In June and July 2015, Beyond Betrayal, Journey to Healing & Joy (JHJ) and Donna Meredith-Dixon (A Door of Hope) teamed up to do a survey of wives of sex addicts. The theme of this particular survey was spiritual crisis and spiritual growth. We had a good response, with over 100 women filling out the survey and sharing their stories.
Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be looking at overall trends we discovered from the responses. After that, I'll be sharing more of the women’s personal responses (though not their names) and using these as a starting point for discussion.
What We Learned
Trauma researchers have long understood that traumatic events cause either a spiritual or existential crisis in victims. Thus, we were surprised that only 63% of the women surveyed felt they experienced a crisis of faith upon discovery of their husband’s addiction. However, that's still a lot of hurting women. Those who reported having gone through a spiritual crisis indicated that their crisis centered on either God, the church or both.
This week I’ll look at some of the most common reasons women felt angry at God or became mistrustful of him. As you'll notice, there is a world of pain in these responses.
Feeling Duped by God
Many of us felt outraged that we were completely in the dark about our husband’s double life – while the God, whom we loved and trusted, knew about it all along. As one respondent, with a very difficult previous background said:
“Within a little over a month of being married, the reality I had been mislead and married a sex addict came out. I couldn't understand how God would allow me to be so fooled in His name. I thought that I had found the man that God had intended for me only to be totally fooled by the cover story I was presented. How could God allow this?”
“[I was left] wondering how, if He truly loves me and protects me, then WHY didn't He show me any signs of my husband’s addiction. Why did he let it go on so long and WHY would he have allowed me to marry a sex addict in the first place?”
Feelings of Injustice
Oftentimes the wife of a sex addict, while not perfect, has been a faithful wife. Many wives also feel they have been a good Christian. Depending on how we view God and his justice (and the effects of sin in this world) it’s pretty easy, in this case, to feel that we have been unjustly treated by him. As one respondent put it:
“I felt angry that this was how God ‘rewarded’ me for being obedient and faithful to him.”
“I wondered why God would save me from a life of sexual sin only to allow me to marry a sex addict. It just seemed so cruel.”
Thus, if you are struggling with your faith right now, know this is extremely normal. Moreover, many of us have found this crisis is also an opportunity to throw out old spiritual baggage, and (in time) start afresh with the God who does love us and who intimately understands the pain of betrayal.
May you find the support you need this week to process your feelings around Him.
Next week I'll continue the overview of survey responses by looking at women's feelings of rejection/judgment, feelings of abandonment, and the particular struggles of women with husbands in ministry. After the overview portion of this series, I will be digging in deeper about each of the issues raised.
In the meantime, you can hear me interview women on the topic of spiritual crisis here.