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Monday, May 9, 2016

When Your Spouse is Addicted to Pornography

Dear Bro Jo,

I am married (for about a year and a half now) but I remember asking for dating advice from you when I was younger and figured I could come to you now!

I'm still a young adult and am not quite versed in this new marriage world.

My husband confided in me before we were married that he has a problem with pornography. It was hard to swallow but I felt confident that we could get through this issue together. We all sin, after all! 

He confesses to me when he gives in to temptation and we work through the issue together. We share electronic devices and I have now found out that he has been searching his ex-girlfriends Facebook profiles, through my Facebook profile.

There has not been any contact with these girls but it still doesn't sit right with me.

I am not sure if I should confront him about this or wait for him to come to me, like he almost always seems to do. It's killing me inside and I feel like it's just eating at me.

My mind is going crazy as to the reasons he could be doing this.

I also forgot to mention that I am 5 months pregnant with our first child.

Maybe it's my hormones making my mind run wild with crazy thoughts but regardless, this issue in our marriage should be addressed.


Dear Distressed, 

The things you're feeling is part of why I advise people not to marry those who are currently suffering from an addiction. 

This does not mean that I think you should leave him. Not if he's willing to get help anyway. 

I find it troublesome that both of you are making excuses for his behavior. 

Yes, we all sin, but that doesn't make it okay. Nor does it mean that the sins we commit have no effect on those around us. 

And yes, while we don't discuss the relativity of sin, you must admit that some things (say, perhaps, forgetting to take out the garbage when one promises to) are not the same as others (like committing adultery), right? 

I'm going to be candid with you because I care: your husband is unrepentant and you are enabling his transgressions. 

Confessing to you is not repentance. 

If anything, your reaction (or lack thereof) is as if you're giving him permission. 

Remember, to repent is to turn away and not do it again. What reason does he have to do that? 

And why isn't it happening? 

He needs to talk to Priesthood Authority and, in my non-professional opinion, he needs to seek out the Church's Addictive Recovery program. 

Anytime the person who is supposed to love and cherish you does something that hurts or harms you they need to know. 

And you need to know whether or not they care enough to change the behavior. 

That's where I'm concerned the most. His behavior is hurting you. 

You haven't told him (how many times have you heard me say "communication is the key"?). 

I see no indication that things are improving. 

All hope is not lost! 

I think you're wise to be aware of how the pregnancy may be affecting your emotions. But I also think it's past time that you two had a very frank talk. 

Make sure that he knows that you love him. But also tell him how the things he's doing makes you feel. 

Be Honest. 

And don't use the word "you". (That makes people defensive and won't help you resolve anything.) For example, instead of saying "when you do check out your ex-girlfriends you make me feel this way", say "when I see that ex-girlfriend photos have been viewed I feel this". (See the difference?) 

One last, and I believe very important thing: pray before you talk to him. On your own. 

Then pray as a couple. 

In fact that's exactly how I think you should start. Go pray. 

Then tell him you need to talk to him about something very important and ask him if you two could pray together first. 

If he calls on you (which I expect), then be sure in your prayer to thank Heavenly Father for this man in your life; let him know that you love and appreciate him. 

I'll be praying for you from here, and I'm standing by to help in any way I can. God bless, 

- Bro Jo 

Dear Distressed, 

Pondering your email this morning . . . and I felt like my initial response may have come across as too harsh. 

I'm sure your husband is a Good Man. 

And there are things that you can do to help him overcome his addiction. 

You may want to read through some of my previous posts about pornography. 

One of the most important things he can do is to identify his triggers. 

Is it staying up late? 

Being super tired? 

Being alone? 

Is the computer in a secluded place? 

Is he drawn to pornography when he's depressed about something? 

And then he can identify alternate activities that he can do when temptation seems it's strongest. 

Things like: 

  - Go for a run (or a walk with you!) 
  - Listen to Church music 
  - Call a friend or family member 
  - Go help a neighbor (or any kind of service, really) 

I do think he should talk to his Bishop. 

And I do think he may want to strongly consider the Addiction Recovery Program. 

Through the love and Atonement of the Savior we are all redeemable. 

Please let me know if I can be of any more help. 

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you very much for your words of advice and kindness. 

Your initial email was not too harsh. 

It was the push I needed to get this handled. 

I do realize that I have been standing by watching and letting this happen and it is very clear that it is harming our marriage. 

I'll keep you updated. 

Thank you for your prayers.

- Distressed

1 comment:

TL said...

YES YES YES to the Addiction Recovery Program!!! There are groups for spouses/family members directly affected as well, and they are all fantastic.