I remember those first tender days as parents. I would find my husband, cuddling with our baby, tears streaming down his cheeks at the gratitude and blessing of becoming a parent through adoption. But within a few short weeks everything changed. I discovered a history of pornography usage on our website browser. This was back in the days of dial-up only internet. If you were on the internet in the 1990s that meant you were using your telephone line. I’m sure all those images and videos uploaded very slowly back then. I don’t remember now why I suspected anything and went digging or if I happened to walk in and see it right there on the screen. I do remember screaming and crying and saying “What have you done? They’ll take our baby away!” We adopted our baby through LDS Family Services. Part of the adoption agreement is that we remain temple worthy and that our child be sealed to us in the temple when 6 months old after the adoption is legalized in court. To this day I have never been so scared in my life. I just knew they would take away our one-month old baby, whom I was already madly in love with, all because my husband wasn’t temple worthy. I made him call our bishop right then and there. He assured us that wouldn’t happen. He could repent and our baby could be sealed to us in the temple. My husband met with that sweet Bishop only once, maybe twice. It doesn’t really matter I guess. I’m sure that Bishop, like most I would find out, just didn’t understand the plague of pornography either. Did any ecclesiastical leader understand this problem twenty years ago?
I began to probe and ask questions about how this all started. He told me that it had started a few months earlier, around Christmas time. He was looking on the internet for a gift for me. Things spiraled from there. I naively believed him, I had no reason not to. I was heart broken but I learned to forgive him for this “small” 2-month problem and we moved on. I made sure I always asked him regularly how he was doing. I controlled the internet passwords and monitored his usage. When our second child was an infant, I caught him again. I believe he told me once again it was a small problem, a few weeks of viewing pornography.
I became more vigilant in my monitoring of his internet usage. I would ask him if he used pornography at work. He said never, that would get him fired as it had gotten others fired at his job. I remember once telling him:, “I could fire you too. You could lose me. Wouldn’t that be worse than losing your job?” I also remember telling him, “If you don’t get this under control I will take the children and leave. We will be fine and you won’t.”
He cried and promised to get better. I saw him daily read his scriptures and pray and beg for my forgiveness. That fizzled eventually. I don’t even remember when it fizzled as I was just too busy being a young mom. Like most moms, I was over worked and under paid. I just should have prodded him daily to read and pray but that’s not who I am. If you want to have a good life, create it. I sure am not going to force you to do anything. So life went on. We have always been active in the LDS church, we have always served in callings, always paid a full tithing, never missed a Sunday, you get the idea. We were a regular LDS family. Not perfect for sure, but trying hard every day.
I’ve only ever caught him one or two more times since those early years. I assumed they were one-time lapses because I sure didn’t see anything else on the internet filter and this was long before smart phones. I have continued to ask him how he was doing over the years. He would say, with humility and shame, “I’ve hurt you enough, I never want to do that again.” (Today I know that statement to be a bold-faced lie.) I thought he licked this problem. Life went on. It was good. No actually it was great. My sweetheart treated me so well and I loved being his wife.
And then after 19 years of marriage it all crumbled and I was finally told the whole story. I caught him again, in June of 2014, after thirteen years of no problems. I caught pornography on his smartphone. He lied and said what he was looking at wasn’t that bad and from what I could see in the history, it really wasn’t that bad. Partially nude photos on Instagram and Etsy. Completely inappropriate yes, but not full-blown pornography. These women at least had some clothes on. (At this point I had never heard of lust addiction.) I asked how long it had been going on and whether or not he needed to see the Bishop. He said it had been going on for a couple of weeks and he didn’t think he needed to see the Bishop as it wasn’t pornography.
Later that evening, after the kids went to bed, I began to ask him loads of questions. Already I can’t remember what the questions were that I asked him that night of Discovery, D-Day. But starting then and over the next week we talked and talked, hours a day, hours at night. I can honestly say now the Spirit was directing me in those question-and-answer sessions. I was calm, almost distant. Firm, but not judgmental. I needed to finally get to the bottom of all this crapola. The sweater was unraveling and I kept pulling at it, eager to unravel this mystery in my marriage
I was told it was a two-week problem (lies), then that expanded to a year problem (more lies). He had NOT been “sober” for 13 years, it had been a problem on and off for years. In fact, it had been a problem since he was a boy–finally the truth!. A friend introduced him to filthy nasty telephone numbers when he was just 11 years old. This was a 30-year problem. I was getting an education into the dark side of the porn world. Me, a woman who married her first kiss, who has never even seen another man naked, who had stayed chaste her whole life, was married to a pornography addict. And for 20 years I never really knew it. My life, like a vase dropped onto concrete, was shattered into a million shards of glass all around me and I hadn’t a clue how to piece any of it back together.
At the time I am writing this it has been almost 2 years since D-day. Everything is different. My husband attends weekly LDS Addiction recovery meetings, which he absolutely loves. He sees a therapist and has learned how to handle negative emotions in a healthy way. He communicates his heart-felt feelings more too. He is finally pulling himself out of that dark hole he’s been digging for 30 years. But sadly when he climbed out of that hole he pushed me in. It took me a long time to crawl out of that dark hole. But life is finally getting better now. I am so much better now. We are so much better now.