Trust vs. Secrecy: Ignorance is NOT Bliss
By josh
11/3/2006 10:56:15 AM
One of the things I have learned through my recovery process is that having the trust of my wife was more important than not disappointing her. I don't know why I really didn't get this, but I wanted so badly not to hurt her that I figured it was just better to keep things to myself. I lied to myself that I would first overcome my problem, then I would tell her about it. "The day will come when I will be completely honest," I would tell myself.

Sometimes it causes a lot of hurt to talk to my wife about my weakness - even about days that were hard or where I was tempted but did not look at pornography. What I didn't realize though was that the mistrust that is fostered by not being open and honest is even more hurtful. For some reason I just didn't get that. Not being completely honest only compounds the problem. It doesn't buy you time, it doesn't keep your spouse blissfully unaware, it doesn't preserve your marriage. Mistrust can hurt your marriage to a greater degree even than pornography. They are separate problems. They often go hand in hand as one may lead to the other, and one may be used to justify the other, but as the old adage goes, two wrongs do not make a right. In addition, I do not believe that you can overcome one without at the same time working to overcome the other.

Some on this site have talked about as a spouse what the best deterrent is. Is it more of a deterrent to be harsh with your spouse, give them ultimatums, etc? On the other hand, are you enabling the sin by forgiving them - particularly when you have to forgive them more than once? Personally, I believe that more often than not, giving your spouse an ultimatum will lead to even greater secrecy and mistrust. Most men want desparetely to forsake their sins, but they want even more to preserve and protect their family. When they find that they can't (or won't) overcome their problem, because of their intense desire to preserve their marriage they feel that they are left with only one choice to preserve their marriage: secrecy. And in the end, that will never, never, never work.

I believe that as a spouse, you have to look at what is going to be the most helpful in overcoming the sin, and at the same time, begin to rebuild trust. Initially my wife was very hurt, and I know that thoughts of leaving certainly crossed her mind. "Why does he do it? Why doesn't he just stop? Does he not realize what's at stake? How could he possibly jeopordize something so important for something so stupid?" I know she had all of these thoughts, and I don't blame her one bit. Frankly, I've asked myself those same questions. But I also cannot fully express my admiration of her for how she has come to depend on the Savior to heal her hurt. She has become such an example of a Christ-like person to me. She, like the Savior, has no tolerance for the sin, but she still loves me. In anger, you want to punish your spouse. In love, you want to help them overcome. She has turned to the Lord to help turn her anger and hurt to love and compassion. And as she encourages me, helps me, and continues to love me, that is a FAR greater catalyst to recovery than any ultimatum or threat ever could be. Love motivates more than fear. And it is a pure motive.

Someone once told me that a marriage was like a triangle, the Lord at the top, and the husband and wife at opposite corners. As the husband and wife move up the lines of the triangle, it is impossible to come closer to each other without coming closer to the Lord, and vice versa. I can't heal the hurt I have caused my wife. Only the Lord can. My wife can't take away my temptations and weaknesses, but the Lord can. But obviously we can't sit back and do nothing, either - neither of us can. We must both constantly seek the Lord, both individually and together.


Ensign Article    
"Just as a follow up, I found a really good article called "Is there trust in your marriage?" from the Sept. 1988 Ensign. Here is the link:"
posted at 11:08:22 on November 3, 2006 by josh
Trust is really hard to rebuild...    
"My biggest challenge lately, is when my husband is away late in the evening at class, or has to work late.

I begin to wonder what he is really doing. The little bits of mistrust grow to full scale panic attacks.

I know that it is satan planting seeds, trying to make me stop working on trusting my husband. It is really hard.

My husband often forgets that he can pray, even just short pleas for help during the day if he is struggling, so we have made a deal. I will remember to pray and ask for help when the storms of mistrust try to take over and he will pray and ask for help when he is tempted.

Neither of us have to go through our trials on our own. None of us do."
posted at 11:28:32 on November 3, 2006 by sophie
the truth    
"Josh, every single word you said could have come straight from my mouth. I, too used to think "I'll get this under control on my own, THEN when I've been clean for a few years and know I have it licked, then I'll tell her". I SO did not want to hurt her. Very shortly after I confessed everything to my wife, I realized that I am addicted to deceit, secrecy, and deception because of a lifetime of hiding, as much as I am to p~rnography. I realized I had to be completely honest from now on. For me, that meant having a little talk with each of my brothers- and sisters-in-law as well as my parents and in-laws, so they would know why I couldn't participate in family blessings or go to the temple with them. I couldn't make up stories (oh, I forgot my temple recommend, etc) for the reason why. I had to try to eliminate deceit completely from my life. That has been challenging for sure. I've even lied to my wife a couple times since then about totally dumb things (like what I had for lunch or what I bought at the grocery store), I think because, just like p~rnography, some part of my psyche is so addicted to lying. Each time I've told one of those dumb lies, I've told my wife very shortly thereafter. It's been hard for her to deal with at times, but I know it's helping me learn to be completely honest. That's very important as I strive to become worthy of having a temple recommend again someday. In addition to the morality issues I have to clear up there's a question in the interview about being totally honest with our fellow men.

It's interesting though how my perspective has changed BECAUSE I have to be completely honest now. Whereas before, the thoughts of hurting her always came because of my guilt over what I had just done, now, the thoughts of hurting her usually come as I'm being tempted to sin. Many times, I've been tempted, but then had the thought that "that will really hurt her when I have to tell her about it." Because I know that I HAVE TO TELL HER. That doesn't mean I never struggle anymore. I do at times, and Satan's always there in the back of my mind saying "you don't want to hurt her. It was just a couple of breadcrumbs ( see ), not a relapse, you don't need to tell her. It will just hurt her." But I do tell her, because I HAVE TO or else I'm back to where I was 6 months ago, hiding things. And I, like Josh, am so grateful for my wife. She is an amazing woman. She struggles with the same doubts and concerns Sophie mentioned when I'm late coming home. But she really is learning to rely on the Savior. I am so grateful for how the Savior has helped my wife to deal with all the hurt that the truth causes her, and allow us to grow closer together as we draw nearer to Him. Truly he is mighty to heal. "
posted at 12:02:49 on November 3, 2006 by derek
Trust and Faith    
"I have a hard time with these two things. And I think they go hand in hand. I've really been trying to trust that my husband will make good choices and try his hardest. When I don't, I worry about what he thinks and does. Then I don't have faith because I am so worried about what might happen or what the future holds. Sometimes he says, "I feel like you don't trust that I'm trying." I do most of the time, but then something happens like when he relapsed earlier this week and the trust that I've had that he will make good choices is hard to keep, because he just gave up and made some bad choices. But he told me about it and so I at least feel like I can trust that he will talk to me and tell me when he has a problem so I don't have to worry about what is going on. Honesty really is best. Even though it is painful for me, I know it helps my husband to tell me and talk to me. And it helps me to know that he really does want to overcome this."
posted at 12:13:16 on November 3, 2006 by Michelle
Mostly trusting...    
"Sometimes I ask my husband how his day went, and he'll tell me, then I just sit and look at him, trying to decide if he's being honest or not.

There have been times where he has asked me if I believe him. Sometimes the best I can say is "I want to believe you" and "I mostly believe you".

I feel bad that that hurts him, but he's been really good about understanding that the trust is going to take some time. "
posted at 17:39:48 on November 3, 2006 by sophie
That's kind of where I am now . . .    
"Rebuilding that trust is HARD to do! Like Sophie, my husband will ask me if I trust him and I answer the same, "I WANT to," or "Most of me does..." but it's that little seed of doubt that makes it impossible to trust 100%. What I am working on right now is not nourishing that seed, and not giving in to those negative thoughts and fears. It's hard work, and I know my husband is so disappointed that I can't answer him 100%, but right now it's hard enough just to keep that trust at 99%. I think what is hardest is that it didn't take a really long time for us to go from zero trust to 99% trust, but we've been at 99% now for awhile. It's that last little bit that is the hardest to gain back. It's frustrating, but we'll get there eventually..."
posted at 10:44:21 on November 4, 2006 by mcr285
"When we were in counseling, our counselor said that it was okay, and probably a good idea to never trust 100% in this particular area. I think the trick is to keep that 1% from growing into more than that.

Trust is a noun, but it's also a verb. I can choose to treat him in a trusting way, or I can be suspicious and disbelieving of everything he says.

It's all a balancing act, and it's not easy. We just do the best we can, and make sure our spouse knows we love them.

At times when I doubt my husband's honesty in other areas (since if he has lied about this, what else has he lied's the whisperings from satan...) , I think, if he didn't love me, he wouldn't be here. But he is. I know he loves me, and that helps me get through a lot of the difficult things. "
posted at 13:09:34 on November 4, 2006 by sophie
rebuilding trust    
"I've said it a few times on this site, but I'll say it again. My motto has become "Trust takes time to establish, an instant to destroy, and a lifetime to rebuild." That last 1% I think is why. When the person you trust most betrays that trust, it can take a LONG time to rebuild, because, after all, he broke that trust before, why not now? It is hard to have my wife unable to trust me completely, especially as I learn to trust myself more as I heal. But that's a teeny consequence compared to her leaving me if she were not even willing to try. We can't have ALL the consequences of our actions taken away and the duty to rebuild trust is one we as husbands have to live with and strive for every day.

"Trust takes time to establish, an instant to destroy, and a LIFETIME to rebuild.""
posted at 13:12:50 on November 4, 2006 by derek
"I think as husbands and as those who have brought the offense, we need to not further the offense or compound the problem by being angry when our wives do not trust us completely. How could we possibly expect them to? I expect my wife to have her doubts, at least to some degree. I am grateful that she believes and trusts me for the most part, but if she were to ever question me further, to ask me if I am REALLY telling the truth, then it is my obligation not to take offense at that, just as it is my obligation to be completely honest. She has the right to question. I have no right to take offense. When you are legitimately doing your best and having success, then your wife questions you as if she doesn't believe you are really doing that great, it's hard not to be frustrated by that, but we shouldn't be. I recognize that my wife's questioning is done in love - she has my interest and the interests of our family at heart.

The other day my wife told me that sometimes she gets tired of asking me if I had a good day every day (I have told her to do this, it helps me be accountable.) So lately I have taken to telling her that I have had a good day without her having to ask. I think it takes a weight of her shoulders - she doesn't have to feel like it is her responsibility to be the constant monitor - and the accountability is still there. Also, I think there is a little bit of fear every time she asks that question that I might not answer yes. Me telling her first takes that anxiety away. I think that if we are consistently honest, then our wives will be less inclined to let that shade of doubt grow into a outright anxiety attack.

I have the utmost admiration for so many of the women that have posted on this site. You have been hurt deeply, and yet your faith remains strong. The challenge of dealing with this is so much harder for you in many ways than it is for us. You made no bad choice, yet you still have to deal with the consequences. It must feel as if your happiness is sometimes completely in the hands of another person. You go about doing all the right things, then your husband brings this terrible thing upon you and you are somehow left to find your own self-confidence, faith, and happiness independent of your husband. I now understand MCR285's comment that "I am going to make it with or without my husband." I understand what you mean by that. You can't let your faith and progression be completely controlled by your husband's actions. Obviously you want to help them overcome in every possible way, but when they fail - THEY fail, not you - you still have to have your own faith and your own strength. Honestly, I cannot fathom how you do that. I don't know if I could. Yet I see it happen.

I would hope that you would not add to your hurt by adding guilt to your feelings of mistrust. I'm no counselor, but I think that you shouldn't have to feel guilty over having feelings of mistrust. Like Sophie said, there will always be that 1%. I think as husbands we need to realize that. The trust, faith, love, and encouragement that we do receive from our spouses, I think, is often so much more than we deserve. "
posted at 14:28:12 on November 4, 2006 by josh
my story of trust    
"It is definitely hard for me to trust my husband. I trusted him almost totally and completely for 6+ years. Then about six months ago, I found out he was living a completely double life, a life I never even knew could exist with someone like him. He was always so good to me, planning special things for our Anniversaries or my birthday, etc. He always encouraged me to go do things with my friends or my sisters, or the ward. He helped with the cleaning and the cooking, and took such good care of our children. He was never gone at night. He traveled only once every few years. I could depend on him for so many things. I believed everything he told me, I had no reason not to. We had family prayer and family scripture study regularly. We had Family Home Evenings and went to the temple regularly. I loved him and trusted him, trusted his judgements and his decisions. I trusted him as the head of our family and a worthy priesthood holder.
Then I find out, he had never been a worthy preisthood holder since we have been married, he had never been completely honest with me. He had spent so much of his time with harlots, spent so much of our money to satisfiy his ful desires, spent so much of his talents and energy working for Satan and destroying our family when I thought we had the same goals and purposes in mind. He has lied and decieved me about so many things and not just things dealing with this addiction, that in the beginning it was very hard to think that I even knew this man who was standing there telling me about all of these horrible things he had done for so many years. I felt like I had lost everything, including my own identitiy. Everything I thought was real, everything I had believed seemed to be gone.
How was I supposed to continue to be married to this man who I felt like I couldn't trust because he had betrayed me, and everything I held sacred and special. He betrayed our family and everything I had hoped and dreamed for us, my life was not same and never would be.
Through the amazing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I have learned to love and trust my husband again. He is a wonderful man, a very good husband, and a truly great father.
Of course, as many of you have said, I do not trust my husband 100%, I have issues everyday, just those little doubts. I do believe what he tells me and then that moment of thought that says, " well, I hope that really IS what he did or where is was or went etc". But I do know that even though those bonds of trust between my husband and I have been severly damaged, our marriage is not over.
I can have complete confidence and trust in my Father in Heaven and His son Jesus Christ. And I know as I have that unwavering faith in them, that the spirit will guide and help me know how and when to trust or not trust my husband.
However, because of that spirit I also feel that my husband is sincere in his repentance and is honestly trying to change. And I know that it is hard for him to tell me when he has done something wrong and he knows it will hurt me but for him being honest is more important to our relationship because then it is based on true principle and not on secrecy or false lies of Satan's."
posted at 18:21:18 on November 5, 2006 by julieann
"I think we all have those little issues and doubts every day. I've even gotten to the point of wondering if my husband really went to work today, or is he off at some strip club, or meeting some woman, or whatever??? He'd never done those things before, never got past looking at the internet, but like Julieann said, the thought is still there that, "what else has he lied to me about???" In fact, everything Julieann said could have come straight out of my own head! I think the similarities in all of our stories is what makes this site actually work for me. Sometimes I feel like I must be the worst wife ever because I still have these angry feelings that surface on random occasions. I'm pretty quick to recognize them now, and I can overcome them a lot quicker now, but they're still there and they're still VERY strong (especially during those once a month episodes that can magnify everything to be so much bigger than they already were!). It's so nice to know that I am not the only one who still has those issues and doubts. Anyway, I just really have been able to relate to all of the wives' comments on this site and I really appreciate each comment and the experiences you all share. Thanks!"
posted at 12:45:17 on November 6, 2006 by mcr285
Engraved in Stone    
"This may be the most replied to blog here. I have also learned I have more than just this one addiction to eliminate from my life. I have also found myself dealing with this confused manner of honesty: Rationalizing the hurt and pain we may give to our spouse by using of lies and deceit. We are just trying to avoid a current consequence of our actions, (Hurting her now), but do you ever think how this affects your companions eternal perspective?. She has looked upon you her whole mortal life, as her eternal companion, but yet your deceitful ways give her a false sense of hope. She expects to get to the other side and find you there, worthy to take her to dwell with your Heavenly Father. Is she going to find that you have deceived her the whole time. That the person she spent her whole mortal life with is not worthy to be her eternal companion after all. You have this life to change that.
As Josh said in the beginning, I have learned this to be true: "Mistrust can hurt your marriage to a greater degree even than pornography. They are separate problems. They often go hand in hand as one may lead to the other, and one may be used to justify the other." Like Derek also commented "I realized that I am addicted to deceit, secrecy, and deception because of a lifetime of hiding."
The comments given here pattern my life and the realtionship I have with my wife. but She has helped me see why total trust and communication in our marriage is not an option. Now I must be totally committed to doing so.
I am ever so grateful for a wife that cherishes eternal principles, and who has hope for my eternal welfare as well. The only way we can gain eternal life together, is to do it together, with Christ as part of our 'Marriage Triangle'. All of your comments should be engraved in stone. I will mark this blog as one to always read, reread, ponder and live."
posted at 06:55:06 on November 28, 2006 by Anonymous
That would be me above    
"posted annoymous but was from me. Thanks"
posted at 07:02:27 on November 28, 2006 by udave
Steps to Trust    
"My husband has done so much the past 8 years to break down my trust in him, little things like not standing up for me in a public setting, Not telling "whole" truths about where he was or what he is doing. Omitting certain aspects or desicions that he had made, doing something (like using a credit card that I asked him not to use etc..) after I asked him to not do it. All those things where things I could deal with, now he informs me he has looked at p-orn on the internet and has chosen to not tell me about it for 6+ months. And there goes the last string, the trust of Fidelity. The trust that I was the only one he wanted and loved. I have struggled with trusting people my whole life. I was and am very much so a you burn me once, shame on you, forgivable, but I will never trust you again in that catagory. You burn me twice, I would walk away, shame on me. My husband is the first person in my life that when I walked into our marriage I had trusted him completely, I don't know where to go from here. He is a great husband who trys hard to please me as long as it doesn't require any type of communication. (very service oriented) He is an excellant father who loves our kids. I would not leave him even with all the above issues we have, but how can I come to trust him again so I can live in this marriage happy and not just enduring. Sorry this is all new to me, a never thought I would be dealing with this and my emotions are 100% rollar coaster."
posted at 15:12:09 on March 12, 2007 by Anonymous
talk about trust    
"My husband is doing it again! A few weeks ago I was telling him how much I appreciated all the evidence he was giving me that he was really doing good and heading in the right direction. I felt good. I flet like he trusted me and was able to really open up to me. Then the next week, I start feeling paranoid that he has done something or I felt like I was just expecting something to happen, and I felt bad thinking why am I like this. My husband kept saying things are fine. He was doing okay. and now a whole week after that I find out he struggled all week! What is up with that! Thanks for the slap in the face!"
posted at 07:58:51 on March 13, 2007 by Anonymous

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"Nothing is beyond [Christ’s] redeeming reach or His encircling empathy. Therefore, we should not complain about our own life’s not being a rose garden when we remember who wore the crown of thorns! Having bled at every pore, how red His raiment must have been in Gethsemane, how crimson that cloak! No wonder, when Christ comes in power and glory, that He will come in reminding red attire, signifying not only the winepress of wrath, but also to bring to our remembrance how He suffered for each of us in Gethsemane and on Calvary!"

— Neal A. Maxwell

General Conference May 1987