Thursday, April 30, 2015

So, your husband is a monster.

There is a trend I see emerging in the beautiful sub-culture of young, married LDS women on Facebook. Like many things I don't understand, it angers me. I am going to try and discuss it here to vent my building aggression towards strangers. Bear with me.

Pornography is something that both science and religion disapprove of. Recently there has been an influx of people being willing to openly disparage the affects that pornography has on individuals and families. This is wonderful news. Hopefully with the recognition of the damage that is done by indulging in such a dangerous material, many people will be able to avoid ever facing a pornography habit or addiction in their life. Hearts and smiles, I'm totally with you here. 

Where I get lost is when I see a wife crying out for help with her husband's addiction. Yes, help is important in this instance! It is important for him to work on climbing above his addiction, and it is crucial for the marriage for both spouses to establish their communication and understanding of each other like never before. What I don't understand is this:

[Young married woman posting on Facebook]: HELP! My husband has a porn addiction :( :( :( I feel like I cant trust him anymore. He is a monster, and he has been cheating on me with this smut. What do I do???? 


Hold up. Let's just hold on to our knickers before we run around streaking here. Yes, porn is a terrible thing, yes your feelings of betrayal and hurt are valid and reasonable, but how in the world do you propose getting through this and repairing your relationship if you are slandering your spouse with strangers online? This issue is also not yours. It is primarily his (or hers, I realise I am being mildly sexist by using only male pronouns. Forgive me) and therefore, he is the one who is needing the most immediate help and support. The same as with any other addiction (drugs, alcohol, gambling what have you), berating the individual who is struggling, or handing them ultimatums as an initial response will only close any remaining communication that was left. If a spouse is abusing the other or engaging in dangerous behaviour, then an immediate walk away may be in order, but rarely is that a necessary first move. 

With the expansion of social media and the acceptance of sharing your entire life with everyone you have ever remotely known, people seem less concerned about the necessity for being discreet in marriage. There are things that deserve to be private, and the struggles and vices of your spouse are number one on the list of things that you do not need to be disclosing online. As soon as you invite others into your relationships, you face the danger of further biasing yourself against your spouse. Your own viewpoint is vindicated while people who are sympathetic to you, yet foreign to them attack and dehumanise the person who you have vowed to love, cherish, and respect. 

I also see girls asking other girls if they would like to discuss their trauma further, which is something that just leaves hypothetical chunks of my own brain matter on the wall. Isn't your spouse the one who is in need here? Can you not go attend to him? Work with him to step beyond this awful addiction? I understand asking "how can I help him?" but rarely is that what I see being asked. 
In discussing this with my best friend Allison she said, 

"Ask yourself 'am I asking for genuine help? Do I want to hear honesty? Do I really want to put some work in to making this better? Do I just not know how to do that on my own?' Because in all reality most of us know what could solve the majority of these issues, we're all adults who interact with people. It's good to genuinely need help with solving a specific problem, for people to provide alternative views, but that's so rarely what it is." 

This isn't to say that abuse isn't real. If you feel you are being consistently belittled, controlled, or abused in your relationship, seek help. Reach out and approach friends and professionals to assure you are safe. Reaching out to simply complain about your spouse or to get support for your side of the argument, however, will not end well for your marital happiness. 

I feel bad that I haven't managed to be even remotely humorous in this post, but the rage is embarrassingly real! Please do not interpret my irritation as me being someone who feels pornography is not harmful, or even that it has its place. I don't feel that way at all. What I do feel is the need for people to be aware of how little their relationships should revolve around themselves, and how much it should revolve around their relationship and their spouse. Putting yourself first leads to being selfish and easily offended, while putting your spouse and your marriage first helps you see how problems are never really simply polarised into "his" or "mine," but are almost always "ours." 

And with that, let's discuss ways to combat an addiction. Having struggled with my own addiction and going through the therapy for it, these are some things I have learned: 

1) Identify the problem, and the times and places it emerges. When are you most tempted to engage/to use/to lapse into the addiction?

2) Find ways to avoid those times and those things.

3) Establish an alternative coping mechanism to replace the original behaviour. If you need to keep your fingers busy, pick up knitting, Lego construction, a musical instrument, painting, anything that you think you will genuinely enjoy and will distract you from the original urge. That first behaviour has been established because it is pleasurable, replacing it with something dull and tedious will not do the trick.

4) Accept that you probably won't successfully stop forever the first time. You will probably slip up, but if you allow one slip up to destroy your resolve to continue improving, you will never come out on top. Keep moving forward.

5) Find someone who will check in with you and hold you responsible for your lapses while still loving you when you do lapse. For me, I am addicted to self harm. Even when I am happy, and even though I am currently clean, I still get urges. Peter has been aware of this addiction since we first became friends. He knows it, he accepts me despite of it, but he hates it. Knowing this leaves me with three options when I am faced with a temptation: I can cut and hide it from my husband, meaning I have let lying into our marriage, cut and have him disappointed and sad, or resist and have him shower me with love and affection when I tell him I overcame my moment of weakness.

6) Seek professional help. When in doubt, find a therapist you can trust and rely on. They are trained, they are licensed, and they can give support to both you and your spouse no matter the issue. 

Be excellent, folks. You and your marriages deserve it. 


  1. *slow clap* Thank you for this. I get knots in my stomach every time I read one of those and think, "So does your husband know you're sharing his issues all over facebook?" I love reading your thoughts.

  2. Yes! My sentiments exactly. It's so sad when people put their spouses on blast. Pornography IS harmful, but reacting to someone with a porn addiction (or any addiction) in any way that isn't full of love and compassion is just doing more harm. I know people who have struggled with this addiction, and they are not "monsters". They are good people fighting a difficult battle. Don't apologize for writing the truth! This needs to be understood by many!

  3. So true Melly. It kinda scares me how much people are willing to share on social media. If my spouse posted my addiction like that online it would totally cause I bigger rift. Even when wives vent about their husbands online that seems like a no no to me. I don't vent to anyone about my hubby except my hubby, our relationship is ours. It doesn't need others involved. Including a pornography addiction issue. If you want help seek an actual professional. Work through marriage counseling together. Do it right. Don't invite everyone else in to judge your spouse and your relationship. (My brain matter is on the wall with yours)