Today, Sara shares her story about the journey she and her husband have been on as they have faced his pornography addiction. They have made the choice to share their story with the hope that it can help others in a similar situation not feel so alone. She also testifies that because God is there, you are never alone! Sara moderates a private, non-denominational support group online for wives of porn addicts at Cafe Mom.
My story starts almost three years ago. I was going through my husband’s email account looking for email addresses of his friends for a surprise party. I came across an email and discovered that he had answered a cyber-sex chat ad. My heart cracked and I instantly felt sick to my stomach. I called up my husband at work and told him that he had better tell me the truth. Did he send out this email? He paused and said, “Yes.” I started screaming at him and hung up the phone. I started shaking and crying. I was reeling from that discovery. That afternoon, he called our bishop [ecclesiastical leader] and set up a time for us to meet with him that evening. When my husband came home, I demanded to know the extent of his addictions. He resisted and said he’d rather wait for when we met the Bishop. I argued and told him no and he needed to tell me everything. The crack in my heart grew wider as I listened.
We met with the bishop and I listened to everything my husband had done again. With more details. His addictions started when he was a young teen. He would have periods of time where he did not engage in his addictions, some periods were even a few years. However, as he said, he could not stay away from it. He felt so alone and worthless himself in that he couldn’t just overcome it on his own. He actually felt relief in being able to put it all out there on the table. Of course, I didn’t feel relief. I felt like my heart finally shattered and I had no idea what I should do. I felt caged, trapped. I left the meeting with the bishop and just started walking. All I knew was I needed to get away from there. Away from him. How could he do this to me?
I didn’t know what to do. My mind was racing and going over all the odd incidents of years past. How knowing about his addictions finally made sense of the isolation, the loneliness I felt throughout our marriage. It was awful. I couldn’t look at him. I couldn’t bear for him to try and touch me. He had hurt me beyond anything I had ever known and I felt forsaken by the one I thought I could trust implicitly. The trust was shattered. Did I want to live with this man who had become a stranger to me?
A few days later, we met with the stake president who administered a beautiful, precious priesthood blessing to me… in which I was reassured that I had not been forsaken by our Savior. That through my darkest hours, He was there with me, weeping with me. I have held onto the words of that blessing. Sometimes it was all I had when I was hurting by the glaring porn that is in all aspects of life these days. Magazines, provocatively dressed women, movies, commercials on tv. How had I never seen this junk before? I was disappointed to see that I had been blind to it. That it was IN MY HOME.
What helped me? In conjunction with the bishop & stake president’s advice and counsel? Going with my husband to the LDS Family Services sponsored ARP meeting (Addiction Recovery Program). The facilitator greeted us and as the meeting began, he said, “I like to think of ARP as a workshop in how the Atonement works.” I didn’t get it. But then, I didn’t really understand how the Atonement of Jesus Christ worked either. Through the course of the program, I learned something beautiful. The Atonement is NOT just for those that have sinned. It is also for those that have been sinned against.
If there was anything I could share with other Mormon women going through this, is to get a priesthood blessing from the bishop or stake president. Immediately. If you are not Mormon, talk to your religious leader and/or a trusted friend or counselor. Also, understand that you cannot and should not take the place of being a monitor of your husband’s activities. I can promise you that it will only break your heart further. Understand that he has his free agency and to try and make him change is taking that away. Please understand that doesn’t mean you just turn a blind eye to it. No! Prayerfully set up boundaries that have consequences. Follow through with them. Be open and direct about your feelings, what it’s doing to you and your family. Addicts do not see nor comprehend how their behaviors affect those around them. My husband had no idea how much he hurt me until I told him.
I understand that not every person is ready to go through the recovery process. I understand that some addicts may never go through it. Yet the most vital thing is for you to start the recovery process. To learn how to not have your self-esteem, your self-worth be dependent upon your husband.
“While an important part of healing, if the thought of forgiveness causes you yet more pain, set that step aside until you have more experience with the Savior’s healing power in your own life” (Elder Richard G. Scott in “To Heal the Shattering Consequences of Abuse“)
You are not alone. Never, ever think that. You may not have the family support or support in the community but guess what? You have the support of our Heavenly Father! I know without a doubt that I have not been forsaken by Him or by my Savior. Even during my darkest hour, I was still able to place one foot in front of the other and in looking back, I can see the love of our Christ helping me through. I am so grateful for that.
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The following articles explore more about the truths Sara shared: that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is not just for sinners, but can also help those who have been hurt by the sins of others. We also include some articles on the topic of pornography addiction and healing for spouses.
Beauty for Ashes: The Atonement of Jesus Christ: “Each of us will taste the bitter ashes of life, from sin and neglect to sorrow and disappointment. But the atonement of Christ can lift us up in beauty from our ashes on the wings of a sure promise of immortality and eternal life. He will thus lift us up, not only at the end of life, but in each day of our lives.”
Hope and Healing in Recovering from Abuse: “Healing occurs when individuals learn to search for and accept the Savior’s love.”
Hope, Healing, and Dealing with Addiction: “It’s difficult to watch your spouse make harmful choices. But hope and peace are available— for both of you.”
Lessons from a Milk Jug: “If the Lord would carry me…though, I could do what I needed to do. I begged Him to lift me, and He did. He helped me not only carry my burden but also cast it away.”
Pierced with Deep Wounds: “Although my husband and I struggled in different ways because of this addiction, the Savior’s healing was powerful and uniquely suited for each of us.”
Confronting a Spouse’s Pornography Problem — Google Books has made some of the content of this book available online. Content on boundaries was linked above, but a lot of other content is available as well.