What About Fred?

I want to tell you about Fred.  Fred realized some time ago that he really was addicted to lust, which included viewing pornography and masturbation.  Once he realized that it really was an addiction, he started coming to ARP meetings.

At the meetings he discovered what we all have experienced – he found he was no longer alone.  He found brotherhood, support, understanding, and love.  

He immediately recognized that, as it states in Step 1, that he really was powerless to overcome this addiction by himself.  If he wanted to overcome it he needed support – from God, from his Bishop, and from his new friends in ARP.  So he depended on all of them.

He started going through the steps and his life was getting better.  Along the way he met Sally, a wonderful young woman.  

They started dating and eventually he confided in her that he had an addiction, but that he was attending ARP meeting and working the steps.  She accepted what he told her and said that she would support him in his recovery.

Please Note: It is important for any guy, who is seriously dating, to openly share with the young woman that he has an addiction and invite her to participate in the Spouse and Family Support meetings. Please check out this post:  The Importance of  Having "The Talk."

Once he started seriously dating Sally, he decided to make it his goal to be worthy to be married in the temple.  

Their relationship progressed and Fred noticed that the temptations and triggers seemed to become less and less – perhaps he really was recovering – at least that’s what he thought.

During this same period of time, a person Fred respected explained a theory that made sense to Fred.  

This person explained that lust, including viewing pornography and masturbation were on the opposite end of a path that leads to marital intimacy.  

And the closer one got to marital intimacy the farther that person would be from their desire for lust.  See the diagram below.

The above diagram and the theory are totally wrong, but Fred didn’t know that at the time.

As time passed, Fred and Sally became closer and the temptations became less.
Finally, Fred proposed and Sally accepted, and they made arrangements to be married in the temple.  

Fred’s bishop was very happy with the progress Fred had made in recovery and gave him a recommend for marriage without any reservations.
A different perspective

Let me deviate from this story for a moment to give you another perspective.  

Another player in this story is Satan.  He has his own plan for Fred and Sally.  

He wants to destroy both of them and their future family.  

So as Fred started seriously dating Sally, Satan decided to reduce the triggers and temptations that Fred was dealing with, to give Fred a false sense of accomplishment.  

Satan wanted Fred to become complacent in his recovery and feel like he had things totally under control.  

He wanted Fred to lessen his need for support from friends in ARP, from his Bishop, and from the Lord.  He wanted Fred to decide that he was “no longer powerless” – that he was back in control without outside help. 

Satan wanted Fred and Sally to believe, as they got married that Fred no longer had a “problem.”
Now back to the story

Fred and Sally had a beautiful temple wedding and honeymoon.  Everything seemed to be going well and the theory explained by the diagram above seemed to be working. 

At the time of their marriage, because he was now comfortable in his recovery, he felt as if he had “graduated” from the 12 Step Program.  

So he stopped attending meetings – stopped doing his dailies – and stopped reaching out to his ARP friends.  That was no longer necessary – or so he thought.
Reality hits

But at some point in the coming weeks and months, Fred noticed a change.  Those triggers and temptations, that he thought he had left behind, started to come back.  

In fact he realized that, with marriage, there were even new stresses and problems.  And with each new stress or trigger he was tempted to run back to his old addiction.

But that shouldn’t be happening.  What about marital intimacy replacing the desire to act out??? 
Well what Fred didn’t recognize was that that theory was totally wrong.  Marital intimacy does not cure addiction.  

For some reason Fred never put two and two together.  If marital intimacy was the solution, then why were there so many married guys attending ARP meetings????

Below is a better diagram of the reality of the situation.  Marital Intimacy and Addiction are TWO SEPARATE paths.  They are not really related.  

The only thing they have in common is sometimes we use the word “sex” to describe each of them.  
Both of the paths below can and do exist at the same time.  But they do not overlap.

Now back to Fred

Finally Fred relapses, perhaps not just once but several times.  What is he to do?  How can he tell Sally?  

They both were convinced that Fred had recovered – that he no longer had to worry or deal with addiction.  

If he does tell Sally, what will she think?  Might she come to the conclusion that “she is not enough” -- that it is somehow her fault?   

Fred knows that’s not true, but can he risk talking to her about it?  Will she even understand?
Should he speak to his bishop?  Will the bishop even understand?  The bishop was so proud of him for overcoming his addiction. 

What about contacting his former friends in ARP?  Will they consider him a failure?  Can he take the risk?

All these questions are running through Fred's head.  His initial solution is to isolate himself and pretend that everything is going well – just like he used to do prior to admitting he had an addiction in the first place.

Where is Satan in all of this?  As you might imagine, he is as happy as he can be.  He has Fred and Sally exactly where he wants them.  

Satan purposely reduced Fred’s temptations prior to his marriage to give Fred a false sense of security in his recovery.  

Then soon after Fred’s marriage Satan came back with a vengeance, causing Fred to relapse and go back into isolation and secrecy.  

Satan is wanting to destroy Fred’s future and the future of his family.  And he’s doing a pretty good job of it at the moment.
Advice for Fred

So do you have any advice for Fred????  Do you think he should continue on not talking to anyone about his addiction or his relapses and just keep it to himself?   Can he recover on his own?

If Fred were to ask me – and he hasn’t, I would suggest the following:
  • Tell Sally what is going on – but assure her that she is not the problem
  • Talk to your bishop and have him give you a blessing
  • Reach out to former friends in ARP.  They will understand and they will not judge you!
  • Start doing your dailies again – including personal prayer.  Couples prayer does not take the place of personal prayer.
  • Consider returning to ARP meetings – it doesn’t have to be the same meeting – pick one that you are comfortable with.  Here is a link to the current meetings near you: https://bit.ly/ARPMeetings:  The moment you show up, you will feel the same spirit that you felt before.
  • Start reviewing and working the 12 steps.
  • Invite your wife to attend the Spouse and Family Support group.  They have 12 separate topics to help wives.  They are also based on the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
  • Consider attending a “couples group” with your wife.  Two couples groups meet weekly in Utah County – one on Friday and one on Saturday – they are very helpful!
  • Do not feel that you are starting over – you are not!  You are just picking up from where you left off.  You are not a failure – you are a hero for recognizing your need for the Savior and your desire to protect your family!

I have no idea if any of this story was helpful to you.  But there are Freds and Sallys out there.  

And these Freds feel trapped.  And these Sallys don't understand what happened to them. 

Both are wondering if there is any hope for their future.

The answer is a resounding "YES!"  There is hope in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and in the Church's Addiction Recovery Program.  

If we diligently follow the steps, attend meetings, pray with real intent, do our dailies, and reach out to Heavenly Father and our friends, we will succeed.

We should never give up on ourselves or on anyone else.

I have a testimony of that!!!!

For those of you planning on getting married soon, please keep coming to ARP!
We need you and you need us!!

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