Archive for the Pornography Category

Help, My Husband Has a Sexual Addiction

Question: “I’ll be as concise as I can, but this is a bit of a complicated situation. I have known my husband since we were both 17 (we are now approaching age 50). We have been married for nearly 25 years. We have 4 children, and became members of the LDS Church when we were about 29 years old. A year later, In 1990, we were sealed in the temple. I thought my husband and I were best friends, faithful to one another, honest with each other, and quite content with our lives in general. We did face loss and grief: financial loss, loss of my father-in-law and mother-in-law, suicide of 2 of my husbands nephews, and the difficulties that raising very spirited (sometimes very difficult) children brought us. These occurred over the course of a couple of years. When I noticed my husband having difficulty functioning as well as he had in the past, I assumed it was because of these difficulties. He seemed to move past them in time. Three years ago I was helping my husband organize his desk when I noticed something wrapped up in a bag. I opened it and found a self-help tape called “How To Overcome Sexual Addiction”. I called my husband at work and questioned him about it. He said that he used to have a problem with pornography, but that he was over it. He had just been given the High Priesthood and put in as Second Counselor in the Bishopric in our church ward. Over the next few days I found out that he had still had problems just a couple of months prior to my finding that tape. He didn’t offer to counsel with the Bishop, but I mentioned that I needed to talk with the Bishop about this, and we both ended up counseling with him. Our bishop was new and quite inexperienced in this area, and assumed his repentance was complete, and kept him in the Bishopric. Over the next year I was shocked repeatedly as I found out the extent of his problem. He had not “slept” with anyone, or had emotional relationships with anyone, but he had many “lap dances” at clubs, obviously with topless and mostly bottomless women, he had phone sex, he had done other things that were offered at sex shops. This was much more extensive than I originally thought, in fact I didn’t even realize that some of these things existed. I was sheltered growing up, and just wasn’t exposed to this sort of thing. During this year my husband read a 12 step book, which he worked on diligently, and he assured me he was a changed man, fully repentant. The real shocker for me came when I said I needed him to take a lie detector test, about a year into this whole discovery. I needed to know if he had molested our children (any children), had intercourse with anyone else since our marriage, and other things. Anyhow, he came out clean on those points, however before having the test he told me that for half of this second year he was back into the pornography. I was devastated. I was also shocked to learn during the following year that, although my first sexual experience was with him at age 18, his first sexual experience was with a prostitute at age 17. I had been previously traumatized when, after having sex with me (a virgin who expected that he was one too, having had a conversation about that before hand), he told me the next morning that he had already been with someone else (aside from the prostitute, who I just recently found out about). I went haywire and became promiscuous for a couple of years before marriage after finding out about him, and realizing that a marriage proposal was not going to happen any time soon (as he made clear to me). I felt totally ruined, as virginity was sacred to me. Ok, so after marriage, I assumed that all of our old sexual childishness was over and that we would always keep our vows with complete fidelity, which I did, but obviously he didn’t. Recently, he has assured me that he was totally clean from all of this, but I found out that he lied to me again, saying that he hadn’t been on a particular website (Real Housewives of New York City), when he actually had been. He didn’t see “anything”, so he assures me, but he was on the site at 1 in the morning, and the woman he showed interest in was this coming playboy’s cover girl. He insists he was interested in their gossipy lives. Ok, then, why the lie? I lost it at that point, and suggested a trial separation, but during a temple recommend interview the stake president assured me that separation is not the answer and that complete assurance and peace about a divorce is the only way that it is acceptable. Well, I have neither assurance from above or any peace at this point. I have a family counting on me to do what’s right, which is likely to stay and make this whole thing work. My worry is a selfish one, what about me? I feel trashed and humiliated and cheapened. Help???”

Answer: I appreciate your question. The pain and trauma that you have experienced during the continued discoveries of his sexual encounters must be so painful. From what you stated it appears that you are dealing with a mountain of hurt and betrayal. I know that must be so difficult as you had hoped and felt he was faithful but clearly is not at this point. He clearly does have a sexual addiction and is not sober, at least not now. His justifications about being interested in gossipy lives and saying he has it under control is clearly a denial as to the problem since if he were really working on it he’d of included you and the Lord in his own recovery. Sexual addiction is powerfully, as it involved God-given drives, chemical changes in the body, and can become a crutch to cope with emotional challenges. Beginning with his sexual encounter with a prostitute at 17 and then the series of lap dances, bouts with online porn while alone, and the rationalizations he is offering you indicate to me that he is in fact not sober and if in recovery is likely failing currently at getting a handle on his addiction. I imagine he must be in a world of shame and hurt as well. Shame as he knows that he is living a lie and lying to you as well. He likely is coping with the porn and hoping that it’ll go away but as the research indicates pornography addiction does not ‘go away’ without significant clinical intervention. Oxytocin and Serotonin are released in the brain during sexual arousal while he is engaging in this erotic and fantasy laden sexual encounters. His brain is an organ, and the power of these chemicals, in addition to his own emotional needs are part of what rivets him to his addiction.

My counsel for you is to confront him. He is in denial and needs more than a talk tape or book. The stories you shared and likely the ones you don’t know about are fueling his addiction and it will likely continue as it is just that, an addiction and addictions don’t stand to reason as the brain (not his spirit) is amoral and just wants more and more. I recommend you confront him that he get help, serious professional help. Part of his recovery will be working through understanding how he is benefiting from the porn and encounters and helping him get out of denial and into working through it, not avoiding it. For you I recommend you read this book titled, Confronting Your Spouse’s Pornography Problem.

I also recommend you find a solid LDS counselor that has training and a history working with sexual addictions. You need support and help as you navigate the pain you are bearing with the news that your husband is addicted and thus acting out in ways that jeopardize the marriage covenant and the future of the marriage. You are not alone. Please see my other inquiries that others have made regarding this topic of pornography and sexual addiction. You are not selfish for speaking out, but courageous. It is imperative that you draw a line in the sand. Your demanding respect, virtue, and love from him is one of the only ways for him to hit bottom and then realize he is in need of help. His problem will not go away and it is up to him to get the help and work through it.

Feel free to contact me and I can assist you in finding a therapist in your area with the right training to help guide and support you as you confront and work with you husband.

How Can I Help My Husband Stop Porn Habit?

Question: “My husband and I have been married for 7 years. While we were dating he told me he had an addiction to pornography since someone showed him a magazine when he was 8. He cried when he told me and assured me it was something he was working on and would not let continue. Over the first few years of our marriage I would either find something on the computer or he would feel guilty and confess on his own to me when he had “slipped up”. He could go months without viewing it and then go back. I got to the point where I was sick of asking him how he was doing on it since I was always scared to hear a negative answer and I found he would just lie until he was ready to confess anyways. Other than this issue, he is a perfect husband. He helps me around the house, is a hard worker, a wonderful father and my best friend. He has been to different bishops about it (since we move so often) but has never had temple worthiness revoked. In fact, a couple years ago he was made a high-priest. It has been a couple years since we have dealt with this issue so I thought maybe he was doing better but this morning I sound several porn links on his pocket pc (and he knows I check the history periodically). It also appears as it instead of just looking at pictures like he used to, there were links for video clips. I’m freaking out! It’s getting worse? I always kinds thought how guilty he felt about his little slip ups would prevent him from taking it any further. I realize he probably needs outside help, as do I since this is not really doing wonders for my self-esteem. What else can I do to help him? I don’t want to make him feel so guilty or bad that he feels hopeless about quitting but I want to help him stop. I wouldn’t ever want to consider divorce over something like this but I find myself thinking about the possibility of him leaving me or me having to leave him if it ever got too bad. Please help give me any tips for myself or him.”

Answer: I am glad you are reaching out for support. I can imagine you are pretty hurt and upset with his porn use that has lingered for years and appears to be getting worse. Stopping pornography can be harder than some substance addictions, like oxycontin or heroin. I have worked personally with scores of men that are addicted. These are successful, seemingly happy, but addicted men. They often live two lives and find themselves hiding and using their secret addiction to soothe and meet emotional and or sexual needs.

Yes, he does need clinical help. He will not kick it on his own and even if he did have the capacity to do it (he would of years ago if this was the case) he does not have an objective clear view that would help him assess his needs, his insecurities, and his doubts. He may not feel an impetus to change as he does not have a lot of pressure from you or so it appears from your post. He also may not hit rock bottom and feel like it is a significant issue unless he feels and comes to know that it hurts you, and it hurts you badly. It can and will destroy your marriage. I have worked with many couples that are battling it, don’t mistake, it is addictive and will lead him to objectify you and fantasize about other women; he needs help.

I recommend that you get some counseling help. I also recommend you read my other posts on the subject of pornography. http://www.ldsphonecounseling.com/blog/?cat=31

Listen to a good audio clip about how porn impacts the minds of men, 5 min. clip here: http://www.ldsphonecounseling.com/audio/jason-evert.mp3

I have provided a list of links of articles that I feel can help you heal.
Is Pornography That Harmful? (Recommended)
Breaking the Chains of Pornography – LDS Ensign
Leaving Pornography Behind – LDS Ensign (Recommended)

Get a longer list of articles from the LDS Church.

Struggling with Pornography, Who Should I Tell?

Question: “I am a young woman; I am about to become a laurel and I am addicted to pornography, my problem is not only that but it is pictures of women, I don’t find myself attracted to women but I just cant stop looking at it. I want to talk to my bishop about it but he always praises me for being such a righteous young women and I know I just cant talk to him yet. I want to ask my parents to help me see a therapist but I dont know how to ask. This addiction is causing so much regret and problems for me. I don’t want to lie anymore but if I tell the truth my life will never be the same and I don’t want to lose my friends and family. Can I repent without telling someone I know or telling anyone at all?”

Answer: I want to applaud your courage in writing in with your question. I first want to say that you can get help; you can and will heal. The first step to stopping the addiction is breaking the silence, speaking out. From your post I can tell that you are experiencing two things that most individuals caught in dependency or addiction, these are shame and guilt. Guilt is an emotion that influences us to feel bad for what we have done. Shame is a step beyond that, it influences one to feel that they are bad, flawed, or unforgivable for their actions or thoughts. I want you to know that you can be forgiven and can move beyond the pornography. It must be so difficult to feel that you can’t talk to anyone about the pornography. It is normal at your age to be curious about the body, both women’s and men’s bodies. It is also just as normal to want to explore and understand the nature of our bodies and how they work; you are completely normal in this. The difficulty with pornography is that it distorts the senses and warps perception. Many at your age venture in out of curiosity and then find themselves stimulated and even more curious resulting in secretive addiction they don’t feel they can stop. I’ve worked with numerous young men that also get caught in the web of pornography. The pornography is more than naked bodies, it is created by experts that spend millions to stimulate and draw their viewers in and eventually addict you. Your verbiage in your post indicates that they are ‘hooking’ you as you stated “I just can’t stop looking at it”. See the video below; web developers doctor up and alter images to ‘hook’ and create a reality that is not even real with men and women.

It must be difficult to hear your Bishop praise you for being so good when inside you know that you have done otherwise. I want you to know that you can come to him. What you tell your Bishop is confidential, meaning that he does not tell your parents etc. I suggest you speak to him, book an appointment and then open up and share with him what has happened. He can help you, he is the Lord’s shepherd to guide you. You mentioned that you might lose your family and friends if you come out with this. That thought is really common, that your world will crash down if you reveal the truth in an attempt to begin to heal.  Satan prompts this lie daily to those with pornography problems, that is why they stay stuck, they feel if they open and and get help that they will be rejected by those they love.  This is a great lie and could not be farther from the truth. It is in the getting help and opening up that you heal. Repentance will take your speaking with your Bishop and going to the Lord. You are not alone. I work with teens and adults every week, many of whom are dealing with the same problem. I have seen them work, pray, and stop pornography and heal. It takes help from professionals and most importantly your work with the Lord. Typically those I have worked with that are involved in pornography do not lose their membership and are not disfellowshipped. (Men and women that are temple endowed and hold the priesthood complicate the picture and can be disfellowshipped etc. due to the covenants they have made.) In your case, your Bishop will visit with you about the history and severity of the problem and work with you. Don’t hold back from talking with him due to fear of your membership. Remember, his job is to keep sheep in the fold, not push them out; he will hear, listen, and help you.

I know the fear, guilt, and shame must be overwhelming. I also know that you want to heal. In your post you mentioned wanting to talk to a therapist and not knowing how to talk to your parents about getting a therapist. Drop me an email, my email can be found here and I can give you more specifics on how to visit with your Bishop and parents about the issue.  Peace and healing are possible!

I have provided a list of links of articles that I feel can help you heal.
Is Pornography That Harmful? (Recommended)
Breaking the Chains of Pornography – LDS Ensign
Leaving Pornography Behind – LDS Ensign (Recommended)

Get a longer list of articles from the LDS Church.

Pornography Use In My Marriage

Question: “I am a Mormon member that is currently in good standing with the church. I occasionally (not every time) I have sex with my wife look at a porn magazine to get us going. We are completely committed to each other. She is ok with it, I think it seems to get her in a sex kind of mood. I realize that porn for those that are single is not right but what about for a married man that just wants to spice it up? We don’t do anything kinky or weird either.”

Answer: I appreciate your question. I’ve worked with couples in similar situations. My answer will be brief here as I don’t have all the details and history regarding your pornography use and that nature of the sexual behavior but I do have enough for a response here.  Pornography impact the male brain in clearly different ways than a female brain. Men, more often than not, are visually stimulated. Most women on the other hand are driven more by connection and verbiage from their spouse. The difficultly with your use of pornography is that you are using it as a stimulus to arouse you and move your mind into sexual behavior and thinking. My concern is that you are using the sexual images to arouse you and thus your wife is merely a byproduct of the sexual thinking, that comes after you are aroused. The difficulty with pornogaphy is that it numbs the senses. The relationship, bond, and beauty of your wife is what typically arouses sexually healthy men. My concern is you are using static images outside of your marriage to get ‘turned on.’ I have worked with many couples, some now divorced that started viewing sexually explicit content in an attempt to ‘spice it up’ and ended up slowly but surely looking outside of their marriage for satisfaction. Sexual behavior is a relational activity, not merely a biological one. If you are consuming the pornography like you would a food you are merely trying to get your appetites met, not bond, build, and connect.  Sexual arousal releases chemicals in your brain that your brain, a simple organ, wants to replicate just as it would nicotine, pizza, or ice-cream. The difficulty is that our bodies are hardwired to want to increase please and to also be sexual. It is during this consumption of porn that individuals become demanding and selfish. That is my fear for you and your spouse, that you will become more liberal with your sexuality and not find pleasure and arousal with each other, but with things or people that are not even real to you. The fact of the matter is, the women you are using to get aroused by are someones mother, someones sister, and possibly someones wife. When you leave the safety of your marriage and that commitment/covenant you will find yourself thrown into a sea of venues that promise fulfillment and excitement but lead you to a place of loneliness and sorrow. Church leaders have been clear, most have referred to it as ‘a plague’.

My questions with that are the following:

  • Is your wife really happy that you use porn prior to sexual activity with her? How can you be sure?
  • Do you fantasize about these women you view while having sex or being sexual with your wife?
  • How often do you find yourself ”rubber necking’ as you watch women in your everyday life and you consider them in an objectified and sexual way?
  • What does your spirit tell you? Is your sexual encounter or experience with your wife more about getting it on and done or about connecting, feeling, and enjoying each other?

Please read my article on pornography use and its impact on individuals and their relationships.  I have some resources and links within it about assessing if you are addicted to pornography or sexual behavior.