Earlier in the week Mac re-posted a response to AskMormonGirl's blog on pornography. It was written by a former bishop who observed that addicts fall into "two surprisingly clear-cut categories: Those who struggled against the addiction, and those who struggled against everything that got between them and the addiction."
The men in the first category, in his experience, never cheated on their wives, abused or neglected their children, or progressed into more deviant territory.
The men from the second category did all of those things, blaming their wives the whole way.
That left me wondering into which category I fit.
As an aside. After reading the AskMormonGirl blog post that included that response, along with a WHOLE LOT of responses from men and women, who to me, seemed to be trying to justify their behavior and blaming the Church for its' teachings on the matter, suggesting that if our Church leaders would just keep their mouths shut on the topic it wouldn't be such a big deal. One of them even went so far as to attack Pres. Hinckley personally for talking about it so much. (That ticked me off, because I can't think of a finer man than he was.) After reading that I found myself feeling unhappy. Could it be true? Maybe all the talk about how bad it is, is what leads us to hide it, and that secrecy leads us straight into the addiction?
After mulling it over for awhile, I decided that I needed to pray about it and surrender those negative feelings, which I did. It was then that I began to see a little more clearly. I can virtually guarantee that a majority of those responses came from people who are in the bonds of addiction and are seeking to justify themselves and their sins. The Church leaders have done an admirable job of learning about addiction and trying to give us support. I think that our leaders are working towards de-stigmatizing it. The fact remains however that it was our Savior who said "That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." So if you have a problem with it, take it up with Him.
I have been feeling really happy and at peace for 86 days now. No porn, and no lusting. I've caught my wife singing to herself (something she rarely does, and a sure sign that she is happy). Why would I want to give that up in exchange for letting myself feel resentful towards the Church and its' leaders? No, the Spirit tells me which way is right, and that's the way I've been going. When I've wondered about the Spirit and how it communicates with me, versus how satan communicates, I realize that one thing satan never does is give me a feeling of peace. Working the 12 steps and working on my relationship with God does give me peace. The Spirit brings me peace. Satan's imitations do not.
Now back to the question of which category I fit into, and whether or not a man from the second category has any chance.
I struggled with it. Wasn't I neglectful? Wasn't the type of stuff I was viewing getting slowly but surely worse? Didn't I think that if my wife would just do such and such, or more often, or whatever, that things would be better? Didn't I push the envelope in the bedroom? Well, yes. All of those things are true.
But if we are searching for truth we must also acknowledge the things we did right. I seldom, if ever, put her down because of her appearance. I tried really hard to spend a lot of time with our kids and to be loving with them. I tried to help with household chores, though I never did as much as I should have. I made a really sincere effort to never use fantasy while making love. I tried to fulfill my callings in the Church. We prayed together almost every night throughout all of it. I did not disrespect my church leaders. I never criticized them. I tried to tell the truth (just not necessarily the whole truth) when they counseled me on the subject.
So it left me thinking, like Warrior, and like MM sees her husband, that I was somewhere in the middle. I think though, that if I were that bishop's ward member, he would have put me in the first category. On the other hand, there are some who have been from the second category and found their way back.
Is there anything a spouse can do if her husband is mostly a second category type of guy? If I am interpreting what I am learning correctly, the best way she can help is by making sure she is right with God, and then set her boundaries. She must define who she is, and who she is not; what she will do and what she will not do. It is then that she can live with grace and dignity, regardless of the actions of others. She will care without becoming a caretaker. Her eyes will be open, her heart sensitive to the Spirit when He is talking to her. She won't need to check up on him constantly, the Spirit will tell her what's up. She should not tolerate abuse! Just don't! It's awful! Nobody deserves to be constantly beaten down. Get out if you have to! It might even be the impetus to get someone into recovery. I subscribe to SA online and get dozens of e-mails daily. I can't tell you how many times already that I have seen a guy get serious about recovery because his wife left him. I know that can be an incredibly difficult decision to make, but if it needs to be made, do it.
So that's my current thinking. It should be interesting to see how my thinking evolves as my recovery continues!
I love you guys and gals!