by Kevie Simon on Wednesday, April 20th, 2016
Dreaming of marriage as a young girl, I didn’t had the faintest idea of what marriage would truly look like. When you fantasize about your future partner, you tend to only dream about the good aspects, not the flaws and struggles. The little girl version of myself would never have dreamed of knowingly entering into marriage with a sex addict. But here I am. At first, the idea of being married to a recovering sex addict seemed daunting, like walking through a forest with no light. But I was wrong, this journey has been the most hopeful and encouraging path I could have chosen.
Having a husband active in recovery has major benefits I never would have understood before entering into this relationship. First, he is more authentic and honest than anyone I have met. Throughout his recovery, he has learned the value of the truth and vulnerability, and he lives out of it every day. He has been and continues to work through his deepest struggles. Instead of avoiding the hard topics, he walks into them with confidence knowing that the hard conversations will strengthen himself and our relationship. He knows the weight of his daily actions, and works hard to ensure that he is doing all that he can to protect himself and our family from his addiction. My husband has jumped into recovery with everything he has, and that has deepened communication and trust within our marriage.
But our marriage is not just about him. I have to ask myself daily – what’s my responsibility in this marriage? My first job is to work on myself. My journey as the recovering partner is just as important as his journey as the recovering addict. I have my own issues and struggles I must work on in order to be the best wife I am capable of being. I have to own what’s mine in our relationship. I struggle with anxiety on a daily basis, and this I must face with just as much seriousness as he faces his addiction. To help with this, I have an amazing therapist I see regularly who helps me dive into my fears and worries, hoping to prevent harm in our marriage. I also have a group of women that I stay close to so that I have somewhere to process what’s going on in my marriage outside of my husband.
Additionally, I have begun to understand that I am the person closest to my husband who can see what he needs. I am not his keeper, but I can be valuable in this process. There is a truth that I hold onto every day – I am not and will never be the reason for his addiction. However, that does not mean that I cannot be a positive part of the journey. I can often see when he needs alone time or rest before he even recognizes it. Or, there are times when I see he is working incredibly hard, and I will look for opportunities to go of my way to show my appreciation for him and his hard work. In our marriage, we have begun to understand that our individual recovery is key, but we can also be vital instruments for each other by looking out for the best interests of the other person. In the time we have been together, I have found that there is nothing more valuable than this type of trust.
Two final big ideas I have learned thus far in marriage are that addiction is very real, and it never truly goes away. However, the hope is in learning how to deal with it. Both my husband and I have a responsibility to protect and honor each other every single day. We know the monster that lies dormant in our relationship, but we also know how to fight it. Both of us have recovery journeys to walk as individuals and as a married couple together. Instead of being overwhelmed by the work it takes, we look forward to the unity and intimacy our recovery journeys will bring for us now and in the future. If you are an addict or a partner, I would imagine that your journey is not the dream you envisioned for your life. But there is hope! Your actions towards recovery have a great impact on your present and future life and on the lives of those closest to you. No matter where you are on your recovery road, take a moment to think about the steps you can take today to move forward to restoration and authenticity.