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How to Help Your Spouse through Addiction Recovery

How to Help Your Spouse through Addiction Recovery

Sadly, studies indicate there is little correlation between what we believe and our actions. This—the absence of integrity—is no more critical than in marriage, where we promise to do one thing and then do another. Integrity is required for a healthy marriage, not to mention healthy relationships in all aspects of our lives. 

Integrity requires that our actions match our words. It requires that we do what we say we’re going to do. It requires honesty, determination and solid performance. 

Jess is a man who has battled pornography addiction for years. Forty years old and a musician on his church worship team, Jess is viewed by many as a strong leader and Godly man. However, sitting in the pews watching her husband, his wife Olivia is not as impressed. 

“How can I respect my husband,” she said recently, “when I know he slips in watching pornography every couple of months? I am ready to divorce him because I can’t trust him.” 

Jess sat by and listened, obviously considering what his wife said. 

“I don’t want you to divorce me,” he said solemnly. “I want you to give me another chance.” 

“But I’ve already given you dozens of chances,” she said, voicing righteous indignation. “I don’t want our children growing up in a home filled with that stuff.” 

Jess continued to plead his case, indicating that he had every intention to stay away from pornography. In the middle of his protests, however, Olivia asked a very tough question: 

“What is going to be different this time, Jess? You’ve promised time and again and nothing really changes. I know your heart is to remain pure, but you don’t follow through. I don’t see you working any program. I can’t see how anything can change. Good intentions aren’t enough for my anymore. I need integrity!” 

With that I suggested to both Jess and Olivia that we critically look at Jess’ life and explore where his weaknesses were. I suggested we talk about what a solid Recovery program would look like so that actions could match intentions. 

Here are some of the ideas we discussed:  

First, Recovery means working a solid program. Recovery and Integrity is, by any account, tough business. Any addiction, whether we’re talking about drugs, alcohol, sex, food or gambling, to name a few, recovery must include a sophisticated and comprehensive program. You must hate your addiction and love the Lord and Recovery. 

Second, Recovery means solid support. Recovery and Integrity cannot be done alone. For as much as we want to be a strong individualist, Recovery and Integrity are lived out in community. Whether you participate in Celebrate Recovery, AA, NA or other program, get support. 

Scripture teaches, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

Third, Recovery means solid accountability and transparency. Scripture teaches us that sin hides in the darkness and therefore Recovery means being so connected that others know what we are doing in the secret places of our lives. With others looking over our shoulders, we are less likely to be tempted by sin and more able to live a life of integrity. “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead expose them… But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything becomes visible in the light.” (Ephesians 5:11-12)   

Fourth, Recovery means solid counseling. Any solid Recovery plan includes wise counsel. We must have wise people available and ready to speak into our lives. We must be receptive to this wise counsel and be ready to follow it. We need to follow the counsel of these wise and perhaps even confrontational people. 

Finally, Recovery means solid Bible Study, prayer and fellowship. Lives of integrity are infused with the Word of God. Scripture is “alive and active” and able to transform us. As we dwell upon the Word, our thoughts and lives will be changed. We dare not lean on our own abilities, but rather on the strength of God. 

We’d love to hear from you. What has helped you live a life of integrity? What has worked in your marriage to restore balance and healthy connection? Please send responses to me at and also read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website. You’ll find videos and podcasts on emotionally destructive marriages, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.

Publication date: July 12, 2016