Last week we looked at some of the mistakes wives of sex addicts have sometimes made around sharing their story, some reasons we might not share all/some of our story and how to share safely. This week we'll look a bit more at how to avoid sharing with those who are curious — but not safe. We'll end by looking at the scenario at the opposite end of the spectrum: being told we cannot share, and how to deal with that.
How "Not" to Share
The decision about what to share with our various friends and relatives, i.e. parents, in-laws and children can be a tough one. Many wives of sex addicts find themselves in an awkward position at this time of year, when the natural questions about: "how we are" are asked. Worse yet, we might be asked how our husband is, how our marriage is or why we didn't send the annual newsletter update.
This topic came up in one of my groups recently, and some women (I may have been one of them) admitted that sometimes they've just outright lied when asked personal questions by someone deemed to be unsafe.
A few years ago, however, I got tired of finding myself in the position where I felt the need to lie (after all, I hadn't done anything to put myself in this place). So I took my complaint about it to God. As part of that I began to ask Him to help me stay out of these kind of situations.
Guess what... He did. Sometimes. Other times, He helped me come up with a brilliant (obviously Him, not me) diversion, or answer that was both true and didn't reveal much. Finally, I've also (as I've reached out to Him when the questions started coming) felt Him tell me to give a direct answer when I might not otherwise have. That's only happened a couple of times and both times, the person not only turned out to be safe: they've been helped by what I've shared.
Thus, while I don't have any formula to offer for those times when an unsafe person is poking around into our personal affairs, I do know that we absolutely do not have to reveal what our heart is telling us to keep to ourselves.
Not Sharing: Not an Option
When the 2014/2015 Wives of Sex Addicts survey participants were asked what helped them overcome the nearly universal (98%) depression they encountered the number one response was God. Numbers two and three?:
- Support Group
In other words safe places to share our story.
Sadly, this isn't always the first advice we get. One of the survey respondents stated that when she discovered the pornography, she called a prayer line and was told she wasn't to tell anyone: just pray more.
Likewise, some wives of sex addicts have had their husbands insist that they keep the information about his addiction secret. Said one wife:
I promised not to tell anyone when he disclosed his issue with me way back. I suffered for three years alone because I had given my word. My husband knew that I was a woman of my word and that kept me from telling anyone or seeking help. It was hell on earth keeping this in and him not seeking help. I finally did share what was going on with a close friend. I actually thought lightning would strike me for sharing and breaking my word. I have come along way from then and from that kind of thinking and being under that kind of control from another person.
Some of the respondents stated that it was their sharing that destroyed the marriage. The reasoning for this? After she'd shared with others her husband had been unable to "trust her with more of the truth," and ultimately went running to others (often leaving the marriage).
I found these stories incredibly sad. I was particularly depressed by what seemed to me to be some very backward reasoning. The one with the addiction is responsible for becoming transparent and truthful. This is part of the healing journey for him. Bringing our pain and fear into the light (responsibly) is not hurtful to him or us: it is helpful. As the spouse/partner, we are not responsible for his poisonous choices and we should be careful not to take on his poisonous thinking about them.
Thus, I encourage all of you to make 2017 a year where you seek out safe places to share your story. Start with your Father (the safest person in the universe) and ask him to lead you to others: counselors, support groups, friends, and/or family. His heart is to see his hurting daughters healed, and he knows that safe community is part of that.
Today's song is dedicated to the memory of Isaac Welsh, and to his family.