Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Call for Input: How Has Addiction Affected Your Outlook on Marriage?

A wonderful work has finally begun!

I am so grateful for the opportunity to be apart of such a powerful and profound movement.  LDS men and women are starting to talk about their struggle with addiction like never before.  People are finally starting to recognize that isolating in secrecy only breeds more heartache.

We must come together as a united community in order to get better.

The Healing Through Christ Foundation has finally started compiling a 12-Step workbook specifically written for men and women striving to overcome sexual addiction.  

Let me tell you.  This workbook is already amazing, and we've barely begun.  It speaks to the soul because it uses our voice; your voice.  It is full of experience and testimony of those who have walked the path of addiction and are striving for recovery or have found recovery. 

I would like to invite you to join in this movement.

I would like to invite you to lend your voice to this project for it is from your experience and testimony that others find familiarity, validation, connection, and hope.  Over the next while I will be posting questions regarding your addiction/recovery experience to possibly add to the workbook.  

Please keep in mind that everything the foundation offers is free of cost.  They are non-profit whose sole purpose is to spread hope and healing.  So although your quote may be used, there will be no monetary compensation and each quote will be attributed to "name withheld."  This is God's work and all glory is His. 

With that....

The first question, even though it may seem to be directed at single folk, is actually for everyone who has struggled with sexual addiction during their single years.

Ponder the following questions and then answer, as a whole, in the comments...
  • How has/did your addiction affected your outlook on marriage?  
  • How do/did you feel about getting married?
  • How has/did your addiction affected your feelings of worthiness to be married?
  • Has/did your addiction dictated what type of person you feel you deserve to marry?
  • Has/did your addiction affected your desire to date, or who you date?
If you are married, think back to when you were single - and answer from that perspective.  And please, this is for MEN and WOMEN.  This workbook will be comprised of actual quotes from your experience.  The more the merrier!

Also, please let me know if you have addition thoughts on how you came to recognize your powerlessness over your addiction.

Thank you in advance for your much needed input!

7 comments:

  1. I recently got married, we have been married for 2 months.

    I have struggled since I was 11 and I am 18 now. I didn't want to get married because I felt I would be a bad wife and mother, that because I always messed up in my addiction, that would carry over into other facets of my life and I would ruin other people's lives as well as my own.

    Until I started dating my husband, my only motivation to even consider getting married was sex. I thought that was the main benefit of marriage. He taught me that there is a lot more to it than that.

    My husband is the only man I have dated. In some ways maybe I did settle for less- not a returned missionary, but he has been more than I feel I deserve and I do feel lucky to have him.

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  2. When I was active in my addiction, I didn’t think I was worthy of anyone to be married to. Although, I craved the companionship of another, I told myself I would never ever tell them all I had done. Those were things I firmly believed I would take to the grave. I was ready to lie to attempt to get a recommend to get married in the temple, but I was never going to tell anyone about my addiction.
    Now, I feel excited that someday when I am getting ready for this major step in my life I will be honest about my past and about who I am. Because my addiction and finding recovery has made me who I am now. However, I do fear relationship and marriage. I fear that my many character weaknesses and addiction to lust will make me an impossible person to get along with or love. I still struggle with finding love for myself occasionally, and wonder how another could love me. I fear my potential unworthy and impure thoughts or actions entering a marriage due to all the filth I have filled my brain with for so long. In my mind, for so long, marriage has equaled sex, something that I know is untrue. I fear bringing the struggle of addiction, even while in active recovery, into a marriage, something that I have heard is already laden with challenges of its own.
    My addiction has hindered my desire to date, while I have been in recovery. Well, I do want to date, but whenever I begin to think about dating, my thoughts take the quick route to inappropriate-ville. I often find myself confusing dating with lust and objectification. I struggle to understand how someone could love another person for who they are and not what they can do or what they look like; which is a direct result of viewing pornography.
    However, I do want to date someone who can take me to the temple. When I was active in my addiction, I had basically given up on getting married. I didn’t feel worthy because I wasn’t living worthy. Now, I strive to remain worthy and do desire an eternal marriage. I want to be with someone who can love someone for all of them, past included. Someone who puts God first, which I never thought about much before.

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  3. Funny this topic should come up now. Earlier this week, my counselor asked me to consider "what have I lost because of this addiction?". The first two things that came to mind were: Potential relationship because of unwillingness to be involved with anyone (which has more to do with "inherited" trust issues not related directly to this addiction, but the addiction did strongly influence my behavior). And, by default, no relationship means no children.

    I am almost 47. I began my 'curiosity' with m/b as a 5 yr old. It was a 'habit' by the time I was 10y. It was 'abuse' by the time I was 15y. By 20y, I was an addict, but would not know that's really what I was for another 20 yrs. Also at 20y, I got married. Why? "Legal sex". Neither one of us loved each other. I never have (still to this day) learned how to love a man. I don't trust them enough to allow myself to love them. (And no, I was never abused. But my mother was, terribly, in every way. That influence rubbed off on me as an empathic child.)

    In my recent "letter to my addict", I wrote this: "I know getting married is not the answer to THAT problem which is why I - we - have been single for so long. But you've been around since I was 5! You kept me thinking that "I don't need a man" because of the "outlet" you provided ... It's true. I don't "need" a man for that ... but that's not the same thing at all... there is a big difference between "sex with self" and "love with a man". I only really know one of them ... thanks to you. But even when I was married, it wasn't "love". It was barely even "sex". He had his own sexual issues. I had mine. Poetic justice, huh? I have never known how to love an "available" man, emotionally or physically ... you know that ... and you're partly at fault for that! My upbringing and my own fears did not help either. But I let you deceive me and lie to me all these years with that "I don't need a man" thing because YOU could take care of those wants and feelings... but it wasn't what I really craved in my heart. No. I am just now realizing - admitting - that I craved love. True, honorable, and honest love. That's not you, [addict]. It's just not. You are not love. You are an addiction. You're not good for me. You're not good for my spirit. "

    I allowed Satan to deceive me until the very end of my child-bearing years. By that time, I had been divorced for decades, not interested in finding a man for any reason ... I had my addict ... who needed a man? (wrong!) But by not living God's way, I suffered great "opportunity cost" by not bringing another soul into this world. Even though I've seen my daughter and I know her name, I will not have her in this life.

    So, what has this done to my outlook for marriage? Damaged it greatly, nearly beyond repair. With a lot of support, meetings, and counseling, we are in the midst of recovery and repair right now, hopefully enough to allow myself to trust, then love, a man to marry for eternity.

    That is not easy. At all.

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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  4. So this might be too late, but I wanted to share.
    I am terrified of marriage at time, indifferent at others and probably in deep denial the rest of the time.
    I don't want to have to tell someone, a man who is not my bishop, about my addiction. I worry about relapses and triggers if I do get married.
    When I was in my addiction, I told myself that I needed to know this stuff for when I was married. At the same time, I thought that if I was married, then my fantasies wouldn't be an issue. I would have my fix and this would all go away. I remember my branch president talking about not having secrets in marriage and me thinking I would never tell anyone about my masturbation.
    I did see myself as a good girl, as a good person and I wanted a temple marriage (still do) and a righteous holder of the priesthood. I would not, nor will not, settle for less.
    Now that I'm in recovery, I know that I am worthy, I hope that he is a good man and I pray that he is not an addict, if only because I do have codependent tendencies.
    At the same time, I am avoiding dating. There's little opportunity where I am, but still, I'm not putting myself out there at all. Part of this is because I realize that I tend to attach quickly and, in the past, used fantasy and created a fictional relationship with any crush I had.
    Also, I just don't see if happening. In all my "vast" dating experience, the concept of a guy liking me back and asking me out is so foreign, I can't imagine it. So if I find myself backing off and trying to shut down those feelings when I feel attraction. Part of this is so I don't get hurt and part of it is my trying not to use fantasy to create a real relationship.

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  5. Up until last year, despite a lifelong addiction to masturbation which eventually escalated to sexual encounters with others, I somehow managed to toe the line and keep my virginity in tact. I always held onto this fantasy that somehow I would get my addiction under control & I would be able to tell my husband "So, I know I screwed up in all of these terrible ways but look. I managed to hold onto this one thing for you." It was the hope I held onto through all the ups and downs and the confessions and the times of abstinence and the gut-wrenching, soul-crushing crashes. And then I went through a year that was horrible beyond my imagination, and I somehow spiraled completely out of control and lost that final, small ray of hope. And I convinced myself that I had lost my chance at a husband, at children, at the eternal family I'd always dreamed of. The crazy thing is that in that devastation, I eventually came to understand that I truly was an addict. I could not stop on my own. Somehow I found freedom and healing in that recognition.

    Like others have stated, I am terrified of my ability to have a healthy marriage and a healthy sex life with my husband. I struggle to understand what boundaries should be in place, and which desires are healthy in the right time and place and with the right person. I struggle to believe that any man could be happy in a marriage with me and not constantly feel worn down because of my battle to keep my addiction out of our marriage. I've recently begun a new relationship with a wonderful man who is aware of my addiction and wholeheartedly supports my endeavors to continue in my recovery. We both worry that normal marriage stressors could one day push me into a relapse. Those are fears I don't know how to address beyond continuing to work through the things that trigger me, and being open and honest with him and with myself.

    I have been fortunate in that I have a very close-knit family, and I have always felt that I could not marry someone who would not be a wonderful father to my future children. I never felt worthy to marry that kind of person, but I also knew I could not subject my children to less than they deserve. I don't know if I am able to believe I deserve that yet but I have faith that until I am able to believe it, I won't be getting married because my Heavenly Father would never set me up for failure. Also as a result of my addiction, I really didn't date in the typical sense. I "hooked up", but I didn't have actual relationships. That is beginning to change, through an enormous amount of work and faith and new-found courage to choose to be transparent with the people who love me.

    I guess ultimately I hate the reality of my addiction. I believe that it will always be a challenge for myself, and for my husband. I hope and pray that it will not be, but I don't believe that pretending otherwise will help me to have a healthy marriage in the future. I wish someone could tell me that I will be cured someday. I wish I could go into a marriage saying that; however, our culture seems to have accepted the reality that alcoholics will always be alcoholics, despite their recovery status. I don't believe I could ever feel safe sealing myself to someone, for eternity, without knowing that they were prepared for that risk. I choose to have faith that the Lord is preparing me and that He will also prepare someone (maybe my current boyfriend but maybe not) who is capable of the necessary compassion and strength, beyond my wildest dreams.

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  6. I thought, naively, that getting married would end the addiction. I know that isn't true. I'm not married, and never have been, but addiction doesn't work that way. I just did not understand addiction before I really started thinking about overcoming it fully rather than just abstaining from it. The more I read, the more I realize I want recovery so that I will not bring this into a marriage.

    I used to believe that because I was sinful, God was withholding that blessing from me. I now realize that this, too, is false. Married or not, God just wants me to work through this so that I am in recovery rather than maintaining abstinence. And He is ever patient in letting me do that in my time. That is the wisdom of God - that He never forces us to the well or makes us take the water. He leads us and then let's us drink when we are ready. That has nothing to do with being married or single and everything to do with our own relationships with Him.

    Lately I'm not sure I want to be married, not because I don't think it's a beautiful thing, but because I do not want to get married just to be married or just to have sex or just to have kids. I haven't been on a date in over a year because I haven't found that person I feel an honest connection with - and I don't mean sexually, either. Once I finally started the recovery process, I started to really process the idea of healthy marriage, too. Sex is fine, but I want more than that.

    I really mean that part of learning what this addiction was for me coming to understand my addiction to a fantasy of marriage and sex. Now I realize that what I want is more than that, and if I can't have friendship and companionship with a man, I don't want to marry him. I want to marry a friend. I truly believe that if I can find that, then I will get married and have a good marriage. We will have to talk about the addiction, of course, but that is something that I honestly believe a good man will be able to accept. The fact is, no one comes to marriage perfect. I remember being in the temple, trying to overcome these problems, and hearing someone say, "The temple isn't a haven for perfect people." Marriage is not a haven for perfect people, either. I believe that God is all forgiving. So then if I get married, my husband will be forgiving, and I will be forgiving. Isn't that our mandate from Christ? To be forgiving of one another?

    If we are all stained by our past wrong behavior, and that prevents us from this blessing, then I don't think there is hope for anyone to have a happy marriage. Since I know that is absolutely false, I know I can have hope. We are commanded to marry. So I firmly and fully believe that God, in his infinite wisdom and understanding, has prepared a way through the atonement of His Son, for all of us. He knew that this would be just one of many sins and trials we would struggle through. If the atonement is infinite, and it is, then it simply cannot be any other way.

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  7. Thank you so much for all your comments!

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Thank you for sharing a moment with me:-)

Ezekiel 34:11-12,16

"For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick"