A Note from Chris Adams: We have addressed addictions in some earlier posts in this messy ministry series. You can read those here and here. Today Dr. Deb Douglas, First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA takes a look at women married to addicts. Read this article to find out how you can help these women.
She doesn’t know what today will bring. She hopes for the best, knowing deep within that she will probably be disappointed. But hoping for the best is easier than living in constant dread or not being prepared for a disaster.
When a woman is married to an addict, her life is complicated. She worries about how to shield her children from knowing the truth. She worries about not “setting him off” to indulge in his addiction. She works hard to manage her life so no one knows that her normal looking family is hiding away a multitude of secrets.
How can women’s leaders help?
First, we can help by understanding her life. Women married to addicts need others to understand that:
- She may be facing financial challenges caused by the addiction.
- She does not know how much longer she can manage her life.
- She lives in fear of what the future holds.
- She struggles to keep up appearances.
- She walks on eggshells, fearful that her actions may push the addict toward his addiction.
- She blames herself.
- She is exhausted, stressed, and feels isolated from others.
The woman married to an addict needs help. But she probably will not ask for help until things at home are desperate or her world has crashed down upon her. How do we help someone who does not ask? We observe, we listen, and we make ourselves available.
What does she need?
- To hear the stories of other wives of addicts
- To be in a supportive environment
- To be encouraged with truth
- To have a break
- To be reassured that her children can grow up without becoming addicts
- To have godly counsel for herself and her children
- To know others are praying for her, her husband, and her children
- To know that God is for her, and He loves her
- To find freedom from the guilt and shame she feels
What can we do?
- Connect her and her children with Celebrate Recovery or other recovery ministries.
- Pray with her and for her. Enlist a secret prayer warrior to pray specifically and daily for her family.
- Remind her that she is loved by God.
Two women’s stories: there once was a woman who loved God with all her heart. She loved her husband even though shortly after marrying him, she discovered he was an alcoholic. When partaking of his addiction, he became harsh and controlling. The woman turned to God. She faithfully prayed for her husband for many years. She endured by depending on God’s help, strength, and grace. She kept secret his addiction and the impact it had on the family. He finally accepted Christ as his Savior and with God’s help, stopped the addiction. They lived their remaining years in harmony and free from the curses of the addiction.
However, the family secrets remained as secrets. The impact of the harsh treatment was felt on the future generations, and with it the propensity to succumb to addictions. Future generations did not understand the causes behind the family’s dysfunctional nature. Some chose to seek help and understanding, others lived enslaved to addictions. The cycle of addiction lived on.
And then there was another woman. Her story was quite different. She talked openly with her children about addictions. She sought help from her church and from Celebrate Recovery. She asked others to join her in praying for her husband, herself, and her children. Her husband accepted Christ, stopped his addiction, and sought to live a sober, healthy life. This family decided to end the cycle of addiction with God’s help and did so.
Neither one of these women lived easy lives. They both faced challenges. But when the help of others was sought, and women partnered together in prayer, the outcome was much more favorable. By being attentive to the stories of women, encouraging women in the midst of messy stories, and praying with them, we can make a difference in the lives of families and on future generations.
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
Dr. Deb Douglas has served in women’s ministry for over 37 years. Now she spends her time working with Purchased Ministry, a ministry to women in the sex trade industry. Deb is also the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA. She was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters degree focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. She is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.