Early in my husband’s recovery process he and I fell into a common trap of self-reliance. He felt a lot of shame in his acting out behaviors and I carried that shame with him. In our self-reliant, will powered attempts to get well we often found ourselves isolated from others. In our shame we hid what was really going on and made attempts to find recovery on our own. That plan never works.
When we were alone with our struggles I was often my husbands point of accountability. When he stumbled he would tell me where he had gone, what sites he had visited, or who he had been with all in the name of confession. The crazy thing is, at the time I thought I wanted to know. My need for control made me think that if I knew everything I could help fix things. I was wrong.
As we experienced defeat again and again we eventually realized that we actually did need to bring others into our experience. We found people we trusted and asked them to help us in the healing process. Accountability was established out of those relationships and in the end his accountability didn’t directly include me. Initially I thought that this lack of control or limited access to information would make me feel crazy. As it turns out when I finally let go I started to truly experience freedom.
Through our years of recovery I have decided that I never wanted to be my husband’s accountability person again. Here are two of the main reasons why:
First, it defeated the purpose of accountability. Galatians 6:1 reads: “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” Accountability is all about gentle restoration. An accountability partner will gently restore their Brother with love and instruction and without shame or anger. When I was on the frontline of accountability I would confront my husband with hurt and anger at the first sign of sin. If I found out he was on a site he should not have been on I would confront him in a way that was far from gentle. On the same token, knowing that my reaction would not be one of grace, my husband was never likely to come to me when he was struggling with temptation. He was on his own.
Second, it put our marriage out of balance. Despite my fierce independence I still believe that husbands are leaders of the household called to love their wives as Christ loved the church, and that wives are called to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22,23). My husband was in no position to lead during the height of his addiction. However, I knew that if I wanted our marriage to succeed I would want him to be leading our family as soon as he was able. If he is accountable to me, if I am the one that he answers to, how will he ever lead me? I believe that if this order was reversed it would be even more difficult for me to trust and respect him in the end.
I wish I could take back the years when I was the only one holding my husband accountable.
Through this process I learned that there is some truth to the phrase “the devil is in the details”. I can never un-hear some of the things I heard when he was accountable to me. The mental images of those details will be with me forever and I hate them.
Even though I don’t want to be his accountability partner I still need to know what’s going on and he has a responsibility to be honest and transparent with me. Now his X3 Watch accountability reports go to a trusting male friend. I have chosen to not see them. If something inappropriate or questionable comes up they talk about it. After they have discussed it, prayed about it, and made plans round it he comes to me and gives me the information that I need to know – and nothing more. It works for us and I am happy.
I would love to hear how other wives handle accountability. What are your thoughts?