Seventeen years ago, I married a man who was not honest in representing himself correctly. We were sealed in the temple. My husband’s first wife of almost 30 years died from cancer. My previous temple marriage ended in divorce due to domestic violence.

When I was dating my current husband, I thought he was the perfect man. He was in the bishopric at the time, had been in previous bishoprics and held other positions in the church. He also had several beautiful children.

To make a very long story short, it quickly came to light on our honeymoon that he had significant issues. I was devastated, heartbroken, and had an emotional breakdown.

We have spent over $50,000, gone through countless professionals and programs, and he was even admitted to an inpatient rehabilitation facility where he was diagnosed with multiple mental health and addictive issues. The most damaging to our marriage include chronic lying and compulsive sexual behaviors. We have sat in many bishop’s offices where he has been reminded of his covenants and had his temple recommend pulled time after time. He was also disfellowshipped for a time several years ago. My current bishop doesn’t know what to do with him.

You may be asking yourself “why doesn’t she just leave him?” I have, twice. Now, there is no friend or family member I can live with to get my life in order, so I must deal with my situation as best I can. After skillful manipulation on his part, I returned to him only to find his addictions (primarily sex) have increased.

I realized to keep my sanity and eternal progression in place, I had to emotionally detach from him. I am a prisoner of war, needing freedom but unable to get out of this jail cell.


I am sorry to hear about the pain and struggles you are experiencing in your marriage. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to share such personal and vulnerable details, and I commend you for reaching out for help and support. I recognize you’ve worked hard to find solutions to these awful conditions in your marriage, so I don’t pretend there are simple answers. Your mental, physical, and spiritual safety matter and need attention while you figure out a long-term solution. I will focus on foundational principles to help you stay centered in this difficult dilemma.

Your husband’s chronic lying and compulsive sexual behaviors have no doubt taken a toll on you emotionally and spiritually. These behaviors are not only damaging to your marriage but also to his own mental health and well-being. With these chronic situations, it’s hard to know when to jump out to safety. We’re a hopeful people who value hard work and expect miracles, so it’s commendable that you would exhaust so many resources to save this marriage.

However, situations like these aren’t marriage problems. When one partner continues to actively deceive, act out, and abuse, the solution requires a different strategy. You’ve already started to respond by shifting mutual responsibility for this issue by emotionally detaching yourself.

While it is understandable that leaving may not be an immediate option for you at this time, please recognize that emotional detachment while staying in a destructive relationship is not an ideal long-term solution either. You deserve to live a life free from manipulation and addictive patterns.

One of the reasons many partners of those with addictions feel trapped and unable to escape is due to isolation. It’s easy to believe you’re the only one going through this when you’re not getting ongoing outside support. I recognize you’ve done tremendous amounts of treatment to help him stop his destructive behaviors, but perhaps it’s time to shift your focus from trying to save him and, instead, work on saving your own sanity and health. There are specialized resources available to help you personally cope with your situation and find a path forward.

One resource that may be helpful for you is a support group for spouses of addicts.[i] These groups provide a safe space for you and other women to share their experiences, gain insight and understanding, and receive support from others who have gone through similar challenges. They are free of charge, so you can stay as long as needed. You may also find it helpful to seek individual therapy with a specialist who has training in betrayal trauma to help you process your emotions and work on setting healthy boundaries in your relationship.

It is important to remember that while you cannot control your husband’s behavior, you can control how you respond to it. By focusing on your own emotional and spiritual well-being, you can gain a sense of empowerment and begin to take steps towards healing and recovery. It’s normal to fixate on relational solutions, but when you’re with someone who is actively acting against the relationship, it’s important to use the space you’ve created to reinforce your own personal safety and well-being.

Remember that nothing he’s doing is loving, even if he tells you it is. The most loving thing he could do right now is support you in getting the distance and specialized help you need to cope. Instead, he’s pressuring you to be relational instead of taking personal responsibility for ending his destructive behaviors. You can’t make him respect you, but you can respect yourself.


I’ve teamed up with my friend and fellow Meridian author, Dr. Wally Goddard to create “Great Truths” – an online video course to help you build a stronger marriage and family. We know that the best answers for marriage and family struggles come from the truths found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, many of us struggle to apply these teachings in our marriage and family relationships. This online course helps you apply effective marriage and family research with gospel truths so you can have clear answers for your most important relationship questions. The Great Truths course has over 12 video lessons on improving personal wellbeing, building a stronger marriage, and being a more effective parent. The course also comes with a beautiful digital workbook to help guide you through the lessons. Grab your copy for only $39 (gift certificates are also available so you can purchase a copy for your loved ones).

Geoff will answer a new family and relationship question every Friday. You can email your question to him at ge***@ge**********.com  

If broken trust is an issue in your relationship, download Geoff’s FREE video series “The First Steps to Rebuilding Trust” to help you begin healing:

 Download Geoff’s FREE guide to help you quickly end arguments with your spouse:

You can connect with Geoff Steurer at:

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About the Author

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He is the co-author of “Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity”, host of the podcast, “From Crisis to Connection”, and creates online relationship courses. He earned degrees from Brigham Young University and Auburn University. He is married to Jody Young Steurer and they are the parents of four children.

The advice offered through Geoff Steurer’s column is educational and informational in nature and is provided only as general information. It is not meant to establish a therapist-patient relationship or offer therapeutic advice, opinion, diagnosis treatment or to establish a standard of care. Although Geoff Steurer is a trained psychotherapist, he is not functioning in the role of a licensed therapist by writing this column, but rather using his training to inform these responses. Thus, the content is not intended to replace independent professional judgment. The content is not intended to solicit clients and should not be relied upon as medical or psychological advice of any kind or nature whatsoever. The information provided through this content should not be used for diagnosing or treating a mental health problem or disease. The information contained in these communications is not comprehensive and does not include all the potential information regarding the subject matter, but is merely intended to serve as one resource for general and educational purposes.

[i] Search for the nearest Addiction Recovery Meeting in your area HERE