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Love Cripples

To an addict who separated from his wife and thinks that maybe divorce would help him start "anew", Dov writes:

GYE Corp. Monday, 16 January 2012

Dear whatever-your-name-really-is,

There are many, many frum families I have firsthand knowledge of (including my own) that were restored through recovery. The sex therapist you speak of might be a help, I do not know. I never went to one. Even though my addiction is all about the use of porn, obsessive fantasy and telephone shmutz, following women and other things of that nature, my problem is not a sexual one. Certainly I have sexual problems, but that is not the doorway I need to walk through to get well. My issue is that I am an addict.

I am an addict and lust is just my drug of choice. And today I am sober one day at a time for years, along with many other people through a recovery fellowship that includes hundreds of frum people, too. Hashem helps me one day at a time to live sanely. My life is different in every way. It has to be. If you are like me, then your life will have to be different, even if you divorce. That has nothing to do with you getting better, or not.

In fact, if your wife sees that you are trying to get better just in order to prevent the divorce, that will not mean much to her, I think. She needs to see that you surrender her, the kids, and everything - that your priority in life is your own sobriety and recovery, period. Then she might say to herself, "maybe it isn't the same old lies. Maybe he will change...let me give him more time and see."

You describe that the initial excuse for your separation was that you do not help around the house, etc. I do not doubt that this is actually part of the truth. This picture is typical of spouses who are lust addicts. We are love cripples. You were not joined with this woman in real life - because you do not have the keilim for a real relationship. As SA's White Book puts it: We went for the unreal, for the connection that had the 'magic' - because it bypassed true intimacy and real union. We were love-cripples.

This is not a time to feel sorry for yourself. For G-d's sake, go to an all-french meeting and sit there like a dummy and absorb the recovery around you. You need help, as I and all other addicts do. There will be nothing different with the 'next wife' unless you get a ton of help to really, slowly, change the way you think and live.

So, you are a sincere, growing up, caring - and at the same time a liar, immature, self-centered, and hurting. Nu. So are all of us. The only question is - what concrete actions can you take right now to get better?

Let your wife know about S-Anon but remember that your ball is not in her court - it is in yours. I hope and pray she gives your marriage a chance at recovery and that she joins you in it. Above and beyond any hard feelings - and there are surely many - you as a couple need help. You may need to begin as individuals. Hatzlocha.