In my experience, when a man has betrayed his wife and family and his addiction has been discovered the overwhelming response of those in positions of help and authority has been to encourage the betrayed wife to reconcile with her husband, no matter how grevious the betrayal has been. In the church, leaders are told not to even so much as suggest she leave her husband. I am so dismayed by this. I understand the hesitancy to counsel for a divorce, but this is a sin next to murder in seriousness and the only sin that Jesus, himself, said rose to the level of a divorce.
3 And this is not all, my son. Thou didst do that which was grievous unto me; for thou didst forsake the ministry, and did go over into the land of Siron among the borders of the Lamanites, after the harlotIsabel.
4 Yea, she did steal away the hearts of many; but this was no excuse for thee, my son. Thou shouldst have tended to the ministry wherewith thou wast entrusted.
I am shocked that this is not taught more clearly to women who come to church leaders for counsel in the case of adultery and infidelity.
It seems that the church policy has been to ignore this very clear doctrine in favor of the social construct of reconciliation. I know that the Church is not condoning this, but individual Church Leaders seem to be taking matters into their own hands. Instead the betrayed spouse is encouraged to deny her own feelings of intense betrayal in favor of forgiving the unfaithful husband without any assurances from him that he will get into recovery for his issues. Nt only that, but infidelity and cheating is considered abuse! The number of times reconciliation is pushed on the betrayed wife is stunning! Women all over the church and from all walks of life are being encouraged to suffer more abuse silently in support of a porn or sex addicted husband. I knew several women in my support group that had been supporting thier husbands in their addictions for 20 years! I could not see myself doing this. I would not allow myself to wither and die on the vine while he indulged in his addictions for decades. After all, I had no idea how long he had already had this problem in his life. It would be impossible for Church Leaders to know either.
In a return to solid doctrine, Church Leaders should teach that the woman with an adulterous husband has no obligation to remain with him. Indeed the scriptures are clear on this issue;
“In the Book of Mormon, Korihor taught the people of Zarahemla that there were no absolute moral standards, only “foolish traditions … which lead you away into a belief of things which are not so” (Alma 30:14, 16). In his devilish line of reasoning, people might pursue any earthly gratification without fear of punishment or guilt…”
“Sometimes we limit our own progress by thinking of minimum expectations as maximum goals. “Thou shalt not commit adultery” is the minimum expectation the Lord has of our conduct towards each other. The higher, celestial law is: “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.”
“And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out” (D&C 42:22–23; D&C 63:16). (reference to talk.) The Lord clearly sees this as serious. I do not believe that he would have his daughters suffer this kind of abuse in the favor of his sons, but that is exactly what appears to be happening, maybe even unintentionally.
I don’t pretend to want to, or need to, tell the Church what they sould or shouldn’t do, doctrinally or by policy. But I can address what I wish would have been done for me. Women who find themselves in my position do not have any frame of reference for what they are up against, so its a natural step for her to seek counsel from her Church Leaders, which is what I did. I was encouraged over and over to reconcile. It was even suggested that I needed to be forgiving and understanding of him and his feelings. He did a good job of convincing Church Leaders that I wasn’t supportive of him in his recovery eventhough he had done nothing to prove he was even doing recovery work. Therapists and experts call this secondary abuse. Victim blaming and shaming is a real problem. Too many Church Leaders, in their efforts to help the addict, blame and shame the real victim, the wife. To make this more complicated, addicts are very good at blameshifting back to the wife. Church Leaders often fall for their mixed up narrative. You will hear things like, “if she had been more supportive, I wouldn’t have needed to seek someone else.” Or worse, “if she took care of my needs in bed, I wouldn’t have to go to other women.” For a betrayed spouse, these accusations are nearly unbearable. Because the Church Leader does not have a basic understand of the denial tactics of an addicted brain, they will often believe him over her, effectively cutting her off from much needed support and help.
Reconciliation nearly cost me my life! Church Leaders want the eternal family to stay intact. I wanted my eternal family to stay intact! We all wanted to save the family, everyone but my Cheater! We all had the same goal and we thought we were all on the same page, reconciliation. But the Cheater continued to cheat without regard for anyone or anything. I would find out about 6 more affairs during the period of time that we were supposed to be reconciling. Even the professionals were tricked into believing his sincerity. So how do Church Leaders and Mental Health Professionals deal with the lies and treachery of the addict brain?
If I were ever to find myself facing this again I would want the following to happen;
- Those in positions of authority would encourage me to separate from the addicted adulterer until he puts together a plan to provide safety and how he is going to regain trust. Then they need to work with him to put together that plan and monitor his progress. Its not the wife’s job to check up on him.
- During this time of separation I would have been encourage to protect myself financially. Addicts who have no intention of stopping will hide and lie about the couple’s finances, he might even be anticipating an inevitable end and start liquidating or hiding assests. I would suggest a legal separation. When you discover cheating of any kind there are two people to call – a therapist and a lawyer. Protect your finances now. If you reconcile, great! If you do not reconcile, the separation agreement will become a template for a divorce agreement. A separation agreement does not mean you intend to file for a divorce. The addict will accuse you of that, but if he does that is a red flag. If he loves you then he will gladly support and protect you.
- Give him a time limit to coming up with an addiction recovery plan. I gave my Cheater one year, it ended up being 18 months. If they are not willing to do it in the time frame that works for you then they are just not willing. Period. Recovery is all about putting promises into solid, measurable actions. If you need him to see a counselor, attend 12-steps, visit with the Bishop weekly, and attend church, to feel safe with him again then when he does those things he will be building trust. Trust is earned in this case. At any rate, you will not be strung along for infinity with no end in sight.
- I would not move back in until he does the plan for a minimum of 3 months.
- If you are experiencing multiple D-days, he is not coming clean with his behaviors, and he is continuling to lie to you then you will know he is not serious about reconciliation. Its time to come up with an exit plan. Those supporting you should be encouraging of that.
- Have a legal mid-nuptial agreement drawn up. Should he do everything that you ask and you move back in with him and reconcile, you want to protect yourself from further cheating and abuse. YOU need to come up with a plan of what you will do if he should cheat again. HE needs to agree to it. Be sure and tie this to some consequences that will sting enough to be a deterrent to any relapses or slips. Again, see a lawyer for this. (He will also be willing to pay your legal fees.)
- I would have my Church Leaders, his Church Leaders, my professionals, and his professionals back me up on the above actions. The addict needs to know that he is in serious peril and he needs to make good on his promises, or cut you loose.
Too much is at stake for the Addict to minimize the situation and convince others that this “is no big deal!” It is a big deal! It is a divorcable offense and a sin next to murder in seriousness. The reason this is called a sin next to murder is because he murders the souls of his wife and children! His very soul and salvation is at stake, not to mention his marriage and family. It would be great if everyone concerned treated it with the correct level of seriousness.
The Cupcake Warrior
Be Sweet, Stay Strong