We’ve been looking at the patterns of living with someone who suffers from an addiction, specifically in the area of sexual addiction. Often we can be lulled into a lifestyle of survival, minimizing, denial and isolation that becomes our new normal. We don’t actually know what “normal” looks like especially if we’ve grown up in these patterns of life and then married into them. The patterns become engrained in our soul and offer a familiar, even if destructive, way to relate.
Recognizing and examining these patterns is often the first step in becoming free.
- Lack of unconditional love. True love is not about keeping a spouse happy, or trying to make them love us. Covering for our spouse’s indiscretions, making excuses for them, taking responsibility for their actions, and carrying the weight of the relationship and family is enabling their behavior, not loving them. A sexually addicted spouse may insist that if we don’t perform according to their particular desires, we are unloving, but sexual love is intended to be an outpouring of the love and intimacy we share; a joining together physically of what God joined in heart and spirit. Love never demands, it gives.
- Rejection. When we don’t measure up to our spouse’s fantasy life or experiences with prostitutes, we are rejected. Even if we have been initially praised for creating a fulfilling experience for our spouse, it will never match fantasy in extreme or frequency and will often be disregarded. We may become the brunt of crude insults in private and even in public due to our lack of sexual prowess. We may be told that if we don’t do or like what they want, we should leave; or they will leave us.
- Lack of respect. We lose respect for a spouse who is out of control and unkind. We lose respect for ourselves when we are simply an object for someone’s pleasure. That kind of prostitution leaves us feeling used, hated and dirty. If this person who we trusted with our entire being doesn’t respect us with consideration, we see no reason to care for ourselves. Often, our past abuse allows for this perpetuation of disrespect.
- Lack of trust. Relying on our spouse feels like a dangerous proposition when they choose what pleases them at the moment rather than considering what is best for everyone in the family. Their lack of consideration, and hurtful or cruel behavior keeps us from entrusting them with our hearts and lives. Infidelity is an act of betrayal, and whether a spouse is emotionally involved in an affair, or physically involved with magazine pictures, computer images or women for hire, the betrayal leads to distrust. That environment breeds suspicion and causes difficulty in trusting not only the spouse involved, but anyone.
- Depression. Slipping in and out of depression can be a daily situation often based on the mood of our spouse. Any affirming overture in towards us results in our hope that things are improving; that a better future waits just around the corner. One minute life seems full of possibility, but if something happens to rock our spouse’s fantasy world, they take it out on us. In devastation, we are without hope and despairing that life will always be hellish. We may feel a diminished ability to think or accomplish simple tasks one day, but then feel as if we can conquer the world the next. Bouts of depression becomes longer lasting with fewer good days between. Suppressed fear and anger cause us to rage at our children or burst into tears. We don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, or can’t sleep at night. Our emotions are out of control from pressing down all we feel in order to hold life together. Our children probably struggle in this way as well.
Next week we’ll talk about intimacy and sex with someone addicted to sex. The dynamics are unique and can be devastating.Are there other patterns you have recognized or become aware of? How have you become free? For further help or prayer, please leave a comment or email Laura privately at firstname.lastname@example.org