Sam and Beth Meier once saw their marriage nearly destroyed because of Sam’s addiction to pornography. Sam sought help and overcame it, and now the couple has committed their careers to helping others become porn-free. 

They moved to Kansas City, Kan., from Colorado Springs, Colo., in 2007 to help with healing and support for My House, an Archdiocese of Kansas City initiative to provide practical resources to protect families and heal marriages from pornography. Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann launched the initiative in 2005 to raise awareness about the porn problem, to offer resources about the Church’s vision of human sexuality through the theology of the body, and to provide support and healing for those who are struggling with pornography. The prototype program has been adopted by six other dioceses, with more than 20 other bishops expressing interest. 

Starting young 

Sam’s addiction to pornography began at age 12, when a classmate showed him pornographic pictures. Along with many of the teens with whom he at-tended Catholic school, he began regularly viewing pornographic magazines and videos. 

Sam attended the University of Dallas, where he met Beth. They married in 2001; Sam was 20 and Beth 19. Sam was honest with Beth about his struggles with porn before they dated, and he believed that getting married would cure his problem. A few months into the marriage, though, he was a full-blown porn addict again. One of the couple’s wedding gifts was a computer, which provided access to the world of Internet porn. 

By 2004, Beth had enough. She contacted a divorce attorney, and gave Sam an ultimatum: Either the porn had to go, or she would. 

Taking responsibility 

Sam was ashamed of his problems, but felt powerless to overcome them. But Beth’s ultimatum shocked him into action. He sought help from a Christian counseling center that specialized in sexual addiction. With the help of a counselor, Sam told Our Sunday Visitor, “I took responsibility for my sins and selfishness, and implemented practical ways to change.” 

Previously he had blamed Beth for his problems, a view he now rejects, and he is grateful for what he calls “Beth’s tough love.” 

Sam’s counseling was based on a modified version of Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 steps and involved the support of other men with Sam’s struggle. Other components included prayer and the reading of recovery materials. 

Sam and Beth also began attending conferences and reading books on the theology of the body. With one exception, Sam has been free of pornography for five years. Beth, too, has been undergoing recovery, from anger, bitterness, resentment and a lack of trust of her husband. 

“It took me a while to understand the nature of addiction,” she told OSV. “There were times when I used to ask, ‘Why doesn’t Sam just stop?’” 

Helping others 

Sam became a licensed professional counselor and began working for the Christian counseling center that had helped him. He wanted to work for a Catholic apostolate, however, and was excited to have the chance to work with My House. Beth is a stay-at-home mom with the couple’s first child, 9-month-old Sam Jr., but still finds the time to facilitate a support group for wives of men with porn addiction. 

Sam has offered counseling to hundreds of men seeking to be porn-free. More than 40 men are part of a recovery group he leads, and 21 men have broken free from pornography for a year or more. My House has shown a video on the effects of pornography on families in most of the archdiocese’s 110 churches; the apostolate also funds an anti-pornography billboard alongside a busy Kansas City roadway, and supporters pray the Rosary monthly in front of an “adult” bookstore.  

“It’s been miraculous to see Sam change. Words can’t express how exciting it’s been,” Beth said. “I only wish My House had been around when we started our marriage.”

Jim Graves writes from California. For more information on My House, visit www.loveisfaithful.com.

Related Reading (sidebar)

Sam and Beth Meier have provided an article for Catholic couples affected by pornography for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Catechetical Sunday on Sept. 19; visit www.usccb.org/catecheticalsunday/2010/families-meier.pdf.