Before You Marry My Good-Hearted Son #hopelds

This is the second in a series of posts addressing education on and recovery from pornography addiction and betrayal trauma.  Please send questions that you have to hopeandhealinglds(at)gmail(dot)com.  

Keep following our series at hopeandhealinglds.com #hopelds or ldsmag.com, as we may address your questions in future posts.

 

Recovery from Pornography

Sister Carol Stephens, in a recent Face to Face discussion, advised young women to consider whether or not their prospective spouse has a “good heart.” My son has a good heart. He loves to serve others. He earned his Eagle Scout award and served on the leadership council in high school. He served a successful full-time mission. He continues to serve in his student wards [congregations] and Young Single Adult (YSA) church programs. When he is not in school, he is diligently employed to fund his college education. He has a temple recommend and attends the temple regularly. My son is known and loved by many people, inside and outside of the church. He’s just a good guy. He has a good heart.

But . . .

My son struggles with viewing pornography.

You wouldn’t know about my son’s struggles unless you asked him. My son represents many other young men and women who wish to have a healthy eternal marriage, but know his or her past behaviors could jeopardize their most righteous desires.

There is always hope through Christ; recovery from this sexual sin is possible. Significant research shows that 12-step programs can assist individuals in learning how to reach out and use the power of Christ’s atonement in the process of recovery and repentance from habitual or compulsive behaviors.  Those who recognize and continually utilize the powerful love of Christ in their lives will have a Christ-like love in their own hearts. They will have good hearts.

In order to know the heart of my son, I hope his future mate will ask questions and engage in honest and open discussions about sensitive topics. I hope his future mate will not only listen to the content of his answers, but will also watch how he answers. She should note if he is defensive, tries to evade answering the questions, or becomes angry. Such responses are often associated with attempts to hide the truth. There is so much shame associated with pornography that even “good-hearted” individuals may find it difficult to be totally open about their behaviors.

I hope my son’s future companion will be understanding and approach these discussions with prayer and listen to her own good heart so that my son will feel safe to share confidential and very personal information with her.

I hope any future spouse, male or female, will approach their loved one with these types of questions:

When did you last view pornography? This should be a discussion starter and not simply answered with a calendar date. Avoid details about what was viewed, but the time, place, circumstances, and feelings about the incident(s) are important to know.  Follow-up questions could include: When you saw the pornography, what did you do? How often do you view pornography?

This discussion could help discern whether the viewing of pornography is intensive, compulsive, or occasional (read “Recovering from the Trap of Pornography” by Elder Oaks for more information). With few exceptions, men masturbate while viewing pornography, so questions about masturbation or self-arousal might be asked. The partner’s willingness to share personal information and become clean in every way of all sexual sin is important.

What are you currently doing to recover from the trap of pornography? If it is apparent that pornography is an issue, there should be a plan in place to combat the problem. Scripture study, prayer, and meeting with Priesthood leaders are starting points. Depending on the level of involvement, participation in 12-step programs through the Church’s Addiction Recovery Program or other organizations should be a serious consideration as well as professional therapy from a qualified therapist with expert knowledge on this matter.

Do you know the difference between lust and love? Most young people will struggle to explain this.  With the prevalence of sexual seduction in social media and other sources, couples need to have mutually clear expectations and understandings on this topic. Here is some helpful information from the August 2006 New Era:

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offered this description of love: “True love elevates, protects, respects, and enriches another. It motivates you to make sacrifices for the [person] you love” (“Making the Right Choices,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 38).

Lust, on the other hand, is pretty much the exact opposite. Instead of elevating, it lowers. Instead of protecting, it endangers. Instead of enriching, it impoverishes. When you are feeling lust, you are thinking about the other person mainly as a means to satisfy your own physical desires. As Elder Scott taught: “Satan would promote counterfeit love, which is really lust. That is driven by hunger to satisfy personal appetite” (Ensign, Nov. 1994, 38).

What other pre-marital sexual activities have you been involved with? Individuals deeply immersed in the world of pornography sometimes engage in pre-marital sex and other serious sexual behaviors such as voyeurism, reading arousing literature, or obsessive sexual fantasies. This is an opportunity for both parties to be honest about their pasts and begin a relationship based on transparent and open communication.

I pray that any young woman who considers marrying my son will trust her heart and listen to the Spirit. She needs to know that the struggle with pornography is real and marriage does not make it go away. Sister Stephens gave very wise counsel:

“Do you know how the Spirit speaks to you? Because you’re going to need to know. You’re going to have to have the Spirit really close to you, to be able to work together on that, and to be able to discern whether this is going to work or not” (Face to Face for YSA).

There is always hope through Christ and He can be there to help couples work together as they battle the plague of pornography and sexual sin. Before marrying my son, I hope a righteous young woman will have the courage to ask hard questions, listen with understanding, and then follow the Spirit to know the next step to take in the relationship. That is my hope for all young couples.

~Avalon Vic

Additional Resources:

All Types of People Look at Porn (Including Women): See the Latest Stats

When Your Boyfriend Struggles With Porn

Other posts in the series:

Intro: What wives of sex addicts want you to know (see also the Meridian Magazine article; also featured on LDS Living)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

60 Responses

  1. These two articles were good to read. I have struggled with a sexual addiction for decades. It DID almost ruin my marriage, but we have worke dthrough much of it. I won’t say that I am free of it, but I am trying. And I want to go further. Ether 12:29 is something that I refer to constantly, and I pray that the Lord will lift me farther than I can myself.

    However, there is on ething to remember. being half-way with the efforts to remove yourself from ANY problem won’t get you out. You have to be committed and COMPLETELY serious. And that can be the hardest part to build up to. I know it is for me. I’m happy to sit in the rut, even though I know it’s in the middle of a busy road.

    Please love us adn help us feel needed and capable. Hoping we will change on our own and leaving us to it doesn’t do a thing.

    • TR,
      You are fighting a hard battle. I join your prayer that the Lord will lift you farther than you are able to do yourself.

  2. Ryan McKnight

    Seems a little over the top. First, he is lucky to have a temple recoommend. I have seen some bishops take them away for less.

    Second, it is a little creepy that mother is aware of their son’s porn viewing.

    Based on your description of your son, it does not sound like his porn viewing is affecting his productiveness in society. I would say that you need to let this go and stop shaming him, both privately and publicly.

    As for his new spouse, my suggestion is that they view pornography together as an enhancer to their sex lives. If she doesn’t want to do that, then it should be a don’t ask don’t tell policy…and as long has he is satisfying her in every way, there is no issue.

    • admin

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Here at Hope and Healing, we take an unapologetic stance that pornography is harmful, period, and that a wife has a right to know about her husband’s pornography viewing. So we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one, and we hope you will study more on the topic of the effects of pornography on society, individuals, and relationships.

      Also, as said on a previous comment, being forgiven by God and able to partake of ordinances is important, but it isn’t the be-all, end-all measure to whether someone will be a good fit as a life partner. Relationships take a lot more work than just having a recommend, and they take a lot of honesty and vulnerability to be founded on trust.

    • johnrpack

      Ryan, your plan is a good one — if you plan on being unattracted to your wife after a few years and getting a divorce. It also works if you want sex to be about your lust for some porn star rather than a unifying, tender, intimate bonding experience with your wife. But it’s a horrible idea for building an eternal, covenant marriage.

    • Lorena

      Ryan, exactly what kind of porn would you suggest a couple watch together? Gang rape porn? That’s a big category now. How about the kind of porn where she is slapped and called a whore? How can you be sure the people in the porn videos have not been sex trafficked? The people in porn are often drugged and high to get through the physical pain of “performing” so long, how does this help a loving committed couple? Should they watch group sex porn, will that increase a couple’s marital happiness? I could go on and on but let’s not delve too far into the mud. Here’s a great list of exactly what is super popular in porn today, fast forward to 40:00 minutes. http://radiowest.kuer.org/post/porn-and-public-health It is extremely graphic, but my guess is you already know how violent and degrading porn is, which once you know, it is beyond me how ANYONE can recommend it for couples.

      • johnrpack

        I don’t recommend Lorena’s video — or delving into exactly what kinds of porn are out there. I heard someone once say, “If it exists, the internet has porn of it.” That’s enough for me — and I believe it.

        But Lorena’s point is valid — a lot of porn is using exploited or trafficked victims. No good person would risk using porn for that reason alone. But the effect of the violent, self-centered, unrealistic, and crude images is crippling to healthy relationships. Just stay away — you’ll be much happier.

  3. NO NO NO! ” You wouldn’t know about my son’s struggles unless you asked him. My son represents many other young men and women who wish to have a healthy eternal marriage, but know his or her past behaviors could jeopardize their most righteous desires.” I read that as he messed up and no matter how much he repents he is a dirty sock that can’t amount to anything. That doesn’t sound like Christ. That doesn’t sound like the atonement. In a few paragraphs later it says that this young man has a temple recommend and attends often. That sounds like he has repented. Past sins need to stop being dragged up. PEOPLE CAN CHANGE.

    • admin

      If I may, I’d like to help clarify the purpose of this series, and make it so very clear what the position of Hope and Healing is on repentance and forgiveness. They are REAL and and possible. The Atonement is REAL, amazing, miraculous and essential for ALL of us. Please don’t misunderstand that.

      AND (not but, but and), to expect honesty from a future spouse about past sexual involvement or pornography problems or other serious behavior is not about denying the Atonement. It’s about starting a relationship with honesty, trust, and accountability.

      With apologies to this young man in the post, I believe it would be ideal if he were to bring up the topic. This isn’t about digging or dragging up old sins, but about being real about real weakness that has existed. Everyone’s got their stuff, and a future spouse has the right to know what he/she is signing up for. A true partnership helps each other with and through life, and you can’t do that for someone if you don’t know what they might need help with along the way.

      In short, it’s not denying the Atonement to be real about your weakness! Quite the contrary — to me it embraces the Atonement to not feel the need to hide from mortality and struggles, and to invite others into our lives with the kind of vulnerability that can keep the Atonement front and center.

    • Lorena

      People can change, you are right about that! Change is real and so are consequences. I wish that there were no consequences to my husband’s past, but there are and it would have been nice to know BEFORE I married my husband exactly what I was signing up for. Nobody has the right to make decisions for somebody else’s life. If my husband struggled with pornography for the 12 years before we were married (and he did) but he cleaned things up before we got married and had a recommend (and he did) are you seriously saying he shouldn’t have to tell me? Exactly 3 months after we married he returned to his addiction. The desire to compulsively act out on a sexual addiction is the consequence of that addiction. He had no right to sign me up for something I knew nothing about.

      • I have struggled with my wife “letting herself go” five years into marriage. She has blessed us with two children, but has struggled with her health and fitness goals. She has not made progress toward losing the baby weight. This has affected our sex life and my attraction toward her. It has affected her confidence and desire to be intimate. Her addiction is junk food and soda. The desire to act out compulsively and eat unhealthy food and drink is something I knew nothing about before we were married. She had no right to sign me up for something I knew nothing about. Right?

        Because of her unhealthy choices, combined with a near sedentary lifestyle, our sex life is negatively affected. But there is not a safe place for men to shame their wives about their weight or eating/exercise habits. At church we hear women talk about how much pornography has negatively affected their marriage relationships (or anecdotally), but no man is going to raise his hand and openly shame his wife about her weight and how that has negatively affected their relationship. And no husband signed up for a relationship where physical attraction wasn’t part of the equation. So women can place blame on porn. Men have no place to talk about a wife who has failed to put forth an effort to maintain an attractive physical appearance. Just seems like a double standard.

        • Whitney

          Hi Bryan,
          Hope it’s ok for me to reply to your comment, even though I think you were replying to Lorena.
          My husband is a pornography addict (he also feels that he has a video game and compulsive eating addiction) and I have a compulsive eating addiction, so I thought I could give you my thoughts on this.

          You draw many parallels between sex addiction and food addiction. Indeed, I believe that there are many similarities. Perhaps it would have been ideal for your wife to let you know about her problems with junk food and soda before marriage. I would ask though, did she have those problems before marriage? If not and they have developed since being married, it would have been difficult for her to disclose in the same way as we are encouraging young people to disclose pornography use.

          We talk in church about how pornography use is harmful. We also have a word of wisdom that tells us how to take care of our bodies. When a woman says something about pornography having negative effects on her marriage, is she “shaming” anyone? I don’t think so. She is simply stating a fact. If someone feels shame from a statement like that, that is an issue they need to realize and address within themselves. Would we say that someone standing up and talking about how breaking the word of wisdom is harmful to our bodies is “shaming” to those with eating or weight problems? No. It is simply truth.

          I get that standing up in church and saying that your wife’s weight has negatively influenced your marriage would not go over well. I’m sorry about that. Maybe there is a double standard. However, let’s keep a couple things in mind. Food addiction, in contrast to pornography addiction, does not cause me to objectify my spouse (fail to see them as a human being, and rather view them merely as an object to use to fulfill my compulsions) and does not fuel the slavery of thousands of people. My eating does not constitute infidelity to my spouse.

          In the end, all you can do is decide what you are willing to live with and what you aren’t. I have decided that if my husband is not diligently working to overcome his pornography addiction, I can no longer live with him. Perhaps you need to decide if your wife’s addiction is troubling enough to you that you need to set some boundaries around what your reaction will be should she decide to keep acting out with food. I would urge you to approach your wife with compassion on this and see her as I see myself and my husband–we have a genuine illness that we have no power over, and we need help from God and from others. If your wife is open to it, you could suggest Overeaters Anonymous to her. I have found so much help through that program. I don’t know if you struggle with sex addiction, but if you do, perhaps your wife is using food to cope with her trauma. That is what I did for 5 months until I started going to OA. http://www.oa.org

        • I am deeply sorry that your attraction to your wife is based so much upon her physical appearance, or perhaps I’m misreading your message. Through my husband’s sex addiction recovery process, as a couple, we have learned the joy of connecting on deeper levels. We all have our weaknesses and flaws. Real love teaches us to accept each other with all our warts and have empathy for one another. Empathy helps us understand the deeper issues behind any and all addictions. The real concern you should have for your dear wife is: what is the driving force behind her unhealthy eating habits? I can tell you that the number one shame issue for women is body image. I hope you never reinforce your wife’s shame about her body because you will get the opposite results you were hoping for. Shame seldom motivates change. Shame simply wears down self worth until many people give up. I agree with you. We need to stop shaming those who struggle with pornography or any other addiction and start trying to understand the issues on a deeper level and with more empathy. This does not mean we tolerate the inappropriate behavior, especially when it involves sin. It simply means we act with compassion and with an extended hand to help rather than shame.

          Something to think about: Body image is the number one shame issue that women deal with (see research by Brene Brown). When husbands look at porn, wives feel an intense amount of shame about their bodies. Addictions thrive in shame. Empathy is the antithesis of shame.

        • admin Michelle

          Bryan,

          If you are struggling with the impact of your wife’s addiction, I will say the same thing I say to women who come to the Hope and Healing forum: Hope and healing are possible for you, regardless of what your wife chooses to do. I would encourage you to seek out professional and 12-step support. The impact of addiction — any kind of addiction — is real. There are multiple -Anon programs that would testify to this.

          OA has information for loved ones (https://oa.org/newcomers/for-family-and-friends/). I would encourage you to reach out to groups like that, or to the Church’s LDS family support program, or to healingthroughchrist.org (their workbook for loved ones is excellent). There is also an LDS forum for all sorts of addiction issues here: http://ldsar.org/BlogsByCategory.aspx?CatId=1. There are also LDS meetings online and by phone available through Heart t’ Heart. http://heart-t-heart.org/

          You might also benefit from attending an OA meeting or a general addiction meeting for the Church to understand more about addiction works. Healing for spouses is really hard without understanding about addiction. It can feel like the addiction is a personal affront, but the reality is that your spouse’s addiction is not about you. She’s trapped in a cycle that affects you, but there are things you can do to find peace and healing in spite of that.

          You are not without resources! I hope you will prayerfully ask God what you can do to find healing. If your energy is focused on her and what you think she should change, you are in your own trap that will hijack your peace and spiritual health. It’s one of the hardest lessons for loved ones of addicts to learn and to come to see.

          The principles of recovery really are the same for addicts of any stripe, and they are the same for loved ones. I hope you will do all that you can do to find healing from the pain and anger you are feeling. God desires you to have peace. Again, these are similar things I would say to women affected by their husband’s porn addiction. When addiction is present in a marriage, each spouse has a journey to walk. I hope you will lean into this journey that has been presented to you. Right now you feel like you have been robbed of something, but in time, as you find healing from the impacts of addiction, you can come to see that God can consecrate even the hardest things in ways you can’t now imagine. Healing for loved ones is not easy, but it is possible, and there is amazing truth and spiritual growth that loved ones can find in the process. Christ can be found in the process!

  4. Thomas

    While I respect the good intent with which this article was published, I could not disagree more with the content, and have heard several devotionals which also disagree. I wish I had written down the many LDS apostles and prophets cited as sources in these devotionals to share, but as I did not, I hope I can convey the message of them briefly.
    The only person who should be digging through your past behavior this internsley is your bishop (or stake president). They have authorized priesthood keys to help you repent and see the problem for what it is. Unfortunately, most young people do not have the experience or knowledge to use that sort of information appropriately.
    Bringing up past sins will not help strengthen your marriage, in fact, it offers Satan ammunition for future arguments or disagreements. Although the original conversation may take place with an intention of love and respect, the information can so easily be used later to sling guilt or blame at your spouse when those feelings evaporate in the heat of a fight, causing far more problems.
    If God has forgotten and forgiven, and Christ has paid the price for their mistakes, it is not your place to drag them back up, even if you are getting married. That is denying the atonement.
    If the person has a current temple recommend, their past is irrelevant. You are basically saying that you are better qualified to judge if the person has truly repented than their bishop, stake president, or even God himself. That’s awfully prideful. People worry that perhaps their partner lied in their temple recommend interviews. If they lied then, when God was a witness, what makes you think they won’t lie when it’s just you? That is not a problem of worthiness, but of integrity, and asking these questions will be of no benefit in that case anyway. There are deeper issues to deal with.
    While I fully understand the desire to best understand and help a future spouse, these questions do not accomplish that. I would suggest asking, “Is there anything about your life from the past or present that would prevent us from getting married in the temple? Is there anything you would like me to know about so that I can better understand and help you?” Those questions allow the person the opportunity to tell their partner of sins or mistakes if they are relevant without creating a potentially damaging interrogation.
    If you have selected a partner who is honest, and if their bishop and stake president grant that person a temple recommend, that should be enough for you. After all, it’s enough for God. Marriage is a relationship of mutual trust. You need to trust your future spouse enough that if you ask open questions like I mentioned, they will give honest and open answers, without feeling the need to specifically ask about every single possible sin. In that way, you will not only get the answers you need to have a solid marriage foundation, but you will take significant steps to strengthen the bonds of trust and respect for one another.

    • Whitney

      Thomas, thanks for your comment. We certainly understand that there are those who will disagree with the content we post here, and that is ok. As wives of men with pornography and sexual addiction, women with strong faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, and as active LDS women, everything that we post, however, we believe in 100%. When we married our husbands in the temple, we trusted that they were telling us and their bishops that they were indeed worthy to do so. It was enough for us. In our cases, we were wrong. They lied to us, to their ecclesiastical leaders, and to themselves. The point of these questions is not to “dig through pasts,” but to provide an opportunity for honesty, which is the foundation of trust, the foundation for a marriage. We ALL wish we had asked our husbands these questions. These questions do have the potential to help to understand and assist a future spouse with pornography and sexual addiction. Open and honest discourse will strengthen marriages. Hiding and minimizing will not. Addiction is a serious illness that requires continual effort to maintain recovery. That is why these questions are so important.

      I will also quote from our admin Michelle who answered some concerns similar to yours on the LDS Living Facebook Page:
      “A sexual sin truly repented of is forgiven by God. That’s just true. To be honest with a potential spouse is not about judgment, it’s about honesty. If that person ends up being judgmental, then that would be important information for you, too, no? I can’t imagine a person not having that information, though. It would be important even for physical reasons. Even a forgiven past life can carry consequences like STDs that a person deserves to know about. It’s so critical, imo, to separate out the repentance process and the practical elements of building a foundation of trust, honesty, and openness right from the get-go of a relationship.”

      “I think the point of the article is that a person considering marriage should be able to know how extensive a pornography problem has been, for the sake of being able to have information with which to make an informed decision. AND the flip side of the purpose of this series is to encourage people (women in particular) to not run from a dating relationship at the first mention of pornography. I hope that readers can read some of the other posts in the series to understand that this isn’t about denying the Atonement. The Atonement is real. AND pornography is a tricky wicket. Repentance from past sin will not always equal recovery from the roots of compulsive/addictive behavior, and a willingness to be real and honest is foundational to ongoing recovery. In a phrase, repentance is not recovery. There are practical elements of recovery …and that is the purpose of this series, to raise more awareness about that, from the perspective of women who have learned the hard way that there is more to it all than is often understood.” (emphases are added by me)

      Thanks again for your comment. We appreciate comments like yours so that we can further the discussions around these difficult topics.

    • Lorena

      Thomas, this is indeed tricky, isn’t it? We are taught that when we repent God remember’s our sins no more, so it would almost make sense that our future spouse shouldn’t have to know about them. If I take medication for a bi-polar disorder, should I tell my future spouse? I think most people would say yes I should. Well how is this different? We are honest with our future spouse not because something is or isn’t a sin but because illnesses and addictions have lifelong consequences.

      A future spouse should share anything in their past or present that will affect their marriage. I had a right to know about my husband’s sexual past because (while he was worthy of that temple recommend when we got married) his past would affect MY future. He hid it from me, probably because he had repented. The pain at having to discover his double life on a computer screen is beyond any pain I have ever felt in my 42 years of life. Please, please do not misunderstand our writings here. We are not pretending to be God, demanding confession of sins, we are strong LDS women who are trying to spare the rising generation the unbelievable pain and heartache no one spared us.

  5. I’m a convert who joined the Church in my early 20’s.

    I was exposed to porn in my own home when I was around 11 years old. I became addicted to it through my teenage years and it lead to other sexual behavior which was viewed as normal and even healthy by society. I dated several young LDS women and I wasn’t a good influence on them and I knew it was wrong.

    Before joining Church I sincerely repented and was married in the Temple a few years later. However I continued to struggle off and on for many years especially during early years of marriage. Although I always held a Temple recommend and was fully active and could go long periods without a problem, it became so easy to view on my computer that I occasionally gave in in a weak moment. I can’t count the number of times I repented over the years.

    Porn can become an addiction just as much as alcohol or drugs. Just because you have repented, confessed to your Bishop and hold a Temple recommend, doesn’t mean it’s not always in the background waiting to snare you and relapse during a week moment and most likely will. As I got older fortunately it became less and less of a problem.

    I’ve had a happy marriage for over 30 years, but porn has clouded my view of sex and still does to this day. I wish it was as open to discussion as it is now before it got such a grip on me.

    Although awkward, porn should be discussed by couples thinking of marriage. It can and does cause grief and like any addiction can be very harmful to a marriage. Since we are all imperfect beings, we may have to repent many times until we finally are strong enough to stop for good.

    That’s why it should be discussed.

    • Whitney

      Thank you Ray for sharing your experience.

      • “That’s why it should be discussed.” Your last statement says it all. Thank you for validating the thoughts shared in this article.

    • admin

      Ray, thank you so much for sharing your experience and understanding the purpose of this series.

    • I would say Ray’s experience is pretty typical of most men in the church. We were exposed to it at a young age, we became addicted, we repented, relapsed, repented, relapsed, etc. And he is exactly right, even though it is awkward we should be discussing pornography. It is a serious problem and our youth, both male and female, need to understand it so that they can be prepared to deal with it in the relationships.

      The last time I spoke with my bishop about my problem, he asked me if my wife knew about it. He said that she should be one of the first to know because she is my biggest supporter.

      • Whitney

        Since honesty is absolutely crucial to recovery, there is no doubt that a spouse should be told about addictive behaviors. Some wives may be able to be a supporter, but many (most?) wives are going to feel that they were just hit by a semi truck. I know because I’ve been hit by the truck. So there is likely going to be a long period where a wife is going to need to focus on her own recovery from this devastation before she can be supporting her husband in recovery in a substantial way. That is why it is so, so important that a husband and a wife each have their own recovery communities (consisting of therapists, groups, sponsors, friends, family members, ecclesiastical leaders, etc) to reach out to for support. It is likely that some time will have to pass before they can really start to support each other.

        • My wife has known about my porn addiction since we were dating. We had a discussion about it and were both on the same page. We have been married for 9 years. After reading the articles on this site, I asked her if she had ever felt betrayed when I had had a relapse. I was surprised when she said she had at the beginning of our marriage, like she was not good enough of a lover/spouse. I hadn’t realized that even knowing about my problem didn’t prevent her from having feelings of betrayal. She has learned a lot more since then, and knows now that it isn’t because there is something wrong with her, but there is something wrong with me. She has also learned to sympathize as she has had to confront the problem herself when dealing with loneliness while I was gone for military training. We have a very special relationship and are able to understand each other’s problems.

          • Will,
            We need to hear more stories like yours. I think it’s crucial for young men, like my son, to know that there’s hope, that it’s possible to have a long-lasting relationship, and that it’s possible to have a spouse that is able to understand the true nature of this issue. Bless your wife for having the ability to learn and realize that this has nothing to do with her. I wish you and your wife the best as you both continue your journey toward a healthy and joyful relationship, but most of all, as opportunities arise, I hope you both have courage to share with others what you have learned. We really need to have more open discussions about this so people no longer feel the need to hide in shame. Thank you for bravely sharing your story here.

          • Whitney

            Will, that is great that you told your future wife about your addiction while dating. I believe that in doing so, you lessened the trauma she felt when you acted out in your marriage. However, as you pointed out, it didn’t completely prevent the feelings of betrayal and inadequacy. I am glad that our articles have helped you learn a bit more about your wife’s journey.

            Your wife has obviously done a lot of learning and work to come to a place where she realizes that your addiction is not about her. It takes many women a long time and a lot of recovery work to get to this point. Kudos to both of you. I am very happy that you are both enjoying your marriage and working toward full intimacy with each other. That is awesome.

  6. This smells like the pot calling the kettle black to a certain extent or maybe even a touch of Munchhausen by Proxy. To address this addiction with a gender bias is to reveal a complete disconnection with reality. Porn in all of its forms and gradations, male and female, soft to hardcore is woven through just about everything. This is not to say that this or any other addiction should be tolerated.

    The brain is plastic. Each cell can be re-tasked to rebuild any structure that is needed as evidenced by patients who have lost large sections of their brains to traumatic injury but have been able to regain functions that were formerly managed by the missing portion of their brains. This suggests to me that with a change of behavior the brain can change.

    I don’t believe for example that same sex attraction is the root cause of the associated behavior but rather a result of the behavior which would include habits of thought early on in life. But even then, the brain can be reformed through behavioral changes.

    The definition of porn can be extended to include anything that triggers the overproduction of chemicals (dopamine for example) in the brain that causes the brain to remove receptors for that chemical to attenuate its effect. Porn isn’t just pictures. It can be the written word. It can be a drug. It can be a philosophy, religion or culture. It can be anything that ties the sexual drive in men and women to any undesirable behavior. Some women for example get an extreme dopamine dump after spending every dime and maxing out every line of credit that they and their spouse have. Others get a charge out of subjugating others through manipulation, shaming, gossiping or treating others as if they are less then themselves.

    The sex drive between men and women is necessary or they would have nothing to do with each other. However, It feels like you are sabotaging your son’s future through some gender based allegiance that exceeds the mother/son bond. By arming young women with information that they can use to shame, manipulate or control your son seems to belie a naiveté of the motives of many young women who seek to incorporate your son’s life as well as that of others into their personal financial independence plan.

    Why would side with female strangers over your son? I’m curious.

    • admin

      aguyiknow,

      You’ve seem to have a good understanding of how the brain can get addicted to any type of behavior that brings a dopamine rush. We hope people will take the time to get more educated about this.

      You have, however, misunderstood this post and the series. This is not a “gender-based alliance” against men. A key purpose of the series is to encourage young women to be educated so that they WON’T reactively shame young men that they date.

      This woman’s son will, I hope, learn to share his truth at the right time so that a young woman would not need to take the initiative to ask questions. He also will have to be alert and attentive and aware and ask his own questions and trust his own process so that he doesn’t fall for someone who would want to manipulate or control him. We do not in any way desire to support such behavior.

      A true partnership is just that — a partnership. This series has a limited, focused purpose, which is to give wives of those who wish they’d understood more about addiction before marriage a chance to share what they wish they had known. Please don’t misunderstand it as being anything more than that.

    • Why? Because I love my son dearly! And love does not support self destructive behavior. Viewing porn hurts my son’s ability to achieve true intimacy (and I’m not talking only sexual) with others. It leaves him empty and desperate for real connection, but caught in a vicious cycle with lust that can never be satisfied. Because I love my son so much, that is why I tell his future spouse. (Actually, I don’t. That is first my son’s responsibility. I would just be a second line of defence if he would not.)

      I know the hurt and pain of being deceived by my own husband. I would never wish that on my daughter-in-laws! They definitely have a right to know to keep themselves safe and in order to learn how not to enable him if they choose to stay.

  7. Susan

    To the gentleman who suggested that his wife view porn together with him is like saying do the drug with me or let’s go get a drink together – porn is porn and married or not it will only serve to destroy the self and eventually the partnership.
    But I emphatically disagree that past addictions …. PAST… being the operative word …. should stay in the past. There is no good that comes from digging it up and reminding the mind and body of old feelings. The past is only good when working with archeological findings! In the immortal words of Elsa – LET IT GO!

    • Whitney

      Thank you for your comment Susan. We have addressed in the previous comments why we disagree with the motto of “let the past be the past.” A marriage needs to be built on honesty and trust. We do believe that talking openly and honestly about these things will lead to stronger relationships and marriages. Letting the past stay in the past hasn’t worked for us in our marriages, so we’re spreading the word to help others avoid the pain we have had to go through.

  8. As a single young woman and a sister of someone with these problems, I want to thank the author of this post for your honesty and the information you shared. I have to admit to finding some of the comments really disheartening, though. I know we’re all trying to be Christ-like and do the right thing, and we don’t want to hurt anyone or be hurt, and I do understand repetence and recovery, and people do deserve second chances, but the fact is that you’re not the only one in the relationship and what affects you also affects everyone who cares about you. If you have a problem and you’re seriously considering marrying someone, you should respect that person enough to tell them about it because they have to deal with it, too. And yes, recovery and repentance are important, but that doesn’t make it disappear–it still changed your life and affected who you are. Denying it happened seems like denying your own strength in overcoming it. More than that, the person you’re entering a relationship with has their own weaknesses and problems. Maybe telling someone about that addiction will hurt the relationship, maybe it causes arguments and distrust sometimes, maybe they can’t get past that, but that person has the right to have those feelings and make that decision, and you have to respect that, because they’re imperfect and growing as a person, too. And maybe the person actually understands and appreciates your honesty and is willing to work through a marriage where people aren’t perfect but who are working to do better.
    I’m not perfect by any means, and I’ve got my own problems that I’m dealing with, but I’d want the person I marry for eternity to respect me enough to understand my own problems and be supportive of me, and I’d want him to expect the same.

    • Whitney

      Thank you for comment K. We wholeheartedly agree.

  9. James

    I am getting really sick and tired of these portrayals of young men who have seenba naked woman as if they are eternally scared. That they are damaged goods. You know what? His future girlfriend probably saw porn also. Yes. Girls look at it too and in equal numbers. No neither of them are scared for life.

    This focus on porn is starting to take on a life of its own. It is starting to resemble more of a cultural fad than true doctrine. Much like the over focus the Word of Wisdom got back in the 80s. It became the in thing in Mormon circles to go overboard on applying the Word of Wisdom. Now the Church has backed off it to the point that church discipline no longer applies to violations of the WOW.

    The reaction to porn is very similar. These kids are NOT damaged goods. Stop treating them like it.

    • Whitney

      James, may I ask what in this article made you feel that we are labeling those who struggle with sexually compulsive behaviors as “damaged goods?” I am sorry if this is the message that you are getting from our posts. We understand that this is one of Satan’s lies. Our church culture is unfortunately very shaming about this issue, which is why no one wants to talk about it. We of all people understand the worth and value of the souls of those who struggle with these issues. They are our husbands and sons, fathers and brothers. We love them deeply and so does God.

      We agree that accidental exposure, which will happen to virtually 100% of young people (both boys and girls) in our day, is no sin. Elder Oaks made that very clear in his recent article. Our posts are not aimed at those who have had accidental exposure. They are for those men and women who find themselves wanting to stop viewing pornography, or reading erotic literature, or masturbating, or doing any other compulsive sexual behavior but find they cannot do it by themselves. Our posts are written by women from our personal experiences, so they have a woman’s viewpoint, but we have tried many times to make it clear that we understand that this is not just a man’s issue. Many, many women also have this addiction and need help. Our posts apply to everyone. We do not see this as a fad, but a true plague. The estimates of the numbers of men and women who are struggling with this in and out of the Church are truly staggering. We believe we are disseminating vital information and we will keep doing so, because recovery and healing has changed our and our families’ lives for the better, and we want to spread the message that hope is out there.

      • James

        By suggesting that a future girlfriend will have to give him a pornography interogation presumes that he is still damaged goods. And I was not talking about accidental exposure. Young women today view porn just as often as young men. And very often are producing it via sexting, just like the boys.

        Are the boys supposed to quiz their girlfriends about past boyfriends and how many times they made out in a back seat? Should they delve into past drug experiences? Ridiculous. There is no more healing or repentance that can come from rehashing old sins.

        If repentance is your goal then you are doing yourself no favors in supporting the false doctrine of eternally repenting for the same sin.

        If a young to-be couple chooses to share their respective pasts then that is their choice. But to expect eithet one to do it presumes they have not fully put it behind them.

        • Whitney

          “By suggesting that a future girlfriend will have to give him a pornography interrogation presumes that he is still damaged goods.” We disagree. We presume no such thing and we do not encourage young people to presume the same of those that they date who have a problem with pornography. Please see the above comments for the reasons why we are encouraging this type of conversation before engagement and marriage.

          “Young women today view porn just as often as young men. And very often are producing it via sexting, just like the boys.” I believe the research shows that young men still view porn more often than young women, although the numbers of young women are rapidly climbing. You are correct that young women do frequently participate in sexually inappropriate behaviors however, including sexting and reading erotic literature. As I addressed above, we are fully aware of the problem among young women. Saying that this is also a problem among women does not make it any less a problem among men. Again, our posts are meant to apply to both men and women who may find themselves struggling with these behaviors, or men and women who find themselves dating or married to someone who does.

          Yes, we encourage young men to ask these same questions to the young women they date. The post addressed this with the line “I hope any future spouse, male or female, will approach their loved one with these types of questions.” They can ask about making out if they like, but the more important question, as covered in the post, is if they understand the difference between lust and love–often making out is totally lust driven, and that could be a concerning behavior. Past drug experiences would be something that I personally think should also be discussed. If you think this is ridiculous, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, but we disagree.

          By suggesting complete honesty before marriage, we are not asking for “eternal repentance for the same sin.” Please read the above comments to understand why we believe honesty in marriage, even for sins that have been repented of, especially when talking about pornography, is so extremely important.

          “But to expect either one to do it presumes they have not fully put it behind them.” Again, we disagree with your conclusion here. Having an honest, open, ongoing discussion about these topics, along with observing recovery behaviors, is what will alert a prospective spouse to the fact that someone may or may not have “put these things behind them.”

        • Lorena

          James, I wish you could see how unbelievably proud we are of our husbands, brothers, sons, and yes, daughters, who have forsaken sexual addictions, did (and continue to do) all the messy hard work like counseling and 12-step groups that is required to abstain from sexually compulsive behaviors. I am so proud of them!! It is a testament to real change, to the Atonement giving each of us a new heart, and the possibility of a better life for each one us.

          How is my knowing about my husband’s sexual past shaming him or drudging up old wounds? He should be proud of his ability to overcome, and indeed my husband is so proud! Please do some research on shame, reading Brene Brown’s books or watching her TED talks is the best info out there on shame research. We need to know each other’s past not to shame or mark with a scarlet “A” but to be part of the solution, to continue to aid him or her on their quest for sobriety. This is something to be super duper proud of. We all have a “thorn in the flesh” like the Apostle Paul, let’s remove the shame and stigma surrounding addictions. Let’s all be proud of what we have overcome. We have taught our teens that their dad is like Alma the Younger, he gets a fresh start too. When my children marry they know what questions to ask, they know not to be afraid, they know that everyone has made mistakes and then they’ll be ready to say “let’s do this together, thank you for your honesty, how can I help?”

        • James,

          If a girlfriend you were getting serious with in in the past had a drinking problem, took illegal drugs or had out of control spending habits, (we could add many other things) would you want to know about it?

          I hope so because there are things in our past that can have an effect on how we behave in the future. Ask any family counselors how often it happens that problems in a marriage happened because one spouse didn’t know something important about the others ones past.

          Discussing these types of things isn’t meant to make them feel like damaged goods. We are all sinners but it’s smart mature thinking to want to know more about the person you are making an eternal commitment with.

  10. Little_Nauvoo

    As a youth I was surrounded by pornography at home (nobody are LDS church members). My father delighted in having us look at the images in magazines or nude posters on the walls in the study. At times he would ask me to go buy the cigarettes and magazines for him (before the times when it was regulated). Even though I considered myself a good boy at the time and very naive, I would never realise until later how those things would affect my life. My mother must have been an angel because I never saw her complain about it even though it must have hurt a lot. My father encouraged my brother and I to be social at university and offered condoms to experiment. I would just blush and told him I’m not interested – I had never even dated and was very shy. At university I was again introduced to pornography though fellow students – and I suppose, gradually it had interested me more. I still considered myself fairly moral because I never slept around but with pornography came masturbation and the addiction that that can lead to. I was living away from home so never really knew what was going on at home. Then a few years later a bombshell revelation came forth. My father had been exposed by family for some serious immoral behaviour. Court trials was held over time and sentencing was the outcome. Being the proud person that he was he tried to change before the sentencing to jail. He ended up taking his own life. By this time I had become a member of the LDS church. I still struggled with occasional lusts for pornography and masturbation but knew it was wrong and I never felt good spiritually afterwards; so I always repented and prayed for strength to overcome temptation. Those lustful desires ended up getting me in trouble for things I would forever regret. I have wept many days for my weaknesses and almost lost my church membership (and am still under probation). I feel I am on the way to healing and have learnt to despise the evil of pornography. I have never judged my father for evil because I experienced first-hand the gradual decay that it results in – it warps your mind’s understanding and desensitises you to what is considered normal. I have been self-studying the 12 step program and find it to be very good. I hope that some time soon I will be able to have restored my full membership. It has been a 2-year struggle that I wish I can warn other people about. It is not worth it. I don’t and can’t blame my father for my demise. I love him even more now knowing the pains that a damned soul feels – it is not nice. If I could take it all back I would. It is not worth it. It has hurt my family and broken trusts – that is the hardest thing I will forever have to live with because, as another person has mentioned – people can and do use it against you; and I feel I deserve it when they do – it helps me keep in remembrance my sins and strengthens my conviction to stay away from it. Pornography is now all around us and only a millisecond away on the internet. I warn any of you dabbling with it to leave it alone, it is so not worth it and it will lead to more serious sins. Learn from my dad and I. My repentance process has been very hard; I still find it hard to forgive myself because I will forever see the hurt and doubt it caused my wife and family. I look forward to have a clean slate again and to be able to hold a temple recommend again. I don’t expect my family to ever forgive me; my sweetheart tries but it is so hard and it always re-surfaces. That is what hurt so much. I feel it a much worse sin than word of wisdom issues, much worse. Listen to the prophet’s voice and avoid it like a plague; I beg of you. Please love the sinners too – it is a lone road to travel when repenting:'(

    • Whitney

      Little_Nauvoo, thank you for sharing your experience. We grieve with you that you have had to deal with this incredibly difficult illness and trial in your life. We are so glad that you are working towards repentance and recovery.

      If I can offer you some advice, it would be to rethink your approach to your 12 step work. We have noticed, from hearing the stories of many women with loved ones in addiction, that those who reach out of isolation in their recovery are much more likely to find lasting sobriety and healing, and truly make a new lifestyle for themselves that does not include sexually compulsive behavior. The 12 steps were not meant to be done as self-study, although I am sure self-study can be helpful. 12 step programs, to be truly effective, should include regular group meeting attendance, continually working through the steps, and regular contact with a sponsor. I hope you will consider adding group meetings and working with sponsor to your recovery plan. You will find both to be incredibly powerful in your recovery and it will make a huge difference in your life.

      We have also found that forgiveness seems to be a natural consequence of personal healing. Just as you have to do certain things to recover, your partner also must do specific things to find recovery. As she does so, it will become easier for her to forgive this. It may still take months or years, but as long as she is suffering from the trauma of betrayal it will be difficult to forgive. The trauma will not simply disappear even if you find recovery. It is something she must do herself. We strongly recommend that partners and spouses attend a 12 step support group (some good ones are SAnon, SA Lifeline, or Healing through Christ). We would love to have your sweetheart join us on the hope and healing forum (see link at the top of our webpage) so that she can reach out and find solidarity, information, and support from other women who have suffered as she has.

      The opposite of addiction is connection. You will need to connect to others who have gone through what you have and who have found recovery in order to find recovery and stay in recovery. Same for your partner. You will both need to maintain these connections throughout your life in order to avoid slipping back into old, familiar (albeit destructive) behaviors.

      God bless you in your journey. You are courageous and you are loved. We are all sinners and we all need love.

      • Little_Nauvoo

        Thanks Whitney…

        I wanted to do the 12-step program but we live in a small rural town and small branch. I did not have access to this program. I recently started a new job and in my new branch I noticed a missionary couple is teaching the 12 step program – but they leave their mission in less than a month. I have confessed my sins to my branch president but there are just some details that I will not feel good about talking in front of a group of people – especially members who have known me for a long time. My wife and I have had a hard relationship since we married 16 years ago. We have attended family counselling once before and that was a really bad experience because my wife gets really nasty and throws the dirty laundry on the floor for everybody to hear. I cannot imagine doing the 12 step program with her there; she has no shame in front of other people and will delight in publicly humiliating me. She has done that on a number of occasions already since I’ve started my repentance process. It would be so hard to sit in front of a group of people all talking about having problems with smoking or drinking and then for you to say what your much worse moral issues have been.

        • johnrpack

          I know it’ll be hard, but I suggest couple’s counseling — even if your wife airs the dirty laundry. She needs to get out what she feels and learn, from a third party, to do it in couple’s counseling only — and learn how it undermines your recovery when it’s used to humiliate you. But whether she’ll agree to that or not, I hope you seek out what assistance you need for your own recovery. My prayers are with you and others I know with the same addiction.

        • Whitney

          I understand your concerns over this. One of the key principles of 12 step groups are anonymity–what is said in the group, stays in the group. If you do not have an in person meeting in your area, or you are not comfortable with in person meetings, I would urge you to use a phone meeting. There are meetings specifically for pornography only so everyone there has the same addiction and challenges that you do. Those are even more anonymous. These would not be something your wife would do with you. She needs to attend her own meetings and you need to attend yours. Please go to the church’s website https://addictionrecovery.lds.org/find-a-meeting?lang=eng and click on “phone meetings,” “Individuals who struggle with addiction,” and type in your zip code. It will pull up a list of meetings. Go to the left hand side and click only on “pornography addiction.” (These meetings are called PASG meetings: Pornography Addiction Support Group meetings). You will then see all the phone meetings available to you and how to participate. My husband’s favorite phone meeting is run from 2 states away from where we live. We also live in a rural area and sometimes it is hard but there are resources out there for us, you just have to look for them. Sexaholics Anonymous can also be very helpful, go to sa.org and you can get info for phone meetings there too. That would be a good way for you to find a sponsor. There are therapists who specialize in sexual addiction that do therapy online or over the phone as well.

          Your wife sounds like she is still dealing with a lot of anger, which is understandable. Again I would encourage her to start to seek her own recovery program so that she can identify the emotions that are fueling her anger and find healing and peace through all of this.

        • Whitney

          Oh and at 12 step meetings you do not share details of your acting out behavior. You can state your addiction if you want to but it is left at that. They focus on the solution, not the problem. So don’t worry about having to share details, that is not what the meetings are for.

    • admin

      Little_Nauvoo,

      I am so sorry for what you have been through. Know that there are many people who care about and are praying for those who struggle.

      I would echo Whitney’s comment about attending a 12-step group, and I would simply add that you do that for YOU. The hope and love and community and safety in rooms and groups where there is solid recovery is sweeter than about anything I have experienced. (I attend general addiction meetings and have for years, and the true meaning of hope in Christ for me has come alive in the rooms of recovery.)

      Please don’t walk this path alone. Let others walk with you. Look for groups in the Church’s program (maybe even a general addiction group?) or SA (sa.org) or SA Lifeline’s SA groups (salifeline.org) or healingthroughchrist.org or heart t’ heart (heart-t-heart.org). LifeStar is also a great program (it is a for-pay program but many men have found some great recovery there).

    • Lorena

      Little Nauvoo, thank you for sharing your heart-wrenching story. Is your wife getting help for betrayal trauma? I hope she can get support, even online at https://bloomforwomen.com/. Forgiveness is possible but please know forgiveness is the fruit of healing. As she gets into recovery herself, she will heal, and hopefully forgive on her own time table. That is her journey and we all know what a hard one it is. But it is possible. God bless you and her.

  11. Marilyn

    Excellent article. Sexual addiction thrives in secrecy. It is time we understand that these matters need to be discussed with those who can give the most support. Ecclesiastical leaders can help their parishioners realize that support from a loving family members or a trusted friend can have a huge impact on recovery. Knowing of a partners sexual past is absolutely essential to building a healthy marriage. Marriage is hard enough without false pretences or naive expectations. It should begin on a foundation of truth. This is how the atonement can work for both partners in marriage.

  12. Anonymous

    In reading these comments, it is interesting to me how many believe “the past” should stay in the past. This works for things like chewing that piece of gum you found in the gutter when you were five or details of your excessive dating life in high school or sneaking out of the house or even viewing pornography that one time on your friend’s computer twenty years ago … things that happen once or twice or a few times but never again. These are things that can actually stay in the past. Unfortunately, viewing pornography is rarely a one-time incident and any pornography addiction, even if repented of, will inevitably affect a spousal relationship. There are just certain things spouses should be upfront about. For example, I knew someone considering marriage to a person who had issues with child-molestation. This person repented and was worthy to enter the temple, but does anyone seriously think that no matter how long ago they repented of that issue that it shouldn’t be disclosed? Even if they no longer acted out? I am almost 100% positive no one would want to discover that particular past AFTER marriage and certainly not AFTER children were born. Pornography is the same. It should be openly discussed before marriage. Prospective spouses should be able to make a fully informed decision. Like all addictions, pornography holds on and pulls and tempts long after it is “given up” and quite possibly forever. Recovery is a daily effort. Which means, it will most likely become an open struggle in the marriage. I married a recovered addict. Had my spouse not been upfront with me, I would have experienced the same shock and hurt that many have expressed in these posts when inevitably making the discovery. I am grateful I knew ahead of time and could make my choice with complete knowledge. It allows me to respond and accept with understanding rather than pain and hurt. In addition, a pornography addiction does not just affect the spouse by making them feel unwanted or unattractive or betrayed. It changes the way the addict interacts with a spouse. It changes general conversation. It absolutely changes the way they approach intimacy. It changes their sensitivity to others. It changes the way they solve problems. So even if my spouse NEVER views pornography again, all of these changes affect our marriage. And these are things that prospective spouses should be aware of. If the addiction is in the past, that is fantastic! But it will still take a toll on the marriage in many areas, and anyone considering marriage should be fully aware of what they are going to be dealing with. I fully believe that one of the first questions an engaged couple should ask is, “Has there ever been a problem with pornography?” If the answer is yes, that doesn’t mean they then need to dredge up detailed accounts of past actions and relive any of the muck, but knowing that something has happened allows for informative and understanding choices. There are number of things a future spouse should know about and discuss at length, not just pornography addictions, and frankly, if there’s something one feels that they should hide from a spouse, that seems problematic to me. If there is open communication about EVERYTHING, the chances of having a happy marriage are going to be greater!

    • Whitney

      Anonymous thank your for sharing your experience. We really appreciate when those who have dealt with this issue comment here. The one thing I would add to your excellent comments is that we encourage couples to broach this subject BEFORE engagement. It is difficult to break off an engagement, there are many expectations built up around an engagement and it would be best to talk about this before then. Some experts in sexual addiction recommend a year of recovery work before a relationship moves on to engagement from dating, or on to marriage if the couple is already engaged before the discovery or disclosure.

  13. Dr. Suice

    I’m late to the party and at the bottom of the thread but, oh well. The article is dangerous. As a previous poster said, the only person who should be privy to your intimate behaviors is your Bishop and a certified therapist. Even Bishops can be ill-prepared to handle such issues and more often than not, problems arise from good intentions no matter how high the calling.
    Secondly, how is a man to trust the woman he is dating to keep in confidence his issues with sexuality? Couldn’t that potentially destroy his reputation among peers, family and his congregation? What man in his right mind would surrender his privacy on the good faith promise that his intimate details will be kept private? Insanity! What if things didn’t work out and ended after a argument etc? “Well, this is really just between us, don’t tell anyone but….John has a problem with porn.” I can just see that happening. Besides that, who would want to set up their future spouse as counselor and therapist? How’s that a stepping stone to co-partnership in all things?
    And don’t forget, porn is not a male problem only. According to the NY times, 31% of women watch porn regularly. But here’s the catch with this piece….substitute male for female. Can you imagine what little Molly would say to her Dad after a date when she says, “Billy asked me if I watched porn and if I had any other sex problems.” I would suggest that many a young man would be either, forced to never see the girl again, or beat up.
    Marriage is about unconditional love. It’s not about doing a flight pre-check with potential mates. Get to know each other, develop trust and build on that.

    • Whitney

      Dr. Suice,
      Thanks for your comment. Other commenters have felt the same as you have, and I would encourage you to read the other comments and our replies to get a better understanding of why we feel that it is absolutely appropriate for a serious boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance to know about their partner’s pornography use and current and past compulsive sexual behavior.

      Trust is the basis of any marriage or romantic relationship. If a man feels that he cannot trust a woman to be discreet about whom she shares this information with, then maybe he needs to re-evalute whether their relationship should continue. It’s not a partner’s job to keep their significant other’s secret, but of course when and whom it is shared with needs to be a matter of prayer and careful consideration with the direction of the Spirit.

      We absolutely know that porn is not just a “man’s problem” and yes, we would expect young men to be asking the young women they date about porn use. We actually recommend this in the post if you read carefully. I do not think that the outcome you predict would happen in many instances, but if it did, it would be the result of a great ignorance on the part of the girl’s father. And ignorance is definitely out there and thriving, which is the reason for this website and this series.

      How does a couple build trust if one or both of them is unwilling to share something like their problem with pornography??? Something that is going to shape their sexuality so strongly, something that is going to affect how they treat their spouse and children and everyone with whom they interact, something that they will likely have to work HARD for their whole life in order to find and hold on to freedom from? Trust CANNOT be real when this sort of thing is kept secret. And if and when the secret gets out, as it so often does, trust is absolutely decimated and it takes years to rebuild even part of what was lost. Take it from someone who has been there.

  14. EVERY Bishop we lived with had my ex and myself into his office to “Help” him with his porn problem. I found out after we were married, LA TEMPLE, that he had this porn addiction since a young man. I should have been told, but was not. I had no idea how destructive porn is and the perversions it leads to. My ex was a RM from a well respected family and was a good husband and father, at first. After 17 years, I WAS DONE! The problem had become my fault because his family truly believed if he was married to a pretty wife and had children, he would no longer need PORN….NOT!! Women need to understand that IF they choose to marry a porn addict, the cycle of abuse that will follow and how hard it is on the woman. It will tear down her self esteem, because NO REAL woman can compete with FAKE PORN!! WAKE UP and smell the roses!

    • Ella,
      Living with a practicing sex addict can be brutal. I hope that asking questions before marriage will help others to wake up and make decisions with their eyes wide open. Recovery from sex addiction is possible but it takes hard work. I would hope that couples would put their relationship on hold until the underlying causes for the struggles with porn are identified and managed. This usually involves therapy and/or support groups. Your experience is an example of how porn and deceit can kill love. Very sad, indeed.

  15. What advice do you have for someone who knows, intellectually, that viewing pornography is wrong but doesn’t feel the strong urge to quit? Talking with bishops over the span of over 25 years has not produced any headway and neither have numerous counseling sessions with counselors who are LDS, non-LDS but religious, and atheist. The 12 step program doesn’t work for me because I disagree whole-heartedly with step one and some of the individuals at the program present a great temptation due to their addictions being making them and I very much a dangerous combination to bring together. I’m not sure where else I can turn but I don’t feel a desire to turn to anyone in the first place as I got myself into this mess. Thank you for any advice you can give me.

    • Whitney

      Hi Sam, Thanks for commenting here on our site! My husband is a recovering lust addict (pornography/masturbation/etc) and I am a recovering compulsive eater. Here’s my short answer–I would say that until you feel deep in your being that you do not want this in your life anymore, you will not be able to stop.

      That being said–If counseling with professionals and bishops and 12 step programs have not helped you, maybe read our recent guest post by someone who took a different approach to recovery and who so far, has found success: https://www.hopeandhealinglds.com/2016/05/28/from-porn-addict-to-happy-husband-hopelds/

      Again, however, I would think that any approach you take will not work until you are ready to do pretty much anything to overcome this.

      I’m not sure how you will become ready. The only thing I would tell you is to pray for this readiness. Be aware though, that this may come with a high price. Hitting rock bottom is never fun. God may give you challenges to truly help you believe that the price you are paying to use pornography is indeed too high.

      In the recovery world, I often hear the phrase “the opposite of addiction is connection.” This phrase is referring to connection to others. Addiction blocks our ability to connect and makes us feel like we don’t want to involve anyone else, that we can overcome this by ourselves. It makes us feel, as you said, that we don’t want to turn to anyone else because we did this to ourselves. No matter what recovery route you take, recovery ALWAYS involves connection, and most often it involves connection with others with the same addictions or maladies. I believe you will need to be ready to be vulnerable and make connections with others if you are to be free from pornography use.

      God bless you.

    • Sam,
      I read your comment to my husband who was in your same boat 3 years ago before he had to chose between his addiction or continuing to live with his family. He has now been in recovery for almost 3 years after deciding that he would rather have his family. He says that it sounds like you DO have a desire to quit and that you are taking Step 1 in saying that for 25 years you have been powerless over lust. He thinks you are now ready for Step 2–“Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.” 🙂 You can do it!
      The 12-steps have been what has helped my husband the most. He says that working the steps, going to meetings and having a sponsor are a big part of the solution.
      Thanks for reaching out–that is a giant step right there.

  16. Admin,
    I am impressed with your response to people like Ryan. Obviously he does not have a Celestial marriage. A person cannot fight the spirit and be happy. He is trying to justify himself. I was married to a man who looked at pornography (off and on that I knew for sure). I could see patterns and how his desires changed through the patterns. I saw how he treated me different at different times. I saw a wonderful and righteous man at times and I didn’t know who I was married to at times. It is really hard to be married to someone with a pornography problem when you want to grow together and have a Celestial marriage.