A Letter to LDS Wives About Pornography Addiction

What every LDS woman needs to know about sex and pornography addiction.


This letter will change your life. That’s a hefty promise, I know, but it will happen. Some of what I tell you will hurt. Some will challenge what you’ve thought for years and will require you to adjust your view of the world, your family, your marriage and your faith—but not in a bad way. At the end, you will feel that there is some hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I am writing to you with my wife of over twenty years by my side. She and I have spent hours talking about the things you’re reading right now. We’ve prayed together. We’ve shed tears together. We’ve made discoveries together that surprised us. We’ve gone to marriage counseling together and found that our therapist strongly embraces what we have experienced in our recovery.

Let’s get straight to the point. This is about your husband and what has been termed the “pornography habit.” Some of you have been married nearly half a century; some only a few months. Some have children in the marriage while others don’t. Some of you work outside the home; some are homemakers. Some of you have husbands who travel a lot for work, or who don’t travel at all, or who are unemployed. But you all have some things in common: you love your husband; you know he has a problem with pornography; and this problem hurts you more than anything you’ve ever experienced in your life. It cuts to the very center of what it means to be a woman, a friend, a wife and a mother. Sometimes you cry yourself to sleep because of it.

You feel isolated. You can’t really talk to friends about this issue. It’s embarrassing. You can’t talk to your mother or sisters about it for the same reason. Maybe you’ve tried to discuss things with your bishop or stake president, but you just don’t feel comfortable talking to another man about your husband’s problem and how it affects the most intimate aspects of your marriage. You may have gone to couples therapy with him. If he refused, you may have gone to therapy alone.

Through all of this, one word crowds out nearly everything else: Why? Why me? Why him? Why us? If he really loves me, why does he do this? If he loves the children and cares about our family, why does he continue to search this stuff out? If he knows that it’s wrong, why doesn’t he just stop? If he really cares about his temple covenants and our sealing together, why does he bend and break those covenants? Didn’t I feel the confirming warmth of truth years ago (or recently) when I made the decision to marry him? Why, then, haven’t things turned out the way I expected? Why has he promised me again and again and again that he will stop, and yet he is back at it months, or weeks or merely days later? Why does he make and then break these same promises to the bishop? If he truly believes in a loving Heavenly Father and a Savior who atoned for his sins and mine, why is this happening? Why don’t I have my “happily ever after”?

The simple truth is that your husband has an addiction.1 His brain is broken and he has lost the ability to make decisions between right and wrong when it comes to matters of sex. He doesn’t stop because he can’t. You’ve been worried because you’ve heard for years that viewing pornography can lead to addiction and can drive the addict to much more serious sins. I want to be clear about this: If your husband is repeatedly looking at pornography, he is already addicted.

[1Some people seem fixated on making a distinction between a pornography addiction and the other, “more serious,” “full-blown” sex addiction. The viewing of pornography is merely one of the conduits by which the addict acts out on his sex addiction. It is his “drug of choice.” In this writing I make no distinction between pornography addiction and sex addiction because I see no meaningful difference.]

[Is this stuff useful and interesting to you? Check out Andrew’s Blog by clicking here.]


A Letter to LDS Wives About Pornography Addiction — 105 Comments

  1. I have hope, but when he doesn’t think there is a problem. That is where I draw the line and say I am through. Maybe if and when he sees the light and gets help, and shows interest in me, I may give him a chance. But he will have some serious reparations and convincing to do.

  2. Thank you everyone for sharing! I found out two months ago that my husband had slept with about 70 prostitutes over the past 6 years. They were mostly in Provo and SLC (we live in Utah). In addition, he was viewing porn and masturbating during our 23 year marriage. I knew he had a problem during our first year or two but I thought he was over it. It was very hard to take considering I never denied him sex except when I’d just had a baby. I am a runner and I’ve been told that I’m very beautiful–so looks don’t matter. If your husband has a sex addiction he’ll look elsewhere to satisfy his cravings. Anyhow, he was excommunicated last month and we are separated. Being separated has been a blessing and we are doing well. I think he has a mental illness (lots of bipolar on his Mom’s and Dad’s sides) so it isn’t just porn. When I pray, Heavenly Father tells me to be patient. I feel he knows we will divorce but he wants me to wait. I am strong because I have plans for myself. I lost myself for years but I am now doing things for myself and I’m so much happier. Heavenly Father wants us to be happy. Pray to know what you should do. He loves us!

    • How did you find out he was sleeping with prostitiutes? I’ve been dealing with my husbands porn addiction for 10 years and I’m kinda at my last straw, but I never thought that he might have been with prostitutes.

  3. My husband has had a pornography addiction for 10 years now. He does good for a while then he’s back at it. I feel betrayed every time. We are seeing a family counselor and it does make me feel better until he messes up a week later. All the the things he tells me in counseling is reassuring then he messes up. I don’t understand why he wants to hurt me again and again. I love him and we have Four children together, but some days I’m so done with it. I don’t have anyone to talk to about it. So I feel alone in this mess!

  4. I applaud the author of this article. So much self-reflection. . Unfortunately, not all Sex Addicts scrounge up the will to honestly reflect on their choices and habits. But, let’s honor the ones who do. Congrats to this man, & his wife. I do wonder how big of a part she played in this self-awareness.

  5. Andrew,

    I have a few questions for you concerning what are the best programs for the help you say is so necessary for recovery.

    This article and most of the comments were written several years ago. I know from my father (a Stake President) and from recently living in a huge \LDS community that the Church’s PARP program has changed since them. Many think that it is THE way to go, including my father, my LDS counselors and Bishops at BYU. What is your opinion on how the Church’s recovery program has changed over the last few years? Would you still suggest SA over any other program? What is the difference in their approaches?

    Nearly a year I ago, I discovered evidence of my husband’s addiction after only a few month of being married and continued denial. He has what he called ‘relapses’, but overall I feel that he is not making a significant enough change – they are too close together and he doesn’t seem very motivated, though he has been (at my request) attending the Church’s meetings in person or over phone. It’s obviously great for everyone in these group to have the same Gospel knowledge and Spirit that you can draw on in the meetings. But I’m wondering what the possible flaws are in the setup of their program (though I know that any measure the Church is taking to aid and improve concerning this addiction is fantastic).

    Thanks so much for all of your work! This letter/site was very helpful to me — and I’ve read A LOT of literature from the church and anti-porn communities.


    • Hi Sierra, I saw you comment and question about LDS Family Services Addiction Recovery. I was a missionary for the recovery program for 5 years. Of course I served in the recovery program for women; also the support group for wives. I can only say that when I was part of that program I felt it was powerful in leading attendees to increased faith, and understanding of the power of a personal and meaningful relationship with our Savior, with increased desire to draw upon His power in repentance. Many struggling in addiction expressed the value of the program in their efforts of recovery. The support group for wives was a place where the pain was often palpable. I don’t believe that addicts ever really comprehend how devastating their addictions are on the ones who love them. I too would be very interested to know in what ways the church program has changed. May be all receive God’s council and comfort, and the enabling power of His atoning sacrifice.

    • Hi Sierra, my husband is an addict of about 34 years, and has had sobriety now for almost two years, with the exception of a slip on June 11, 2015. He counts this as his new sobriety date. We have attended ARP (LDS Addiction Recovery Program) and SAL (SA Lifeline, which is a spin off from SA). While the ARP program is so good in talking about the Atonement, which obviously no one can heal without, it’s just not up to par with the SAL 12-step program. My husband attends three 12-step meetings a week. SAL on Monday, ARP on Tuesday, and SA on Wednesday. He also does individual counseling every other week. We’ve also been in the LifeSTAR program, which is fantastic!!!! I’ll share both the SAL and LifeStar links at the end. The one thing that the ARP program does not have is sponsors, which is a vital part to recovery!! They have to have a sponsor, or more than one sponsor, that is ahead of them in recovery to turn to for help when they are having cravings or withdrawals, or trying to deal with emotions that they want to numb out from. This sponsorship hold them accountable, and also helps them help others when they eventually become a sponsor. So don’t get me wrong, I love the ARP program for the lessons on the atonement, but the SAL really teaches them how to work the 12- steps! Also, SAL has separate meetings for the wives of addicts, and they have been my literal lifeline!!! Depending on where you live, they have group meetings in person, but they also have two online meetings on Tuesdays at 1:00pm, and Thursday night at 10:00pm (mountain time). I’ve done both, and I prefer the Online meetings. I’ve just clicked with some of the women in there, and I love our time together. They are really teaching me how to work my own steps. BTW, I have a little more insight into addiction than most wives, as I am getting my Masters Degree in addiction counseling right now. I was getting my degree in this before my husbands disclosure (which was 8 long horrific hours and I thought was the most excruciating, painful experience of my life, and thought my life had ended, or I at least wanted to quit breathing at that time), so I know the Lord has really had a hand in all things in my life. Continue the ARP program, but I highly suggest turning to SAL for real recovery! You need a sponsor as well, and SAL has an entire list of women you can call and they will help you find the right one for you. Here’s the link! I hope to maybe meet you online one day, or at one of their meetings! Good luck. There is hope in SAL and Lifestar, and I actually think my husband and I have a chance now. I wish you the best! We are not alone!! Sincerely, Steffanie J.

  6. I met a man at college about a year and a half ago. He had just returned from serving an LDS mission. He was sober for 3 years in preparation and throughout his mission. When he returned the addiction was still a temptation and he gave into it once again. We became very close very soon in the relationship because he told me about his addiction a few weeks after we met. He told me before we started dating which is something I will always be grateful for. We have always been able to be open with each other. I have found him cheating on me multiple times. I’m sure many of you can relate to the feelings of despair, betrayal, and complete disappoint I was feeling at the time. I have forgiven him but It will always be at the back of my mind. At the time of the incidents he wasn’t getting the help for his addiction that he needed. He was always so worried that his addiction would change me and tried breaking up with me for this reason. He was tired of hurting me but he couldn’t stop. Fast forward one year, He is getting the help he needs now and I have seen major improvements in him. We have a long distance relationship right now because of work. I look at this distance as a good thing because it is giving me a couple months to recover from a year of being on a complete emotional roller coaster. However, because I am not able to be with him it is so hard to build trust. I have to rely solely on what he tells me. I want to be able to trust him but I have more reasons not to. I guess I’m looking for advice from people from similar experiences if i should continue the relationship if he continues to progress and I continue to see improvements in him. He is more serious about his recovery right now than he ever has before. I truly believe he is in recovery because he wants to be and he wants to live a normal, functional life and have a family. We have already agreed that we will not get engaged until he is on a good path and has been for quite some time. I realize it would be easier to end the relationship right now and be dismissed from his addiction, but I am willing to do whatever it takes to stay with him and start a family together. I love this man and I am willing to work through this with him because I can see him being my husband and father to our kids. Is it even possible to have a normal life with a recovering addict?

    • Think of the worst feelings you have had during your relationship with this man. Then imagine that they happen overandoverandover. For the next 50 years. Generally speaking, that’s what you can look forward to. HOWEVER–and this is an enormous however–addicts, while never cured in this life, (think diabetes, not the flu) can be righteous, honest, honorable beings who are worthy of a marriage. Here’s the caveat–he has to be in recovery. Not merely abstinent for awhile, not even merely in sobriety. Real recovery. And you will be right in telling him that his recovery is essential to the health of the marriage. I would advise a young woman to seek therapy herself, to check up on her own emotional health–because YOU CANNOT RESCUE AN ADDICT. This is NOT a lovely story where her love saves him.

      Most wives of sex addicts are not co-dependent; I personally would never have even dated my husband if I had known about the addiction, and I am constantly struggling with Betrayal Trauma, and Moral Trauma (he developed sexual feelings for women I knew) but they do develop PTSD. However, a woman who marries a known addict may be co-dependent with a dream of how much he’ll love her for her saving him from his addiction. That’s a scary fantasy that almost never works out.

      Don’t dismiss him as a completely lost cause, but don’t jump off the bridge to save him in mid-fall. And remember that most of these men absolutely know how to manipulate feelings in others, how to evoke sympathy, admiration, and love. Be careful, dear daughter of God, because I would rather be alone than where I am now, almost 30 years later.

    • My situation is very similar to yours in that my guy told me about his addiction now, while we’re still dating. It’s so neat and helpful to find someone with a story like mine.
      It is a different situation from a lot of other women whose stories I’ve read, and I’m so thankful for his honesty and openness, and that he’s seriously seeking help and counsel from godly people at our church.
      It’s so difficult to know how long to wait to make sure he’s on a good track… etc. And a bit awkward to discuss in depth because we aren’t even engaged yet. And I’m having a hard time – I really want marriage soon and it seems like every day the wait gets more difficult. And other than this struggle, he is an amazing man. I am planning to ask if I can have a talk with his mentors. I think they will be able to advise me the best. And I’m starting a blog to journal my thoughts.
      I too would LOVE to have someone’s advice/opinion on this subject.

      • And I realize that I can’t save him by marrying him. I’ve heard it said that deep down, pornography is an attempt to satisfy something everyone’s missing, something everyone’s spirit is longing for, but that only God can give. And I really do not want him to expect that marriage is going to help that. This is me, I can’t do that. And yes, there’s a god-shaped hole in me too, just as mess-causing, and that needs to be filled up just as much.

        There are so many questions swimming round in my head that only God is going to be able to answer. Am I in a position where it’s right for me to be Christ’s instrument – to show his forgiveness and intolerance of sin and his love and purity? Or is that not my calling, not my duty? And if I should keep on, how do I do this? What can and can’t I bring up? How can I show Christ’s love and grace without countenancing or overlooking evil? I might end up self-righteous or depressed or in any number of other sinful states myself.

        Am I supposed to raise my little safe happy kingdom family in that battlefield?

        And on and on. I (and ms. allforlove) have to choose whether to enter this sort of relationship in the first place.

        • Iris,
          I love your response to my post. I know exactly how you are feeling. I’ve been there! I know exactly what it’s like to want to be married so badly and the only thing stopping you from what you want is this awful addiction. The reality is HE has this addiction and you have to choose whether or not to stand by him through this. The biggest piece of advice I have for you is to find a happy medium in his recovery. For a long time I was too involved and found myself broken and in a very unhappy place. I would monitor his computer, read his text messages, make sure he was going to his meetings, and doing his step work. It was when I finally stepped back that he started being more proactive in his recovery, which is also when I started noticing big changes. Don’t be scared to ask your boyfriend questions. I have found that asking questions is far better than constantly worrying. Looking back I realized we grew close extremely fast because of his addiction, and I’m thankful for that. Your relationship with God is a crucial part of staying strong throughout this process. It’s incredibly important for you to be strong and independent. I have been dating my now fiancé for two years. I know how frustrating it is when people say “just get married already” and not being able to tell them why you are waiting. Date as long as you need to feel comfortable with your decision. Most of all you should feel at PEACE with your decision to marry this man and trust God and his plan for you.

          • Thank you so so much, allforlove!
            (I think I had to read your comment several times throughout the day, it was so amazing) 🙂
            Yes, I’m thankful that wading through these issues has brought my boyfriend and I so close, but that does make it much harder to wait. I guess we need that test in our lives!
            I’m extremely shy, but I do feel like I could ask him anything once I get up the courage to do it. Thanks for the encouragement to go ahead and ask. That might have been all I needed to do it.
            I am so glad that he has several very godly counsellors he meets with. We’ve also met with my grandparents, who are some of the most wise and godly people I know, and they have been immeasurably helpful and encouraging to me.
            I’ve been slowly beginning to feel peace, at least with where we are right now. It’s scary not to be able to see where my next step’s going to be, but that’s what faith is for, isn’t it? I’m so glad that God’s writing this story instead of me.

      • My husband impressed me because of his honesty and openness about his addiction while we were dating. I wish I’d made him prove his sobriety could last because I was cheated on with his virtual life while pregnant with every one of my four children. I’ve watched how, EVEN WITH him attending 12 step for eight years, having a sponser, talking to the bishop, and coming clean with every relapse, he still has lost sexual interest in me and has become increasingly distant to me. I am left feeling very alone. There is always hope, but I want you to know that you need to encourage him to get therapy. 12 steps is great but most likely never enough for most men. They need counselling. Pray to God in secret. Share your concerns and counsel with him about your future. Then follow the promptings you receive.

        • Lit, I completely agree. The 12 step program may be enough to help some men who TRULY are facing their addiction & humbly turning to God as fully as possible. But in my experience, only professional Counseling along with 12 step meetings & an understanding of the Atonement & God’s Love(combined with an addict’s complete desire to repent) can bring real & lasting sobriety. My husband is one of these kinds of addicts. He grew up in an emotionally abusive home. His brain is broken. He is SO good at acting normal, happy, healthy. The 12 steps will not reach the root of the issue for him. He still refuses to take steps to change. He goes to the 12 step meetings when he feels like pleasing me but he tells me often that they aren’t doing much for him. He still views pornography & masturbates weekly. But I think he’s facing the fact that I’m moving on. I feel so bad for him. My heart breaks for him. We’ve been seperated for 6 months & he still hasn’t made an attempt to truly repent. No real honesty. No real remorse. He still belittles & constantly abuses me anyway he can when I try to bring up the issue.

          My advice to anyone in this kind of situation(married to THIS kind of addict): Meaning if you are being abused(emotionally, verbally, physically, or sexually), You are NOT supposed to stay in that kind of marriage. You are not a hero for letting your spouse isolate & hurt you. You simply empower the abuser. YoU ENABLE his addiction. He gains power by blaming you. You are choosing to remain a victim. Your children will be SO much better off away from that person. Women or men who claim marriage should come with “No condition” & think that marriage means you stay NO MATTER WHAT…these ppl have absolutely no comprehension of ABUSE.
          It is not what God wants you to accept & deal with. For better or for worse does NOT mean you are a doormat for your spouse. Get out. Get help. Set real boundaries. And if boundaries don’t work, then divorce is the best option. You are a HERO when you break the cycle of abuse that would otherwise continue for generations.
          These support groups for loved ones of addicts are WONDERFUL. I 100% recommend them for spouses who are seperated, divorced, or still married. There are options. There is hope. 🙂 God is always there for you & He WANTS you to find happiness. He will help you to reach out & take action.

  7. If you really, really love him like you THINK you do, then in all honesty (married 25 yrs to recovering addict) you will get married and accept he is doing his best when he is and accept he is NOT doing so great when he falters. Don’t continue or get married with A CONDITIONAL CLAUSE. It is really simple abd everyone tries to make it real complicate. Bottom line is you can handle it with grace or you can’t. Ssme as being married to a diabetic who binges on cake and ice cream KNOWING full well it could kill them. Hey, he’s only human. He gave you his reality and his honesty up front. You don’t have a battle…he does…you either enter the battlefied and endure the injuries and enjoy all the GOOD in the soul of this man and know he loves you but is dealing with a forever flaw, or pack up your toys and go home. It is not easy if you personalize it and you will be the one shut out of his emotional door. All depends what you THINK love is vs. what love really is…sacrificial, unconditional acceptance, understanding, grace and forgiveness when they are doing their best. Trust me, he isn’t going to be on his A game all the time and when he’s bringing his best D game, are you going to retreat, repel, or reach out and say, let me help you get back to your A game step by step. That’s love honey. Good news is you are going in (if you do) with eyes wide open…it is a life long journey…he may have a good streak for a year, two or only 2 days. Love the flaw, his soul, or leave it now. Save both your heartaches in the future if you can’t walk in the shoes i just showed you. May the Holy Spirit guide you in the knowledge of your soul and your human expectations and limitations.

    http://video.pbs.org/video/2365517958/nal love of a prs

    • Holly,
      You’ll never know how much piece and comfort those words bring to me. At times I feel like people are trying to get me to choose the easier path and find somebody who doesn’t suffer from an addiction. It’s so refreshing to read your comment and it really restores hope back in me that they can recover. I’m glad I can talk about this with people who know exactly what I’m talking about and don’t think any differently of me. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my comment!

    • Yes. They can’t reach same level of satisfaction in the flesh so to speak. So, if you demand it, it won’t be worth it emotionally or physically. Write it off or get a divorce because even “with recovery, ” it has lost it’s charm, spark, passion for both parties so to speak. I live in a sexless marriage for the past 15 years. We love each other. I have chosen to save myself the aggravation and frustration of trying to compete with his own mind. I’m much happier. Ultimately, it boils down to your happiness that you will serve. You cannot serve a perverted mind in that area. God wanted and designed it to be a natural yearning and desire for one another. If it doesn’t exist, don’t force it. God is not in it and the spiritual aspect and fulfillment will be missing. Keep peace in your mind and heart and don’t let it be tormented by your husband’s demons. May God bring you to peace in your decision.

    • Yes. A porn addiction can cause ED. My husband would stop being intimate with me when ever he was deeply involved with porn. He would make excuses that he was tired or it was his medication and things, but now I know what it really was. It always made me feel rejected. His porn addiction also led to 3 affairs. Be careful. What it said about the addicts inability to make choices when it comes to sex is so very very true.

  8. I am not a LDS, but foundd this article very enlightening. Thank you. I am a Christian, my husband is not, therefore it is hard to do the 12 Step program with him. He tells me he will stop watching pornography, but, he doesn’t. He just hides it better. He does not feel it is wrong. When I threatened to leave he said he would stop, but that promise only lasted about a month. How do you get help for someone who loves his addiction and does not find anything wrong with what he does in the privacy of his bathroom?

    • Praying for you, Starla.
      I don’t really have any advice – I’m very young, and have only even been dating a few years, but do you think anyone at your church would be willing to talk with your husband? It must be extremely hard to work out boundaries and so on without godly help and counsel.
      And if you wanted to set up boundaries to protect yourself, would he be at least willing to discuss them with you (and a mentor maybe) and implement them? I’ve read some other lists of boundaries and consequences that sounded extremely wise and god-honouring.

  9. There is a great facility called Desert Solace in Saint George, UT that treats porn addictions. If you have a husband who sincerely wants to change but hasn’t been able to do so, please share this with him! It is our last hope for my husband. Hopefully this helps someone else.

  10. In my opinion, I think if you meet someone and they are already a porn addict, run, not walk as far away as you can get. This is a cycle that will break your heart, lower your self esteem, make you feel absolutely terrible and unattractive about yourself, and challenge you every moment of every day to see through the continued lies they will tell to keep on watching. It’s a roller coaster ride you don’t want to get on if you don’t have to. Look for a healthy man with integrity. One who won’t compromise you with his habit. They are hard to find out there, but they must be out there. I married my husband because he was so in love with me, and I loved him, and he claimed over and over he was so against the objectification of women and looked down on men who were like that. Soon after marriage our sexy life dwindled. He said he had ED……. He lied over and over to me when I asked point blank whether he was was watching porn. I felt it and had strong intuition but he kept denying it. I begged for the truth and still he denied. I felt like I was psychiatrically ill, and went into,a deep depression. Months later I caught him in the middle of the day in our dining room watching his filth. I collapsed to the floor , got sick to my stomach and basically had a breakdown. I won’t go on any further, but this man caused me so much agony, I resent him for all,of it. I am working on my forgiveness for ME, but I no longer love him. I suggest to any young woman out there to save herself the pain of life with a porn addict. You will never be number one……..his internet whores will come before you.

Leave a comment! (Email address not visible to readers but name is.) **NEW POLICY (June 2015): Please don't leave details about behavior of a spouse and don't solicit or offer marital advice. Instead, check out the private forum for spouses at hopeandhealinglds.com.**