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How do I get my wife to agree to let me join the SA groups?

GYE Corp. Monday, 11 June 2012

Someone wrote:

How do I reveal to my wife what I’m going through and get her to agree to let me join the SA groups?

Dov Answers:

There are only three ways I know of to "get your wife to allow it", my sweet friend:

One is by getting caught and losing a job or two over it until she finally begs you to do something – anything – to save your marriage, family, etc.

A second, is to detail to her exactly what it is like for you in your problem: what you do, how you do it, how often, and what is really going through the mind you have been hiding from her and everyone else before, during, and after you use your drug.

Needless to say, neither of these two options are recommended.

The third way, while not palatable, is the only option I found acceptable: To just go and do whatever it is that you think you really need to do. Perhaps you may need to see the shrink first secretly and then have a joint meeting with the wife there for the professional to do the dirty work and damage control.

Deciding to go in secret permanently, may work for while for some folks, but ultimately that's just more lying, and can't last forever anyway…it didn't work for me. The simple way for some (that worked for me) is to first find out exactly where, when, and what you will need to do. Then approach your wife and explain to her that you are not sure exactly what is wrong with you but that you feel certain that you are in some sort of trouble because you have overwhelming temptations almost daily. If you she wants you to tell her everything you have done, I believe you would do best for her sake and yours to agree to do so in the presence of a professional, and arrange that. If what you have done thus far is rather mild, I'd say it may indeed be better to just come clean with her, while explaining that this problem is tearing you apart and will eventually affect your marriage, job, etc., if you only talk to her about it. No matter how well-intentioned she is, she will likely not be able to help you, in the long term. Clarify that you do not want to hide anything from her, but that you are – and have been – extremely embarrassed about your desires. Admit to her that you are ashamed about it and frightened and that you are therefore absolutely desperate to do whatever it takes to stop. Admit to her that you do not have a clue how to stop and have been trying for years, and that it is very unlikely that a woman, especially the one most betrayed and hurt by your problem, to be able to help you to stop, either.

Then tell her what that will entail: shrink visits weekly, 12 step-meetings weekly, phone conferences, cost, time, etc….whatever it is that you decide to try to do about it.

Explain to her that you love her, respect her, and do not want your mental problem to take away any more from the relationship than it already has. She will likely already be aware that you have not been completely present or honest with her, after all.

She may take it well, she may not. But whatever it is, remind her that you love her more than anyone else in the whole world and that the problem that you have has nothing whatsoever to do with her. Even if you have blamed her in the past, you must now admit to yourself and to her that the only one with the problem is yourself. And remind her that you are now going to reach out for help to get better.

You are not asking her, you are telling her. You have already done gazillions of horrible things without asking her at all! Don't fool yourself or her that you are suddenly going to be forthcoming with her. Eventually, if you do not get the help you need, you will again be habitually lying to her as before, my friend. You need not rub that in her face, but this is one case where they say "al titzdak harbei!" If you make the case that you really need this for yourself, she will eventually understand.

If you are consistent about the work you need to do, showing your commitment to it, she'll start to respect you for it.

If she starts to see actual improvement in your attention to her and your children, notices some honesty and integrity, then she'll become proud and happy about what you are doing. I admit that it may take weeks or even many months for that to happen. Too bad. We aren't doing recovery to save anyone else's image of us, but to save our own sanity and our own lives, right? My wife and I got into fights most week-nights that I went to meetings for the first year. Healing from that was helped a lot by my consistent attendance of meetings (even if I was physically ill that day), and now she is happy with how I have improved and occasionally suggests that I go to a meeting!

(The future for our family was even more bleak than the poor girl realizes…)

My wife still does not fully understand my illness, nor my program. But: So what? I quit trying to get her to think exactly as I do many years ago, b"H, and am not about to restart that game! It was gehinnom for us both.

Finally, for those who have already done things that they imagine cannot ever be forgiven by their wives – being unfaithful to them, etc. I say, find a professional to help you with the relationship. Your marriage/family deserves that. Marriages have been irreparably damaged by irresponsible dumping of guilt in premature confessions. In the meantime, consider not even broaching the entire topic with your wife until you have established some sobriety and a relationship with a recovery person or group. Then Hashem will help you and it'll all happen the best way.

Without recovery, it only gets worse.

And recovery ain't that bad.

Hatzlocha in this very painful and difficult part of getting better.

Don't go it alone.