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Friday, February 27, 2015

Ever Feel Like You're the Only One? A letter to Spouses of Addicts

Dear Spouse of an Addict, 

Do you ever feel like you are the only one out there going through this trial? Like no one else would understand what it's like to have a spouse with a pornography and sex addiction, even if you told them?

I think feeling like this is normal. Because, even though we are told this is a widespread problem, everyone keeps it a secret. Both the addicts and the spouses pretend that nothing is wrong. They put on a good face, no matter what is going on at home.

Admit it. You probably do this too. 

And sometimes it is for a very good reason. I get it. There are a ton of reasons (and many of them very valid and good) that you would want to put on a good face and tell the world everything is ok.

But, good reasons or not, it means that no one talks about it. Understandable or not, it means that most spouses feel alone in their trials. Like they are the only one going through this.

Every time you get together with your best friend Sally she talks about how gushingly amazing her husband is, how he always brings her a single rose when he comes home from work, how he makes her breakfast every Saturday morning, how he spends hours every weekend teaching their kids to play basketball.

It's hard to hear. Because Sally tells you about this perfect life with her husband that you feel you can only dream about.

But here is what's hard to tell. Sally may have the perfect relationship. Her husband may bring her roses because he loves her, he may make her breakfast every Saturday morning because he'd like to give her the chance to sleep in, he may be spend hours shooting hoops every weekend because he wants that quality time with his kids. 

Or... is she thinking the same thing you are? Is she looking at you and listening to all the things you DON'T tell her and feeling like she's all alone. Because how could you, her friend, understand what she is going through? You also always portray a great relationship with your husband. So then she does the same thing you do and puts on a mask. She doesn't say that he brings roses home because he feels guilty, she doesn't say that he makes breakfast on Saturday mornings because he likes to tell people that's what he does, and she doesn't say that he shoots hoops with the kids all weekend because things are so tense between them that they need a break.

Some people really do have a great relationship. And some people just put on a brave face. Is that so hard to believe? After all, you do it too.

There are some really great guys out there, and some really great relationships. But don't get down on yourself thinking that yours is the only one with troubles. 

It just isn't true. 

Especially in my position here, I meet people all the time who have gone through or who are going through the trials of having an addict partner. They are everywhere. And most of them are keeping their trials a secret. 

So know that you are not alone. I've talked before about talking to a trusted someone, church leader, or therapist or a therapist-run spouses of addicts group. Do it. Please do it. But even if you don't, just know that you are in no way the only one going through trials like yours.

Please, please don't feel alone.

Your friend,

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