Stan (not his real name) was first exposed to pornography when he was 7 years old. The neighbor boy's dad had bought a Playboy magazine. So began a lifelong addiction.

After overcoming some drug and alcohol problems from his teen years, Stan cleaned up his act and left for a Mormon mission at age 21.

Stan married Amy 29 years ago. Unlike many women in this situation, Amy knew all about Stan's problems beforehand. Stan went to school and received a degree in psychology, sorting out many of his own problems along the way. But when the Internet and family stresses came along, his porn addiction worsened.

He first sought help for pornography addiction around 1990. He and Amy attended some LDS-centered support groups for about a year.

Their marriage still suffered. Amy says there were intimacy issues, communication struggles and lack of self-worth.

"I'd wonder why, why didn't I deserve to have a full marriage?" Amy said. "Why wasn't I worthy of being able to have a worthy mate that could get better?"

Friends of the couple would never have guessed what was happening between them.

"I think our peers would always say that we were a very close couple," said Amy, adding that they weren't behind closed doors.

Stan was often so preoccupied with his own problems that his relationships with his wife and children were strained.

Stan and Amy started the LDS Addiction Recovery Program 12-step program about four years ago. Within weeks, they felt hope. Stan has combined the therapy with an online program called Candeo. Both have helped him realize he can change the way he thinks about women and maintain appropriate boundaries and relationships.

Amy has found the support groups for spouses of addicts extremely helpful. She learned to "get off his case," stop carrying what she didn't need to carry, and focus on better self-care and happier things. That gave her the ability to address other personal struggles she's had over the years.

Both have learned valuable lessons about the Atonement.

Stan had spent years in different kinds of therapies, including marriage counseling with Amy. They attended LDS institute classes together, and he was always reading gospel-centered and self-help materials.

"I knew I had a Savior but I still was very much into trying to control things," Stan said. He learned that he needed to "give it to God." "You still have to work, but it's not something you have to control on your own."

"I always thought that the Savior was for everybody else, really," Amy said. "I really didn't understand that the Savior, the power of the Atonement, was really for me." Now, Amy knows it applies both to her as an individual and to her and Stan as a couple.

Today, the couple enjoys better communication, a healthier family life and a happier marriage.

"The last four years … have been the best four years of our marriage," Stan said.

"Stan and I are definitely best friends now," Amy said.

4 comments on this story

Stan and Amy spent a year in the program themselves and now work as facilitators. They share their story to help others feel comfortable sharing theirs at weekly meetings.

Their advice is to get close to the Lord and never give up.

"Not everybody is cured all at once," Stan said.

Email: hbowler@desnews.com