I was sealed to my husband almost 5 years ago. Six months into our marriage was the first time he told me about his recurring problem with pornography. Since that time, what at one point was a “few times a year” problem, exploded into an addiction. His personality began changing. I saw his temper much more frequently. I saw his addiction drive him into a deep depression. And for all my desires to change him or help him get better, I soon learned there was nothing I could do.
Through a dear friend the Lord led me to the LDS Addiction Recovery Program support groups for women who have addicted loved ones. I am blessed to meet with women whose loved ones struggle specifically with pornography addictions. I am currently serving as a facilitator in the group I attend. Now, instead of spending so much mental energy on something I have no control over, I am able to get the help I need. This program has proven to be every bit as essential for my well-being as it has been for my husband’s recovery.
I now see parallels to the 12-step program and addiction in so much of life, but most especially the scriptures. Perhaps it is because of my involvement with the program or maybe it’s simply because the scriptures, when read with the Spirit, can apply to any and every problem we encounter. Most recently I’ve been studying the “war chapters” in The Book of Mormon, comprising chapters 43-62 of Alma. Below are just five of the many verses the Spirit has taught me to love and apply to myself.
1. Alma 44:4 — “…ye see that God will support, and keep, and preserve us, so long as we are faithful unto him, and unto our faith, and our religion; and never will the Lord suffer that we shall be destroyed except we should fall into transgression…” (italics added)
One of the most common feelings I have struggled with over the years is hopelessness. I know I can’t do anything to change my husband. His recovery is between himself and the Lord. So what is my role as a spouse? How do I help my husband when I can’t make decisions for him? When I can’t be his savior because he already has a perfect Savior? I trust in God. I trust that as I am faithful to Him, to my faith, and to my religion, He will support me, and preserve me. I love that this verse says He will never allow me to be destroyed if I am faithful. As I have kept myself close to the Spirit and honored my covenants, I have been spiritually preserved. I have been given the hope I need to keep going.
2. Alma 53:17 — “And they entered into a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites, yea, to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives.”
I have made covenants to be obedient. I have made covenants to always remember the Savior. To take His most Holy name upon me in all I do and say. At times when my husband has been in the throes of his addiction I have struggled to keep a feeling of peace and love in my home. I have struggled to feel spiritually secure in my home. But the Lord has shown me what I have needed to do to protect my land, my home. I think of what Sister Julie B. Beck said at a BYU Women’s Conference in 2010, about how women should be “lionesses” at the gates of their homes. A lioness does not back down from doing what needs to be done to protect and defend her family. A lioness is strong. My strength and the knowledge of what to do for my family comes from the Lord. The answers for my home may not be the answers for every home, but staying close to the Spirit has helped ensure I’m on the right track.
3. Alma 57:25-26 — “And it came to pass that there were two hundred, out of my two thousand and sixty who had fainted because of the loss of blood; nevertheless, according to the goodness of God, and to our great astonishment, and also the joy of our whole army, there was not one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds. …And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe — that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.”
Every single one of those righteous, faith-filled young men was wounded. It says they had all received “many wounds.” Some had fainted because of the loss of blood. But none of them died. Being married to anyone is challenging. Life as a whole is challenging. None of us will come out of it without having suffered wounds. But again, here is the incredible thing about the gospel and faith—through the Atonement of Christ there is no wound that cannot be healed. There is no injustice that cannot be made right. God’s power is greater than any wrong, any wound, any affliction, or trial. I was taught my whole life to believe in God. To trust Him. I have experienced the saving and protecting power of the Atonement as I have held on to what I know to be true.
4. Alma 58:11 — “Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him.”
Another difficult feeling to come by at times is peace. Being married to an addict can be isolating and extremely lonely. At first I didn’t want to tell family or friends what was going on because I was embarrassed and I wanted to respect my husband’s privacy. But that left me without any kind of support system. The only solace I found was in the Lord. As I prayed, He spoke peace to my soul. He held my hand, and led me through what are some of the darkest days of my life. There were many times I contemplated divorce, wondering if that could be better than the hellish-nightmare of my life. But I understood from the Spirit that it was best for me to stay married. And so during the times when things with my husband felt completely out of control, I knew I had the Lord with me. He never left me and He filled me with hope over and over again. Even after I would falter and doubt, when I would try to control things instead of letting Him, He was waiting patiently for me. His love is unending, His understanding and compassion perfect. Only through Him can there be any kind of deliverance.
5. Alma 62:41 — “But behold, because of the exceedingly great length of the war between the Nephites and the Lamanites many had become hardened, because of the exceedingly great length of the war; and many were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility.”
My husband’s battle with pornography began long before I was in his life. I’ve only been a part of his life for a few years. I have no way of knowing how long it will take for him to be recovered. It may happen in this life, it may not. I can recall a number of times when I had a distinct choice to make between retaining anger, bitterness and growing resentment, and allowing the Lord to take that pain from me and heal me. A choice of whether or not I turn to the Lord and plead for His help to forgive my husband. I could be like those Nephites who were hardened by years of battle and affliction. But through the grace of God I am not. Through the power of His Atonement I do not have to be burdened by grief, pain, or anger. I can be free.
I don’t anticipate that I will approach perfection until long after I leave this life. So while I am still here, I need to do all I can to be obedient—to follow the example of Moroni, who was a man of “perfect understanding. … Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessing which he bestowed, … a man who was firm in the faith of Christ” (Alma 48:11-13). I can follow the examples of the many men and women, including the 2,000 stripling warriors, who fought for years to protect their homes and their families. The Lord wants me to be happy and “live in thanksgiving daily” no matter the difficulties I face (Alma 34:38). If the war chapters are any indication, then it is, in fact, possible, but only if I trust in my God, my faith, and my religion. As I have striven to live according to these truths, I have seen the blessings. I have been blessed with hope, peace, understanding, wisdom, love, and compassion. I am a better wife and mother. All of which came from the Lord. He lives. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.