Monthly Archives: March 2016

Can Cheaters Love?

I asked my husband last night if he thought it was possible that men who cheat on their wives also love their wives. He quickly said “Yes.” Inside I recoiled at such a statement. I already wrote about how love and attachment are two different things, but I wanted to explore this idea further. How is it he and I have two completely definitions of love?

If a man can love his wife and simultaneously cheat on her, then I need to define love because the kind of love I believe in doesn’t allow real true human intimacy and betrayal at the same time. Impossible.

you are loved

Scripturally speaking, love is long-suffering. It is gentleness. It is meekness. It is kindness, it is pure knowledge, it is without guile.

I think we would all agree love is gentle, meek and kind, but what about this “pure knowledge” business? What’s that all about? If I love someone what exactly do I have a pure knowledge about?

love is

Pure knowledge of someone is knowing her intimately. You know her deepest joys and her deepest fears. Actually it is even more than just knowing. It is allowing those deepest joys and fears to change you.

Pure knowledge is knowing her and also acting on that knowledge.

Pure knowledge is being known as an individual. It is to be known by ourselves and by others. That  is my definition true love. And i feel pretty good about it seeing as it is rooted in scripture. 🙂

In this article about the difference between affection and love, the author says, “I get very jazzed about the fact that we are the final arbiters of the love we receive. If you say you love me and I don’t feel you know me, are interested in me, hold me in mind or engage with me, I get to decide the issue, get to say whether or not your love is valid. There is no other judge or jury. And if you really love me and I’m just not perceiving it for some reason, then you need to communicate your love to me again. If it’s genuine, then I’ll likely feel it.”

Did you catch all those actions words? Know, engage, hold.

love is not

When I bristled at my husband’s belief that cheaters can love their wives it is for this reason–the cheater did not have a pure knowledge of his wife. He was not engaged with nor did he act on any knowledge he did have. Quite the opposite. He was engaged with his own selfish interests and her psychological well being was about as far from his mind as the moon.

Love is a discipline that requires learning, development, commitment and sacrifice.  When someone has a pure knowledge of me I do not feel alone nor unknown.

When I found out my husband was a cheater I have never felt more alone in my whole life. I felt unloved and unknown and invisible. I realized there was much about him I didn’t know. I tried in vain for years to get this man to open up to me, to let me really know him, but to no avail. He couldn’t. His addiction prevented him from curating real true intimacy.

So can a cheater love? I don’t believe he can. He can financially support, admire, and desire. But no, I don’t believe he can love.

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a conversation with my 18-yr-old son

Last week my high-school age kiddos went to a seminary morning side at 6am. My son came home and decided to tell me how great it was. He said that the presenter talked about a young man who overcame his pornography addiction by reading scriptures. I was impressed that my son listened so well that he could recount so many of the stories to me, but also curious as to what else the young man did to overcome his addiction. In an effort to listen more and talk less, I left the conversation at that.

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But when he came home from school you better believe we had another conversation:

Me: So I am curious about the story of the young man who overcame an addiction. What else did the guest speaker say he did to overcome his addiction. A 12-step group? Seeing a counselor?

Son: No, he didn’t say anything about that.

Me: Hmm, well reading the scriptures is an important tool in healing, but it will not stop him from returning to the addiction later on when things get tough again.

Son: Yea, but if he has the Spirit with him he will be able to withstand temptation.

Me: That will help him, but he needs more than one tool to know how to fight this. He needs to see a counselor to help him understand why he chose to go to porn in the first place. If he doesn’t understand why he did it he will return to it again. The statistics say most young men look at porn again after their missions. Why? Why would they return if they knew it was wrong? Because this is about the brain, son. About the pathways we create in our brain to deal with sadness, pain, and emptiness.

Son: We learned something about this in my psychology class.

Me: Oh I am sure you have learned all about the brain in your psych class. Think of your Dad. Reading scriptures was not enough for him, he tried that.  For 30 years he tried to overcome with addiction with just scriptures and prayer! Finally with therapy and 12-step he is overcoming it.  So if a good man like your dad can’t overcome it with just the one tool of scripture study, I doubt most can.tools

If you date a young woman some day who had a problem bulimia, anorexia, porn, or even gambling, and she says she overcame it with just scripture study I want you to run because she doesn’t have the tools yet. She needs therapy to give her the tools to understand why she turned to those things in the first place. And if she has all the tools, that’s great! 

Let’s hope this mom is helping the one and only young man she has influence over learn that collecting many different tools is the key to real lasting change.

A Letter from My Husband

My husband is a good man who is trying to change. Yes, that change is happening slower than I would like (patience has never been my virtue) but day by day he learns and applies a few more recovery tools to his life.

Recently we read a blog post from a young man who thought he understood addiction and who thought he should write about it. The problem is that this young man didn’t know the first thing about addiction. It would be like me writing blog posts about repairing car engines, which I know nothing about, but I have listened to my Dad and brother talk about cars, so there, now I am qualified to tell you how to fix your broken down car.

My husband decided to send this young blogger a letter, trying to help him understand what pornography addiction really is like. I post my husband’s words here:

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     Mr So-and So, I read your post yesterday and the comments posted primarily by betrayed spouses who presented some perspectives that you perhaps hadn’t considered.  I was disappointed to see you decided to curtail the dialog and issue a personal edict of judgment that we just need to forgive and move on.
     The “porn pandemic” you allude to in your postscript reply is not caused by betrayed wives/women choosing to continue living with addicts trying through Christ’s atonement to repent and be forgiven.  The pandemic is the result of poor choices made by men (and women), often as children, that seriously impairs their ability to make good choices later in life.
     If the problem were just viewing porn (which is terrible enough), then perhaps some of the things you say would be true.  But no porn addict ever just watches porn; they masturbate,  they fantasize,  they objectify,  they lust, they lie, they cover their sins, they fornicate, they are adulterers, they demean and belittle, they are abusers (physically and emotionally).  I could go on and on.  All of these are things are carnal, sensual, and devilish and would certainly disqualify such an unchaste man (viewing pornography is a violation of the law of chastity in my book) from the ability to associate with or marry a virtuous woman.
     I am not aware of one person who ever shamed me because of my addiction.  No one knew about my addiction because, as an addict, I didn’t reach out for help.  When I was forced to face the facts I found nothing but compassion and understanding from those in the church and from family and friends.  My shame was self-inflicted and caused me to isolate myself from others.  I was doing things I knew were wrong and didn’t want to be a disappointment.  Shame is from the devil and rarely originates from others – in or out of the church.  Godly sorrow for sins is very different and leads to repentance.
     I have not felt judged other than by my Father in Heaven and his appointed servants.  That judgment has always been filled with mercy and has definitely erred on the side of giving me hope and the blessings of the gospel.  My wife, parents, and others have shown nothing but love.  The men I meet with every week in 12-step meetings are some of the most humble, merciful people I have ever met.  Believe me there is no judgment in those meetings and those held in LDS chapels the world over are staffed by LDS service missionaries who show nothing but the love of God.
     Forgiveness is a very difficult issue.  I know my wife has forgiven me for all the addict behavior, but that doesn’t mean that she trusts me.  I have come to the realization that forgiveness and trust are very different things and are not intertwined.  Mosiah chose to change the government of the Nephite nation because his once-apostate son Aaron was selected to be the next king.  Mosiah said “And if my son should turn again to his pride and vain things he would recall the things which he had said, and claim his right to the kingdom, which would cause him and also this people to commit much sin.” (Mosiah 29:9).  Did Mosiah trust his now repentant son who was serving a mission to the Lamanites? The answer is no and neither should my wife.  We have established very clear boundaries that I helped establish for her safety and my own.  My choices have consequences and there are things that others can do that I simply cannot if I want to remain clean.  Like the Anti-Nephi-Lehis I have had to bury my personal “weapons of war” so that I do not return to my addiction.
     I am an addict in recovery. I am a son of God trying to prove myself worthy of returning to His presence through Christ’s atonement.  I am a husband who is trying to be the person I always acted like I was.  I am a father whose children know of my addiction and may learn more personally the effects of sin and the reality of God’s grace and mercy because they are witnessing my transformation.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well said, hubby.