A Letter to LDS Wives About Pornography Addiction

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

DEAR WIVES:

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.]

[You can download a FREE PDF copy of this essay along with nine other essays by clicking here.]

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Comments

A Letter to LDS Wives About Pornography Addiction — 72 Comments

  1. I am so frustrated! I am in fear despite my rigid boundaries being set up. I am working on my recovery and trying my best to overcome my co-dependance. But I am afraid that I am being fooled. I do not want to live with the addict anymore, but how do I know? How do I know the difference between being in denial (compliance) and genuine recovery. Is there room for tolerance during this process? Or is it a process at all? I realize we are both learning here and adjusting to change, but I can’t shake the feelings of being deceived again. How do I know what is real?

    • St: I know the pain you’re experiencing. I’ve been there, too. Addicts can definitely recover–if they work a recovery program specific to sex and pornography addiction. I think the best rule of thumb is what we talk about in “Another Letter to the Wife Who Suffers in Silence.” The husband who is going to multiple meetings each week (more than two), who has found a sponsor with significant time in sobriety, who is reading recovery literature (the SA White Book, the AA Big Book), who is making phone calls, who is working the 12 Steps, and who is talking to you about all he is learning and experiencing–that’s the husband who is headed toward recovery. A man in recovery can articulate why he is in recovery and what he plans to do to stay in recovery. A man who is not in recovery will speak in vague generalities. “Oh, yeah, things are going fine. No problems. Everything’s fine. Nothing to worry about. I’ll let you know if I have trouble.” That’s not recovery.

      From our experience and that of others in recovery (both husband and wives), we absolutely believe that no man can overcome sex and pornography addiction on his own or by doing just minimal things like daily scripture reading, prayer and occasional visits with the bishop. There must be more than this–and it has to be specific to recovery from sex and pornography addiction. I’m happy to talk to you more about this on the phone. If you go to the Contact Us page, you can send a private message so we can connect. Don’t give up hope. Claire

      • I am finally reading up on the addiction. I am at that final straw. 10 years of i wont do it again. The shedding tears on both ends. Today is the day i pack up and leave. Is this right. We have so many things that are going on at this moment i dont think there will be anytime for us to really talk as if talking did any good before. I am 27 and have been with him since i was 16. Drugs have been apart of outs lives before so i know what addiction is and what its all about. I am happy to say were sober but now reading this it seems hes always replaced something for something. Now its at its worst. Its been 2 years since doing anything but his porn addiction has been getting worse. Should i leave???? I cant do this anymore. [Moderated.] Again and again im put out like one of his releases and thats it. I dont feel comfortable even trying anymore for i just feel like im being used. Please help. Should i stay and only stay if aggrements are made to go to 12 step program. He has been forced when younge and now i dont think this would be an option. How can i go on with my life feeling lonley???? What am i to do?

        • From nick
          I feel the same way.. I have been married for 5 years now and my husband can’t even [perform sexually]. I have low self esteem about myself now. I feel ugly and fat; he doesn’t even tell me he loves me.
          I never struggle with drugs or alcohol addictions before so I cant help you there. My husband would even watch porn when I was in the same room. Help!!! I did think about leaving but can’t afford it. I have no children either.

  2. This is one of the saddest things I have ever read. As a wife of a porn/sex addict its absolutely depressing realizing that you will never overcome this monster that has consumed your life and your marriage. My husband has had this addiction for years before our 7 yr. marraige. The fact that there is no cure makes me want to just give up now and say what’s the point. I haven’t because I’m trying to be the one to honor our marriage covenants.He’s been through therapy, goes to group meetings, started anti anxiety medicine, and has really grasped what he needs to and has been in recovery for 7 mos. The sad thing, is feels like its too late for me. I can’t live my life feeling like I’m trapped with this addiction over my head. I know everyone says that “its not you and you could look like a porn star and he’d still be an addict” I was supportive but now my support is gone. I have nothing left. I’ve given my confidence, my love, my devotion and what do I get from it? I get knowing that my husband will be tempted by other women for the rest of my life, even if he doesn’t act out….What a waste of a life I have knowing my future is so grim :(

    • Sa: Thanks for reading and commenting. Please don’t give up hope. The message of all the essays and posts–and of the entire site–is that there is hope for sex and pornography addicts as well as their spouses. One of the things we talk about repeatedly is how addiction is like diabetes. There is no cure, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be completely regulated and controlled. Through a recovery program involving therapy, a sponsor and an effective 12-Step group, an addict can overcome his addiction completely and never act out again! Recovering addicts also achieve progressive victory over lust, which means that they don’t act in either. They are able to turn away from triggering situations just the same as any healthy man could, and they turn away every time. Men in recovery aren’t miserable, empty shells of manhood slumped on the back bench in sacrament meeting. They are happy and enthusiastic. They are leaders. And they are worthy temple recommend holders. They are the men their wives want them to be. That kind of recovery really is possible.

      An important thing to keep in mind is that not all 12-Step groups are equally effective. If your husband isn’t finding successful sobriety in the Church’s PASG program (many men don’t), he should take a look at Sexaholics Anonymous (sa.org). In much of North America, the PASG program simply isn’t running as it should and it isn’t helping the men who attend. Lots of LDS men is these areas have turned to Sexaholics Anonymous and have had tremendous success. Also, if you haven’t done so, I encourage you to make contact with S-Anon. This support group is completely in line with Gospel standards and is helping a lot of LDS women not only deal with their husband’s addiction, but also thrive in a way they never thought possible.

      Finally, we aren’t saying that all LDS women need to stick with their addict husbands no matter what. There are certainly some instances where leaving is the right thing to do. We believe, however, that recovery for the wife means acquiring the tools she needs to heal from the damage inflicted on her by her husband’s addiction and then choosing to stay or leave with open eyes and a clear mind. We hope you’ll continue to read more of the essays on the site and encourage your husband to do the same. Andrew

    • It is true that it will be a long and difficult road to recovery through the process this article describes, but there IS a cure and it is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Whether or not your husband will ever learn to apply it in his life (as many do not) remains to be seen. It is praiseworthy that the addict learns to “control and manage” their addiction and I believe that is an integral part of the repentance process, but they CAN be freed.

      • Never2late: Thanks for the comments. I want to be clear about something: You and I are talking about the same thing but from different perspectives. I agree with you that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is at the core of all addiction recovery. I understand what Church leaders have said about the promise of freedom addiction. I encourage you not to get hung up on the word “cured.” If a guy gets into an effective recovery program and works it like his soul depends on it, and if he continues to exercise faith in the Savior, he will achieve recovery, he will find freedom from his addiction and he will never act out again if he continues to work his program. Isn’t freedom from addiction and never acting out again effectively what you mean when you talk of a “cure”?

        I don’t think that we say anywhere on the site the no amount of “religious effort” will cure the disease. In fact, we believe quite the opposite. Religious effort–-the right kind and the honest kind-–does lead to freedom from addiction-–what you would call a “cure.” A big point we make on the website is that LDS addicts are desperate to remain in secrecy and isolation with their addiction. Fear, shame and humiliation permeate their lives and their ability to make decisions. Since they are not willing to come out into the light, they fabricate their own “shadow gospel” where they try to dictate the terms for making the Atonement work on their addiction. Part of the “shadow gospel” is the notion that nearly all addicts have that they are exceptions to the rules that apply to “common folk.” While being transparent with a bishop and a spouse, and going to 12 Step meetings several times a week and seeing a therapist might be necessary for the “common folk,” addicts desperately tell themselves that all that work isn’t necessary for them because they have such colossal faith in the Jesus Christ. They believe that the Atonement is effectively a shortcut for spiritual giants like them.

        This of course is not how Christ’s Atonement works. This is not what the Brethren have promised. I don’t believe that any one of them has ever said, “If you have enough faith in Christ (on your own and in isolation), you won’t have to do the dirty work.” Quite the opposite, we believe that it is by God’s grace through Jesus Christ that we are saved, “after all we can do.” This whole website is a big giant guidebook for understanding “all we can do.” The principles we promote are in line with the restored gospel as well as the counsel of the Brethren. They are based on the personal recovery experiences of a lot of Latter-day Saints as well as even more men and women outside the Church. They shine a light on and uncover the falsity of the “shadow gospel” that addicts (including me) have been foisting on the rest of us for generations.

        In 2004, I was diagnosed with stage-3 cancer. I was thirty-five years old and married with four kids, the youngest being six months old. The doctor prescribed a course of treatment that would require me to submit to several months of chemotherapy. The process would be painful. My strength would be sapped. I would suffer massive headaches, anxiety, exhaustion, sleeplessness and depression. I would have to take steroids that would just about make me crazy.

        You know what I did? I asked for and received a priesthood blessing. Then I went down to the hospital and started that chemotherapy treatment. It was miserable. At times I felt like death would be a relief. Still, I stuck with. Through Heavenly Father’s grace coupled with the miracle of modern medicine, I was healed. Eight years later, I am still here to sit in church with my family, take the kids to water polo practice, work in the office for my clients, write books, build a website, and interact with now thousands of people about the miracle of recovery from addiction.

        During and following my cancer treatment, my understanding of and appreciation for the Atonement of Jesus Christ expanded exponentially. So did my humility when it came to talking about it. Whereas before cancer, I used to toss it about freely as a kind of cure-all for anything and everything that wasn’t going well in life, the Atonement has since taken a very sacred and spiritual position in my life. I do not understand it, but I have felt it. Like the primary song, “I feel my Savior’s love, the love He freely gives me.”

        The Atonement has also had a part in my recovery from addiction. Again, I do not understand it, but I have felt it. Jesus Christ has done for me what I could not do for myself. Because of the experiences of my life, I would never dare to suggest that the Atonement allows me to take shortcuts in my recovery from addiction. I learned to self-medicate as a child through fantasy. This compulsion evolved along with pornography and everything else related to it into sex and pornography addiction. I am now learning to deal with the negative emotions that are at the core of my compulsion to self-medicate with my drug. I am learning to interact with the people around me in healthy and happy ways. I am learning to empathize with others rather than to descend into self-absorption and self-pity. And I am happier now than I have ever been.

        I am not yet to a point where I consider myself “free” from addiction. Still, I have glimpses of it and I now have a real hope for it. The Atonement of Jesus Christ has been and continues to be integral to my recovery from addiction. Still, I don’t think it will ever be a shortcut. Jesus wouldn’t want that. He wants me to do things the right way. I am grateful for that. Heavenly Father teaches me and heals me. I make changes and improvements in my life. Jesus Christ and his Atonement make up the difference. I still don’t understand it, but I feel it.

        • Andrew,
          I completely agree with you that the Atonement was never meant to be a shortcut from having to go through the process required to truly repent and overcome. I hope no one reading this misinterprets and believes that you will not have to “do your part” if you “have enough faith” in the Savior because that is not the message I am trying to convey.

          I agree with you that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is central to every addicts recovery and I believe that part of the repentance process includes the painful struggle to understand and learn to control their addiction. Elder Oaks taught:

          “Another condition of repentance is suffering or punishment for the sin. In the words of Alma, “Repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment.” (Alma 42:16.)
          Where there has been sin, there must be suffering . . . We tend to think of the results of repentance as simply cleansing us from sin. But that is an incomplete view of the matter. A person who sins is like a tree that bends easily in the wind. On a windy and rainy day, the tree bends so deeply against the ground that the leaves become soiled with mud, like sin. If we focus only on cleaning the leaves, the weakness in the tree that allowed it to bend and soil its leaves may remain. Similarly, a person who is merely sorry to be soiled by sin will sin again in the next high wind. The susceptibility to repetition continues until the tree has been strengthened..”

          When I say “no amount of religious effort” will solve this problem, I do not mean that you do not need to apply a great deal of personal religious effort – it is central to the process in order to become strong enough that you will not bend in the wind – the “recovery” you mention. What I am saying is that no amount of “religious effort” that you put in will ultimately cure you. It is only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that the healing will come.

          I completely agree with you that too many people minimize the effort that they must make, often because of a faulty understanding of the Atonement. Similarly, many people erroneously believe that they must work out their own salvation by doing “all that they can do.” It is true that the Lord requires of us our all, our best effort, and when we have given that and believe in Him, His Atonement will make up the difference.

          However, too few people understand the power the Atonement has, when understood and applied, to change our hearts, our souls, our very natures. Yes, He will strengthen us, uplift us, heal broken hearts and help us to do things we never thought possible. All of these gifts will help someone struggling through the repentance process. He also has the power to change our hearts from “the natural man” to a spiritual strength that will “no more desire to do evil.”

          We are not talking about the same thing when I say that the Savior CAN “cure” you from your addiction. When you are cured it is no longer something you must control, it is removed from your heart and your soul. Your example of living through cancer is a good analogy. Many people go through the necessary process to rid their bodies of cancer and they feel they have succeeded when the cancer is in remission. However, remission means there is always the potential that it could return, whereas eradicating it completely from your body means you are cured.

          Another example is the person addicted to nicotine that no longer craves a cigarette but rather has no desire to use them. An alcoholic who not only avoids bars and controls his actions, but no longer desires to drink even when it is offered to him. Those suffering from sex and pornography addiction, I believe, have a more difficult road because the images they have seen are stored in their brain and the “chemical” their body craves is a natural part of the bodies God blessed us with and should be used in appropriate ways.

          Yes, we must do everything we can and I appreciate your in-depth and helpful article that can guide us through the requirements of that process, which is necessary for control, recovery and repentance. When we are able to apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ to our lives so that our very natures are changed, when we no longer have the desire which we must control – THEN we are cured. “Your body, mind, and spirit CAN be transformed, cleansed and made whole and you WILL be freed.”

        • Lana, my husband is an addict and after reading your comment , I realize that 15 years of my marriage I was living with a self absorbed, self pitying man who couldn’t come out of himself and refused to come out of his addiction through recovery. One way I know the addiction has relapsed after reading these comments is by his behaviors that are so similar to yours. I am now divorced and free! Out of this pain and bvondage!

    • I feel the same as the one who states ‘knowing that my husband will be tempted by other women for the rest of my life, even if he doesn’t act out … what a waste of a life’. I have been married for 41 years and found out two and half years ago that my husband had some pornography he kept in his truck. I was very upset and hurt and wanted my husband to leave. We were angry with each other for days with a lot of yelling and of course with him telling me that it was my fault since I was not sexually active. We separated rooms and within a couple days with his crying and begging and words he said to me I believed him and thought he could change. A year later again as I came home from work earlier and without him knowing I arrived I caught him reading pornography in his truck. Again another anger fights and hurt. I haven’t left him. He said he won’t do it again. He said he only had just those magazines. I have no feelings for him. I do not trust him. He lies to me about many other things about his job and dealings with people. We started the 12 step program and I come home more angry at him and more hurt feelings that he will always have these feelings “HE HAS TO CONTROL’. To me, I feel like I come in second. To me other women images will come first in his mind and again I am second. What floors me is that we have gone through in the past sixteen years of my son in law who molested my younger daughters. My oldest still married him believing that he didn’t do anything. Then years later he did something to my youngest and was jailed and served 60 days in jail and still my oldest still believes him and has been estranged from my family for years. Now my youngest daughter who is involved in hard core pornography with her boyfriend and his father. The anger that my husband had over the past years being upset at this man who has destroyed our family and yet …. HE is doing the same thing. I have felt I have lost everything. My family, my marriage, hope and I have lost me. Who am I? I have read and listened to many materials. Even prayers not being answered. Even when I go to the temple to try to find answers my emotions are stirred and confused and I sit in temple with hurt and anger. Even in the temple. He won’t be honest with me. How can I heal when the first steps and forth steps are about honesty and truth? And when will I feel number one?

      • I am so sorry sweetie…no one deserves to be treated like second in a marriage, yet that is where some of us find ourselves. Big hugs!!

      • “HE is doing the same thing.” Correction: He is NOT doing the same thing.

        If I’m not mistaken, you just equated your son in law’s molestation of your daughter and his father’s direct involvement of his own son and daughter in law in pornography for profit with your husband’s “hidden” pornography addiction. Pornography addiction is everything the Church, Dr Brotherson and others say it is – destructive of families and individuals, evil, and a destroyer of dreams. What hidden pornography use is NOT: it’s NOT molestation of a child or an adult and it’s NOT using your own son and daughter in law to make/pedal porn for monetary gain.

        In the heroin world, your husband is a junkie who shoots up by himself and tries to hide it, devastating his family in the process. Your son in law is a guy who worms his way in with school kids and gets them addicted to drugs, devastating even more families. His father is a pusher who has recruited the other two, devastating thousands of families.

        There is no denying the evil of pornography. But that evil stands on its own for the destruction it brings. Equating it with other evil actions that include pornography but go far beyond it is not only a false assertion, it says to your husband that he is as far from recovery as someone who makes pornography or molests others! This is a tool of the Adversary to make your husband feel even more hopeless.

        Truth will win out. Not our version of truth. Truth. Stick to truth and you’ll be in the right. Try to justify a worthy end by a false equation, by lying, and you’ll make matters worse. Every time.

        I am so sorry for all you’ve been through. There is never an excuse for pornography, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t other sins that contribute to the temptation. You didn’t mention whether or not there was truth in your husband’s assertion that “you’re not sexually active.” It may be totally false, but if true, deciding to “not be sexually active” isn’t something that affects one person. When we marry, we not only promise to be sexually involved with ONLY each other, we promise TO be sexually involved with each other.

        I say keep your eyes wide open to his problem, but look at changing yourself. There’s a reason you’re not feeling the Spirit when you go to the temple. You’re not allowing yourself to. You’ll never solve this but God’s way, with God’s love, not bitter resentment that appears to be victimizing you and adding insult to injury.

        What we call hurt – what I call hurt, too – is most often more aptly described as bitterness and resentment. The Church, in the official 12-step addiction recovery manual, says that resentment is at the core of most of our problems, including addiction.

        My heart does go out to you, but how about just giving this a try – without denying his wrongdoing or tolerating his behavior, look inward. There may be answers inside you that you never knew were there. I honestly believe you’ll feel the Holy Ghost guiding you to those answers.

        • Michael,

          While I agree with you that viewing pornography and molesting children and NOT the same thing, and that harboring bitterness and resentment only hurts you, you are mistaken on one point:

          “There is never an excuse for pornography, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t other sins that contribute to the temptation. You didn’t mention whether or not there was truth in your husband’s assertion that “you’re not sexually active.” It may be totally false, but if true, deciding to “not be sexually active” isn’t something that affects one person. When we marry, we not only promise to be sexually involved with ONLY each other, we promise TO be sexually involved with each other.”

          You sound like an addict who is still justifying his addiction by placing the blame for his problem on others. Yes, sexual intimacy is meant to be shared ONLY with our spouse to bind us physically, just as we should be bound emotionally and spiritually. However, it is NOT an obligation we are required to fulfill in the absence of the love, devotion, and commitment that should be in a marriage. The following is from Andrew, the writer of this site who has years of experience as an addict and who is now in recovery. I had questioned how I could love someone I do not respect, as I do not respect my husband because of his choices and desires. His response:

          “I don’t think you need to rush to love him or to respect him. You don’t need to love or respect an addict whose behavior is tearing your family apart. You do need to protect yourself and your kids from the mental, emotional and spiritual boulders he keeps dropping on you. S-Anon can help you learn to do that. If he’s physically abusive or makes you feel uncomfortable through objectification, you have an absolute and unequivocal right to put yourself in a safe place. NO RULE ANYWHERE SAYS YOU HAVE TO KEEP BEING INTIMATE WITH A SEX ADDICT. NO RULE SAYS YOU HAVE TO KEEP SLEEPING IN THE SAME BEDROOM WITH HIM. No rule says you have to keep living in the same house with him or even stay married to him. Do exactly what helps you feel safest on all levels. Don’t let anyone try to change your mind on that issue.

          I hope this next point comes out in the right way. When you married your husband in the temple, you made covenants with God and a man. YOU DID NOT MAKE COVENANTS WITH AN ADDICTION. You have an obligation of loyalty to Heavenly Father. YOU DO NOT HAVE ANY OBLIGATION OF LOYALTY WHATSOEVER TO THE ADDICTION. You have an obligation of loyalty to your husband to the extent that he actually sides with God–not just when he promises to side with God. Addicts are good at promises but not so good on the follow-through. Since you know that he is not in recovery, you also know that he currently sides with the addiction and not with Heavenly Father. He has broken his covenant to you and to Heavenly Father. Only your husband’s repentance and recovery, both made possible through Jesus Christ, can repair that broken covenant. I suppose the thing you need to ask Heavenly Father is whether it’s His will for you to stick around to see if that ever happens.”

          No one is ever “guilty” of adding to the temptation of an addict because they do not want to be sexually intimate with someone who does not honor their marriage covenants, does not love them, does not have an emotional or spiritual connection with them and/or who objectifies them. Please stop placing the blame of the addiction on the wives who are the victims.

      • Your resentment and anger are the only things holding you back from the support you need form your Father in heaven, I understand it is hard but you have to find a way to let go of the resentment and feel compassion. I am not saying in anyway that this will excuse his behaviour. But keeping this resentment and anger inside of you is like drinking poison and expecting all your trouble to die.
        You are the only one in control of your feelings. The world has this view that feeling compassion for those that hurt you makes you weak when in fact, it makes you the strongest out of ANYONE. Think of our prime example, our Saviour. All of his closest friends denied him and yet he still had compassion on them and forgave them.
        Learning to let those feelings of resentment go will take time, but it is something you need to do for yourself. Not for anyone else, but for yourself. Trust me, you will be able to feel happy in the worst of situations, when your life seems to be crashing down about you. Your Father in heaven who loves you with an unconditional, all-enduring love can help you with this. But you have to open the door. No one else can do it for you. And it may take you years of struggle and heart ache to do it (it certainly did for me) but it is worth ANY effort. But it will pass easier and quicker if you don’t give up on being in constant prayer to your Heavenly Father even when no answers seem to come. It’s harder doing it on your own and if I could take back one thing out of all the stupid things I’ve done, it would be that. Your Father in Heaven will never give up on you, don’t give up on him.

        Everyone will always have those feelings to some degree, but this life is about learning to overcome the passions of the flesh so we can go beyond and become more like our Heavenly Father. The point of these programs is to learn to overcome these feelings. It will always take time, probably years. But you will feel number 1 in his life if he loves you enough to change.
        I would like to teach you one principle I got from a church leader. He calls it the ‘doubting Thomas’ problem. Thomas s always remembered at his worst, when he doubted. But he is really remembered in another story of him when all the other disciples doubted Jesus’ word and Thomas was the only one who encouraged the others to do what was needed. In marriages which are falling apart, this same thing often happens. But the real man is your husband at his best. Remember him at his best and ask yourself; Is an eternity with someone at their best worth the relatively short times when the troubles, temptations and stressors of life bring out their worst? That’s something no one can decide for you. But you need to make your decision and act upon it.
        I understand what he has done is serious but if he is going to the 12 Step program with you, then it sounds like he’s willing to change. Don’t let your feelings of resentment and anger get in the way of that. It’s hard, I know and understand, but if you want to make this work, you have to be a supporting pillar for him as he recovers from his addiction disease. Mental diseases are just as bad, in fact I would argue worse, than physical diseases. You have to give it the same treatment that you would a physical disease. The helpful programs are the doctors and you are a part of his supporting braces. If you two can manage to come through this you will know a closeness and a trusting of each other that you have never known before. But you both have be willing to trust and put in effort into one another. You need to be willing to let him be open with you about his failings, it’s not just something that can go away in an instant, it takes time and effort. You CANNOT expect you to just ask him to quit and it will just go away, anymore than you can ask him to stop having pneumonia if he caught it. It is a disease which will not go away it’s own it need treatment.

        What happened with your kids is awful but understand that they are their own people with their won agency and even Heavenly Father, who is the perfect parent, will only have 1/3 of his children come back to him in the celestial kingdom. What they do is ultimately their own choice, you can help and support but you cannot make decisions for them.

        And another things, men come out with the stupidest things when they feel cornered. They will come out with lies and denials and throw anything to make you feel bad, so someone can suffer in their misery. Just know that this is his problem, not yours. You are not to blame no matter what he says. You are a essential support in his recovery process but you are not to blame.

        So overall my message to you is;
        – Continue praying to your Heavenly Father even if it seems like no answers are forthcoming
        – Let go of your feelings of anger and resentment and stop them from poisoning an changing you for the worst
        – Answer the question; Is an eternity with someone at their best worth the relatively short times when the troubles, temptations and stressors of life bring out their worst?
        – Act upon your answers.

        Wishing you all the best and hoping this helps :)

    • My husband of 12 years has had a problem with this the entire time we were married, in fact I found out about 6 months into our marriage that he was doing this…. I feel really betrayed, he’s lied and lied and lied about it, even when I caught him! He tried to tell me that it wasn’t him!
      I’m really wanting to separate from him, but we have 4 beautiful kids to consider.
      It’s really eating me up inside because he tells me it’s spurred on because its something I’ve said or done. I’m constantly thinking that its gonna happen again even though he’s saying to me till he’s Luke in the face that he’s not going to continue and that him confessing to me is his redeeming feature. He’s already hurt me physically in trying to defend his standpoint. What the hell am I gonna do, I love him but this continues to weigh heavily on my mind.

    • i know just how you feel.My husband and i have been together for almost 6 yrs now and we just had our child 3 mos ago and lil over 3 weeks ago i found out that he was addicted to porn and had been going on chat rooms while i was pregnant and recovering from my csection. i have tried so very hard to be supportive and loving but the memories of what he has done to me gets coming back i get angry and hurt how can i keep going on with our marriage if i have to keep looking over my shoulder wondering what hes doing or who hes talking to. i want to stay with him for the kids but its so hard

  3. it is too late for me – We are finalizing divorce. I have lived 30 years without knowledge or hope of what you are talking about. I havent felt like enough for 30 years. I have felt like a pawn in his game to appear to be good and wholesome and perfect family so he could live his double life of lust and addiction. I am so broken…so hollow. I never wanted to be alone at the age of 55 and realize that I have never been enough…never been loved.

    • Sometimes recovery comes too late or the damage is too great to overcome. I know a lot of couples who marriage was destroyed by a sex and pornography addiction. I’m sorry for the pain you’ve gone through and continue to experience. Addiction is the rotten gift that keeps on giving to those associated with the addict. I actually wrote the essay “Another Letter to the Wife Who Suffers in Silence” as a follow-up to this piece. In it, I talk about the husband who wants to keep on trying to fool his wife, family and church leaders about the extent of his problem. It’s not my business to advise divorce or separation, but I certainly think that a woman whose husband refuses to take recovery seriously should take a long, hard look at what she’s getting out of that marriage relationship with an addict and all the baggage he brings with him. Hopefully your soon-to-be-ex-husband can find real recovery from his addiction and stop throwing emotional and spiritual hand grenades at the family. I’m praying for you.

    • D, I left my husband because of his pornography addiction too. I cannot possibly say how much I empathize with you. I had been praying to know if Heavenly Father’s plan was for me to stay with my husband almost since we first got married because although I didn’t know what was wrong I knew something was. A year and a half later I caught him looking at pornography and a year after that, after 4 kinds of therapy, the church’s addiction recovery program, and still I wasn’t convinced he was serious about dealing with his addiction, the feelings I had been getting when praying that used to say “Stay, stay- this isn’t over yet,” changed to, “It’s time to leave.”

      I have no regrets. Had I left when I first wanted to, yes I could have saved time, but I would have left feeling guilt, like I hadn’t given it a fair shot. Leaving when I did has given me complete peace, because I learned that it wasn’t that I couldn’t hack it, but that there was something really wrong. I came to understand that I needed to go through that process for several reasons: one, like I said, now I have to guilt or regret. Two, I have been able to become more empathetic and helpful to so many other women. And three, I feel like I was placed in his life when I was to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands- to help my husband realize the depth of his problem, bring it to light, and begin to help him deal with it. It was so hard on me, but looking back I wouldn’t give up what I learned in exchange for not going through it.

      I came to understand that not only was it okay with Heavenly Father for me to leave, but that it was the right thing for me to do. Now I am remarried, and have a beautiful little boy. Heavenly Father wants his precious daughters to be with exceptional men. Or at the very least, not stuck with one bound by addiction!!! :)

      D&C 132:44 says, “And if she hath not committed adultery, but is innocent and hath not broken her vow, and she knoweth it, and I reveal it unto you, my servant Joseph, then shall you have power, by the power of my Holy Priesthood, to take her and give her unto him that hath not committed adultery but hath been faithful; for he shall be made ruler over many.”

      I also like D&C 42:23, “And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out.”

      Take comfort- you have been righteous. You will be rewarded for that with a righteous man- whether it be your husband, or someone else. Perhaps in this life he will beat this and in the next you will be together, or you may be with someone else. But you have been worthy and that is all you can do.

      I don’t know you, but I already love you, and know that although this is probably the hardest that you have done or will do, that you will get through it and I promise you will find happiness!

      • Caitlin: Thanks for the comment and for being willing to share your experience. One of the big messages of this website is that men who choose to do whatever it takes to address and overcome their addiction lust, sex and pornography CAN AND DO RECOVER. One of the other big messages is that men who choose to deny and minimize the problem and deal with it on their own and in isolation WILL ALWAYS FAIL. Even if they are most spiritual Mormon men on the planet, they cannot overcome addiction without the help of other human beings.

        If you’ll allow me, I want to make an observation about one thing you said: that you left your husband because of his pornography addiction. I like to be careful about this, because many people can misunderstand and dismiss what you’re saying–and I don’t want anyone to dismiss what you’re saying. When you say you left him because of the porn addiction, you’re really speaking in shorthand. I doubt any woman would leave her husband “just because he looks at pornography.” That’s the thing. There’s this big assumption that porn consumption has no effect whatsoever on any aspect of a man’s life other than on his eyeballs and then only while he’s looking. In other words, most people believe that an LDS man can occasionally binge on porn (“commit a little sin”), stop (“repent”–only it really isn’t repentance) and then go right back to being the perfect husband, father and spiritual leader in his home that he thought he was before. That’s simply not true and we are now seeing on a grand scale the effect of the husband/father’s lust consumption on the other members of his family.

        So, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’d bet that you didn’t just leave him “because of the porn.” I’m sure you left because he was a liar, he made you feel unsafe, he made you feel crazy, he was dismissive, he was emotionally absent, he was a spiritual blackhole, he was hypercritical of you and others, he made you feel like a piece of meat during sex (he treated you like a sex object, just as he treated the women in the porn), he was mentally immature, he was shockingly self-absorbed, and he thought that no one at church or elsewhere could see through the “spiritual giant” facade he put up to try to hide the man he had become because of his repeated acting out with compulsive sexual behavior. He was a mess spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. He was miserable and he was making you miserable. He was sucking the life out you because that’s what unrecovered addicts do to those around them. That is the nature of addicts and their addiction. You left him to keep him from destroying you as he continued to destroy himself.

        Again, women don’t leave their husbands “just because of the porn.” The porn problem is simply the easiest reason for leaving that they can articulate. It gets the “most press.” Women leave their porn-addicted husbands so the husbands’ train wreck of a life doesn’t destroy the wife (and maybe the kids) as well. Women leave to save their sanity and themselves. If a husband refuses to face up to the problem of addiction and get help toward recovery, I think separation and possibly divorce are pretty much inevitable. Women need to protect themselves from the madness that is devouring their husbands. This is the GRAND PLAGUE of our generation.

        • Andrew, you’re totally right! As you were describing what you assumed I kept thinking, ‘yah! YAH!’.

          When I first caught my husband looking at pornography, we were both relieved- him for not needing to hide it anymore, and me because I had finally pinpointed that nagging feeling I had had for a year and a half- that there was something big he wasn’t telling me. We were both glad, and hopeful, and had a renewed determination to make our marriage work. In fact, each new time after that that my husband relapsed and confessed to me, we both committed again to keep on trying.

          So yes- I left NOT because of his addiction to pornography. I understood that he was still a son of God, and still loved by Him- still had potential- still was so special. I went with him to the church’s addiction recovery program, counseling, bishop’s meetings. We read books, went to counseling, talked to many people, and prayed diligently. Eventually I left, “to keep him from destoying [me] as he continued to destroy himself,” as you put it. To this day, I still love him and know that it could have worked. So I should say that it is not because of the existence of the addiction that I left- it was because it was destroying me too.

          My current husband is also addicted to pornography. However, he told me about it before we were even engaged (versus point-blank lying about it like my first husband did) and was in recovery for years before his mission and has been sober since. So I know that recovery is possible- and that is incredible.

          • OK, you’ve brought up another important point. The finger-pointers among us might be quick to say, “Well, just look at her! She stumbles from one addict to another. What does she expect? She’s just asking for trouble.” The reality is that you are like most women in the LDS Church in North America today. A significant majority of the men in the Church have a pornography problem (I argue in my book and on this website that it’s probably at least 70%–the same number as for men outside the Church). This is the spouse pool from which LDS women draw.

            I think that as addiction becomes more clearly understood, we will come to see that most of these Mormon porn consumers are actually addicted to lust and have been since they were children and had their first exposure to pornography (more addictive than cocaine is what some say). What this means is that for most LDS women today, there are really only three choices: remain single, take a chance with a sex addict in recovery or face certain disaster with a sex addict who’s not in recovery.

            If an LDS woman marries a sex addict, later divorces and then marries another man, the odds are pretty good that the new husband will also be a sex addict. It’s not because she’s consciously or unconsciously picking them out. It’s because that’s all that’s available. (In my opinion, most of the 30% with no porn problem are probably over the age of 60 and don’t have an internet connection.)

            Again, like a broken record, I always have to emphasize–and Caitlin has experienced this–men can and do find recovery from sex and pornography addiction. They never find it, however, on their own and in isolation. Addiction recovery requires the help of other human beings. For Latter-day Saints right now, the human beings best situated to help those of us who are suffering are to be found in Sexaholics Anonymous and S-Anon. As more Latter-day Saints get involved in these programs and find recovery, they will bring their experience, strength and hope back with them into the Church and the Church’s addiction programs. Miracles will happen.

        • I just want to scream as I read these comments. Why do we as a society allow this to take over the world. What can we do to hit it where it counts. Will shutting this plague up take as much time as it took government and society to take control of the tobacco plague. How many lives will have to be quietly and completely burried by the deprivation of this mulit-billion dollar industry. Though we now know it is as destructive as any other addiction, even to the mental health of so many addicted and their family members, there seems to still be no outpooring of outrage or urgency to really tackle the problem. How many men or women who are not members of the church and are deceived about the serious effects of pornography are agonizing secretly inside. Can anyone direct me to an organization who fights against the access and distribution of pornography where I, as the mother of a wonderful young man who is addicted, can turn to put my energy and attention. I feel this is the quietest of killers. Not of physical life perhaps, but of every other life fource. We have to speak out. Shame and embarassment are just powerful tools Satan uses to get us to shut our mouths and go about our lives as though we can do nothing. We all need to be ready and willing to fight this war. Thank you to those of you who have already added your voice here. To those wives and mothers batteling the effects of this in a husband or son I would call for a unifyed prayer from all of us for all those struggeling with the addiciton and those struggeling with the addicted. Let us each pray for each other. I believe our fervent prayers to heaven can open some other even more powerful doors in brain research, the world’s awareness, and outrage by society as a whole. We can’t just think “these are the last day, and this is what we have to deal with”. Every prayer I send to heaven from this day forth will ask a loving Heavenly Father to help our world deal with this GRAND PLAGUE!

          • If you ever find this organisation, TELL THE REST OF US! I had a brief problem with pornography back when I was too young to realise what I was doing. I’ve also had a brother who had a problem with it for several months and our family has become wiser from that but I still always feel uncomfortable when adds and random things I stumble upon contain basically toned down porn. Not only that but these kinds of things are all over the internet. As a full time internet user, you can’t escape it and this is the kind of world most kids are living in. The internet is a wonderful tool but this is it’s worst misuses. And the adds, which are all over the internet and you can find them even when just researching for a project, are just getting bolder and bolder with the amount of sexual content they put in their adds to attract costumers. It’s be great if we could find something that attacked this virus at its source.

          • Yes! Rene there is a site, probably several. One is Stop porn Culture. I feel the same, my marriage is almost over also and I am now just trying to take care of my emotional health after all the years I put up with it. It is a plague worse than any that were visited on the Egyptians! I will take the frogs and locusts anyday lol :-)

    • I feel the same! I am 55 and have been living with the same thing and feel the same . Dido! I have been told by LDS professionals in this porn area, that if these men don’t get into recovery within a year of you knowing of their addiction, then u completely detach! I know that this is a spreading disease and it only makes the whole family sicker! I have been in recovery three years and he is still living his life of dishonest , dillusional lust. He’s getting sicker and I’m getting better! Forgiveness is a process! My stake president told me that in eternity I can live with him as a healthy person and that here on earth detachment needed to happen if he won’t get into recovery. I feel that the Holy Ghost is there to direct us, and Heavenly Father knows us all individually and speaks to us through the Holy Ghost . We need to think of what’s best for us and our children when it comes to this horrible addiction ! We absolutely shouldn’t think in terms of living with a sick person here on earth to live in heaven with him when he’s well We may not want to live with him . It’s an individual thing!

  4. Hello! I appreciate your letter. I recently found out my husband is viewing pornography. I’ve suspected he has had some sort of problem throughout our 20 years of marriage. I have not talked to him about it yet, and was wondering if you have any advice on how to approach him. He has been angry and resentful for years. I was always confused by his anger towards me, without me doing anything to deserve it. He would become frustrated at little things. If I handled things one way, he would get angry. I would do the opposite. He would get angry. I now suspect it was his way of justifying his addiction and finding an excuse to act out. Where I have been his reason/excuse for so long, I am concerned about approaching him in the right way. Any ideas?

    • B: Thanks for reading and thanks for commenting. Although I have no way to say this applies specifically to your husband, I do know from experience that addiction–and in particular, sex and pornography addiction–makes the addict absolutely miserable. Miserable addicts take their unhappiness out on others. One characteristic of addicts is always pointing out the real or imagined flaws and shortcomings of others. I did this for nearly my entire life. Addicts desperately want to keep their secret inside and one way their broken brain does this is by trying to focus the attention on what everyone else is doing wrong.

      Approaching your husband on this issue is no easy task. Obviously, you have to go about it prayerfully and do what God wants you to do. I do have a few thoughts. You could give him a copy of my book Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship, tell him you’ve read all the essays in it and ask him to read it. You can also ask him to read certain of the essays on this website. Others have found that RowboatAndMarbles.org is a good way to get the issue out in the open with the spouse. Another idea that you should consider seriously is attending S-Anon. Those meetings are full of women who are successfully dealing with a husband’s addiction and are sharing their experience strength and hope with others. I wish you all the best.

  5. Thank you for all your time and effort. We’ve been riding this roller coaster since 6 months into our marriage (his addiction goes back much longer, obviously) . . . and at nearly eight years of marriage, we just (this week) hit another depressing low of this whole thing with yet another round of lies and hiding and being caught and confession and heartache and brokenness after nine months of not acting out (and a couple months of keeping it hidden before I pushed the issue enough that the truth came out). And yet, I feel lighter and more hopeful than I have in a long time. I have read and studied and learned everything I can about porn addiction for years now, and feel like I’m finally really starting to ‘get it’ — it wasn’t until our last major ’round’ of confession that he seemed to even entertain the idea of addiction, and nine months later, here we are again. BUT, this time. He seems like he might be getting it. He’s attended two of the LDS meetings this last week and hss emailed SA to find out where they meet (after reading one of your essays). He’s expressed interest in going to a therapist. Which brings me to my question — how does one go about finding a good therapist, who will understand and treat this in a way that is in accordance with gospel standards and in the context of an addiction with the goal of 1005 sobriety? I’d love to find someone on our insurance, but the pickings are so slim, and I can’t find good information about people . . . I don’t want to be ‘cheap’ and cut corners and get a less than an ideal therapist — but if we’re looking at doing this long term, financial concerns with four kids and myself at home are legitimate. Especially since I’m afraid he could potentially lose his job because of his porn viewing at work. I don’t want to throw our money into a pit that doesn’t help him, or worse, a therapist who doesn’t approach this in the way it needs to be approached.

    • HC: I think one big reason for why Sexaholics Anonymous is the most helpful program for Latter-day Saints who are trying to overcome sex and pornography addiction is its definition of sexual sobriety: No sex with self or anyone other than spouse, and progressive victory over lust. That is actually the Gospel standard. Unfortunately, the Church’s Pornography Addiction Support Group doesn’t even have a definition of sexual sobriety, let alone one as clear and helpful as SA’s definition.
      So when it comes to selecting a therapist, you should find one with experience in treating sexual addiction and whose treatment philosophy mirrors the SA sobriety definition. You might take at look at the website for LifeSTAR. This is a group of sexual addiction therapists who work to help people find a sexual sobriety that is effectively the same at SA’s definition. Please keep in mind that we know of no addict who has been able to recover on his own without the help of lots of meetings and lots of counseling. We also believe strongly that the spouses of addicts need support and that that support can best be found in S-Anon. Again, this group has more and better resources than what the Church and LDS Family Services currently offer. Best of luck to you.

  6. This appears to be a great insight into the problem, which, as a wife of over 22 years could never quite grasp. My husband’s addiction has kept his “interest” in sex w/me almost inpalpable beginning with our honeymoon. I have basically closed myself off sexually with him as I don’t feel the “intimacy” that should be there and cannot bring myself to feel it. I know your program wants us to have sex as we are husband and wife, but I cannot bring myself to that most trusting “intimate place.” I’m not sure if S-Anon is the answer or if we just stay married (as we are best friends) and just forget about the entire sexual aspect of our marriage.

    • ann: If you’re talking about the definition of sexual sobriety in Sexaholics Anonymous (No sex with self or any person other than spouse; and progressive victory over lust), it’s my understanding that SA takes no position on sexual intimacy between husband and wife. That’s between you, your husband and God. What SA does do, however, is take a position on lust. Members of SA seek to achieve progressive victory over lust. We do this because lust is killing us when we’re in our addiction. Only by finding and staying in recovery can we be happy and whole. I might offer my perspective–and this is just my opinion–if I were married to a lust addict who was not in recovery, it would be pretty clear to me that sex with my spouse would just be a part of my spouse’s regimen of lust driven activities. I wouldn’t want to be a part of it. I think a lot of wives are scared that if they don’t have sex with their husband on demand, their husband will look elsewhere. That’s really the equivalent of saying, “I don’t want you to act out on your lust addiction by yourself or with someone else, so come act out on me. Use me to feed your lust.” Like I said, I wouldn’t want to be a part of that. Spouses of addicts need to understand that if the addict is sick from lust addiction, engaging in lust driven sexual behavior with him or her isn’t helping either of them. It’s probably just making them both more crazy.

      There is no rule anywhere–ANYWHERE–that says you have to have sex with your addict spouse. Addicts have moaned and complained and manipulated long enough, however, that everyone has come to believe that healthy people have to have lots and lots of unbridled sex. The inference is that if you want to do anything other than have lots and lots of sex, there is something wrong you. That is simply not true! Sex is optional! Your husband won’t die if he doesn’t have it! No one dies from lack of sex! Addicts think they’ll die and they behave like they’ll die, but they don’t. If you’re married to a sex addict who is not in recovery, I don’t see a problem at all with “just forget[ting] about the entire sexual aspect of our marriage.”

      I’m not sure I understood quite what you were getting at regarding S-Anon. The organization does not advocate helping women feel good about having sex with their sex-addicted husbands. The goal of S-Anon in my opinion is to help spouses (usually wives) separate themselves and protect themselves mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually from their addict’s choices and behavior. If that means no sex with the addict for a period of time–or for forever–then SO BE IT! No one is obligated to have sex with a sex addict–even if you’re married to him.

      • Andrew,

        I think you are absolutely 100% right on. And Ann, please take this to heart. You absolutely deserve to have warm fuzzies before you have sex with your husband- and for most women, that means being able to trust and respect him. That doesn’t mean that everything has to be perfect- of course. But there has to be enough trust and respect to make you feel safe. A good rule of thumb- if you don’t desire it yourself, then there is either a lack of safety, or a lack of connection. (There are also physical difference from woman to woman, but I would submit that a woman who feels loved and safe will either desire or at least be amenable to having sex.) Being willing to even if you’r just not in the mood is okay too- but trying to make yourself be able to endure it is not something you should have to do- for your sake, and his! Safety and connection are integral parts of a marriage, and it’s just not realistic or fair to ask yourself to have sex with him without these things.

        There are biological reasons why our female brains want warm fuzzies before intimacy- to protect our future, to insure we are safe, and since there’s usually the potential for children, or birth control to fail, it’s a natural protection against having to raise a child alone or in an unsafe environment. Also, a man undergoes significant changes- instead of being warrior/protectors (which is also good!), it is a wonderful process that they go through when they succeed in being tender and trustworthy enough that a woman desires him- it is necessary, and if he gets sex without that, you are saying that nothing is required of him, and that his need is more worthy than your own, and you set a precedent for demands in the future.

        Also, intimacy is not a man’s right, even in his marriage. He must deserve you- by being trustworthy and creating a safe and, dare I say it…exciting arena for intimacy. Sex in a marriage where there is a lack of trust, especially after months or years of mistrust, becomes a chore and unhealthy and you risk creating an aversion for yourself. You do not have to “bring yourself there” as you said. Sexaholics Anonymous [and S-Anon for the spouse] sounds like the ideal next step for you and your husband. I can’t say enough how much I agree with Andrew- “If that means no sex with the addict for a period of time–or for forever–then SO BE IT!”–I love that.

        I hope you find a spark of hope for happiness soon. Good luck!

  7. Thank-you for the Christlike service you are doing with this website and information. It has been very helpful. My husband was introduced to pornography at 12 and now 32 years later realizes he is addicted. I wouldn’t say he is a hard core addict. In fact he does nothing different than many men in the world and even in the church do. I would say he is addicted to lust. He sometimes indulges in hard porn, but most of the time it is like portion control, he gets what he needs off of little things. Kind of white knuckeling
    it through. Our intamacy has become so tainted. We dont’ even know what is right. Everything feels wrong.

    I feel very much like I am a co-dependent as I want so much to protect him from more pain and suffering than he wants. He went to the Bishop a few weeks ago, and came home a little lost as the Bishop had no idea what to say or handle the interview. He had no goals, questions, returns visits, etc.I was so angry! I was angry that he wasn’t helped and nurtured in that interview. So we are trying to do this on our own through books and information. We are reading the 12 step book and following it between the two of us.

    Can I tell you how scared I feel? I am terrified. I have anxiety everyday…all day. I can’t sleep well at night. I go to bed scared and wake up scared. The unknown terrifies me. We realize we could lose so much. But are willing to do what it takes to be clean and have this out of our lives. I have no thought of ever leaving or divorcing my husband. I do realize as well, that I cannot fix this or love him enough to cure this. It is way out of my bounds. I think of how blessed we are, because it could be worse. Much worse. My huaband has always been very honest with me, and never kept it a secret. He told me of each viewing he had over the internet. I think because the secrecy of it didn’t go on behind the scenes, it has saved him from being a hard core addict. I feel there is hope, but I am still scared to death. We are very well known in our community. He holds high positions of trust in our community. We don’t want to be seen at a meeting because then others would know. We are still trying to solve this quietly behind the scenes. I am woried of our children finding out and I am worried about how it would affect others in the community. I am on my knees constantly praying for the Lords will to be done. We are both willing to face what we need to face…although we are scared.

    • No Name: Thanks so much for being willing to share your experience and thoughts. I encourage you to meet with a counselor experienced in treating the wives of sex addicts. We’re finding that wives of sex addicts show similar characteristics to individuals who have undergone some huge trauma and suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

      I am sorry the bishop wasn’t able to offer more help. Unfortunately, addiction is a complicated disease that involves a pretty in-depth recovery program. Some bishops are just overwhelmed by it if they’re not willing to educate themselves. There resources are out there for him if he wants them. If your bishop doesn’t already have one, you might consider giving him a copy of my book Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship. It’s available for free on the website. Also, there’s a great manual that you can download at SALifeline.org called Understanding Pornography and Sexual Addiction. These two book along with Dr. Don Hilton’s book He Restoreth My Soul should be required reading for all bishops and stake presidents.

      Also, could I offer one other observation? I don’t think there’s such a thing as a hard-core porn addict. A porn addict is a sex addict is a lust addict. I don’t think there are degrees of porn addiction any more than there are degrees of alcoholism. If you mean he doesn’t look at child porn or rape porn, then, yes, I suppose that’s a good thing (relatively speaking).

      We really need to be drawing analogies from alcoholism. Some alcoholics down a six pack of beer to get a buzz. Some guzzle a bottle of whiskey. Some drink from the moment they wake up in the morning until the moment they pass out that night. They are all sick with the same disease.

      It’s the same with porn addicts. They’re all looking for the same buzz. They are all sick with the same disease. Encourage your husband to get professional help along with a 12-Step group. I have heard at least one expert say that he has never seen a man recover from porn addiction on his own. I haven’t either. Your husband needs the help of a therapist trained to treat sex addicts and he also needs the support and guidance that come from associating with recovering addicts in Sexaholics Anonymous. He can’t do it alone. No one ever has.

      I wish you all the best. Please let me know how things are going down the road.

  8. Andrew,

    This is an incredible site. You’re doing such a good work here. My first husband was an addict, and though I feel whole now about all that happened during our marriage, your comments have made me feel even better. This is so needed!! The gospel is a wonderful tool to beat addiction, of course. But here you have laid out specifics on how to use it, and to get professional help. So THANK YOU!

  9. Wow, I am so grateful I found this site. I have been dealing with the issue of living with a porn/lust/masturbastion addict for four years now. I feel so broken. I have so much anger that I don’t even think straight most of the time. I have been going to the 12 step program and I feel uplifted each time I’ve gone, however the anger just stays. I am severely co-dependant and find myself feeling like the program works for everyone but me.

    My husband is trying to do this on his own, which I am very clear that this method doesn’t work. I have recently, finally, set some boundaries and told him to move out because I am unable to heal being around him right now. I of course am terrified about the outcome of that move, however I know that for me to feel some sanity and peace I needed to get away from the wickedness that spews from him. I wonder if it will be enough to “wake” him up to the devestation that is his life.

    How does one support the person they love and show committment to our marriage and yet provide safety and some peace to thier own life? I felt total validation in my feelings in your comments Andrew concerning the pool of men that we Latter-day Saint women have or will have to choose from. It’s pathetic, so why leave the husband I have a child with just to find another husband with the same issues.

    I realize the difference of someone in recovery vs. not being in recovery but isn’t the 12 step program there to teach us wives that we can heal in spite of what they do? Also, I would be interested to hear some feedback on if telling my husband he can’t come back home or see either myself or our daughter until he is in some therapy or getting help of some kind. Is that me controlling or is that a boundary? I’m really trying to figure this stuff out. Thanks for your insight.

  10. I appreciate this site and information provided. It affirms all that I have been learning recently about my husband’s porn addiction and his treatment of me. I am saddened that my husband is so far in denial that he continues to blame me for every problem in his life and has so focused on my flaws and faults that he wants a divorce. As much as I do not want to go down the road of recovery with him because of the years of hurt he has inflicted (I only recently learned of the underlying cause), I would do anything for my children if it will mean they can have a happy, intact family. Although I agree with 99% of what you have written and that no amount of “religious effort” on the addicts part will “cure” this “disease,” an apostle of the Lord has instructed us that a person CAN be freed from their addiction with the healing power of the atonement when it is understood and applied – of course in conjunction with all the sincere hard work, determination and commitment required on our part.

    • I love this video. I need to post it in the main part of the website. Elder Ballard promises that addicts can be freed from their addiction. I absolutely believe that.

  11. I love this article and read it all the time! I also showed it to my husband and he thought it was cool but still just wants to handle it on his own. It makes me sad because while he isnt necessarily an addict anymore he still has “silp ups” and it sucks and i know he would be able to overcome it all if he would join ya know? And i just dont know really how to get him to do that….i dont want to be pushy. Also, i want people going through the same things to talk to but all the sanon meetings are very far away :( it helps to read these posts.

  12. I have been dealing with my husbands addiction for 6 years,he always is sorry when I discover he has had a “slip-up”.He swears to me that he will never do it again. I almost did not marry him over this as well as getting on birth control afte a “slip-up” I even made him sign a contract stating he would change and be more open and honest with me. I just decovered another “slip-up” and when I confronted him this time he blew up on me. He pointed out any flaws in me he could making me feel horrible. He mocked me and belittled my feelings.He then took all our saving we had in cash and got some things and left!Mind you I have a 8 week old baby boy. I am so heartbroken and do not understand I tried not to attack him and showed him these web site for help. He said”you are making me out to be a monster” He has left the home with no contact for 2 days.I have no idea where to go from here.

    • JS: I’m so sorry to hear what you’re going through–especially with a newborn. I hope you’ll try to find a local S-Anon meeting and do whatever you can to attend and make connections there with women who can help you. If there’s nothing locally, you can attend phone meetings and get the literature through their website. If your husband decides he wants to deal with his problem, I’m happy to talk with him. When he comes around again, ask if he’s interested. My email address is andrew [at] rowboatandmarbles.org. I’m praying for you. Don’t give up hope, don’t let him make you out to be the bad buy and don’t ever think that you have to settle for a life with someone who consumes porn. He can get help and he can overcome porn addiction if he becomes willing to do whatever it takes.

  13. Thank you for sharing this, I have been trying to understand for so long why he cannot stop and everything you said makes perfect sense. Now that I have this understanding I have to figure out how to get it to him in a way that he will accept. He is a very prideful man and although he has put some effort into this and taken little responsibility, he has convinced himself I am the cause of this. If only I would allow him to objectify and use me anytime he wanted he wouldn’t go elsewhere. I use to think he was right maybe if I would give him what he wanted more he wouldn’t act out. I want to be a supportive wife and help him but I will be honest, his little problem has ruined my confidence, and put a huge wedge between us. It is all the other things the addiction damages. we cannot be close, we cannot talk open and honestly with out him flipping out and getting defensive which turns into him verbally abusing me. AS hard as I try to see the man I fell in love with I cant. He has slipped away right before my eyes and I have no desire to be intimate with this new man. I have to force myself to fake interest in his life. I am slowly but surely falling out of love with him and as scared as I am to start over, I am more afraid of what my future entails if he never changes. I cannot live my life fearing that my husband is being unfaithful. It breaks my heart that so many men struggle with this. I know it is hard, I am a recovering alcoholic, sober now 3 years. Addiction is horrible, It took m 4 attempts of getting sober before I actually got there. I no longer crave it and I am able to be around it, although I try to avoid it, but when I am in a lot of pain the thought does cross my mind and I think it always will enter my mind. I feel blessed that even though I still struggle with those thoughts, I have gotten to the point where I know I wont actually do it. I understand it is hard, I couldn’t imagine having to overcome an addiction without cutting it off cold turkey. An addiction to sex has got to be that much worse because if they are married its still part of their life with their spouse, so its hard to separate. I believe sobriety is definitely possible, but I know my husband and with his personality I feel like for him to try overcoming it any other way but on his own would have to be a miracle. I have sent this site to my bishop and am hoping with our support I will be able to witness a miracle.

  14. I have been married to a man for 24 years. I discovered his addiction shortly after we married. He goes for a while and seems to be doing better, more attentive to me and my feelings, and then he is consumed again. I am a very sexual person. I am attracted to my husband and don’t turn him away, ever. He just doesn’t seem to care about my needs. He’s selfish and his addiction is escalating. He is now joining sites to meet people online. He says he would never go through with it and he knows its wrong, but he still does it. I don’t know what to do. I try to be what he wants and it only makes me feel worse about myself that no matter what I do…. It’s not good enough. He still CHOOSES that over me. I’m 42 years old. I feel like I’ve thrown away my youth on a man who will never be what I need. He doesn’t think there is anything wrong with what he does. Please help me understand.

    • Please check out the essay “A Letter to the Wives” on this website. Also I encourage you to find a local S-Anon meeting. If there aren’t any, you can contact their central office. We’re praying for you.

  15. Andrew, I’me grateful to you for your insights into this addiction, and how it affects wives of those addicted. Obviously your wife has been open and honest with you about how much your addiction has wounded her. That wound is a long time healing, and her support and love say a lot about the calibre of woman you married.

    My divorce from a sex addict was finalized just two weeks ago. I was married to him for seventeen years, knowing full well about his addictions since about the third year of marriage. I want through the entire cycle of emotions each time he acted out, and each time when the dust settled we managed to make a new commitment to each other to try harder and be better. I learned to live shaken, lonely, and struggling with my own self-confidence and ability to trust. Only recently has he begun to attend the Church’s 12-step program, and going to my parallel program i began to finally understand that it was not my fault. If it hadn’t been for the fact that often for a sex addict pornography is no longer enough to satisfy the cravings, we would probably still be married.

    When i found out that he had begun to focus his lust on our twelve year old daughter, I knew that I had to take our eight children and go. It didn’t matter that he hadn’t “gone all the way” with her. At the moment I found out about this acceleration, I knew I had to leave. It came with such a clarity of thought that it was as if God had said to me, ‘You have struggled along beside him long enough. I love him, but I also love your daughter and you. It’s time to go.” What a tragedy this addiction is! What a tragedy that it changes a man’s mind so that something as sick as incest would even be a passing thought, let alone become part of the horror that the addict’s family has to navegate! In my situation, I still hope the best for him. And I can still support him in his efforts to recover; but now it will be done from a distance. thank goodness for the 12-step and s-anon and sexaholics anonymous programs! My hope is that he will continue to attend, and also get whatever therapy, etc that he needs for his situation.

    My former husband told me that this evening you were scheduled to talk at a fireside that he was planning to attend. He’s quite impressed with you and your message. I’m grateful there are people like you to help him with this recovery program — especially when we as wives must take our children and graciously bow out.

  16. Can you help me with something? My husband has just disclosed his pornography addiction (after some lies on his part and some probing on mine). I was aware of his pornography use before and I told him years ago that he was addicted and needed to get help, but he was offended and I dropped the idea. Now he accepts, for the first time in his life, that he is an addict and that he can’t conquer this “problem” on his own. He has already made an appointment with an LDS therapist who has expertise in sex addiction and he seems willing, albeit a little reluctant, to go to SA meetings.

    I feel scared and anxious. It is clear to me that his addiction has been progressing all this time and it is frightening to think where it could lead if he doesn’t pursue real recovery. I would like to set some boundaries with him. I told him that I would stay married to him as long as he was working toward recovery but I wouldn’t put up with complacence. I’ve been reading many of your posts and I would also like to tell him that I will not have sex with him until I feel we can engage in lust-free intimacy. My question is: what is that? Sex with my husband is all I’ve ever known and he was deep into his addiction before we got married. He’s always struck me as a very considerate lover, one who would never cause me pain and embarrassment in the bedroom, but you assert that a lust addict cannot help but objectify his wife and I believe you. I don’t want to be a part of that. It isn’t good for him and it isn’t good for me. But I’m confused. Obviously, desire is an important part of human sexual response. How can I tell the difference between lust and passion? How will I know that it is safe to engage in sexual relations with my husband again?

    • The short answer is that when your husband is far enough along in a serious and measurable recovery program, you’ll know he is in recovery, you’ll know that you feel safe mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, and you’ll know it’s time to go down the intimacy road if you choose to.

      The longer answer is that you should probably talk to a qualified therapist with experience treating sex addiction if that’s at all possible. Also, attending meetings of S-Anon can help you learn from the experiences of other spouses more about the issue of sexual intimacy with a sex addict spouse. Finally, I’m reading a fabulous book right now by Rhyll Croshaw entitled What Can I Do About Me? Rhyll is the LDS wife of a recovering sex addict. She talks about all aspects of the spouse’s experience and I highly recommend that you read it.

  17. Thank you for the article and ladies for sharing your experiences! I feel so hallow and isolated too. It’s interesting that a comparison was made between the feelings and experiences of the wife of a porn addict to someone with someone with post traumatic stress disorder. I can identify with most of the symptoms. I married ten years ago having no idea that my husband had any problem with pornography and about four years ago I discovered his addiction.
    During that time there have been many promises to change and at times renewed efforts to do all the gospel basics however these periods have been punctuated with dishonesty and no effort to join any groups or seek any real help.
    I’m so discouraged and feel so very unattractive and useless. After my husbands most recent ‘slip’ I have been unable to even contemplate any kind of physical relationship. I feel as though every day I am simply going through the motions. I think all the time about leaving but with two children this is so heart breaking. I question if things will ever be right, even eternally, with children in this situation and was devastated to read your estimates of other male members of the church sharing the same problem.
    I feel as though I have lost faith in priesthood holders and judge them with the same cynicism and at times contempt. I have been unable to accept the offer of a blessing.
    I’m sorry if this post comes across as self pitying and self centred. I have not been able to talk about this with anyone. I was once a happy and confident young woman and now just feel utterly broken and a shadow of my former self.

  18. My friend referred me to your website after finding out that my husband of 12 years is an addict. I really feel like the spirit prompted me to open his email on the computer and see just how sick the man I love really is. I am in shock that he admitted that this has been happening for years and I had no idea. He also had non sexual lustful relationships with other women as well. I feel so hopeless that my marriage will ever be a normal happy one. My husband has finally admitted to being an addict and has taken considerable steps to get help including going to the bishop (which was no help at all) and going to an SA meeting. I am just so lost and in so much pain and wonder if I can ever trust him again.

  19. I am the wife of a porn addict. We’ve been married for 30 years. I found out just a few short months after we were married. I love my husband very much. He was excommunicated about 17 years ago, re-baptized about 13 years ago and temple blessings restored about 12 years ago. We have four grown children and they know nothing about it. He has had only a few months of being clean at a time our whole married life. He has just had about 5 months of being clean (that is a VERY long time for him). Before that, it was like 2 1/2 years that he barely had a couple days of being clean at a time. We just came home from the temple a week ago. The next day, he was caught in lies about where he was and what he was doing. I’m devastated once again. Thirty years and it does not get any easier nor hurt any less. When he is in the cycle or whatever you call it, he will not talk to me about it. I’ve tried to get him to talk to me this week and he will not. He just wants to be left alone. He wants to be free to stay up as late as he wants and do whatever he wants without being accountable to anyone. When he is clean, he is the kindest and most loving man. He tells me I’m beautiful and everything a woman would want to hear. When he is not clean, he is quick to anger, he is mean to me, he lies, he has a dark countenance, he’s deceitful and untrustworthy. It hurts so much. If he would just be honest with me and talk to me, but he won’t. Tonight I asked him to promise to never lie to me again. He said no, he couldn’t promise that because I keep asking him questions he’s asked me not to ask him. He doesn’t want me asking him any questions. He says when he’s ready to talk, he will let me know. That might be never or it might be a few years from now. It’s so hard, because I lose my best friend. The porn becomes the best friend and lover. I move down to way beyond 2nd or 3rd….more like 4th or 5th on the list. I need to remember every time this happens that he does still love me, (even though he treats me like he doesn’t) My mind goes crazy and I think maybe he’s found someone else, etc. etc. He committed adultery only once and that was over 17 years ago. But, I still am scared every time he falls into this addiction again. What if? I mean, he still is cheating on me, even if she’s not a real person, right? Sorry to go on and on. I don’t have anyone to talk to and our Bishop is related and not much help. Any thoughts on what would help me to help him? or what would help me?

    • Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like he’s willing to be helped. No one can overcome porn addiction alone and he doesn’t want anyone to be involved. At this point I think the only thing you can do is work on regaining your own sanity. You ought to download my book and read it. It’s free. Also get a hold of Rhyll Croshaw’s new book. Contact S-Anon and find out if there are local meetings–then go to as many as you can. Get the S-Anon literature and read it. Educate yourself about sex addiction and about living with an addict. God bless you in your struggle.

    • Even though it may seem hard at first, go to s-anon meetings! They are so helpful and have people that can listen and you can say anything to. It helps you stay sane through these hard times!

  20. My best friend and husband had an affair. She knew about his sex addiction and she took that and used it to her favor. As sad as it is I am over the bad part. She is out of our life but did it really have to take this to make him wake up! We are in Utah and someone told us about lifestar. If you have never heard about it but have a willing husband wanting to really look inward to what he can do this program is saving our marriage. The betrayal of my best friend and him having an affair was so deep. My soul literally was broken. You think your best friend has the same beliefs as you do she shows her self to be a perfect lds woman all the while having a full blown affair with my husband who she knew was very broken. This article tells it as it is. I feel I have been very patient with a man that I could see has broken that is how I stayed and fought the fought as long as I have. 21 years now and it took this to make him really see he is an addict and he does need serious intervention. More then a bishop or stake pres could offer. Here is the link for lifestar. If you have one in your area look it up. It has helped our marriage so much. For the men they deal right with the addiction teaching tools that can help them. For the woman they help us heal. Ever so powerful. Don’t wait look into your own healing. Books are great but you heal from action and deep intervention. Please my Sisters I know we hurt as Satan wants all marriages destroyed but don’t let him and see about this program. I read so many are hurting and our father above does not want us to hurt. We are his daughters and he loves us. God bless all of you.

    Sincerely, Melissa

    http://lifestarnetwork.org This program is not just for lds people we have had some ladies of different faith but it is an faith based program that can help. I have gotten to know and finally be able to trust woman again. Also the ladies may not have been through our same probs but it all relates so I feel that I relate with everyone in my group . Best wishes

  21. I also have to say that the strongest souls have been put here to be the wives of these broken men. Not all can stay married if that man is not willing but many can fight for their marriage we all just need the tools to do it and I believe in lifestar. What we have to deal with as wives of addicts truly is one of the most painful things. It is a devastating addiction and if it’s porn or affairs or what ever extreme I believe we all are hurting because as a woman I know the pain it causes and just because my husband had an affair the porn hurts just has bad. For me it was the betrayl of 2 people I cared deeply about that was the hardest part but as I look back I see that my friend may have some type of addiction as well as the 100’s of lies she had to tell and to be the best friend to me while she was the lover to my husband had to be hard. wearing a mask can not be fun it must be exhausting. I have a great deal of empathy for her and hope she has sought some help since this all came out. Best wishes again and hang in there.

    • Thanks for the comments. I just want to say that I’m a bit uncomfortable with talk about “strongest souls.” I don’t know that that’s true. Sex addiction and being married to a sex addict are just two of the many crosses that we might be called to bear in this life. We have friends who have lost children in child birth, or lost spouses in child birth or accidents. We have repeatedly experienced cancer in our family and lost loved ones to the disease. We have seen individuals suffer under the burden of depression and mental illness. We have friends who have exhausted themselves over the last 20 years caring for a disabled child. I can’t say that my wife is stronger than any of these people. I don’t think she would say she’s strong than any of them, either.

      In my view, the Atonement of Jesus Christ is for the weak, not the strong. I don’t need to be strong and neither does my wife. It turns out that my attempts at strength in overcoming my addiction were a disaster–because it was me relying on my own strength. My wife’s attempts at strength in controlling my behavior were also failures–because it was her relying on her own strength. It was only when we admitted we were powerless (weak) and that our lives had become unmanageable that we were able to look to God and ask Him what he wanted us to do. The strength we have experienced since then came from Him, not from us.

      • Andrew,

        I agree that there are many people in the world who struggle with very difficult trials and heartbreaking situations in their lives and that we really can’t “compare” them. We know each person is given the trials they need individually to be stretched and grow in the ways that the Lord needs them to. Although I have been emotionally devastated by my husband’s treatment because of his addiction, and my children are devastated that he is now choosing his “girlfriend” over his family, I just think of my friend whose son is suffering from an incurable disease and who must simply watch him die and think “it could be worse.” I know she must be incredibly strong to endure a trial that I feel would be more difficult “by comparison.”

        And yet, I do think there is something to be said for the “strength” of the wives of addicts who continue to be hopeful, prayerful, and supportive in the face of the Jekyll & Hyde they must live with. Those suffering from cancer, who have lost children, or who must spend a life in the care of others receive complete sympathy from everyone who knows of their struggle. They are given loving support and comfort by ward and family members. Wives of lust addicts can seek support in groups as you’ve mentioned, and hopefully find comfort from comments on this site, but they are continually beaten down spiritually, emotionally, and mentally by the addict they are trying to help. No one ever tells the mother of a dying child that this is “really your own fault.” No one tells the wife of a cancer patient, “he doesn’t really have cancer, you just need to take better care of him.” It is a very lonely road riddled with constant doubt and fear and I do believe it takes a special strength to endure it well.

  22. There’s a very important explanation given in this article – some vital information which explains the trigger for this behavior, to reach for the porn “drug.” Unfortunately, the information about pornography being used to medicate against painful emotions doesn’t appear until page 4.
    I don’t want any of your readers to miss this fact! We’ve often been told what porn addiction is NOT – very few people know what it IS!
    Please consider including this along with the message to wives that it’s not their fault and not even necessarily about sex – right up front like a thesis statement. I would hate for anyone to miss it.
    I’ll bet there’s even a lot of addicted men who haven’t made that connection.

  23. What an amazing letter. I am a member of the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints and I am the wife of a SA. Being the wife of a SA for almost 13 years has left me feeling like damaged goods so often that I wonder if it’s worth saving this marriage because I feel like I’m drowning. It is that trap of being let down that I have to overcome because of my husband’s SA. As with any relationship involving addiction, finding the strength to not allow another’s hurtful behavior rob me of my joy and happiness seems to be my challenge in this marriage. Thank you for the information and glimmer of hope.

  24. I feel so betrayed. You think I would be used to it by now. I have been married for 30 years and every few years porn raises its ugly head and destroys me all over again. The first time it happened was in the first year of our marriage. It’s getting harder to forgive. Every time it happens all of the past betrayals that I thought I had forgotten come rushing back. All of the anger, shame, helplessness, feelings of not being sexy enough and yes even hate. My husband refuses to get help. He won’t enter the 12 step program or see the bishop. This is the first time I have ever talked about it to anyone. My husband has spent so much time counseling others on how to avoid porn. He has talked to youth, individuals and Relief Societies because he was Bishop. I think he managed to stay away from it while he was Bishop, but after being released about one and a half years ago he is back at it. Now I just feel disgust and indifference towards him. This time is different , something changed inside me. I will never go back to being the person I was. I feel like I have been betrayed by every man in my life. My father, my husband and my grown son. At this point I think I hate all men. I will certainly never trust another one. I think the diabetes comparison is a cop out.

  25. Thank you for the letter. I must be hardened after dealing with this for so long. I think men or woman who won’t get help and control themselves are just big cowards and very selfish. It is time to grow up and deal with the emotional pain you have.

  26. Hey there,
    I’m so sorry that you are hurting as much as you are right now. I have been where you are on and off for the last ten years. Things are on an even keel at the moment but like Andrew has said the tide will always come back in for our husbands, sons and brothers.
    I know how angry, sick, betrayed and disillusioned you are feeling. I have been there too. It is hard to keep having faith in the priesthood as men choose to allow this thing back into their lives, and yes, it is a choice.
    Encourage your husband to do what is right and seek the help that he needs but work also on strengthening you.
    In spite of how you feel with the experiences you have gone through. You are a beautiful daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves you and knows you perfectly. I’m sure that both Him and our Savior mourn with us as we face these challenges.
    Talk to them about all of the feelings that you have, one of the hardest challenges is the feeling of isolation you have when you have a husband addicted to lust and pornography. Satan would have you feel that way, you are not alone.
    As I read the things that you have written I feel a great outpouring of love towards you. Whilst I seem to have plenty of positive things to share today. I hope that should this situation arise in my life again that there will be a good LDS wife who has the strength to lift me with something she says when I really need to hear it.
    May The Lord bless you with the comfort, strength and answers you need at this time.

  27. Thank you for writing this. It gives me a lot of comfort. However there are still many things that I do not understand. I have only been married for 1.5 years. He told me about his addiction when we were engaged and we have both been on this rocky path to recovery ever since. I know that I am powerless over this addiction and cannot cure him. I wonder though, how much lying and deceit I should take. Looking around I see so many of these relationships end in disaster and if it is only a matter of time until I too have reached my breaking point. We have no children, which is a reason I think many people stay in their relationships with their addict, so i wonder why i would sit in the middle of the street and watch as a semi-truck comes speeding my way, why not get out of the way?

    I know there is always hope, but the feeling I get from attending S-ANON is that I need to take care of myself, I need to restore myself to sanity and turn my will to God. If this is the case (and i believe it is) then shouldn’t I leave a relationship that has gives me PTSD, self-doubt and shame?

    I appreciate the perspective and comments of others…

    • Dear TC and others,

      I have been in your shoes, my dear friend. Some of you are in relationships that will be your greatest challenge, and are worth the struggle for- for the love you have for your husband, or he for you, and for the commitment you two made to each other.

      The rest of you are in relationships that are eating your very souls into nothing but decayed heartache. This is where I have been.

      If you question whether you should leave, the answer lies in one thing- communication between your Heavenly Father and yourself- only he knows what you can handle, and what is coming in your future. My answer was two years in coming; others I know took ten years, others a matter of months.

      The answer I got was that I would be destroyed if I stayed. But this is not the case for everyone. You need to find out if it is for you.

      My best friend’s husband is also addicted to pornography- but they have a very different relationship than my former husband and I did. Her husband told her about his addiction before they were married, and keeps her informed. She doesn’t feel that he’s lied to her, or that she can’t trust him. He still messes up even after 7 years of their marriage, but she found that she loved him despite this mortal failing, and committed to him after that, and then they married. So despite everything, she is very happy. They are trying to start a family. I have absolute respect for my friend, this amazing, loving, strong woman.

      This can be the case. Most wives’ husbands’ addictions to pornography will not destroy them, but mine would have, I’m certain of it. Heavenly Father told me so. I was dying, inside and out. The very walls of my house were melting down, and Satan lived with us there. I had lost everything about who I was- the PASG meetings drained and depressed me, seeing how many men and women were hurting because of this addiction, and seeing the longevity of some of the men’s addictions was no inspiration either. I was no longer funny, creative, mischievous, light-hearted, hopeful, passionate, dynamic; forget happy or secure. I was an empty gray shell of the former vital woman I had been.

      This was not Heavenly Father’s plan for me. I was supposed to be a powerful woman, capable of being a great instrument in his hands- to hold callings, and support my ward and friends and family. Instead I was broken, my days filled with hours of arguing, and then more hours on the phone with my parents who tried to patch me up after endless abuses; I had time for no one and nothing else. I knew I was supposed to be spending my time using my particular talents of engaging, inspiring and uplifting others to help bear THEIR burdens, and bring THEM out of darkness, but instead I was helping no one.

      For two years I prayed to know if Heavenly Father thought I needed to leave, but the answer was always ambiguous. I kept asking family and friends how much was enough- how much should I take? NO ONE could answer me. I realized this could only be answered by myself and Heavenly Father. So I continued to pray. Then one day Heavenly Father told me I would be destroyed if I stayed. So I filed paperwork and we were divorced ten days later.

      The return from the grave was a long task- it took about three years. I learned to trust, to love, to feel passion, and to feel safe again. Much of this was through my deepening trust and relationship with Heavenly Father, and by him through my new husband as well. I have now become SUCH a stronger instrument than I might have otherwise been had I not experienced that trial. And I now know that that was His plan all along. The refiner’s fire!!

      SO! If you’re trying to figure out to stay or leave but don’t know what to do yet, in the mean time, LEARN all you can from your experience. It will help you either in this marriage, with your family and friends, with any others around you, or possibly with another spouse in the future. Heavenly Father absolutely knows you, loves you, and is very aware of your situation. Sometimes getting no answer is His way of refining us.

      I love you, my friend. I don’t know where you are, but I feel Heavenly Father’s love for you so greatly. Don’t despair- you will find happiness again, I promise!!

      Caitlin

  28. This site has been more helpful than any counselin g clinic, include the specialized ones, in helping me understand my husband’s addiction and how I should handle it.

    That being said, I hope you might have a moment to comment on a decision I’m needing to make after reading through a number of your articles. My husband has started counseling again, one-on-one, and the counselor and he have decided to work on a particular ongoing years-long project that is causing him the most stress (he should have had it done years go). As far as I can tell, there is no effort being made for a plan to work on any other aspect of his addiction.

    I understand that this project is causing a lot of negative emotions, so it is very likely a huge trigger for him. But is just getting it out of the way so it’s not bothering him really the way to deal with his addiction, especially at the exclusion of everything else?

    I have decided I need to implement the boundaries you mentioned in your boundaries article but, since I know he is not actively in recovery (no group meetings, no sponsor, no meetings with his Bishop, no openness with me, etc.), that means I need to get out of the house (I have been going nuts and needed to do so for ages but was unsure how to go about it, now at least I finally have words to explain why I need it and have been going so crazy, emotionally and mentally). But am I being too harsh, knowing how big this one thing is that he’s working on? (it’s taking all his time to get it accomplished and out of the way, I’m not sure he could find the time for SA without risking not finishing this thing on time) Is this a bad time for me to leave for a while, and is what he’s doing right now enough? I don’t know how he’ll find time for more and still meet his latest (possibly last available) deadline.

  29. I just read this article and have to agree with many above. I feel more distraught than ever. So I will always be competing with other women…. Im so done with all the church referenced too. It just one more reason to doubt the whole faith. My husband was the Gospel Doctrine Teacher, seminary teacher… etc….

    How am I suspossed to feel any comfort in the fact that as of this afternoon I WILL ALWAYS be second and not enough.

    My story, I have found porn for the past three years. Always to be met with a denial… begging and empty promises… My self estmeme is almost non exsistant after the worst discovery last week… I want to curl up under a rock and die!

    We have been married for over 21 years, have 5 children, 2 successful careers. We always had a great sex life or so I thought… Mabey that was all a lie too… But things over the past few years have gotten much more “creative”. Our fighting has gotten worse along side of my self worth. 2 weeks ago was bad. Really bad, it got physical because he was denying everything and not giving me any validation. He said my depression has gotten worse. I needed medicine. After one week of working very hard to pull myself out of a hole… We were in the car on our way to actually see a new doctor, I had actually hope… I pulled up his GPS and found saved photos. These photos are not at all soft porn- IT BROKE ME! I cannot do this anymore! OF all the fucking days- he chose that morning tot seek another woman? This shows you that how I feel is actually correct. I do mean nothing- absolutely nothing….I went to the doctor, spent the night in a hotel and am back home sleeping in my college daughters room. The Hurt I feel right now, is indescribable.

    So forgive me if I don’t want to have sympathy for him and his COP out ADDICTION right now!

  30. 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.

  31. 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!

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