January 12th, 2011 by admin

39 Comments

When Pornography Hits Home

When Pornography Hits Home

Bethany

At A Glance

Four years ago, Bethany’s husband shared some startling news: He was addicted to pornography. As mother to four young children, Bethany had to continue to be mom, but she also chose to dedicate herself to her husband’s recovery. Recognizing she needed time and space to heal herself, Bethany sought out support systems and drew closer to the Lord. Bethany speaks about the need to tend to her own wounds, as well as support the man she loves.

How did you meet your husband and what is the dynamic of your family?

I have known my husband since I was fourteen. We met in ninth grade and were friends all through junior high and high school. I didn’t necessarily wait for him while he was on his mission, but we wrote back and forth as friends. When he returned home, we officially started dating.

We married in the Mesa temple and lived in Provo for four years while I got my degree in neuropsychology and he got his masters in accounting. We had two children and then we moved and had two more. We are now raising our four children—ages nine, six, four, and three.

How did you first discover that your husband had a problem with pornography?

He told me about four years ago.

We moved to Arizona after graduation and were excited to have a “real job.” We bought a little house and my husband started a fulltime job. Soon, he started acting removed from the family, and emotionally I could feel something different. I attributed it to the stress of starting a new job and the unexpected pregnancy with our third child.

I knew he was struggling spiritually because he had to say no to a newly extended calling of Elder’s Quorum President, but I really knew very little about the whole situation because he seemed to blow it off as just a little “slacking on his scripture reading” and something about “not feeling up to leading the Priesthood in the ward”. Soon after turning down the calling, he had an interview with the bishop. I thought, oh, the bishop is going to offer him the calling again. After his meeting with the bishop, he came into sacrament meeting and I looked at him, expecting him to tell me what the new calling might be. But instead, he just told me we would talk about it later. That night before bed I asked again about the calling. He then told me we needed to talk. I knew it must be more serious, but I had no idea of the gravity of what was going to come out his mouth. His first words were, “My problems all started with pornography.”

LDS_woman_photography_Bethany2

My stomach went into an upheaval. I felt like I needed to run to the bathroom and throw up, but I couldn’t really move. I felt like I was having an out of body experience. He was very sad and apologetic. He told me he had an upcoming church court; that’s what the meeting with the bishop had been about. I was heartbroken and didn’t really know how to react.

Do you know how his pornography addiction began?

He was first introduced to pornography as a child, around 5 or 6, which I am told is the average age these days. He struggled with it in his youth, but was able to serve an honorable mission. After his mission, he was focused on dating me and getting married in the temple so he was able to abstain during that time. When he got back from his mission, the Internet was a lot more accessible and much more of a big deal than when he left. We had access to the Internet in our home, and that’s when he started to struggle again. I learned all of this that first night he told me about his addiction.

When you learned of his problem, what were your feelings about the future of your marriage?

If you would have asked me before this actually happened, I would have said I would leave my marriage. I’d be crazy not to. But in the moment he told me, I was numb. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. My thoughts went straight to the Lord-“what am I supposed to do?”-over and over again I asked this. I thought I should probably leave, but I didn’t really feel like leaving. I tried going to a friend’s house, but the Spirit told me I needed to go home. I went home and we talked more in depth about the future of us. My husband was committed to making our marriage work. The bishop had told him we could go to counseling, and he promised to get that arranged and to get help for himself. That night we fell asleep in the same bed holding hands. It’s totally crazy to me, even now, but that’s how the night ended. That was the most open our marriage had been in a very long time and so it actually brought us closer together.

That night we fell asleep in the same bed holding hands. It’s totally crazy to me, even now, but that’s how the night ended. That was the most open our marriage had been in a very long time and so it actually brought us closer together.

Were you able to confide in anyone? What kind of support group do you have?

The night he told me about his addiction, I called my mom. We ended up telling his family, and eventually, we knew we’d have to tell close family and friends. However, I prayed hard about who I was going to tell because I needed people who could support us, not judge us and who could handle the burden of knowing. There is a lot pain in knowing someone you love is struggling with something so hard.

I soon learned that LDS Family Services had a Twelve Step Program specifically for women, the Church’s addiction recovery program. This was specifically for the wives of sex or pornography addicts, and it was a huge help. At those meetings there were other women going through the same thing. Usually when I am around people, I have to have my mask on, to pretend everything is okay and keep a smile plastered on my face. But there at those meetings I felt safe and there were women who could relate, I felt not so alone in my trial. As a Mormon woman, I felt I couldn’t go to church falling apart or people would look at me like I must be crazy so knowing that there were people that I could fall apart with was a great comfort.

How did/does this struggle affect your day-to-day life as you continue to raise a young family?

I still have to be a mom. I am still the one who prepares meals and does the dishes. I didn’t have the compassionate service committee bringing meals or arranging babysitting, because they couldn’t know what I was going through. So the first little while was very hard. However, forcing some sort of normalcy has helped. I have to go on. I have to be “normal” and emotionally available for my kids.

I no longer carry this burden around every day. I got to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore, and I said, Lord you just take it because I’m not going to carry it around anymore. I’m just going to get better and I’m going to be an awesome person because of this!

I remember that Jesus Christ has already carried this burden, everyone’s burden. It seems hard to turn it over. But in actuality, it’s the simplest thing to do. I just turned it over to Him, and He took it away. After that, I looked back thinking, why didn’t I do that a long time ago? Turn it over. He is standing at the door. I just had to open it. He is waiting for us to let go of our pride and say, I can’t do this anymore.

From there, I have asked Him to show me what I should do. He is the only one who knows what path will bring me happiness. I can only focus on myself and my own spirituality and not be responsible for my husband’s. I know the Lord will be there holding my hand and carrying me when He needs to. I just needed to get to the point where I was so low that I had nowhere to look but up to Him.

How has your husband’s addiction affected your sense of self?

There are so many women who struggle with this problem everyday and so many of us struggle with feeling like our husbands struggles are somehow our fault or that we aren’t good enough somehow.  Of course this is totally false but it is out there! Luckily, I have never had serious doubts about whose problem this really was. I have always tried to be the best wife and a better mom. I really have no doubt in my mind that I have done my best.

The greater challenge for me is the loss of trust. It takes a lot of lying to pull off something like a hidden pornography addiction. The lying is so upsetting because it takes away my power to make decisions for myself and my family. By lying, my husband controlled what I knew and therefore controlled what decisions I made. This took away my power, my agency. And that really, really hurts when it is inflicted on the person who you are most vulnerable with.

By lying, my husband controlled what I knew and therefore controlled what decisions I made. This took away my power, my agency. And that really, really hurts when it is inflicted on the person who you are most vulnerable with.

However, this is also the man whom I loved and who was sealed to me in the temple. My love for him in the face of his deception is so conflicting because it made me doubt my own feelings and my own ability to listen to the Spirit by deadening my perception of my own emotions and therefore, my inspiration. That was devastating because without the Spirit, I have nothing. It is the only voice I can fully trust. That has been the most damaging to me.

What has been your role in your husband’s recovery?

The first year, I was really involved in his recovery. During that year, he didn’t have any setbacks, not even masturbation or looking at pornography. He was excommunicated, and a year later he was re-baptized. At that time I was really involved. He told me when he had a difficult thought or a hard day. I was a partner in his recovery.

But there came a point when I couldn’t do it anymore. I completely withdrew from his recovery. It was too burdensome for me, and it wasn’t allowing me to focus on my own healing. I had ignored my own healing for a year because I was helping him. For myself, I started making boundaries. He needed to call other men from his support group rather than solely leaning on me. My healing needed to begin because it was starting to affect the way I behaved toward my kids and how I felt about myself.

I think the healthiest decision I made was to take a step back and focus on my own healing, while leaving him to work on his healing.   There have been times that this has taken actual physical separation while actively working on myself and in turn our marriage.

Our counselor reminded us that my husband had been carrying around this burden for years. So of course it felt good for him to get that burden off, share it with the bishop and with me. However, for me it felt like I got all of it dumped on me all at once and this was just the beginning of the process. My husband told me he didn’t care how long it took for me to heal, he would wait. Knowing he was going to allow me to heal the way that I needed to heal and not expect me to “forgive and forget” just because he was working on it was a huge comfort.

How has the gospel of Jesus Christ influenced your healing?

My healing has been all about the gospel. It’s been about the Atonement and my Savior. He’s the only way a person can heal. I’ve read a lot of books, and I go to support group meetings and counseling. I’ve tried to meet other women who are in my situation, hoping someone will fully understand. But there are so many times when I just felt totally alone!

Through those times, I pray by the side of my bed, and I often get the feeling that someone is embracing me. That feeling is what got me through. Those experiences helped me understand the enabling power of the Atonement. The role of the Atonement for the sinner is talked about a lot. However, there is another side of it: the Atonement’s role in the life of the person who’s been hurt. It enabled me to get up out bed, shower, brush my teeth, change the diapers, do the dishes etc. This was possible because of the Savior.

The Lord guided me to my support group where I could talk with other women. He worked through some of these women to bless my life. I needed to get to the point where I felt all alone so that I knew it was Him who healed me. Because of this, I know my recovery and my healing has little to do with the books that I read and the amazing programs I’ve been able to find. It all started with Him and it will end with Him. He is ultimately where the healing is. The only time I don’t feel completely alone is when He is there with me on my bedroom floor, or when He is with me doing the dishes or at the park with my kids.

What motivates you to remain committed to your relationship?

From the beginning, the Spirit told me this challenge would be my refiner’s fire. I’ve always wanted to come out of it a better person with or without my husband. When I’m taking care of myself in all aspects–physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally–I feel strong and I feel like I can handle it.

The role of the Atonement for the sinner is talked about a lot. However, there is another side of it: the Atonement’s role in the life of the person who’s been hurt.

My husband and I have separated a couple of times over the past four years. So, we’re still in the middle of trying to sort this out, but I feel like it’s getting better. I’m constantly asking the Lord what I should do, and He has not told me, yet, to leave. He hasn’t told me that this is over. I just feel like my moving on still needs to be with my husband and I have hope that it will get better and eventually be better than I could have ever imagined.

I have prayed from the beginning that I would see my husband in the way that the Lord sees him, and that love has never wavered. I’m talking about love for who he is as a man, and as a spiritual being. Certainly the romantic love has wavered. There are times when I have honestly been able to say, I don’t love him right now. When that feeling comes, I pray that someday I will have the desire to love my husband again. The Lord has told me that this emotion is okay and that I can have hope for the future of that love.

I think He realizes I have been hurt and my life has been completely changed. I didn’t deserve this and it’s okay not to be in love with my husband right now. But I have prayed that I can love him, at least on a spiritual level always.

There have been times when we needed to separate emotionally, and this year we separated physically. Being in tune with the Spirit during this time was so important. If we stayed apart and emotionally detached, things would end. I went to the temple a lot and I really prayed to know what the next step should be and when it should happen. After a lot of work on myself I knew I needed to turn my attention back to my marriage. I asked him to come home and I’m praying every day that the Lord will help me to know what to do with this relationship, how to heal it. We’re moving forward in baby steps towards a happy marriage with hope!

How has this challenge affected your children?

We have tried to make our family life as normal as possible, and even when we were separated, we tried to let the children know that Mom and Dad still loved them and that this wasn’t their fault. Of course it has disrupted their lives and their security and that is part of this that I would change if I could but I can’t and I feel that the Lord will consecrate this experience for their good.

We are very upfront with our kids. Of course, we only share age-appropriate information. We don’t talk specifically about pornography; however, they know about choices and consequences.

I want my children to understand that they can talk to Heavenly Father. I want them to know that the Savior is there for them, too. I’m hoping this experience will actually help them in their own life experiences. I hope they will have a relationship with their Savior and feel the same comfort I have found at an earlier age than most children because they have needed it and will need it.

What is your motivation for sharing your story?

I am surprised when I meet a man who claims to have not seen pornography. When we were counseling with our bishop, he said he was working with fourteen other men with similar pornography problems that had come to him.

He also said that when he looks into the pews from the podium, he can see more men who are struggling with pornography but haven’t come to him. Next to each of these men is some kind of woman: a mother, a sister, a girlfriend, or wife.

Too many women feel they can’t talk about the problem of pornography because it’s their husband’s issue, and they don’t want to reveal their husband’s challenges. There is a stigma attached to a man who struggles with pornography addiction. People think they’re weirdoes or perverts. I want to change that perception. Men who struggle with pornography are normal people. They are people sitting with you in sacrament meeting. It’s the Elders Quorum president. It’s the Primary teacher. It’s people who wear shirts and ties to work and have clean-cut hair. My husband and I were each other’s first kiss. My husband wasn’t sexually active in high school. He is a good guy. There is no one face of a pornography/sex “addict.” They are sons of God who struggle with a serious trial-just like anyone else!

How can parents protect their families from pornography?

Avoiding pornography is no longer a reality. You cannot avoid pornography. It is everywhere. It is no longer a matter of if your children are going to see it; it’s a matter of when your children are going to see it.

Once you have kept your home safe, educate your children from the time that they are young and also educate ourselves. We need to teach our children what pornography is and what the feelings are that are elicited by it but we need to understand it all first ourselves. Children need to feel they can come to parents when something happens; they need to know that the word pornography is not a bad word They need to not feel shame when they see it or have a reaction to it and that is our job as parents: to shield (as much as possible), teach, and allow them to feel safe to talk to us-that means no guilting, no shaming, no rejecting.

Because sex is so sacred, somewhere along the line we as members of the Church began treating it like it’s this secret thing that shouldn’t be talked about. We need to teach our children that those feelings are okay but that there is a time and a place for those feelings. In fact, they are something to be celebrated and to be held sacred, not considered secret and dirty.

What advice would you give to spouses of pornography addicts?

They should focus on their own needs and try to find women who are willing to support them.

LDS Family Services has also been a great resource. Any kind of counseling is a help. Lots of reading, Deseret Book has a lot of reading on the subject-and don’t be embarrassed to buy them, lots of people do it! Also, getting to the temple has been important. I have found the temple to be a place of learning that helps to keep me safe and allows me to have hope for my life and my eternity.

At A Glance

Bethany


Marital status:
Married 10 years

Occupation:
mom and legal assistant

Schools Attended:
Ricks and BYU

Interview by Melissa Hardy. Photos used with permission.

39 Comments

  1. Blue
    10:33 pm on January 12th, 2011

    Bethany, this was an amazing, powerful interview. I had only read 1/3 of it when I had to stop and forward it to a friend. Thank you for sharing your story…I know it will bless many people. Even those who aren’t dealing with pornography…your comment that “The role of the Atonement for the sinner is talked about a lot. However, there is another side of it: the Atonement’s role in the life of the person who’s been hurt.” is so profound. I loved reading about how you’re healing, and it’s inspiring for me, and I imagine anyone else who has difficult things to heal from.

  2. melissa
    11:22 pm on January 12th, 2011

    Thank you, Bethany, for your courage to share this story. A quote from Joseph f. Smith showed up in my inbox today, and it seems to describe you so well…..”the art of healing is really one of the highest qualities and attributes if man; it is a characteristic of a great and noble soul.”

  3. A sister in the Gospel
    1:18 am on January 13th, 2011

    Thank you for your openness and frankness. I discovered my husband’s addiction 3 years ago. It’s been a long, hard journey. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this. It’s also nice to know that it’s okay that I still have moments of struggle, even after 3 years. Sometimes I get down on myself ’cause I can’t get over this and it’s been THREE years. I should be over it, right?! Once again, nice to know that I’m not alone and that you’re in the same boat–still struggling many years later. Thank you for sharing your story. It was just what I needed tonite.

  4. Sarah
    8:10 am on January 13th, 2011

    Thank you for sharing this! I’m sure you have reached many women who are struggling with this issue, I for one truly appreciate your insight and testimony. I especially connect with what you said about trust…I have dealt with that part of this issue for some time, and it really does help to know that someone else know what you are going through Thank you so much.

  5. Your Recovery Sister
    8:58 am on January 13th, 2011

    Bethany, I love you. I know your story. I have heard the ins and outs. I have lived a similar struggle. Thank you for sharing so openly. You will be a tool in the Lord’s hands to change and strengthen others. I can feel it. -AD

  6. Emily
    12:01 pm on January 13th, 2011

    You rock! Way to be so bold about this. It’s what we need.

  7. Dorothy
    2:04 pm on January 13th, 2011

    I love so many things about this interview. I love that you said that imperfect emotions are okay. I love that you address the issue of Christ being the true Healer, and that every other help is there to point to Christ. I love that you broke the taboo and came forward as someone struggling so that others won’t feel alone. I love that you are trying to change the stereotype of pornography addicts – they usually are just good men struggling with a problem.

    I was engaged to someone who struggled with pornography. Before that experience, I thought the bad thing about being in a relationship with a pornography addict was jealousy. That’s not fun, but the really bad thing – the really damaging thing – is trying to be emotionally close to someone who is just not there, who lives life detached so he doesn’t have to feel the discomfort that life and relationships inevitably present. We went to premarital counseling and my therapist said, “Whether you break up, or whether you stay together, it’s going to be really hard.” I finally had the courage to end the relationship. (Actually, I just tried to end it but didn’t really and then I got dumped.) I think of this statement all the time because it helps me understand that I need to find the right path, not the easy one, because the easy one doesn’t exist.

    God bless you!

  8. Eliana Osborn
    2:52 pm on January 13th, 2011

    Hey Bethany, I appreciate you doing this. You have been brave and I know you will be blessed for it. When you come down my way south sometime I’d love to see you.

  9. Liz
    3:14 pm on January 13th, 2011

    A wonderful and powerful interview that will help lift up so many of your sisters!

  10. Wife of an Addict
    8:19 pm on January 13th, 2011

    Thank you for sharing your story. I knew about my husband’s addiction before we got married. I married him because I had struggled with my own addiction to pornography and believed that we could work through it together.

    I learned last night that he has been in a relapse for the last four months. This post was so timely for me. We have spent the day talking to each other and with the bishop of our ward. We are preparing to take the next steps and attend Addiction Recovery meetings as well as counseling through LDS Family Services.

    I pray that together we can overcome this struggle.

  11. Monica
    10:08 pm on January 13th, 2011

    Bethany – thank you for your courageous honesty. The more we know we are not alone, the greater our trials can be borne. Thank you for emphasizing that mere avoidance is no longer enough, and that acceptance of our own and our children’s feelings need to be accepted, validated, and heard. There is no room for shaming in God’s heart, for us – and we need to offer the same to all those around us. Thank you for proclaiming truth’s that bespeak a Savior’s unconditional love, gleaned through the most arduous of heartbreaks. All my love and prayers.

  12. Debra
    11:53 am on January 14th, 2011

    Thanks to you, your husband, and the Mormon Women Project for shining a light on something that is often discussed in too simplistic of terms. I have had to wrestle with the subject matter on a number of fronts. Hearing women talk about their perspectives on the subject is tremendously helpful. It is still such a taboo, and there is incredible loneliness for those of us who feel the immense pressure not to speak of it. Thank you again! You give me hope! Brave, brave, brave!

  13. Tiffany W.
    5:36 am on January 15th, 2011

    Bethany, thank you for courage and honesty in sharing your story. Thank you for sharing your name and your face. You are a powerful example on many fronts: working with and supporting your husband as he struggles with his addiction, having strength to separate when appropriate, and recognizing your own need for healing.
    This was very, very powerful.

  14. Jen
    12:00 pm on January 15th, 2011

    Bethany-
    You are beautiful. I went back to look at your pictures after reading your story and I felt such love for you. You are so incredibly brave. I admire your courage in being honest with your experience with pornography and also the courage it takes to understand and express deep emotions.

    Most of us are still scared and uncomfortable discussing pornography. We need to follow your example! I am sincerely praying for you, your husband and your sweet kids.

  15. Mandy
    8:52 pm on January 15th, 2011

    i felt the spirit so strongly while reading your thoughts and i wanted to thank you so much for allowing me in on your secret over these past four years! knowing you as a crafting icon, super mom, and hilarious fun-seeker in addition to a spiritual giant for daily overcoming these trials has greatly increased my own personal testimony! i count myself blessed to touch toes with you!

  16. Laree
    1:44 pm on January 16th, 2011

    Thank you for being so brave and letting us know that we are not alone. I Liked what you said about the fact that a pornography addict is usually a good, normal person. We need to stop writing them off as perverts. I have a question. Are pornography addicts routinely excommunicated?

  17. Rose
    8:11 pm on January 16th, 2011

    Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. You are one courageous woman! Blessings to you as you continue on your journey.

  18. Michaun
    9:58 pm on January 16th, 2011

    I was impressed by your story. I have a son who struggled with this addiction for a couple of years before he came to me to confess after a family home evening lesson focused on the strength of youth book. It has been a very difficult journey. It has tore my heart in tiny pieces. I knew that I had to love him and get him some help and stand by him. I made sure that we had open communication. I am extremely grateful for the atonement and how it helped my son. I am happy to say that he is now serving a mission. Something that I didn’t think would ever happen. I will always be amazed at my son’s ability and strength to overcome the addiction. What helped the most was having the most remarkable Bishop that was a constant help and a very patient and amazing psychologist. It seemed to take a long time before my son could completely forgive himself. He did. I beat myself up so many times. What did I do wrong as a mother? It took my Bishop telling me that it was not my fault and quit blaming my self, before I could regain control of my emotions. I am so grateful to belong to this church. I would have lost my son a long time ago. There is hope. There is forgiveness. There is a Savior who died for our sins. I have never been so appreciative of what the Savior has done for us until this past 6 months when I was able to see the atonement in action. My son is very open about what happened and even shared his experience in Relief Society. That was a tough day for me. I had to give a lesson on Pornography. He was amazing and gave alot of hope to others. If a teenage boy can conquer this, anyone can. It takes alot of love and support and I learned to never ever give up. I know that Heavenly Father would never give up on us either.

  19. L.
    10:27 pm on January 16th, 2011

    I admire your courage in coming out publicly about this. I have known about my husband’s addiction for about a year now, and a lot of the time the most difficult thing for me is the secrecy of it all. I feel like it’s not my burden to share, so none of my friends or family know: I carry it alone. I fear we’ll never have a “normal” life. I’m glad you’ve been able to find so much peace and calm, and I hope that this message will circulate far and wide so that other sisters will know they are not alone: we are many.

  20. K
    10:47 pm on January 16th, 2011

    I have the same question as Laree — was the excommunication a result of pornography viewing alone?

  21. Stacey
    11:00 pm on January 16th, 2011

    Thank you for sharing your story, and thank you, MIchaun, for sharing about your son. We’ve been dealing with the hellish repercussions of a young teen who has been viewing porn and making some poor decisions. These decisions resulted in legal action and his removal from our home for a time. Thankfully, we were led to helpful counsellors and a reasonable judge and our family is healing. Thank you for the advice to have discussions with our children about pornography. I wish we’d discussed things more in-depth than we had. The Savior is helping to heal us, and in a surprising way, my prayers for this son to be happier in our family are being answered. I can’t believe we’ve had to go through this – and there really is no one you can talk to about it when you’re dealing with minor children whom you want to protect – but I have great hope that we will all be better for having dealt with the problem now.

    I am hoping for the best for you and your family and for all those struggling with this insipid evil. Heavenly Father wouldn’t allow us all to have this problem in our lives if there wasn’t hope for recovery.

  22. B.
    1:17 pm on January 17th, 2011

    Bethany,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I, too am facing the challenges of a husband who is addicted to pornography. I have such a hard time compartmentalizing it all, on one side is my husband who I love so much, and have for the past 7 years – and on the other side is the man who has kept secrets from me, broken trust, and hurt our little family. I’ve known about his addiction for the past 5 years – he was completely clean for the last 2, and then he relapsed this last week. I miscarried the day after I found out, and I am having trouble holding it together.

    However, your beautiful article gives me hope. Hope that I can trust again. Hope that I can give my burden to Christ and heal myself. I guess I just need to make self-healing a priority right now, then I can deal with the rest.

  23. Bethany
    3:04 pm on January 17th, 2011

    The way that I understand excommunication is that a person is excommunicated when they have put their own salvation at risk because they are operating under the covenants they made at baptism and often times the temple. When they repeatedly break those covenants they are risking their salvation and so when a sin (any sin) gets to a point that the person seems to not be able to control themselves(because they don’t want to or otherwise), excommunication needs to be the answer so that that person can be protected, given the chance to get better while not breaking those sacred covenants and given- if they so choose-a fresh start.

    From what I understand there are only a few sins where excommunication is basically a given-and no pornography is not one of them. I have heard of men (and women) who have had a problem with it for so long or members that hold callings where they have a large stewardship (stake president, etc)being excommunicated for pornography but in the case of my husband the addiction had progressed over the years to other sexually deviant behaviors leading to his excommunication. But I cannot pretend to know all about excommunication.
    I do know that EVERY case is individual and that every person is judged against themselves by righteous men using the power of the priesthood and direct inspiration. They take it very seriously and I know that my husband was excommunicated for his own protection and for a chance to again have the hope of salvation.

  24. Jerome
    2:04 am on January 18th, 2011

    I love this candid account, but I must say I feel pretty embarrassed for the husband. I can’t help but think this article has circulated through the ward and stake where he lives, and that many people he knows have read it. Perhaps that’s part of the healing process, being publicly humiliated into improved behavior.

    Honestly, I did enjoy the discussion and found it insightful, but felt awkward on behalf of the husband the whole time.

  25. Husband
    11:58 am on January 18th, 2011

    This is husband speaking: “Thank you for your sincere concern on my behalf but I am not embarrassed! I am more upset that people are embarrassed and shamed by it. The only way to change that is to put a face to it, which my wife made the hard decision to do. It only becomes awkward when others can’t talk about it openly without feeling embarrassed by the word pornography and hopefully this article can open the door for that change. This was a decision that we, Bethany and I, made together but the website isn’t called The Mormon Men Project. I would agree that public humiliation is definitely not a good way to heal but I am NOT humiliated by this. This is my lot, my choices and also my refiners fire. I support my wifes actions in sharing her story 100%. Neither one of us is looking for admiration or pity we just want this stigma to change! Thanks again for your concern.”

  26. Emily K.
    12:43 pm on January 18th, 2011

    Oh Bethy. Thank you so much for sharing this. I soo wish I could have been there to help, but, once again, you are setting such a righteous standard for others. I pray for you often. I know that you will help others in many more ways than you know. Thank goodness for a merciful, loving Savior, who never leaves us alone.

    I loved your husband’s comments. It is so amazing that after everything you can stand united. This definitely hit home to me, and I WILL be teaching my children about sex and pornography.

  27. S
    1:10 pm on January 18th, 2011

    Thank you both for sharing your story. It is wonderful that you are in a place now that you can do that. I hope you are able to touch many with this and help others get to that same place. It needs to be more out in the open and I am glad you had the courage to do that. I have friends that are affected by the same problem and I know that it helped them so much to be able to talk to others in the same situation.

  28. Diony
    10:44 pm on January 18th, 2011

    Thanks Bethany for being so open and sharing your story. It takes a lot of courage, I know because I’ve been through it. I was married 14 years to a pornography addict, but there is hope, help and healing. I wrote a book about it called Torn Apart–maybe it can help you or someone you know. More info is on my website. I wish you and your husband all the best as you continue to work through this together.

  29. Jerome
    5:53 am on January 19th, 2011

    @Husband

    Agreed the stigma need not be there, it does everyone a disservice.

    Knowing that you are totally ok with this degree of sharing is enough for me. As long as you find it helpful then go for it. I feel it is neither wrong nor right to broadcast at this level, just preference.

    Having not been in the same situation I cannot truly know how I would proceed, but I suspect I wouldn’t be comfortable with this level of sharing. If it suits you, then it suits you. For me the article would have been equally meaningful if it were done anonymously, but that is just me. I feel I’m capable of comprehending the gravity of a situation without needing an associated face, but for some that probably “brings it home.” (I realize how condescending that last line may sound, but I’m being sincere. I work in newsmedia and understand the importance of associating events with real people and families.)

    Final thought–I wish you the best on your journeys, individually and together.

  30. M
    6:36 pm on January 19th, 2011

    Maybe in the beginning (it has been four years) the husband would not have been able to talk as openly with someone other than close family members and those working with him to overcome his addiction and would have never thought his story would be put in an article like this one. I’m not trying to speak for the husband, it’s just a thought. Bethany and husband, you have both shown so much courage and strength. Thank you for the help and hope you are giving to others!

  31. Healing
    8:59 pm on January 19th, 2011

    Thank you, Bethany, for sharing your story. You are very brave and I think you’re right that we need to remove the stigma and speak more frankly with our children about it. As I ponder these difficult situations I wonder how much our generation of women is paying the price for the decisions of previous generations of women. Of course we can’t make choices for anyone else, and men are totally accountable for their own sins, but it seems the burden of women that men will only rise to the standard their mothers, sisters, girlfriends and wives set for them. Were our husbands’ mothers and sisters “silly women laden with diverse lusts”? It’s probably just a fanciful coping strategy, but as I try to find healing from problems my husband started in his childhood home, the biggest hope I can find is to maintain a high standard of purity for my sons through the example of what I myself read, watch, and listen to.

  32. Offended
    1:51 am on January 21st, 2011

    I find the very premise of this article extremely offensive, and I don’t think this is a very effective way of addressing the problem. While I do not disagree that there is an unnecessary stigma attached to pornography addiction amongst members of the Church (a stigma which is, in large part, due to the way pornography is addressed from the podium), Bethany’s story does more to further that stigma than to quash it.

    That a woman would consider divorcing her husband for a pornography addiction is distressing, to say the least. That it was one of her first thoughts is much more of an indictment on the Church than it is on Bethany. Many, many Mormon women have been indoctrinated to think this way, and would rather their husband be an alcoholic or a drug addict than a pornography addict. Except in extreme cases, pornography is not grounds for divorce. Not if you love someone, and not if you are truly trying to love someone as Christ does.

    Please do not construe this post as an attack on Bethany–it isn’t. I realize that there is much more to this story than has been written (the husband’s statement that his “problems all started with pornography” seem to indicate that there was more going on. It also appears that Bethany has acknowledged as much in her comments) and her husband’s actions beyond pornography may well merit divorce. That said, the article is fairly unclear in that respect, and gives the impression that he was excommunicated because of a pornography addiction. That implication is damaging, and does little to dispel the stigma attached to pornography addiction. Rather, it reinforces it. How much less likely is someone to confess a pornography addiction if he thinks his wife will leave him or he’ll be excommunicated and exiled?

    It is also disturbing that so women have praised Bethany for sharing her story. Are we to take from that response that more women would like to go public with very, very private details of their marital troubles? Again, is that supposed to make someone more likely to confess a pornography addiction? Bethany is nothing if not courageous, but I think this would have been just as effective (more so, actually) had it been done anonymously.

    Regardless of whether or not Husband has green-lighted this decision–and it appears he has–there is not a single reason why this couldn’t have been as effective in anonymity. In fact, if the true purpose of the article is to dispel the stigma attached to pornography addiction, it would have been more effective to post a picture of the husband. He’s the normal guy with the stigma, after all. (I do not wish to know husband’s identity–i say that merely to demonstrate that there was no real benefit to learning Bethany’s identity.)

    I wish Bethany and Husband all the best, and I sincerely hope they overcome their trials. I hope what people take from Bethany’s story is that, while pornography is destructive, equally destructive is the common Mormon approach to pornography addiction. Physical and sexual abuse are grounds for divorce. Alcoholism and drug abuse can be grounds for divorce. In many instances, sexual acts with a partner other than your spouse are grounds for divorce. Watching consenting adults have sex on a glowing screen is not grounds for divorce. Pornography may or may not be a catalyst to any or all of those, but the pornography itself is not grounds for divorce.

  33. Marci
    7:05 am on January 21st, 2011

    Thank you Offended! This needed to be said.

    While pornography can feel like a betrayal, I don’t think Bethany’s betrayal should be dismissed either. Her husband confided in her. He shared his personal struggle with her and the first thing she does is go and call her mommy? We are to leave our father and mother and cleave unto our spouse. On the betrayal scale, airing your husband’s weaknesses to your family and friends (and now the internet) seems like a much greater sin and more damaging to a relationship than porn. That Bethany’s husband agreed to this only proves how much he has been browbeaten over this. Any man who’d allow this must not have much dignity left.

  34. SM
    3:07 pm on January 21st, 2011

    This form of disclosure seems not only inappropriate, it also seems to be lacking in any forethought. What about the children, grandchildren, etc., of Bethany and “Husband” (as if there’s a veil of secrecy here…how many Bethany’s live in Mesa, are 31 years old, and match the picture posted?)? Is this the written legacy you’d want to be remembered for?

    I would advise the publishers of this site offer to remove personal details and make this anonymous as soon as possible. Things do, after all, “go viral” and the details herein are far too specific to protect this family. And I’m not thinking about Bethany and “Husband”, per se, but the children now and more importantly, in the future.

  35. Touched By Her Honesty
    4:36 pm on January 21st, 2011

    I am so grateful for Bethany’s article. I had such a sense of peace and gratitude while reading, and a comfort in my heart that my own situation will be okay. It gives me hope that others are finding their way through this and that I too can find healing for my broken heart.
    As I read through these most recent comments I had a growing angst in the pit of my stomach. Gone was that peaceful feeling of the Spirit. I’m sure that there was much prayer and spiritual contemplation done by this sweet couple as they considered sharing their story for all of us to hear. I’m sure it was not without true inspiration with which Bethany bore her heart and soul to help, yes help, others. Like me.
    Is it for someone else to say the whisperings of the Spirit to her heart were untrue?
    Is it for someone else to say that my bruised and battered heart, the devastation I have felt year after year, time after time, and the overwhelmingly damaging feelings I have of being un-chosen, unloved, unappreciated, unattractive, unnecessary and ultimately betrayed are not grounds for thoughts of leaving my husband?
    No. It is my own situation. My own struggle. And my own decision.
    As I’m sure Bethany did with the decision of helping with this article, I will turn to fasting and prayer, to my knowledge of the atonement and what it means for me, and with the aid of the personal revelation I am entitled to, I will make my decision and I will know it is right for me.
    It may not be the choice others would have made in their own situation, but my path is different than any other. As is Bethany’s. I believe that part of her path was to strengthen me today. And to remind me that the Savior is mindful of me and my struggles.

    Thank you Bethany. You have touched my heart and given me hope. I am thankful for you and your courage.

  36. Bethany_the_Naive
    5:07 pm on January 21st, 2011

    I agree with Offended, Marci and SM. It is highly inappropriate for you to expose something very private and personal with the world and not handle this as a couple with possible counseling, which is a private matter. If anyone is damaging the trust and integrity in that relationship further, it’s Bethany. Nobody else needs to be invited into your BEDROOM! Not even a mormon church leader who has no prior professional counseling experience!

  37. CRH
    5:33 pm on January 21st, 2011

    Some posters have commented on Bethany’s bravery in coming out about this but I think the person being forgotten here is her husband. How does he feel about this disclosure? Did he give his permission for her to share this or has he been able to share his views?

    Sorry to pile on but I have to agree with other posters. This is a personal matter within a marriage. While Bethany is indeed entitled to write about her personal experiences but cannot avoid the consequences of sharing intimate details of her marriage to the online world. Anonymity may have been a wise move here.

  38. TRich
    6:38 pm on January 21st, 2011

    @ Bewildered

    You make a good point, but I think you still need to keep the language respectable.

    The point about the kids and family is especially relevant. I just don’t see why it is a good idea to go public when you know your kids and extended family can see this for years into the future.

    In addition, I think that sometimes LDS couples create a sex life that is built up like a house of cards. An indiscretion, like viewing porn, makes the house crash down. The same thing may not occur with a non-LDS couple (or maybe it would). But when marriage and intimacy is tied too closely with spirituality (which in our religion is tied to the pursuit of purity and perfection) then people may be setting themselves up for failure.

    With that said, I don’t want to minimize the damage that porn can cause. But I think it also needs to be examined why the state of Utah has an incredibly high porn usage rate. Clearly Bethany is not blowing the lid off of anything. Porn is common point of discussion in church — probably too common. The current approach isn’t working.

    The solution lies with a healthier attitude towards sex and practical solutions towards curbing the consumption. Obviously there are internet filters, but there is also software that will tell you exactly what people are looking at on the computer. Having internet filters and software that monitors internet use should be required on every computer in an LDS household and the female head of the household should be the only holding the passwords to the software. True, porn was a problem prior to the mid-90s, but it wasn’t the problem it is now.

  39. admin
    7:12 pm on January 21st, 2011

    From the MWP administrator: Relevant to point #3 in our Comment Guidelines, several comments have been removed from this post. Future commenters should be aware that Bethany and Husband worked TOGETHER to make the decision to share their story with us. In fact, Husband comments himself in this thread.

    Any future comments that berate their decision or their religious beliefs will be deleted.

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