By letting him know that he has to get a sponsor, get a (good) therapist, get sober, or get out.
A spouse cannot be their addicted spouse’s support person. The nature of the addiction changes the relationship. Assuming a wife can support her sex-addicted husband ignores the fact that his behavior violates the covenants that define their relationship.
We would never expect a business to continue doing business with someone that stole from it. The stealing has changed what used to be a business relationship of equals into a victim/perpetrator relationship. Like it or not, things have changed.
We cannot go on trying to believe that we are still “in this together”.
Reasons why she is unable to support her sex addict husband:
- She believes that there is something she can do to stop him from acting out.
- She ought to be traumatized by his infidelity. She needs to seek her own recovery, not to support the person that caused the trauma.
- His addict mind likes the idea of his wife supporting him. Especially if she is still having sex with him. He gets the best of both worlds.
- Her “support” usually means she has to be understanding when he continues to act out.
- His acting out hurts her. He knows it. This dynamic will distract him from being honest.
- When he does confess he feels better and she feels worse. Is this what you hoped for your marriage?
- Keeping the addiction in the marriage still keeps it a secret. Secrets feed addiction.
- If she is the only one he has to tell about acting out, there will come a time when he will think: “I ONLY have to tell my wife” before he acts out. Barf.
- She doesn’t understand why he keeps acting out.
- She really believes that if he just tried harder he’d stop.
- She doesn’t know what it is like to be a sex addict.
It is also worth pointing out that a husband cannot be a support person for his wife in her recovery. The marriage is suffering an illness and let’s not think that the sick and traumatized are in any position to heal it.
Recovery is a reprieve from addictive behaviors and compulsions. My experience with my “spouse as a support person” always focused on the problems of addiction. It never focused on the solution. And it was miserable.
A support person needs to be an addict in recovery. Not your dad, not your bishop, not your wife, not anybody still acting out, not a friend, and especially not anyone that tolerates acting out.
Contributed by Matt Howard, originally posted at www.embracingpowerlessness.com/
Matt Howard Bio:
Growing up in the East Coast I always wanted to experience the Wild West. I came out to go to school at BYU where I excelled at spending more time in the mountains than in class. Graduating by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin, I then made a career out of sharing the wonders of the wilderness with reluctant children of urbanite families suffering from a condition commonly referred to as adolescence.
While working in the wilderness I met a woman who had spent more nights sleeping on rocks and under the stars than I had. I was smitten. We got married, I got a "real" job, and we got a high speed internet connection. Pornography became a big problem.
After years of confronting the problem the fog of addiction has begun to clear. Delivery from pornography addiction is the greatest personal miracle I have experienced.