“My Husband’s Addiction,” Ensign, Aug. 2006, 20–23
When I discovered that my beloved eternal companion had become ensnared by pornography, I experienced the intense pain a wife in such a situation suffers. It is a deep sense of soul sickness, betrayal, and spiritual agony. It feels like the very roots of a precious eternal marriage have been yanked out of the safety and protection of gospel ground and, exposed to all the elements, begin to wilt and die. There is a sense of panic. The safety and peace of the marriage relationship evaporate. Trust, respect, honor, love, priesthood—all are deeply injured.
For some months I had known something was not right. My husband and I had always been close, and our marriage had been very happy. But now there was an emotional distance, a barrier of some kind between us.
My husband loved the gospel and had been strong and faithful, but now he seemed distant from the Lord. He seemed to have lost his desire to participate in the sacrament and to attend the temple. I rarely saw him on his knees in personal prayer, and his heart did not seem to be in our family prayers and scripture study. There was a darkness about him, and he seemed deeply unhappy, even angry inside.
I was so frightened—for him and for us—because I suspected Internet pornography. He had been spending a lot of time on the Internet alone in his office, especially late at night, and he kept his computer password-protected. I tried to talk to him about this, though I hardly knew how to go about it. He fiercely denied having a problem, attributing his behavior to work-related stress.
On occasion I would read a quotation by the Brethren about the evils of pornography, and my husband would agree heartily with what was said, even making perceptive comments. And he assured me that he loved me. Yet I could not shake the feeling that there was a serious problem. Although I prayed for him and kept his name on the temple prayer roll, I could feel my precious husband slipping from the safety of the gospel.
Finally, believing the scriptures that say “ask, and ye shall receive” (see, for example, John 16:24; 3 Nephi 27:29), I went to Heavenly Father, pleading to know what was wrong. This was not easy for me, for if the problem was what I suspected, I did not know how I would deal with it. How I hoped he was not involved in pornography! But I knew that whatever the problem was, Heavenly Father would help my husband and me. I asked for humility and courage to change whatever I needed to change in myself. I told Heavenly Father how much I loved my husband and how I wanted our marriage to be joyful and eternal. I made a commitment to attend the temple weekly, fasting for my husband.
Within only a few weeks, my husband, sick with the flu, went to bed, leaving his computer on. As I started to shut it down, I suddenly felt I should check it. There was the pornography.
In the midst of the flood of feelings that nearly overwhelmed me, I knew my discovery was an answer to my prayers. I don’t know how long I was on my knees or how long my cheeks were wet with tears, but as I poured out my heart to Heavenly Father, the comfort made possible by the Atonement of our Savior began to fill my soul. My pain and fear were lifted. Spiritual insights flowed into my mind and heart. I saw that my husband and I and our eternal marriage were precious to Heavenly Father, and I knew that He would help us.
Us. I understood with great clarity that this was not my husband’s problem alone. I could not, must not, passively stand by and hope he would conquer the problem by himself. I needed to be an active participant in this battle. It would not be easy, but if I continued to be faithful and obedient, trusting in the Lord, I would not fight alone.
As I prayed, I saw my husband in a different light, a brighter light. I already knew he had overcome much adversity in his life, and now I saw that he was willing to fight for his eternal life and our eternal marriage. I saw his underlying love and faith in Heavenly Father and the Savior and his love for me, but I also saw that love, faith, and trust were not always easy for him to develop.
I saw that I should help him develop trust in Heavenly Father and the Savior. Such trust would give him the strength to face this addiction head on by going to Heavenly Father in humble prayer to plead for forgiveness, strength, and release from the demon that plagued him.
Empowered by the Lord, I began to take steps. I discontinued our Internet service, feeling strongly impressed that if my husband was to heal, he needed to get away from the temptation. Others in this situation may receive a different answer, but for us, discontinuing our Internet service for a time was a great blessing. Once my husband was away from the temptation for a few days, he acknowledged how much this had helped him. He told me he had tried to overcome this sin alone and thought he was strong enough. Then, as he failed, he felt ashamed and tried to hide his sin from me and from God. But now he was feeling hope! We cried together. We prayed together.
We asked for a priesthood blessing from a dear friend, the man who had baptized my husband years before. In the blessing my husband was assured several times that the Lord loved him. He was counseled to trust and confide in me, and he was blessed with the ability to know right from wrong—a great help, as pornography use warps a person’s moral judgment.
This blessing strengthened both of us. I continued my own increased personal spiritual efforts: frequent fasting, much prayer, temple attendance, and immersion in the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. Our scripture study and prayers together began to be sweet again.
Knowing that I needed to acquire knowledge by my own efforts as well as through prayer, I read everything I could find from General Authorities regarding pornography, and I also read material written by Latter-day Saint professionals. My husband and I counseled with our priesthood leaders, who encouraged our efforts and expressed their faith that we would win this battle.
I felt impressed to talk frankly with my husband. I never underplayed or made any excuses for his sin. I talked with him about this subject only according to what came to me in prayer and only when the time felt right. I received much guidance and inspiration.
If my hurt resurfaced—and it did on occasion, especially at first—I took it to Heavenly Father in prayer. I made extra efforts to show my husband that my love for him was deep. He needed to know we were a team and that together we would fight the enemy. His wife, his best friend, would stand by him. What a sweet experience it was for me to see his repentance process bringing light back into his life!
I loved my husband for the strong, good man I knew he was. From my reading I knew that pornography use robs a person of feelings of self-worth, so I did all I could to help him rebuild faith in himself. I also learned to acknowledge my failures and weaknesses to my husband more readily than I had before, and I asked for his advice and counsel more often. I was humbled and grateful for his insights and support. This strengthened us both.
I worked hard to share many positive, fun experiences with my husband. I wanted to let the light in so he could feel and savor the difference. We went on many walks and took peaceful drives in the country, enjoying the beauty of God’s creations. I felt this would help fortify him against temptation if it came again and would help refocus our lives on the good and the beautiful.
Then the company my husband worked for began struggling and edged toward bankruptcy. Many lost their jobs, including my husband. This was emotionally devastating for him, yet we were confident that with his background and skills, he would soon find another job.
We were wrong. Months went by with no job. It became harder for him to ward off discouragement. My husband was very vulnerable. I knew this but didn’t know what more to do. We had resumed Internet service but with filtering. He was home while I worked, spending a lot of time on the Internet searching for jobs. One day he disabled the filter—never assume that a computer-literate person cannot bypass any filtering! I discovered the relapse quickly. At first I felt frightened. Would we have to start all over again? Then I realized my husband had made it easy for me to discover what he had done. He really wanted to overcome this! Again we cried and prayed together, and we drew even closer to one another.
As I prayed, the familiar calming assurance came. I felt we would overcome this problem. We realized this addiction was stronger than we had thought. My husband agreed to use the Internet only when we were both home. Only I would have the password until he felt stronger.
One great blessing that came to him at this time was that he found a temporary job that led to the good job he has now. My husband felt grateful for this blessing, which he saw as evidence of Heavenly Father’s tender mercies in his life.
When my husband had stayed away from pornography long enough, according to the time frame set by our bishop, his temple recommend was renewed. While he had certainly tasted the bitterness of sin, the joy he felt in his repentance was as exquisite as Alma expresses (see Alma 36:21). I still remember the bounce in his step as he came out of the bishop’s office. A heavy burden had been lifted.
As I write this years later, my heart still overflows with gratitude for the many blessings that came out of this experience. My husband’s love for Heavenly Father and the Savior has grown immeasurably, as has his faith. He has more humility. We both have a deeper appreciation for the Savior’s Atonement. With Heavenly Father and the Savior to lean on, we overcame a real and powerful Goliath. We face the future hand in hand, knowing that with trust in the Lord, we can overcome all things.
“Trust in God and in His willingness to provide help when needed, no matter how challenging the circumstance. …
“Your peace of mind, your assurance of answers to vexing problems, your ultimate joy depend upon your trust in Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.”
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “The Sustaining Power of Faith in Times of Uncertainty and Testing,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2003, 76, 78.