A Reader’s Story of Hope

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by RI Editors

One of our faithful readers read Free at Last in our Peculiar Minds series and contacted us to share her story, a story of hope demonstrating the other side of p0rnography addiction. We are thrilled to publish it.

1950's Plastic Happy CoupleThis is our story. And like all personal stories the way the Lord worked with us may be different than He has done for others in like situations. Our story has a happy ending so far, where so many others do not.

My husband and I were married at 20. He was inactive in the Church and I was on a young adult sick-of-being-good bender when we met. We got engaged, got pregnant, and then married. This was a terrible scandal for the daughter of a member of the local bishopric.

Not long after our baby was born my husband began to share things about his childhood that he had not made known to me before we married. He had been the object of terrible abuse both physically and sexually. This abuse had led him to engage in some very self-destructive behaviors as a teen. One of those behaviors was looking at p0rn.

I was troubled by the news and encouraged him to visit with the bishop about it, which he did. He worked for nearly a year with that good brother and became active in the Church again. Things were looking up. I had come back to my senses as far as religion was concerned and was focused on getting us to the temple. I wanted my children to be raised in the Church. I knew it was true and I wanted a righteous priesthood holder at the head of our family.

A year or so passed and one day as I was cleaning I found a stack of adult magazines hidden in our bedroom. I was livid. How could he betray me like that when we were working so hard to go to the temple? I confronted him as soon as soon as he got home from work and lashed out in rage. I screamed how this hurt me and demeaned our relationship, how it destroyed the forever family I thought we both wanted, and then I threatened to divorce him if he did not stop.

He apologized, made excuses, and assured me that he wanted those things too. I believed him. I loved him. So I stayed.

This cycle repeated itself countless times over the next ten years. We would go along for months at a time with no problems. We even made it a whole year, long enough to be sealed as a family. But each time I would start to feel like something was off and I would look. It became a paranoid obsession. When he was out of the house I would take the whole place apart looking for his stash. If I didn’t find anything I would hound him about where it was. I was sure it was there. In most cases I was right.

Over the years I visited three different bishops about our problems and they would listen and then call my husband in. He would be in there about 15 minutes and come out. He would tell me it was all worked out. They didn’t need to see him again. I began to feel like this was only a big deal to me.

He got better at hiding it and I became more obsessed with finding. Then, when inevitably I would find his movies, or magazines, or internet history, the cycle repeated itself. I would scream and cry and threaten. He would be sorry and repent for a little while. Both of us knew it was going to happen again.

One day I sat in my office at work in deep depression about our situation. I had found his stuff again and was going to call him. I realized I hated this part of my husband, I didn’t trust him. Each time the problem surfaced I felt it as a direct attack on me. Why was he so selfish?

As I sat there I silently prayed for help. “Please change him father, please. I can’t do this anymore. I’m dying inside. I want to die.”

I had one of those moments where a distinct impression entered my mind. I felt deeply sad but calm. “He loves you. You love him. You both have to change.”

I somehow knew what I had to do. My husband was a messed up, addicted man and I loved him. I knew I was not supposed to leave him. He might never change but I could. I called him up and told him about what I had found under the dresser drawers. Then I told him I was heartbroken but that I loved him and I was not going to leave. I was going to stay no matter what and that this was no longer just his problem but ours. If he wanted I would be his partner in fighting it.

There was silence on the other end for a long time. And then an “OK.” We began to have calm discussions about why he fell back into bad habits when he had the desire not to. We talked about his past openly. I tried hard to be loving and understanding. I checked in with him regularly to see how he was doing.

This didn’t miraculously fix things but they started to improve. Without the threat of me having a meltdown and divorce hanging over his head he began to open up to me about things that were difficult for him. We had setbacks, but each time it was a little longer between episodes and he trusted me enough to tell me the truth when I asked. We both got stronger.

There were times when it seemed we were starting over for the thousandth time that I would cry out in agony of soul to my Father in Heaven for help. It came. My husband had some sacred experiences that helped him to see how to get better. I learned to let go of the control I thought I had to have over the situation.

It’s now been five years and trust has been rebuilt in our marriage. We are active, temple recommend-holding, fairly happy people with beautiful kids. We are careful. We keep the computer in the family room and have strict rules about non-use after 9 PM. I still check in with him and he tells me when he is struggling with temptation. We pray together; we read scriptures together; we love each other.

I still have some fear that somehow we will fall back into the old ways but that is getting better all the time. I learned that marriage requires you to be vulnerable and so when bad things happen it hurts desperately. But what I also learned was that problems with one person are the problem of both. For us that was the answer that allowed us to change.

This is our story and I want to stress that in this my husband was never physically abusive and tried hard to be a good father. P0rnography addiction can be intertwined with many other things. In these difficult situations only the Spirit, ecclesiastical leaders, and qualified professionals should guide you in the decisions you make.  We also did not have access to the incredible 12-step program for addictions that the Church now has when we were fighting this. It is an inspired program and there are people there who can help both of you.


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6 Responses to A Reader’s Story of Hope

  1. jendoop says:

    What a wonderful story of overcoming an addiction. Our leaders tell us so often how harmful and addictive this is that it can lead those addicted to think they can’t get out, they’re not good enough, not strong enough. The Spirit whispered a solution to you and you followed it. I’m a bit in awe of that, how devoted you were, despite how many times he had hurt you. But I think that’s one of the beautiful things about marriage – being with someone so much that they know your flaws better than you do and they love you anyway. As a depressed woman I am in awe of my patient husband in the same way. What a powerful force forgiveness is.

  2. I love this story. When I read the part about the wife praying to God and handing over her anger, that touched me.

    I know how it is to struggle with addictions and to cycle over and over again and how it feels to look yourself in the mirror and hate what you see. I also know what it feels like to have abuse in childhood that carries into bad habits as an adult. Knowing that someone is there no matter what gives the individual struggling hope to keep going. I also know that God is always there no matter what we do and His arms are open and ready for us to run to him any time.

  3. MSKeller says:

    Beautiful story of hope. Thank you for sharing your struggles. So many struggle similarly, and yet can’t possibly open up and share their experiences. When a few do, it helps so many more realize that there is hope, and that they are not freaks and completely alone.

  4. Lisa says:

    Good triumphs over evil, though it is a continual fight. It is good to hear that your situation is turning out well. I imagine it gives others hope. 🙂

  5. templegoer says:

    I really admire the step change you were able to make in your relationship from a ‘one being right and one being wrong’ style of relating. Many of us never get to that point, it can be very hard to let go of that position and move towards a more celestial style of relating. Clearly you have both attended to the Spirit’s invitation for you both to grow into a better companionship, I’m really interested in the Spirit’s work in this area. I notice that the Spirit constantly calls me to better behaviour with my spouse, and I find it very challenging to do better. But it’s also a delight to me to discover that things can be different.

  6. Bonnie says:

    This really could be my very own story as well as the story of countless of others. It is a journey many will have to take. I am grateful to have a knowledge of how I can do my part to help make it a happy ending. Thank you for sharing.

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