Last week we talked to those who are caught in the web of addictions. This week we want to talk about the spouse married to the addict.
This is a tough one because the trial you find yourself in often comes when you least expected it. What seemed a normal marriage suddenly seems wrought with hypocrisy. It can be a dark and lonely place where the only person who knows is the one who has caused the pain. If your spouse is unwilling to seek help you can feel trapped and without hope.
How do you navigate such a trial?
First, I want to begin by virtually putting my arms around your shoulders, looking you directly in the eyes and say I care. Loving someone who is addicted in any way shape or form, is hard, and the struggle is very real. This is why the Lord is having me focus on your situation today. I believe it’s the Holy Spirit who has led you to read this post as well. He is caring for you by reminding you that He will never leave or forsake you. You can run to Him and be safe.
“The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”
Proverbs 18:10 ESV
Second, if you haven’t already, it requires you to let your spouse know that you’re committed to the marriage, and you want to do all you can to help them seek and find freedom. Many times the offender, especially if a Christian, feels shame and condemnation already. Having a spouse who adds to this only complicates what the Holy Spirit wants to do.
Remember Grace is undeserved favor. It is what Christ gave to us while we were still dead in our sin. We had no ability on our own to find freedom–yet He gave it to us without hesitation. And He is the only One who can help you love your spouse in the same way. Extending grace for judgment, love for hatred, and acceptance over rejection.
Third, when your spouse begins the confession process–filling you in on all they have done to deceive and sin against you–you may find it easy to listen and love. But as time passes it is most likely that you will battle with anger, even disgust, at what they have done to you. Take those emotions to the Lord, not your spouse. The goal in marriage is to seek peace and unity. Lashing out to your spouse in anger will only complicate an emotionally charged difficulty. What have we been given that we didn’t receive. The fact that you haven’t struggled in this area is nothing but God’s grace extended to you towards that temptation. Our strength comes from Him, not from our ability to say NO. Ask God to give you compassion for your spouse.
Fourth, if your spouse is willing, seek outside help. Someone who is familiar with addictions as well as Biblical counsel. Your pastor would be a good choice because they have invested in your growth in godliness. If your pastor isn’t an option, seek a Biblical Counselor–one who will point you to the Gospel. We know that this is the only place where lasting change occurs. It took Christ’s death on the cross to secure our freedom from bondage to sin.
Finally, repenting from addictions and submitting to change doesn’t usually happen overnight. Although we have heard of miraculous changes, it most often involves triumphs as well as set backs. Don’t be surprised if your spouse has to confess failure to you. Assure your spouse that this is a battle you’re both fighting, not theirs alone. There is safety in numbers, and making sure your spouse knows that you’re on their team to fight this addiction will go a long way in helping them resist temptation.
I realize that there are many marriages where the addict continually denies or justifies their behavior and leaves the hurting spouse to suffer alone. This is a sad state and one that requires outside counsel, not something that could be addressed on a single blog post. Seek help for your specific needs. You don’t have to face this alone. Most importantly, don’t allow yourself to be an enabler to the addiction. Loving your spouse for better and for worse, often includes helping them face their own addictions.
We pray for God’s help in knowing how best to love your spouse to complete freedom.
Addiction: What Is The Cure? – Marriage Missions International<<Excellent points made and well worth reading. Please do!! Cindy Wright is a personal friend whom I respect, and I value her advice.
12 Ways To Love Your Wayward Child – Desiring God Ministries <<Many of these points can apply to marriage.