Early in my recovery, I remember my husband saying I reminded him of Lucy, the character in the Peanuts comic strip. As he referred to himself as Charlie Brown, every time he tried to make an effort to move forward in recovery, I would pull the football out from under him, as he tried to kick it out onto the field.
I believe many of us as women (perhaps unknowingly) do this to our partner on a regular basis. Some of us even excuse ourselves from the game, refusing to participate in his efforts to do well in his recovery. In essence, many of us don’t believe recovery applies to us. Why should we go to counseling or do our own 12 step recovery program when it’s our husband who got us into this mess? If you can relate, this article is for you.
What we as women don’t realize is the damage we are causing to our husband each time we pull the football out from under him. I’ve seen women who are claiming their husband isn’t doing what he needs to do in order to recover from sex addiction or intimacy anorexia; however, what they view as not doing the work, I view entirely differently. Many times what women describe in their discussions with me only make me wish my husband would’ve behaved in such a loving way, but he didn’t – at least not that early in recovery. I know I shouldn’t compare my partner to others; however, I need women to realize that their husband IS making progress – even though they don’t believe he is.
We have no idea the effort it takes for a man to choose to do the right thing day after day when he has lived this lifestyle for decades. We are constantly removing the football so that he has no reasonable opportunity to satisfy our need for him to be moving forward in his recovery. Instead of celebrating a huge milestone, we shame him, tear him down and remove the opportunity to restore the relationship.
As a remedy to this, I recommend women join their husband in recovery. When we have been wounded so deeply by our partner, we desperately want him to feel our pain that his actions created, so why are we so unwilling to seek help to heal that pain? If we don’t join him, how will we ever experience the true freedom of recovery and a restored relationship? If we are constantly bombarding him that it’s all his fault, we are no better. We’ve just mastered the role of being a victim and playing the blame game.
I believe if we truly love our husband, we will join him in the process of recovery. We’ll take that first step to attend an intensive with him, schedule a couple’s session, even join a women’s support group or at least hold the football so he has a chance. I can’t tell you the number of books I read to try and understand this addiction when it was first disclosed to me. What I didn’t realize was that I did blame him and thought I was just supporting him through his recovery. It wasn’t until I embraced my own recovery that our relationship really changed and began to move forward in the direction we both ultimately desired. It was only when I actually held the football and waited to see how far it could go that things began to improve. Before that time, I was simply sabotaging my own marriage.
Because I made the mistake of not truly walking alongside my husband in my own recovery for quite some time, I hope I can convince some of you to get in the game… and hold the football. Maybe even kick the football yourself to see how far it can go. You’ll never know unless you try, and this could have a significant impact on your husband and the progress he can make in his own recovery as well.
So, what will you do? Will you continue to pull the football out from under him, hold the football steady so he has an opportunity or even decide to kick the football on your own?
The choice is yours.
Kerry Schortzman is the Director of Operations at Transformed Hearts Counseling Center as well as an author and speaker. She has traveled the road of recovery alongside her husband through the wildfires of intimacy anorexia. She has a heart and passion to see healing and restoration in relationships and marriages as well as to bring public awareness to eliminate sex and human trafficking. Kerry has been married since 1998 and lives in Colorado with her husband and four daughters. She and Cory have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.