When Meetings Conflict With Shalom Bayis
Please read my story below. I need advice about what I must do now. My name is Rabbi Moshe, I am a sex and love addict and a kiruv professional. My addiction has progressed to exhibitionism, threatening my parnosso and my sanity. I am also very addicted to porn and masturbation, living in fantasy, and when I go on sprees I am unable to focus on work, life, etc. for days and even weeks at a time. I also have to physically force myself not to act out with prostitutes etc. These behaviors cause me intense shame and pain yet I cannot stop. I am also highly co-dependent with my wife. About 2 weeks ago after dabbling for almost 3 years on GYE with online meetings and the forum and getting a bit of sobriety, with my wife’s consent I finally went to a face to face meeting. Basically that triggered my beginning of finally being honest about my addiction. I went to the second meeting on another Sunday, despite my wife needing me with the kids. And basically I went to more meetings at times she needed me and she shut down, getting angrier and angrier. My sponsor said that I need to do the meetings to get healthy and I feel that to be the truth, but my wife feels I am violating her privacy and trust by sharing secrets of our life with others and she wants a few months break from the program and then I could go back possibly. And if I do go to the meeting Tuesday she will stop talking to me again, and little by little we will move to divorce.
I believe that I have no idea what will happen, but I am now willing to go to whatever lengths it takes to get sober as I am very scared of the possible consequences of continued acting out which may cause me to lose everything I have, including my sanity and very possibly suicide.
Basically, what should I do? Should I push it off (and who knows) for shalom bayis, or do I need to go the meetings and do the work for hatzolas nefoshas?
Thanks so much!
I feel your pain and confusion. I passed your question on to some of our experts, and I'll let you know when they reply. But I just want to quote something that Harvey said in a talk I was once at (Harvey is one of the founders of SA). He said:
Our addiction is a disease, like diabetes. If the wife of a diabetic would tell her husband not to take the insulin because she doesn’t want to be married to someone who takes insulin all the time, well, she won’t have a husband for much longer!
If we don’t put our sobriety first because we’re afraid to lose what is precious to us, we will probably end up losing it all anyway. But when we’re willing to lose everything and put our sobriety FIRST, we often get to keep everything precious in the end.
I think your wife needs a lot of help and guidance too.
Here is our page of resources for spouses: http://www.guardyoureyes.com/resources/spouses
Your wife should speak to Elya and his wife Esther. She desperately needs support and guidance.
She can also call Miriam, and join the CODA phone conference on GYE.
Rabbi Avraham J. Twerski responds:
I think that this requires a face-to-face discussion with an addiction specialist. The issues are too big to be handled by e-mail.