Pornography addiction is something that I dealt with for many, many years. Not my own addiction, but that of my ex-spouse. At first I didn’t realize it was an addiction. I came from a non-religious family where pornography was basically acceptable. I watched rated R movies, even at a very young age. I saw many nude people in movies and thought nothing of it. Unmarried sex wasn’t discouraged. So when I was in a serious relationship when I was 15 (yes, way too young), I didn’t think much of his interest in looking at magazines or movies of a questionable nature. I got married at 17. The pornography and sex fascination bothered me a bit after I was married, but I didn’t necessarily think it was evil or an addiction. I now know that pornography is both. There is no other word for it.
We had many relationship struggles over the 10 ½ years we were married. Almost all of them were centered around sex. I won’t go into specific details, but dealing with any addiction is a personal hell. Once I started going to church and living my life in a way pleasing to my Heavenly Father, it still took me several years to convince him that he was addicted. He kept saying he could stop anytime, but he'd try and fail over and over. I saw the addiction signs, I researched and prayed. I knew he needed help.
Here are a few of the signs in our marriage: He once got a money order to subscribe to a nude magazine so I wouldn’t know; he downloaded a blocker so I couldn’t see the history of where he had been online. He started becoming closer with girls at work because they “flirted with him and complimented him” and it made him feel good. He would stay late at work when he was supposed to be studying so he could spend time on the computer. If we weren’t intimate as often as he liked he became angry and mean. He would sleep downstairs so he could get on the computer. He worked in an environment where porn was common. Sex was the most important part of his life. He had a hard time even touching me in a non-sexual way... ever A comforting hug turned into a hand down my shirt, a cuddle turned into pants being undone. I felt like I was nothing more than a sexual object to him.
I never felt good enough because I knew I'd never compare to the fake women he viewed on a regular basis. I hated sex with him because it didn't feel like a loving, safe thing. By the time he realized he had a serious addiction that he couldn’t handle alone, it was too late for our relationship to be saved. Every relapse was harder to forgive. I was hurt more than someone who has not been through this can ever know.
I was constantly worried for my children. The younger a boy is exposed to porn the more likely he is to become addicted and team that up with the addictive nature of my kids' father had inherited anyways I was and still am scared that my son will end up an addict himself someday. I used to go downstairs to my computer to delete the image search history every morning so my kids wouldn't accidentally see something they shouldn't. It made me sick to see the phrases he was searching for. My computer constantly had inappropriate pop-ups and once caught a virus and crashed my whole system because of site that had been visited.
Sex and pornography addictions are extremely hard to kick and quite often addicts never overcome a porn addiction. Most professionals will tell you a porn addiction is harder to overcome than an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Let me explain a little about why that is. Someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol gets high or drunk from their addiction. So does a porn addict. If you put an alcoholic in a room without alcohol he can't get drunk. It doesn't mean he's not still addicted, but it means he can't fulfill that addiction. Now let's put a porn addict in a room with no porn. Because porn is basically images in your head, a porn addict can recall images or scenes in his head and feel the same high and arousal he did when he was actually viewing it for the first time.
The porn will not work it's way out of his system like drugs or alcohol do. The images are there anytime he wants to and even when he doesn't want to remember them. Masturbating is another way porn and sex addicts can get their high. These are thing that can't be physically taken away. I do believe that a person can be healed through counseling, 12 step meetings, prayer, faith and blessings, but I know Satan is strong and a pornography addiction's hold is hard to escape.
Sex is a beautiful and wonderful part of a marriage. When a couple loves and trusts each other it is a true bonding experience. Addiction takes a lot of that love and trust out of a marriage. I've had men I'm dating ask what is so bad about being addicted to sex when you're married. I don't think they comprehend the word addiction. Having sex with the person you're married to or desiring to have sex with the person you're married to is not a bad thing. That's a great thing. But when you are addicted to sex it goes beyond desire.
There are many great helps for people suffering with a pornography/sex addiction and their spouses. I'm going to mostly focus on those in the LDS (Mormon) community because that's what I'm familiar with. The LDS church has a great 12 step program. The workbook is available through the church distribution center. I believe it’s around $5. It’s a good tool for both the husband and wife to work on separately. Bishops and other religious leaders can be a fabulous resource. They can be someone to talk to when you don’t feel like you should share with anyone else. Marital problems of a sexual nature are often something you don't feel like you can talk about to a friend or family member, especially when it's the addiction of a spouse. I never wanted to feel like I was throwing his sins out there for all to see, so I felt very, very alone in dealing with this.
There are fabulous counselors through the LDS Family Services. If you can’t afford it, talk to your bishop. We had a $10 co-pay and our ward covered the rest. Families are important to the church; they’re willing to help. A lot of insurance companies also cover counseling. The church also has sex addiction support meetings for both the husband and the wife. I know here in our area there are several a week, one in almost every town. I was able to attend a meeting once. It was an amazing experience. There were so many women with so many different stories… newlyweds, grandmas, wives of stake presidents, you’d be surprised who is tangled in the pornography web.
These wives were dealing with everything from being newly married and just finding out about the addiction to having been married 30 years when their husband confessed. There were wives that had been cheated on and even one whose husband was in prison for molesting their grand-children. It was an amazing experience to bond with these women I didn’t know and realize I was not alone. Their testimonies were so sweet and so strong. My ex felt awkward at first in the men’s meeting, but he too also felt it was good to know you aren’t the only one struggling. Through these meetings I realized that no one is exempt from this addiction. It can ensnare anyone at any station in life. The people you least expect could be dealing with this. It's a very sad thing.
This is a subject we hear a lot about, but it's not something that we talk openly about. I'm here to talk openly! If there is anyone out there who would like a friend, I’ve been there. Please contact me. I know just having a friend you can talk to can make a world of difference.