Aug 25, 2014

What We All Wish Church Leaders Knew About Wives of Porn Addicts:

What Do Wives Of Sex Addicts Wish Everyone Knew? 

1. We are devastated.  
2. We did not cause this and we cannot cure it.
3. We may feel that if we were prettier, smarter, or more “something,” they would not have this problem. This is not true. In almost all cases, they were addicted before they ever met us.
4. We need to know about our husbands’ actions so that we don’t blame ourselves for whatever feels wrong in our marriages. 
5. We also need to know of our husbands’ actions to help protect ourselves, our children, and our homes. Keeping someone in a relationship under false pretenses represents exploitation.
6.We have done nothing to bring this situation into our lives.  It feels so unfair that we have no choice but to deal with it.
7. We are baffled that we ended up here. We have tried to do all the things that we thought would bring us our happy eternal marriage.  This is the last thing we expected.  We may feel cheated and angry with God.
8. We feel really ashamed.  We feel embarrassed that we married someone with this problem, or that we didn’t see it sooner. We feel our husbands have made us into a phony, a fake, and a liar.
9. Extreme emotions are normal in our circumstances.  We should not be shamed for feeling them.
10. We may need help remembering that we have worth as individuals, no matter the outcome of our marriages or future choices of our husbands.
11. We feel alone. We feel like no one else has this problem. Isolation compounds our pain.
12. We need support
13. We have experienced major trauma and injuries from our husbands lies, cheating, and abuse.  This trauma is not an indicator that we are weak or not using the Atonement.
* 99% of sex addicts in relationships are abusive as well. This is an abuse issue. 
* Polygraphs can be crucial to finding out the truth for our safety. 
*It is hard for us to reach out for support.
*Other women who have been in our shoes can provide vital support.
*We may need ongoing support from our bishops.  It may be hard for us to ask for this ongoing support.  A little bit of reaching out and following up from our bishops may go a long way in helping us not feel overlooked or forgotten.
*We need to know what resources are available to help us.  A bishop who is familiar with this problem and what these resources are could help us feel better sooner.
*We may want and need increased access to Priesthood blessings.  Our husbands may not be worthy to give those blessings, and even if they are, they might not be the ones we want to ask to give them to us.  It may be valuable to have our bishops help us identify who we can ask when we need this particular type of help.
*Our bishops may be the first people we reach out to after discovering our husbands’ addictions.  It may be hard for us to trust Priesthood holders since our husbands have held the Priesthood in our homes but still chose to lie, cheat, and abuse.  If we feel invalidated by our bishops, it will be so much harder for us to reach out for further support.
*We sometimes feel invalidated when it seems that the Church does not hold our husbands accountable for their actions.
*More sex is not the answer. Our husbands do not act out with pornography and masturbation because we give them too little sex; they will not stop acting out with pornography and masturbation if we give them more sex. If we are encouraged to “not withhold sex” we will feel like we are being told that our feelings are not as important as our husbands’ feelings.  Our need for exclusivity trumps their “need” for sex.  Men are expected to remain abstinent until marriage, which implies it is possible for men to survive without sex.  Our having sex with them does not help them to recover.
*We are in no position to be asked to give our husbands support.  If anything, we need their support for us as we come to terms with what they have done.
*The best way for us to help our husbands is to hold them accountable.  Being asked to “forgive and forget” too early will hurt us both.
*Letting our husbands off the hook too easily usually decreases the urgency they feel about getting help.
*We need to set some boundaries for ourselves with our husbands to protect ourselves from ongoing harm.
*The best support we can give to our husbands is a healthy wife.  We need to do what it takes to find our way back to our own personal health.
*If our husbands have been caught instead of voluntarily disclosing, they may not actually have any desire to get better, no matter what impression they may give a bishop when discussing addiction.
*If we are asked to make changes to help our husbands overcome their problems, and they don’t change, then we feel like we didn’t try hard enough or lacked faith.  It may increase our shame.  Only our husbands are responsible for their own behavior.
*Most addicts lie or minimize when asked about their addictions.  We and their bishops are not likely to have heard the entire story from our husbands.
*Many of our husbands will continue to act out and to lie to us (and to their bishops) after their initial meetings with their bishops.  It may not be appropriate to encourage us to trust them yet, because they likely will not be trustworthy yet.
*Our husbands are incapable of giving up their addictions if they keep them a secret.
*Our husbands’ lies have harmed us at least as much as the actual betrayal. Sometimes even more. 
*Forgiveness does not mean forgetting or trusting them. Trust and forgiveness are not the same thing. Forgiveness is a benefit for us; trust is a benefit for our husbands.  Trust needs to be earned once it has been lost.  
*We will not get over it quickly.  We would if we could, but it will take time and effort to find our way back to emotional health.
*We need help regardless of our husbands’ desire for help.
*We will not automatically get better when our husbands stop acting out. Our progress may actually lag behind theirs.  The history of deception keeps us from being able to trust that we are now safe, even if they say that they have not relapsed in a long time. Some therapists believe it takes 2 or MORE years for the wife to recover after her husband gets sober and in recovery.
*Our husbands have not been good husbands. They have been selfish and lacking in empathy. Addiction results in other bad behaviors that have been harming us.
*Our husbands’ actions in no way decrease our own worthiness.
*Our husbands have most likely been trying for years to overcome their addictions by fasting, praying, reading the scriptures and attending the temple.  These are vital components in their repentance and in building their spirituality.  However, in most cases our husbands need more help than this to get into Recovery from addiction.  They often need knowledgeable counselors who specialize in abusers (and are anti pornography).
*We most likely need outside help to heal, just like our husbands do. Knowledgeable counselors who specialize in victims of abuse, and finding support group with other victims, can help us tremendously.
*Even addicts dedicated to the recovery process tend to relapse several times before achieving lengthy sobriety. But relapsing is still very serious, is not a part of the recovery process, and is NEVER OK.
*We would like our bishops to not assume they know everything they need to know on this topic. Be open to good information. Do not be afraid to admit what you don't know. Please ask us what you can do to help us.
*We should not simply replace all negative thoughts with positive ones. That shows denial of the impact this problem has in our lives.  In order to heal from these difficult wounds, we need to allow ourselves to grieve and feel our emotions.
*Many marriages that fail from this problem actually fail because of the continued lying more than the continued acting out.
*Our husbands' dedication to complete transparency in our marriage will help us to feel that we know everything we need to know. This transparency may include ongoing access to all email, social media, bank accounts, cell phones, computers and electronic devices. Transparency may also include an agreement on future disclosures.
*Despite our best efforts, our marriages may not survive.
*Our husbands abusive choices have caused us to doubt ourselves, our own intuition and the guidance we are receiving from the Lord.  
*We need you to support us as we seek for our own answers from God and make our own choices going forward.