17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

From the Tales Inbox: A Taboo Topic

A post from Amelia Earhart (an obvious pseudonym).

I remember when a friend of mine had the assignment to teach about pornography in a relief society lesson. I didn’t have a chance to attend the lesson, but she told me that she looked into the eyes of the women in attendance and saw a lot of women who had been affected by the pain of pornography....and of course a lot of pain in their eyes.

It is my experience that many subjects among close friends, and especially close friends in the church are open to discussion...sex, circumcision, boobs, booze, drugs, the list goes on, but pornography seems to be so taboo. I am not suggesting that a woman with marital problems in the form of a pornagraphy addiction be completely out in the open about it...certainly it must be so personal and so painful....but when a friend does confide this particular struggle,
what is the best reaction?

After being a good listener, and there is that dead air where your response goes....how do you respond? I am sure it depends on the individual and her situation. I am sure if she is just finding out about it, and she is married with children, your response might be different from a woman dating a boy and thinking about marrying him. I am sure the easy answer is to say: Go talk to your Bishop or pray or keep it between you and your husband...but that doesn’t seem
empathetic or understanding enough.

Should we commiserate? Should we say make it work? Should we say: Jeez, why aren’t you going to counseling? or....how is counseling going? Should we encourage divorce or staying together? If it’s been months since your initial conversation, how do you bring it up again
to check in? Send a note? an email?

The devastating problem of pornography is becoming rampant everywhere and especially in the Church. It seems that every General Meeting now is covering this topic. What is a woman to do who is faced with this in her marriage? What is a friend to do who is faced with comforting her friend going through with this?


  • I have experienced this in my marriage. It certainly blindsided me when I found out. My heart just ached. He talked to his Bishop and then came home and told me.

    I don't know what you should tell your friend. I just know that there is so much hope in the gospel through the Atonement. Our communication became very open as I supported him in healing this addiction. My Bishop promised me that we could become closer than ever through working through this. That has most certainly happened. When I first found out, I was completely bewildered and not sure what to do. Now, I feel so blessed to have become even closer to my husband and our relationship couldn't be better.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/08/2008 07:06:00 AM  

  • Like most personal trauma, the answer of what to tell your friend depends fully on what they want. Are they just looking for empathy? for your strength/ for advice? for resources?
    If a friend needs understanding and a hug, it could be a mistake to give them a list of resources. If they need your advice, or hope you can relate, it would be a mistake to share some tears and just call to check in a month later.

    so anyway. as somebody who has read all the boooks, been to the support groups and counseling and websites, here are some.

    - not all porn users are addicts. If the man in question isn't, he should just knock it off! I'll assume now that if he hasn't, it's becuase he tries but can't quit. addiction. -

    "Clean Hands, Pure Heart"
    this is an LDS 12-step book. my husband worked through it in his journal and we both read it a couple of times, it was very important in his recovery.

    A good LDS informational book is Confronting pornogrpahy. this is really great for understanding the problem- the habit/abuse/addiction cycle, the biochemical side, the truth of how it can get worse and the truth of how it CAN get better and be totally healed.

    there are LDS 12-step meetings for all sorts of addictions, including one specific for men with sexual addiction issues. there is also a 12-step meeting for women too entwined in their husband's addictions. Here is the list for your area.

    LDS family services has counselors. Like any counseling, this may be great or they might stink. But your bishop has power to help pay for you.

    My advice, as a wife who has been through this, as a busy support-group leader, and as a friend who has helped a friend in crisis, is this.
    If the man hates it as much as she does, if he feels awful about himself, and guilty, and is ready for change, the tools above will help him. He cna get humble and admit his own strength hasn't fixed it, he can call on the lord and all these supports, and he can be transformed into a man so redeemed you would be envious of his equisite peace and love and relationship to Christ. Going through this change together with complete honesty and loving support will renew your marriage in a beautiful way. Amazing healing is possible for you both.

    If the man is defensive and sneaky, you simply cannot force a transformation on him. Sorry, but we can't make others have a change of heart against their will.
    Let him know the resources, and then decide for yourself what you will do, given that your husband does something hurtful and doesn't plan to stop. Will you stay or go? What can you to do strengthen your viable options? What would it take for you to exercise them? what can you do to keep personally happy and strong every day even though your relationship is strained? what can you do to keep the children oblivious? Who can you get empathy, advice, and support from?
    posted by Anonymous been through this a few years ago at 1/08/2008 08:56:00 AM  

  • Just a few random comments:

    I have a habit of putting my foot in my mouth when I try and comfort people, because I don't know what to say; but I find that after suffering a tragedy myself I understand so much better how to approach others going through the same thing. And I guess the truth is, if you are sincere, then saying something is usually better than saying nothing.

    Pornography is definitely a taboo subject in our Church. I think that in general it is important to not get involved with encouraging a woman to leave or stay in a marriage because only the Spirit could tell her when to make a decision like that.

    I have found that the one area of the gospel that NO ONE is perfect in is sexuality. Whether it is spending too much time as a teen making out with your boyfriend or sex before marriage, to masturbation, to pornography or sexual affairs, NO ONE is free from sexual temptations. And when you give in to those things you feel so guilty for what you have done (especially as LDS).

    So when someone is honest about an addiction or mistake in this area I try and be really, really supportive. We all know what it is like to confess our sins/mistakes, and it usually is terrifying (especially if we have been hiding it). You feel so exposed and so ashamed. It takes a brave person to face their problems.

    If someone ever confided in my I would tell them how admirable it is to be so honest, and that I believed in them.

    I am sure there is not an easy way out of any of this, but it's super important to not judge other's because of their problems, and to support them in whatever way possible.
    posted by Anonymous Tally Girl at 1/08/2008 09:38:00 AM  

  • I'm in this now. My DH repented once, but started up again. He doesn't see any point in trying to quit again since the first time "didn't work." I knew it wasn't going to work because he didn't turn to God when he quit - he just used willpower. He must not want to quit.

    What I would want most is someone to say that you can have a good marriage even if your husband is a porn addict. I don't want a divorce. He's a good, kind man who provides for us and is responsible. My kids need their daddy. But no one can give that reassurance since porn is the most excoriated sin in the Church today. Anyone who uses porn must be absolute filth - but my DH is a good man.

    He won't talk about it with me. And I don't have anyone to talk to because I feel like I have to keep his secret.

    -- Addict's wife.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/08/2008 10:26:00 AM  

  • I had a friend go through this. She was on the verge of divorce (to the point of not wearing her ring and living with her mom), but has worked through it.

    Things that helped -

    He stopped traveling a lot with his work, because being in a hotel room alone with a computer was too hard for him. So he switched jobs and got one with less money.

    He FINALLY admitted that it was an addiction and not just a habit. He got professional help. This was a turning point for them.

    She FINALLY backed off a little and just supported him in his recovery instead of just nagging and judging all the time. Also a huge turning point. Very hard for her, because watching someone you love go down the porn road and hoping it won't destroy your family is extremely difficult. (to put it mildly)

    And I don't think you can have a good marriage when your hubby is a porn addict. I'm sorry. I don't think you can have a good marriage when any addiction (drugs, alcohol, even jogging for hours and hours on end) comes into play. Someone who looks now and again isn't addicted. An addiction, though, is completely differnet, and eventually the addiction does such terrible things to the brain. By definition, you need more and more to get the same effect, and it's just plain dangerous.

    I was afraid for my husband very early in our marriage, when I found out a few things. He promised a cold turkey quit, and he did it. (it hadn't hit addiction stage yet) I still ask, I still look, but he understands why, and it's been 10 years and he's still been good. I think it was pure divine intervention that I saw it, because we could stop it before it got too bad. But I know it can happen to ANYBODY at ANYTIME.

    But there is ALWAYS hope. I think that is what's most important.

    I also don't think anyone can judge a marriage from the outside.
    posted by Anonymous friend at 1/08/2008 11:03:00 AM  

  • What a truely painful thing. Our marriage was hitted with a pornography addiction about 6 months into it, but I didn't find out until right after our first anniversary.

    I found that the hardest part of it was feeling so alone in the pain. I was hurting, and everywhere I turned, mostly church resoureces, I was told I needed to support my husband and help him. I was there and supported him through it, but all along I was in such pain and felt completely issolated in the problem. After about 6 months I confided in my mom, I just couldn't hold it in any longer, and she was great and just listening to me and confirming that I wasn't a bad wife for being hurt so much by it. After my husband had been clean for two years I decided that I needed to heal, and so I went to counseling. I was able to work through the hurt and low self esteem that resulted from my husbands addiction.

    I don't think a marriage can be healthy and strong with a spouse addicted to pornography. I think pornography takes away intimacy and trust, which are extremely important in in marriage.

    I found that since my husband was really able to see what he was doing and the hurt it caused, he was extremely humbled. He asked for my help. I checked what site she had been on. Every week I asked him if he had even come close to sinning again. I think wanting to do it on his own would be impossible, he needed to be accountable to some one to over come it.

    Seeing how much he hurt me made him realize that his addiction didn't just affect him, and he knows that if he falls again into it that I couldn't ever feel close to him again. With that in mind every time he felt temptation he came to me for support and I was able to talk through it with him. Now it is 5 years later and I know that I can fully trust him, but we both understand that once you are an addict you are always and addict. The only way to avoid addiction is to avoid it.

    As for your friend, I think that most people can easily find resources. There are tons of things online, church support groups, and couseling. I think the reason some one confided in some one close to them is because they are hurting alot and sharing their pain eases it a little bit, it gives them someone that they can talk to when times are really hard. It is hard to be in pain and isolated. I think it is important to listen and ask her questions to open up the lines of communication about the problem. Alot of times pornography means the person you trust the most and who you are closest too has betrayed you, so she is needed someone to feel those roles until she can trust her husband to not hurt her again.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/08/2008 12:04:00 PM  

  • I'm not even sure where to start on this one. As far as being a good friend, here's what I'd do:

    1. Start by just listening, and asking as few leading questions as possible. (for example, "So, when are you going to leave him?" isn't so helpful).

    2. She might just want someone she knows she can talk to when it is all too overwhelming, when she discovers the next relapse, etc. Reassure her that you're there for her. And then be there. As far as following up, I find that a little "Hey, I just want you to know that I'm thinking about you, and I'm always here for you if you need me. Love you!" kind of note works well - nothing specific, just a little loving nudge. Try to bring it up in a way that allows her an out if she doesn't want to talk about it.

    3. If she's looking for advice on what to do, tread carefully. Friendships can be ruined if you take this opportunity to bash her husband and tell her to leave the slimeball, and then if / when she stays she will feel incredibly uncomfortable knowing that's what you're thinking about her husband every time she mentions him or you see him. You can always frame things in a "brainstorming" kind of way - ie we're going to list out ALL the possibilities here, and then we can evaluate them. When you're in the middle of something like this, it can be difficult to see all the possible paths in front of you, so helping her to see the possibilities (in a non-judgemental way) can be really helpful. And then just sit back and let her talk through them and try your best to not offer your opinion on what you would do!

    I'm saddened by the fact that we're all posting under fake names on this one, but here I am adding mine in as well. I've been up, down, and all around this one, and I have only told one person about it, years and years into it. I agree with what "Addict's wife" said - I feel wrong talking about it, because it's his secret and I don't feel right revealing it to people who will then judge him for it.
    posted by Anonymous been there, done that at 1/09/2008 11:15:00 AM  

  • Lots of good advice on here, and support as well. I have also dealt with this in my marriage. I'm sure your friend trusts you and your friendship a lot to confide in you about such a personal matter. It's hard because every situation is different. I agree with the person who said that it isn't anyone's place to push for divorce. Especially if the husband is willing to work on the addiction. Marriage is messy sometimes. Addiction has a lot to do with forgiveness. I think the most a good friend can do is listen, and maybe offer options like a support group or counseling. But mostly just be there for her, because she probably also feels some of the shame and embarrassment that accompanies an addiction like this.

    And yes, I do think this is a taboo topic. I'm not sure how you would be more open about it without feeling like you've "damaged" your husband's reputation, or that people are talking about your marriage. From my experience, some really good men have struggled with this. I just know that for how much the First Presidency and church leaders talk about this issue, I have yet to meet another friend who is dealing with this in her marriage. I guess because we are just afraid to open up.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/10/2008 02:25:00 PM  

  • WOW. I didn't expect to find this topic on here today. Fate maybe? I needed to hear some of these things. My husband (of a year and a half) and i are split up right now because of his addiction. I can't even describe how painful it was, and even before I knew about it, how destructive it was to our marriage. He became cold toward me, slept with his back to me, never really kissed or showed affection toward me, even after just a year of being married! and on top of that we had no sex life. I eventually got fed up and told him I didn't understand why he was so unaffectionate, and thats when he told me the news. He'd being doing it since he was a teeenager. He wasn't worthy when we were sealed, he gave me blessings unworthily in that year, and blessed the sacrament several times unworthily. I couldn't believe it. We've been separated for a couple months now, and will probably get a divorce. Its so difficult to try to explain why I am back living at home. I am judged terribly by church members and family. It hurts so bad because I don't want to emabarass my husband, but it's difficult to live with people talking about you and making up stories behind your back. I have confided in two or three people, if you have a friend that is willing to talk, let them. Even if you say nothing back, it will just be theraputic to get it all out and know that you can turn to someone when you have a rough day. I know people don't understand my situation and most can't relate but its comforting to have someone to sympathize and be supportive.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/11/2008 11:13:00 AM  

  • Empathy is key. If you haven't personally been through a porn addiction with your spouse it is impossible to truly understand the pain that it causes. You cannot pretend to know where she is coming from. But you can offer empathy and a listening ear - empathy is always invaluable.

    You cannot bash the husband. That is not the support that your friend needs. She has bashed him enough in her own heart; it isn't helpful to have another person do it also.

    Offer resources for your friend (like many already detailed in this post) - they can be for her or for her to make available to her husband.

    And finally, if it has been awhile bring it up. Say that she has been on your mind and ask how she is doing. She may desparately want to talk about it but doesn't know how to bring it up. Be genuine with her.

    I hate that I have been through this in my marriage but like to think it makes me more empathetic to the many women out there who suffer through the same thing. Pornography is an epidemic yet is rarely discussed, especially within groups of women. Forums like this one at Tales can be a safe and supportive place for many women going through the same thing as your friend.
    posted by Anonymous Been down this road... at 1/11/2008 11:23:00 AM  

  • As much as the men get railed for this during priesthood, I don't think we women really talk about it much. I think it's hard for us to relate to why men get addicted, but it really does affect many women in and out of the Church.

    My husband had a pornography addiction as a teenager and then again during his first marriage after several years "clean". He was exposed to it very young by his step-father who was also physically abusive. He used porn as an escape and coping mechanism.

    During his first marriage, things went very wrong from the beginning when his wife refused to have sex on the honeymoon. Their relationship had a lot of issues, both stemming from childhood abuse and personality disorders among other things. His wife turned out to be bi-polar and have multiple personalities, etc. A major source (but not the only one) of conflict was physical intimacy. She would hardly let him touch her except when she wanted to get pregnant. He would reach out, and she would push him away. Over and over and over, this happened for 6 years. During that time, he once again turned to his coping method of pornography.

    I don't think the circumstances excuse his behavior. Pornography is bad news no matter what. But I do think it helps to understand motivations. He was very honest with me about all of this while we were dating and it was something that definitely concerned me. But he has not had one problem since we've been together. And miraculously, he doesn't suffer from any strange perceptions of women because of his porn issues. He's an extremely affection, loving husband. Like any normal guy, he needs physical affection. He needs that closeness. I can hardly imagine what it must feel like to be rejected over and over again by the person who is supposed to love you most.

    Pornography addiction is very real and potentially life-destroying. It should be taken seriously. But Every situation is different, and I think it helps to try to understand what's behind these addictions. Most of these men are good men, who want to make right choices.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/11/2008 11:29:00 AM  

  • Excellent comments.

    It can be especially hard when such personal information about yourself or spouse is made public. Then you have to either ignore it all, or hit the gossip head on.

    People don't talk about these issues because they make them uncomfortable. There is no other reason. No one wants to be asked, 'have you gone through this yourself?' No one wants to admit the truth. If people were truly open many would have to say, 'yes, I (we) have gone through this in my marriage.' And then they feel exposed, and many times others judge them and can't forget about it.

    There is no easy way around it. But there HAS to be a way out of these problems, or the gospel isn't true.
    posted by Anonymous Tally Girl at 1/12/2008 05:04:00 AM  

  • I'm surprised, Tales girls. This is a hot button topic and very few people are commenting...
    posted by Anonymous Melinda L. at 1/12/2008 01:53:00 PM  

  • melinda l, it is very possible that some of our tales girls are posting anonymously. Who knows? After reading the comments I understand that the topic isn't necessarily taboo, but is so private mostly because there is someone else involved....the addict. And I imagine it gets even more complicated when the spouse holds the priesthood and perhaps a calling and you don't want others to judge...

    There have been times in my life where I really need perspective and someone to listen and I find myself spilling my guts to that person I meet at the airport or while doing extra work or somewhere where I will most likely never meet them again. That might be the best kind of person to talk to...then you know word won't spread throughout the community/ward....you won't risk disgracing your marriage/spouse and you can guilt-free let off some steam about your situation.

    I think it is amazing how open many of you have been on this post, and I imagine you have helped a lot of women out there hurting, struggling and getting through this right now...so thanks to all of you anons and been down that roads.....
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/12/2008 06:11:00 PM  

  • Kage,

    what you said.

    Also, I wanted to comment to Addict's wife (one of the first anonymous comments). I hear what you are saying. I believe that you can have a good marriage if your husband is a porn addict and he can still be a good man. Depending on the level of addiction, this is not always the case though because the damaged caused to the wife and family can be just too great (not too great to ever overcome - thank you Atonement - but just too great to continue living in it without a change). And I am sure you would agree that you could have a better marriage if he could get the problem under control. But I think your point is that all marriages have their unique struggles and while porn addiction brings it's own complicated issues into the marriage, it is not necessarily a reason to walk away if that is your choice. I really hope you find someone to talk to about it.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 1/12/2008 07:15:00 PM  

  • I read this post a few days ago when it was first posted and thought “of all the trials that I am going through—at least THIS isn’t one of them.” I apparently spoke too soon.

    Yesterday, I was being a nice wife and putting gas in my husband’s car before he left for work and while waiting for the tank to fill, I noticed a bunch of papers, folded in half, lying on the passenger seat. I, of course, picked them up to see what they were. Listed was several pages of adult websites (believe me, you could tell by the names) a few of which were written in his handwriting. I just sat there shaking and speechless. What do I do now?

    We don’t have a great marriage anyway. On the positive side, he works hard to support us (he is currently works two full time jobs, 80 hours a week), just so that I can stay home with our two kids. However, in 8 years of marriage, we have had sex 7 times—5 of which were because we were trying to conceive. We have no physical inter-action, he does not touch me or kiss me--except for a peck on the lips when he leaves for work.

    I considered leaving before we had kids just because of the lack of physical intimacy, but never did. I have brought it up numerous times, but he never wants to talk about it. I have brought up going to marriage counseling, but he refuses.

    I couldn’t sleep last night and kept weighing my options. I have decided that I can’t face being a single mom and going back to work full-time and having put my two kids in daycare (they are 4 and 2, so not even in school yet). I have already survived 8 years without any physical intimacy, I don’t want to ruin my kids’ lives by having them lose their father to divorce and their mother to working full time. I can’t even decide if I am going to tell him that I know. We are always arguing about finances and parenting issues—I can’t even face adding this to the mix.

    I know, you are going to tell me to pray about it—and I will, but last night I couldn’t even do that because I knew the “ugly” crying would begin and I just couldn’t face the wrenching sobs that I knew would come out of me. Forgive my rambling—it’s just nice to be anonymous and let it all out. (Sadly, this isn’t even “all of it”, just an abridged version).
    posted by Anonymous what to do now at 1/12/2008 09:21:00 PM  

  • what to do now -

    Wherever or whomever you are, know that you were in my thoughts and prayers all night last night (and today). I hope you will be blessed with the knowledge of what to do next, the strength to do it, and the perfect friend to listen and support you along the path - whatever it might be.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 1/13/2008 01:08:00 PM  

  • What to do now - I ditto what Carrie said. I am thinking about you, too. It is such a deeply personal situation and I hope that maybe you have a friend or family member that you can trust to confide in. In my experience with my marriage it is good to put it all on the table and deal with it. No matter how messy it is, at least it is the truth. For me that is the starting place. But I am not you. You're in my thoughts and I hope you feel inspired as to what is right for you and your kids and husband. And don't be afraid of the ugly cry.... that can be a good start too!
    posted by Blogger Beth at 1/13/2008 01:41:00 PM  

  • what to do now...I find closets to be very effective for the ugly cry...or the kitchen floor...there's always that...and it's a blessing you found this post because after you grieve a bit you will have some clarity and maybe see some support in these words that you didn't see in the first read....and you will pray and you will make the right very complicated emotional choices. You will.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/13/2008 04:15:00 PM  

  • What do to now, I thought about you all last night; you were in my prayers this morning. Know that you have our support here at Tales.

    I have to agree with Beth; lay it all out on the table. My husband and me have done that and it's a much more effective way to deal with whatever is going on (ie; kids/work/etc). It won't be pretty...but it will be honest. You owe it to yourself to tackle this head on...
    posted by Blogger Chloe at 1/13/2008 04:57:00 PM  

  • What to do now - and PS, the ugly cry is VERY theraputic...
    posted by Blogger Chloe at 1/13/2008 04:59:00 PM  

  • I commented earlier, but I wanted to come back and share some words with What to do now.

    Here's my long rambling take. I think it is rare that marriage turns out to be what you thought it would be when you got into it. Time passes, people change, relationships change. I reached a point in my marriage, a turning point, where I had to make the choice to stay or go. And, like you, I didn't want to be the single mom, to separate my family. My husband is an awesome dad. So I made a choice to stay, to make this relationship work within the new framework of my emotional availability. After forgiving and letting myself love again multiple times, and getting hurt multiple times, I finally decided that I could be married and happy and not let myself be open to that anymore. It's a sad compromise, but it's one I've decided to make. Sometimes, I get down on myself, thinking I'm weak or pathetic for settling for security. But mostly, I think I'm realistic, and I realize that there are some things more important than my 100% personal happiness. I don't think there's a RIGHT choice, I just know that right now, it's the right choice for me.

    Cry, let it out, be angry, be hurt, be disgusted, be whatever you feel. And then, after you get through some of that raw emotion, decide what you want to do - what you're willing to compromise on, what you're NOT willing to. And then do what it takes to make that happen. You are stronger than you think. Stronger than you feel right now.

    Also, counseling is great. If not for both of you, then go for yourself - it can be very helpful in clarifying how you feel.
    posted by Anonymous been there, done that at 1/13/2008 06:14:00 PM  

  • So sorry, What To Do!

    To generalize from the many addicts and their wives I've been involved in support groups with:

    Usually, men who are into secret sexual behavior get twisted expectations about their own wives, leading to inappropriate pressure about their looks or behaviors. the men think they are "meeting their needs" but once they get clean they realize it was selfish and abusive. these are the guys who nag about her not being available oftne enough, her not liking a certain sexual act, her needing bigger boobs or more time at the gym. He may often make suggestive comments or grope her when she's totally not interested, like in her sleep.

    But it is also rather common for men in this to shut down with their wives. They feel too dirty, to ashamed, too different. Maybe they're getting action somewhere else, maybe it is all alone and in fantasy. Often these men idealize their wife. She is perfect, he's a failure, he doesn't dare "dirty" her with his shameful sexual urges and he doesn't believe he has any healthy ones.

    Counseling all around. And the books I linked above. They come from Deseret Book or Amazon.
    posted by Anonymous been through this a few years ago at 1/14/2008 08:42:00 AM  

  • I am a 33 year old single woman that has never been married. Over the past 13 years I have been in and out of a relationship with a guy. Most of those 13 years we have been just friends. About 7 years ago we were dating very seriously and considering marriage. At that time, I couldn't commit to marriage & so we broke up. We did not speak to each other for many years. That whole time, I missed him immensely & always held a belief that we would some day get back together and marry when the time was right. In some ways, I just always "knew" that things would eventually work out. We have been talking again for over a year & have recently been considering the possibility of dating again. Last night he confessed to me that he is addicted to pornography. He started at a very young age when he was repeatedly sexually abused by his older brother. He was only 3 at the time it started. Over the years, he was repeatedly exposed to pornography & abuse. This is an addiction that has continued throughout his whole life. He has worked with multiple bishops and has gone through times where he does really well and then falls again to relapses. He has given up hope that he will ever be able to overcome it. He feels ashamed and repulsed by himself. I was shocked and horrified by some of the details he provided (not because he enjoyed talking about the details, but because he felt I should know). I feel very confused as to what I should do. My first instinct is to run as fast as I can. On the other hand, I do love this person very much. I know addiction is an illness and there is so much more to it than just shear will power. I feel my trust has been betrayed-- but at the same time, he came to me with the problem. Isn't admission the first step? Isn't this what the atonement is all about? Am I fool to even think of staying in this relationship? Am I blissfully naive to think it can be worked through? He has never treated me with anything but respect and kindness. None of his behavior towards me or others has ever been inappropriate that I am aware of. Am I putting myself and my future family at risk if I try to make things work out with him? I would be curious to hear some feedback from those of you who are at least wiser if not older. Thanks for all the comments that have already been posted. They have been insightful.
    posted by Blogger Is there hope? at 1/15/2008 12:02:00 PM  

  • is there hope,

    1. Just because someone is a Bishop doesn't mean He is qualified to be a psychotherapist/psychologist etc. This man needs some intense one on one counseling on a regular basis, and I would say he needs to do that for at least 1 year before you will even consider an engagement. The Atonement is an amazing gift that will save his life, but he needs help from someone other than Jesus to get better.

    2. Regarding Marriage. Do you love him? Well, I don't know if anyone will agree with this or not, but maybe get married outside of the temple and see how it goes. Don't get sealed until you know it's going ok...don't have kids until you are sealed. Is that crazy advice? It seems to make sense in this instance. Marriage might really help him....
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/15/2008 03:05:00 PM  

  • Is there hope, I"m sorry but I'd say to not pursue this relationship. It will probably end up causing you more heartache than it's worth...
    posted by Blogger Chloe at 1/15/2008 04:15:00 PM  

  • Is there hope...

    I know exactly what you are going through, I've been where you are (DH has porn addiction since teen and told me while dating) and I married him anyways. Do I have regrets, sometimes, but I do know that I prayed about him and felt that I was to marry him. We've been married 5 years with an almost 1 year old son and it has been a tough road at times. I would really give much thought and prayer about your situation. Please don't delude yourself to think that you won't be affected by it because you will. It will totally play on your self-esteem because you will keep thinking that you're not enough (real life women are rarely gagging for it as much as the girls appear in the porn) and you will wonder if he's really thinking of you as you make love.
    We've had good Bishops who have wanted to help but really it wasn't until he was referred to a counsellor that he liked (this is important!) that things began to get better. It is the type of thing that you and he can't do alone.
    I can't tell you whether to marry him or not, PRAY!! I am glad I married DH but it hasn't been easy and we both acknowledge that it is something that he will struggle with for the rest of his life. Unlike being an alcoholic you can't just stay away from places where porn is, soft porn is found everywhere, in ads and tv shows, I'm much more aware of it because of DH and I'm always looking to see if and how it has affected him. Again it is not an easy road and you have to be extremely strong because nagging does not work (it often make is worse) and you have to build him up when he's down even if you're going through a down time youself.
    Sorry if I've rambled a bit but once again PRAY!!! Good luck!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/17/2008 11:49:00 AM  

  • I know the one thing you don't tell your friend is to get a divorce. I have been dealing with this through much of my marriage and I can't tell you how many people bring it up "If my husband ever gets into porn I'm going to divorce him". It so painful to hear that and honestly it's a bunch of bunk. In the long run most of us stick with it, at least for a while because men can recover from there addiction. I personally have compassion for my husband, his step father made him watch porn with him before he was even in kindergarten, so I understand why it's so hard for him to completetly rid it from his soul. The church not only has a great 12 step program but also has counseling that is great. It really has been a wonderful thing for my husband to go through and so far he has stayed clean.

    If they won't go to counseling, then go by yourself. There is a 12 step program for women also because often we enable the situation.

    Occasionally the addiction is so bad that they need actual rehab. One of the women that was in my group, was having to watch her husband (literally watch) do it every night in there bedroom, he was so far gone, that I don't think what the church could offer was even enough. He needed inpatient rehab.

    For those thinking of marrying someone with this problem, I wouldn't, it's going to bring you a lot of pain, and unlike us that have already married and are having children, you have a chance to avoid it without all the baggage. You cannot imagine what it does to your marriage.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/17/2008 12:03:00 PM  

  • Is there hope -

    I think that only you can know whether or not you should marry this guy down the line. Everyone's marriages/relationships are different. We are all different people. You can probably find women who would be for it, or advise against it. I agree with Kage's #1. Bishops are not counselors, although I think it is probably important for both of you to meet with your bishop as well.

    I have know several great guys who have dealt with pornography addictions. A few of them are still single, and yes they will probably deal with it in their marriage - but does that mean they shouldn't get married???? The answer would probably be different depending on where each man is in his addiction, and who the woman is.

    I do know that marrying someone will not change them. The problems will still be there... maybe on and off your entire marriage. You have to know that before getting into it, and you have to say that that will be okay with you. It has to be journey you are willing to take with this person. But marriage will not necessarily change him.

    But yes, I think there is hope! With the atonement, a lot of prayers, ugly cries, counseling, some self-examination, and tons of hard work.
    posted by Anonymous Another Anon. at 1/17/2008 01:42:00 PM  

  • I'll go ahead and comment with my real name, since I've already used it talking about this in other forums, etc. At the same time, I know why many women don't want to talk about this in person. It's painful. It's personal. It makes you feel like a failure for somehow not picking the "right" person or for being married to someone who has such a problem. Although I agree that porn is a big problem, sometimes I wish we could tone down the rhetoric a bit so there wasn't so much shame in talking about it within our own families.

    As a friend, I think the best thing you can do is listen and support. Like others have said, don't do too much "bashing" or encouraging specific things like divorce. That's up to the individual. I love my bishop, but sometimes I feel uncomfortable with him because he thinks I should get divorced (my dh is also inactive), but I've prayed about it and don't feel like staying together is the right decision.

    Some other thoughts that I've told people before:

    1.Most men who are regular users of pornography will have a very hard time stopping, so recognize that regression rates are very high. The best way to measure progress is through attitude (does he want to quit, does he want to stay married), rather than absolute change.

    2. Shame drives most addictions, and the shame of using porn often leads to a cycle of using it even more to deal with uncomfortable feelings. Men need to find new ways to deal with their negative feelings instead of numbing them with porn. When I'm stressed I eat too much or yell at my kids; my husband looks at pornography. None of those are good healthy coping mechanisms.

    3. Porn use is not about you and it's not usually about sex. It's an addiction that comes as a way to deal with life. He'll probably be more susceptible to using porn when he's tired, stressed out, depressed, etc.

    4. Your job as wife/sister/girlfriend is not to be his enemy or his mother, but to be his ally. He is not the enemy; pornography is. You have to fight it together with him and make it your problem too.

    5. Don't start blaming all problems in your marriage on the pornography or on your husband. That is easy to do and it's easy to fall into the "good wife/bad husband trap", but marriages are much more complicated than that.

    All of this advice is based on the assumption that he wants to stop looking at porn. Some men don't want to. They are addicted badly enough that it has become more important than their family or other blessings.

    "What to do now"--I feel so bad for you right now. Discovering it is the worst. First of all, fast and pray about what to do. Second of all, sit down and decide what you want out of your marriage. Come up with some specific goals and ideas before you talk to your husband. Don't just make it about the porn; it's a symptom of deeper problems that are going on. Personally I think the amount of work he's doing is a big red flag. It's hard to have a strong marriage with one partner gone that often. Can you start working part time instead of one of his jobs? Can you move somewhere cheaper? Can he get a different job? You need to take a good look at yourself and then have a good, honest heart-to-heart with him about where your family is going and where you want it to go instead.
    posted by Blogger FoxyJ at 1/20/2008 04:37:00 PM  

  • Thanks for that last comment FoxyJ--have dealt with this in my own family and agree with you 100%. My dh has been "mostly clean" for three years, and we've healed a lot, but it could never have happened if someone had not given me similar advice.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/20/2008 10:32:00 PM  

  • So what about women and pornography? Has anyone had experience, either personal or from a friend, with a female porn addict?
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/20/2008 11:24:00 PM  

  • I guess I have several thoughts on the subject.

    I think it is extrememly important that we remember there is a difference between the occasional weakness and an addiction. A friend of mine thought because her husband had looked at porn a few times before marrige that he was an addict. I am not sure I agree-they have been married 5 or so years now and it hasn't happened since.

    A professional therapist is best equipped to assist in figuring out how to best assist. From how to address the situation, whether to stay or leave, etc. A professional therapist know what questions to ask-and there is no need to protect your spouse by witholding information.

    I would encourage anyone in this situation to get professional counseling. Even if your spouse isn't willing to go, you will be in a better place to deal with everything by going.

    I think it is important to remember that overcoming this and healing is a process, not something that happens overnight.

    I think that part of the LDS problem with porn is that so many men start so young before any sexual experience. When that happens they really have no idea what normal sexual relations are, what a woman looks like naked, etc. My non-LDS friends don't seem to have the same 'love' of porn because during the same stage they started watching porn they were fooling around with girls and seeing things in real life. I think that is part of the problem of it in LDS society.

    I wish everyone dealing with this the best of luck in sorting it all out. I know you all have a long road ahead of you.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/21/2008 06:58:00 AM  

  • Yes, women can do the porn thing. I know, because I have. I wouldn't say I am an addict because it is rare, and has gone years between exposure.

    To be honest I think it is rather boring after the first few times. Maybe it is because I am a woman and know how my body looks, feels and responds, but the fakeness is kind of a joke.

    Generally, when a man masturbates it becomes physical-they build up more sperm daily (in order to meet the bodies percieved need), and then the need for release is greater, etc. Women, don't have that same physical build up. Which is not to say they cannot become addicted to the release because of the endorphins.

    So yes, women can do the porn thing. In my case it didn't become an addiction because it got boring after seeing it a few times.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/21/2008 07:03:00 AM  

  • I know I am late with this comment. looks like the last comment was a few days ago. I kind of just found this Blog and feel like it is kind of a blessing that this post is here.

    Thanks to those of you who have commented. I am sorry for all of you and the pain that you are living in. (or have lived through)

    "What to do now"...my heart breaks for you. Our kids are the same age and honestly the kids have been my #1 reason for staying.My husband is a good guy, with a wonderful heart and I don't want that to end our marriage, but I don't know if I can stay if the porn never stops. It's too painful.

    You are all in my prayers and wish the best to you.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/26/2008 04:01:00 PM  

  • I too have this in my marriage. I have confronted him several times. He denies it and acts as if I am crazy. Then we get in a hugh fight and then after days we both pretend it never happened. I dont know what to do he thinks it isnt a problem.

    It is hard. It is always in the back of my mind. I dont know how my marriage will turn out. He is a good provider and loves my children. I dont trust him. sometimes people who are addicted will sacrifice things for there addiction and this is my fear. I am bracing myself and my kids for who knows what. I wonder what it will take to wake him up. I have prayed and the answer has not be to leave or devorce. sometimes that would be easier.

    I feel betrayed. I cant talk to anyone about it.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/28/2008 03:19:00 PM  

  • some things said here have been very helpful. It it good to realize it is not about me.

    It is also good to realize I am not alone. We have a good marriage outside of this. I believe it began long ago and he just hasnt overcome it.

    I just wish he could understand I love him and even as much as it hurts I would like to help him. That I will try hard not to judge him and know that it takes time and work.

    It is just that it is hidden and he wont let me help. I am worried it is going to get alot worse before it gets better.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/28/2008 03:23:00 PM  

  • Regarding entering a relationship with someone who has a porn addiction...the best advice I was ever given about marriage was to ask myself the following questions:

    (1) Can you trust this man with everything and anything?

    (2) If you had a son would you want him to turn out EXACTLY like this man?

    (3) If you had a daughter would you want her to date someone who was EXACTLY like this man?

    Just a few Q's to think about when pondering marriage with someone.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/29/2008 11:32:00 AM  

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