This is my first anonymous post, and you will see why as you read. I highly respect this person for being brave enough to share her struggle and for protecting her ex-husband’s identity. I am grateful for her example and faith in overcoming her ex-husband’s addictions and affairs.
I chose to write this post anonymously to respect the privacy of others involved. I’m not here to throw anyone under the bus, I’m just sharing my experience and things I have learned. So, no bio or picture for this post, but hopefully a post that will help someone feel like they aren’t alone if they’re experiencing something similar. Although, I would be thrilled if everyone who read this couldn’t relate at all! Unfortunately, I’ve learned my experience isn’t all that uncommon and happens way more than we realize when we are experiencing it and feel so alone. I’ll also make a disclaimer that I know this is something men and women both struggle with, this post is just written from a wife’s perspective.
I think it’s easy for many people to say they would never stay married to someone with a pornography addiction. It’s easy to say they would never stay with someone if they had an affair. I was one of those people who “would never stay in a marriage if my husband had a pornography addiction or had an affair.” That is, until I was faced with that reality. And while in some cases a spouse may run for the hills immediately, that certainly isn’t the case for everyone. It’s one of those things you don’t really know how you’ll handle it unless you experience it for yourself.
I hadn’t been married long when I was home alone one night while my husband was at work and I had a feeling to check his internet history. I pushed that feeling aside, but when the prompting returned, I acted. I felt guilty for snooping because there hadn’t been any major signs of concern up to that point and I felt bad for obviously not trusting my husband completely, the way I thought I should. But it was then that my eyes began to be opened to a can of worms I hadn’t known anything about.
I found fake e-mail accounts, dating website accounts, searches for sexual encounters, and plenty of inappropriate images that are unfairly engraved into my memory. I remember immediately thinking there must be an explanation; someone must have gotten a hold of his computer! Deep down I knew better, but the denial ran deep and I didn’t want to believe the heartbreaking truth.
I’ll spare every tiny detail, but I confronted my husband and he admitted to just enough to make me feel like I knew everything. However, for the next few days we became more distant and in my gut I knew there was more. I was right; soon he admitted he had had a couple affairs and a couple other sexual encounters.
We separated immediately. I was one of those that said I would never put up with that. But when it fell into my lap, I knew I needed to feel like I gave my marriage 100% before calling it quits. This was someone I loved and it wasn’t as easy to give up on our marriage as I would have thought it would be after being so hurt. We were also sealed in the temple and I had made covenants and wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing… but knowing what the right thing was was going to take a lot of time, effort, and patience.
We went to counseling that focused on sexual addiction and met with our bishop often. After quite some time of trying to make things work, I learned that he was still on dating websites contacting women, creating different types of fake accounts that involved pornography, and that an additional affair had happened before we got married. At this point I finally felt like I had done everything I needed to do to feel like I could walk away from my marriage and be happy. He hadn’t been worthy to marry me in the temple and everything that ever appeared good in our marriage suddenly seemed like a big lie. I knew I would be happier alone than to stay in the unhealthy marriage I was in, and we were divorced shortly after. I knew it was the right thing when I felt total peace with the decision, when I had felt so much confusion before.
This experience taught me a lot about myself. It strengthened my testimony as I relied heavily on prayer, reading my scriptures, and visiting the temple. I learned how to trust my own judgment. Before I knew about his addiction, there were things that were red flags that I didn’t see as red flags. The way he would get offended so easily, or the way he would turn every concern I had back on me like it was my problem – like that one time I thought it was weird he had been messaging an old girl friend from high school about going to lunch sometime. Not a double date, but one on one lunch. He made me feel crazy for thinking this was not okay, and I ended up apologizing for “overreacting.” I wouldn’t have known these were red flags for an addiction until I learned about it more through counseling and there were other wives that explained similar situations. I have since learned to stand up for myself. I learned that Heavenly Father gives us trials and experiences to help us learn and grow in wonderful ways. I am a better wife, a better mom, a more understanding friend, and a less judgmental individual because of my experience. I’m not perfect, but I’m grateful I was able to change for the better in a variety of ways because of this trial.
I also learned that good people struggle. I know several people who have this addiction that I think very highly of. They have happy marriages because they want their marriages to last and they want to avoid pornography. A pornography addiction doesn’t make someone a bad or “creepy” person. It’s a true struggle and my heart aches for those who struggle with it, especially those who wish they didn’t. I learned that the pornography addiction had nothing to do with me. I think it’s easy for a wife to feel like she must be doing something wrong. I felt like if I looked better, or kept the house clean, or cooked dinner more often, that the addiction would disappear. But often, pornography addictions stem back from a long time ago, long before a wife enters the picture. I learned that it’s much more common than I knew. I was so embarrassed and wanted to keep his addiction a secret, but as soon as our families and some friends knew, we were surprised at how loving and kind people were. As soon as I felt like I had people to talk to and it wasn’t a huge secret in our marriage, a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders and it felt good to have support from people I love.
Above all, I learned that the Atonement is real. It helped me to forgive and it healed my broken heart. It isn’t just for those who struggle with addictions, like pornography. It’s for spouses that are hurt by this addiction as well. I believe I would be bitter and resentful of a lot of things if I hadn’t had the Atonement to help me forgive, find peace, and see the blessings in disguise.
While my marriage ended because of this addiction, I’m confident that many marriages don’t need to. If both spouses are open and honest about their triggers and feelings and they really want their marriage to last, their marriage will last. Secrets grow and addictions can become harder to control. Satan knows this is a powerful tool to ruin marriages, so he wants us to believe that no one will love or support us if they know we or our spouse struggle with this. He wants wives to feel like they aren’t enough. However, I promise you that you do deserve better – whether that is leaving an unhealthy marriage, or staying in one where you set boundaries, don’t enable the addictive behaviors, and work on things together.
To anyone feeling like they are alone in a similar experience – you are not alone. Heavenly Father is aware of you and is allowing you to experience this to help you grow in wonderful ways. You are so loved. I know it’s not easy, but you are never alone and Heavenly Father can help you navigate this trial if you turn to Him and do your part.