My very good friend Jennifer has had her life turned upside down because of her husbands addition to porn. This is Jennifer’s Story. Topics like this are difficult to share and I know it has been a long road for her. This is a two-part experience.
My Husband Was Addicted to Porn
My name is Jennifer H and my ex and I were married for 27 years with 6 six children. Somewhere during that time he started viewing pornography without my knowing. He was diagnosed with depression and anxiety during this time as well and started taking medication for his mental issues. One of the side effects of the medication was non-performance so our sex life changed. I don’t know when exactly he started looking at porn but he did. He would come to me every now and then and talk to me about it and that he wanted to go through the 12 step program to try to change things–not sure how many times he went through the program yet never made any changes.
I would go to church and the lessons that I had would motivate me to want to do things better in our home but I never had his support. We stopped having FHE, family scripture study and family prayer. Any time I asked to do those things he would get mad and tell me that he didn’t like that I was controlling him.
All 6 of our children were baptized and confirmed but as the last boy became old enough for priesthood he was unable to do the ordinance so I had to lean on my family for that. We stopped talking and the only time we went out was to eat with each other. It wasn’t really “dating” in my book. I really didn’t realize how much he was into porn until one day I woke up with him talking on the computer in our bedroom no less to a girl. I faked sleep for a bit to listen to them and then had to get up. Once he realized I was awake he got off with her. He knew he had been caught but yet said nothing to me about it all day or ever. He’s never apologized to me for that incident or anything else.
I just kept my faith and kept living my life and doing the things that make me happy–my crocheting and my scouting. He had at this point his own online business doing technical writing for a couple of companies so he was always on the computer. We moved his computer and desk into another room so he didn’t feel like he lived in our bedroom all the time and at times he would shut the door. I had no way to know what was going on behind that closed-door but every time I asked for him to get his temple recommend renewed he told me he wasn’t worthy. He never made an effort to change that.
In September 2014 he made a business trip to Las Vegas and I told myself that I needed to make sure I kept in touch through Skype with him. At one point I needed to make a trip to the store and as I was driving down the street I had the thought come to me–“What would you do if Gary came home and told you he cheated on you?” At first I wasn’t sure what was going on and I just kind of let it go but on the way home I had the same thought come back to me. I never really answered the question to myself but I just went through the day in my head and realized that my day had gone very good. When he came home two days later the first thing he told me when he walked through the door was that we needed to talk. We went into the bedroom and he told me that he had a one night stand. He got all emotional and apologized and told me that he would move out whenever I was ready for him to do so. I almost started laughing at him because I had been prepared for this to happen. I told him that I wanted to work things out. After he told me he told the kids and then he made an appointment with the bishop to do the same thing.
We went to visit the bishop and the bishop asked me if I was willing to try to work it out and I said yes. At this point I was still thinking of my children and how this was going to affect them–I hadn’t even thought about myself yet. I wanted to try and fix things for my kids and the fact that I was taught that eternal families are very important. It was a couple of months later that he met with the Stake President and we then had a sit down with the kids and talked about church discipline and what could happen to him. We were expecting the worse and then found out that the Stake President decided to leave the decision up to the Bishop. I was floored!! How could this happen? I thought that for adultery you were either disfellowshipped or excommunicated and not on the ward level but on the stake level.
Following what my father taught me, that you didn’t question what your local authorities decided, I didn’t question the decision. In January 2015 the Bishop came to the decision to just put him on probation for a year. During the time he was on probation the Bishop met with him maybe twice. Again I thought “what?” and again I didn’t question the decision based on the things I was taught by my father.
During the year 2015 I still struggled with how things were going in my home–or not going. We still weren’t having FHE, family scripture study or family prayer unless I asked for it. I was not getting anywhere as there was too much tension in the home. I would make it a point to go home after a scouting activity when I knew he was already in bed. The Bishop had us going to a marriage counselor and I thought ok I hope things change. The day he admitted to the counselor that he had a problem with porn I expected the counselor to turn to me and ask me “how does that make you feel?” but I got nothing. No one cared how I felt about all this. I finished out our sessions but still felt no one cared about my feelings. I was like a fly on the wall at those sessions.
At one point the Bishop sat us down and told us he wanted us to work on our relationship by holding hands, dating, etc. I was concerned about my daughter and her attitude about Young Women’s so I started attending with her. One Sunday as we were walking into church one of us took the others’ hand, however, once we got to the outside door he dropped my hand to open the door and after we were inside I took his hand again and he made this comment to me “What you trying to do prove to the Bishop we are holding hands?” I thought to myself, “He’s not going to change.” During YW that day the lesson was on the good and bad things we have in our lives and what to do about them. One of the bad items listed was Abusive Relationships and the solution was to get out of it. It was like someone had slapped me in the head and saying “duh” to me. I went home and talked to my mom and a couple of friends about what I was feeling and during this time I had been praying for an answer as to what to do for my family. After all of this I came to the conclusion that the best thing for my family was to move on and if that included a divorce then I needed to do that. I struggled with that decision because of what we are taught in the church but I also decided that in order to make things better in my home it was a necessary move. So on November 28, 2015 I asked my ex to move out and told him that I wanted a divorce. He wasn’t happy with that decision and at first decided to get back at me by taking the only car we had and left the house. I prayed at that point and asked my HF to let my ex know that this was the right thing to keep our family together. Two days later he returned my car and agreed to the divorce. We were divorced on January 25, 2016.
I still get emotional telling my story to people because it makes me sad that my children had to go through all this because my ex felt that porn was more important than his family. During all this my doctor had told me that in order to reverse my type 2 diabetes was to lose weight and change my diet so I got serious and in one year I lost 65 pounds, got my blood sugar under control and changed my eating habits. I still have faith that someday my family will come back to the church and that we will be together forever but it does get challenged too.
Before the divorce was final I met with my Bishop and he told me that he wasn’t going to try to change my mind because he knew I had already decided what I was going to do yet he proceeded to do just that adding “I’m scared for your eternal salvation.” Why would he say that just about me and not about my ex?
I don’t believe that my Bishop knew how to handle this situation and I believe that they need more training when it comes to helping families that have been affected by pornography or anything else that is so damaging to the family unit. I don’t feel that the decision the Bishop and Stake President made was the right decision for either my family or my ex because it did not repair the damage that was done but made it worse and it destroyed our family. Even to this day I feel like my Bishop does not treat me like a member of the ward and that he feels that I destroyed my family. I feel that the decision was a slap on the wrist and that it was a NO BIG DEAL to the Bishop and my ex. I feel that the Bishop treated me like I was the bad guy in this situation when I should have been treated as the victim. I still support my local authorities but I still have feelings about how this situation was handled and that it needs more attention for the sake of others that go through the same thing.
Continue reading about Jennifer and the effects of pornography. Click Here for the Effects of Pornography Blog Post…