Why I Happily Agreed to Marry an Addict #hopelds

woman on bench from unsplash dot com

 

 

The man who is now my husband told me he struggled with a pornography addiction even before we started dating. It was a gut-punch to hear him say it, but that commitment to transparency and openness from the beginning was what I kept coming back to when I was terrified it had all been a big mistake.

 

We’d been getting to know each other from two different parts of the country and I was really starting to like him. It was the suggestion of my flying out for a visit that brought on the phone call that broke my heart. He said that he understood if that meant I didn’t want to come and I didn’t know how to reply. Everything I knew about him until 30 seconds ago was so attractive to me. He was smart and thoughtful and interesting and handsome and good. I believe in the power of the Atonement and I didn’t want him to think that this particular struggle made him automatically unworthy of my time and attention. It would have been hypocritical for me, but it also sounded like an idiot move to know that about a person and still fly thousands of miles to see him.

 

I hung up the phone saying that I’d let him know.

 

I didn’t sleep all that night and for days after, I had no idea what I should do. It wasn’t until the following Sunday, at stake conference that things became clearer. We’d had a series of great speakers, but none of them seemed to have messages that were relevant to me. Then, as the second to last speaker was concluding, out of the blue she mentioned the topic of pornography. It was only a sentence or two, but she said she believed it could be overcome. Then the last speaker got up. He said he had prepared an entirely different address, but instead wanted to continue with this topic of pornography and how through the Atonement this painful part of so many people’s present could be truly left in the past. The Spirit was so strong and I knew that it would be ok for me to get on a plane and visit my friend.

 

He became more than my friend not long after my arrival. We connected so incredibly well and I felt so comfortable and secure with him. We could talk about anything, and everything about him impressed me. He was constantly being of service to his family members and every friend in his life that I met would pull me aside and say how much he had inspired them or helped at a critical time or always been there when they needed him. My mind couldn’t even contain the reality that this wonderful person and this terrible chronic behavior could exist in the same being.

 

You know that phenomenon where you hear a word you’ve never heard of before and then suddenly you see it three different places within a week? The same thing happens when you start dating an addict. I was so happy with him and yet in the months that followed, it seemed like every story I heard was of how so-and-so was getting a divorce because of addiction or how after eight years, this or that person had totally betrayed their partner. I especially remember overhearing a lady at a party saying, “If my daughter was dating someone who had a porn addiction, I don’t care how nice he is, I would tell her to run.”

 

Meanwhile, I was falling so deeply in love with this man in a way that was so much different than infatuation. It just seemed so obvious that we should be together and everything about it felt so right. He watched out for me and supported me in everything I was pursuing. We would send spiritual thoughts to each other every day even though we were so far apart and I couldn’t help but believe in him. But then there was that anonymous woman’s voice in my head saying how none of that mattered and I should just run.

 

That voice was still in my head when our relationship began to get a little more serious in terms of planning an ongoing life together. He said he felt it was really important that he tell me absolutely everything so that we could have complete openness between one another and a little part of me thought, “Maybe I don’t want to know.” But he insisted and when he told me the full extent of his past transgressions, I was even more devastated than I’d already been. I excused myself from the conversation and went to my room and just wailed. I’ve never cried like that in all my life. I was praying aloud and so totally confused and feeling sick inside but when I began to calm down I found that strangely, I still believed in him. I didn’t understand why, but I had such a strong spiritual impression that all of the good things I knew about him were still genuine and true.

 

The next morning, I couldn’t sleep so I went outside to watch the sunrise and try to consider what I should do. This new information was worse than I had imagined and I felt like marrying him now would just mean it served me right if one day he cheated on me or something. Like any coming calamity in our marriage, knowing what I knew now, would be inevitable and I would be the idiot that should’ve seen it coming.

 

I pulled up a random general conference talk looking for guidance and in a passing sentence, it said explicitly not to discount someone just because of a past sin and in particular pornography. Of all the talks I could’ve chosen, that one came up. To that point, I felt like I could hear a chorus of voices telling me not to proceed and they all strangely sounded like that woman who said I should run, but then the thought struck me: If I took out what anyone else would say in this situation, ignored the advice of random people and it was only between me and the Lord, what would I conclude?

 

“I believe in him and I believe the Lord can continue to help him recover from this.”

 

When it came down to just me and the Lord, I knew that it was all going to be ok and the Spirit had guided me along in too many ways to this point for me to doubt that he would continue to do so. By the time this man that I loved woke up and came and found me, I was ok. I was on the road to completely forgiving his past and still hopeful about a future for us.

 

I had some fundamental misunderstandings about pornography addiction. We had set up a system of accountability where we had a weekly check-in. He would send me a screenshot from a tracking app he was using and I would make sure to tell me him I was proud of his progress, because I was. But every time he had a relapse and the count was back to zero, I felt deeply betrayed. Here’s where my misunderstanding comes in. I thought that pornography addiction was all about sex and intimacy, so how could he turn from me to this horrible thing when we had such a good connection even if so much of our relationship was happening from a distance? I thought that continually coming back to porn was some deep perversion and even though I understood addiction involves being out of control of oneself, I thought if he just loved me more than he wouldn’t need to go back to that.

 

Then one night about two or three in the morning, I snapped awake, filled with fear. I was suddenly aware that this man of mine was deeply in danger. I didn’t know where this feeling was coming from, but it was so real. It was like I could hear his voice calling out to me from inside a burning building. I thought maybe he’d been in a car accident, that he was trapped in a tangle of wreckage on the side of the road somewhere. I was panicking. I was going to try calling him or maybe I should call his parents? I didn’t know what to do, but eventually I began to be calm and the thought that I’d probably sound insane calling in the middle of the night if everything was fine, overwhelmed that initial sense of emergency that I’d felt.

 

The next morning I called him and asked what had happened the night before. He said quietly that he had relapsed. We figured out that it had happened at exactly the time that I’d been shocked awake by the Spirit, thousands of miles away. Suddenly his helpless voice calling out to me in the dark made sense. For the first time I realized fully that his addiction was a prison, it was literally a burning building that he had no desire to be in but from which he was struggling to escape. It had nothing to do with me.

 

I learned that porn addiction has much more to do with chemicals and coping than it has to do with sex. He’d set a pattern in his brain as a very young teen that the rush (chemical release) of good feelings that these images brought, would help to relieve not just unmet sexual desire, but feelings of loneliness, boredom, stress and inadequacy; things that we all feel and struggle to soothe away. It grew into a coping mechanism for just about anything and then the need grew habitual. Add the shame, continual failure to fully leave it behind, and the constant voice of Satan whispering that he’d never succeed and before long he was waist high in quicksand with no way out.

 

Only there was and is a way out. The other important thing I learned from my dating relationship with this wonderful person was that I had been limiting the power of the Atonement in my own mind. I believed that the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us was infinite and in the same breath, often thought, “Yeah, but this is just too much” or “Is addiction recovery a process that ever actually succeeds?”

 

So many times, I wished that this had just never been a part of his life. He was so perfect for me, if only this other stuff had just never happened.

 

Then one day as I checked in for a flight somewhere, the lady at the desk said, “You really should’ve printed your boarding pass at home.”  I said, “Sorry, I don’t have a printer” and she shot back, “Still, you’re really supposed to print your own.” I continued to apologize that I didn’t, but no matter what I said she just kept saying, “Yeah, but you should’ve!” “But I didn’t.” “But you SHOULD’VE.” I felt helpless to please her and in that moment I realized that absolutely nothing productive comes from wishing something had happened differently than it did. No matter how much I wished things in this man’s past (when I wasn’t even in the picture) had happened differently, they didn’t. The past is the past, all you can do is move forward from where you are now and continue to do better and to call upon the grace of Jesus Christ every day.

 

I became his other partner in the recovery process and eventually the “days since last incident” number began to grow and grow. He got his temple recommend back and we were able to marry for time and all eternity in a house of the Lord.

 

It was the best decision I’ve ever made. Life with him is happier than I could’ve ever imagined.

 

But here are three key reasons our story continues to be a happy one. These are important for anyone dating/considering a partner with this problem to understand:

 

  • My partner decided from the beginning that he would always be totally honest with me. He never tried to justify or downplay his actions, he told the truth, fully. He still does. Often the betrayal that the partner of an addict feels is not from a return to the behavior at all, it’s from the lies involved in covering it up. Lying will keep the addiction thriving, but bringing things out in the open and keeping them there cuts the legs off the monster. Many men keep their struggle a secret because they believe they can get over it on their own without others ever knowing it was a problem. This is a myth and a damaging one. Tell the truth. Always tell the truth.
  • We set up a system of accountability. Porn addiction is a really challenging subject to just bring up in casual conversation. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, and often it’s hard for an addict to find the right way to report a relapse or for a partner to find the right way to ask if everything is still ok. To have a reporting system of some kind already in place makes that so much easier. As I mentioned, while we were dating we just picked a day of the week that he would text me his app update and that was my opportunity to talk about anything that I needed to. I didn’t have to sit around wondering, he didn’t have to worry about when was a good time to say something and we could both feel at ease about it the rest of the time. Having a system of accountability keeps the conversation open.
  • My partner used all available resources to help in his recovery. As I said, the Atonement is real—I know that now more than ever—but addiction is something that generally cannot just be overcome by continually praying about it. Faith is a principle of action and though involving the Lord and a priesthood leader are essential, that is only a first step. My husband did not find the Church’s 12-step program particularly helpful to him personally, but rather than giving up, he sought other types of help. He worked with a coach and studied the science of addiction in great depth to help to overcome it. Understanding the chemical processes in the brain involved in this addiction, as well as learning the methods by which you can form new neural pathways in your brain and literally leave old habits behind, was essential for him. Mostly what I’m saying is he was determined to recover and did everything in his power to work toward that goal. The Atonement is real, but it can’t help someone who is unwilling to access it.

I’m so glad that I didn’t just dismiss this man because of this problem. His honesty, accountability and determination set him apart as someone who could and would recover even from something as severe and menacing as this. In President Packer’s last conference message before he passed, he talked at length of sexual transgression and the seriousness thereof. Ultimately though, his closing message on this earth was this:

 

“The Atonement, which can reclaim each one of us, bears no scars. That means that no matter what we have done or where we have been or how something happened, if we truly repent, He has promised that He would atone. And when He atoned, that settled that. There are so many of us who are thrashing around, as it were, with feelings of guilt, not knowing quite how to escape. You escape by accepting the Atonement of Christ, and all that was heartache can turn to beauty and love and eternity.”

 

I am already enjoying the beauty and love that all that heartache has become. Some of the greatest missionaries and prophets in the scriptures started out as the vilest of sinners. This gospel is a gospel of transformation and going through the recovery process with the love of my life, transformed me too. He’s now coaching others through their recovery and is continuing to make his life more whole, productive and healthy than it’s ever been before.

 

Pornography is becoming an epidemic in this generation, but all that means is that we have the opportunity to make this a generation of men and women who understand and trust the reality of the Atonement more than anyone before ever has. If you’re dating someone who struggles with pornography addiction, it’s possible that you shouldn’t just run. Pray. Trust the Lord, and only the Lord, to tell you what to do next.

~Christine

Note from editor: This story from Christine’s husband’s perspective is coming up next!

This is the eighth 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.

Other posts in the series:

Intro: What wives of sex addicts want you to know

Second Post: Before you Marry My Good-Hearted Son

Third Post: What I Wish I Had Known the First Time I Caught My Husband Looking at Porn

Fourth Post: What We Wish We had Known When We Were Dating: Thoughts from Wives of Sex Addicts

Fifth Post: What We Wish We had Known Sooner: Thoughts From Those In Recovery From Pornography Addiction

Sixth Post: Five Myths about Pornography Addiction

Seventh Post: My Story of Pornography Addiction and Recovery

 

 

 

30 Responses

  1. Could you post (or send me) a list of some of the books your husband read? Especially ones about the brain and rewiring the brain. Thanks

    • admin Michelle

      I’ve sent your question to the author. Either she will post here or I will share her response here.

    • There are plenty of online sources for this information as well. You might want to consider reading from the following reputable sources while waiting for your book info:

      http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/how-addiction-hijacks-the-brain.htm

      https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140711153327.htm

    • Christine (author)

      I think he utilized more online sources than books, but he gave me a list for you. (You can also read his accompanying post on this site):
      “Treating Pornography Addiction” by Kevin Skinner
      “The Drug of the New Millennium” by Mark B. Kastleman
      He said that second text was very long and more informative than actionable, but it did give him a lot of insight into how pornography affects the brain. He combined that knowledge with other resources like FeedtheRightWolf.org and the articles from BrainBuddy (app). Those were his main sources of information.

      • Thank you for the books, websites and information in general. Resources are always welcome and helpful for us.

  2. Whitney

    Thank you Christine for sharing your story! It is a great example of what full honesty and transparency should look like before marriage.

    I do have one comment about your second point, just to clarify for our readers. Although there definitely does need to be accountability and complete honesty and transparency within a romantic/marriage relationship, often pornography addiction is discovered years (5, 10, 15, 20 years) after marriage and often the addict does not confess on their own. In these cases the trauma can be multiplied many times, depending on how long the lying has been going on. When a spouse is dealing with their own incredible trauma, they should not be expected to be the main or only accountability partner for an addict’s recovery. That is where an addict’s recovery community comes in (groups, therapists, sponsors). Women (or men) suffering from betrayal trauma should not be expected to hear details about triggers or acting out that they don’t wish to know, and should not be expected to be “proud” of an addict’s sobriety or be a “cheerleader” for a spouse’s recovery. They can find ways to support their spouse, but again, their main focus should be on their own recovery from trauma.

  3. Another great resource for porn addicts is the book Power Over Pornography. It provides a step-by-step method for overcoming pornography addiction that works.

  4. Christine, thank you for this article. To be honest, it was very painful for me to read. I am not trying to be critical of your article, I am merely commenting on what I have experienced in the church. As a porn addict, it is terrifying to me how women in the church view men who have been exposed to pornography. And before any body accuses me of making blanket statements and generalizations, I am not saying that this applies to everyone. But unfortunately I see it too often.
    I am grateful that you were able to see your husband for who he truly is, a son of God who is kind an loving and definitely not some kind of perverted sinner. It seems like so many young women in the church are being taught that their future husband should be a perfect, worthy priesthood holder who is and has been just as chaste as they are, but when they come to find out that a boy/man has been looking at pornography, he is some kind of pervert, and couldn’t possibly ever be worthy to be a spouse. And there seems to be the perception that these men are an exception, that the vast majority of men in the church have not looked at pornography and are pure and chaste.
    This is not the case.
    I do not know any man who has not been exposed to pornography at some point in his life. Granted, I don’t know every male in the church, but I have seen enough studies and had enough conversations with other men to know that this is not a problem limited to a small number of men. This is one of the main problems that mission presidents have to deal with with their missionaries. Sexual transgressions are probably the biggest issue with worthiness that bishops have to address with the priesthood holders in their wards. There is a reason why pornography is brought up in almost every conference. This is an epidemic affecting EVERYONE you know. These men are your friends, your brothers, your fathers, your sons, your priesthood leaders. It has caused bishops and stake presidents themselves to be released from their callings for falling victim to it. It causes divorces in the families that seem the strongest. It destroys lives.
    I am not trying to justify the use of porn in any way, I am merely trying to explain what these men are going through.
    I hear so many stories about women who, when finding out that their boyfriends/husbands have been looking at porn, feel like they have failed in some way, like they are not good enough for their man, or they feel like they have been cheated on. Why would any man want to look at porn when he has a healthy sexual relationship with his spouse?
    The problem with that question is that it assumes that the man is looking at porn because he is not satisfied by his sexual relationship with his wife, or that he thinks he wife is not attractive/good enough for him, or whatever. It has nothing to do with sex. It is all about the feelings and reactions that are brought about by viewing pornography. It is a drug. Porn takes all of those feelings that are caused by sexual arousal and injects them directly into the brain at an industrial level. The more that someone views porn, the stronger it becomes. It becomes an addiction that is extremely difficult to resist, let alone get rid of.
    Most men are exposed to porn at a young age, when their brains are still developing. A young man going through puberty who is exposed to porn does not know how to deal with these feelings, and does not have the strength to resist them. He finds himself drawn to it, seeking it out. It becomes an addiction that he will have to fight for the rest of his life. Other men are more lucky, and are exposed to it later on, and have the maturity and strength to look away.
    Men are not the only ones who get addicted to pornography. It is becoming more common to hear stories of young women getting exposed to pornography and becoming addicted.
    I am not writing this to be negative or pessimistic. I am writing this hoping that the women of the church will see that there is a serious problem and that compassion, not condemnation, is needed. What is needed are women who can understand the problem and help the healing process happen. Christine listed some great points, such as honesty and accountability. If a couple is not completely open and honest with each other, it will be harder to address any problems that come up.
    I feel that we should do more to teach our youth of the dangers of pornography and the effects that it has. Young men hear about it all the time, but I worry that our young women are being ignored. It seems like they are getting blindsided by finding out that their sweethearts have been exposed to porn. If they are properly educated about porn, they can be a great help to the men in their lives.
    I have rambled on long enough, but I felt that I should give my perspective. I hope that it helps.

    • Whitney

      Will, thanks for your thoughts. I am not sure if you have read our other articles here on the hope and healing site, but in them we discuss almost everything that you have brought up. Especially relevant is our “5 myths” pornography post and the “What We Wish We’d Known When We Were Dating” post, which has a ton of resources that outline the prevalence of this problem and the resources needed for all of those involved to seek recovery. We understand all too well the stigma associated with this problem, and that is one of the things that has led us to write this series of articles. The more we talk about it, the more informed everyone can be, and that helps take away some of the stigma and fear surrounding sexual addiction.

      While it is very, very true that many addicts find motivation for recovery in order to save marriage and family relationships, the truth is that only the addict or pornography user can decide to seek recovery. A spouse can support a healing process, but they cannot do the work for the other person. Certainly compassion and forgiveness is needed in every case. However, the answer of whether to pursue a relationship or continue a marriage when addiction is present will be up to each individual as they seek God’s will for them. I know you would probably agree, but I just feel the need to point this out whenever I see someone say that a woman can “help the healing process happen” or be a “great help.” In some ways, yes…in some ways, no–it is solely up to the person with the problem to find healing and recovery.

      • Actually, now I feel a little sheepish because I did start reading the other articles and realized that they address a lot of what I was talking about. I guess that’s what I get for coming late to the party.

        • Whitney

          No worries!

        • admin Michelle

          I think that the heart of what you are saying is what Sister Stephens was trying to say in the Face-to-Face event. I think the leaders know that this is a widespread problem, and that a knee-jerk reaction to someone talking about pornography doesn’t allow for really getting to know a person. We hope that the experiences shared in this series by women who have walked this path of being married to someone with an addiction can help women simply be more educated as they address this issue with those they date, or with their spouses. A knee-jerk response is not helpful. But neither is going in blind.

          Will, thanks for commenting. I think your perspective is important, and sharing this kind of information about how and why it’s so widespread is part of the conversation that simply needs to be repeated.

    • WILL– thankyou so much for what you said! dont feel “sheepish” lol

      i am still trying to make my way through all of these wonderful articles. but i am struggling with showing compassion to my husband of 8 yrs, and countless affairs. we have two children and im tired of being mis-treated. and so im really trying to understand if this truly is an addiction. and how to help. without getting run over in the process.

      my husband was exposed to pornography at a very young age (13). and has even had additional addiction problems. but he is also a convert of only 6yrs. and still doesnt know how to handle when problems occur like ive been taught growing up in the church my entire life.

      COMPASSION just stuck out to me. and i feel like ive showed compassion more times than he deserves. but i suppose thats what the atonement is for…? which im constantly trying to understand in order to apply.

      but thankyou very much!!

  5. Andrea

    Lucky for you that your husband was upfront about his addiction from the start of the relationship. My husband lied to me for 12 years and when I found out about his addiction a few months ago, it turned my world upside down. Dealing with the ramifications has been the most painful thing I’ve ever been through. I do think I still would have married him had I known about the problem, but it would have been nice to make that choice for myself with full knowledge of what I was getting myself into.

    • Andrea,
      Your story is not uncommon. In fact, it’s my story, as well. I hope you will join the forum here so you can interact with other women who understand your pain. There is a way to heal from the heartbreaking trauma, but it takes time and a lot of work. I have gleaned so much helpful information from women on the forum who have already walked this path. If you haven’t already, please join us. There is no need for you, or any woman, to go through this alone.

  6. This is a very interesting article, and website. As a recovering pornography addict (sober 2 years) I’ve wondered once or twice what I would do if my wife were to ever die. We went through the discovery of my addiction together as it were and have both recovered to some extent. We are in a good place now and the future is bright but I’ve always felt pretty strongly that if I were to be alone again I would plan on dying that way. The primary reason is I simply never want to explain the situation to another person so long as I live, and that would mean never remarrying. I know that is certainly a morbid thought, certainly not one I dwell on. As it is now I am glad I am married to who I am and am very hopeful my wife and I get to live a long life together.

    And to be honest, when my daughter finds the man of her dreams (“sigh…”) I plan to pull him aside and have a very direct conversation about pornography.

    • Whitney

      Anon, congratulations on working your recovery. Your wife should be congratulated too. Best of luck in your continued recover journey.

      Love your idea to talk to men who are in a serious dating relationship with your daughter about pornography. Have you seen this article by Geoff Steurer about that topic? Well worth the read. http://www.lifestarstgeorge.com/blog/?p=291

  7. Daisy

    Dear Anon,
    I loved your heart-felt comments and also I applaud that you have been sober for 2 years. You are a modern-day hero!

  8. I had a Rollercoaster of feelings as I read this. A few of the highs:
    He took the initiative to disclose his behaviors. Most addicts will not do this. I can say most because I’ve attended partner support groups since 2009 and that is rarely the case. These days, I feel a single woman is probably better off dating a man who would do that than dating a man who says he’s never had a problem, because that’s likely a lie. Wives need integrity and honesty above all else.

    Also, there were check in’s and other healthy tools mentioned. The atonement AND other helps are required to heal a lifelong habit of lusting.

    One thing that I wished to see, was a description of what the author did just for herself. When you live with an addict, your life easily becomes all about him; you begin to lose yourself. The only way to be truly happy in a relationship with an addict is to focus mainly on your own health and growth, and keep God at the center. That allows the husband the space to keep God at his center and find health and growth. I’m not saying this didn’t happen in this situation, but it doesn’t say. God at the center.

    • Anon,
      Your observations are insightful. This post does not give details about self-care and healing, and yet, as you have indicated, this is crucial in making a relationship whole. A partner’s own healing and emotional health does more for an addict than trying to fix or assist in the addiction recovery. Your words say it best: “keep God at the center,” this allows the partner “the space to keep God at his [her] center and find health and growth.”

      “Wives need integrity and honesty above all else.” Yes! The lies are so much worse than the porn or lust. That’s why betrayal is the source of the trauma that many partners feel when they suddenly discover their loved ones addictions or habits.

      Thank you for sharing your knowledge on this topic. I hope you will continue to use opportunities to share what you know. We need more open discussions about this issue.

  9. Jonathan

    What a great story. Thank you Christine, for sharing it. I’ve been sober for 2 years, since around when my wife and I got married. I wish I would have had your story when I was in the throes of addiction. It gives so much hope. Thank you for sharing it.

  10. Anonymous

    I’m grateful for this source. I am married to an addict and have been lucky enough to have his honesty most of our marriage. When he is transparent it strengthens our marriage. To me pornography feels like a dark stormy sea. Pictures, billboards, nearly naked women everywhere (we live in HI) makes it feel like a nearly impossible hurdle. When he is honest and I offer a calm forgiving place to talk it is as though we are clinging together in the vast unpredictable stormy sea. We have made the Lord our beacon of light that we can cling to. But, I have also experienced the betrayal of finding it on my own and can confirm that the vast majority of the pain and despair is in the lying.

    I agree with the other reader that our culture needs to be less harsh and judgemental. I have sat in RS meetings where women have gone off on how despicable and horrible these men are and sitting there I’m thinking “hey, there might be a woman trying to navigate this problem with her partner or worse yet a woman trying to overcome this challenge herself or with her partner (some couples explore porn together) and someone experiencing this does not need to hear harsh unforgiving messages. I’m so grateful to have this source that I can point to during difficult situations that I might be able to help without betraying the confidentiality of my husband. And hopefully sharing this resource can encourage honesty and transparency in more relationships to help decrease the pain of partners later on.

  11. Better together

    Thanks for this article. This may not make sense to everyone but although porn addiction is not something I’m dealing with, this article helps me understand the atonment better and come to a place where I can deepen my connection with my husband and my Heavenly Father. I entered our marriage a virgin, but my husband was not, not at all. When we were engaged I met a girl with whom he’d had sex, and it totally destroyed me (why did she have to be a super hot blonde?). For years I focused on my insecurities and pestered him with questions about his sexual partners and wanted all the details. It didn’t matter what sweet things he said to reassure me, I couldn’t let it go. I finally stopped talking to him about it, but internally I would continue to destroy myself and held myself back. I feel so stupid now. If we truly believe that someone can be made whole in Christ, if Christ had truly forgiven him, if he had become born again (and all those things were true), then why was I stuck in his past? It turns out I had to apply the atonment, surrender it to Christ and allow Him to make me whole again the same way my husband had done before we even met. That piece of my heart I was holding back was so much bigger than I’d realized. It turns out it was me that owed an apology, but of course he quickly forgave because of what he’s been through he’s already less judgmental and quick to work Christ into our lives. I understand that addictions are so much more complex, but some of the principles are the same. Thank you.

    • This is what it’s all about. We all need to actively seek Christ in our lives every day. Thank you for sharing such a tender and inspiring personal account of your own healing journey.

  12. Christine! i am really enjoying this blog site! thankyou so much for sharing!!

    i am in the beginning stages of deciding to file for divorce. my husband and I have been together for 8 years. married for 7 and 2 beautiful children. and this is not my first time on this merri-go-round of porn problems.

    my husband was never honest with me, but i always seem to catch him within 24 hrs of an incident. and there were so many red flags while we were dating. but i cant help but feel we were meant to be in each others lives. He is a convert of 6 years. and i dont think I comprehend sometimes that he is spiritually still a child. And he doesnt know how to ask for help or even admit. But there have been countless affairs over this time span. and I think ive just always thought I could fix it, or give him an ultimatum. and he would go along with marriage counseling or addiction program with the church, but never really in it for himself!

    im tired of getting run over. but your articles are helping me realize that we really need to approach this as a true addiction such as drugs or alcohol. which ive never had to deal with!! ever! personally! and it scares me, and it scares me to have my children around it. I dont want to see divorce tear our family apart. my mom was divorced 2 times, my dad divorced 3 times, multiple temple marriages as well. and my husbands mom was divorced twice as well.

    I am just at a serious cross road of staying and leaving. and i feel like i dont have any more compassion to give. i have flaws as well. but i still dont understand addiction. i have a hard time NOT taking it personal and feeling like im inadequate for him.

    i would love a blog post of all the resources you used for yourself and your husband used for himself as well… if its possible!??

    you mentioned he used an app for accountability… what app?
    and how or where do i begin to find OUTSIDE accountability from the church?
    I also have dragged him to the 12 step addiction program from church and no success or desire. I dont know how or when he will decide he wants to change??

    he has said he wants to change, and wants help but doesnt know how, and i almost feel like its out of my hands now… and that makes me feel sad and horrible. i feel responsible for saving him or helping him. KNOWING that only he can make those changes!!

    do you have any advice??

    • krys,
      I am so sorry to hear about all you have been through with your husband. I am not the author on this piece (Christine) but my husband is a recovering sex addict so I understand much about what you are feeling and what your situation is. You seem to understand that you have no control or power over your husband’s addiction or recovery, but maybe you are still holding on the hope that something you do can fix this. I would encourage you to really embrace that this is entirely out of your hands and you are not responsible for him. Only he can decide to let Christ save him. I know this can be hard but really it is a very liberating experience to realize that you don’t have to fix this. No matter how many great resources you find for his recovery, none of it will matter unless he wants it. I would encourage you to stop working on his recovery and start working on your own. What have you done for your own recovery? Are you attending a support group? Do you have a therapist? Do you have a real-life support system of friends and family who are helping you through this? Do you have boundaries set up around acting out and addict behaviors? Once you start working your own recovery it will get easier to detach from his addiction and you will not have so much difficulty with feelings of inadequacy and taking his addiction personally. The addiction has nothing to do with you. It started way before you and unless your h does something it will continue long after you are gone.

      Your husband may have said he wants to change but his actions show otherwise. Words really mean nothing in this situation. He will tell you what you want to hear. You have to take a step back and only make decisions based on his actions. If he has never been honest, never reached out to anyone or anything to help him recover, then that is where he is at and you need to make decisions based on that, not what may happen in the future. Please come join the private forum on this site. There are many women there who have been and are in your shoes and we can help you know how to start your own recovery. Hugs to you!

  13. Anana Miss

    Thank you so, so much for this. I am in literally the exact situation, with a few differences. I started dating my now husband several months after he confessed to me that he had a pornography addiction, always with the understanding that I would only continue the relationship as long as I saw that he was actively trying to overcome it. He decided to join the military, so we made the decision to have a civil wedding, hoping to be sealed a year later. It is a huge struggle waiting to be sealed to the man you know you will love and stand by for eternity, even as has setbacks. Your post opened my eyes to So many things and gave me answers to a lot of what I had been struggling with. Think you so, so, so much!! You have no idea how much support this provided me. Not many people are in this situation, and it’s obviously not something you share with, well, anyone, so getting advice and perspective is so difficult at times. Thank you again!!

  14. Christine: How does one find a coach?

    • Hi Naomia, someone else asked this question on the next post in the series written by Christine’s husband, “From Porn Addict to Happy Husband.” When we asked him about where he found a coach, this was the reply: “He found one coach he worked with through LDS Family Services, actually. He found another coach that was the most specialized that he worked with through FeedtheRightWolf.org, but he also said that that coach was the least professional to work with. We recently attended the Utah Conference Against Pornography and he said he noticed many, many counselors there that were offering addiction recovery services.”
      So it appears that the author used counselors/therapists or others who are familiar with sexual addiction as coaches. Here at hopeandhealinglds.com, we feel that a qualified sex addiction therapist and an addict in recovery (sometimes known as a sponsor) make the best coaches.

      For coaching for partners of those with sexual addiction, we also feel that a qualified betrayal trauma therapist and a sponsor through a 12 step program for loved ones of addicts are the most helpful. Betrayal Trauma Recovery also offers trained coaches for partners, see https://www.btr.org/free-betrayal-trauma-consultation