Recovery Resentment

I want to write about a strange phenomenon that happens for wives in the recovery process that I’ll call Recovery Resentment.

The confusing thing about this resentment is it seems to show up most often when a husband is doing really well in his recovery work. You might think a wife would be happy, thankful and excited about the changes she sees, yet at times she may seem angry about it.

What typically happens is a husband gets discovered or does disclosure, gets plugged into counseling, attends an Every Man’s Battle workshop, jumps into a group or develops friendships and becomes accountable, and finds himself hopeful about his future. For some guys, it’s the most free they’ve ever felt, and they experience joy unlike anything in a long time. There are powerful insights about addiction and personal idiosyncrasies, and realizations that can sometimes explain decades of lifestyle choices.

Then there’s his wife. She gets the backpack of his pain. She has to reconcile her whole life and make sense of her hunches and where she overlooked the clues. She has to find a way to not feel crazy as she looks back on her life. She has to struggle through sticking around, riding the roller-coaster of feeling love towards her husband one minute, hate the next. The disparity between how joyful and hopeful he is and how hopeless and devastated she feels becomes stark. For some wives, this is where resentment starts to creep in. And it’s a real catch-22: she feels resentment that she’s been put in this situation, and also resentment that her husband is changing and things may be getting better. Talk about confusing!

Here are some things I hear from wives that indicate the recovery resentment is building:

  • “He starts to feel better and I start to feel worse”
  • “He gets to attend a retreat, while I am stuck giving up more time of my life to his recovery.”
  • “He gets to hang out at breakfast with his friends once a week while I’m stuck getting the kids ready for school”
  • “I have to struggle through a day of triggers reminded of pain and feeling anxiety, while he seems to pass the day without thinking anything of it or feeling any remorse.”
  • “We’re having to spend money cleaning up his mess, when for years I’ve wanted to spend money on _______ and he’s refused to do so.”
  • And finally, one I heard last week that I think strikes such a chord for so many wives, “Sure, he’s changing, but who is he becoming? And how long do I have to wait to see if I like who he becomes? I don’t want to waste more of my life only to find out I don’t like who he is, or worse that this new man decides he is getting rid of me!”

The key here is to remember that the emotional craziness and the building resentment are all part of the grieving process. Not everyone grieves in the same way, but know if you (or your wife) experiences recovery resentment it is not abnormal. It is grieving, and that means making sense of chaos.

A few steps to take if you’re a husband watching your wife experience this:

1)   Don’t call her crazy or too difficult to please.

2)   Be patient, continuing to put one foot in front of the other and work your recovery.

3)   Let your heart break that your actions have brought this on.

4)   With input from your accountability folks, make sure you are diligently practicing empathy. Your excitement for your recovery and new found freedom cannot overshadow your connection to your wife’s pain.

5)   See #1

 

For wives going through it, a few suggestions:

1)   Be sure you have your own support; women who can help you process the resentment without having to make decisions based on it.

2)   Make time for yourself, and give yourself permission to use that time.

3)   Insist he maintain his commitments to the household on top of recovery work.

4)   Remember that his enthusiasm for his recovery is a good thing. There is growth. Its not the same old, same old. You can certainly ask him to temper his enthusiasm, but don’t forget that his excitement for change is a direct offset to his stubbornness to stay the same.

 

KitchenConversation – Triggers and Trust

Apologies in advance….this one is a long one…

Watch for Part 2 soon!

 

Love – ego, brownie points and modesty

Love does not boast. When I think of boasting, I think of an arrogant narcissist. I sometimes resemble that definition. But, that isn’t exactly what the verse is pointing to. The idea herein is that of vainglory (a new word to me, but one that I like), which means “having or showing too much pride in your abilities or achievements”. Add to that, the idea of love not being proud. The Greek word there is, physioō. It means to be puffed up, to bear one’s self loftily. This falls under a broader definition, meaning to inflate, blow up, to cause to swell up. It is rooted in the context of a bellows; a device that produces a strong current of air when its sides are pressed together.

That’s interesting isn’t it?

Love isn’t full of a bunch of hot air!

Okay, that’s not what the verse it pointing to either.

Loving well means not getting an inflated ego because of loving well.

When we love well we don’t have to bring our spouses attention to where we’ve loved or served them. Ever feel inclined to do that? I sure do. I want to make darn sure Shelley knows how well I’ve loved her! So sometimes I try to point out those places – “Did you notice I unloaded the dishwasher?” “Remember, I came home early the other day so you wouldn’t have to worry about picking up our son from school.”

I notice that I am most likely to do this when I’m angling for something personally. Like when I want to get some extra time solo, or I want to go do something that will stretch how much time Shelley will have to be with our 3 boys without my help.

Another take-away: Love doesn’t use service as brownie points or leverage.

Well, crap. Here again, love doesn’t seem to be benefiting the lover, only the loved.

Let’s keep going.

Love does not, some translations say, behave unseemly or unbecomingly. This one is really difficult to unpack. The word origin casts a wide net from dealing with nakedness, shame and modesty to simply being rude or crude. Honestly, I don’t know where this one lands. So I’m going out on a limb a bit.

After researching it, what strikes me is the notion of decency and modesty. In a sense, it’s like Paul is saying that Love doesn’t make crude remarks, jokes filled with sexual innuendo, or lewd comments. Love wouldn’t behave in a way that brings disgrace or embarrassment to the person who sees or hears it. Further, Love would seek to protect against those things. Applied to loving my spouse, I wouldn’t make those types of comments to her, towards her, nor about other people. I would protect her from that stuff; including from people who might act that way and from media that would perpetuate that junk too. Have you ever noticed how casually the crude comments are used in prime time television?

Boiling it down, Love protects the virtues of decency and modesty.

Wow, how sexual integrity issues are the antithesis of love. By the very nature of the thing, I cannot love my spouse and be using pornography, visiting strip clubs, massage parlors or prostitutes. I cannot love my wife and insist she mimic what I’ve seen a mistress or the women in porn wear, do or say.

Wrapping this post up, I feel convicted, yet again. And I’m looking forward to seeing how all this ends up benefiting the lover, not just the loved one.