Four Ways to Start Helping a Friend Whose Husband is a Sex Addict…and a Homosexual.
According to Covenant Eyes, studies show that 70% of wives of sex addicts meet the criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We’ve seen the affects of this up close and personal; so what does this mean for those who are navigating the fact that homosexuality is also involved? That dynamic adds a different dimension to the initial shock and eventual healing. No wonder so many of us feel ill-equipped and aren’t sure where to start or what our role should be, especially when we care so much about a friend whose life has been turned upside-down.
Sex addiction is one of the hardest issues to talk about, let alone to know how to support a friend whose husband (or wife) has been living a double life. Most of us don’t know how to handle the sex addiction component, let alone when homosexuality is involved. Spouses are told: "If you are wise, you will reach out to wise and loving support, starting with trusted friends…” Some spouses are left wondering where their trusted friends have gotten to or with whom could they even share such personal things. We’ve heard from friends who have told us that their churches are 'not equipped to handle this’ or they are told to get help for their ‘co-addiction.’ Good resources for spouses and those who want to know the best way to offer support are harder to find than we had hoped.
However, we’ve landed on four things you can do to support a friend in the initial days of the trauma. We offer the following as suggested starting points:
1. Be present and listen. She, or he, will benefit greatly by knowing they have a trusted friend who will be present and hear their story. No advice, no judging, no information gathering to gossip with later. Just be present, lean in and listen. This is one of the most loving things you can do for someone whose heart has been broken so deeply. Remember these two quotes: LISTEN uses the same letters that spell SILENT and the greatest gift you can give someone is your presence.
The authors offer groundbreaking new research, which shows that partners are not codependents or co-addicts, as so often labeled, but post-traumatic stress victims. This is a good reminder so we don’t automatically put a label on someone and view the spouse through the lens of her husband’s choices.
Let your friend know you are also reading this book. It shows that you are willing to invest time into understanding what your friend is going through and learn how to best support her. It shows a commitment to your friendship that is important at this time in her life.
3. Pass it on. Make sure your church, pastor, counselors, and those who have influence in your friend’s world know about this book. It's an important resource because of thegroundbreaking new research and distinct differences from other books. The authors start by explaining and addressing the trauma, and take readers towards empowerment, health, and hope. This is a book writtenforpartners of sex addicts, and they willnotlabel a spouse as a co-addict or co-dependent. This resource offers a much needed shift in counseling approaches so spouses can begin to find true healing.
4. Time is priceless. This is a life-altering situation that has rocked your friend’s world, similar to experiencing a death. She needs time to grieve the loss of the relationship and the life she thought she had. Don’t rush her, don’t interrogate her, don’t tell her you know how she feels (because you don’t) or that it’s time to forgive and move on. Just be present; make time to be available. Give her (or him) as much time as they need to navigate this difficult path.
We offer these things as starting points first, because we believe if you're reading this and can offer to do these things for your friend, you can become a vital part of her support team in the coming months.
Have you supported a friend navigating a spouse's sex addiction? Or are you a spouse who would like to add something that was helpful for you during the initial days?