This is one of two articles by a wife and husband about the topics of pornography and sexual addiction. Their aim is to encourage a positive view of sexuality, sexual intimacy, and the law of chastity.
Over the years we had been married, we knew that my husband had struggles and a weakness with pornography. But as a couple, we were unaware of the signs that indicate addiction. Without this knowledge, I could not understand why he was becoming so distant; and as a consequence of his lies, I began to doubt my instincts and the promptings from the Holy Ghost that I had received.
When we were approaching the possibility of engagement, my sweetheart had confessed he had struggled with pornography in his past and repented of his sins through confession to a bishop. With the confirmation of the Spirit, I never doubted that he was to be my husband. I believed that the past is to be forgotten and left there, so that is what we did.
Understanding Addiction and Satan’s Deceptions
We unknowingly limited our understanding of the magnitude of his struggle. Because he had never shared the depth of his past, my eyes were limited to only the events that happened in our marriage. My husband thought he could manage this battle completely on his own. He didn’t want to admit to me, or even himself, how much he actually struggled. I felt like every time it happened again, I was on a ride that I had no control over the direction it would take. No one seemed to have answers for me beyond forgiving and moving forward.
My husband was in denial of addiction being a possibility, and I was continually kept in the dark of my reality. As a result, we fed ourselves Satan’s lies:
“He hasn’t participated in this for so long—maybe we just need to clean up our act a little.”
“Pornography is so prevalent in the world—maybe there will always be times of unavoidable struggle.”
However, as we have been fighting this foe, we have come to realize that any participation in unwanted behaviour, despite the desire to stop, is an addiction.
As my husband has been attending support groups to slay this monster, I have found myself in need of help. For him, confession initiated the wonderful feelings of repentance; for me, his confession opened feelings of pain and betrayal. In my experience, forgiveness doesn’t always initially result in ending anguish and heartache: the repercussions can last so much longer.
Realistically, I already know that my husband’s internal struggle has nothing to do with me, but I promise you that is not how it feels. Even when my husband was no longer participating in the behaviour, I was still suffering from the broken trust and relearning how to be vulnerable with my heart again.
I was also living with the lies that Satan is constantly throwing:
“You’re not enough.”
“Just give up, your spouse doesn’t want to be with you anyway.”
“You are not strong enough to forgive, let alone move forward. The pain is too unbearable.”
“This isn’t love. Real love wouldn’t do this to you.'
Needing and Finding Support
Like Alma the Younger, I can relate to the feelings of my earth shaking, falling to the ground, and becoming weak. As Mormon explained, “[Alma] became weak, even that he could not move his hands; therefore he was taken by those that were with him, and carried helpless” (Mosiah 27:19).
From those words, I knew that I needed friends who had experienced the same betrayal; friends who could understand me and support me; friends that carried the same scars. Satan wanted me to hide and suffer alone. He didn't want me to reach out to others.
Rosemary M. Wixom said it so beautifully: “As individuals, we are strong. Together with God, we are unstoppable” (“Keeping Covenants Protects Us, Prepares Us, and Empowers Us,” Ensign, May 2014).
In order for me to find healing, I sought the help and guidance of those who have walked—and are walking—this path. The Addiction Recovery Program and Spouse and Family Support Guide have provided support groups for spouses and family members that have helped heal and succour my soul.
Jesus Christ Can Heal Us
I have learned that I can truly forgive and be healed from the hurt I have experienced. I have learned that forgiveness is not believing that my husband’s actions are okay and that his choices don’t matter, or that I must forget and act like it never happened. Forgiveness is being able to acknowledge and work through the great pain I have felt and offer up all my feelings to my Saviour.
Jesus Christ is the source of my healing. I am continually learning that forgiveness is a process rather than a single event. With time and praying for assistance, forgiveness was and is possible.
My favourite scripture is 2 Nephi 10:20 where Jacob states: “And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea.”
Although I have been “driven out” of the life I had planned for myself, I know that I need to learn from Christ’s example and always remember Him. As I strive to live my covenants, I am allowing my Saviour to chart the waters and calm the rough seas that will come throughout my life. I know He is leading my family on a path towards the promised land.
There is no limit to God’s love, I know He has provided the path for my healing. Heavenly Father is aware of me and will not leave me comfortless, but it is my responsibility to reach out and use those tools He has made available for me. I have felt Him at those sacred addiction recovery and spousal/family support meetings through the words spoken, insights shared, hugs I have received, and the atmosphere as the Holy Ghost attends. I have witnessed the Savior’s love through the ministering words, hands, and actions of others.