I am struggling to forgive my husband after he betrayed me in one of the most intimate ways possible: adultery. His adultery was through pornography and masturbation. I can only imagine how much greater my pain would be if he had been physically unfaithful. Still, he was adulterous, and the question remains. How do you forgive someone when they have hurt you, betrayed you, so intimately and deeply? I know that to move forward in our marriage, he must repent & I must forgive. But I am so angry.
I mourn with you as you travel through this terrible trial. Please know that you are not alone. Pornography use has been normalized in media for decades and is rubbing off on Christian culture. According to a 2014 Barna Group survey “39% of Christian men and 13% of Christian women say they believe their use of pornography is ‘excessive’,” and “21% of Christian men … say they think they might be ‘addicted’ to pornography or aren’t sure if they are” (as cited by Covenant Eyes (a company that sells an Internet monitoring service promoted by Promise Keepers (a Christian men’s organization comprised of men who want to be faithful disciples of Christ)).
I repeat: you are not alone in this trial. Other women have walked with their husbands through that lonesome valley, feeling themselves divided against their greatest ally. Kilee is one such woman.
I found Kilee’s story on the Church’s Addiction Recovery Program site for spouses and family members. Not only does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a support program for people trying to overcome their addictions, but they also have one for spouses. If you haven’t already, click on that link and learn about what’s ahead of you. And if you haven’t done so, find a group meeting near you for spouses. You will meet sisters who are in the same place you are. You will meet sisters who have already been where you are now. And in time you can be a comfort and a mentor to other sisters who feel emotionally and spiritually alone.
The pain you feel now, while understandable, makes forgiving and healing tremendously difficult. Jesus Christ, because of His Atonement, can make you whole again. This program is intended to assist you in that journey. I hope you find the peace you need, because there is a grave danger if you don’t. You mentioned that your husband committed adultery through pornography and masturbation. While both are sexual sins, they are not the same. Jesus taught that the man who looks “on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (3 Nephi 12:27-28, emphasis mine). His heart is in the wrong place (and thus requires repentance), but he has not committed adultery unless there is another woman involved sexually. If we used the same standard of judgment (that the thought, sight, or feeling equaled the very deed) then the anger you feel towards your husband would make you guilty of murder (3 Nephi 12:21-22). I rather think it was more your pain speaking than your true beliefs, because you immediately noted that you would hurt far more if he was actually adulterous. Regardless, forgiveness comes through healing, and healing comes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Practical steps and a support group through this process can be found through the addiction recovery program for spouses and family members.