How can I deal with my spouse’s pornography addiction?

Jan 9, 2011 by

We’ve been gathering information and resources that we hope might be helpful for those who are dealing with this difficult trial. (We’ll continue to add to this list as we find more information.) If you are a woman with a husband (or ex-husband or boyfriend) who has a pornography addiction, we encourage you to prayerfully consider what might be relevant and helpful from what we have included here. If you have walked the path before, please feel free to let us know what helped you.

We’ve got a growing list of first-person accounts and reflections of facing the trial of addiction in our pornography addiction personal stories index. This list includes many articles by women who have been married to someone who is addicted, as well as those (men and women) who have walked the path of addiction themselves.

  • We highly encourage you to be sure that you have ecclesiastical support, professional support, and group support (through a 12-step program that includes support for spouses of addicts — LDS Addiction Recovery has these family support groups in some areas, and S-Anon is another possible option, as is LifeStar (FYI, that is a fee-based service).) Or at least try to find someone who has walked this path before so that you can have the perspective of someone who understands what you are going through. (Please contact us at mormonwoman(at)gmail(dot)com if you would like some specific suggestions for people you could contact in a one-on-one basis. We’ve had a few women who have told us they are willing to help. Edit: See information about a new forum where you can connect with these women.)

Here is some information and some resources that we hope might be helpful:

First, know you are not alone! It might be helpful to read/listen to other women’s stories. You can read personal stories of women here. Even as some specifics of stories may differ, the Atonement’s power and knowledge about addiction can help all who struggle navigate this difficult challenge.

You probably have a lot of questions. (e.g., “What do I do now?” “Should I stay or should I leave?” “He knows it’s wrong! Why doesn’t he just stop?” “Can we ever have a healthy marriage?”) Here are some links with answers to commonly asked questions and helpful information for spouses of pornography / sex addicts.

Other resources and information

A 12-step manual with an LDS focus (this is a draft of a manual that was used for a while in a pilot program in the Church) written for loved ones of those struggling with sex/pornography addiction.  You can also find a 12-step workbook at HealingthroughChrist.org.
See Combating PornographySA Lifeline, Hope and Healing, LDS Recovery and Healing Resources, and BYU Women’s Services for some general information on the topic of pornography/sexual addiction. Becoming educated about how addiction works and why your husband/loved one cannot stop on his own will be important in your own recovery.

- Cyber Secrets: Brigham Young University’s Women’s Services has many resources about pornography addiction (see left sidebar). In 2001 and again in 2003, WSR hosted a conference on the topic of pornography. You can find several talks here. Browse the topics for ones that seem like they might be good for you at this time.

- It might be helpful to hear the perspective of a man who has walked this path before and is in recovery: Hope and Help for Sex Addicts – A Personal Story (+resources).

Andrew also has written some thoughts on the way addiction works in this post ABCs of Addiction. He also has commented on the thread below.

And his wife recently commented on our site. She has left her email address if you want to contact her.

Online forums for wives of sex/pornography addicts:

Sara, one of the contributors in our recent series about pornography addiction, moderates an online support group for wives of men with pornography/sex addictions. She says it is a place where women can get support and can sort through the struggles and ask questions from other women who have walked this difficult path. You can find that private (non-denominational) support group here.

Heart t’ Heart - doesn’t appear to have a lot of active discussion at the moment, but has public archives of past discussions. For an LDS audience.

Hope and Healing for LDS Wives -  new, unofficial, private forum space for women to connect with other wives walking their path of recovery. Includes links to general resources and info, FAQs with responses from women facing this trial, and places just for talking about the struggle. (Started as a way to help readers of this site connect with women who have shared their stories, but is designed to help anyone in need of such support.)

More  resources :

The Church has a 12-step program for addicts, as well as including support meetings(some areas also have family support groups for spouses and loved ones of addicts). For more information and resources from the Church/LDS Family Services (including some locally-created or -sponsored resources), see the following:

Other resources that might be helpful include the following:

http://salifeline.org

BYU Women’s Services — website and blog (with many posts helping wives of addicts, such as this one)


LDS Addiction Recovery Blogs

http://lifestarnetwork.com

http://pornharms.com/

-  - – - – - -

We’re also trying to gather resources at our Pinterest board on the topic of pornography addiction. See also our board for parent who are interested in content that talks about how to teach children about sexuality and pornography prevention.

85 Comments

  1. Ceci

    Get rid of the computer. Personally I would tell him if this continued then I would divorce him. I would follow through.

  2. same here

    I had the same question for years. Unfortunately I do not have the answer for you, just a warning. Divorce is awful!!! I lived with my husbands pornography addiction for years. I wasn’t sure what to do. Some people said leave, some said stay. I talked to 3 different bishops over the years. Again, some said leave, some said stay.

    I remember a Relief Society lesson that talked about a woman who had stayed with her husband through the problems for 25 years. A comment from a ward member was “She was either really brave or really stupid”. I wanted to scream out “which one was she? I NEED TO KNOW!!”. Of course I kept my mouth shut because I didn’t want to advertise my husbands problems to the world. Was I being brave or stupid? I still don’t know.

    Eventually my husband left me for a MUCH younger woman. I thought I was miserable while we were married, but I had no clue what being a single mom was all about. If I could go back in time I would tell myself to quit worrying about it and enjoy any good times I still had. Being a single mom is far worse than being the wife of a pornography addict.

    Of course there was more to my story, and there is more to yours. No one’s situation is the same, no one but your Father in Heaven can really tell you what you should do, and for some reason if he was answering me I couldn’t hear him.

    Just be careful about taking advice, my heart goes out to you, and I hope things work out better for you than they have for me.

  3. Sara

    I am a moderator of a Wives of Porn Addicts group online. In dealing with a spouse who has a porn addiction(s), may I just offer this? There are a lot of people with very definite opinions. Some who have had experience and some who has not. In taking ANY advice, pray about it. Study it out. Of course, if it is not a safe environment, by all means, do what you need to do to get yourself out.

    Ahh… there is so much to go into. I don’t know if this is okay to do – but if you want to email me, do.

  4. Belle

    ["Belle" shares her journey as a woman married to a porn addict, working through the 12 steps of the addiction recovery program for the second time]

    http://myrefinersfire.blogspot.com/

  5. Stephanie

    This is what I am currently dealing with right now. My husband has been addicted to pornography for many years, I have only known about it for 2, and I’m already at my wit’s end. I used to be fun, bubbly, full of life. Finding out about this has destroyed my self-worth/self-esteem. I’ve gained 40 lbs. I no longer have any desire to see friends. My husband tells me i’m fat all the time, and that his addiction got worse because of me. I feel the same as the previous woman……am I brave or stupid????
    I also have received conflicting advice. My bishop now treats me like nothing’s happened and everything’s fine……probably because of the HUGE show my husbandputson to everyone that he’s the PERFECT husband.
    Evenwhen my husband is kind, and tries to show me he loves me I shut down and won’t accept it, like as a protection.
    Last night I contemplated what it would be like to leave…..I would have to start all over, with no income as a single mother, no friends or family near by, my in-laws would disown me because they blame all of this ON ME ironically, and I’m sure my husband would find a much younger, more beautiful replacement within a couple of months, and that threw me over the edge thinking about that. I was bawling and my husband was just lying there next to me and within a couple of minutes he was snoring…..I feel so isolated and stuck. Then there’s a side of me that loves the man I thought I knew….that if just this one thing changed he would be perfect for me. I have my mother-in-law telling me that you should only divorce in abuse-situations, but she obviously doesn’t understand the emotional abuse I feel I’ve already undergone. No one understands how they themselves would react if they haven’t been through it. I don’t know what to do! I feel like I’m already dead, just going through the motions.

  6. Janelle

    Anonymous:

    I want you to know that I care. I do not have this same problem, but reading your story made my heart ache. I’m actually crying. You do not deserve this.

    I know that the 12 step co-dependency courses offered by the LDS church in my area is changing lives and making women feel less alone when a loved one suffers from an addiction.

    Thanks for commenting. Please keep reaching out to people in your area and online. Find someone you trust to talk about this with.

    You don’t deserve this! You can be happy again!

    Love,

    Janelle

  7. A good way to stop the flow of pornography is to use a DNS filter like http://opendns.com. The service is free and it allows you to block/filter out pornography and other harmful sites.

    If you don’t have the computer savvy to set it up on your own, contact someone in your ward or stake to assist you. Make sure you are the only person with the password. Be creative in the password you use. Use upper-case, lower-case, special characters, and numbers when creating a password. You could even use the 1st character of your favorite scripture: Iwgadttwtlhc1N3~ (I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded 1 Nephi 3). This will make it easy for you to remember your password without having to write it down.

    Even if your spouse doesn’t struggle with pornography, block it before it becomes a problem for your spouse or children. The only good internet is a filtered internet!

  8. janelle

    Thanks Brian I just installed this at home.

  9. I feel for all of you sisters. Pornography is a terrible plague that is sucking the life out of our families and our intimate relationships. For your husband to get rid of this in his life requires a great deal of focused effort and education on both your parts. The 12 step program is the way to go. The church has a generic program called ARP (Addiction Recovery Program) in most areas that is slowly being replaced by a PASG (Pornography Addiction Support Group) in Utah, Idaho and Texas. I would read Don Hilton’s Book “He Restoreth My Soul”.. Find it at http://www.salifeline.com.
    I am currently serving as a Bishop, but have spent the better part of my life battling porn addiction, not really understanding the addictive nature of it. I tried thousands of times to quit. It wasn’t until I came clean to my wife and loved ones and starting attending a 12 step program that I was able to stop. Fortunately my wife loves me enough to stick with me. The first couple of weeks and months clean were very difficult. For those who don’t understand the addictive side of this, it’s not just looking at porn. It is almost always coupled with compulsive masturbation, and the euphoria that comes with sexual climax. Addicting enough when part of a healthy intimate relationship. Signs that your husband may be addicted will include bouts with anger and a life of secrecy. You sisters can support your husband in his effort to quit by showing him unconditional (tough) love. Lay down the law, but do not try to carry the burdon of being his accountability partner. You will end up in a co-dependant situation that will be worse than the addiction….He must work through his “recovery” by himself. Together you will have a marriage to mend, and healthy intimacy to learn. Heavenly Father made us sexual beings so that we could become one with our spouses. Once your husband is comfortably into recovery, and has been able to sustain it for over a year, you will begin to experience the kind of real intimacy that Heavenly Father intended for your marriage.
    Sisters, please do not blame yourself for your husbands addiction. It is his and his alone to bear. Give him a reasonable amount of time to begin his recovery, and love him unconditionally. Encourage him to be totally transparent in his dealings with you and others.
    Pornography is the drug of the new millenium. There has been much written of late concerning it, and how to recover from it. Also see http://www.porntopurity.com, Jeff and Marsha are not LDS, but have some great tools and podcasts to listen to. Also go to http://www.salifeline.com and listen to Rhyll Croshaw’s strory.
    Your husband is not the enemy. Satan is waging a war against our families daily. His sharpest weapon currently is the hypersexual world that he has created for each of. Protect your families while you can. education is the key. feel free to write to me if you have any questions about my journey. I have been clean for nearly 16 months now, and each day is a new day that the Lord has given me to prove my fathfulness.

  10. Stephanie

    this is coming from the bishop who allows himself to be alone with other women, yet expects complete fidelity from his wife. does your wife know about the blog you keep?

    I found out about my husband’s “addiction” 2 years ago, it makes me sick when he talks about his “temptation” I have so much RAGE and ANGER.

    And then I’m depressed and want to kill myself. I don’tthink I can move past this. It’s gotten to the point where when I so much as see a pretty woman on tv I get very upset. This problem is EVERYWHERE!

    I used to have a happy, loving marriage. I almost wish I could go back to not knowing about it. I miss blindly trusting my husband with anything and everything. I married him because I thought he WASN’T another scumbag.

    He lives two separate lives……his public one: entrepreneur, active church member, “perfect husband”, and his private one…..a man so utterly addicted to pornography…………..and he chooses pornography everytime!

    I have no self-worth any more. How can a man of God do this to women? It really makes me doubt what I used to believe about the value of a righteous woman. I feel worthless.

    I have the “picture-perfect” mormon husband, believe me you would NEVER expect himto be addictedto porn….so nowthat he betrayed my trust, how can I trust ANY man inthe church….bishops, stake presidents, apostles??? It makes me sick, it feels like a big scam.

    My testimony is dwindling. I’m running on fumes. The sad thing is I stay in the marriage because I have nowhere to go. I don’t want to start all over and be a single poor mom. I don’t want to be a lone…..even though my husband’s a jerk, there’s no way in heck I would trust ANY MAN ever again, especially the seemingly “perfect” ones…so what now??!

  11. mormonwomen

    Stephanie,

    Oh, how we wish there was a way we could reach through the computer and wrap our arms around you and let you cry on our collective shoulders. We know there is no way a simple comment will really be able to do anything, but we wanted to let you know that we have stories and resources on this topic that we are going to share here (beginning today, Sunday) with the hope to reach out and provide some support to women going through this heartrending trial. We know you aren’t alone. We are getting searches from many women who are struggling with this. There is more dialogue happening on this topic. There are more resources than ever to help you and women in your shoes to find hope and healing, to reclaim their self-worth, to find clarity about what to do, and to not feel so alone.

    Please know that you have people here who care and who are praying for you. We are also actively doing what we can here to rally our resources and those of others to help. We’ve been thinking about and studying this topic for some time, trying to gather resources and information to help those walking this thorny path. A member of our team has professionally helped women and will be sharing some thoughts. We’ve reached out to other professionals as well, and also to women who have been through this.

    Again, in the coming days we’ll be sharing more here at our site, but following are a few links that we hope might be helpful as a start. We hope if you read and listen to these things and peruse these sites for more information and insight, you will be able to see that what you are feeling is normal, and that there are concrete steps you can take to help you not feel like life is completely out of control. You can consider advice given by professionals about what women who have been thrown into this heartrending situation can do. And you can hear the stories of women who have walked or are walking this path (and see how women have come to find answers for what they should do in their particular situations).

    Also, if you haven’t yet done this, we hope you will find a local support group and a qualified therapist (link for questions to ask in searching for a therapist is included below) where you can talk real-time with women as well who know this journey all too well and who can offer support and help. A common thread in these resources and stories recommends both for the process of healing for a spouse. You don’t have to walk this path alone and there are resources out there to make sure that you don’t have to.

    Again, please know we care. And God cares. Let Him help you. “What now?” you ask. Find the help and support you need to begin your personal journey of healing. Regardless of what your husband does or does not do as you move forward, you can rediscover your worth, your connection with God, and your confidence in the future. It will take time (be patient with yourself and the process), but line upon line, you can do this.

    S.A. Lifeline: How Pornography Affects Women and What They Can Do

    Trauma For Partners of Sexual Addicts (This is a real trauma you are experiencing, and your emotions are so understandable — and very common!)

    Combating Pornography: In Their Own Words: – Hear varied experiences of women (spouses and girlfriends, some who chose to stay, others who felt impressed to leave) as they talk about their feelings and experiences with a husband / boyfriend with a pornography addiction

    Out in the Light: Ask the Experts – Answers to commonly asked questions that wives of sex/porn addicts have.

    Out in the Light: Out in the Light: Impact of Pornography: Hope — The woman in this video experienced so much of what you are feeling (the anger, shock, pain, desire for it to go away — it’s all so normal) — and she also shows how there is hope. (Even if your husband doesn’t do what this man does, there is hope for YOU and your healing process.)

    BYU Women’s Services: Advice for spouses/loved ones of pornography addicts

    S.A. Lifeline: Questions to ask when looking for a qualified therapist (not all therapists are trained and/or able to deal with this)

    Combating Pornograpy: Healing Concepts for Women Impacted by Pornography (Jill Manning is an expert on this topic. She validates how completely *devastating* pornography is for spouses and also shares counsel about what wives of porn addicts can do. She’s got a lot of good material out there, including on some of the sites listed above.)

  12. Stephanie,

    First of all I want to say I am so sorry! I have walked a similar path, married to a man for 14 years who got addicted to porn as a teenager. The effect it had on our marriage and family was devastating.

    But Stephanie regardless of what your husband tells you or anyone else this is not your fault in any way. The way you are feeling is completely normal and I promise you so many women whose husbands are addicted are thin and beautiful and it doesn’t make any difference. Porn causes a chemical reaction in the brain that is even more addicting than heroin or cocaine.

    You can get through this, especially if you rely on Heavenly Father.

    I did and so can you. I’ve been re-remarried for over 11 years to a wonderful man I trust and have found greater happiness that I never thought was possible.

    There is hope, there is help, and there is healing!

    Go to my website, for more of my story and other resources at http://dionygeorge.com, and you can email me from there.

    Keep your chin up–you are a choice daughter of God!

  13. Sister,
    I am so very sorry you’re going through this. Please understand that you are going through the grieving process. You’re grieving the loss of what you thought was a happy marriage. You’re grieving the loss of the trust and faith that you had in your husband. You’re grieving the loss of your own self-worth and esteem. The anger you feel, the sense of betrayal – it is all part of the grieving process. Unfortunately, it’s just the beginning. Seeing how apparent the images, the standards of the world out there just compounds those feelings. The frustrations.

    I believe one of the hardest lessons one learns from discovering her partner’s addictions is understanding that his addictions is just that. HIS addictions. They absolutely have NOTHING to do with you, how you perform in the bedroom, how you look, or anything to do with you. You may scoff at this but it’s true. Even now, it still is a struggle for me at times to not fall into the self-destructive way of thinking, “If only I hadn’t gained that weight, or if I had just (insert color) hair or should have been more willing to do (insert action).” That is of satan. He wants you to feel low about yourself. He wants you to feel like it’s not worth living.
    But guess what? HE, our living Savior does NOT want that! He knows that you are a beautiful, WORTHY woman who deserves rich blessings.

    I urge you to pray for guidance. Pray for your husband. Pray for comfort and peace. I also urge you to seek out counseling – regardless of whether your husband is willing to be involved or not. Seek a qualified professional who specializes in sexual addictions. He/she will be best able to help you understand the dynamics of your relationship, help you rediscover the power you have within you to reclaim your self-worth. Help you understand how one’s addictions is NOT your fault.

    It’s difficult to find people who are willing to talk through this and unfortunately, you’ll find that there are some people out there who think that you should just go along with it.. which we know is NOT right. Or they judge you and your husband. I speak from experience, and I just find that so sad. So choose your confidences guided by prayer.

    I hate how this is now so pervasive in society and how nobody seems immune from it. I am praying for you and all other sisters who are having to deal with this. It is an ugly thing, porn addictions.

  14. Stephanie

    Thank you for all of your concern and prayers. It’s very easy to get caught up in the loneliness of it all.

    Diony: You’re remarried to someone else? That’s great to hear that you have found happiness, was it hard to trust another man? Is that the only answer, I feel the only women that come out and say that they have found happiness again are the ones who get divorced or separated. So do I keep my covenants and stay in a lonely miserable marriage or move on and feel like I could have done more?

    That’s the other thing that frustrates me. Everyone tells you it’s not your fault, but then their advice is go to counseling, you might be co-dependent, pray more, etc etc which just leaves me wondering if i was more kind, more pretty, a better mom, better ___ fill in the blank than it wouldn’tbe a problem, but I know that is NOT true! That’s why I just feel helpless, I have exhausted all my efforts and in the end it’s HIS problem and only HE can change it. My question is how long do I wait? How long do I suffer for something that has nothing to do with me but is tearing me apart?

    and then if I do nothing, that’s just enabling him and saying it’s ok!

    I’m so sick of living this lie with him and pretending everything’s going to be ok.

    Our local 12-step support group(a women’s only support group for those supporting spouses in 12 step) meets on the same day and time that the pornography 12 step program works…..which he NEVER goes to.

    He keeps saying he needs to go but never does. I’m dying to go to the support group, but if I go then that means he doesn’t have the opportunity to go to his IF HE ACTUALLY WANTED TO…..ugh!

    lately he’s been saying he wants to be “hypnotized” he’s crazy!

  15. Stephanie

    If anyone is going through this as well I would love to have someone to email occasionally

  16. Stephanie,
    I’m smacking myself on the forehead! If my comments about praying, etc., led you to think that you didn’t do enough, THAT IS NOT IT! The praying is for you to gain strength in who YOU are. To recognize and accept that you are already more than enough for him and it is HE that has to decide if he wants that. You’re exhausted and need some buoying up. Let Heavenly Father take your burdens… and believe me, I know it’s easier said than done. As for how long you have to wait, only YOU can decide that with the help of our Father. Think about it, Heavenly Father did not put us on this earth to be miserable. No! You’re at a critical point where you just have to figure out what’s what. You’re right, if nothing changes, it’s as though you’re enabling… but you’re suffering. And how is that healthy for you and your family? It’s not. Choose your boundaries, when he crosses them, there has to be serious consequences. He needs to be told plainly that you are not willing to live like this, and he needs to make a decision as to what to do next. Be prepared though for whatever the outcome may be.

    By the way, I chose to stay with my husband because he is making a conscious effort to work things out. But, nothing is permanent and that decision may change in the future but for now? I’m with him.

    If you want to contact me, feel free to do so. arastrebbyl(at)gmail(dot)com

  17. Rhyll Croshaw shares the following about what what helps her find God’s peace and strength at times when she’s feeling weighed down by worry and fear.

    Surrender is one of the principles that I have found to be most helpful in my recovery efforts. Some may confuse surrender with giving up. It is not that at all. Surrender for me is that I give over. Over to my Heavenly Father who loves me and wants me to be happy. I know that He has all power.

    I have a three step process for anything that is causing me to obsess or trying to control that is not mine.

    The process is:

    On my knees

    On the phone

    In the box

    First I go to my knees and express my powerlessness over the thing that is bothering me and give it to God.

    Next I call my sponsor (someone who is working her own recovery and 12-steps) and tell her the thing that I am surrendering

    Last I write on a piece of paper the name of the person or the experience that I am giving over and put it in my “surrender box”.

    This process works if I do all three things consistently when I start to fear or want to control someone or there is nothing that I can do change a situation.

    For me, this is part of the pathway to peace and personal happiness.

  18. Kristen

    CHECK OUT X3WATCH.COM!! My husband struggled with pornography for a while and it almost destroyed our marriage and my own well being. He did not stop until he finally realized that I would leave if he didn’t. Now he installs this free software on all our computers as well as his android phone. If he visits any “questionable” websites it will send me an email. I also now pay the cable bill and have a code that only I know for any chanels that show adult content – even showtime. If your husband REALLY wants to make your marraige work and stop this destructive behavior he WILL be OK with staying accountable! I can say, however, even with all the improvements, there are still DEEP wounds that affect the way I feel about him. I’m finally trusting him again, but it’s taking a lot of time. It’s hard for me to find him attractive now. I was disgusted for so long that it’s hard to see him in a “romantic” light. I’m praying that this will heal in time as well.
    As for how long to wait…until you feel like you can’t wait any longer. Give him to God and let God deal with his heart. No one can tell you how long to wait. I just know when I was ready to go, my husband knew, and that’s when he changed. Divorce probably is horrible, but sometimes a seperation is necessary. Not saying that you don’t love him, but that you can’t accept this behavior and you’ll be waiting on him when he’s ready to change.

  19. Stephanie

    Kristen,
    This is kind of where I’m at. I in my heart feel that I can bear no more! But I love him so much. I like what you said about a separation and that I would be waiting for him. That is a good solution if I ever do decide it’s the end of my rope because it shows him I love him and want to wait for him to fix this, and it also shows him that I’m not going to keep accepting this behavior……many times I feel like I’m enabling him by NOT leaving….I mean if this is REALLY an addiction, then he needs to feel the consequences for his behavior if anythings going to change right?

    Sounds like a good plan, I just worry about his stability if I were to leave. He would probably go on a huge porn binge….and I can’t live with even that, isn’t that sad? I wouldn’t be with him but it would KILL me to know about a pron binge….and not even for his sake, for mine….that seems selfish of me.

    When I think of reasons not to leave they’re not good reasons at all, like: what would people think about me?
    How would I support our kids by myself? Would my self-essteem be even lower? How would I start over?

  20. Stephanie

    I also wanted to let you know that I know EXACTLY how you feel about having deep wounds and not being able to heal from that. My husband has definitely become less and less attractive to me as well. Whenever he tries to be loving, affectionate, a part of me just shuts him out automatically before I even have time to think about it. I feel even if he did ever stop, which he never will, I would not be able to be a whole person again. I feel like he ripped my very soul out of my body.

    Also my husband’s work computer has Covenant Eyes accountability program on it, with no filter. We can’t have a filter because it messes with the checkstands (we own a grocery store) The accountability program sends me an accountability report that rates websites visited on his computer and shows me if there are any high scores and what they were. That’s the best we can do for now I guess. I later found out that after that was installed on the computer he began viewing porn on our computer that hosts our security camera system…..I didn’t even know it had internet capabilities! The original way I found out about the porn issue was catching him looking at it on his cell phone……We no longer have tv. We have got new phones and have shut off internet capability. I for one enjoy technology, and will NEVER be able to use it again! I can’t even turn on the tv for fear there will be a commercial selling deodorant,beer,tv trailers because it has half-naked women all over it. That is the most frustrating thing…..I CAN’T ESCAPE IT! It is EVERYWHERE! I’m deeply wounded and will never be the same again. I don’t know what the answers are honestly, I wish there was a way to magically forget everything….then I could be the wife he needs me to be to recover

  21. strugglingwithin

    I feel for all of you ladies. My heart goes out to you as I know your pain and struggle. I too am struggling with my husbands addictions, one of which is pornography. He has had drug and porn issues for a long, long time. I didn’t know the extent of drugs and I never knew about the porn until about two years ago. He had all these problems before I met him and I know in my heart that I have not caused his addiction, and I have not fuelled it, although many times he has blamed me for his behaviour. I have finally found answers to why I feel so empty and why I feel the life, happiness and self confidence has been sucked out of me from reading the posts and links here.Thank you for your sharing !! I have been searching for answers for quite some time, and ways to cope with his behaviour. I have made the decision to stay and work through what I can and I am relying heavily on the Lord for guidance and help. It would be so nice if I could just ask the Lord to fix things one way or the other for me and leave me out of the decision making process !!! For myself I feel very deeply that I must be true to my marriage covenants and stay. One day he may choose to leave and if he does I will stand guiltless. But thats just what has been impressed on me at this time. As he has agreed to go through the 12 step recovery program I cling to hope although the realist in me acknowledges our challenges are enormous and the outcome unknown and unsure. We have acknowledged his addiction to drugs as openly as one can without proper counselling, but not the addiction to porn, although we both acknowledge it is a real problem and a stumbling block. I do not think he has any idea of the ramifications of porn within our relationship, or indeed how they affect him, from this horrible behaviour. The dilema I face at present, and I ask for your help, is HOW to tell my spouse exactly how his addiction to porn has caused me to feel (worthless, hurt, angry, guilty, rejected, fearful of his responses and reactions) ….. and how it has directly impacted on my ability to function in the relationship (I withdraw and cut my feelings off so I dont get hurt, I have noticed that although I love him unconditionally I am not attracted to him when I am like this, which in turn causes him to feel rejected, so he withdraws and blames me for the lack of intimacy and then uses that to justify his behaviour) …… in such a manner that it will enable him to see how much and how deeply I have been affected, how damaging it is and has been to him, and then help to rebuild our relationship and not cause him to feel that although the problem is HIS that I am just using that to blame him for everything and just make it worse. I realise that we own our individual feelings, he has not tried to make me feel as I do, anymore than I have tried to reject him, but I have been hurt and wounded deeply, almost beyond bearing at times. So how can I tell him in a manner which the Saviour would and help him to own his feelings and take responsibility for his actions ?

  22. mormonwomen

    Stephanie and strugglingwithin,

    We wanted to be sure you know that your comments are received and are being read. But we also want to be sure you can get the help and support you need and I worry that it will be hard to get here as we have other content that pushes this thread further into the archives. Please continue to feel free to comment, but I just wanted to share a few resources that I hope might be helpful, too.

    I’d like to encourage you both to consider signing up for the support group that Sara, one of the contributors in our recent series, moderates. She says it is a place where women can get support and can sort through the struggles and ask questions from other women who have walked this difficult path. You can find that private support group here.

    We’d also encourage you to consider finding a 12-step support group where you live. That’s been a consistent thing that our contributors found was very helpful in facing their spouse’s pornography addiction. You might also find a guidebook for loved ones of addicts helpful. You can find one here, or another version here (username is “family” and password is “support”).

    My heart goes out to you with what you are dealing with. I pray you can find the peace you seek and the guidance you need to know how to face this challenge and find healing.

    Again, please know your comments are welcome here anytime; I just wanted to invite you to avail yourself of other places you can go, too, as you sort through all of this.

    ~Michelle
    MW Editor

  23. Dani

    My husband was involved with pornography for years. He was the young mens president and would blame it on them using his computer when he got caught. I felt bad for him. At the same time he was extremely critical of me- how I looked, how I did things. He was distant and flippant.
    He has been working on it for a year. He has urges but we have a filter and he appears to be p0rn free. It is still very, very hard. He refused to do 12 step. He has never seemed as apologetic as I would like. He hasn’t seemed to want to correct mistakes but at the same time he wants me to forget about it. Time elapses and things do get easier but it may always be a sore spot.

  24. monique

    I haven’t read all of the responses yet, but I felt the need to comment. I have been going thru this for about 8 yrs now. For a few years my husband denied it. Finally I asked him very firmly and told him if he lied and I found out that I would leave him. He was humbled, apologetic and crying. Things were better for a long time. Honestly as much as it hurt that time I was able to give it to Heavenly Father and let go. I was so relieved that I forgave him quickly. Still I had a filter put on the PC and the right to check in with him on it anytime I felt the need. I let Heavenly Father guide me with this. There was a 4 year period that I knew he was doing well. He had a few slips but told me right away. He was the Deacon’s Quorum Advisor for 3.5 yrs and I know that it kept him inline. Now we have moved and his calling isn’t that big anymore. I started getting that feeling that something wasn’t right again. At the same point he told me he slipped a few times that week. It started bothering me really badly this time. He had an ipod that I periodically checked and I found he had searched “nice butts” a few weeks later. I am now the owner of that ipod. He only has access to the internet from his work laptop that for one thing has a massive filter and for another he would be fired if he looked at it on there since they moniter things.

    I have gone thru the whole spectrum of feeling so alone, knowing he was lying, being told the truth finally, having a ice peaceful period to having it happen again. While he has not been an avid addict ( he went in 2-3 week spurts where he would look a few times a week and then abstain, and then go back and there was no masterbating) it has been so hard. This time especially. I will feel like everything is fine for weeks and be very happy and then even though he hasn’t looked in a few months now, it hits again. It is almost like for a few years after he admitted I didn’t want to feel the pain anymore so I numbed myself. Now while I still love him I am noticing all his faults, wondering how it would have been if I had made a different choice when we were dating and feeling so depressed. Then I can numb it away again for a while. I am in the hurt time again. I feel like I am being bi polar about the whole thing. It is so hard because I can’t talk to anyone about it obviously. Yet I know that my friends and people I serve with probably notice that I seem off for periods of time. I have to put on a happy face and keep serving even though I am falling apart inside.

    I want to have a family life where my husband presides and we are more spiritually minded. Right now even though I know I need Heavenly Father so much it is so hard to feel his love and to feel the desire to continually go to him.

    I do love him and have hope that he can totally get past this and become the man I once knew. I have felt that Heavenly Father wants me to stay. Honestly the thought of leaving is too terrifying. I don’t want to be all alone and poor. Plus I do love him and have hope in him.

    Anyone else noyice when their Husbands have relapses that they are more grumpy and hard on the kids? He is always great to me and complimentary, etc. But he is too hard on the kids in those times.

    I hope that makes sense. I always spurt my emotions out quickly and sometimes they aren’t organized lol.

  25. mormonwomen

    monique,

    Thank you for your comment — it’s heartwrenching to read these comments, but we hope you can feel that there are people (as you have seen with commenters above) who understand what you have been through, and the staff here at MW also extend our love to you.

    I wonder if some of the resources I left in my previous comment might be helpful — an online support group that Sara, one of the commenters, moderates. The Church also has family support groups for spouses and loved ones of addicts in many places, and above you can find two different links to family support guidebooks.

    A contributor yesterday talked about S-anon, which is a program for spouses/loved ones of sex addicts.

    As I have read to the stories of the people who have shared them here, I have felt a great deal of hope even as the difficulty that is obviously tied to this trial breaks my heart. I hope you can find the help, hope, and support you need — from people who have walked this path and/or are walking it now. (I’m not sure how many of the women above are still visiting this thread, so I don’t know if you will get responses from them here, so I do hope you will seek out support, if you haven’t already, where you know people will be able to reach out and respond with their experiences and insights.)

    ~Michelle

  26. Cortney

    My husband has had this problem long before we were married though I only found out about it 2 years ago, I left him. I went and stayed with family for a month, I started to see a therapist, and started feeling good about returning and helping him through the problem, I loved him, I felt I should do this. I have two children with him, one at the time who was 2 months old. I did return and we went to therapy and he started the churches 12 step program and He says he has not looked or “acted” out since I found out. Problem is 2 years later I feel like everyone has forgotten the problem except me. I know he has been trying hard to make sure I feel good about our relationship, but I cant seem to totally forgive and work through my feelings with it. Why is it that he has all the support and classes and all the focus is on him, when he made this choice and knowingly turned our lifes upside down. I had no warning and feel tricked into our marriage because I didnt have all the facts. I do love him but how do you work though the feelings of being betrayed and not good enough and how to start trusting him. I know that I pretend like things are ok but inside there are days when I dont even know what I am feeling or if I am feeling anything at all. It is such a private thing and feel like I cant talk to anyone about it. I dont want people to think bad about my husband, because I am so blessed to have a husband that wants to try and fix his problems but how do I cope day to day? Any Positive advice welcome!

    Cortney

  27. Linda

    Courtney, I can relate to the exact words you describe for your situation. I am one week out from finding out my husband’s extensive porn addiction. I feel that I will end up with the same exact feelings you describe two years later. It will never leave my mind. That worries me.
    Linda

  28. Lori

    I have been doing some research on porn myself over the past recnt months. I am not married. In fact, I am a single mother by choice. Nor am I Mormon. Someone commented earlier on this board that being a single mother is way harder that dealing with a porn addict husband. I have to disagree. The bottom line here is that the porn addiction is really just a symptom of a much bigger problem, that being that in EVERY religion, be it Judaism, Catholicism, Muslim, whatever, women are always carrying the load of being the moral gatekeepers. I think that is unfair and I think that stinks. I am a Catholic, although I do not practice. I have befriended a Mormon woman and I have heard many times the phrase “being a woman of God”. Sorry, but the God with whom I have a relationship would not want me to stay in some screwed up marriage with an addict. Do not fool yourselves any of you; once an addict, ALWAYS an addict. You can take away the porn (or the drug or the alcohol, etc) but the “ism” will always be there. This is REAL talk here. Many of you that have stayed in your marriages with the addicts have in fact contributed to your own misery and have in fact ENABLED the very addictive behavior about which you complain. You want to change your men? Move out, move on. End the marriage unless your husband gets rid the computer and any other media outlet where he can have access to porn. Don’t have sex with him. Don’t cook for him. Just take of yourself and your kids. Focus on your self. No God would want you to be miserable. Men will change when women stop enabling them . Men this century have it made in the shade. Women work both inside and outside the home, take care of the house, and the kids and these guys, men whatever have all the free time in world to look at fake bods on the Internet. Please. Pray for YOURSELVES!

  29. mormonwomen

    Lori,
    Thank you for stopping by. I think you have brought up an important point about not enabling behavior.

    But I think it’s important to note that there are more ways to draw boundaries than just to leave a marriage.

    If you haven’t had a chance to read personal stories of women who have walked this path, I encourage you to do so. (e.g., http://mormonwoman.org/2011/01/30/pornography-addiction-personal-stories-index/) At least for me, as I gathered these stories for our site that inlcuded experiences of women who have chosen to stay, I have come to realize how impossible it is to declare that leaving is the only option…the strength I felt from these women and the changes and healing that can come about in a marriage, through God’s help, are really amazing to read about.

    I also have seen marriages that needed to end because changes didn’t happen when boundaries were drawn. So, it’s definitely true that in some situations, leaving is really the best option. But in many cases, it is not. There simply is no way to proclaim one set answer for all situations; each situation is so different.

    We do believe in repentance as Mormons, and we do believe that people can change and that marriages can be healed from this plague. If you read some of the stories here, it will become clear that it is definitely a process, and it requires both the woman and the man to make specific efforts, but it is possible.

  30. seriouslytakenaback

    I don’t know if anyone is still out there, but I have a DH who has had a porn/masturbation addiction since he was 12. I did not know about it when we got married, when he was 22, but found out shortly thereafter. I have had a long time to realize that it’s not my fault. He is now almost 36 and told me tonight he’s moving out because of our lack of intimacy, which he will not instigate EVER–he feels he shouldn’t have to. I have supported him through countless therapy/12 step programs/counseling sessions. I have never once lost my temper with him and have always told him that I believe in him & that he can beat this. He is control/anger issues so he’ll act like every thing is good for a while, then blow up. I do not believe he actually has a testimony of the gospel. His actions support this hypothesis: he hates going to the temple, dislikes church, does not truly support me in my calling without complaining, does not like to be asked to do anything in the church, hates having children, and so on. The more I see righteous men in the church, the more I know he is not one. He has no idea what life & family are about. I have never once threatened to leave him or bail on our marriage, and here he is saying he’s leaving me. His father did the same thing to his mother (porn addiction/actual affairs–I do not believe my husband has had an affair) when he was a small child, and yet he balks at drawing any parallels to the situation. He thinks he is nothing like his father. I know everything he is saying/doing does not come from God. How could it? I found out tonight, he feels like I should have breast augmentation for him to stay with me. I am a beautiful, attractive woman, but yes, my chest is not what it used to be before having 4 children. I did not know that was a requisite for a happy marriage. He is currently doing the recovery program. Tonight they talked about restitution. I tried opening up a conversation with him about this topic & he didn’t see the need. He said he’s going to be gone for a few days & then we’ll see. I seriously don’t even know what to do–lie to the kids? Make up excuses for missing meetings Sunday? Of course I have wondered over the years if I tied my star to a crashing comet, but I have never even though of divorce. I made covenants. I have always planned on keeping them. I suppose if anyone should be ‘leaving’ anyone else, it should be me, but I won’t. I don’t even know what to do now? Who can I talk to? Who should I talk to…besides God, of course.

    –seriouslytakenaback

  31. mormonwomen

    seriouslytakenaback,

    I’m so sorry to hear about what you are going through. Have you had a chance to read the comments above? There is an online support group that one of the commenters moderates, a phone number you can call for LDS Family Services support, information about where to find Family Support meetings that might be in your area, and guidebooks that are written specifically for loved ones of addicts.

    Please email at mormonwoman found at gmail and I can connect you with the online support group moderator as well…I think it would help you to talk to other women who have been through this.

    Michelle
    Editor

  32. mormonwomen

    I would also suggest talking to a counselor. The SA Lifeline website has thoughts on finding the right counselor to help with sex/pornography addictions, and even has some trusted places that deal with this.

    You are not alone. Please know that. That is one thing that has become so clear to me as I have had the opportunity to gather stories for our site, and as we continue to see in our analytics that women are searching for help and support.

    Please also take a look at the Church’s Combating Pornography site, which includes stories from women whose spouses have had addictions.

    http://combatingpornography.org/cp/eng/spouses/support/article/in-their-own-words

  33. one day at a time

    Seriously, thank you all for sharing your stories. I am the man who feels worthless for making my wife feel the way all your husbands have made you feel (insert your hate and frustration for me here). Really, if I didn’t care I would not write a response. Reading your stories helps me stay on the right path because I absolutely do not want to lose my family. My battle has gone on for years and I have felt a change of heart more now than ever…finally. I hope that if there is a glimmer of hope for your marriages that you will give it another chance. Satan wins if he can break up families. Sites like this are a Godsend. People are finally waking up to the reality of the situation and doing something about it. Thank you.

  34. mormonwomen

    one day at a time,
    Thank you for your comment. I hope you can know that you are not worthless!

    As an editor, I’ve wanted to allow women the chance to share what they are feeling, but I also hope you have had a chance to read the stories in our index about several women who have found a change of heart, too, as they have dealt with their husbands’ addictions. (http://mormonwoman.org/2011/01/30/pornography-addiction-personal-stories-index/) That’s something that has struck me as I have heard these stories…that the addicts aren’t the only ones who need the Savior’s healing help and a change of heart.

    I also hope you have a chance to read the post submitted by a man who struggled for years and finally found some important keys to finding help and significant healing. (The key for him was to not go at it alone, to go to a 12-step group.)

    Hope and Help for Sex Addicts – A Personal Story (+resources)

    God bless you, and thank you again for your comment.

    Michelle
    Editor

  35. You're stronger than this

    I am a wife of a porn addict. I knew before we got married, and we split up because of it. We then got back together after he’d “recovered” which meant he hid it and lied.
    Two weeks from now will be our 5 year anniversary. We have no children because I was terrified of having them and him relapsing. About two months ago he and I decided it was time for us to start a family. He’d been “clean” for a year, and I trusted and had faith in him and felt good about this decision.
    Two nights ago I had a feeling that he was acting upon his addictions. I asked and he lied, after telling him that I knew, he came out. He lied for two days about the extent of it until this morning. I told him I knew he’d been doing it at least once a day, he claimed twice a week, then finally told me the truth.
    I’m not stupid. None of you are stupid. You know when you have that feeling in the pit of your stomach that something is wrong, yet we push it aside because we want our temple marriages to be all that they promised. We kept our covenants. They did not.
    I tell myself that I knew better. I am a psychosocial rehabilitator and work with children who have mental illnesses and need help learning to cope in their daily environments. Ironic how while I’m going and helping children and families learn coping mechanisms, my Husband is an addict at home. I had to realize that I couldn’t help him. The more I tried to stop him, the more ways he’d find to do it. You can’t stop this by putting locks on your computer. You can’t stop him by shutting off all television. You can’t stop him by looking perfect and being wonderful. None of it will help. I’ve done everything I know of in my training to help in these situations and none of it worked long term. He has to decide whether or not he’s done. Every addict reaches a point called rock bottom where they choose happiness and life, not their addiction. Your spouse has to come to that decision and realization on his own, nothing you do will help change their minds. I have a difficult time dealing with this because I tell myself that other than this addiction, he’s perfect. He’s never blamed me once, he always takes full responsibility, and has gone to support groups, therapists, and bishops over and over since he was 13. He’s now 30, and I’ve realized that I am done waiting for my life to begin. I want a family and I can’t start a family with a clean conscience because of this.
    Why do we have to take responsibility emotionally for the sins of others? Why must we be burdened with feelings of worthlessness and depression because of the man we chose to marry. As LDS women, we feel it is our responsibility to take care of everyone, “charity never faileth”. But, at what point do we allow charity to help us? WHEN DO WE TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES? We are better than this. Our Heavenly Father wants more for us. We have to take our opportunities to be happy and let our spouses or ex-spouses figure out the atonement for themselves.

  36. mormonwomen

    Dear You’re stronger than this:

    I’m so deeply sorry for what you are going through. You are right in that sometimes women have to make choices about how much they will endure. But I hope you have had the chance to read the stories of the women who have chosen to stay AND found ways to take care of themselves while staying in the marriage.(see several in our stories index: (http://mormonwoman.org/2011/01/30/pornography-addiction-personal-stories-index/)

    From what I have seen of their experience, it’s not necessarily an either/or situation. Sometimes the staying and the process of figuring out the atonement (both the addict and the spouse) can happen in parallel. (I particularly appreciated Rhyll’s thoughts on this:

    http://mormonwoman.org/2011/01/23/healing-from-pornography-addiction-hope-for-addicts-spouses/
    (Note especially the painting and what it came to represent for them)
    http://mormonwoman.org/2011/01/24/forward-with-faith-healing-when-a-spouse-has-a-porn-addiction/

    Yesterday, we received this submission from a man who has walked this path before. Perhaps your husband doesn’t know *how* to break free yet. ?? And maybe this can help you as you sort through it all, too. (We shared more of his story here: http://mormonwoman.org/2011/03/12/hope-and-help-for-sex-addicts-a-personal-story/
    Here’s his new submission:
    http://www.rowboatandmarbles.org/ABCsAddiction.html

    Let me be VERY clear. I’m not suggesting that it’s always going to be right to stay. I have good friends who have felt guided by the Spirit to leave. I just pray you will find out through heartfelt prayer and careful consideration what God’s guidance is for you. Sometimes the answer will be “it’s time to leave” and sometimes the answer will be “stay and work through this — there is hope!” Only God knows what is right in your situation.

    Have you gone yourself to support group meetings? Please see previous links about various resources for YOU, such as family support guidebooks, phone support, and online support groups for wives of porn addicts. This can provide you an opportunity to also understand more about the atonement and how it can help you through this, whatever path you decide to take.

  37. Dear You’re stronger than this: I’m the guy who writes the rowboat and marbles essays about recovery from sex and pornography addiction (www.RowboatAndMarbles.org). I’ve been in recovery (i.e., no porn, no masturbation AND progressive victory over lust) for long enough now to know that complete and lasting sexual sobriety is possible both for myself and for other LDS men. Although I’ve seen a number of LDS men find this same recovery, sadly I’ve seen many more who don’t. I have come to recognize some trends. First, those who get into and stay in recovery do four things: complete honesty with their wife, complete honesty with their bishop, therapy with a professional person experienced in treating sexual addictions, and ACTIVE participation in an EFFECTIVE 12 Step group more than two times a week. Second, those who don’t get sober and find true recovery don’t do those four things. This is not to say that this is absolutely the only way to do things. I don’t know that it is. What I do know, however, is what I’ve seen and what I’ve seen is that men who stay in recovery do those four things while those who fail don’t do those four things.

    Most of the LDS men I see who fail to stay sober tend to view therapy and 12 Step as unnecessary inconveniences for men of their intelligence, strength and spirituality. They view these things as crutches for the weak among us (apparently, that would include me). Those of us in recovery scratch our heads. We’re indeed weak and yet we’re completely sober sexually. They’re strong but can’t seem to string together more than a couple weeks without porn and masturbation. In recovery, we’re happy and getting happier. They, on the other hand, continue to be scared, confused and miserable.

    You said your husband has gone to support groups but they haven’t helped. It’s important to know that not all support groups are equally effective. This is certainly true with 12 Step groups. The Church’s pornography addiction support group (PASG) unfortunately tends to be in the fledgling stages in many areas where it exists. These meetings often lack the experience, strength and hope of men who have achieved long-term sobriety and who can help lead the newer men in the program to sobriety. Without men in serious recovery, these meetings can end up being a group of scared, embarrassed, ashamed and humiliated men who sit and talk about how sorry they are and how much they love Jesus. This is not an effective 12 Step meeting. Also, the Church’s 12 Step groups tend not to have sponsors, another key component of effective 12 Step groups and recovery.

    Oftentimes, LDS men will attend twelve meetings of the Church’s PASG program (one meeting a week for three months, one meeting for each of the 12 Steps) after which they announce to their wife and their bishop that they’ve been miraculously cured of their “little problem.” Probably, they actually believe this, as do the wife and the bishop. They’re not cured, however, as they will find out again a few weeks or months later when they once again find themselves acting out and lying about it.

    In contrast, many LDS men are finding sobriety in 12 Step groups outside the Church. In particular, Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) is very effective. It is my experience and that of others that SA is the best way for LDS men to deal effectively with pornography and sexual addiction. It’s amazing and inspiring to see them transform from scared, ashamed, empty shells of men into the confident, worthy priesthood holders they’ve always wanted to be. I expect that at some point, enough LDS men will take their SA experience and sobriety with them to the Church’s PASG groups and fortify them so they become effective as well.

    We all need to understand that porn consumption is really just a manifestation of an addiction to lust; lust is a drug that addicts use to self-medicate with when they feel overwhelming negative emotions like resentment, humiliation, fear and anger. If a guy keeps focusing on fighting the “temptation” to look at porn, but never does anything to deal with the lust addiction or the emotions fueling the desire to medicate, he can NEVER get into recovery. Again, if a guy says he’s all fixed—no more porn urges for him—and yet he can’t articulate how he is treating and monitoring the lust addiction and the debilitating emotions, we know he’s dreaming or lying. We have to treat the emotional turmoil, the lust addiction and the compulsions to act out sexually—all three—if we want to recover. It appears your husband isn’t doing this.

    So many LDS men aren’t getting sober because they are trying to do it on their own in isolation—or else confiding only in people who have no experience in dealing with sexual addiction. If your husband will get an LDS sponsor who has walked the road to recovery, the sponsor will look him in the eye and tell him, “I know what you need to do to get sober because I’ve done it. I know when you’re lying because I’ve lied about the same things. I know how you think you’re smarter than everyone else, because I used to think I was smarter than everyone else, too. I know how you objectify the women around you because that’s what I used to do. You can’t fool me because I was who you are. I know what the overwhelming compulsion to act out sexually feels like and I know what to do to make it stop—forever. I can show you what to do and it’ll work for you, too, if you’re willing to work it.” I am one of those guys. I can look your husband in the eye and tell him what sobriety feels like and what it takes to get it. Those of us in recovery are out there and looking to share the message of hope. In fact, it is our experience that in order to keep what we have, we have to give it away to others.

    You mentioned that your husband always takes full responsibility for his conduct. I’ve done some writing about the myth of “accepting personal responsibility” and urge you to read it at http://www.rowboatandmarbles.org/ABCs6.html
    . It turns out that “accepting personal responsibility” is a hallmark of LDS men who want to be left alone so they can isolate with their addiction. They’ve conned themselves and those around them into believing that because they’re “manning up,” they’re taking this seriously—and this time it’ll work—if only everyone will just leave them alone. Their addiction admires these men immensely when they “man up”—it means more time acting out and more of the drug it craves.

    I think you’re absolutely right to ask yourself the questions you ask and to feel the emotions you’re feeling. When wives ponder their future with their addicted husband, it is vital that they protect themselves—physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually—from their husband’s behavior. One way they can protect themselves is to understand reality. This is reality: A man cannot get into recovery and stay there simply by prayer, scripture study and willpower. Like diabetes, addiction requires treatment, and monitoring. That treatment includes therapy and 12 Step. Any man who is not following an active recovery program specific to sexual addiction but who is telling his wife that he no longer has any compulsion to act out sexually is unduly optimistic or simply lying—or both. Addicts who aren’t in recovery are liars. It’s part of being an addict.

    Many women wonder how they can know if their husbands are in true recovery. The answer is listening to spiritual inspiration, responding to gut feelings and keeping in mind a simple joke from Alcoholics Anonymous: What is the difference between an addict and an addict in recovery? Answer: You can’t get the addict to talk about his recovery and you can’t get the addict in recovery to shut up about it. If your husband is in recovery, he will attend 12 Step meetings, he will read the literature, he will get a sponsor and work the 12 Steps with him, and eventually he will become a sponsor and help other men get sober. Most importantly, if he is in recovery he will spontaneously share with you new experiences and insights of sobriety as he progresses in recovery. If he is not sharing spontaneously it is because he has nothing to share. If he has nothing to share, he is not in recovery. There are only two possible camps in the sex addiction recovery world. Either the addict is actively working toward recovery through a program and will stay sober, or he is not working toward recovery and is basically blowing in the wind. This second guy is either acting out currently or basically treading water until the compulsions once again hit him and he slips up as he always has.

    As you said, you can’t work your husband’s recovery for him. He has to do that. One thing you don’t have to do, however, is pretend along with him that he is getting better when he’s not. Everything you’ve described about your husband indicates that he’s not in recovery and never has been. Sure, he’s been penitent at times. Sure, he’s desired to change at times. But he’s never been in recovery. You can tell him that. You can tell him that because you know he’s never been truly sober and is not currently sober, all your decisions about your present and future from now on will be based upon the fact that he is not in recovery. You can also tell him that other LDS husbands are achieving complete sexual sobriety NOW and you deserve nothing less than that. Now means now, not three months from now, or six months from now, or a year from now. By the way, in case he wonders, complete sexual sobriety means no pornography and no masturbation—ever. It also means progressive victory over lust. Recovery does not mean trying really hard and only slipping up once every three to six months. We have another name for that: active addiction. You deserve nothing less than a sexually sober husband. Ask him if he is willing to do whatever it takes. He owes that to you and he has the ability to give you what he owes—if he is willing to do whatever it takes.

    If your husband wants to talk about what it takes, he can get a hold of me through our website shown at the top of this response. If you feel like talking with an LDS woman who has achieved recovery from her husband’s sexual addiction, my wife would be happy to visit with you by phone or email. She will give you a strong plug for attending S-Anon meetings, a safe and inspiring place where LDS women are finding strength and healing from the trauma caused by their husband’s behavior. As you know, she can’t guarantee that your husband will get sober and stay sober. What she will help you do, however, is learn how to recover from the bombs your husband has been dropping on you for your entire marriage and even before that.

    God bless you and every woman currently suffering as you are. We’re praying for you. Andrew

  38. Sisters,
    There are so many of you struggling with this that it just tears at my heart. Who would have thought we as women would have to face this particular challenge of having a loved one addicted to pornography? An addiction that tears at the very foundation of our marriage, our relationship. Trust, integrity, honesty. Not to mention our self-worth, esteem, identity.

    Dani – you mentioned that your husband has never seemed apologetic nor is he willing to work the 12-step program. In my experience and also my observations of others, for one to become stronger than the addiction requires many things. A support system, an accountability partner, counseling and a 12-step program. As with any addiction, you can’t just say you’ve got it covered. It requires WORK. It requires DEDICATION. It requires HUMILITY. He can’t just say to forget about it and it’s in the past. It’s not in the past. He may no longer be acting upon his addictions but it’s still affecting you. It’s still affecting the relationship. Sweeping it under the rug is only going to add to the challenges. For one, it’s a sore spot for you – and he needs to recognize that and work with you to rebuild your relationship.

    Strugglingwithin – You asked how you could tell your spouse how his addiction has affected you and your ability to function within the relationship. When you talk with him, are you confrontational? I ask because I had to learn the hard way – that doesn’t work. I simply tell him that I need to talk about some things and I need to know that he will listen. We make a mutual agreement to the “rules” in that if we start getting upset, we’ll call a time-out and then reconvene in an hour. I then outline the behaviors/attitudes and how they affected me. Sometimes it’s such an emotional overload that it takes time to process it all. With that, we’ll agree to just think about things and then again – reconvene. BUT we make sure it’s a set time or date. It’s too easy to just kind of let it go… and then too much time passes. Then it’s like starting all over again. Does that make sense? One more thing, do not allow him to blame you for his actions. Whether or not you choose to be intimate with him does not get him a “get out of jail free” card. He is still accountable for his actions. Remember, he still has his free agency so really, you can’t help him accept responsibility for his actions. He has to do that.

    Monique – Addicts have relapses. It’s inevitable. What accounts for improvement in one’s control over the addictions is the time between relapses, the work being done to strengthen one’s resolve and etc. May I ask what steps he is taking to work through this? My own husband could go through days, weeks and even years without engaging in his addictions. It wasn’t until he made a full accounting for it with me, our bishop & stake president, and beginning the 12-step recovery program that he felt like he was finally on the road to learning how to live without addictions.

    You also mentioned numbing yourself… that is not a healthy way to deal with the hurt. Please understand that you’re going through the grieving process. While that is a natural thing, it is not natural to keep dwelling on the hurts and such. I am not saying we should just forget about it all. What I am saying is that, everything has a time and a place. When it starts crippling you – it’s the time to start seeking out additional help.

    Btw – yes, when my husband is struggling, he’s very short with the kids. He recognizes this now… it took me pointing it out. Something to think about.

    Cortney – I so hear you on the lack of support for the one who has had to deal with his/her loved one’s addictions! The Church is recognizing that and is currently working on approving a manual that has been written specifically for families of addicts. Hopefully soon it will be out as I know that while I have learned much from the church’s current program “Addiction Recovery Program” – having a manual/program that is specifically geared for those that have been subjected to others’ addictions would be a huge help. Meanwhile, don’t be afraid to go to your Bishop and tell him exactly that. That you need support and understanding.

    It has been a few years since my husband disclosed and I still struggle at times…

    Seriousltakenaback – My husband too, struggled with the porn junk since he was a young teen. I am glad you have finally realized that it’s not your fault. However, I am saddened to read that he’s moving out because of his perceived notion that there is a lack of intimacy, due in part to some degree to him not initiating. From what I’ve read… I think he is still in denial about the damages it has (and continues to) caused. He just is not ready to deal with it on a deeper level, especially if he can’t see that he is mirroring his father’s actions.

    You do not need breast augmentation. He is just going to keep finding fault with you and do you need that? I am NOT condoning divorce. What I am trying to show you – is that you need to decide what is acceptable or not. As for the restitution step, he doesn’t see a need to discuss it because again – whether he acknowledges this or not, he’s not there yet. In fact, it can (and often does) take years to get to that step.

    Don’t lie to the kids and don’t make excuses. Just be short & simple – Dad needs some time to figure some things out and let’s keep praying that he’ll get the guidance/comfort he needs right now.
    Sisters – when dealing with a loved one’s addiction(s), it is so easy to find fault with him. It’s a defense mechanism, you know?

    You’re stronger than this – I am happy to hear that you’re relying on your “gut instinct.” In gospel terms – that’s the Spirit of Discernment. The ability, and really, the gift from our Heavenly Father to help us discern when something is not in accordance to the gospel.

    You brought up an excellent point – you can’t be his monitor in his activities. That’s not to say you just ignore everything. NO! One needs to set up clear boundaries and clear consequences and be willing to follow-through.

    You are absolutely correct in that our Heavenly Father wants more for us. Which is why we have the Atonement. It is not just for people who have sinned (which is ultimately all of us) but it is also to take away the pain caused by another’s actions.

    For all of you sisters, if you would like to contact me directly, please feel free to do so. You can reach me at arastrebbyl(at)gmail.com . I also moderate a private non-denominational Wives of Porn Addicts group that is a wonderful place of support, resources and a safe place to share. You can find it here: http://www.cafemom.com/group/1872 My screen name is “sariqd”

    Elder Orson F. Whitney wrote: “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility. … It is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire.”

    While it all hurts, this quote has helped me in knowing that there IS something positive that is to come out of dealing with this. We may not see it right now but think on your life… when things were all peaches & cream, were we growing? Probably not. It’s only through these experiences can we gain compassion, understanding and humility.

    Andrew – I agree with many of your points that you outlined and I am pleased to see that you’re actively engaged in sharing your story and also the ups & downs of recovery. That your wife is also willing to help is wonderful.

    The church’s 12-step program, in my opinion, is that it’s a 12-step program in how the Atonement can work for you. While it’s an inspired program, it’s only as effective as the moderaters of the meetings, the participants and the support of the local stake/ward. The same with S-Anon & SA groups, albeit on a non-eccliastical level.

  39. mormonwomen

    Sara and Andrew,

    Thank you so much for joining this conversation. There is nothing quite like hearing from people who have walked this path — both from the perspective of a spouse of an addict and from an addict.

    Sara mentioned family support manuals. As I talked with a friend in the Addiction Recovery Support program (she’s a missionary in the program), she pointed me to a family support guidebook that is being used in at least one area. http://www.arputco.org/familysupportguide.php

    I also talked to the loved one of an addict who participated in the creation of another Christ-centered guidebook for loved ones of addicts. You can find that one here: (username is “family” and password is “support”). http://healingthroughchrist.org/

    ~Michelle, editor

  40. Annonymous

    Stephanie, I was married for 6 months when I found out about my husbands porn addiction. I walked in on him. I don’t feel like it’s my fault at all. I did everything–counselors, filters, etc. I found out he was renting movies and bringing them home. I got rid of the tv. We moved to a small town. I thought he had been clean for two years. I just found out last night it was all a lie. For two years he lied to me every time I asked him about it. I really thought he had overcome it. He bought a laptop from someone at school and has been watching it here at home. That makes me the most angry. He brought it home. We have two beautiful little girls and one on the way. My oldest is 2 1/2. Do I get out now while they are still young enough that they won’t remember the trauma? I don’t want to start all over either. I want to homeschool. I have never worked a day of their lives. I don’t believe I will ever find anyone I can trust. But do I wait until his addiction is so bad that he starts viewing child pornography”? How will I know if he does? I have to protect my children. I didn’t know for two years! I really would like to be able to email you Stephanie. How do I get your email address?

  41. Annoymous – I am sorry you’re going through this, and even more sorry that he has continually lied to you. You need to remember, that lying is such a huge part of addiction that they no longer recognize or even feel like it’s a bad thing. Addictions in any form truly rewire one’s brain! No one can tell you what you should do, nor should they. All we can do is offer our experiences and you go from there. For me, I had been married 13 years before finding out the junk. Yet there had been clues all along. Have you guys had any form of counseling? Did he go to any support group? Bottom line is only you can decide where to go from here. I would caution you on two points. 1) Don’t associate with people who are bitter. I know that’s an odd thing to say but think about it, The Gospel is about hope and faith. People who are so extremely bitter will only see things in black & white. Life isn’t black and white. While it may very well be that you do need to split up, don’t let others influence your decision-making process. 2) Really pray about it and talk with your husband about it. Figure out what boundaries you’re going to set and what the consequences will be. Be clear about it with him. Then stick to them!

    I know it’s so hard to see a bright side to things when you’ve been hurt so badly. I know how hard it is to think you’ll ever be able to trust again. I know! I know! Yet, if you let the Lord’s atonement work in your life, you will be able to find peace. You will be able to learn to trust yourself and others around you. That day will come. I promise. Heavenly Father promises!

    (((hugs)))

  42. Kris

    I am in the same situation. I stopped working ten years ago to be a stay at home mom,etc. Now find out my ” perfect Mormon ” hubby is a 20(!!!) year porn addict. I feel lonely and lost. But I am also determined to take control of my life! He is moving out this weekend, either to hotel or home to mom and dad. He has paid the bills just fine for years, he can pay them now. He has a chance to decide what he values more and if he chooses porn so be it. I will not surrender one more ounce of my time or self-esteem to his selfish desires. Yes I get that he is an addict- but it’s an addiction he chose. Sisters, stand up for yourselves! You don’t need to leave and give up your home- he’s the one who chose sin over faithfulness, he can leave.

  43. Kris –
    I understand the hurt, the sense of betrayal, the anger. Please, please, please take a moment of your time to pray about things. For guidance, for understanding, for compassion. Talk with your Bishop I am not saying you were wrong to kick him out. I am saying – be prayerful about things instead of doing a knee-jerk reaction.

    Addiction is never a black & white deal. It goes beyond him (or her) just “choosing” an addiction. With any addiction, yes it begins with a choice… but over time, that choice is taken away from them. They need to keep going to further extremes to get that high they first experienced. It also goes along with what they’re using that addiction for. In my experience, it’s a coping mechanism. Whether it’s from childhood abuse/truama or stress in some form. If you would some time and figure out those times that he acted out, I’m certain there were motivating factors – not “just” the chance to act out on porn.

    I hope that your husband will actively seek help to learn how to overcome this addiction and also learn new healthy coping skills. And I hope that you also, seek counseling to help you through this. The whirlwind of emotions you’re going through now is very typical upon discovery and also a huge part of the grieving process you’re now in.

    There is no such thing as “perfect” in this world. Everyone has challenges, you, me, our husbands. It’s almost cruel to hold someone to those standards. This world is about learning, growing and yes, falling. That’s the beauty of the Gospel. There is always hope for redemption.

    There’s more that I could say – so if you’d like to contact me via email, my info is listed in previous comments.

    I am so sorry, Kris. No woman should have to go through this.

  44. Kelly

    Hi,

    Does anyone know of a website that I can go to that has a 12 step program to help women with their husbands addiction. I tried to visit the websites for the guidebooks listed above but the websites either don’t work or the guidebooks are not available. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    All I can say is the best thing to help in this situation is lots of praying, that is the only thing that has been getting me through and I know it will also help all of you if you truly have faith. My heart goes out to all of you.

  45. Kelly -
    Here is the site that is sponsored by LDS.org.

    http://combatingpornography.org/cp/eng/spouses

    This isn’t a 12-step program. The LDS church is currently reviewing/revising the program that specifically targets families/spouses of pornography addictions. Hopefully soon, that will be available. This site is still helpful though.

    And I agree, praying is an essential tool in conjunction with the other tools given. Such as therapy, counseling, recovery groups for the addict and the one affected by the addict.

  46. mormonwomen

    Kelly,

    I sent you an email with some information, but will also respond here. (Sorry for the delay…I’ve been on vacation.)

    The Church has some family support groups in some areas that use the 12-step program. I just took a look and even with the small sample I chose, I found several locations in the US that have groups for wives of addicts. Have you looked to see if they have something in your area? (Some labeled them at PASG-W or just as “Family Support” groups.)

    http://providentliving.org/content/list/0,11664,4177-1,00.html

    I was sad to find out that the links to the family support guides don’t work anymore. Obviously it’s been a while since I first became aware of them.

    When we did our personal stories series on this topic (which is when I found out about the links), I asked a friend of mine who is a missionary in the Addiction Recovery program if there were resources she knew of. She gave me one of those links. There are also paper copies of the guidebook available. I decided to buy a few copies to be able to send to women who may want them.

    I would be happy to send you one of these guidebooks, free of charge. If you are interested, please email me at mormonwoman d’ gmail d’ com.

    I also asked one of the contacts at SA Lifeline about what resources they would recommend for a woman in your situation, and he suggested S-Anon as an option. They also are working on other resources to help women in your situation. (I’ve forwarded you that information as well.)

  47. nonamer

    Hi, I googled for LDS spouse help for addicts and this came up. I’m not one to share much with others, but after reading all these comments I feel ‘enlightened’ to know that I’m not the only one, I know that sounds selfish and sad, because I wouldn’t want anyone to go through this.

    I have been married for five years, have an almost two year old, and until three weeks ago have been living in complete happiness. We were married and sealed in the temple, have held various church callings, and have been happy. I can honestly say, I have always had a perfect trust in my husband, I knew he had a perfect love for me, until three weeks ago his confession to me shattered my whole life.

    I could go in depth with how things lead up, but I’ll just get to the point. He came to me three weeks ago after a day of him saying he was sick and acting really weird, and finally he told me he had slept with another woman. I was shocked, hurt, any emotion that describes pain, disbelief, and anger, that was me. He also confessed that he has been addicted to pornography since the second year of our marriage, and then he slept with this girl twice, and why has he come to me now ten months after the affair…because she had a baby, and it is his.

    How unreal of a situation right, the worst case scenario ever I feel. I am so hurt and angry, and our poor son, this is terrible. I have felt it all, and we are separated. He has gone to the bishop, and has a disciplinary council coming up in two weeks. He is so apologetic and is willing to do whatever to get us back. I’m telling you, we were so happy, he was the best father and husband, I can hardly believe it now. I think that is what is holding me back from leaving him, he has always been my loving companion, and it is hard for me to wrap my head around this harsh reality.

    I guess I just want to know, what would you do, given this situation and circumstances. I tell myself he slept with her because he has a disease of addiction, but then again, I am so hurt and angry, I can’t bare to think of life every being the same. What would you do…

  48. nonamer

    …I’m sorry, to add to that… But also, I think of getting back together, but I feel so sick for that baby. He slept with a non-member, and doesn’t provide a great home environment. My heart aches for this baby, and I think, that could have been OUR baby, he could have been raised in a Gospel centered home, if I get back together with my husband, am I just supposed to forget about the fact that he has another baby out there?? They are still going through the legal attorney actions, and not sure what the outcome will be yet. This girl has a husband and a little girl about the same age as our child, and now this little baby, so sad, and at this point that is what is eating me up the most, this poor baby.

  49. mormonwomen

    Dear nonamer,

    I am so sorry for what you are going through. There is no way any of us can tell you what to do in your particular situation — only God can do that. But I would highly encourage you to find a counselor, someone you can trust to help you sort through your anger and pain. My advice would be to not make any major decisions in such a state…give yourself enough time and the kind of help, support, and inspiration you need so that you can make a decision you can feel sure about.

    ~Michelle
    Editor

  50. Nonamer – please seek out counseling and a support group. No major decisions need to be made now unless you’re in fear for your life or that of your children. Take time to breathe, pray and get a blessing. You can go to your Bishop for that.

    My heart aches for you – as well as that baby who was brought into a difficult situation through no fault of his own. I’m sending out prayers for you and your family. I hope there’s resolution some way or the other that brings you a sense of peace & comfort.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Rebuilding Trust in a Relationship Damaged by Sexual/Pornography Addiction | Mormon Women - About LDS Life and Belief - [...] You can also find more resources and information for help and support with sex / pornography addiction. [...]
  2. When a Husband is Addicted to Porn | Hope for LDS Women | Mormon Women - About LDS Life and Belief - [...] If you are one of the women searching for support and information as you face the challenge of a …
  3. Pornography: Satan’s Power Tool « Diapers and Divinity - [...] More resources for wives of addicts (more to come!): http://mormonwoman.org/2011/01/09/how-can-i-deal-with-my-spouses-pornography-addiction/ [...]
  4. Porn Harms Awareness Campaign | Mormon Women - About LDS Life and Belief - [...] in educating about pornography/sex addiction. We have several resources on our site (e.g., this post) for those personally affected …
  5. For Tess | Regally Blonde - [...] How Can I Deal With My Spouse’s Pornography Addiction? [...]
  6. Resources for those affected by addiction (their own or that of a loved one) | Mormon Women - About LDS Life and Belief - [...] have a personal stories index here at Mormon Women of people sharing their experiences with pornography/sex addiction. Most [...]

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