LDS View: The “Marriage Cure” and Other Popular Myths of Porn Addiction

Will getting married cure a porn addiction?

Like pretty much everyone else on the planet, many Latter-day Saints are struggling beneath the burden of fear, shame and humiliation that happens when a person can’t forsake the sins of pornography consumption and related compulsive sexual behavior. Sex and pornography addiction afflicts both men and women these days. It afflicts individual members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in roughly the same numbers as those outside the Church. In other words, being a Mormon–in and of itself–does not seem to provide much protection from becoming addicted to pornography and sex. This is perhaps not what Latter-day Saints would expect to hear. What’s going on? We are in the midst of an epidemic but we don’t understand the disease.

 

Porn is like a tar pit. It sucks the victim in and won't let go.

The La Brea Tar Pits

Large numbers of young LDS men (and women)–many only recently returned from their missions–are finding themselves drawn deeper into a murky cesspool of sexual images and behaviors. As with a tar pit, the more the victim struggles, the deeper he gets sucked into the ooze. A big part of the problem is that addicts and those who surround them simply don’t understand the nature of addiction and what is required to overcome and recover from addiction.

Latter-day Saint view of porn problem; sex addiction and pornography trap the user and won't let go.During my time in Sexaholics Anonymous, I have heard many married men both inside and outside the Church speak about their struggles with pornography and sex addiction. Their stories are often very similar. Almost always, they are familiar with the “Marriage Cure.” This is where a guy fighting to overcome the frequent or occasional compulsions to binge on porn that overwhelm him comes to expect that once he marries and becomes sexually active with his wife, the compulsions to act out with porn and masturbation will evaporate. In other words, marriage is supposed to cure his porn problem. But it doesn’t. Anywhere from a few days to several months into the new marriage, the addict finds himself again drawn to pornography and masturbation. And he begins to act out again.

The “Marriage Cure” is not the only cure that LDS men and others continue to employ in their desperate attempt to overcome their unwanted porn-centric behavior. We try everything–most preferably if it can be done in secret and isolation. There’s the Geography Cure where we move to a new location and commit that with a fresh start, we will never act out again. There’s the New Laptop/New Computer/New Cell Phone Cure. “I commit to keep this computer/phone free of porn!” There’s the New Year’s Resolution Cure. “A new year means a new start for me–without porn. And this year, I really mean it!”

There are also some more painful “cures” such as the Confession and “Complete” Honesty Cure where the addict keeps confessing to his wife and bishop in the hopes that one of these times, his commitment to stop is going to stick. This is closely related to the Shame and Humiliation Cure. This is where the addict, spouse or the priesthood leader–or all three–attempt to “incentivize” the addict by making him feel ashamed and humiliated because of his behavior. The idea of course is that someday and somehow the pain of shame and humiliation will be sufficient to truly jump start the addict in his abstinence and then keep him abstinent. These “cures,” however, aren’t cures at all.

porn addiction is complicatedAddicts also try the Picture of the Savior/Prophet Next to the Computer Cure; the No Computer After 10:00 PM Cure; and the Computer in a High Traffic Area Cure. By themselves, they don’t work either. Addiction cannot be overcome by a simple attitude adjustment or merely by replacing “dirty” thoughts with clean ones. A recovery program that consists only of fervent prayer and scripture study is also doomed to fail because these activities do not fully treat the disease of addiction in all its facets: spiritual, emotional, mental, physical and neurological. All these attempts at a cure can never succeed because they only jab weakly and pitifully at the symptoms of addiction and not at its sources: debilitating emotions and the powerful draw of lust. Read “The ABCs of Addiction,” and you’ll see the problem in a whole new way.

Take heart, however, because there are many Latter-day Saints who have found complete recovery from their addiction. They no longer act out. They don’t binge on porn. They don’t fantasize about it. They don’t seek it out. When it crops up unexpectedly, they are able to turn away immediately and let it go. In effect, they are finally able to turn the channel in their minds, something they had never been able to do in the past. They are not “cured” but they have found complete recovery, which, it turns out, is even better than a cure.

As we discuss throughout this website, recovery from sex and pornography addiction comes when the addict begins a specific program that includes all the usual spirit-building activities familiar to Latter-day Saints (i.e, prayer, fasting, scripture study, church attendance, meeting with the bishop) AND, IN ADDITION, counseling with a therapist trained and experienced in addiction recovery, as well as frequent and thorough participation in an effective 12 Step group that includes sponsorship, phone lists and multiple meetings each week. How’s that for a run-on sentence? Men who find recovery from their pornography and sexual addiction also find that they have become new men. They are men of God, disciples of Christ, with no secrets and no shame. Just ask an addict in recovery if he would rather be in recovery–or merely cured.

About Andrew+

Latter-day Saint, sex and pornography addict in recovery, dealing with depression, returned missionary, father of a bunch of kids, graduate degree, self-employed, Book of Mormon reader, writer and thinker. Working on understanding and overcoming resentment, the number one killer of addicts.

Comments

LDS View: The “Marriage Cure” and Other Popular Myths of Porn Addiction — 10 Comments

  1. Diminished attraction levels towards a spouse can encourage a
    man to seek fulfillment from porn. Its sad to say, but a spouses
    weight can be a factor. This is a health solution.

    • You know, Tim, that’s an interesting proposition, but not one I agree with. My experience and belief is that it cuts both ways. The wife’s weight also probably has roots in her disappointment and diminished attraction for her husband because of his porn use. Both of them are hurting (but only partly because of the other’s weight or porn use) and trying to find something that will help them hurt less. He’s trying to self-medicate with porn and masturbation; she’s trying to self-medicate with food.

      Here’s the thing: If the wife loses 200 pounds, the husband will still be looking at porn and masturbating. And if the husband quits looking at porn, the wife will still be self-medicating with food. If you’re suggesting that a woman can control or eliminate her husband’s porn consumption and masturbation by losing weight, I think you’re dead wrong. I encourage you to read more of our website, especially the essay “A Letter to LDS Wives About Pornography.”

      I guess the best way to respond is to acknowledge that you’re referring to the classic “If My Wife Looked Like a Porn Star Cure.” It works just about as well as the Marriage Cure, which is to say that it doesn’t work at all. Women should lose weight because it’s healthy and it makes them feel better–not because they are falsely led to believe that their husbands will stop acting out sexually if only the wife would shed some pounds.

  2. As the wife of a porn addict, I tried the “losing weight cure.” I lost 40 pounds until I weighed less than I did as an 18-year-old. My husband’s addiction got worse, not better. It wasn’t until I found recovery for myself and started setting boundaries with what I would not accept that things started to change.

    • K: Thanks for sharing your insight. Porn and sexual addiction is a disease inside the addict. External changes like the wife’s losing weight do not treat this disease inside the addict. Addicts perpetuate this “If my wife would lose weight…” myth to draw attention away from their own unacceptable behavior and to place the blame on someone else. Best of luck to you in your recovery.

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  5. I unfortunately was exposed to pornography at a very early and young age. It has been a roller coaster ride of peaks and valleys with many of the examples expressed here happening in some fashion or another, such as the Getting Married, new years resolution, moving/fresh start, new computer etc etc. Quite honestly I read each of the example given and had to say “yup, done that one!” Because I have.

    In addition to all of that I did not have any direction from my parents or siblings. My dad cheated the entire time my parents were together, my mother hated it but allowed it at the same time and in a lot of ways enabled it along with his alcoholism.

    Further down the road as a teenager and into young adulthood certain role model’s and people with whom I trusted very deeply further lead me into a thought process and way of thinking that as I have tried working through my addiction found that they only added to the problem instead of helping by creating certain situations that allowed not only the porn addiction to grab hold even more but perpetuated it in to a full blown sex addiction ultimately leading to behaviors that I am even more ashamed of as a result of listening to the advice of those people with whom were supposed to be guiding me in a positive direction instead of pointing me further down the dangerous path I was already traveling.

    I’m a very private person for obvious reasons and have flown way under the radar most of if not all of my life and the thought of telling anyone else about these problems terrifies me to death but I also know however that at some point it has to be done in order for me to work through my personal issues.

    I further know that doing so will more than likely lead to excommunication from the church as these behaviors specifically related to the sex addiction are very highly frowned on.

    Thoughts

    Hoping to find a better way

    • I wanted to add in that I am married and have 4 children and want to be a better example to not only my sons about how to honorably hold the priesthood but to my daughters as to the kind of man they should marry.

      • Go to meetings for SA or PASG. They will help you. You can’t do it alone. Hopefully you have already started by now. God bless you!

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