cotopaxi

Depression, pornography, and marriage...

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I've struggled with severe depression since I was in high school. I was never officially diagnosed until my early 30s. I started taking medication about 7 years ago. I was married in 2002. For a few years before I got married, and a few years after I got married, I would use pornography as a way of escaping my depression. It was a mental bandaid of sorts. I don't think I was ever addicted to pornography. But it was a problem for a while. I knew it was wrong but it was also one of the only outlets I had when my depression would flare up. When I started taking medication, my life literally did a 180. I was able to think clearly. I didn't have suicidal thoughts any more. I felt happy for the first time since high school. And I stopped watching pornography. I guess you could say the medication filled the void. 

She's obviously aware of the depression. And she's extremely supportive. But I never told her about the pornography. I haven't watched pornography for years. And I have no desire to watch it. But there's a lingering guilt that's always with me. I feel like there's a weight I need to get off my shoulders. I feel like I need to talk to her. But I don't know how. I don't know what to say. And I'm worried about how she'll react. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

Edited by cotopaxi

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Hi. First off, I'm delighted that your depression is getting better and you're finding happiness. I can completely understand why you might use pornography as a way to escape from your stress but - if you don't mind me asking - was it the content of the videos themself that helped allievate your stress or was it the fact that you were ma*turbating. The latter is a way a lot of people use to escape stress. If it was the former, did you feel lust towards the people in those videos? Did you feel like they were somehow more desirable than your wife? If you didn't feel lust to them, then she should find it easy to forgive you as she knows that it was just a way to survive your stress. If you did feel lust, then unfortunately she might be angry but still I suggest you tell her, and show that you've repented and that you're sorry if it upset her. It's better to get it over with now, instead of bottling it up for ages and keeping the guilt locked up inside of you. We're all human, we all make mistakes and honestly, the best thing we can do in that situation is be honest about it.

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5 minutes ago, TilKingdomCome said:

Hi. First off, I'm delighted that your depression is getting better and you're finding happiness. I can completely understand why you might use pornography as a way to escape from your stress but - if you don't mind me asking - was it the content of the videos themself that helped allievate your stress or was it the fact that you were ma*turbating. The latter is a way a lot of people use to escape stress. If it was the former, did you feel lust towards the people in those videos? Did you feel like they were somehow more desirable than your wife? If you didn't feel lust to them, then she should find it easy to forgive you as she knows that it was just a way to survive your stress. If you did feel lust, then unfortunately she might be angry but still I suggest you tell her, and show that you've repented and that you're sorry if it upset her. It's better to get it over with now, instead of bottling it up for ages and keeping the guilt locked up inside of you. We're all human, we all make mistakes and honestly, the best thing we can do in that situation is be honest about it.

Thanks for the response. Ma*turbation was involved. And now that you mention it that was probably where a majority of the stress relief came from. At times there was lust (I guess that comes with the territory). But most of the time it was a coping mechanism to deal with my depression. I've always found it interesting that once I started taking medication, not only did the depression subside but my "need" to watch pornography also went away. Over the years I think the depression and pornography created a vicious circle - because I was depressed, I'd watch pornography; but because I was watching pornography, I would get more depressed. It was a dark time. And I regret it every day. 

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Sounds to me like it was not an addiction, just a coping mechanism or habit.  I would encourage you to come clean with your wife and do all you can to make her understand that it was not about her not being pretty enough or sexy enough for you.  If you tell her how and why it started and stopped,what things you did and what things you did not do.  Show your regret and remorse and ask for her forgiveness, answer any question she has completely and honestly.  It is so much better than one day her finding it all out and realizing that you hid this from her.  She'll think you never intended to tell her and she'll feel betrayed and lied so much more than if you voluntarily try to make things right.

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Cotopaxi, here is a link I think would be of interest to many people in your situation. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12633158

There are many other cases and similar situations where people developed sexual desires outside of their norm due to medical conditions. Then upon surgery to remove the tumor the abnormal sexual desires disappear. It makes perfect sense that your medications could change your physical desires. Sexual drive is produced through psychoneuroendocrine mechanisms. The limbic system and the preoptic area of the anterior-medial hypothalamus are believed to play a role in sexual drive. Drive is also highly influenced by hormones and medications. There are even syndromes like Kluver-Bucy that can result in sexual behavior that would be well outside of the norm. People who struggle with these issues are not inherently immoral.

It is my opinion that we are often far too judgmental about sexual issues. Human sexuality is much more complicated than simply saying people who control it are "good" and people who don't are "bad". I was able to see vastly different levels of sexual interest and curiosity in each of my six children.

Some struggle more than others with those desires - but they are all precious and wonderful sons and daughters of God. You are as well. God built sexual desires into our bodies as part of a divine plan. You have struggled with that - welcome to mortality. What's important is where you are now. I say share it with your spouse, primarily so that she knows you will hold nothing back from her. Every couple should have enough emotional intimacy to be familiar with their past mistakes and weaknesses.

As a father who's oldest son continues to struggle with depression (he is doing well) I applaud your efforts to follow the Savior. Now go forward and build your marriage stronger even if it means taking a little flak for a while if your sweet spouse reacts poorly. No matter how she reacts, you react with love, listening to her concerns, and understanding. Your firmness to be 100% honest with her in all things will bear more marital fruit than withholding any past indiscretions.

Edited by clwnuke

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DON'T DO IT!

 

I don't understand the need for full disclosure (not in this case), you have repented you no longer feel the desire to do these things. God has forgiven you now forgive yourself. Why would you create a problem where one does not currently exist? How do you think your wife will react? How will this revelation help your marriage? Do not allow your selfish irrational desire to puke this out affect your relationship with your wife it is not fair to burden her with this if the problem has been resolved.  You feel guilty about it? SO WHAT suck it up and live with it.

Omega

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Cotopaxi,

I don't know what advice to give you about telling your wife. I would take it to the Lord in prayer. I guess for the short term, do what is the greatest loving service to your wife. The Lord (and your bishop, if still needed) can take away your guilt with repentance.

My other thought is to try to find other more healthy ways to distract you, if needed.

I wish you the best. It's obvious you are trying to do what's right, and the Lord will bless you for that.

Edited by tesuji

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As you see, there are different opinions on whether you should discuss this with your spouse. Some of it may depend on the kind of marriage you are seeking to build. There is nothing I can't discuss with my spouse - my weaknesses, my thoughts (good and bad), my joys, my frustrations, etc., We know everything about each other and complete transparency has been the bedrock of our relationship even before we were married. She helps me to be the best Priesthood holder I can be despite my errors, and I do my best to help her be the best daughter of God she can be despite her errors. If she were ever to commit a major sin, I would hope she knows that she can come right to me for help, support, and understanding through the entire repentance process. I'll be going to the Bishop with her in total love so that she knows I'm her advocate in every way for Celestial success. 

Sometimes that creates some difficulty - heck, I can't even buy a surprise birthday present for my wife because the first question will be "what did you buy at Nordstrom today?" when she sees the debit charge. But I would never trade the peace of mind that we share precisely because we know our pasts and have have a firm commitment to our futures.  

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39 minutes ago, omegaseamaster75 said:

Like what?

Like what the Spirit tells you to do, when it tells you to do it, how it tells you to do it.  Etc.  The notion that there are only two options is one of Satan's ways of limiting our thinking.

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His porn usage was a transgression against his relationship with his wife and confession to her is a required part of repentance, not an option.  Stopping the behaviour is wonderful, but by itself it is not being fully repentant. 

D&C 58:43  - By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.

Yes, there is a good chance her feelings will be hurt, perhaps a lot although I think the circumstance, change of behaviour, and voluntarily confessing would do a lot to ease the blow.  Even if it takes some time for her to work through that it doesn't justify hiding it from her. 

Once it has been worked though and she has forgiven him and they reconcile they will have a better marriage than before, and he will know that she loves him knowing it all rather than wondering if she would still love him if she knew everything.  Much better than living your whole life with a secret shame and guilt.

Edited by Latter-Day Marriage

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3 minutes ago, zomarah said:

 

Concerning Section 58:43 I agree however confession to whom is not addressed in that verse.

In what way was his porn usage a transgression against his wife?

His porn usage was a transgression against his wife because he "cheated" on her.  He fulfilled needs with someone other than his wife. Yes sex with yourself is cheating. Most do not think of it in those terms but I can guarantee you his wife will

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3 minutes ago, zomarah said:

 

Concerning Section 58:43 I agree however confession to whom is not addressed in that verse.

In what way was his porn usage a transgression against his wife?

It is a lack of Faithfulness and Fidelity to his marriage covenant of which is wife is part.  Clearly it is not as bad as adultery, but his heart clearly strayed.   

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53 minutes ago, Latter-Day Marriage said:

His porn usage was a transgression against his relationship with his wife and confession to her is a required part of repentance, not an option.  Stopping the behaviour is wonderful, but by itself it is not being fully repentant. 

D&C 58:43  - By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.

Yes, there is a good chance her feelings will be hurt, perhaps a lot although I think the circumstance, change of behaviour, and voluntarily confessing would do a lot to ease the blow.  Even if it takes some time for her to work through that it doesn't justify hiding it from her. 

Once it has been worked though and she has forgiven him and they reconcile they will have a better marriage than before, and he will know that she loves him knowing it all rather than wondering if she would still love him if she knew everything.  Much better than living your whole life with a secret shame and guilt.

Sounds great written down, but 1. I disagree that she needs to know, and 2. there is not a good chance she will be hurt I can guarantee that she will.

If the issue is resolved you take it to the grave. 

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1 hour ago, zil said:

Like what the Spirit tells you to do, when it tells you to do it, how it tells you to do it.  Etc.  The notion that there are only two options is one of Satan's ways of limiting our thinking.

Ok i guess if I heard a voice that clearly was not my own giving me specific instruction on how to deal with the situation I would follow it. Again what is the third or fourth option? 

Tell her- All you know what breaks loose

Don't tell her- Status quo 

Hmm one causes hardship and strife in the relationship and the other does not. Seems pretty straightforward to me.

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17 hours ago, Latter-Day Marriage said:

I would encourage you to come clean with your wife 

2 hours ago, zil said:

Do what the Spirit tells you, 

1 hour ago, Latter-Day Marriage said:

His porn usage was a transgression against his relationship with his wife and confession to her is a required part of repentance, not an option. 

Much better than living your whole life with a secret shame and guilt.

Regardless of the duration of it's use, pornography changes you. It affects both the user and the spouse. Because it affects both parties, like @Latter-Day Marriage said, you have hurt someone else, and therefore repentance requires confession & restitution. Part of restitution might be having to patiently suffer through your spouse's sadness, anger and hurt feelings for a while. While you may never have intended to hurt your spouse, and perhaps thought that you had kept it a secret from them, the changes that pornography causes are manifested in visible ways to them, though they might not have understood it or the cause of it. 

Without going into graphic detail, some of the net results of pornography use that a spouse would notice in the user... 
1. Lack of attraction, spouse's appearance doesn't compare to others in the movies
2. Lack of desire to be intimate, needs were already met
3. More controlling, pornography teaches abstract views of submissiveness
4. Less patience, pornography teaches instant satisfaction
5. Retraction in the spiritual, pornography kills the spirit 

Etc. Etc. All the things that a pornography user "thinks" they have hidden and are secret really are not. The side affects manifest themselves and "do" hurt the spouse.
If the spirit is prompting, like @zil said, the OP should follow that prompting and talk with her about it. 

 

 

Edited by NeedleinA

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6 minutes ago, zomarah said:

 

 

i can see that this was adultery or fornication in the heart. But I'm still not seeing where that qualifies as being against his wife.

Who else could it be against....  Trust me ask any wife...  they take straying of the heart very personally...

 

In fact if they did not... the council not to tell her to somehow shield her from the action would be meaningless...  the very fact that it is not meaningless shows exactly how it is against her

 

 

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28 minutes ago, NeedleinA said:

restitution

I think too often people think this only applies in situations where some physical thing was taken or damaged (I know I once did).  But it applies just as much when spiritual things were taken or damaged (whether it's the sinner or the sinned-against or both who have suffered spiritual loss/damage).  Restitution is vital, and may be one of the most difficult parts of repentance (often because we ourselves cannot through time or money alone restore what was taken or damaged, but must beg the Savior to do it for / in us).

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Relationship-to-relationship a spouse's reactions may be very different to the viewing of pornography. I've seen some spouses react with great hurt and alarm, and I've seen some wives and husbands basically say "whatever thrills ya".

Neither reaction relieves the viewer of his or her responsibility to bring their habits and desires within the bounds the Lord has set, but an understanding reaction opens up communication channels and goes a long way in helping a person walk away from the temptations in a step-by-step manner.

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4 minutes ago, zil said:

Restitution is vital, and may be one of the most difficult parts of repentance 

It sure can be. It is much easier to repentant in "secret" than it is to face the person your hurt. This is why it is so easy to try to justify not telling the offended person..."because of not wanting to hurt the spouse's feelings".  Make no mistake, the spouse has already been hurt by pornography. Now they deserve to understand the truth and origin of that hurt. They deserve to know why they were treated differently back then. YES, they were treated differently, just like they are treated differently when someone is suffering from depression. 

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24 minutes ago, zomarah said:

His wife gets upset because she is culturally conditioned to think that way. But she does not have valid grounds for this frustration in the Law of God.

You try telling your wife that...  see how far that gets you

The simple fact is that he sinned... and the wife is fully expected to be hurt by that sin once she gains knowledge of it.  This is why it is necessary to involve her

You can try to argue that she should not be hurt but the simple fact that you have to make that argument proves harm done...  The simple fact that the reason not to tell her is to "protect her" (which also selfishly protects oneself) shows that the harm is there.

Thus your argument is self defeating

 

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28 minutes ago, zomarah said:

 

It's really irrelevant what my wife, I, or anyone else thinks on the matter. Our opinions don't change God's Laws. Any hurt that his wife has over the previous sins is a separate issue, because those sins were not against his wife. They were sins against cultural bias and expectation(which really isn't a sin).

If it is a sin to hurt your wife's feelings. Then the sin would be in the telling her of it. We hurt her feelings over something that wasn't against her in the first place.

Now I'm not saying he absolutely shouldn't tell her. I'm just saying that scripturally that pornography/masturbation issue is not a sin against her. And, as I said previously, asking what the Lord would have you do is applicable in this situation.

The Scripture are full of council of what we should when we hurt someone...  That is God's Law... The fact that you are twisting yourself in knots trying to avoiding this simple fact is telling...  Now you are saying the wife is not hurt because she lacks knowledge of the sin in question...  And I would agree that she is not hurt... yet...

But the scriptures are quite clear that all secrets will be revealed and shouted from the roof tops...  The day will come when she does know...   And when that day comes does he want to compound this sin with the sin of lying (the scriptures are quite clear where the liers are thrust) and deceiving her about it for however long the time difference is?  Does anyone think that postponing the wife gaining the knowldge (because we are scripturally promised she will gain that information) is in anyway wise?   

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3 hours ago, omegaseamaster75 said:

Sounds great written down, but 1. I disagree that she needs to know, and 2. there is not a good chance she will be hurt I can guarantee that she will.

If the issue is resolved you take it to the grave. 

He needs to tell her to fully repent, she needs to know her husband as he really is, even if it means learning painful things.  And how can she forgive him of something she doesn't know he did?

And if he takes it to the grave, then on judgement day all his deeds will be played back and she will find out then.  She'll knoww he hid it from her all his life long.  That will hurt even more.

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14 minutes ago, zomarah said:

Adultery/Fornication is not a sin against the wife. And you cannot say that she was sinned against when A)the sin was not against her, B) she had no knowledge of the sin. Had she known at the time, then perhaps she would have been hurt, but that is just a hypothetical; and you aren't held accountable for hypothetical sins. Repentance does not require redress where there was no wrong. This means that the OP has no reason* to confess anything to his wife in order to repent. However, if confessing the now repented of sin does hurt her, then the sin is in telling her of it.
 

What part of hurting someone is not a sin against them? 

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