Have mercy. Dear, sweet AMG readers sent two—yes, two—queries this week about a most sensitive subject: pornography.
Here’s query one:
I’m a young single female adult in the church and in my dating, I have come across what seems like an astonishing number of young men in the church that have struggled with pornography. (Maybe astonishing isn’t the right word, as I’m well aware of the far-reaching impact of pornography addiction.) I have heard horror story after horror story about families being torn apart from pornography and it’s left me feeling a little, well, hopeless. Are there any positive stories about people overcoming pornography addiction? I’m sure there are, but frankly, it seems like those stories don’t really get told in General Conference all that often. Is it wiser to write off any boys that have/had problems with porn? I hate to do that because 1, I believe in the healing power of the Atonement and 2, that would reduce my already tiny dating pool into something of a dating puddle. And what’s the best way to broach the topic with any potential spouses?
Here’s query two:
I am writing with a touchy subject. I have been married to my husband for 2 and a half years. We have had a happy marriage thus far; we both have similar goals and perspectives—including our political and religious beliefs. We love being around each other. However, about a year ago, I learned that my husband has had a pornography addiction since he was a teenager. He had never told anyone about this, and it has been difficult for me to learn how to handle. Right when I learned about this, he and I discussed it at length. We also visited with our branch president who offered excellent advice and counsel. For the first few months following this advice, my husband would let me know when he ‘slipped up’ and we would talk about what the situation was when he sought out pornography. As time has passed, we haven’t talked much about how he is doing. In the last few months, I have found out that he is still looking at pornography. Once, recently, I found out about it while he was next to me by the computer (he’s usually so good at covering his ‘tracks’). We didn’t talk in depth at the time, but it really saddens me that he isn’t open about this, as I am trying so hard to be non-judgmental and kind about the reality that he and I are in. But when it comes down to it, I feel like my trust has been betrayed and I find myself becoming paranoid—I don’t want to stalk him or make him feel like he is constantly being harassed as I ‘check in’ on how he’s doing, but I do believe that this is something that I can’t simply live with indefinitely.
My question is this: As a progressive Mormon, I feel a bit prudish being offended and negatively impacted by my husband’s pornography addiction. I know that pornography is widely accepted throughout the progressive world that I enjoy associating with, but I still can’t ignore how hurt I am. I don’t want to make my husband feel guilty over this habit, but I’m not sure how to express my concern to him without making him feel that he is an immoral person. How can I work through this with him, and furthermore, how can I restore the trust that I feel is gone when it comes to this addiction?