Dear Danielle…What if your spouse has issues with an addiction that he won’t admit to? We’ve been married for 18 years, had our ups and downs, been to a Christian marriage counselor and numerous other things. What if the thing that makes me so angry with him is the addiction he will never stop doing? My heart breaks and I just don’t know what to do anymore. I think he loves this “thing” more than me now.
What if the thing we want to change about our husbands isn’t an annoying habit or an odd personality trait? What if we are dealing with something much harder? How does encouragement work in the case of addictions or depression or betrayals?
This question has challenged me to think about how we would encourage our husband when it is hard, really hard. I’ve prayed about answering this one for some time before I sat down to tackle it, asking that God direct my fingers and provide an answer to such a tough question.
- Find your own healing. Know that in the midst of the pain and confusion caused by your husband’s addiction, God is with you. He alone is your source of hope & happiness, and whatever He may be allowing in your life right now has eternal value. I found in the times of crisis in my own marriage, God waited first for me to surrender and seek Him before He could use me in any meaningful way. It took supportive friends, praying family, professional counseling, and others who provided comfort from their stories of struggle to get there – find those for yourself.
- Realize it is not your job to fix or rescue your husband – only God can do that. God may use you in the healing process, but it is ultimately not your responsibility for your husband’s choices. You are only responsible for your own obedience to God’s Word and His leading.
- Being a supportive and encouraging wife does not mean you ignore the issue. Make sure the “help” you are offering your husband does not enable the sin. We cannot be Godly helpers to our husbands, encouraging them to be the men that God intends them to be, by keeping up appearances and never questioning their behaviors. Instead we must intervene in such a way that could persuade him to seek the help he needs, by communicating the “HARD” way – Honestly, Appropriately, Respectfully and Directly.
- Confronting these difficult issues is not easy, but God has laid out a guide for loving confrontation in Matthew 18. First, you are to confront your husband quietly and privately. “If he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by testimony of two or three witnesses.” Matthew 18:16. Based on the severity of the addiction, this could take the form of an intervention and you should seek professional help. For certain, it will take a great deal of courage on your part. The point should never be to shame your husband, but to lovingly express that something is wrong, that you genuinely want to help and that you are his ally that will see him through sickness into health.
- Encourage him in other areas. It may be hard to speak appreciative words under the shadow of addiction, particularly when it is causing you so much anger and pain. It will take a humble spirit on your part to remember “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 23:3. Your husband is more than his addiction. Your words have the potential to help him recgonize his value and the love you have for him, an earthyly glimmer of the love of God. Little encouragements could lead to big transformations.
Share your stories of how God used you to encourage your husband through a difficult situation. How did you do it?
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