We regularly receive questions about recovery, so we have compiled these Frequently Asked Questions to provide clarity for your recovery journey.
We regularly receive questions about recovery, so we have compiled these Frequently Asked Questions to provide clarity for your recovery journey.
At some point and time, we have all asked ourselves many of these questions. Our FAQ's are here to help guide you through the fog and confusion to give you clarity on your path to healing.
Where Do I Start?
So, here’s the good news—even though at first glance it might sound like bad news. You can’t get him to stop. No matter what you might have heard about helping him battle temptation by meeting his every sexual need, it simply doesn’t work like that. People watch porn because of the dopamine and other feel-good chemicals that are produced in the brain when they watch it. A real sexual encounter does not do this. Yes, there are a whole bunch of chemicals that are released during healthy marital sex that promote bonding and a feeling of well-being, but it’s like comparing the satisfaction of eating a good roast dinner with snorting a line of cocaine. You are not comparing apples to apples. So, your job, as his spouse, is not to exhaust, humiliate and traumatize yourself trying to become a cocaine substitute for him, nor is it to assuage your misplaced guilt by turning a blind eye but to acknowledge that compulsively and secretly using pornography is a harmful and destructive habit that needs to be brought out into the light and dealt with.
Although you can’t ‘fix’ him, you can play a pivotal role in his recovery by standing your ground and drawing a firm line in the sand. As many therapists can attest, in the majority of cases, it is only when a wife finally puts her foot down and says ‘enough’ to all porn usage does her husband pick up the phone and book an appointment. Your job is not to fix him but to get him to someone who can, and we are here to help you through every step of that process.
For a good introduction to the basics of Fight For Love watch Rosie’s interview on Focus on the Family
- Part 1: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/episodes/broadcast/rescuing-your-marriage-from-pornography-part-1-of-2/
- Part 2: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/episodes/broadcast/rescuing-your-marriage-from-pornography-part-2-of-2/
Episode 2 “Fight For Love Podcast: I’ve just discovered my husband is doing porn, now what?”
I wish this wasn’t such a common scenario, but, unfortunately, even in marriages where the husband does enter recovery, there is often a time lag between the wife acknowledging that they need help and her husband finally getting on board. Denial is a massive part of porn addiction, and many cultural and environmental factors make this situation worse. However, take heart, just because you receive pushback when you try to voice your concerns does not necessarily mean that there is no hope and that things will never change. Strengthen your resolve and stick to your guns. Come alongside him and calmly restate the facts and your boundaries. Also, educate yourself on the impact of porn on the brain, most notably the decreased functionality of the pre-frontal cortex. This may well be the reason why your otherwise smart, capable, caring husband continues to make such bewilderingly dumb and hurtful decisions. His brain has been hijacked. His ability to override cravings and make healthy rational decisions has been compromised. However, no matter how resolved or well-informed you are, if your husband is anything like ours, he may be able to hear the truth better from other people. Here are some resources to share with him.
- Brain Heart World by Fight The New Drug 3 Part Mini-Documentary Series – Free to Stream. https://brainheartworld.org/
- Episode 37 “Fight For Love Podcast: Man to Man – Why Should I Get Into Recovery with CSAT Mark Makinney”
- Episode 40 “Fight For Love Podcast: Guy Talk – Part 1 of 2"
- Episode 41 “Fight For Love Podcast: Guy Talk – Part 2 of 2"
But if after all that your husband remains adamant that the only problem with his porn use is your problem with it, it’s time to grab your own oxygen mask and seek your own support. You are not overreacting. You are not a prude. You have most likely been traumatized by repeated betrayal and deception, not to mention possible gaslighting, manipulation, and abuse. What you need now is clarity, validation, support, and options. Although it seems counterintuitive to take your eyes off your husband and focus all your energy on yourself, finding the strength to set further boundaries to protect and honor yourself will help you find safety and stability and may be the only thing that reaches your husband. In starting your own journey of healing you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. No matter what happens in your marriage, finding your voice again is going to be crucial for moving forward with your own healthy, happy future.
You are not losing your mind, everything that you are feeling is a normal and common reaction to this earth-shattering discovery. 70% of partners meet the criteria for PTSD after discovery. Here are quotes from a research study on the experience of partners after discovery, (Steffens 2005).
“I threw up, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat…cried constantly.”
“I couldn’t read, nothing made sense…I totally lost my ability to concentrate. I got lost a lot.”
“My initial reaction was to shake uncontrollably – I’ve had this reaction before to death. This was death.”
“The initial disclosure was one of the darkest times of my life…it rocked me to the core of my soul.”
For people who have not experienced betrayal trauma, it can be difficult to truly comprehend the depth of the devastation it causes. Discovering the existence of your spouse’s secret porn habit is not just a nasty surprise, it causes changes in the brain in the way that we perceive the world, and destroys our feeling of safety. One of the reasons that betrayal trauma from porn use is so misunderstood, and unfortunately sometimes dismissed, is that people don’t understand the impact of ‘non-physical’ or ‘online’ betrayal on the brain. God wired us for relationships, and when there is a perceived rupture in the relationship with your primary attachment figure—when you find out that your spouse has been betraying and deceiving you by arousing them-self to images of other people—your brain views it as a primal survival threat. Consequently, you literally cannot stop thinking about it. You become obsessed and preoccupied trying to piece together all the little scraps of information to build a picture of the whole truth. This is not, as some will insist because you want to torture yourself, or your husband, with all the sordid details, this is your brain trying to make sense of your history. Without a coherent narrative of your past, it becomes impossible to predict what is going to happen in your future, and that makes you feel deeply unsafe. To learn more on this topic, listen to this deep neurobiological dive into trauma, triggers, and trust with Dr. Jake Porter, an expert in relational neurobiology and attachment theory:
And for those of you who feel like no one gets what you are going through, listen to this validating interview with Dr. Barbara Steffens, founder of APSATS, as she articulates exactly why having a partner addicted to porn is so traumatic.
Episode 38 “Fight For Love Podcast: Betrayal Trauma with Dr. Barbara Steffens"
If you have ever felt invalidated, confused, and manipulated, found yourself second-guessing your instincts, or had trouble making decisions, you may be being gaslit. Living with someone who is intentionally, or even unintentionally gaslighting, is a confusing, painful, and lonely prison. Eroding your ability to connect with your authentic self, gaslighting steadily robs you of your self-worth and true power. Listen to this interview to help you understand and identify gaslighting in your life and relationships.
Why did God allow me to marry a man who has consistently betrayed me with porn and other women?
As the betrayed partner of a porn/sex addict, women commonly experience deeply lonely and painful spiritual struggles. Betrayal trauma can rock the very foundation of your faith. We hope and pray that you are encouraged and comforted by the following conversations.
In the beginning, when your world has just imploded, feeling anything toward your husband other than anger, sorrow, and possibly disgust seems truly impossible. However, we are here to give you hope that miracles are possible. Listen in to these episodes as the team shares their hope, strength, and experience.
One of the hardest aspects of dealing with this is the dreadful isolation. You desperately need to share this with someone, but your instincts are telling you to proceed with caution, it’s difficult to know how your loved ones and friends are going to react. There’s also no guarantee that they will give you good advice, and in some cases may unintentionally shame or blame you. When you feel ready to reach out for help, our recommendation is to first spend time researching safe and qualified sources of support. We can help with this. What you need is your very first responders are experienced people who will listen without judgment, meet you where you are, and support your current decision—whether that is to stay and fight for the marriage, separate temporarily but continue to fight for the marriage, or permanently separate and focus entirely on your own healing. Now is not the time to be managing anyone else’s fears or expectations, your focus needs to be on you.
Further down the road when things are more stable and you are ready to share with loved ones what you have been dealing with, here’s an episode to help you find the right words and get across the basics fast:
Right Here! Step 3 will help you through the process of finding qualified therapists/coaches, groups, and ministries.
- Episode 25 – what to look for in a counselor with Mark Makinney
- Episode 5 “Fight For Love Podcast: What does recovery look like?”
- Episode 8 Tools of Recovery: Disclosure
- Episode 9 Tools of Recovery: Partner Assessment
- Episode 10 Tools of Recovery: Safety Plan
- Episode 11 Tools of Recovery: Period of Celibacy
No. We are a voluntary organization and unfortunately, we are not able to provide this level of support. If you are brand new to all of this and have questions about the first steps please refer to the foundational resources we have created. If you have a specific question about recovery that is not covered in our resources, join our support group and ask it there. And if you want to talk to someone about your situation and receive feedback please reach out to one of the recommended coaches/therapists on our resource list.
Let’s just remove the word ‘should’ from your vocabulary and reframe the question to ‘do you want to have sex with him if he’s looking at porn?’ Think about the reasons why you are even considering being physically intimate with your spouse when his head is filled with images of other women. Do you feel genuinely emotionally connected to him? Or is sex the only time that you feel connected to him at all? Maybe you believe that if you don’t have sex he will act out more, or perhaps you have been taught that good Christian wives never say no, or at least say yes every 72 hours. When wives of porn addicts override their instincts to have sex it is damaging to their sexuality, and, in many cases, physically painful too. There are two books that we highly recommend to every woman in this situation, The Great Sex Rescue by Sheila Wray Gregoire, and Rethinking Sexuality by Dr. Juli Slattery. We believe these books help you feel normal, validate your instincts, and also remind you of God’s design and purpose for your sexuality. Once you are focused on what you are fighting for, and not just what you are fighting against, it really will help you filter out unhealthy advice and stand strong against coercion, both sexual and spiritual.
This situation is both devastating and extremely common, and most wives interpret their husband’s lack of interest as a personal rejection. However, here’s the eye-opening truth, even if you looked and acted like the woman in pornography your husband would still act out with porn and sexually neglect you. It truly isn’t a reflection or rejection of the way that you look. Many guys, through their heavy porn use, have rewired their brains to such an extent that they are no longer able to be aroused by a real person. This is a heartbreaking and confusing dynamic that many couples deal silently with for years. You may even have been told by your husband that if only you looked more like this—whatever that particular ‘this’ may be—then he would be able to get aroused by you. Not only is this cruel and untrue, but it keeps you focused on ‘improving’ yourself, rather than challenging the fact that the focus of your sexual relationship has now become about his sole-gratification through objectification, rather than on your emotional intimacy and mutual pleasure.
The good news is that there is hope. The brain is plastic and faulty wiring can be fixed. Although harder to set boundaries with husbands who are sexually acting in (withholding) rather than sexually acting out, it is possible. Here are a couple of interviews with wives who, having walked this path themselves, are now helping other couples heal and create intimacy after years of neglect.
If pornography has hijacked your sex life and left you feeling traumatized, you may even find this question triggering. We are here to validate your experience and to give you hope that things can be different given the right circumstances. And fear not, no one is going to try and persuade you to participate in sensate exercises—where you have to tolerate increasingly sexual levels of touch—there was quite enough of that in your marriage. Turning this painful situation around begins in the heart and the head, not in the bedroom.
This is a tricky question. On the one hand, it feels good to be included in his struggle and to do something to help, but on the other, there is something that doesn’t sit quite right about any of this. If you find yourself in this situation, we recommend taking a step back and working through the following questions before grabbing your phone:
- Will your husband’s participation in disconnected sexual self-gratification help or hinder his recovery goal of retraining his brain to be aroused by emotional connectedness with you for the purposes of mutual pleasure?
- Do you think it will be harder or easier for him to resist seeking out other alluring images once the crazy chemicals start going in his brain and the novelty of your image/s wanes?
- How far are you prepared to go in terms of creating new material to compete with an addicted brain’s need for novelty?
- How do you feel in your heart when you think about actually filming or photographing yourself?
- Do you have fears about his ability to stay sober if you don’t create them? Do you feel pressured? Are you scared of his reaction if you deny his request?
- How do you feel about the existence of such material? How would you feel if somehow other people got hold of it, or your children came across it?
- Are you able to express how you truly feel to your husband?
If the goal of recovery is mutual authenticity, is going along with this request truly honoring yourself and increasing the level of trust and intimacy between you?
Firstly, know that this is a normal and common response at the beginning. It doesn’t mean that your wife will always feel like this, but at this moment it is more important that you validate where she is, rather than force her to do something she isn’t ready to do. What you do need to do is consistently show up as the husband you want to be, allow her to be where she is, and gently put some resources in front of her. Even if she is not ready for recovery just yet, you can still gain insight into what other wives feel like by listening to our podcast. This will help you develop empathy and help you to hang in there. Rebuilding trust is possible, but it only happens over time through demonstrating consistent trustworthy actions. Words mean very little at this point. Actions are everything. Focus on being the husband she needs, and let go of trying to control her recovery timeline. For you, getting into recovery and being honest may feel like a huge burden has been lifted from you. However, for your wife, discovery felt like a ton of bricks was dumped on her from a great height. No wonder she doesn’t want anything to do with you and ‘your problem’ right now. She is crushed and barely coping. You are both in very different places. However, take heart, after a full disclosure 88% of wives say that they would be willing to stay in the lying stopped. Be consistent. Be patient. Be honest. Do the work.
Here’s a great episode for her when she is ready to hear more about recovery.
If you are serious about wanting to learn how to empathize with your wife, there are great resources and training available.
If you are divorced or separated and need some guidance we have special FAQ's written with you in mind because not every husband chooses recovery.
Can I Enter Recovery Without My Husband?
Along with many others on the Fight For Love team, I (Ruth) have walked this path and I understand just how heartbreaking and scary it is to acknowledge that your relationship has got to this point. Perhaps your relationship with a porn addict has ended and you are trying to find ways to heal on your own. Or maybe you are in a committed relationship with an addict who refuses to pursue recovery at this moment but for your sanity and well-being, you have decided to find a way to start the healing process. FFL was started by women just like you for women just like you. We want to be that safe place for you to get your oxygen mask put back on and start your healing journey. There are a lot of voices arguing the best path forward and I can attest that the start of my recovery journey was the darkest period of my almost twenty-year troubled marriage. It was a heartbreaking realization that all those years of struggle and prayer had led to this place, just me, alone in a recovery group. I struggled with feelings of unworthiness. Other men were fighting alongside their wives, but my husband was not. I had been a good and faithful wife and I couldn’t believe that this would be the end of my marriage story. What I didn’t understand then was that it was not the end of MY story or the story that God would tell through my life. If you had told me then that I would be a poster girl of a lady going into recovery alone or that my story would encourage others to seek healing for themselves, I would have called you foolish because I did not see the value that God placed on me, His precious daughter. I did not see myself as worthy of healing, but today I know that I am a valuable member of God’s family and my healing and recovery were just as needed as my husband’s. I want YOU to know that YOU are worthy of recovery. We serve a God who sees us and hears our cries. He is just as concerned about His daughters’ healing as His sons’. Sometimes as wives and partners to addicts we lose sight of our value, our importance to God’s story, and how much He cares for us. We think our only value is as a helpmate to our spouse, but that is not the sum of our worth. God wants all of His children to be healed. Our focus should not just be on the addict recovering but also on the spouse who needs to recover from the trauma of porn addiction. My prayer for each of you would be that your relationship is restored and that your partner would join you in pursuing recovery, but if that is not to be, I want you to know that there is a community of women who have been on this same path as you and are ready to help you along and that there is hope for you to begin to heal.
One last word of encouragement. There is always hope. Just because your husband is not currently willing to pursue recovery, does not mean that he won’t be in the future. You starting this journey might be just the push your husband needs to start his own journey.
I think sometimes wives feel that they are breaking some sort of rule by going to recovery by themselves, this is not the case. You are allowed to start recovery even if your partner is not on board yet. You are also allowed to and should pursue healing if your relationship with an addict is over. There is no one path to recovery, there is no one picture of a betrayed partner. Your hurts need healing as much as the addicts do. It is hard as a single person or as a married person traveling this recovery road alone to find your way, but I know that it can be done. Putting on your oxygen mask –by starting therapy–helps you think clearly and get your bearings.
Boundaries or ultimatums are a frequent topic of discussion on the FB group. I think that most people think that drawing that line in the sand and saying, I’m going to get help even if you are not, needs to be this big loud moment. Mine was spoken in almost a whisper. It was a very subtle shift that started a series of small changes that ultimately led to a big change, but that first step was so small.
Is Fight For Love Advice Applicable To Me?
All of the advice given in the book and the podcast is intended for every woman who is currently battling porn addiction with her partner or who has been affected by her partner’s porn addiction. I would advise you to read the book, read the FAQ page and listen to the podcasts. Yes, some information might not feel like it is completely relevant to your situation, but you might need the information in the future. My approach to recovery was to learn all I could at each step and try to use it for my healing. Not everything applied to me, not everything will apply to you. That is ok. Use what you need and leave the rest.
For example, disclosure. I never had a disclosure with my ex-husband. I think it would have been beneficial to my healing, but I was still able to work through past hurts and come to grips with closure. I joined a CSAT-led wives support group and worked alongside other wives whose husbands were also in recovery. Each week we would all do the homework tasks. I would do each task even if I felt it was not relevant to my situation. One of the first assignments was a safety plan, which didn’t seem needed in my situation but fast forward over a year later, I ended up needing and using my safety plan to protect my children and myself.
I think what Fight For Love’s call to action to any woman, regardless of your current relationship status, is to educate yourself on the effects of porn and/or sex addiction on your relationship, how it has hurt you, what you can do to start the recovery process. I choose to approach this community and the resources offered and see our similarities, not our differences. No two ladies are alike and we are all here to learn and grow.
I understand these feelings. It’s profoundly painful when the people in our lives do not value us as much as we value them. That is how I looked at my husband’s choice to not pursue recovery. He didn’t value our relationship in the same way that I did. He did not value me enough to do that hard work of recovery. It was quite a realization. His choices broke what had been the foundation of my whole adult life. My whole life and view of myself were based on being married and the security I placed on that state of marriage. You might be coming to those same conclusions. You might be seeing your foundations crumble. I want to validate those feelings. Relationships ending are life-altering milestones and a wise person would stop and reflect on what had caused them to end. When you read Rosie’s book (Fight For Love) and listen to the podcast you start to learn about how the addict’s brain works. That was a comfort to me. My husband was tied to his drug of choice. He was unable to even consider that he could have a life without it. In recovery, I started to process that it was my choice to start recovery and try to grow healthily. It was my husband’s choice to continue on the path of addiction. He chose addiction. The choice had nothing to do with me at that point. When you understand how hijacked the brain is, you start to understand how it has nothing to do with you, the addict is only focused on getting that next hit. My husband had completely rejected his God-given duty as a husband. He had broken his marital vows in every way possible. He could no longer feel emotional connection and responsibility to me as his wife and partner. He could only love his drug. It’s hard because I was not an addict and I could feel the love I had for him as my husband and I could feel the God-given connection. My husband told my CSAT, on the only he would agree to meet with him, that we, my husband and I, had just drifted apart. That it was a natural thing that had happened. I remember being outraged. I had not drifted. I was right where I had been for all the years of our marriage, I had not changed. My commitment was the same. My husband had changed, he had drifted or more correctly moved away from our marriage on purpose.
I don’t know why some men want to recover from this addiction and others do not. I think it is only by the grace of God that any of us can be healed. I do know that it is not because some wives are more worthy of marriage than others. I am profoundly sad that my marriage was not saved, but I am profoundly joyful that God saved me. I am humbled daily by His overwhelming grace and provision for myself and my children. I am so very grateful that my story did not end with divorce, that was just the beginning. My story is one of redemption and growth. My soul was looking for healing and hope and maybe that is the difference between myself and my husband. I was hopeless and helpless looking for healing and willing to do the work. My husband, in his pride, was not.
By starting the recovery process, you are putting on your oxygen mask first and admitting you need help. Once you start seeing a CSAT or an APSAT and join a support group, your brain starts to clear a little, and you can think. You have been in fight or flight mode and you finally have the space to relax and process. Now you have support for you to work through your feelings and your hurts. If you start first and he joins you later, it’s not going to cause you to have to start over or lose traction. He has to go on his recovery journey. My prayer for you is that your husband does join you. But what if he does not? Why would you continue to wait for him? What does waiting cost you?
Recovery is an individual endeavor. We are on the same track together, but we are all circling at our speed. If your husband decides to start the journey later, you will just have a few laps on him.
I think that if you are going to start this process alone, you should start protecting yourself emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially.
Emotionally– That’s starting recovery, finding a CSAT or APSAT, getting into a support group. I also think you should pick one or two safe people in your life to confide in that you are starting this journey. It is very important to pick good safe people. It’s something you will talk about in your recovery group. A safe person is not just someone who loves you, a safe person is an emotionally healthy person who can give you wise counsel and understands addiction. Our FFL Facebook group is not meant to replace having a support group, but it is a great place to get good counsel and ask questions while you start this process and maybe don’t have those safe people in your life yet. You do not have to carry this burden alone.
Physically- Are you safe in the home with your partner? Are your children? There got to a point in my marriage where it was no longer safe for my husband to stay in the home. It was also no longer safe for him to drive our children and he could not be a responsible adult left alone with them. If you have gotten to that point, it’s time to find a safe place or ask your husband to move out or set up safeguards to protect yourself and your children. If he will not go, you can. Your safety is a priority. You should also be protecting your physical health. If there is even a remote chance that you have been exposed to STDs you should consult with your doctor and have the needed tests done. I am so sorry if that is the situation that you find yourself in. In my experience, your healthcare professionals will be understanding and willing to walk you through the testing protocols. It is a lot to process when you come to the realization that your husband has not taken your sexual health and protection seriously. If that is happening to you, please take your protection seriously and make your health a priority.
Financially– If you think your marriage is perhaps ending or could end, you should consult a lawyer so you can know your rights in your state. Then get a second, third, and maybe fourth opinion. Find a lawyer you think you can trust and see what your best options are. Most lawyers will let you pay for a consultation where they advise you on your best course of action in their opinion. If you don’t know how to find a lawyer, ask your CSAT for a recommendation. You need to have a clear understanding of your financial situation. What would the custody arrangements look like? What would the property split be? What will retirement look like? If there is debt, is it your responsibility? If you have not had a day-to-day view of your finances, now is the time to start seeing the big picture. Run a credit check. It might be a scary thing to think about, but seeing a practical view of your finances and how custody of kids would work, can really help you. I did not want to share custody of my kids. I did not want my kids to have to go through that. Knowing my rights and what a divorce would look like, really helped me stick it out and try to make it work for as long as I could. I went to a budgeting class and started educating myself on wise money moves. I made sure I understood, as best as I could, what my options were. I also started trying to advocate for us to make the wisest financial choices that would benefit us as a married couple or as two single people. There are many steps between seeking the advice of a lawyer and actually getting divorced. You do not need to feel rushed and you should understand what you are agreeing to. If you do not, ask until you do understand. Don’t sign anything until you do. Legal separation might be needed protection for you if your husband is being reckless in his addiction. It can protect you from his actions both legally and financially.
I would also encourage you to stop and think about what it will be like to share custody with an addict. Sex/Porn addiction is not recognized in most states as an addiction that would affect child custody. Unless your husband has broken the law in some way, his addiction would not factor in custody arrangements. My advice to anyone would be to approach separation or divorce with prayerful consideration and caution. In any divorce there are a lot of moving parts and factors to consider, with an addict there are even more factors and their behaviors can be unpredictable.
Spiritually- When I first heard about porn addiction and what it can do to a marriage, I was pretty beat up spiritually. I had been trying to figure out what was wrong with my marriage for almost 20 years. I had begged and pleaded with God, praying continuously and things only got worse. I had been told by well-meaning Christians that it was my fault and I wasn’t praying the right prayers or my husband would have been healed. I had also wondered if this was my fault if my sin was causing God to not heal my marriage. I considered myself to be a believer. I loved God, Jesus was my savior. I had grown up in the faith and was raising my children to be believers. My husband was the same. Going through this recovery process and my divorce changed my faith. It refined it. I drew so much closer to God and it made my faith deepen in ways that I cannot adequately explain to you. I had always talked to God throughout my day, but my prayer life changed. It grew by leaps and bounds. My prayers would be wordless groans, but I claimed the promise that the Holy Spirit would intercede on my behalf. (Romans 8:26) My worship life changed. Worshiping brings me the most comfort and I feel the closest to God when I worship. I don’t know how all these things changed other than to say that I was at my breaking point, I was at my lowest, I had hit rock bottom and I surrendered to my Father and He started to do good work in me. I know He was active and present in my recovery process. I know He guided every step. I know that if you surrender, He will guide your steps and start a good work in you.
If you are not attending church each week, I would encourage you to do so. Getting to go each week into my Father’s house and sit and worship Him would renew my soul in ways I can’t explain. I know that God is everywhere, but I do think that there is a special peace in those times spent in His house. It’s hard to go to church without your husband. I don’t know if churches know what to do with single people. (I’m sure it is equally hard to go to church as a married couple in crisis.) To be honest, I was not going to interact with my fellow worshipers, just to hear the sermon and worship. Most weeks the only time that a man spoke to me calmly and kindly was when I heard the pastor preach the sermon. It would remind me that not all men were like my husband and that there was a different world out there. If you are self-conscious of going to church because your life is messy, take heart. Jesus spent all His time here on earth hanging out with people whose lives were a mess too. The Church is here for messy people.
I would also suggest starting a prayer journal. I think writing out my prayers helped me. I put together worship music playlists. I walked and listened to the music and talked to God. I also read my bible daily and listened to sermons online. It felt like my soul needed to be as close to God as I could get.
Here are a few of my favorite verses of scripture that relied on:
James 4:8 (NIV) Come near to God and He will come near to you.
Isaiah 41:10-13 (NIV) So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.
James 1:5 (NIV) If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
I called on this promise daily as I was going through my separation and divorce. I know that God was faithful in His protection over me and my children and I know He was faithful in giving me wisdom.
Romans 12:19-20(ESV) Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Since my divorce, I have done several studies through Habakkuk and Lamentations. They have helped me process my grief.
The first step to a healthy recovery is to find a CSAT or APSAT and join a support group led by them. Many groups go through a book, have homework, and meet regularly over a few months with the same small group of women. Others operate slightly differently and may allow for women to drop in as many times that week as they need it.
My CSAT encouraged me to see my own therapist so I could work on everything that the group work was bringing up. That did help me. Learning to work through every aspect and relationship in my life in a healthy way was a lot of work. There was so much to process through. I had been numb for so long that when I finally woke up and could think, it was overwhelming. Having that extra help was beneficial.
After my group was over, I started going to an after-care support group that was led by ladies who had been in recovery for a while. This was very helpful for me to have a safe place to continue to be supported in my recovery journey. Because of the recovery work, I had done, I was much more able to see my husband’s actions and responses as unhealthy, and maintain my boundaries. I found that once I started living in a healthier way, being around people with no boundaries was a night and day difference. Having that support system was a crucial piece to my recovery and continued recovery. This journey, I have found, is a challenging, but worthwhile, lifelong quest.