Who is She Going to Get?

Even though we’re in the middle of posts about Secondary Boundaries, I felt compelled to write about this today. This one is written to husbands to help them understand some of the healing process. I would love to hear any feedback from wives though!

It is important for men to realize that in recovery a wife doesn’t know who she is going to get. She is dealing with at least 3 different people as it pertains to her husband. Let me explain…

First, there is the “man I married”. He’s the man she fell in love with, laughed at his jokes and thought he was brilliant. She thought he would love her through tough times, protect her in life and lead her well. He’s the one she dreamed about riding off into the sunset together. He’s also a fraud.

Then there is the liar. He’s the one who was faking it, putting on masks like nothing was going on. He’s the one who stole her voice and her confidence in what her gut was telling her. That guy ripped off her sense of security and hijacked her sanity. He made her think she was crazy because she could sense something was wrong but couldn’t put her finger on it.

Next there is the man in recovery. He’s the guy trying to get it right, striving to live well, but stumbling forward through trial and error. Understandably some of the error looks a lot like guy #2. A wife desperately wants to believe her husband is different, but she can’t trust whether he is safe or just pulling the wool over her eyes again. She wants to be close and comfortable with him, but doesn’t know how close she can allow herself to be before the other shoe drops.

Why is it important to identify these? Because a wife wonders who she’s going to get.

Wives can be incredible detectives. Not only in terms of going through phone records and internet history type things, but in reading the men they are married to. In recovery, wives are sensitive to clues as to which man she is getting. They are listening to tone, watching body language, paying attention to eye contact, listening for words that may be indicators. Most importantly, wives in recovery seem to have keenly sensitive radars to their husbands heart. They know when that heart is hard rather than soft, gruff and edgy rather than tender, defiant and emboldened rather than humble and contrite. She’s reading all that.

When you are having a good day together, she wonders who is present. When you return from a business trip, she wonders who is walking in the door. When you’re hanging with the kids, she wonders who they are getting. When you are about to be physically intimate, she wonders which man is in bed with her. It happened at our house this week. During the conversation in an intimate moment Shelley asked, “are you manipulating me?”  In effect, what she was saying was, “which man are you? Can I trust you? Are you safe? Am I safe?

I urge you, husbands, to go overboard in reassuring your wife that she’s getting the new you. To be sensitive to her fear when she senses the old you. Whichever old you that might be. I advise you to roll with it and be patient when she sends a shot over the bow and it feels like she is trying to pick a fight; she may just be trying to see which man will show up.

Be the new you.



21 thoughts on “Who is She Going to Get?

  1. Jason, I think you’re right on the money with this post. It’s probably the most common question that I hear on a week to week basis from the men who are part of Men of Courage, “How do I get my wife to trust me?” I hadn’t thought about it in the way that you portrayed but you’re absolutely right about the fear that I think our wives have regarding which man we are going to be. My wife just recently started ministering to the wives of the men who are part of Men of Courage and she told me that each of these men’s wives have said that they want to trust that he is different or that I’m different but are afraid of being hurt again and afraid of being a fool all over again. I talk about this alot with the men and tell them that we have to invite our wives into a new reality and new world, one that is being recreated through the gospel and through Jesus. I personally do not like the word “recovery” for this reason because I think with the wrong definition, it sounds like you’re trying to get back to a point of normalcy or health. I prefer the word redemption or recreation since ultimately, what we are seeking is to become new men and for our marriages to look entirely different than they once did. It’s an invitation to our views into something new and the hope and courage to trust that we can be different comes in following Jesus rather than simply trying not to be the old man. I think there’s profound truth in that and power in that if we follow Jesus and continue taking steps of courage towards him and with him, we don’t have to worry about becoming the old man because there is a new man emerging. Thanks for your post and for your thoughts. They always get me to think and reflect!

  2. Great post. I pray for all men who chose to engage in the battle. Its definitely a difficult war to fight, on so many levels, however fight we must. Support groups are out there. Celebrate Recovery is a good place to connect.

  3. Good advice to be patient, but also if you are believers in Christ recognize the enemy is bringing the battle in her mind and an accusation against you. I will tell you something private to help, to make a point that I have shared only with my Pastor and his wife. One night my husband came home intoxicated, woke me up to be intimate and whispered crude language in my ear. We never talked about it. About 20+ years later the devil used this incident and reminded when He was coming against me with lies that my husband no longer found me attractive. There was some pornographic materials used in the first 10years too. I listened to the enemy and talked dirty during intimacy one day. This repelled him of course. This was a time when intimacy was becoming more seldom. Keep your eyes on Christ and pray for one another!

    • Hi Sandy,
      My takeaway from your sharing is a reminder that we MUST talk about the things going on in our hearts and minds. To think Satan used a 20 year old issue; we need not give him that kind of ammunition! Thank you Sandy for your comments and sharing part of your story.

      • You are welcome, Jason. Thank you for the post! I am so aware of “perfect love casting out fear” now that I am very free to be me….we definitely need to talk about what is going on in the mind and heart as you said! Blessings! Thank you for the post!

  4. Thank you for giving people like me hope that my feelings and i are not alone. My husband is constantly moving between the three personalities you describe above. He spends most of his time as the second person lately and Im not sure if the first person ever existed at all. Confusion quickly has set in while trying to navigate my way thru this tangled web of sexual addiction. I personally have found it to be more challenging than other relationships where men physically or mentally abused me. This type of emotional abuse has taken me places I never knew existed. Please pray for my husband as he travels thru the journey of fighting his addiction.

    • Thank you for chiming in. You are NOT alone. And I hear consistently from wives exactly what you said, “this has taken me places I never knew existed”. So many wives, while trying to figure out which husband they are dealing with, end up losing themselves too. Stay rooted in Christ as your source of identity.
      Hang in there.

  5. Thanks Jason.

    I know exactly what you are talking about. It has been tough for me when some of those “shots across the bow” are being launched. I feel like running, or lashing back, or even despairing and making her pain all about me (what a narcissist).

    Repentance looks like staying. It looks like sorrow for our role as perpetrator in our wife’s story. Repentance is not demanding credit for all of the progress of recovery.

    • Ouch….I feel convicted Chris. Your last line strikes a chord with me: not demanding credit for progress. Shouldn’t it be enough that God is pleased with our progress, as a function of His work in us? But I want my wife to recognize it too; and not only that, to acknowledge it too. Thanks for the input!

      • Thank you Chris. Your input is strong and to the point! As a wife in this battle, that last line you wrote is something that is “used” for “his” gain when he must be feeling he has nothing else to barter with in our marriage. I can, and do appreciate the work my husband has done in the last year. While he was doing his work he was humble and repenting. He has begun to relax since he hit the “1 yr” mark (EMB attendance) and I see him sliding backwards some, mostly with a narcissistic attitude.

        Thank you again for your input.

      • Jason,
        I wish you had gone through what I have gone through. My wife left me for a cop on steroids. I still do not know when David bounced his eyes away from a beautiful woman.
        Being faithful to a woman got me nothing but heartache! Why did I EVER TRY to be faithful to this woman? God made man in His image and woman in man’s image…He also gave polygamy to men. I am the fool who tried to please a woman by giving her my heart!
        Imagine David bouncing his eyes? It is just not there!!!
        I wish you would explain this to me. God even outlined in Lev who/where polygamy and how it was to be governed. Me, just a fool who tried to live by our non-Biblical marriage of one man/one woman. Yes, God planned this in the garden of eden but this was before a sinful fall.

  6. Yes…On any given day I don’t know who I’m getting when he gets up in the morning, talks on the phone with me, or walks through the door in the evening. I can get all three in one day. Confusion?? Uh, yes. Then my husband’s narcissistic ways just about send me over the top. He can explain all that is going on with him and how it makes me feel as well as you can Jason, then snap your fingers and he’s someone else…battling over any word I speak, or any feeling I have, or any response I give. Just when you think it’s safe to “discus/talk” about an issue, I get accused of most anything you can think of to take the focus off of him. Yes, I can listen to a word(s), how he delivers those words, body language/eye contact (or not), his tone, and know he is guy #2. Guy #2 shows up a lot.

    I appreciate this explanation Jason. It really helps me understand “me” as well as what’s going on in this journey. I’m still not crazy!

    • No you’re not crazy! Thanks for your feedback Sandy. Hopefully your husband is as tired as you are of seeing #2 show up. That’s when the new guy is consistently present.
      Praying for y’all.

  7. Great article but I think it is important that as as sexual addict, your spouse needs to accept support for help in their recovery. My wife thinks she can help me. I have groups and therapy in place on a consistent basis to help me through my restoration. She refuses to consider a group for herself to heal. Therefore we are at a stalemate. I can’t recover on my own and I can’t restore my marriage on my own. Because if this, my wife can’t even recognize that I am person 3.

    • Hi Mr. Penn,
      Thanks for commenting. I wholeheartedly disagree with you. I think so often in recovery we, as the leaders, model what it looks like to change and actually pave the path forward for our wives to walk. Make changing so attractive, and the work God is doing in you so apparent, that she can’t come to any other conclusion other than to go get help for herself. Playing ti-for-tat and insisting she gets help sounds more like guy #2.
      You can do it!

  8. Thank you so much for writing that “Who She Going to Get”. I could really relate and just helps to read that and not feel so alone with all of those feelings. My husband and I are going thru this. He admitted to watching porn on a regular basis throughout our entire marriage. I also think he has crossed the line in other ways as well, but he will not admit to anything else. We are trying to rebuild, however, my husband does not think he has a problem, but is willing to not watch it anymore. I’m very wary that he does not think it is a problem, but will give it up “just for me”. I have no trust left, but want to make it work, but think we will be back here again in only a matter of time.

  9. I would just like to say that I found your blogs very helpful it just recently came out that my husband has a porn addiction possibly more we are still in the beginning. I only found out a few months ago even though i suspected for a long time now. Your blogs has helped me as a wife see things from his point of view and hopefully it will give me the kindness and understanding he needs from me to get though this. I haven’t been able to get him to consider a support group yet maybe after reading your blogs that will change. Again THANK YOU I thanked god when I found your blogs, I really needed some understanding about all this.

  10. also meant to mention he has not addmitted to anything either I am the one who did the homework found his trail all over the internet, it was also dating and “hook up” sites so hopefully he will start to be honest and come clean I have told him I don’t want this to end our marriage but it could if he dosen’t do something to help himself.

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