OK, here is the deal. When your husband enters rehab, he needs space, time, and the ability to process his thoughts while learning to live without his go-to drug of choice. What are you doing while your husband enters rehab?
The Same Thing You Have Always Done
Yes, you, the wife, are left at home to manage all the daily routines, chores, bills and emotions. Add to that 300 chickens and you have a real party!
My Al-Anon group often joked that we did not get 30 days, 6 months, a year to step away from our daily responsibilities and find our serenity. Nope, we did it in the middle of dirty diapers, dirty dishes, and dog poop on the living room carpet.
As the partner who spent a lot of time making our family “look OK” from the outside, I was exhausted.
Deal with Your Resentments
With your husband not in the picture on a daily bases, it is time to deal with you. Maybe you were not the one “using” but, honey I can tell you I was not an angel. I literally kicked, scream, berated, belittled and emasculated my husband with all the manipulative words and actions I could think of in an effort to get him sober.
If there were a video replay of my actions over those years it would be my ticket to a locked “psych” wing of the hospital. Thank goodness God forgives and wipes our sins as far as the east is from the west.
Just to clarify, none of this behavior brought him any closer to sobriety. If you asked him, I would image it only made him feel more like using more. Setting solid healthy boundaries does not look like your wife discharging a loaded shotgun she found in your pick-up into the skyline at dusk.
I tell you, it was a good thing I entered Al-Anon long before my husband got sober. I was one angry woman. How could I marry a drug addict? How could I bring two beautiful boys into this crazy addict family? Why did I turn a blind eye for so long? How could I not know? Where the ______ ______ ______ was God and why did he not fix this now?!
A friend’s husband had just died in a tragic work accident, in my anger I turned to my husband, looked him straight in the eye and vengefully snarled, “I wish that had been you!”
To say I had a truckload of resentments to work through is an understatement. I kept records of all his wrongs and had credit card receipts to prove it.
There are No Justified Resentments
Holding on to resentments means that I have given someone else the power over me. It does not mean the act did not happen; it does not mean that the action was not hurtful or harmful, but holding on to the resentment after the action only kept me stuck.
By holding onto the resentment I had to wait until they realized what they had done to free me from my self-imposed prison. The one thing a resentment does well provides me with an opportunity to re-injure myself over and over with my own thoughts and feelings.
Removing resentment and blame from your life means never assigning responsibility to anyone for what you’re experiencing. It means that you’re willing to say, “I may not understand why I feel this way, why I have this illness, why I’ve been victimized, or why I had this accident, but I’m willing to say without any guilt or resentment that I own it. I live with, and I am responsible for, having it in my life.” Why do this? If you take responsibility for having it, then at least you have a chance to also take responsibility for removing it or learning from it. Wayne Dyer, Find Forgiveness and Peace, Hay House May 2016
At this point, my husband had become my enemy. My life and my family hurled out of control because of his drug use. What does Jesus say about your enemies?
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Matt 5:43-45
Sucks right? All these painful feelings and I am just supposed to chuck them aside. To forgive everything that happened. Including realizing that I was part of the problem. Really?
Yes, if you want freedom. True freedom is found in forgiveness. We forgive others because Jesus first forgave us.
When Your Husband Enters Rehab: Handle Your Life
This is your work while your husband is in rehab–to look honestly at yourself. Unpack each resentment and lay it out on the kitchen table. Eyeball it from all sides. What will it take for your to let this go? Do you need to set up a boundary? Who do you need to forgive? What part did you have in creating the situation that caused the resentment? What kind of grace do you need to give yourself, your husband or God about this situation? Are your ready and will to take responsibility for your life and your healing?
Get Clear On What You Really Want
Do you really want a sober husband? A full partner in the marriage? A person to build trust within this new phase of your marriage? A man who may for many years to come need to work harder on staying sober than on anything else in his life? Are you ready to share decision-making responsibilities with a sober person? Are you ready to drop the past and move forward? To let old injuries and resentments die and blow away? To be married to an equal, a co-creator of your lives together? To work on your own hurts, habits and hang-ups?