“If your husband says he hasn’t looked at porn, he’s lying!”
Ouch! I was listening to my favorite radio talk show when the host laughed and again emphasized his previous thought, “Every guy and a lot of girls look at porn!” I was incensed! I pushed the “off” button and arrived at work feeling uneasy. I couldn’t wait to talk with my husband later in the day and prove to myself that the radio host was talking craziness.
The end of the day couldn’t come soon enough. I told my husband about my morning experience and then innocently began quizzing him. “So, what do you think about what that guy said?” “Do you think it’s true?” “Does every guy look at porn?” “Have you looked at pornography?” My husband patiently listened then looked at me with a half grin and reassured me with his smooth words. “I don’t look at pornography.”
Whew! I knew it. I knew the radio man was off his rocker. I knew my husband didn’t look at porn. He was like all the other guys at church. None of them looked at porn because that’s like . . . it’s like digital adultery! No church-going, temple recommend-holding, always-serving-others type of man would ever take a look at smutty stuff. I wanted to call the radio station and tell them how wrong they were. Instead, I went about my daily routines with a notion that I should always remember this day – the day I confirmed that my husband was definitely not viewing pornography. After thirty-some years of marriage, it was a good thing to know.
I was living in a little pornography-free bubble where, except for radio personalities, nobody was talking much about sexual addictions or the harmful effects of the sexual fantasy world of pornography.
It was over a year later that I learned the truth about my husband. The truth: He saw his first pornographic printed magazine when he was ten years old. He had free access to dirty magazines at his friend’s house and indulged in a steady diet of porn for over a year. That’s when it all started. He was too young to understand what was happening. And then it was too late. He was hooked.
As a young boy, my husband wasn’t hooked on the dirty pictures he was seeing. Like most sex addicts, he was hooked on the feelings he experienced, the physical arousal and the feeling of well-being that happened when he viewed seductive images. It’s important to understand that “pornography addiction” is really an addiction to the rush one gets when endorphins are released in the brain.
“The reward of this endorphin release is so powerful for the sex addict that he finds himself willing to pursue his activity in spite of the negative consequences he knows he will experience as well” (New York Pathways).
Looking at pornography is the easiest way to get this rush but it can also happen when you read a romance novel, stare at an attractive individual, or engage in secretive online conversations with old boyfriends or girlfriends.
My husband was too young to understand what his body was experiencing and his story is not unusual. Statistics show that the first access to porn usually happens by the age of thirteen. By the time a person is old enough to fully understand the magnitude of their habits, they are often already in the throngs of addiction. Most people who struggle with pornography issues feel an immense amount of shame, so they make an exerted effort to hide their sordid habits. There is no smell, no visible physical reactions, and no obvious odd behaviors associated with pornography viewing, so an addict can easily keep his or her problem a deep dark secret.
My story is also not unusual. Many spouses and partners report that they had no idea there was anything going on with their loved one. In hindsight, there are red flags, but in a society where there is little talk of digital infidelity, most companions choose to believe the lies rather than face the awful truth. Until my husband’s addiction was discovered, I was a complete ninny about pornography. I didn’t even know how easy it was to find. Really. A complete ninny.
It’s time to shake things up. It’s time to save the next generation from falling into the tight grip of pornography. It’s time to educate each other. It’s time to talk about it at church, at school and definitely at home. Therapist Paula Hall warns that we should waste no time talking about this issue. She said, “Easy access and no education of risk means that more and more people are getting addicted without knowing it’s happening.”
I’m encouraged to see more discussions taking place. There are an increasing number of talks at general conference and in church literature that admonishes members of the dangers regarding the addictive nature of pornography. I love how organizations like Fight the New Drug are making presentations at schools to educate children. I’m grateful that Meridian Magazine has agreed to publish a series of articles written by wives of sex addicts, like me! I am especially grateful for the Hope and Healing Forum that allows wives of sex addicts to talk through our challenges and rejoice in our triumphs.
I am no longer the ninny I used to be. I have read, researched, and learned all I can about the demonic nature of the addiction that plagues my husband. My husband and I have talked with our children about the things we’ve learned and through our discussions we discovered that one of our sons is battling a pornography habit. Now, he can get the help he needs instead of trying to solve his issues in isolation because we openly talk about pornography, lust, shame, and addiction in our home. As I continue to discuss these issues with various others, I have been introduced to miraculous stories of hope and recovery. As I observe my husband’s stalwart fight with his addiction, I’ve been able to witness the miracle of forgiveness and repentance. I have personally experienced the healing hands of the Savior as He soothes my wounded heart and shows me the path to joy.
Armed with knowledge, we can fight this plague. As Paula Hall indicates,
“If you’re not someone who’s struggling with sex addiction, then you probably know someone who is….”
Let’s shed some light on this dark subject and start talking about it.
Picture Credit: Christ Comforts Mary and Martha found at: www.lds.org