I am re-posting my story below, but I'd encourage you to go read her series as well.
No one has ever asked me how I've done it, because no one knows I've had to do it. No one but my husband, and he was the reason I had to "do it." So I'm asking myself--how do I hold it together while helping my husband through an addiction to pornography?
To many people on this earth, looking at pornography is no big deal. In our faith (and for many who share our sentiments), it falls into the category of having "sexual relations" outside of marriage. It is very serious and something we covenant not to do.
When my husband and I were dating, I felt prompted to ask him if he had ever looked at porn. He painfully told me the truth--that he had struggled with it off and on since high school, and that he still looked at it occasionally. He felt ashamed. I was crushed. This was the man I wanted to marry. I had to decide if this was something I wanted in life. We talked. He promised to stop. He talked to our church leaders. He stopped. He promised.
Fast forward a couple years. We were happily married. I asked him about it occasionally, and the answer was almost always that he was doing great. Every once in a while I would find something on the computer or just feel prompted that he was hiding something. He would admit that he had relapsed and looked at porn. I would cry. I would shut down. I would feel so hurt, so betrayed. I was disgusted.I couldn't look at him, talk to him, change in front of him. I had shared my life and body with him, and only him. He in turn looked at other naked women. He couldn't explain why. He knew it was wrong, but he couldn't stop.
For anyone who thinks pornography is not an addiction, I would ask them to reconsider. Ask anyone who looks at pornography on a regular basis to give it up cold turkey and forever. They won't be able to, because it is an addiction. It is like drugs. My husband learned this the hard way, and I in turn struggled in the wake of his addiction. My only consolation was that, no matter what, if I asked him about it he would tell me the truth. He never came forward on his own because he was so terrified that he would hurt me or, even worse, that I would leave him. He was scared, but he always told the truth when I asked. At least I knew he wouldn't lie to me.
I told him I didn't want to have kids with someone who looked at pornography, because pornography addiction leads down a slippery slope and often leads to cheating and divorce. Who would want to bring kids into that situation? He agreed to start going to an addiction recovery program through our church (link: http://www.providentliving.
Our lives continued. We were happy. I continued to ask him about it on a regular basis over the next couple years. The answer was always the same--that he was doing great. That he hadn't looked at it. He promised. One day I found something on the computer and he assured me over and over that it wasn't his. He promised. He promised that he hadn't had any problems whatsoever. I wanted to trust him, because "at least I knew he wouldn't lie to me." I broke down and told him I refused to be one of those poor wives who blindly believe their husbands while their husbands lie behind their backs. That was not the life I signed up for. He broke down. He admitted that not only had he looked at porn, but that he had been lying to me when I'd asked about it.
Do you know what it's like to have your husband lie to you to your face? Do you know what it's like to feel stupid for believing him? It hurts. It rips a hole in everything you have known. Everything you have built your life around. Then you find yourself in a dark hole wondering what else he's capable of lying about. It's hard to forgive. It's hard to trust again.
So how have I done it? My husband is a very good person. Everyone who knows him can attest to that. Everyone loves him. Because this was my husband's struggle, it wasn't mine to talk about. In order to do so, I would have had to divulge his addiction. He wasn't ready for that. He was ashamed. He beat himself up for hurting me over and over. He didn't want that to be the thing for which people remembered him. Out of respect for him, I kept it between the two of us. I felt alone. I didn't have anyone to talk to. No one to give me guidance. No one to tell me it would be okay.
I turned to my Heavenly Father. Many times did I sob and pray for comfort. "Please help me stop crying. Please help me understand this. Please help me know what to do. Please help me have the desire to forgive him." I know it was my Heavenly Father who helped me through time and time again. He helped me understand the addiction and separate it from the way my husband felt about me. I could see my husband trying to fix things. Trying to improve. Trying to leave this horrible beast in the past only to be beat down by it again and again. It was also through prayer that I came to the realization that this problem started long before I knew my husband, which helped me to never have the terrible thoughts that maybe I was the problem. That maybe I wasn't pretty enough. Maybe he wasn't happy with me. Heavenly Father helped me keep these false sentiments far away. He helped me see that it wasn't my fault. It was something my husband had to endure, but not because of me.
Luckily for me, I have always had a very strong self-image. One day it clicked and I walked up to my husband and told him how amazing I was--I was educated, I was smart, I could sing, I could play sports, I could play the piano, I had a good relationship with Christ, I was attractive...I went on for a long time. I was anything but humble. I told him that I am amazing and that he needed to treat me as such. I didn't deserve this. (I think I needed to hear that more than he did.) Then I cried and went on to tell him how amazing he is. He didn't deserve to have his life ruined by this addiction. There is so much more to him. This does not define him. I vowed to help him and love him and stand by his side forever. All I asked in return was honesty. I felt peace in my heart.
We have an amazing relationship. Things are going well. We have been blessed with children and are very happy. No one would guess that we have struggled with something so painful. I trust my husband. He is my life. I am his. Even so, we are very much living in reality. We know this beast could show its ugly head in the near or distant future. That's the reality with addiction. I have come to accept this.
I asked for his honesty and he asked for my support. We both ask our Heavenly Father for help. We talk about it often.
That's how we do it.