All day I've soul-searched. Yes, I've been at school. Yes, I have tons to do. But I have focused on the issue-at-hand as much as possible. After all, my relationship with my husband is of utmost importance. Processing the recent relapses are the most important thing I could have done with my day.
I've asked myself a lot of questions today.
Am I too nice? Does my love and forgiveness help or enable him?
What should my expectations be? Is it too much to expect that he keep his covenants? Should I lower my expectations so I don't get hurt?
How do I make my expectations clear and throw out the money-changers without slipping into codependency?
I've learned a lot about myself as I've processed these questions. I've prayed. Oh man, have I prayed. I've pondered. I've found strength. I've seen the power I possess through Christ. It's been really really good for me.
I am a very loving and forgiving person when it comes to the addiction stuff. Thank you to my recovery journey for that. I am no longer the angry woman I once was.
Usually when the relapses come, I stand strong and supportive because he gets depressed. I know he feels terrible, and it just feels so wrong to act in anger or harshness towards him. I don't want to hurt him more. However, when I got the text today saying he had done it again, I knew I had to be more harsh than normal. I could feel it coursing through me. Except I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to do anything that would seem angry or codependent. The strongest thought I had was of changing internet passwords for both our accounts so he can only access it when I'm there, which would enforce the internet boundaries we had set. There are ways around that, though, and I know if he really wanted porn, he would find it. However, even though I am wanting to be controlling for him, not for me, that still seemed like a codependent move.
Eventually I came to the decision that he would be sleeping on the couch tonight. It was not an easy thing to do. In fact, I cried when I told him. I've never kicked him to the couch. That just seems so mean. But there's a first for everything, right?
Here are the reasons why I chose this course of action:
1) It's a boundary. It's not a codependent response to his actions--it's a consequence of his actions. He broke our boundaries. Boundaries can't be enforced if there is no consequence. This seemed like the least codependent response to enforce the boundary.
2) It shows that this is serious, and it's a statement of the lack of covenant-keeping and trust in our marriage right now. [Actually, there is a degree of trust because I trust his honesty. The lack of trust comes with the trust a husband has over protecting his wife. My emotional and intimate protection and safety is not currently trusted in his keeping. Because he has not been faithful in keeping covenants, which has emotional and intimate consequences.]
3) Sleeping together is something trusting, married couples who keep their covenants do. We do not fall into that category today, and thus, the privilege of sleeping together tonight has been removed.
As I told him all this, I tried to let him know that this is not an angry response. This is a loving response. I want him to understand the seriousness of his actions, and I couldn't think of any better way to do that than this. I don't want to control him. I just want him to take the consequences of his actions seriously. It had the desired effect. He sat and thought for a long while. When I asked him what was going on in his head, he said that it had done exactly what I needed it to: he was taking this way more seriously. I was actually afraid to move for a while, that is, until he basically told me I could go away so he could think alone.
The beautiful thing about this is I feel healthy. I'm not angry. I'm actually hurting that he is not by my side right now and that I am sleeping alone (I HATE sleeping alone). But I feel strong. I feel empowered by my ability to think this through and enforce this consequence that I felt like needed to be in place. I feel good about my processing today. It truly has been for him. My motivation for all my processing and pondering has been to find something that will work for him.
Now, as for my question I asked about expectations. I don't think it's fair to either of us to lower my expectations. He is my husband. I expect that he acts like it. I expect that he holds the covenants he has made with me in the highest esteem. I expect that he treats sex with respect and dignity. I expect that I'm the only woman he desires. I expect that he is the priesthood leader he is supposed to be. I expect that he works on developing a stronger relationship with God. I will not lower my expectations for him. BUT I do know that he won't meet my expectations all the time. At this point in the addiction, that is just not realistic. So, I'm figuring out how to use the Atonement. There is disappointment and sorrow that comes with unmet expectations. And Christ has felt that for me. He will be there by my side when I cry. He will be there when I hurt. He will lift me up and give me strength. He will help bridge the gap when my expectations go unmet.
I feel good. I hope Jack is in the other room discovering the Atonement again too.
The sad part of this? We went on a really fun date tonight. :/ So, I almost chickened out of enforcing this. I almost felt too bad, or like we had too much fun and the relapse and my processing should just be forgotten about. I'm good at pushing the emotions from the relapse back [until I crash and burn and it all hits me a few days later]. After our date, and after some silence in the car, I asked him if we could talk about the addiction. I felt bad. But I think it was the right thing.