Four Questions Wives Often Ask Upon Discovering Their Husband’s Secret
“Is something wrong with me? Why did he go outside our marriage?”
Sexual addicts who are married were frequently addicted long before meting their wives, since this problem usually starts early in life. If the addiction pre-existed the marriage, the wife of an addict can hardly hold herself responsible for what she did not create. His search for nurturing or excitement through illicit contacts, then, is no indictment against the wife’s character or attractiveness. Many addicts are, in fact, married to women who are strikingly beautiful – look no further than the scores of Hollywood marriages, in which actors have committed adultery, even when married to beautiful modes or actresses, for some striking examples. So no, your husband’s sexual addiction doesn’t indicate a fault in you.
The reason a man goes outside his marriage for sexual pleasure varies from case to case. Often, we find sexually addicted men are drawn to fantasy images of women, not the women themselves. The porn actress, prostitute or stripper are phantoms – genies that become whatever their “master” wishes them to be. Addicts, in fact, have no idea who these women really are; most would prefer not to know. They want the fantasy to become whatever they wish her to become, and no real woman can compete with that. Nor should she try!
So remember, although your husband’s problem is seriously affecting you and your marriage, it remains his problem, for which he alone is responsible.
“As a Christian, I want to forgive him. But I can’t stop feeling angry!
Am I wrong to be angry?”
Anger doesn’t indicate a lack of forgiveness. To forgive means to relinquish the right to punish; feeling anger and using anger to punish are two very different things.
There is, in fact, something wrong with you if you don’t feel some anger over what’s happened. You’ve been betrayed in one of the worst possible ways, and anger is a rational response to betrayal. Your job, then, is to use your anger constructively. Take appropriate action by looking into marital counseling and/or therapy as you deal with this difficulty in your life. Lean on your friends and your social support system. In short, more than ever, take care of yourself.
“I still want our marriage to work. But can I ever trust him again?”
Forgiveness is a decision; trust is a response. And the one usually comes long before the other. You can decide to forgive, but trust will only come when two elements are in place: Time and Consistency.
Over a period of time, you need to see a consistent change in your husband’s behavior. As you see his regular participation in the recovery process – group support, therapy and accountability – and you notice changes in the w3ay he relates to you and others, your trust will begin to renew itself. Allow it to happen, by all means, but don’t push it. Your trust will have to be earned, and he can only earn it by being consistent over a period of time.
“My husband has repented and is getting help. So what is my role in his recovery process?”
Your role as wife is still your primary one. Strictly speaking, you don’t have an assigned role in his recovery, since it is just that – his recovery! He alone must make the decisions necessary to maintain his sexual sobriety; he alone will muster the courage to face himself and deal with his problem.
But although you don’t have an assigned role in his process, you have an even more crucial role as his partner. So now would be a good time to re-evaluate your marriage. Are there other issues besides his addiction that need to be addressed? How is your communication as a couple? Your social life? What about unresolved tensions or “sore spots” in your relationship? Be honest with yourself and your husband about any of these areas that need attention.
And remember, above all, that the wife of an addict is the addict’s spouse – she is not his therapist, doctor, pastor or accountability partner. You don’t need additional roles – the one you’ve got is challenging enough.