Editor's Note: Do you need sound, Biblically-based advice on an issue in your marriage or family? Dr. David will address questions from Crosswalk readers in his weekly column. Submit your question to him at: TheRelationshipDoctor@gmail.com.
We read in the Genesis account of Creation that it was not good for man to be alone, and God created woman “to be a help mate” for man. And so, marriage was established for betterment humankind. God wants good things for His children, and that includes marital intimacy.
The Apostle Paul offers many clear images of how we are to treat our mate—always in a respectful and loving way. He challenges us to “Defer to one another in love,” and of course I Corinthians 13 spells out exactly what the marriage relationship is to look like. It is one of sacrifice for the purpose of building up our mate.
But, what happens when the marriage relationship is fraught with addictions and abusive behavior? Addictions occur when we seek illegitimate pleasure and attachments, creating false gods in our lives, and they lead to incredible destruction. We are not meant to have other idols or false attachments, and when we do, our lives become chaotic and dysfunctional.
Too many marriages today lack the qualities outlined in Scripture and instead reflect the addictive aspects of today’s society. The following letter indicates just some of the many issues facing marriage today.
Dear Dr. David:
I have been married for 25 years. My husband has abused alcohol and weed, and at times cocaine. He is addicted to the computer and online games. His every moment outside of working and sleeping is on the computer. He has been to treatment four times for the drinking and drugs, but he seems to never really stay sober. He has issues with excess credit card use, also. He does not show any affection. We don't kiss or vary rarely have sex. He always criticizes me and shows no support.
I have been unhappy for many years and wonder what I can do to change my marriage. I get blamed for every problem we have. He will not give up on any worldly thing that I have asked him to do so he can have a better relationship with the Lord. He gets into rages and rants and raves and says evil things. Where do I stand with believing and having faith for God to change him? ~ Worried About our Future
From your letter it is clear that you have many issues to be worried about. You are in a great deal of pain, and there are no pat answers or simple solutions. I’ll offer several ways you might begin to improve your life.
Gain a clear understanding of addictions. Your husband has many addictions, and you must understand how out of control his life is. Please read my book, Breaking Everyday Addictions for a clearer understanding of the challenges your husband faces.
Get support for yourself. You have many layers of problems, and you cannot possibly cope effectively with them on your own. We are not meant to shoulder these kinds of problems alone, and I hope you will find a group such as Codependent’s Anonymous or Celebrate Recovery to find support.
Insist on change. You can’t expect tomorrow to be any different than today unless you take action. Your husband appears to be addicted to alcohol, drugs, online gaming and spending. He is a rageaholic, caught in his own cycle of explosion and raging. He rages because he can! His world is very small, completely engrossed in his addictions. He cannot break free on his own, and it will likely take “hitting the bottom” before he changes—and you can help him hit that bottom.
Explore, in counseling and your support groups, how you enable his addictions. While I have no doubt you are in significant pain, you must decide to stop enabling his destructive and abusive behavior. You must set boundaries on his behavior so his actions do not hurt others, only himself. You are a precious child of God, and His will is never for you to be abused. Taking a stand will not be easy, but it is work you must do.
If you’ve experienced a similar problem, we’d like to hear from you. How did you resolve the problem? What works and what doesn’t work?
Dr. Hawkins is the director of The Marriage Recovery Center, where he counsels couples in distress. He is the author of over 30 books, including When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You, Love Lost: Living Beyond a Broken Marriage, and Saying It So He'll Listen. His newest books are titled The Relationship Doctor's Prescription for Healing a Hurting Relationship and The Relationship Doctor's Prescription for Living Beyond Guilt. Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives with his wife on the South Puget Sound where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.
Read more about The Marriage Recover Center on Dr. David Hawkin's website at www.YourRelationshipDoctor.com.
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