Thanks for all the lively comments on the blog post about the video, Fred et Marie. I love the community spirit fostered here as well as you sharing your experiences, praying for one another and giving encouragement and support to those who are just waking up and realizing that their marriage is in trouble.
FYI I am starting a new 2 session group on Tuesday, June 3 called Moving Beyond Pleasing: Learning to Say No and Set Boundaries. If you’d like more information on this group click here.
This Week’s Question: Where do I start? Throughout our 18 year marriage my husband would belittle me and stare at other women in front of me and our son. I would get upset and tell him I thought it was disrespectful. He would tell me that I was paranoid and needed help. I couldn't understand why he was always so angry and moody. I have felt like no matter how much or hard I tried to love him and make our marriage work he was never happy or satisfied with anything. I tried to get him to open up and share a life with me. I wanted us to go to counseling, he refused and told me that I was the problem and I was controlling. So I went to a counselor so I could try to help me to be a better person for him and our family. He would blame everything on me.
Two years ago my husband confessed to me that he had sex outside our marriage. At the same time he also confessed that he thinks he is a sex addict. I told him I was confused that how can you be an addict if you only had sex one time? That's were the (dribble) started. Over the next year, little by little he told me that since we were dating and throughout our marriage that he has cheated on me with multiple women. I have been so hurt, angry, lost, and confused. I feel like he stole something that was so precious to me and I don't know how or if I can get it back.
I feel like he has been a bomb that has blown up me and our family. I feel like I have body parts laying every were and he looks at me and says oh well I don't know what to do, you need to fix it yourself. I have loved him and we have a son together. I have felt so lost. I didn't know what to do. I was told to not make any rash decisions about divorce so I told him I wanted him to move out. We were separated for 6 months but due to me being a stay at home mom and for financial reasons he moved back home after 6 months. Since then I do see that he has gone to counseling for his addiction (a men's group teleconference by phone once a week) and he did attend a 12 step program (not any more). He also started going to church. Now he does not want to talk at all about what he has done and how it has affected me.
We both get very angry and argue. I feel that he could care less about me and how much it has affected me and hurt me. He just wants to act like nothing ever happened and he wants us to be this happy little family. I have tried to read up and research on sex addiction to try to understand about him. He has not wanted to do anything to try to learn or understand what I'm going through. I feel like he doesn't get what he has done. He shows no remorse for what he has done. He get angry and has thrown stuff and punched holes in the wall. I have tried to explain to him and say how would you feel if I had done all of these things to you. He just says either I don't know or he gets angry and we argue. I wanted him to try to understand why I feel so hurt and angry so I went out and bought him a couple of books for him to read. I think he may have read maybe 2 chapters in one book and that is it. He tells me he is doing everything he can and to just leave him alone. But his attitude makes me feel like he doesn't care about me at all.
I am so tired and frustrated I feel he doesn't care enough about me and what all of this has done to me. He won't see a counselor or even to try to understand how much this has hurt me and affected me. We did see a marriage counselor but the counselor was sympathetic towards my husband and his addiction. The counselor told me that I was just bitter and to get over it. I felt like not only am I trying to get my husband to understand how much he has hurt me but I have a counselor telling me I was just bitter and to get over it. I was furious. I told my husband that I wanted to try to find another counselor that would help us. He hasn't wanted to see another counselor since. I feel like I'm finally trying to stand up for myself and not let him intimidate me or manipulate me anymore but all we do is argue. He has said to me that I just need to forgive and let it go but I can't because of his attitude.
Please help I don't know what to do.
Answer: Deep down I think you do know what to do but you’re afraid to do it. When someone grievously sins against you and refuses to make amends and repairs to the relationship, the relationship is seriously broken. I think your husband’s confession may have been to clear his guilty conscience or it very well may have been to hurt you and make you feel more insecure, but it doesn’t sound to me like it was a first step in repairing relationship wounds.
If your spouse is truly sorry for hurting you by his sexual unfaithfulness, then he would show it by his actions and not hide behind his addiction or his anger. If an alcoholic drove drunk and killed someone, saying, “I’m sorry” means nothing. If he were truly repentant he or she wouldn’t use his/her addiction as an excuse to not make a heartfelt apology to the family of the victim or pay the legal or financial consequences. He or she wouldn’t say, “you’re bitter” or, “just forgive me”. Sorry means you make amends to the one you have hurt, expecting nothing in return.
You also indicate that your husband did the twelve-step program but if he did those steps, he would have implemented steps three and four, which involve doing a thorough moral inventory of things he has done to hurt others and make amends where possible. From what you describe, he expects amnesty rather than making amends.
Hear me: One of the most crazy-making strategies of an abuser is to act in outrageous ways and then when you call him on it, to act as if you are paranoid, hypersensitive, or overreacting. He shifts the focus from his bad behavior to you. In this process you get distracted either defending yourself or examining yourself, “Am I paranoid? Did I overreact? Am I not being Christ-like here? Why am I not willing to forgive him?”
Sexual addiction counselors know that part of the necessary process for healing a marriage requires that the addict make full disclosure to the spouse for all sexual activity outside of the marriage, as well as to give her plenty of time allow the spouse to ask questions, express hurt and angry feelings and work together on these things as long as it takes to rebuild trust and their relationship.
So my question to you is this: Is your marriage in a better place since he disclosed his infidelity? If not, why not? Is it because of your hurt? Or because of his unwillingness to be accountable and truly repentant? Or both?
Instead of trying to fix him, which you cannot do because you have zero control over him, it’s time to work on taking care of you. Why would you want to continue living like this? Why would you subject yourself to HIV or other STD’s knowing that your husband has been repeatedly unfaithful and you see no real change? Words are meaningless when the actions do not match. You have a child to take care of. Is this a good environment for him to grow up in?
Please don’t misunderstand. Galatians 6:1 says that we are to help someone who is caught (stuck) in a trespass to be restored in a spirit of gentleness. Mercy is important as we are all stuck somewhere. Perhaps not in sexual addiction, but maybe in food addiction or some other idol that claims our allegiance and heart over God. But when someone is unwilling to really do the heart work, the hard work of change, then the next step is implementing consequences.
There are times that one’s motivation to change only happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of making the change.
Friends, share what consequences you have implemented when facing your spouse’s addiction – whether sexual, drug or alcohol, or something other?