By: Julie Sanford
Addiction is a heavy burden, both for the person battling it and their loved one, particularly their wives. It sometimes feels even harder for us as Christian wives, because we aren’t ‘supposed to’ have problems like these in our households. So we try to fight this battle in solitude, which makes it even harder on us.
My husband is an alcoholic in recovery, so I know from experience how difficult it is to watch your life partner succumb to addiction. And I know all too well how deeply it affects us as wives too.
When my husband was deep in addiction I was deep in suffering as well. I was covered in stress-induced hives for most of my days. My physical health suffered, as did my mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
It was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. So if you are the wife of an alcoholic too, believe me when I say I SEE YOU. You are not alone.
We go through immense trauma while walking through addiction with our husbands. I didn’t recognize it as that at the time, but even six years into my husband’s sobriety I still feel the effects sometimes. Even though things are better now, I understand that I will always carry it with me to some extent.
But I want to offer you some help. I want to share with you what I’ve learned from walking with my husband from deep addiction into sobriety.
We always hear that there is ‘nothing we can do’ if our husband is addicted. But that’s just not true. Here are five practical things that you can start doing right now if you are walking this path:
- Learn to Untie from Your Husband’s Addiction
As wives of addicts we tend to become obsessed with our husband’s addiction. We are constantly thinking about it, worrying about it, and trying to fix it. It is incredibly important that you learn to untie from the addiction, which will ultimately help both you and your husband.
If you have been wrapped up in your husband’s addiction for a while now, untying won’t happen overnight, but you can start practicing it as early as today.
One of the best ways to start to untie is to work on taking your thoughts captive, as mentioned in 2 Corinthians 10:5. Thoughts of fear, panic, hopelessness and the like are not from God, so it’s important that we don’t let them take up residence in our head.
By working on taking thoughts captive we can stop ourselves from ‘going down the rabbit hole’ of toxic thoughts that contribute to our suffering. You will likely have to practice this many times a day at first, but if you are intentional about it you will soon find that it helps you to untie from your husband’s addiction and the ways in which it affects you.Learn More About Addiction
2. Learn More About Addiction
It is extremely important that we try to learn what we can about addiction so that we truly understand what exactly is happening.
I held so many preconceived notions about addiction, many of which were wrong. Those misconceptions actually made things harder for me because I was seeing things from a skewed perspective and didn’t understand why my husband wouldn’t just stop drinking.
After learning about what truly happens to an addict mentally, physically, and psychologically I had a completely different perspective, which changed things drastically for both me and my husband.
I believe that we make it harder on ourselves as wives if we don’t take the time to truly understand addiction.
3. Lean on Your Faith
Even though I had some struggles with my faith throughout the darkest times of my husband’s addiction I truly believe that it is what ultimately brought me through in one piece. Leaning on your faith as a source of strength and guidance can do the same for you.
Pray for your husband’s recovery, for God’s intervention, and for wisdom to navigate the challenges ahead. Trust that God hears your prayers and will provide you with the strength to endure this difficult season. Seek solace in Scripture and find comfort in knowing that you are not alone in your struggles. Focus on Bible verses that offer encouragement and hope, such as Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
God is there to carry you through this, even though it can seem like He is far away at a time like this. I promise you that He is right there with you just waiting for you to reach for His hand.
4. Practice Self-Care
We tend to put ourselves on the back burner when our husband is struggling with addiction. Taking care of ourselves just feels too hard on top of everything else, plus we are spending all of our emotional energy on worrying about his drinking.
But taking care of yourself is vital during this challenging time, and once you put these recommendations I’m giving you into practice you will begin to feel lighter, and to see some space opening up for you.
Start by working on setting aside some time each day for activities that bring you joy and help to alleviate stress, even if it’s only a few minutes a day. Engaging in prayer, exercise, or hobbies can revive your spirit and provide clarity in difficult moments.
Put it on your calendar and make it a priority. Remember, you deserve care and attention too.
5. Get Support
I’ll have to admit that I did a terrible job of this, which is probably why I ended up in such horrible shape by the time my husband entered recovery.
That’s one of the reasons I do what I do now. Because now I know that there is a much better way to go through this, and it starts with getting good support.
As I mentioned earlier, as Christian wives of addicts we often hide our husband’s addiction from almost everyone, causing us to have to go through this completely alone and without any type of support or guidance. But you don’t have to do this alone! There is help, so please take advantage of it. It will truly be life-changing for you.
I encourage you to either find some help locally, or if you prefer something online and/or more anonymous I invite you to explore all of my resources and programs created specifically for Christian wives at www.marriedtoaddiction.com.
I pray that you have found these five suggestions helpful. I know that this is an incredibly difficult situation to be in, but I promise you that it doesn’t have to be as heavy as it feels for you right now. By putting these things into practice you will begin to experience peace and a weight lifting from your shoulders. There is help. There is hope. I’m praying for you.