What every LDS woman needs to know about sex and pornography addiction.
This letter will change your life. That’s a hefty promise, I know, but it will happen. Some of what I tell you will hurt. Some will challenge what you’ve thought for years and will require you to adjust your view of the world, your family, your marriage and your faith—but not in a bad way. At the end, you will feel that there is some hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
I am writing to you with my wife of over twenty years by my side. She and I have spent hours talking about the things you’re reading right now. We’ve prayed together. We’ve shed tears together. We’ve made discoveries together that surprised us. We’ve gone to marriage counseling together and found that our therapist strongly embraces what we have experienced in our recovery.
Let’s get straight to the point. This is about your husband and what has been termed the “pornography habit.” Some of you have been married nearly half a century; some only a few months. Some have children in the marriage while others don’t. Some of you work outside the home; some are homemakers. Some of you have husbands who travel a lot for work, or who don’t travel at all, or who are unemployed. But you all have some things in common: you love your husband; you know he has a problem with pornography; and this problem hurts you more than anything you’ve ever experienced in your life. It cuts to the very center of what it means to be a woman, a friend, a wife and a mother. Sometimes you cry yourself to sleep because of it.
You feel isolated. You can’t really talk to friends about this issue. It’s embarrassing. You can’t talk to your mother or sisters about it for the same reason. Maybe you’ve tried to discuss things with your bishop or stake president, but you just don’t feel comfortable talking to another man about your husband’s problem and how it affects the most intimate aspects of your marriage. You may have gone to couples therapy with him. If he refused, you may have gone to therapy alone.
Through all of this, one word crowds out nearly everything else: Why? Why me? Why him? Why us? If he really loves me, why does he do this? If he loves the children and cares about our family, why does he continue to search this stuff out? If he knows that it’s wrong, why doesn’t he just stop? If he really cares about his temple covenants and our sealing together, why does he bend and break those covenants? Didn’t I feel the confirming warmth of truth years ago (or recently) when I made the decision to marry him? Why, then, haven’t things turned out the way I expected? Why has he promised me again and again and again that he will stop, and yet he is back at it months, or weeks or merely days later? Why does he make and then break these same promises to the bishop? If he truly believes in a loving Heavenly Father and a Savior who atoned for his sins and mine, why is this happening? Why don’t I have my “happily ever after”?
The simple truth is that your husband has an addiction.1 His brain is broken and he has lost the ability to make decisions between right and wrong when it comes to matters of sex. He doesn’t stop because he can’t. You’ve been worried because you’ve heard for years that viewing pornography can lead to addiction and can drive the addict to much more serious sins. I want to be clear about this: If your husband is repeatedly looking at pornography, he is already addicted.
[1Some people seem fixated on making a distinction between a pornography addiction and the other, “more serious,” “full-blown” sex addiction. The viewing of pornography is merely one of the conduits by which the addict acts out on his sex addiction. It is his “drug of choice.” In this writing I make no distinction between pornography addiction and sex addiction because I see no meaningful difference.]
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