Nothing is Impossible
Nine months after I married my husband, I discovered he had an addiction to pornography. Not only had he been involved with it while we were dating and engaged, but his behaviors had also found their way into our new and tender marriage. There aren’t words sufficient to convey the anger, hurt, and betrayal I felt when I found out. Above all, I felt I had been tricked into marrying him. Because we had been married in the temple, I felt trapped in an eternal marriage to a man I didn’t know and certainly could not trust.
Our bishop suggested the Addiction Recovery Program specifically for pornography addiction and we agreed to participate. The program was organized as a group meeting and at first it was very embarrassing to attend, especially when I discovered that another woman in the group was someone I worked with. These feelings faded with time as I developed a bond with other members who were dealing with similar struggles.
Shortly after beginning treatment, a woman in the group pulled me aside and strongly suggested I get an annulment before my upcoming one year anniversary. She shared with me how her husband had repeatedly relapsed in his addiction, even after getting help, and how she felt she could not leave him because she had four children to care for. She urged me to get an annulment so that I could avoid children and a divorce. I pondered her words strongly and was sick at heart for the next week. After a visit with my stake president and a lot of prayer and pondering, I felt that I would agree to work at our marriage for as long as my husband would. Although I was angry at him, I could at least acknowledge that he was willing to change.
Things got worse before they got better. The lowest point I remember was around our one year anniversary when my husband asked me if I still loved him and I responded that I honestly didn’t know. The next few months passed with bouts of severe pain and heartache where I was plagued by nightmares and loneliness. Many times I pleaded with my Heavenly Father to give me the strength to get through.
As time passed and things began to get better, I was able to focus on several valuable truths I learned which aided my recovery:
- It is a myth people turn toward pornography when they are being unfulfilled sexually. I felt such a heavy weight believing I had driven my husband toward pornography because I had been unsatisfactory to him in some way. In reality, most individuals with these addictions have had them for years, many times since childhood. It was an addiction long before my husband met me and his choice to participate in it was in no way my fault.
- It is vitally important that both partners seek help. While I was not directly responsible for my husband’s behaviors, my attitude definitely played a role in how we dealt with problems together. I discovered and changed so much about myself through this process that I often wonder if I got more out of therapy than my husband did.
- It helps to keep safety nets in place, especially when discontinuing therapy. My husband and I set many rigid rules about media use, which we relaxed over time when we felt it safe and appropriate to do so.
- It requires a wholehearted effort to move toward recovery. Being open minded with things people observed about me allowed me to make the changes I needed to better my marriage.
- It takes a lot of time to recover. Even when things became more stable, I found I still harbored deep resentment toward my husband. I became angry when others praised him, thinking, “If they really knew him, they wouldn’t say such kind things about him.” To combat these feelings, I kept a gratitude journal for over a month and wrote one thing every night that showed my gratitude for my husband. At times it felt nearly impossible to produce even one idea in this journal. Now, I delight in the praise my husband receives and I wouldn’t have enough pages in a single notebook to record all the things I admire about him.
I couldn’t possibly describe every step I took throughout this process, but I can say that nothing is impossible through Jesus Christ. I had begged Him to restore my marriage to its former plane, but He has instead carried it to one that is so much higher. I came closer to Him by viewing my spouse as He might and by offering forgiveness while recognizing that we are all beggars before the Lord.
Today my husband and I have been married five years and have a beautiful daughter. We have an excellent marriage and a wonderful, blessed life. No longer do I live in fear. No longer do I look at my husband and feel bitterness and resentment. Only through the Savior can this kind of healing be made possible. He has healed my wounds through His grace.
* Name has been changed.