Sunday, June 1, 2014

My husband is an addict. Who can I talk to?

"This is your husband's thing. You telling anyone else is betrayal to him." 

I've heard that too many times to count. It's stuck in my head and caused me much grief over the years.

We know betrayal, right? And we certainly don't want to become the betrayer. Maybe that's why this "myth" is so hard to deal with. We don't want to feel like we have betrayed our spouse. Plus, we are women. We are good at sucking it up and suffering silently (or at least I am) to not "put out" the other person.

But here's the deal. Ready?

This isn't just about your husband. This is about you now too. Not in the sense that this is your fault, but that it's happening to you. By marrying (or dating) you, the addict has chosen to give up some of his rights of ownership to this story. You now own this story in the way that it is happening to you. Because it is happening to you. You have been betrayed on a deep, intimate level. The feelings and trauma you are experiencing/have experienced as a result of his actions are normal and need to be addressed and properly dealt with.

Some people will say the only people that need to know about this are your bishop, therapist (if you choose to have a therapist or counselor), and God. While that may work for some people, limiting yourself to ONLY THOSE PEOPLE could have negative consequences for you.

We need people. Sometimes the bishop, therapist, and God is enough people. If it is, awesome. If it's not, there is no need for guilt or shame in confiding elsewhere. That's not to say you need to tell everyone, but you can prayerfully find safe people to confide in. Regardless, you need to do what you feel is best for YOU.

When I realized that, the whole game changed for me. Having people--friends--to talk to was life-changing. It started out with friends I made in my support groups and slowly extended to a few close friends, my Relief Society president, my family, his family, my visiting teachers, and then whoever I felt inspired to confide in. And then all of "the world" (with him, as you know).

My way isn't the way. It was the way for me. Everyone's way is different. Do what you feel is best for you. If that means confiding in no one outside of your bishop, therapist, and God, sweet deal (although, in my honest, biased opinion, I think everyone could use a close friend knowing--even if it's someone who becomes a close friend through blogs you read or support groups you attend). If it means confiding in a few people, do that. If you feel like you have to tell everyone (I do know a few people who told EVERYONE as soon as they found out, which had some negative repercussions for them, but also many positive things to have it all out in the open) do that! It's up to you. This is now your story. It's a different perspective from the addict's, but it's happening to you, and you have a right to your healing how you see fit.

The addict might think you are being mean or insensitive to tell people. That's because the addict is experiencing major shame, and it's hard and scary to have this out in the open. It is probably good to have his input and know where he stands on you talking to people about it. But if he is completely against it, that doesn't mean listen to him and suffer silently. His brain is broken; therefore, in my honest and biased opinion, he really doesn't have the capacity to make those kinds of decisions for you. If you can reach some kind of compromise or get on the same page as each other, it will ease some tension. But if not, prayerfully decide what needs to be done for your healing and press forward with that.

This isn't being un-Christlike. In fact, you can address this part of your healing in a very Christlike manner. Christ threw out the money-changers in the temple. You can throw out the money-changers in your marriage. The bottom line is you need to do what is best for your healing. If you don't, you may grow to harbor even more resentment than already exists as a natural result of his addiction.

Maybe he will harbor resentment against you for talking to people. If he does, that is not your problem. His actions are completely out of your control. Always. If he can't support your recovery and healing in this way, then he is probably still needing more recovery himself. That is okay. Take steps forward for your healing and recovery, set boundaries, and follow through with the boundaries. He will either get into recovery or not, but you waiting around, hoping for him to enter recovery (and who knows when that will happen?) might end up causing you more emotional harm than good.

If you feel you need to talk to people, talk to people. Do it. For you.


  1. Totally agree with this. Totally. Completely agree.

  2. I love the line about throwing the money changers out of the marriage. That's not a physical throwing the husband out, but a symbolic throwing out the shame, secrecy, and one-sided parts of the marriage (which means talking to someone). I agree that the addict has forfeited his (or her?) rights of ownership over the story. Great post.

    1. Thanks Robert! It really means a lot to me to receive your validation.

      And yes, I use that money-changers thing to help me when I question being Christlike or not. If my motives are pure, throwing out the moneychangers is an acceptable way to go.

  3. I just love you Kilee! You are so strong, such a great example. You amaze me. Hugs from Arizona!

  4. Well said.

    Not only is it happening to the wife, it's happening to the husband and wife as a couple. And I believe the path to healing and wholeness needs to be *together*!

    As a husband who used to struggle with pornography, I can tell you that my healing and freedom came through a process of reorienting my mind--and my wife's mind--about what our bodies really mean. We are made in God's image! The implications of this truth lived out in our lives resulted in an unexpected freedom and healing for both of us.

    I strongly encourage women in the situation you describe to stand with your husband... for he really needs you to take the journey to freedom with him. I urge you to read the website articles together... and discuss them.

    Fair warning... the site's teaching are radically different than what you probably currently believe and what our culture and the church today generally believe... but it seems self-evident that the beliefs of our culture today have not led us to freedom, but into the bondage and destruction that you're talking about.

    The site's teaching is what God revealed to me when he set me and my wife free from a bondage I thought I would never break.

    By HIS Grace,
    David Martin