This is a letter that was distributed in my old stake in California. I'm posting it to help anyone who may be in a similar situation to this sister's. I am posting her entire letter (even though it is long) because I don't think it should be edited. It has adult content so it is not for children to read.
To the Sisters in the Stake,
I am writing to you as my sisters in this Stake. I wanted to share my experience with the hopes that it may help one of you who may face a similar situation. Let me start by saying I NEVER thought this would happen to me. I thought that this was the kind of thing that happened to other people and that I was immune to facing a trial like this. I was completely wrong. It can happen in any home.
The subject that I am addressing is one that most people are uncomfortable to discuss. It is pornography addiction (also called sexual addiction). Pornography addiction takes many forms – viewing pornographic magazines, viewing pornographic movies, looking at porn on the internet, chatting on-line, having inappropriate phone conversations and much more. There are many forms of pornography, but the path of destruction is all the same. This addiction leads to the destruction of souls, the destruction of marriages, the destruction of families. This pathway leads to adultery in some form as the addiction runs its course. I believe that this is one of Satan’s biggest tools and he is using this tool to destroy individuals and families.
My family has been under attack and we are fighting back.The process was a gradual one. For many years, I didn’t know my husband had a problem. It started with masturbation and then pornography was added in as time went on. He struggled on his own and I was completely oblivious. I don’t know if this was because I was just clueless or if it was because I didn’t see the truth because I didn’t want to see it. For years I had a slightly “off” feeling in my marriage. My marriage was generally happy with no obvious problems. We looked like an ideal couple to the outside world. Every once in a while I would just feel slightly uncomfortable. This carried on for many years. Then, I started feeling like there was a wall growing between my husband and me. It was nothing huge, just a lack of complete closeness. We’d talk and he’d say all the right things, so I talked myself in to thinking there wasn’t really a problem.
Then I started feeling like I couldn’t trust him completely. I didn’t trust that he would make good decisions. There were little clues to me that he wasn’t feeling the spirit and I felt like he wasn’t completely sincere when we’d pray together or have Family Night. His prayers just rang hollow to me even though he was saying the right things. I knew something was wrong, I just didn’t know what the problem was or how big it was. Then, as his problem began to totally take over, I noticed a bad feeling in our home and in my life. I was never completely happy and felt unsettled. I felt very lonely even though I had lots of friends. I also felt like my husband treated me like more of an object than a person. I felt like sex was something I owed him rather than something to share. It began to be much less appealing to me as he treated me more and more like an object. He would be angry and resentful if I said “no” so I said “yes” even when I didn’t want to be anywhere near him. I even reached the point where I wondered if something was wrong with me because I felt so uncomfortable.
My husband was very sneaky about his addiction. He didn’t want to risk losing me or his family by being caught. There was no history for me to find on our computer because he used the computer at work or when I was out of town or asleep and he deleted the history. He also made calls from work or from his cell phone so that I wouldn’t pick up on anything. I reached the point of such discomfort in my own home that I began to pray to Heavenly Father to know the truth. I prayed that He would let me know what was wrong in my home and what to do about it. He answered my prayers in a sure and certain way. I promise you that He will answer any of His children’s prayers when they seek to know the truth. Through this experience I have a sure knowledge that my Heavenly Father listens to each of our prayers. He knows each of our needs and all we need to do is ask Him for help and He will jump right in and help.
I confronted my husband and he didn’t tell me the truth. I knew the truth in my heart already and I told him that when he was prepared to tell me that I was prepared to hear the truth. A few days later he shared his struggles with me and pleaded for help. He was willing to work with our awesome bishop and do whatever it took to become clean again. He hated the double life he had been leading for so long and was relieved to have it out in the open. I felt like he now felt relief but that he had placed a huge burden onto me.
At first I said I just wanted to die because it hurt so badly. It felt like my worst nightmare had come true. I felt betrayed, angry and worried, but quickly I felt deeper peace with me and I knew that I would be okay. I knew my husband was in a dark place, but he wanted to improve so I was willing to help him. At times I felt hurt, overwhelmed and angry, but I knew in the eternal perspective that he was a child of God and that he was the father of my kids so I wanted to try my best to make things work. I figured maybe I could love him again someday after my heart healed. Since he was willing to repent, I was willing to hang in there with him and at least give him one chance.
We went to the Bishop’s office hand in hand. The bishop was kind and compassionate and told us that we could all work through this together. He did not act shocked, embarrassed, disappointed or mad, but rather he was full of love and desire to help us. The church leaders are prepared and willing to help because they know that this is a problem that is destroying families in and out of the church.
The Bishop also recommended additional tools such as an LDS therapist and the 12 Step program through LDS Family Services. Plus we had a small circle of friends and family who we confided in and who gave us support. We began to communicate better and share our struggles with each other rather than hiding our concerns. We began to work as a team. I came to realize what the real battle was about. This wasn’t my husband trying to destroy my life and hurt me. This battle was about Satan trying to destroy our eternal family.
Satan wants us to feel alone. He doesn’t want us to resolve these problems. He wants the person involved in sin to feel like they are all alone and unworthy. He wants the sin to be shrouded in secrecy. He wants us to be carnal not spiritual. Satan wants us to feel hopeless and sad and angry. But Heavenly Father and our Savior want us to be happy and they are stronger than the adversary.
There is a path to recovery. You can be happy even after facing a challenge of this magnitude. Today I can honestly say I am happier than ever. We have had bumps along the path of recovery and everything hasn’t been perfect or easy, but we have sorted our way through things as a team. The Plan of Salvation is clearer to me. The scriptures are more treasured. My prayers are more sincere and heartfelt. Our home feels pure and happy. I never thought I could be happy again, but I guess I didn’t really understand the Atonement. I am beginning to now. I also know that my husband and I can’t let our guard down spiritually for a minute or Satan will wedge his way back in to our lives.
If you think something may be wrong in your home or marriage, please don’t turn a blind eye. Talk to your husband. Be honest with your concerns. Tell him that if he has a problem now or ever does that you are willing to talk to him and work with him and that you won’t just leave. If you are struggling in this area, talk to your husband. Talk to the bishop. It is not a subject that should be avoided because it is embarrassing to discuss. Remember, we are all in this battle and Satan is a mean and sneaky adversary.Pornography is a problem that is plaguing our society. I, for one, want to stop Satan from destroying families. Since this has happened, we have found out that others in our circle of family and friends have struggled as well. A few of them have now set their lives right as well. It is a problem in society and it is a problem in this Church.
No one is safe from this. Don’t assume that this can’t happen to you. I believe that Satan works even harder on those with the most potential. I beg you to please be aware of this problem and don’t assume that “all is well.” We all need to fill our lives with the right things to protect ourselves – sincere prayer, scripture study, going to church, Family Night, temple attendance, etc. It sounds like the same old advice, but trust me, it works. Don’t be complacent spiritually because it is not worth the price you may pay.
Remember that you are never alone and even in your darkest moments, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow and that this is all due to a loving Father and His son Jesus Christ. Things can be okay again.
Love, A Sister in the Stake