“I wonder if I’m really a sexaholic after all,” said my husband one day after a year or so in recovery. “Maybe I really don’t need those meetings and the program.” Panic overwhelmed me, and in my mind’s eye, I could see a dark future – my husband undertaking a series of progressively more risky behaviors, culminating with his going back “out there” to have another affair or two or three, and our marriage in shambles. My first instinct was to marshal the evidence to convince him that indeed he is a sexaholic. I mentally ran through all the events of the past which proved conclusively that he was powerless over his sexual behavior, and I was about to remind him of them in case he had forgotten.
But I too have been in recovery for a year, and I remembered all the times we had talked in meetings about “Letting go and letting God”. A little inner voice told me this was one of those times. So I bit my tongue and said nothing, just nodded to let him know I had been listening. I hoped he wouldn’t notice my inner turmoil, agitation, and fear.
A little while later my husband said “I’ve been thinking about it and I guess I am a sexaholic after all. I think I’ll go to a meeting tonight”.
What would have happened if I had followed my first instinct and launched a barrage of arguments? Probably he would have felt attacked and would have rushed to defend the position that he was not an addict He would have seen me as controlling. There would have been tension between us. He would have had a stake in maintaining his original position. Instead, because I had kept quiet, he was able to think through the possibility that he was not an addict and to conclude, on his own, that he was. I am sure that this conclusion was more convincing to him than if it had come as a result of my efforts to persuade him.
Just as I have to work my own program, my husband has to work his. When I interfere, or try to make things turn out the way I think they should, I am only impeding the process. When I feel compelled to interfere, I need to examine my own motivation. Am I frightened of abandonment? Am I afraid to trust the program? I need to keep the focus on myself, and trust that my husband, with the help of his Higher Power, will work through the problem without my “help.”
Reprinted from the Summer 1991 issue of The S-Anews©.