Advice from the armchair marriage counselor
Suppose your marriage is afflicted with that everyone’s-talking-about-how-they’re-suffering-in-silence Mormon epidemic know as “your husband’s porn addiction.” Suppose you’re absolutely convinced that that is the problem, and if he won’t stop, then your marriage will be destroyed — nothing can persuade you otherwise. But he can’t seem to stop, or refuses to.
Then there are two possibilities: (1) you’re wrong, and hence you’re choosing to throw your marriage in the garbage, or (2) you’re right, hence your marriage is toast. either way, there’s only one course of action: start getting your finances in order because you’re heading for divorce court. If you have children, then you should also look into low-cost savings for your child’s future.
But let’s say that you’ve decided to entertain the possibility that your marriage can be salvaged. I’ve had so many people contact me for relationship advice (not just about this, but on lots of different problems), that I’m starting to get worried that I’ll be arrested for practicing marriage counseling without a license, so I’d like to start by quoting Jonathan Blake‘s comment which he posted here:
Pornography/masturbation and the shame associated with it were a huge part of my youth. I took the GAs counsel to heart. This resulted in self-loathing and even suicidal thoughts on occasion. I was vulnerable to this shame because I wanted to do the right thing. It was a big deal for me. I considered myself a sexual addict for a long time.
Years later, I leave the church for reasons unrelated to pornography (trust me). This gives me the opportunity to disregard the messages from the LDS church and culture that have been telling me that Iâ€™m evil, disgusting, unworthy, etc. for viewing pornography and masturbating. I allow myself to take a relaxed attitude on the issue for the first time in my life.
Just as djinn said, poof, the sexual addiction evaporated. The difference was like night and day. A almost unbearable burden had been lifted. The key ingredient in my addiction was gone: shame.
This may be hard to swallow, but mainstream LDS ideas about pornography are part of the problem. Taking a more balanced view was key for my recovery. If the LDS people want to overcome their addiction to porn, the first step is to cut out the teachings and attitudes that fuel shame about an innate and beautiful part of what it means to be human.
With that in mind, let’s consider both sides without dismissing one as a priori wrong. Masturbation (with or without porn) may be (1) the root problem (2) a symptom of another problem, or (3) not actually a problem. I’ve written a couple of new posts to help spark a discussion between you and your spouse which may help if you’re both willing to agree to read them with an open mind and consider them: Fidelity, Autonomy: Where does your body end and your spouse’s begin? and For married Mormons: Where does OK end and sin begin?
I hope this helps and you won’t, y’know, turn me in to the Marriage Counselor Licensing Board. 😉