Live To Give

My wife wants me to watch a movie with her, how do I tell her I can't?

by Dov (See all authors)

Question:

I can't believe I keep falling for the Y"H's tricks. A couple of days ago my wife insisted we see a movie. No nudity, but of course it had an attractive actress. Of course I couldn't get her out of my head. And that was a slippery slope downwards for me.

Yes, my wife knows about my struggles, but she really, really wanted to watch a movie with me. Also, I'm pretty sure she doesn't know that dressed women can trigger me. I really don't want to disappoint her by telling her that even dressed women who are attractive are atrigger for me.

Until I have more will power to watch a movie and not take it further the next day, I guess I should just explain to her that I can't watch any more movies, right? I don't know. What about our shalom bayit - if she really, really wants to watch a movie and says "there's no nudity in it, so it's OK"?


GYE Replied:

It's tough being an addict, but hey, if we're allergic to peanuts, we just gotta avoid those peanuts.

If your wife wants to watch a movie, have her go through it slowly first (by moving the play-bar slowly over each minute or so) and checking if there are any women in it that have tight clothing or skirts above the knees - and to make sure that there are no "love" scenes. In most cases, she will not be able to confirm this, and you'll be able to get out of it by claiming that these things are triggers for you. I believe she'll respect you for your integrity. After all, even a non-addict has to "guard his eyes" according to Halacha, and looking at attractive women for an hour straight is not exactly shmiras ainayim, is it? This is plain and simple Halacha, which applies even when the women are fully dressed. I'm sure she can respect Halacha, no?

Also, have her read this cute article by Tzvi Fishman (Arutz Sheva Blogger).

 

Dov Responds:

Funny! A close friend of mine in the program called me last night and asked about the very same thing - his wife wanted to watch a movie with him, too!

The last thing you want to do (though it's better than nothing!) is to just point out to her how clueless she is. It is better for both of us if I take a minute to remind my wife how much I love her and how I see being honest with her as the best way to stay extra-close. (She appreciates closeness).

I let her know that I just have limitations. Not because I am better than other folks, or because I am frummer or trying to live at a higher standard than others. Rather, it is because I am sick. I am oversensitive - actually allergic - to frivolous lust-peddling. (Not to be being intimate with her though, cuz that's real.)

Loving her, loving yourself, even loving Hashem - anyone can sympathize with that!


We try to explain Dov's last line:

What I think Dov means to say, is that she can surely sympathize with a guy who loves Hashem and loves her (and loves himself enough to not want to put up walls between himself and her/Hashem)... So if you say it over in the RIGHT WAY, she hopefully won't take it in the wrong way.

 

Dov responds:

Actually, I just meant: "live to give" as often as possible, especially with your wife. It's not "how you say it to her that I care about first, (though it certainly is good practice to say things in a loving way) ... but sometimes we don't need to say anything at all. It's what motivates me that matters the most in the relationship - the good will eventually overtake it all, if I do my part. Importantly, that does not mean to look back on whether I did a good job at it, or to assess my progress. Let's face it: I am selfish and probably hopelessly in love with 'me'. But I don't care! Every time I remember that what I am doing - usually something self-centered - is not working (as evidenced by my unhappiness), I turn my thoughts to how can I take the actions of love right then.

To heck with assessing myself - that has nothing to do with anything, especially in the first year or two of recovery. I can be the most selfish and self-absorbed person - and remain that way.. even die that way... it may even be on my tombstone... but I do not care at all. It's actually none of my business. The only thing that I care about is what I am doing right now. I am totally powerless over the past and over the actual outcomes of the future. How can I love my wife, my children, my Jewish people, and my G-d right now? That is what matters, as far as I am concerned. I need to snub my nose at pretty much everything else, sometimes.

"Thinking" (especially about myself) is usually poison, and stupid. Not always, but usually. Especially in early recovery. At least for me, and many other addicts I know.