Television’s Harriet Nelson was the quintessential perfect wife. She was the matriarch of the real life Nelson family which took to TV in the Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.
Fifty years later, women still strive to meet the standards Harriet Nelson set for America.
But many women say modern times bring added pressure, intensified by the prevalence of pornography in today’s society. Behavioral expert Kimile Pendleton says pornography use has become an epidemic.
And viewing pornography is common practice in Utah. In fact, a study out of Harvard says more porn is downloaded in Utah than in any other state.
ABC 4 Utah spoke with several Utah women for The Perfect Problem series. Many told us porn impacted their lives, including spouses with addictions to pornography.
One Perry Utah woman told ABC 4 Utah that her husband’s porn use made her feel differently about herself.
“You kind of wonder if he is looking at me this way,” said the woman who asked to remain anonymous. “Is he judging me?”
These questions lingered in her mind and packed on the pressure for her to look the way she thought her husband wanted her to look.
“Does my husband find me attractive? That's something that women shouldn't have to worry about,” added our anonymous Perry resident.
But women do worry about it. And Pendleton says it’s no way to live.
“Women are competing with actresses on these porn sites,” Pendleton adds. “And they’re airbrushed, and they have perfectly flawless make up and they have their hair done. But that's not reality. You're not going to get dressed up to go to bed.”
And for many of Pendleton’s clients, failing to compete starts a self-esteem spiral that leads to depression.
“It is such a betrayal and they feel so bad and take it so personal, they get so offended,” Pendleton says.
But there is help. Our Perry Utah resident took her concerns to the bishop of her LDS Church ward and there she found the confidence she needed.
“He turned to me and he looked me straight in the eye and he said ‘You are enough.’ And I said yeah but... And he said, ‘no you are enough.”
A lesson Pendleton says women today need to know.
“She has the power within herself to overcome this, she does,” Pendleton says. “But she has to decide that she's not going to let it ruin her. She can't let it break her, period.”
Broken no more, our Perry woman says she’s let go of the pressure to be the so-called perfect wife like Harriet Nelson. And her husband and their marriage are back on track.
“If this is something that you want to both work on together, if this is something that you want to push through, you can do it," she told ABC 4 Utah.
“Me, my marriage, you know and my husband, we're living proof.”