The Wife’s Story
We were married nine years ago. I had my misgivings from the beginning- his parents didn’t have a good marriage- but besides for that, my husband was loving, caring and devoted- I never would have believed what would come to be. After we agreed to move to my hometown, my husband fell into a deep depression. I did not understand the depth of his pain and suffering and he could not admit it to me. The truth is that he did not want to live in my hometown. He always had secret dreams of moving to his hometown, which he never had shared with me. Then he fell prey to looking at inappropriate magazines and browsing the corner shops in the city. I did not know about the extent of this until a few years later. For about 8 months he did this constantly, and eventually throughout 4 years, he tapered on and off. I could not understand why he would commit to stopping, and then six months later he would fall prey to his desires, then he would commit never to do it again, yet fall prey again a few months down the line. He had been seeing a therapist the entire time, and had hidden his problem from his therapist. For years I was davening that Hashem should help my husband, and when help came, I felt the light of Hashem shining upon us. Meanwhile he was working for our shul, and my father was supporting us. Only after we had a late miscarriage and my husband had admitted looking at inappropriat sights on his phone the day the baby inside of me had died, did he tell his Rabbi that he need a “specialist therapist” and his Rabbi gave him the number of a therapist. He felt very guilty for what he had done and he felt like he had caused the miscarriage. After a few weeks of seeing the therapist, my husband felt like a new person and that he could really share the depths of this problem and all of the details with his new therapist. At that time, he also found a very fulfilling full time volunteer job, and he felt like he was really making a difference in our city. His therapist found for us the GuardyourEyes.org Website. I felt like Hashem had answered my prayers again, and sent us the help that we need. I convinced my husband to join the Tuesday night therapy group as well as a 12 step program. I was so happy to have found help and support, and I couldn’t believe that there were so many others who were going through the same torture. The daily Chizuk emails are so inspirational. But at this time I learned that my husband’s behaviors labeled him an “addict” to his lusts and that was hard to come to terms with. I had denied for so long that he was an addict. I just couldn’t believe it. We are Lubavitcher shluchim in our city, people look up to us, come to my husband for guidance, and look how low my husband has fallen. I became very angry at him, and used his “addiction” as the straw that broke the camels back, to give me an excuse to be really really mad at my husband. Not only was he not responsible, lazy, not earning a salary, but he was addicted? I couldn’t take it. I convinced myself that he didn’t deserve my love. As I learned more, I realized that it was not his fault and that this is really a disease, and he must get group help and support. But I still was so angry. I really just needed to talk to someone who went through this! Elya K has a hotline on guardyoureyes.org and I called him. He said I could call his wife for support. I spoke to “Esther” and she was a tremendous oasis of support and help. I couldn’t believe that there was a real woman who had been through similar experiences as me- and she still loved her husband despite his addiction. Here is the letter I wrote to Esther after our talk: “Now after talking to you, after seeing how you can love your husband despite his "disease", I can too!!! Because I have to realize that his addiction is not because of me- its his issue, that he WILL and MUST work on, and I will be here to support him. Thanks for being there to guide me! Your words really touched my heart. At first I felt like it couldn’t be- I am smarter than that. But then I realized that I was not seeing reality the way it is. I must have put on a pair of black tinted glasses. You gave me a pair of rose color glasses. It says that “ain choveish matir es atzmo,” a man who is tied up cannot release himself. You saw right through me and saw my real reasons for my anger and hatred, what it was directed to and how I gave myself the excuse to be beyond angrier beyond reason, and I used his addiction to lust as a weapon to add anger upon anger. After I spoke to you, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my chest, like I was in a dark room, groping and all of a sudden light came shining in. I realized that if it’s my problem then I have the power to work on it. I had felt before that it was his entire problem, and I felt powerless to do anything. I realized that I need to stop focusing on what is wrong with him and start focusing on what is right with him. I need to be happy that he feels fulfilled in what he does and be thankful that we have parnasa elsewhere. I need to appreciate him for who he is, appreciate his differences and love him for the person that he is encourage him to climb higher. Knowing this will make it easier for me to work out our differences and be closer in mind, body and soul.” I spoke to my Rebbetzin and she told me that I have to be open and Hashem will teach me what I need to know from this nisayon. I should see the gifts in it for me, and grow from the experience. Proportionate to the darkness that I will feel, is the light that will come from that growth. Hashem is with me as I do my part. Maybe part of my personal tikun is to grow in the area of healthy intimacy in kedusha, to see it’s power, next to its possible downfall chas veshalom, and to see the positive power that it holds. The second thing is maybe through my hard times I can help others. This is what I am trying to accomplish writing this article. I would be interested to hear feedback from readers. P.S. I would not say that it is always easy. I still slip into the “anger phase” for a moment, and then when I start to go down in the pit, I remind myself of my mission, and I arise from the pit, back into the light and I focus on how I can work on myself at the moment. It’s a lot easier to sink into that pit, but it feels so freeing to be released. It’s constant work, but rewarding.