If your husband has an addiction or often engages in some kind of destructive or sinful behavior, you have 2 choices. Choice # 1: You can wring your hands in despair and do nothing…which means that his disturbing behavior will likely continue, and your heart will slowly grow resentful and cold toward your husband. That choice will slowly kill your marriage! Choice #2: You can courageously talk to your husband and request him to change his behavior (or get help in changing his behavior). From personal experience, I highly recommend choice #2!
Here are 3 keys that are especially important if you choose to address this issue with your husband.
- Be very specific about what you’re asking your husband to do in order to change his behavior. For instance, if he has a drinking or pornography problem, he will almost certainly need help in disentangling himself from this addiction. So search out helpful 12-step programs or reputable counselors in your area ahead of time and tell him that in order for you guys to keep moving forward in your marriage, you need him to attend a specific number of sessions over a specific period of time. I would certainly recommend that he attend some kind of program/counselor at least once a week for at least 6 months. Addictions and other sinful patterns are hard to break. He will need sustained help.
- Expect your husband to be unhappy about this request! Many husbands will try to blame you or other circumstances for their personal problems. Many husbands will also attend a program or see a counselor for one or two sessions and then say “it isn’t helping me”. That’s usually just an excuse. Don’t accept that answer, unless they are willing to try a different program or counselor right away.
- Balance your request with words of hope and encouragement. Proverbs 18:21 says Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Remember, you’re asking your husband to do some very hard work, so speak life-giving words to him. Tell him that you see good qualities in him, and that you will do anything you can to help him on his journey to break free from addiction. Your husband will respond so much better if you are compassionate and gentle, yet firm. Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.”