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An Open Letter to Bishops from a Wife of a Pornography Addict: 7 Things I Wish You Knew

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Dear Bishop,

Thank you for your service as a bishop in the Church. I believe you were called of God to your calling for such a time as this. We need people who are willing to be on the front lines in the battle for families and individuals against sexual addiction. I am hoping to give you some insight into what women with husbands involved in sexual addiction (SA) need from you as an ecclesiastical leader. I have talked with many women who are dealing with this in their lives, and their stories are varied and poignant. All the women who shared their insight did so knowing that I would be submitting this to you. Out of respect for them and the battles they continue to fight, I won’t use names or specific details.

The feelings and thoughts expressed in this letter are my own, although not every item listed has been applicable to me and my situation. It is my hope that you will use this letter—as well as the spirit of discernment—when counseling with individuals and couples, as each situation is somewhat unique. . . .

Dealing with someone who lives much of their life in addict brain is difficult. When we—the women dealing with this—come to you for help, we often have no one else to turn to. Begin to educate yourself about the nuances of SA. Each of the below items is just a brief overview; this is meant as a starting point and not a comprehensive document. Please consider the following as you seek guidance in counseling us:

1. Do not imply or flat out say that if we would give our spouse more time sexually he wouldn’t have this problem.

This is probably the number one source of depression, frustration and abandonment women feel from ecclesiastical leaders. This is the quickest way to alienate the wife. Women will immediately throw up a wall when a priesthood leader tells her this. I actually had a priesthood leader angry with me because he thought I was neglecting that “duty.”

I don’t know how to state this more clearly: Sexual addiction/pornography addiction is not about the sex. It may be difficult to understand this, but the addict does not know how to deal with life and pornography/masturbation is his coping mechanism. A wife could quite literally prostitute herself for her husband and it would never be enough. When told that we need to do more for the man sexually, we are being put in danger emotionally, spiritually, and sometimes physically.

This addiction is not the wife’s fault. Often the addiction began even before the marriage. Blaming the wife is a way for the addict to deflect the feelings of guilt and responsibility.

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