After learning about your spouse's or partner's addictions or infidelity or whatever it is, you may find yourself in challenges that you didn't "sign up" for. You may not have signed up for this, but the distress over the relationship has you wondering about your future.
- Will our marriage make it?
- Do I even want it to?
- Does he love me? Or even want me?
- Can I trust him?
- How can I possibly understand him or what he’s going through?
- Does he understand what this is doing to me? Does he even care?
This Is Our Journey Too
Ideally, your husband or partner would have shared about his addictions or issues with you before you were married, and allowed you to make an eyes-wide-open decision about whether to join him on this journey. But too many times, he didn’t — either out of shame or denial or the false belief that marriage would fix him. Or, in the case of infidelity, he would have stayed true to his marriage vows.
Either way, this is your journey too. Ignoring it won’t make it go away. Telling yourself it’s his “problem” to deal with on his own isn’t enough. Like it or not, when one partner is going through something as big as this, you both are. And sooner or later, you will have to face your feelings, boundaries and choices.
You Are Not Alone
If it’s any comfort (and it is, for most women), know that you are not alone. Just in the Brothers Road community alone, hundreds of women are walking this road too.
Some are finding great success and relief, with these challenges ultimately (and surprisingly!) bringing the couple closer together than ever before. Other wives ride a years-long roller coaster of emotions, reacting to their husbands’ every success and fall. Still other women find that at some point they have to move on, with him or without him.
So few people in the world can really understand what you’re going through. We can.
What Every Wife Should Know When Staying in the Relationship
- There is hope. When husbands and wives both do their own personal-growth and inner-healing work the couple oftentimes grows closer together than ever before.
- Get support for yourself, independent of your husband. You need to talk out your own feelings, too. There may be too much tension or sensitive feelings between you and your husband for him to listen as objectively as you would like, and vice versa.
- Love him as unconditionally as you can. You may be able to express your anger, hurt and fear, but be sure he knows that you still love him and will stand by him as long as it is healthy for you to do so.
- Set healthy boundaries for yourself and your marriage. Unconditional love doesn’t mean unlimited acceptance of every behavior. Without criticism or condemnation, make your boundaries clear. Know your own personal limits of tolerance for his behavior, and don’t allow them to be violated again and again without taking action. Be willing to walk away rather than have him drag you down with him, if he is going to go that way. He needs to know that he has to make choices, but so do you. He needs to know that his choices have consequences, as do yours. You can convey this message lovingly but assertively. Your own self-respect demands it.
- Be willing to talk about it. Just not all the time. Some wives think if they ignore the situation it will go away. It won’t. Or at the other extreme, some wives can’t stop talking about it. They assume this issue must be at the root of every problem in their marriage. It isn’t. It doesn’t mean your marriage would be perfect in every other way if only he didn’t have this issue.
- Give him space to do his work.
- Ask for what you need. Don’t expect him to read your mind. Ask for what you need. Remind him (gently, perhaps) that your needs are real, too.
- Respect his confidentiality. You need to talk out your feelings, but your husband also needs to trust you and others. He’s sure to appreciate it and trust your confidence more if you check with him before discussing the issue with anyone else.
- Remember, it’s a journey. Working through this, independently and together – this is your life now. And it may be your life for a long while. Be patient. Do your own inner-healing and personal-growth work. Get support. Try to find joy in the journey.