Darkness, Denial and Despair Followed by (Real) Hope

An LDS woman’s amazing journey of recovery from her husband’s porn addiction.

If you were to ask me fifteen years ago how pornography would affect my life, I would have been puzzled and maybe wondered if you were a little bit crazy. As an active LDS woman with high standards in the media I viewed, pornography was the last thing I ever expected to have a serious impact on my life. I was completely unprepared for the collision with pornography that shattered my formerly sheltered existence. In fact, there were few things that would have a stronger impact on my life and family.

How We Met

Brigham Young University--view to the northMy husband and I met as freshmen at Brigham Young University. We were both lifelong members of the Church with strong testimonies. Both of us came from strong, active LDS families and had parents who had served in prominent leadership positions. We were good friends as freshmen but didn’t date until after my husband’s mission. When my husband returned from serving an honorable mission, including serving in leadership positions and as Assistant to the President, we dated for seven months before marrying in the Salt Lake Temple. We had a wonderful first year of marriage: we got along well and loved each other deeply. We both continued in school at BYU and became pregnant with our first child. Despite the challenges we experienced with both of us in school and very little income, we saw the hand of the Lord in our lives and felt very blessed in our temple marriage.

First Relapse and Disclosure

The Daily Universe at BYU ran series of articles on pornography addictionWhen my husband and I had been married about a year and a half, we moved into an apartment with high-speed internet. Around this same time, the BYU student newspaper published a series of articles about pornography and the impact it had on both those who viewed it and their spouses or girlfriends. I occasionally picked up the paper to read during my lunch breaks at school and skimmed a few of these articles. While I sympathized somewhat with their plight, honestly I couldn’t understand why any woman in her right mind would date–let alone marry–someone who used pornography. A few weeks later I found out that I was one of those women. My husband began viewing pornography at home that summer while I was at school all day for a two-week seminar. Eventually he also started looking at porn at the computer lab at school, where he was eventually caught by the BYU Honor Code Office. After he was caught, he approached me and admitted that he had been using pornography and that he had been caught and referred to the Honor Code office for discipline.

My Reaction/Another Relapse

I was completely shocked and blown out of the water. I couldn’t believe that this had happened or that he would do something like that. My husband wasn’t that kind of guy–we didn’t watch R-rated movies or even some PG-13 movies. I couldn’t make any sense of it. I finally decided that it had just been a crazy fluke–some momentary surrender to temptation on an impulse–and moved on with my life.

Gradually, almost imperceptibly, our relationship changed: my husband became colder, more distant and more critical of me. I attributed it to the stress of both of us being in school with a new baby and little money. Anybody would feel worn thin under those circumstances–and everyone knows the honeymoon doesn’t last forever. Part of me was sad that the love and closeness we shared when we were first married had faded somewhat, but I also figured that it was just a byproduct of dealing with real life, stress and parenthood.

Around this time, we went to get our temple recommends renewed, and to my utter shock, my husband was not able to renew his. After several months of believing that my husband had stopped all pornography use, I found out he had relapsed. I began to realize this problem was much, much bigger than I had originally thought. I also found out that his porn use had not started the previous summer. It actually dated back to his early teens. He had been able to stop for the most part while a freshman at BYU and on his mission, but had used it regularly all through his teen years.

Making Sense of It/Leaving BYU

I was devastated. The full impact of what was happening in our marriage hit me and I was left reeling. I cried and prayed, trying to understand it and make sense of it all. My husband saw the harm this was causing our marriage and went to our bishop, determined to repent and stop. He met with the bishop weekly and started an intense program of prayer and scripture study. He also told his parents and asked for their help and advice in overcoming this. He tried his best to make things right, including giving up the opportunity to be the convocation speaker for his college because he didn’t feel it was appropriate given his problem. We spent most of the summer working to piece our lives back together and find healing. At the end of the summer, we left BYU for graduate school determined to move past this–to leave the problem behind us forever and make a fresh start.

Graduate School and the Endless Cycle

We moved to a different state and my husband started graduate school. Things went well for a while and we became pregnant with our second child. We both desperately wanted to put this behind us. I still worried about it, but he didn’t want to talk about it–he said talking about it made it worse, so we usually didn’t. We began years of repeating the same cycle:

  1. Things would go well for a while so we would pretend that it had never happened.
  2. I started to worry or wonder about how he was doing, but was afraid to bring it up or ask him–talking about it was very uncomfortable for both of us and usually made him upset.
  3. Things would get worse–he would start to treat me badly and I would sense that something was wrong, all the while trying my best to ignore it and convince myself that everything was fine.
  4. Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I would explode or corner him and he would admit that he had been using porn.
  5. I was devastated and he felt horrible. He would work hard to repent and I would work hard to forgive him. Then we would feel good enough that we could start the cycle all over again.

Futile Efforts

At the recommendation of our bishop, my husband saw a counselor for a while. Eventually he quit, saying that he’d learned what he needed to learn and it really wasn’t that helpful anymore. He cycled through periods of intense spiritual effort–taking time out from school to read scriptures for an hour a day, meeting with the bishop, praying fervently–with slips and discouragement. I searched the internet for information, trying to find some solution to our “little problem.” I read books for myself, read books for him, bought workbooks for him to do, made suggestions, stayed out of the way, nagged, ignored, got angry, stuffed my anger, looked for the good in him, or told him exactly what was wrong with him–all to no avail.

At one point I suggested the church’s 12-step meetings, but he pointed out that there was no way he could go without people knowing–and nobody could know about this. Besides, he was too busy with graduate school and didn’t have time. He didn’t really think the meetings would work for him anyway. He wasn’t the kind of person that sort of thing worked for.

Secrecy

For five years I never told anyone about my husband’s “problem.” I desperately wanted to tell my mother. Although she lived close by and wondered why I seemed to be struggling, my husband insisted that I couldn’t tell her—she would never look at him or treat him the same again. I wanted to open up about my worries and concerns to one of my close friends or sisters, but I could never bring myself to do it. I knew my husband would be extremely upset if I told anyone and I was afraid of making him angry. I did not want to betray his confidence and so I always kept silent.

My husband’s parents and our bishop knew, so I would occasionally work up enough courage to talk to one of them about it. My in-laws and bishops did their best to be supportive and offer helpful advice, but honestly, they really didn’t know any better than we did what to do about it and much of the advice we got was counter-productive. Sometimes, even talking to my in-laws about it made my husband upset, so it was just easier not to talk about it at all.

Effect on Me

During this time, my relationship with my husband deteriorated significantly. He became increasingly selfish and self-absorbed. He was often cold, demanding, distant or critical of me–of everything from my parenting to my weight. It was like living with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Sometimes he seemed like the perfect husband–caring, kind and helpful–and at other times he would turn into a totally different person that I didn’t know and was afraid of. My self-esteem plummeted and I struggled with severe depression. I wondered if I was somehow to blame for this. I couldn’t understand how this could happen. I had kept myself worthy for an eternal temple marriage only to feel like I was being used and discarded for images of immoral women.

My testimony was a shambles. I had fasted and prayed about the decision to marry my husband. I didn’t understand how God could let this happen to us. I thought I had felt confirmation that my husband was the right one to marry. I wondered if I had been mistaken or if I couldn’t feel the Spirit correctly. We followed the counsel of our bishops.

We fasted and prayed countless times over the course of years and yet my husband could not get rid of his problem for good. I felt responsible for his pornography use and the deterioration of our marriage. I was sure it was my fault for “letting myself go” after having kids. If I were smarter, prettier, skinnier or sexier, this wouldn’t have happened. Maybe if I was a better, less demanding wife and just gave him what he needed, he wouldn’t feel the need to look at that stuff.

My Efforts to Fix It

I thought if I could somehow fix myself enough, I could make the problem go away. I tried to love my husband more, communicate better, be patient, look past his faults and be a better wife. I lost 43 pounds and became skinnier than I was at age 18. I weighed myself obsessively several times a day and panicked if I gained a single pound. I had a great body, but it didn’t fix our marriage or make me feel better about myself.

My depression got worse. I wanted to be dead and even had thoughts of suicide. Still, my life was normal enough that even my own mother, who lived nearby, didn’t know what was wrong. She couldn’t figure out why I was so depressed when I had a perfect marriage, a perfect husband and a perfect little family. I went to several therapists and a psychiatrist trying to figure out what was wrong with me, but they couldn’t diagnose me and I began to think I must be crazy.

Still in Denial…Things are Fine

During this time, I frequently had depressive breakdowns, where I would fall apart and spend hours crying. Afterward I would immediately tell myself that things were fine–that it was just a really bad day. Even during this difficult time, I was able to stay afloat well enough that I could tell myself that things were normal. I was completely functional: I worked part-time, taught play group and took care of my children and home. We had all of the trappings of a perfect young Mormon family: we had a temple marriage, attended church together each week, both served in our callings and sang in the ward choir. We had cute children and my husband was a successful graduate student at one of the most prestigious universities in the country. Things looked so normal that I thought I must be crazy for feeling like something was wrong.

Leave of Absence

Eventually, things deteriorated and my husband wasn’t making progress in his graduate program. He finally came forward and admitted to me that he was still using pornography and it had gotten worse. On many days he would go into school and look at porn for hours instead of doing research for his professor. We both realized that something drastic needed to be done. He took a medical leave of absence from school for 6 weeks. We went to a different state for treatment and he started an intense regime of counseling, study, prayer and service.

While in treatment, he realized there was no way he could go back to his situation at school and stay sober. We made the difficult decision to leave graduate school permanently. My husband took a job in a different state and we moved our little family, intending to leave the problem behind us forever. (Maybe you are starting to sense a theme here?) A few months after we moved, my mom finally found out about my husband’s addiction and I told her the real reason we left graduate school.

New Job, New Life?

After we moved for my husband’s new job, we worked hard to make a fresh start and put the problem behind us. We put a lot of effort into rebuilding our marriage and family. Eventually, my husband was able to renew his temple recommend and for the first time in years we were able to attend the temple together. Every once in a while I would worry about the problem or get suspicious that something was wrong, but I would tell myself that I was just paranoid and shouldn’t be so uptight. He still had minor slips every now and then, but it was very infrequently and I thought he was basically “in recovery” at last.

Coming to a Head

Last summer, my husband was in charge of a large, stressful project at work. In the four years since our move he made several significant advancements in his career and we added two more children to our family. His project required extremely long work hours, with him averaging 14-16 hour workdays. He was hardly ever home and was frequently stressed out, irritable and distant. I attributed the change to the pressure surrounding his job. We attended the temple less and less frequently, mostly due to how busy he was with work. His job began to require him to miss church frequently and I would take our four children to church alone.

I asked my sister, who knew about my husband’s struggle with pornography, to come for a visit to help me survive the last few weeks of summer. After she left, she sent me an email with the name and phone number of a woman she knew who knew a lot about recovery from pornography addiction, saying that she’d had a strong feeling that she should give her number to me. I read the email, but felt awkward calling the woman so I ignored it.

My relationship with my husband grew tense and unpleasant. He became more and more involved with work and less available to me and the kids, both physically and emotionally. The situation came to a head when I found out that my husband had lied to me about recently getting his temple recommend renewed and had been dishonest with me about several other things.

Realizing the Truth

I could put up with a lot of things, but lying wasn’t one of them. I couldn’t believe that my husband would lie to me. I was extremely angry and told him so. When I told him that I couldn’t believe that he would lie to me, he insisted that he hadn’t lied–he just hadn’t told me the entire truth. The fact that he wouldn’t even acknowledge that he lied pushed me over the edge.

I was both infuriated and distraught: I just didn’t know what to do. I thought of my sister’s email and decided to call the woman to get some advice. When I called, I told her who I was and said, “I don’t really even know why I’m calling you. My husband had a problem with pornography but has been in recovery for several years.” I then explained what had happened and why I was so upset. She told me, “Your husband isn’t in recovery and he never has been.” As hard as that was to hear, I recognized it as the truth. She offered to be my sponsor, a mentor to guide me through the process of recovery, and I started working a 12-step recovery program with her help.

Working My Own Program

I began attending 12-step meetings, doing significant personal study, writing and prayer. I went to S-Anon, a 12-step group for people who have been affected by someone else’s sexual addiction. My sponsor served as an experienced second set of eyes and ears. I had learned to see things as my husband wanted me to see them rather than as they really were. She helped me to take off the blinders and see the reality of my situation, not what I–or my husband–wanted to see. My tendency was to always say “things are fine now”–to minimize and deny the unpleasant reality of what was happening. She helped me start looking at reality.

My sponsor also helped me realize that I didn’t have to live with active addiction–and that whenever I tried to live with it my life became crazy and unmanageable. She told me that I needed to learn to trust in God–not my husband–and get promptings from the Holy Ghost as to what I should do. Only God could give me the direction that I needed.

I started asking more direct questions of my husband and found out that my husband’s addiction was much worse than I had thought. His periods of “sobriety” had really only ranged from two weeks to three months at the most and his pornography use had been fairly regular throughout our entire marriage, escalating with time. I began setting boundaries with my husband. I asked for a period of sexual abstinence for 90 days, both to allow me to heal and regain trust and to help my husband break his dependence on sex and lust–which often included me.

My sponsor taught me to trust my instincts rather than what my addict husband told me to believe. For years I had always believed my husband implicitly, even if it went contrary to my feelings or instincts. My sponsor helped me to learn to trust myself when I felt like something was wrong instead of thinking that I was crazy.

Resistance

My husband was very resistant–even antagonistic–to the changes that I was making. I prayed to know what to do. The answer, which I shared with my husband, was not what I expected: as much as I loved my husband and wanted our marriage to work, I was not willing to live with active addiction. I didn’t want to make any hasty changes, but I told him that at the end of a year, if he wasn’t in recovery, I was going to leave.

For a while my husband did not choose to go to 12-step meetings or pursue recovery for himself. I continued to attend meetings and work on my own recovery. He eventually realized that I was serious and started going to counseling and 12-step meetings–mostly to pacify me. Then my husband had a slip. He told me about it–mostly–within 24 hours, which was one of the boundaries I had set with him. I thanked him for being honest with me and told him never to let a slip happen again.

When I shared the incident and my response to it with my sponsor, she told me that I was enabling his addiction and that I needed to get on my knees and ask God what He wanted me to do. I did what she suggested and the answer was, again, not one that I expected: that I needed to separate from my husband.

Separation

I had my husband move to the basement, telling him that this was a “partial separation” and a suspension of our marriage. Things went better for about a month so he moved back into our room. Within a few months he had another slip. I felt like he was still locked in addict behaviors–blaming me, making excuses, not taking responsibility for his actions–so I had him move out of our house entirely. We had almost no contact for two weeks. Shortly afterward I found out that he hadn’t been completely honest with me in reporting his slips and had even lied to his boss at work.

My husband realized that I was deadly serious and that he was on the verge of losing everything that was important to him: his wife, family, children and job. He started working his own recovery program in earnest. He got a stronger sponsor and went to 90 SA meetings in 90 days. He did additional counseling on his own and did a full written disclosure of all of his acting out behavior. We were separated for about three months. When he did move back in, it was on a trial basis.

Rebuilding

Rebuilding our relationship has been a long and arduous process requiring hard work and patience. We are still both in the relatively early stages of our recovery, but the past few months have brought miraculous changes in both of us. It has been almost a year since I made that first call to the woman who became my sponsor and started working a 12-step program. My husband and I still don’t have any guarantees, but our marriage is strong and getting stronger.

My husband is successfully working his own recovery program and is building more and more sobriety. He is actively trying to make things right and restore the damage he caused to our marriage. Only when he got to the point where he was willing to do whatever it took, be completely honest and make recovery the #1 priority in his life was he able to truly enter recovery and build a significant length of sobriety.

We have both made significant life changes to make room in our lives for recovery. These are long-term life changes, not just temporary fixes. There is no 6-week program or even 1-year program to recovery. Early recovery has been the equivalent, time-wise, of a part-time job. My husband has cut way back on work hours, putting career advancement at risk. He is an avid sports fan but has mostly given up following and watching sports to make time for recovery. In short, we have had to rethink our lives, stripping away everything extra, placing recovery as the #1 priority. This may sound extreme to some–it did to me too. But I spent 10 years trying to find an easier, “less extreme” way to recovery without success. Nothing worked and we nearly lost our marriage and family.

My husband sets boundaries for himself, both for his recovery program and to rebuild trust in our relationship. He takes responsibility for his own recovery–including meetings, calling his sponsor, counseling appointments and working the 12 steps. He comes home at the exact same time every night to show dependability and build trust. He helps with kids more and lets me determine how much physical affection I feel comfortable with. He recognizes that he has no right to ask anything of me and that he needs to be patient with the slow process of rebuilding trust.

What have I learned from this process?

  1. This is not a little problem. Pornography use is infidelity and is completely unacceptable. For a long time I thought that the only reason this bothered me is because I am a prudish, sheltered Mormon girl. In my S-Anon meetings I have met people of all faiths and backgrounds who have been equally hurt by pornography, whether it is in their husband or their live-in boyfriend. Pornography use is harmful, it is infidelity and it is not okay.
  2. I have a right to a sexually sober husband. I do not have to live with a husband who is unfaithful. When I try to live with an active addict, it is crazy-making.
  3. Reducing the frequency of acting out is not the goal of recovery for the addict. Complete abstinence from acting out (as well as repairing the damage done and making things right again) is the goal.
  4. I have a right to complete honesty and transparency; past, present and future.
  5. Recovery for my husband takes more than willpower, desire and love for me. It requires outside help–and lots of it–including specialized professional counseling, a 12-step group, and a good sponsor.
  6. I learned to trust my instincts. When my husband was active in his addiction, I would often feel like something was wrong, but didn’t have any evidence to prove it so I assumed that I was crazy or paranoid. In over 10 years of living with the addiction, I never caught my husband acting out. He hid it from me very well for a lot of years. I always felt like something was wrong, but felt like I needed to have evidence in order to take those feelings seriously. I always ended up ignoring my feelings and telling myself that I was crazy. It turned out that my instincts were right all along.
  7. I stopped listening to promises from my husband and started looking for actions.
    • Is he humble?
    • Is he willing to do whatever it takes?
    • Is he working a recovery program and taking recovery actions?
    • Is he taking responsibility for his own actions and choices?
    • Is he actively trying to restore the damage he did to our marriage?
  8. I had to find recovery and healing for myself. Living with this addiction causes serious trauma in the spouse and it takes time to recover. Recovery is very similar to having a major surgery. I am one of those people who tries to bounce back and be back to normal within a few days, but it just doesn’t work that way. It takes time–a lot of time–and slowing down to let yourself heal. For me it took close work with a sponsor, regular S-Anon meetings, working the 12 steps, extensive specialized counseling and a lot of slowing down and allowing myself time to heal. This was a major reset of expectations for my perfectionist self.
  9. I got support from others who had experience successfully dealing with this problem: my sponsor, my S-Anon group, a therapy group for wives of addicts and my therapist. I received additional support from trusted loved ones and my bishop.
  10. I developed a stronger relationship with God and learned to trust in God and depend on Him–not my husband, my therapist or even my church leaders. I became willing to do whatever God asked, no matter how difficult it seemed, even if it meant risking an outcome I didn’t want.

The thing that I valued more than anything else was my marriage and family. It was very difficult to realize that no matter how hard I tried, I could not control whether my husband chose recovery or my marriage survived. What I can do is to seek God’s will for my life and do my best to do His will, one day at a time. Even now, I have no guarantees, but I trust that no matter what happens, God will take care of me.

God Will Provide

When I first had the prompting to separate from my husband, I knew what I needed to do but I honestly didn’t know if I could make myself go through with it. I had no idea what the final outcome of our separation would be. I didn’t know what would happen to me if our marriage ended and I became a single mother of four children. I didn’t dare tell any family members or friends what I intended to do–I was afraid they would try to talk me out of it and I would lose my nerve.

On the evening that I was going to tell my husband we needed to separate we were both out at different places for the evening. I knew that I needed to go through with it as soon as I got home, so I couldn’t bring myself to drive home. I sat in the parking lot and eventually knelt down in my minivan, praying for strength and for confirmation that I was doing the right thing. As I went to leave, I checked my cell phone. My sister had called a few minutes earlier, so I called her back.

She said that she’d had a strong feeling that she should call me. She was one of the few people who knew about my husband’s addiction, so I opened up and told her what I was happening and how torn apart I was, knowing what I needed to do and not knowing if I could make myself do it. She told me that she couldn’t imagine what I must be going through, but that as hard it is it was, following my prompting was the right thing to do. She gave me the support I needed at a time when nobody else could. There was no way that she could have known that I needed her call right then, but God provided me with what I needed to do what he’d asked of me.

There is no way to foresee the things that may happen to us or the trials that we will be faced with, but I know that if we trust in Him, God will give us the strength we need to face those trials and help us find recovery and peace.

Image 1 in public domain per http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Lunkwill

Image 2 in public domain per Mwilson3 by Wikimedia Commons

Image 3 credit: Ildar Sagdejev (Specious) by Wikimedia Commons

Comments

Darkness, Denial and Despair Followed by (Real) Hope — 15 Comments

  1. Pingback: Recovering from My LDS Husband's Porn Addiction | Mormon Women - About LDS Life and Belief

  2. thank you for sharing your story. It is almost identical to mine, but my outcome is not clear yet. I am trying to decide the next steps I need to take – making and keeping boundaries with my husband that I would have never imagined necessary. Hearing your perspective and story helps to build my courage and faith. Thank you.

  3. Hi this is my first post…not that knowing that matters but I just want to say that thank you.

    I am trying to recover myself and just recently had some relapses and I was praying today and thinking of what to do to help me overcome these addictions that plague me. My Bishop told me about this website about a month or so ago but I didn’t really look into it too much until tonight when I felt prompted to do so.

    I read an article posted by a guy suffering as I am and it was helpful. Then I saw your post and my first thought was “Oh, its just a wife of someone who is effected by it. I probably wouldn’t relate to it.” Even so reading your post about how this has effected you, your family, and marriage for so many years really hit me hard. I am still a young single adult but I don’t want to imagine being married and still having this problem. The way you spoke about how these addictions have effected your husband has made them seem so much more real. I admire the courage that you’ve had. I am glad that your husband seems to truly be recovering now. I hope I can do a better job myself and I know that I need to seek more outside help.

    Thanks.

    • Thanks for reading my story. I think a lot of people (my husband included) think that their pornography “problem” will go away with marriage, but that just isn’t the case for most people. It takes making several major life changes, like

      Long-term involvement in a 12-step program for sexual addiction, such as Sexaholics Anonymous or the LDS PASG program in some areas, including both going to meetings and working the steps
      Complete honesty and openness with your bishop (and spouse or serious girlfriend if you have one). Not just “how things are going,” but all of your acting out past, present and internal
      Daily accountability to a sponsor (a mentor who is in recovery from this addiction)
      Setting boundaries for yourself to keep yourself safe. My husband will not use the internet unless someone else can see the screen and he will not watch TV or movies by himself. (It may sound limiting– and it is– but that is what it takes for him.
      Ongoing counseling from a therapist who specializes in sexual addiction
      Learning better, healthier ways to deal with life.

      My husband has over a year of sobriety now and we have made a lot of progress in rebuilding our marriage. But it still is a lot of work for both of us. Most people look at suggestions (like the list above) and think “Oh, maybe I’ll try one of those,” rather than really taking this addiction and the damage it can do seriously and doing whatever it takes to stay sober. It is a lot of work but it is totally worth it!

      “Katie”

  4. What an incredible journey you have been on so far! Your story is amazing. Thank you for having the courage to share. It has helped me today!

  5. My husband and I are stuck on issues surrounding Honesty and Transparency. I wanted to ask for some experience and what has worked for you. I understand the concept of surrender and am actively working toward “letting go” of HIS addiction. I sometimes struggle with the 1/2 disclosure stuff. I can handle the “I was triggered today, and I called and got accountable and took care of it.” But past stuff, that comes as he “remembers” I am struggling with. For example, “I went into lust today over something I remembered from the past. It was just some details that I remembered. I will call later and take care of it with the guys. I have told you around the situation, just not these particular details, but I don’t feel like you need to know.” (I am thinking, “Ok. He IS telling me, and he IS trying to be open about where he is at now and even taking steps to take care of it… Good… But what about this “details” stuff and me not needing to know the details? Feeling a little bit of denial around that and maybe like there is something off here?”) My question is: When we talk about disclosure and honesty, “having a right to complete honesty and transparency; past, present and future” (which I totally feel strongly about and agree with) What does that look like? My husband says he is being told that he doesn’t need to tell me the “details” and that they will actually cause further trauma for me; that his group says there are things you tell just to group, and there are things you tell your wife. I can agree that there are some details I really don’t need to hear, but then, what are “details”? I just know my definition is different from his. I feel like I need to know the truth, what REALLY happened, and WHAT he really did. I don’t think I need to hear the entire thought process, what he was fantacizing over, etc. It IS a fine line. I want to know what is HEALTHY disclosure? I realize that I have fear and I do not trust him where we are right now, he HAS withheld things from me in the name of “details” that he should have told me. I just don’t want to go into my own denial and play along that I don’t need to know, when I feel such a lack of trust and safety inside. I want to give him the opportunity to succeed! To do the right thing here. I can see he is trying! However, in this situation, I tried to express my concerns and he flew up in defensiveness because he felt I “pushed him into a corner.” I don’t want to do that. I honestly don’t feel like I did this time, but I can also understand the frustration he has with “not being good enough” in the honesty/transparency department. I guess I feel like if I have questions, I have a right to ask them without him getting defensive and blaming me. That just makes me feel more unsafe. I feel like I have a right to know. I just have to decide if I want to. So another question. When or what do you want to know? And to pose his question, if he is telling me everything, then why does he make outreach calls and tell his group? (I think I already know that answer..)How do you deal with disclosure from past events, because I am sure I am not the only one who gets more and more “details” as their addicted husband comes out of denial. What is appropriate for a wife to hear. What IS being transparent? What IS being honest?

    • This is exactly how I feel. I don’t know how much to ask and what is full transparency compared to what is too much detail. Any suggestions? Do they need to share every thought, urge, acting out? Thanks in advance…

  6. Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve been searching everywhere for information on this topic. I’ve only been married to my husband for eight months, but dated him for two and a half years before we got married. We are both converts to the church, which is how we met. We were both fourteen when we were baptized, but he is two years older and therefore joined before me.

    I found porn sites on his phone about two months ago. I wasn’t looking for them, and had not suspected anything. I was shocked when I found them, but couldn’t bring myself to confront him about them for a week. When I finally did,he admitted that he had in the past looked at porn sites, but hadn’t done so in a while (about 6 months). He said he only ever looked at them if someone brought it up at work on break or his old friends. He promised he would stop looking at them because I was so upset. I want him to realize why I’m upset but whenever I try to talk about it he spins things around on me and all of my sins. Shortly after he put a lock on his phone. It only made me trust him even less.

    Once I learned the passcode I looked at his internet history and found that there were 6 or seven porn sites in the past seven days. I was devastated. I’m trying to put my trust in God, but after the trials we have had in the past year its so hard. We only have a civil marriage right now and have attended temple prep classes as I thought we were both trying to make it to the temple together to be sealed. Now I am beginning to doubt if we will ever make it there, and if there is even a point in trying because I feel like he must not care or want to.

    I feel like I’m not good enough for him, but at the same time I feel that I deserve better. I’m so confused, and I don’t know what to do. He has denied being on porn sites again, even though it was in his history for the past seven days. If he isn’t going to be honest with me then how are we ever going to repair our relationship. I don’t know who to talk to because none of my family are members so I don’t think they would understand, and I am afraid to talk to his family, or the bishop because I feel that is his responsibility not mine.

  7. Wow! These articles are all too familiar. I guess [addicts are] all the same. They lie to us, which is actually one of the most hurtful aspects. Then when we confront them, they somehow twist things around to make it seem like it’s OUR fault (i.e. we don’t trust them or…fill in the blank)

    It may surprise you to hear that I’ve been married for 40 years and it was only four years ago that my spouse finally took some responsibility/ownership. As soon as our past bishop was released, however, he fell off the wagon again. Now I question, whether he was ever really on. I realize from reading the stories shared here that I need to get stronger, set some boundaries and follow through with them.

    I tell myself there are worse things than being alone, but then I get scared, because I’ve never been alone. However, being the spouse of a porn addict is a very lonely place to be in and of itself. Could it really be any worse?

    • Things are going to get better for you–whether your husband chooses to deal with his addiction or keep pretending. You now understand the nature of addiction and you no longer need to pretend along with him. You can connect with the women of S-Anon and learn how to heal and protect yourself from the insanity that your husband is spreading around himself all while he thinks he’s fooling people.

      No man has overcome addiction merely by deciding no longer to be addicted. Millions of men, however, have tried to fool their wives into thinking they have. We all need to stop pretending and get on with recovery–with or without those who insist on perpetuating the lie. Probably without.

  8. I don’t know anyone here, but what I think we all share is the desire to overcome this battle we all face… I want to say that I have found healing through LDS.org. and it’s combating pornography page. I think the best answers to all questions can be found there. some advise I have taken away from these pages that have been helpful: learning to view my husband not as an enemy, but a child of god who is caught in a trap. learning to love the sinner and hate the sin has taken the anger our of my soul. Also, the article “Drawing together when pornography threatens to tear apart your marriage” Mark Chamberlain, PhD, and Rebecca Jorgensen, PhD was an article that made ALL THE DIFFERENCE for me and my husband. when he, and I, read it we both cried and felt real understanding for eachother. I would recomend it to anyone on either side of this issue. I learned how to comunicate with him around this sensitive issue, and he learned how to be completely honest with me, and how to get help. Here is a portion of the article I’d like to share: Recently, a new client expressed his determination to conquer his pornography habit without involving others. He was reluctant to reach out to anyone he knew for support because he was afraid he’d be rejected if he opened up. He might see people he knew if he attended a support group. His wife might not be able to handle knowing about his problem. “I’ll do it on my own, with God’s help. With God, nothing is impossible, right?” We talked of Ben and Kristy and the healing that is possible when couples draw together instead of remaining like islands, apart. It’s true that with God, nothing is impossible, but it’s also important that we remember how God works. President Spencer W. Kimball taught: “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that He meets our needs” (“Small Acts of Service,” Ensign, December 1974, 5).

    Pornography can ignite a powerful crisis in a marriage, a crisis that can tear couples apart. Or, if both partners are willing, the struggle can be used as an opportunity to draw together, becoming stronger and more united.

    • Teresa: Thanks for reading on the site and for commenting. It’s great that you’re looking to different resources to understand the porn and lust problem and how it affects both addicts and spouses. I’d disagree with you, however, when you say that “the best answers to all questions can be found” at LDS.org and combatingpornography.org. If that were the case, this site would not exist. I started rowboatandmarbles.org two years ago because I found the LDS Family Services response to the pornography epidemic to be over-simplified, incomplete and just plain confusing. Along with others, this website serves to gently nudge and encourage LDS Family Services to do better.

      Something to keep in mind is that self-awareness is rarely sufficient to overcome addiction. Alcoholics discovered that a long time ago. We don’t just cure addiction merely by being aware of it or understanding it. We have to work at the solution and do so with the assistance of others who understand the problem and solution and have experience dealing with it. I agree with the article that “the struggle [of addiction] can be used as an opportunity to draw together [as a couple], becoming stronger and more united.” I caution, however, that couples dealing with the fear, shame and humiliation of addiction often read things like that and interpret it to mean that they can take care of this thing on their own, in isolation and secrecy. Recovery from addiction requires the assistance of others with addiction recovery experience and I think a spouse, no matter how committed, usually lacks that experience and is rarely sufficient.

  9. I now know I am not alone. I have been married to my husband 35 years and have suffered a lone time waiting for the Lord to help me know what to do. i too do not want to be alone, this is why I don’t leave. My husband is inactive and has no desire to be active. Our marriage is full of distrust and pain. I am very active in church and this is what keeps me going. I wish I could see a way out. I am still waiting for an answer from the Lord. I will continue to pray and listen for a prompting of any kind. Thank you.

  10. This is identical to what has happened to my marriage, except that my story has an ending- divorce. After 27 years of marriage and 7 children, when given an ultimatum, my ex chose pornography over his family. We tried everything mentioned in Katie’s post, and more. The final straw was when my high school age daughter walked in on her dad masturbating while watching porn. We fought the monster for 16 years, and I just couldn’t justify the suffering for myself and my children any longer. I am bitter and lonely. I resent all the years of effort and work I went through to help him and try to make our marriage work. I know I did the right thing by going through with the divorce, but it has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I feel as though my bishop thinks I gave up on my husband when he needed me, but how much was I expected to put up with? I stood by him and suffered for 16 years, as well as seeing my children suffer. A man who is involved with porn is unable to have real relationships with his family. In our case, their dad felt better about himself by belittling and abusing the children. I finally got brave enough to stand up to him and set an ultimate boundary, which he was unable to follow. My heart breaks for others who are going through this.

  11. I’m grateful to have learned that I’m not alone in this situation. That other women suffer as i do. I just hope I can find the help I need someday soon as it’s torn my heart in two because my husband is abusive towards me if i even bring up the subject or accuse him.