You might have noticed another badge along the sidebar of the site; it’s from Family Dynamics Institute.

Divorce happens. It’s a sad fact of life that I wish wasn’t. But it’s been going on for thousands of years and is in no way a “new thing” or an American condition. Jesus recognized that Moses set down law regarding divorce in Matthew 19:4-5, and it was taking place long before then.

Seeing as I write about sexual addiction, you might think I’m going to make a link between the number of divorces and that condition. I can’t do that responsibly. Yes, sexual addiction is pervasive and yes it destroys marriages. I’ve established that fact in my own life in previous posts. But to say that the majority or even a preponderance of the divorces ticked up on this badge are the result of unrecognized and untreated sexual addiction is irresponsible. I simply don’t know that.

Divorce happens in marriages where sexual addiction occurs, be it SGA, porn addiction, infidelity, or some other type of sexual acting out.  By the time an addict’s spouse realizes exactly how deep the problem is and reaches what I call The International “Enough!” Line, crisis has set in and intervention is necessary.

What is a spouse to do? If you are that spouse, your options are plentiful, and so are the opinions of those around you. My advice (for what it’s worth) is this:

  • Find a good, competent Christian counselor, if you are a Christ-follower. If you’re not, speak to a member of the clergy where you identify and talk to someone who holds your values.  For those who are Christ-followers, seek someone who has a success-rate dealing with sexual addiction. In other words, you might find a therapist who does a good quantity of family counseling but isn’t well-versed in addictive behaviour cycles and the damage these cycles do to the non-addict. Or you might find someone (sadly enough, they exist within some churches) who say that no matter what (abuse, addiction, infidelity, unrepentant hearts, etc.), the obligation of the spouse is to stay within the relationship and take whatever is handed out. My short answer is to avoid these types of counselors at all costs.  When you find a therapist (it might take some “shopping” to find the right fit for you), book appointments for yourself before you try to drag your spouse in to a session.
  • If your spouse is willing, go to the therapist’s together and see if this opens an opportunity to dialogue about the addiction and what it’s done to you and your family.
  • Consider setting sexual boundaries within your marriage if your spouse isn’t willing to get treatment, especially if the addiction involves/involved other people and/or places where disease can be incurred.
  • If you have suspicions or knowledge of physical infidelity, go to a clinic or your trusted physician and get tested. Your health might have been compromised through sexual exploration that can come in the course of habituation and escalation of a sexual addiction. It’s incredibly unpleasant to consider, but you are worth finding out and protecting yourself.
  • Pray. Like you never have before, pray with passion. Pray with urgency. Enlist others in your life who know how to pray and ask God to intervene in your situation. I heard the statement a while ago and believe it to be true: God reveals what He intends to redeem. The caveat to this statement is if you’re dealing with an unrepentant spouse, there is precious little you can do other than seek God’s direction.  A marriage can survive and eventually thrive if both spouses are committed to its salvation, but if one is actively working against it, then that is a major handicap for the relationship.

So what do you do if your spouse doesn’t *want* to give up his/her addiction? You already know that you’re working on your issues … do you head for the courts and file for divorce?

I have encouraged women in this position to do a temporary separation, in hopes of delivering a wake-up call to their husbands. Sometimes it works — I know of several situations in which the husband woke up and proceeded to make real, substantive changes and deal with the addiction head-on. Sometimes it doesn’t work and under guidance of a member of the clergy, some women have proceeded to file for dissolution of marriage. Much of it depends on the hardness of the addict’s heart and how much they are ‘enjoying’ the addiction and sin.

Thankfully, my situation hasn’t needed more than a trial separation. And even more thankfully, that separation was before our son was conceived and born; I honestly don’t know how I would have handled it if he had been around and ended up as a bystander, wounded by the IED of his parents’ exploding relationship.

For those women (and men) who have filed for divorce or had their marriages irreconcilably damaged by sexual addiction, I am truly sorry for your pain.  I have a precious friend who is in this place now, and it’s awful.  If this mimics your situation, I encourage you to continue to pray for your former spouse, especially if s/he is still an addict. It might feel awkward or weird, but it’s one of the most healing gifts you can give yourself — and your family.

His and his,

This entry was posted on 101301H Feb 2009 and is filed under Forgiveness, Path to Healing, Sexual Brokenness. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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