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After All I Can Do
By changeup
9/27/2014 3:53:00 PM
I have been in recovery for approx. 90 days. I've been inspired by the stories here and on blogs outside of this site. I'll give a little background about my situation now, and I will probably have to wait for another time to go more in depth.

I've been married for 10 years, and my addiction has been an obstacle throughout my marriage. The lies and deceit that my own selfishness inspired have done more damage than I can fathom even now. My wife has been hurt so many many times, and so deeply, that I can only hope to have the strength to be patient as long as it takes for her to heal, for her fears to gradually take a back seat to hope and maybe, eventually, trust again.

I have changed significantly in the last 90 days. I don't mean to imply that I'm good to go and she's the one who needs to get fixed now. I still have a long long way to go to change the way I think, speak, feel, and understand everything around me. I do feel like I have been enormously blessed to have a wife who has taught me so much already about how sexual addiction impacts women. It's staggering to begin to understand how I have piece by piece weakened her image of herself and of our relationship over the years before completely blowing up anything left. I'm humbled that she has, so far, chosen to remain married to me.

I want to do everything I can to repair the damage I have done. I hope to make our relationship a safe place for her, make it into what she hoped it would be when she married me. I am trying to put my feelings aside, to avoid pressuring her, to just be good to her, give her the space she needs, dive headlong into working hard to provide stability, improving my ability to provide, being a good father, etc.

In my mind, there is no time table for her healing. I will stand by her and support her no matter the case if she will still have me. I do worry about her constantly though. We have pretty well defined boundaries right now, which include both physical and verbal items. As I am slowly learning to finally put her before myself, I have hope for her healing because I don't want her to suffer. I hate that I have caused so much pain. A lot of times it feels like, to me, that she isn't making any progress. There is a lot of distance between us, physically and emotionally. I worry that continuing in the raw trauma state will make her path to healing even more difficult. At the same time, I know that I cannot push for much of anything in the way of steps she might take. I don't have any moral authority with her, and rightly so. I also don't want to rush through vital steps of her grieving process. Pushing through too fast has ended in failure before, and I am committed to doing things right this time.

Are there any wives or anyone who can suggest any ways I might share something I think might be helpful for her. For example, I found this talk on forgiveness to be very poignant: http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=2075. But I think it's at least as valuable for me, and I'm not trying to share things like that to say, "This is what you should do and how to do it." I just want to help in some way to heal the massive pain I have caused. I want to show my love and concern for her in a way that doesn't come off selfish. And maybe the only solution is to not share these things right now. I'm ok with that too. His grace is sufficient for us after all we can do, and I want to do everything I can do for my wife. I just don't always know what that means in the moment.

Comments:

Finding Peace    
"The serenity prayer begins, God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

You are correct. You can not fix her. It is not your job to do so. You cannot fix you. That is also not your job. It is the Savior's job to fix/save people. He will do so as fast as we let Him.

I'm sorry that your marriage is difficult at the moment. I often wish my spouse was right where I was with recovery. however, we're all individuals which means that we're never exactly where anyone else is on any given subject at any given point in time.

Congratulations on 90 days of sobriety. That is awesome! Keep up the good work. Now, I would suggest you continue to control what you can control, which is YOU. The best thing you can do for your relationship is to work the steps one day at a time. Accept the things you cannot change, ie your spouse. Hopefully she can find healing for herself as well. If she is willing to discuss recovery with you, there is a link on the left side of this webpage called, "Family/Spouses Manual" That might be a good place for her to start if she is willing to. If she isn't, let it go and continue to pray for your continued sobriety and for the help she needs to heal herself.

Hopefully, next month you can write about how you're 120 days sober. God bless."
posted at 09:22:12 on September 29, 2014 by DANO42
The Process    
"Thanks for your comments. I appreciate the reminder that we have to work on ourselves. It's true that I can't fix her, but at the same time, I've learned to be somewhat cautious about this line of thinking. I don't think it's wrong at its core, but I have seen it construed to the point of you have to take care of yourself and she has to take care of herself and there's nothing you can do about her. It's her problem kind of thing. I'm not saying that you mean that, just something that I worry about sometimes.

I really feel strongly that, while Christ is the only one who can take away the hurt and pain, I can create a place in our home and in our relationship that is safe, and I can be trustworthy. I can't make her feel safe, yet I can provide fertile soil for her safety seed to grow when the time comes that she is willing to take the risk to plant it. I can't make her trust me, yet I can be trustworthy. My logic might be flawed, but I feel like her burden is my burden. I created her burden. I don't like the idea of leaving my wife out on a limb when it wasn't her fault in the first place.

I wonder sometimes about the different places that we care in the recovery phase. I often wish things were different, yet I'm grateful for the nature of the process as it is. I have started to look at it from the viewpoint that it is important for me to learn to truly respect her, to be patient with her, to step outside of my selfish addict brain and try to truly understand her. Seeing her struggling with the impact of my sin has helped me to learn more empathy for her. When I get glimpses into what she has experienced and the massive feat that her healing process is, the frustration with her pace is washed away. In its place comes love and a desire to do anything she needs me to do. For 10 years I have placed my own selfish desires above her wholesome ones repeatedly. This is a chance for me to put in the effort I need to bit by bit break down the remaining pride in my heart.

I believe that the only chance I have to save my family is to be truly humble and even more sincerely contrite. Just as she cannot heal without understanding the nature of my sins, I cannot learn to empathize with her in a real way without understanding the nature of her pain. It has been incredible how I have felt my love for her grow since I have committed to change. I was using a significant portion of my emotional capacity to concentrate on garbage. It should have been focused on her, on my children, on my faith. This freedom is so enabling! So for these reasons, I am learning to appreciate the difference in our progress. The distance between us provides a valuable perspective that I wouldn't have if we were both focusing close up on the same things.

Thank you for prompting those thoughts. I needed that this morning. I hope I didn't come across as trying to contradict you Dan. Thanks to anyone who read all the way through for your patience and kindness. I often feel like I'm rambling, but somewhere in there is the point. That's the ADD part of me, I guess."
posted at 11:18:27 on September 29, 2014 by changeup
My epxerience almost exactly    
"Changeup,
thank you for sharing your experience. I have been reading your post and was thinking some of the same things. I have about 60 days of sobriety, but also am having similar challenges in my wife being angry hurt and emotional. In saying this I don't want to belittle or demean anything that she is experiencing, I am truly trying to help and change just as quickly as I can.

Something I have had a struggle with is that my wife has spoken of evil spirits, that my negative thoughts and feelings toward her have "cursed her". I don't want to imply that I don't believe there feelings by using quotations marks, I just don't understand where she is coming from. She has said that I have turned everyone in our ward against her, that the only people that she can trust are outside of our ward. Again I am trying to respect and peacefully accept what she is saying and explore the possibility of thoughts toward her having negative impact. what is sort of frustrating is I seem to remember on Friday starting the process of praying for her success, for her happiness instead of being angry at her.

I guess it is just hard when she throws up things like, you cursed me, you thought negative thoughts about me. how do I fight against that? Of course I remember not feeling happy toward her, but I don't remember the words being as severe as she describes them. Again I mention this only because I feel I am at a disadvantage because I don't know what will set her off or what will come next. I don't want to abdicate responsibility and I guess that is where the serenity prayer and acceptance come into action :). Thanks"
posted at 11:58:38 on September 29, 2014 by sjanderson
Validation    
"SJ,
I went through something similar. If you look up anti social personality disorder/sociopath, you will see a lot of behaviors that became part of who I was as an addict. She has been sincerely concerned that she had a sociopath for a husband. I realized later that her sincerity was the key.
My first reaction was that she was trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. I was defensive, angry that she would try to pile on higher to my laundry list of trespasses against her.

Then I realized she was trying to understand the beast that she was up against. Here is a noble woman who has three children to care for and she is trying to figure out how to keep her sheep safe with a wolf right in her house. I stopped trying to fight against the idea and tried to understand it. I learned what behaviors caused her to think that way, and what are the chances that she's right, how about that she might be wrong? I tried to take my emotions out of it and evaluate what the best course of action was. I don't think the diagnosis matters as much as the behavior. Does the solution change if she's right? Then I shared that with her. I told her that I had learned so much from her in the past, she was right pretty much every time her intuition told her I was acting out, so I would be well advised to take her concerns seriously now. She was validated; I was enlightened. I don't know if she's right or wrong, but I understand a lot more about the things I was doing that systematically sabotaged our marriage from day 1. It was win-win.

My guess is that your wife is trying to do the same thing, understand what she's up against and create a plan to overcome it. I'm not in a position to prescribe a solution to your situation, but here are my thoughts. Ask yourself the question, what if she's right? Who is to say she's wrong? Wives are often more sensitive to spiritual things than we are, at least I know mine is. Even though you might still be the bad guy in her eyes, you can change your way of thinking to a teamwork model. You hadn't considered the evil spirit theory before, but she is concerned. Talk to her about it, tell her that you are willing to consider it, and ask her what she feels is the best course of action here. Maybe the next time you meet with your bishop, you could go together and talk to him. When you take the path of respect and validation, sincerely wanting to do what it takes to change, even if it is in ways that you wouldn't have anticipated, you let her know that you're no longer making rules to protect your secret life. She won't trust your recovery if it's only on your terms. If our paths are similar like you say, then you have gone through numerous attempts before, but you've never given up control completely. That's what has enabled you to always return to your sin. You let her know that she matters, that she's not crazy for having a concern that is very real to her. If it's real to her, it is real. Period. Join her team. If you have evil spirits in you and get them cast out, that's kinda cool to tell the story about, ha. Or maybe you'll find a different answer.
I guess this is part of why I don't think that we can completely separate the recovery of husband and wife. Sure, she could figure out a way to "get over it", but more likely she would be more hurt by your attitude towards her thoughts and feelings. Then she has another things to "get over". We need to learn to be humble, and situations like these are chances to kill a couple birds with one stone.
Let me know if you think I'm off base or misunderstood. Don't stop praying for her. That's also a win-win. Now I'll go and try to take my own advice :)"
posted at 12:34:16 on September 29, 2014 by changeup
From the Wife of an addict    
"Hello Changeup, (from 1stepatatime - can't remember my password!)
I think that it is absolutely incredible the support that you are showing your wife. 2 1/2 years ago I discovered my husband's more than 30 year addiction. Hands down the hardest thing that I have experienced. One of the first things that I did was go online to Deseret Book and order every book that they had about pornography. I wanted only LDS resources right at first. The book that has been the most helpful to me is "Lord I Believe, Help Thou Mine Unbelief" by Rod Jeppsen. Another book that my husband and I read together is "Love You, Hate the Porn". Sorry, I don't remember the author.
Is she going to groups? Depending on where you live you will have acccess to two main groups that she could attend. LDS ARP and SAnon. I have attended both. I feel that they both have their places.
Does she have someone that she can talk to that has been through this same thing? If she does not, she can talk to me. sjackson2835@gmail.com
I know how hard it is and am on the same path that she is, I just happen to be a little bit further down the road. Feel free to read my other posts on this site to make sure I am not a crazy person....well, that may verify that. Ok scratch that idea. :) If she would like to, she is more than welcome to contact me.
Trust will come, not right away, not in leaps and bounds and not as freely as it had been given in the past. Counsel that my stake president gave me was, "trust but verify". It will be discouraging for you as you are living a life more honest than you ever have and still she does not trust you. I promise that is normal! She is still on the road to healing and so are you.
90 days is HUGE!!! Congratulations!"
posted at 03:16:34 on October 9, 2014 by Anonymous


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"One of the great myths in life is when men think they are invincible. Too many think that they are men of steel, strong enough to withstand any temptation."

— James E. Faust

General Conference, April 2002