made to another reader really hit home with me. You mentioned that women don’t leave their husbands just because they look at porn. It’s all the things that come with it. The de-meaning attitude, the lying and the living in constant wonder etc. That’s exactly how I feel. I think if it were just the porn that was the issue that I’d be more likely to stay and show my support. But the other things are just to hard to overlook and overcome. I am at the point where in my heart, I believe I’m done. We’ve only been married for over a year, we have no children together and I have myself and my son to protect. I’m only in my 20’s and I can’t imagine living this way for the rest of my life. It sounds so miserable to me yet I’m scared to death of ever finding another relationship. Porn is so easily hidden that I just feel like I will never be able to trust another man again.
    I am still in my marriage just so I can know in my heart that I gave it a fair shot. But I don’t believe it’ll last much longer. I look forward to attending classes for wives and ex-wives and to continue reading this blog so I can start my healing process. Thank you again for this website!

  12. I am struggling whether to tell my husband’s Bishop that he is a drug and sex addict. He supposedly hasn’t done drugs in 5 years but the sex addiction is still ongoing. He semi tried recovery for a couple of years but would never agree to do the 4th step, his sponsor finally fired him, I asks him to leave home and he is acting out again. He lies to everyone and convinces them and himself that he is somehow the victim and I am just mean in making him leave. I have guarded his reputation and I am at the point that I would like to approach to have an intervention for him. Would that hurt or help? I am not LDS but attend a different church My husband is not active but really hangs onto his LDS identity. I know his Bishop, as I have attended church with him in the past.

  13. Finally you dove into what we women may be experiencing! This article is great. I would like more info. I would like to chat with your wife. Or anyone else out there reading this that is in their own recovery fm the bombs.

  14. I have been married 27 years. My husband told me last night he has been addicted to porn since his early teens. He still regularly watches porn and mastubates. He feels some remorse, but not much. He served a mission and has held just about every big and little calling in the LDS church. Women come to him with their sad stories about unfaithful husbands. People seriously think he is some kind of savior. Everyone wants his advice and counsel…on everything.

    He has never been interested in having sex with me. Red flag! Duh. After a while I thought maybe he was gay and struggling with SSA. I felt sorry for him! We had just enough sex in the early years of our marraige to get me pregnant. Of course we had to look like a perfect LDS family, so kids were required props for him. I did my bit in all of the callings over the years, too. Dutifully and stupidly thinking that service and prayer, etc. would help me feel better about my crazy, foggy, loveless marriage.

    My self worth is now zero. I was extremely beautiful and had tons of boyfriends and marriage proposals in my twenties. What a fool – I picked him because he was, among a lot of other very good qualities, physically respectful and kept his temple covenants while we were dating. (No regular meetings with the bishop with THIS boyfriend because we “couldn’t keep our hands off each other” . I desired him like crazy, but he was always “great” to put the brakes on.).

    I have felt crappy and crazy for 27 years. I have gained weight then lost it because I figured my body was a problem. It wasn’t when we got married, believe me. I was what people call ” hot”. After a few kids and no sex, I gave up. A few years ago I pulled myself together and got back into shape. Still, no interest from him. I even suggested we watch porn together a few times over the years to spice things up. Yes, I am the cool wife! Let’s get you turned on, dear husband! Of course, he righteously refused! I don’t even think he noticed when I lost weight, waxed excess hair, updated my wardrobe. Goodbye, mom jeans…..

    I have no family. They disowned me after I married this wonderful Mormon man and they were excluded from the wedding. I think of the missionaries selling the eternal family story to me and I want to die. I came from a super cool family. I want to be with them for eternity, and with my children. They hate me now. I cannot tell my friends. My ward kind of worships my husband. He is super bright and charming. My kids think I am kind of crazy. Maybe the older kids would even use a term like mental illness. I don’t know. When the author said his MOTHER had a mental illness and THAT IS HIS SOURCE OF EMOTIONAL PAIN that caused him (the “A”) to turn to lust and porn. I want to punch you in the face, Andrew. Is it Andrew? If my kids blame my crying and moodiness for their problems, when it was all brought upon me by their “amazing” porn addicted father; God help me. Over the years the dear husband has suggested I get counseling for my depression and anxiety. Lol.

    I don’t care if he gets help. I will ride this out alone because I have nowhere to go. Finding out about his habits YESTERDAY doesn’t make it a crisis NOW. I have lived with this for a long time. Now I know I wasn’t crazy. Something was seriously wrong, and it wasn’t me. It is a relief. Divorce is expensive and ugly, too. I don’t feel the need to “out” him or shame him. I just don’t care. He can abuse himself for another 30 years. I just hope when I die, I can be with my first family. I don’t want him for eternity. I just kick myself for choosing him. This website has been helpful for me to see how common this problem is. Oh well. It doesn’t change a single thing in my world, but I am glad I found it. No drama, no pleading with him to go to SA. I am not dragging him to heaven. I put my total trust in him. He betrayed me and then blamed me. When he told me last night I just said, ” Well, that explains a lot. Thank you for finally telling me.” Today I feel nothing except curiosity about this problem. I looks like the LDS church is getting its butt kicked by porn.

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