The New Widows: Part 1

Sex addiction is making (metaphorical) widows of many of us — orphans of our children. Some of us are widows within the marriage: with no intimacy, and long absences (while he acts out) we are emotionally alone. Many are also fully without a husband — due to separation and divorce. Below are some of the statistics gathered from the 2014/2015 Survey of Wives of Sex Addicts conducted for the Beyond Betrayal book.

  • 42% of respondents to the 2014/2105 survey of wives of sex addicts had separated from their husbands at some point (this included in-house separations)
  • 84% of these women initiated the separation
  • 52% of them were still separated or divorced (8% remarried)
  • 57% were still raising children at the time they separated

Separated and divorced women face many hardships. This week, we’ll look at what women reported were the major “downsides” of being single. We’ll end this series next week by looking at the “upsides.”

Financial Worries

The number one concern survey respondents listed with regards to their separation/divorce was financial instability. In fact, finances was regularly listed as the reason why a separated woman – who otherwise did not wish to reconcile with her husband – allowed him to move back into the home.

Speaking about the financial challenges of being on their own, or raising children on their own, survey respondents said:

“Homelife with the kids and I is far more peaceful and less chaotic, but the financial strain is stressful.”

“Financially I don’t know how I will live as I have health issues preventing my working and I am 64 and have never supported myself.”

“My quality of life decreased for a time due to finances, but that has since improved.”

For more on the topic of the precarious financial situations women are finding themselves in, due to their husband’s addiction, see the Compassion video below.

Loneliness

The second most common “downside” of separation/divorce listed by survey respondents was loneliness. Still, as you’ll read in the responses below, for most women the emotional downside has in no way outweighed the emotional pluses.

“Occasionally, I'd like to have some romantic companionship/sex, but not if it means accepting what I put up with before. I'd rather be alone.”

“I miss being a couple, and the security of being part of a "happy" family.”

“People ask if I am lonely, and I tell them it's easier to be lonely alone than in the company of the person who has emotionally abandoned you.”

For more thoughts on how single women can cope with loneliness/celibacy, see Beyond Betrayal.

Worries about our Children

Just as women are ambivalent about their own losses due to separation, many have equally mixed feelings about the effects of separation on their children.

“[I’m] grateful I'm no longer suffering from his emotional abuse. Regrets: my kids have grown up without a fatherly presence.”

“I have serenity… it is sad not to have a dad for the kids.”

“We have peace in the home, [but] the children are unsettled.”

While it is right to want our kids to get the “success” story about our husband’s addiction — if there’s going to be one — disclosure to adult children should not be delayed indefinitely. Even if our motivation is to protect them from the inevitable emotional wounding, not knowing the whole truth regularly comes back to haunt a woman.

As one respondent wrote:
“For a time, I lost the respect of my adult children because I wanted to protect them from the seriousness of their dad's addiction, in order to give him time to recover and tell his story himself from a place of restoration. After a year of doing the activities of recovery, yet seeing no real signs of relational change, one of my daughters caught him acting out and demanded to know the whole truth. Once that come out, the kids understood the separation and loss so much better. Even though they are hurting, they have engaged counseling and our relationship has been restored.”

Heartbreakingly, there were many more stories from respondents where their adult children did not side with them when they were given the whole truth. That is one of the reasons a number of our older divorcees are living without financial and emotional support.

Our Response?

Writing to the scattered Jewish Christians, the apostle James stated: ‘Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)

This message holds as true today as ever. However, God’s definition of “widows and orphans” has, in my mind, expanded… due to the “pollution of the world.”

As you watch the next instalment of Compassion (below) I hope you’ll consider (as I did) how you can grow further into “true religion” and help others do the same.