Any of these statements sound familiar?
- I thought he was my rescue.
- When our child was born, my husband became sullen, neglectful and harsh.
- I found a box of pornographic magazines hidden in the closet.
- By the third drink, he was rude and mean with cruel sarcasm.
- He really hurt me the other night.
There’s a verse in the Bible that states,
A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it. Proverbs 22:3
We’ll continue the series on Living With an Addict by addressing some of the thoughts and feelings a spouse in that situation may experience. While based in part on my experiences, these struggles are common ones others have shared with me as well. When we finally see the circumstances as they truly are, we can take refuge.
Many women living with someone addicted to sex became enticed into the situation because of patterns already established in our lives. Most likely, we were violated in some way in earlier years. The fear of violation continues in these circumstances. Women in this position don’t feel safe; rather, we consistently sense an unexplained threat, a helpless state of being preyed upon. Rape is an attitude of the heart, not simply a physical exploit even though it is an act of one person’s will against another. Molestation and/or rape can occur within a marriage, within the thoughts or heart of a spouse, even without physical violence, though often physical abuse takes place as well. Any violation is just that, a violation. The fact that it is perpetrated by someone with the privilege of sharing sexual relations with us doesn’t make it any less of a rape. Force in any manner whether through verbal, mental, emotional manipulation or physical attack constitutes rape.
A spouse living in this setting does not feel safe, comfortable or protected.
Because of this manipulation, we are left feeling the obligation or duty to meet those sexual demands in order to alleviate the preyed upon threat. Perhaps if we can fulfill the expectations, we will not longer be a target. As Christians, we are told to submit and offer our bodies to our spouse. Very good and wise advice, unless it is within an abusive relationship. Jesus turned the other cheek to his accusers, but for those of us being used and abused that setting is like a drug to our addict. Often, we aren’t able to discern the difference between overlooking minor hurts or offenses caused by our spouse, and feeding a dangerous addiction by our obligation to make everything okay. Many times we are told that if we don’t do what our spouse demands, we are encouraging him to go to someone else who will.
All this lays a foundation for further abuse not freedom.
We begin to feel we must do whatever it takes to avoid conflict especially in the area of sex. So we compromise what we believe to be right, and we compromise who we are. We apologize for everything; we ask for nothing; we ignore our needs and any problems. Although we may think we are keeping the peace, we are an emotional time bomb ready to detonate. We fight for peace outside, but inside we feel tormented, suffocated.
We long to get away, but feel compelled to stay.
Deep inside, we sense that what we’re living in isn’t right or good. Our portrayal to the world, however, paints a different picture. If we confess our uneasiness with our life, we may be met with well-meaning platitudes that things will work out or something must be wrong with us to feel that way. Often, with the exception of our spouse, those who insist all is well do so because they haven’t seen the truth of what is happening. We’ve learned to minimize in order to survive so part of us believes them and thinks we must be crazy. When we don’t share the full truth, others aren’t able to help us, and we continue to internalize our pain, turmoil and exhaustion. Sometimes, even we don’t realize what things are normal or not.
After months of counseling with a pastor who saw the truth of my situation and who I trusted completely, I finally casually shared something in passing that deep down I had felt was wrong, but passed it off as my issue. When I told her, she was shocked and assured me that the circumstances I described were not normal or acceptable. I had grown oblivious after so many years of feeling the obligation to tolerate the behavior. How freeing it was for me when she spoke the truth about it. I was relieved and released.
The truth shall set you free…
Continued next week….
Where have you missed seeing danger? Have you felt tormented? Are there any areas where you have been freed by the truth? For help or prayer feel free to send me a private message at firstname.lastname@example.org