So … in this mess of pornography addiction, marriage, and possibly in-the-flesh cheating, where does the ‘D’ word come into play, anyway? Let me just start by saying it’s not my place to tell anyone where that line has been crossed–you know the magical line that takes a relationship into a realm where divorce is the answer. I know wives of addicts wonder about this though. I know because they’ve told me. I also know because I was once the wife of an addict.
For some women, learning that their husband is an addict is enough. The end. Others live with it, struggle with it–for years or even indefinitely. And here’s my answer for all you ladies out there: One choice is not necessarily better or worse, right or wrong for every single couple. You will have to figure out what’s right for you, regardless of what anyone else says, and just go with it. Follow your gut. But also, be aware that time is a funny thing. Time can change things–for better or worse. Your path might be straightforward, or dynamic and ever-evolving. If you feel a change in the wind and the need to make a course-correction, trust yourself.
On the religious side of things, some scripture passages regarding divorce can get kind of tricky and even confusing. For instance, this one:Whosoever aputteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery. (Luke 16:18)
Wait! What? My ex is an adulterer, so if he divorces me and marries his mistress, he is still an adulterer, right?But, if I get divorced and remarried, I’m committing adultery too? Whaaa? This particular passage has troubled me a lot, but I recently found a theory that helped me make some sense out of it:
“The Lord then described a higher law of marriage: “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” (Matt. 19:9; [underline] added.) That is, in the spirit of a higher law, his statement suggests that those who divorce for reasons other than sexual infidelity and then marry someone else have unrighteously divorced, and they commit adultery; but the woman or man whose spouse commits adultery, thus breaking the marriage covenant, may choose to divorce the offending spouse and may marry again and not commit adultery.” (“I Have a Question” Ensign Jan. 1993)
This is just a small blurb. If you are interested, I highly recommend reading the full article. Basically, the gist of it is that in the Lord’s eyes, the ideal is no divorce whatsoever. However, because we are weak and imperfect, he has made some allowances. From the beginning, even in Moses’ time, the Lord has allowed divorce on the grounds of sexual infidelity. Other reasons aren’t so cut and dry. But pornography addiction is a funny one isn’t it? I’ve often heard people in the porn addiction recovery realm say that “looking is cheating,” for several reasons–not the least of which is because a true addict is projecting the majority of his/her sexual energy elsewhere, leaving nothing for the marriage bed.
Anyway … my point is this: It is natural for those of us, whether we are addicts or loved ones, to question our marriage relationships. We wonder, “When do I decide that enough is enough?” or “Do I dare mention the dreaded ‘D’ word?” (not as a manipulation, but as a real option). There are places to go for advice. We can talk to people about it until we are blue in the face. We can read the scriptures to find out what the Lord and church leaders have said about divorce in general. But when it all comes down to it, there’s just not a bar-none absolute right answer for each couple. In the end, you will need to make your own boundaries, set your own limits, and take action (or not) when you feel it is appropriate. It might not always be the easy way, but it’s the healthy way.