My husband had a meth addiction for the last three years of our marriage. I had no idea until he was hospitalized. I feel like an idiot. I had suspicions that something was wrong, but when I questioned him, he lied. I chose to believe him because I love him. He completed rehab and is clean, but my trust is destroyed. When he was using, he was emotionally abusive to me. He also bad-mouthed me to my children. We are trying to rebuild, but every time he takes a phone call or comes home late or wants to take a walk alone at night, I question whether he’s using. How can I drop this paranoia and trust again?
Drop-kick the harsh self-judgment. You’re not paranoid, you’re frightened, and that’s understandable. Your husband lied to you (that’s disturbing). He nurtured a secret addiction to a dangerous drug (that’s alarming). You knew something was wrong (that’s good). You asked your man for details (that’s smart). You chose to believe his responses because you love him. (Oops! Cue the sound of a four-wheeler screeching to a halt on a dark two-lane road.) It’s impossible to trust your husband right now because you don’t trust yourself anymore. And you don’t trust yourself because when your intuition raised red flags, you ignored those warnings. I understand. You wanted to be wrong because the idea that your husband might be cheating on you or destroying your marriage or harming himself was too much to bear. When you found out he was betraying himself, the marriage and you, your heart broke. But you will love and trust again, have no doubt.
Trust grows as our capacity for radical honesty grows. So let’s honor the truth: Love does not require you to believe something that you know is a lie. It was your codependency that invited you to believe your husband when your intuition told you he was lying. Intuition is divine awareness. Don’t confuse it with instinct, which is sensory information gathered primarily at the behest of our fears. Strengthen your intuition through silent meditation. Cultivating inner silence encourages us to hear intuition’s gentle voice, instead of the histrionics of our unhealthy ego or our instinct’s fear-bred directives.
You can grow out of this paragraph of your life and into the next chapter by forgiving yourself. Acknowledge the codependent behaviors that supported your husband’s addiction. Forgive your husband for his verbal abuse, gossip and unkindness under the influence. Embrace the idea that you failed at having a relationship with an addict. Be grateful that your husband is now failing at being an addict. Enter into a relationship with your man, as he is now. When you stop living in the past, you will turn the page on your suffering and be free. That doesn’t mean you should ignore your pain, but don’t cling to it, either. It doesn’t define you. A 12-step group, like Al-Anon or Co-Dependents Anonymous, can help.
My partner looks at attractive women when we are together. He says no one else he’s dated ever mentioned it. I find this hard to believe. I’m on the verge of suggesting that we take a break. However, some people say women need to be comfortable with our men looking at other women. What do you think?
A reporter once asked the actor Paul Newman why his name was never linked with infidelity. Newman, married to actress Joanne Woodward, famously said, “Why go out for hamburger when you have steak at home?” That’s devotion. I do believe that human beings are wired to appreciate beauty, but a bobblehead (“Ooh, pretty! Ooh, sexy! Ooh!”) is right for you only if being partnered with a bobblehead makes you happy.