Some people have the notion that these meetings are full of sickos looking to swap stories and share the secrets of the trade. To the contrary, these meetings are full of people who sincerely want to change their behavior with God’s help and then to help others change their behavior as well. They tend to be well-educated, religious, family-oriented, and friendly. Newcomers often express surprise at the optimistic atmosphere of the meetings. This keeps them coming back.
It is important to know that SA may be the only program out there with the ability to help sex addicts find a lasting sobriety and a solution to their problem. It may be that nothing else works! That is not hyperbole. In my experience, it is fact. Psychiatric professionals acknowledge that the program is effective. Members of the clergy who counsel parishioners on matters of addiction acknowledge this as well. Recovering addicts themselves acknowledge this. It works!
In addition, there is a support program for you, the wife, called S-Anon and it is available to you whether your husband attends SA or not. Its mission is to help relatives and friends of sex addicts find support and comfort. Again, newcomers are surprised by the friendliness and warmth found in these meetings. The relief that comes from finding others with similar circumstances and experiences is palpable. My wife enthusiastically invites you to join her and the other women of S-Anon. Share their experience, strength and hope! Your husband needs SA now! You need S-Anon now! His life, your personal sanity, your marriage and your eternity together may very well depend on it. Please find meetings and begin attending. Do whatever it takes to get there. Please understand that this is not merely one of several equal and interchangeable options; in our experience, it is the only option!
Sexaholics Anonymous advocates a definition of sexual sobriety that is easy to understand. Sexual sobriety means no form of sex with self or any other person other than one’s spouse. It also means progressive victory over lust. It is a clear standard, and if you think about it, it is the Gospel standard.
After trying and failing countless times over the years to achieve sobriety on my own, I began attending SA meetings and working the steps. I have now been sober long enough to know that I can stay completely sober for the rest of my life. That means no acting out—ever. That means no more “slip-ups,” no more “mistakes,” no more “giving in to temptation.” I know a number of SA members (many of them LDS) who have achieved significant years of complete sobriety. I know that this solution and the program work! Until I began attending meetings and working the steps, I had trouble stringing together even two weeks of sobriety. Meetings in SA have saved my life! One thing that is so important to me is that I can look my wife in the eye, tell her that I am sober, and have her know exactly what I mean.
I realize that one of the biggest tools that addiction has in its bag of tricks is denial. Men will not stop the car to ask for directions because they deny ever being lost. Similarly, men will not admit to sex addiction because their denial mechanism keeps telling them that they can take care of this thing on their own—they just need a little more prayer, a little more time, a little more will power, and this thing will be licked! Remember the parable of the ocean’s tide: the addiction always comes back! He will never beat it on his own. Give him a copy of this letter and ask him to read it. I wish I could promise that it will solve all your problems, but I can’t. Addicts are a difficult bunch to convince, especially about their own addiction. Find a copy of my essay “Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship” and have him read it. Give copies of both essays to your bishop and your stake president. Ask them to talk with your husband.
When I finally disclosed to my wife the nature and extent of my sexually acting out, she was devastated. She wanted to die. She was fortunate, however, to have a close friend who survived similar circumstances a few years before and had found recovery through S-Anon. In tears of despair, my wife cried that she just wanted someone to tell her that there was some hope. With quiet confidence, her friend told her that there most definitely was hope, that we could both recover together, and that our marriage and love for each other could achieve a strength, confidence and unity beyond anything we had known before. I lack words to express how right she was.
Please don’t give up hope.