Listed below are feelings we as women may feel as a result of learning of our husbands addiction:
- Our feelings of betrayal are intense and deep. Our minds have experienced trauma to an immense degree. Many therapists have found that our symptoms are comparable to those that suffer with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). It is not something to take lightly. We need help to heal!
- The #1 thing we need is support (as does your loved one). Finding out about our husbands’ secret life is life altering. We need someone to talk to who will not judge or blame us, but one who understands. Hearing from others who have gone through the same trauma, fears, and emotions are crucial to our healing. We feel out of control and crazy, and hearing truths from other women help to validate us!
- You are NOT alone! This is NOT your fault! You are beautiful. You are attractive. You are of great worth. You are loved. There is One to whom you can completely give your trust who will never let you down.
- The addiction is not anything about you, even though it feels quite the opposite. It is an actual chemical change that has occurred in the addict’s brain.
- Though you may feel shamed because of your loved one’s choices, reaching out to those in your same situation will help to empower you.
- Triggers are real. Acknowledge them, and allow yourself to feel them, but do not let them own you.
- We might feel fake with people, because our world has exploded and we often feel we must act as though nothing has happened. When you have to do extremely hard things, think of them as “gifts” to others. There will even be times you will be excited to share those difficult gifts.
- Laughter will lighten your soul. From your kids to a silly video, seek out opportunities to laugh. And when you find them, don’t hold back. It will help you heal.
- This journey may not be short, but it is worth it. It hurts more than anything, but we experience joy as high as our sorrow’s lows. It sometime’s helps to hold onto that in those painful moments.
- Often depression/anxiety accompanies addiction. This usually subsides as the addict works towards recovery.
- Relapses are difficult because they carry us backward. Take time to breath, and then say something like “I’m so sorry you struggle with this. Now what?” Allow your loved one to take responsibility for their own actions.
- Your loved one cannot earn your trust (cause and effect); it is a gift you give them as you can.
- Anger is a real and very powerful emotion. Know that frequently the first disclosure of sin is not a full disclosure. It is as they walk back up the path they have trod that they can see more clearly and discern things for what they truly are. Be prepared for a second disclosure.
- Your loved one CAN change! I have seen it.
Lying has enabled the addict to continue in their addiction. First they lied to themselves; then to others. As they are able to stop this cycle of being dishonest with themselves, they will be able to be honest with you. The lies are more hurtful than the truth, because it destroys trust. We have to help them understand this, and understand ourselves, that it is extremely difficult for them to come confess to us; they know it hurts us.
As women we have an innate yearning to feel safety. Safety in our relationships. Safety in our homes. Safety and refuge within our own hearts and minds. Setting boundaries with our loved ones that help us feel safe is essential. And holding to those boundaries is imperative! Setting boundaries with ourselves is also very healthy and will lead to healing.
- Decide to require fierce honesty from your spouse. Dishonesty has broken apart more marriages/families than pornography has.
- Filters on all computers/phones/tablets/etc. This is not a cure, but a safety net.
- Setting passwords on the computers which only you know.
- Being in the room while your loved one is on the computer.
- Accountability (i.e. having your spouse report to you every night if they have remained clean and free of pornography in their thoughts/actions).
- Know that you cannot eliminate temptation no matter how hard you try. Only your loved one can do that. Let it be his.
- When your spouse is in a spiraling cycle or pointing fingers, remind him to get in touch with his sponsor/support person.
- Make your “dailies” top priority (more important than sleep, work, etc.): fervent prayers and serious scripture study.
- Build regular exercise into your routine. It will help freshen the mind and clear the body of toxins.
- Make time to nurture yourself daily: spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally.
- Choose to be confident. That is what’s truly attractive. Confident about your worth, your beauty, and your role as a wife/mother. Even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. After all, this world needs more women who are confident in their OWN skin. God made you, and He doesn’t make mistakes.
- When there’s so much chaos, and our brain is so full and cycling constantly, it can be easy to become frustrated and angry with others (children, family, friends). When you feel this explosive emotion, take a few minutes to put into practice some of the suggestions from the “Rapid Relief” section. Don’t permit yourself to explode at others. You will have times where you will need to pause to “think straight”. This takes practice and a great deal of patience with yourself.