This analogy illustrates the importance of reliance upon God, rather than relying on the arm of flesh.
Imagine a triangle, with equal sides, with Heavenly Father at the top, the husband in the bottom left corner, and the woman in the bottom right corner.
In dealing with a spouse’s sexual addiction, there is an extraordinary amount of pain. The wife just wants things to go back to how they were before, or to return to the dream that was promised when she married her husband.
And so, many times, the wife will put all of her focus on her husband, trying to help him in his recovery or to find answers and tools that he can use to stop the addiction. As she does this, she often finds that she feels lonely, confused, consumed, dark, heavy, hopeless, exhausted, helpless, despair, and fear.
When she is caught in the trap of hopelessness and despair, she is relying on the arm of flesh – she is trying to rely on her husband to take care of things, and take her back to what was promised, or the life they previously had.
If she is pushing her husband to fix everything and puts all her focus on her husband to “fix his problem” as quickly as possible, or if she is trying to fix his problem herself she will be discouraged to find out that it wont work.
Her husband has to work his own recovery, she can not work it for him. When he says (or indicates) “…I can’t do that,” she may feel that he is being disconnected, mean, unreliable, irritable, frustrating etc. As she realizes that she can’t rely on him and his recovery for her to be okay, she retreats back to her corner of the triangle and again, begins to rely on the arm of flesh as she says, “fine, I’ll do it on my own – I don’t need you.” or hunkers down into survival mode.
Although she thought this would be better or easier, she usually feels overwhelmed, confused, rejected, hurt, abandoned, hopeless, helpless, etc. She doesn’t feel any better in her own corner than she did in her husbands corner. (Both corners are the arm of flesh)
As she continues to go back and forth at the bottom of the triangle between her husband and herself, she may realize, “I feel lonely, disconnected, overwhelmed, etc. I’m having a hard time and trying to do it on my own. I feel lonely confused, hopeless etc. when my husband is having a hard time. The emotions I want to feel though are the calm, peaceful, clarity, light, guidance so how do I get there?”
If she can look up, to God, at the top of the triangle, she can look back to the times she has turned to God in the past and ask herself, what did I feel when I turned to him before? She may have found peace, calm, clarity, guidance, direction, light, freedom, happiness, etc. If she did not have those feelings before, it could be assumed that those feelings are still feelings she would like to have in the future.
Self care and authenticity are tools which bring her closer to, and allow her to be able to rely upon Heavenly Father and find those feelings she seeks. Self care and authenticity means that she takes personal action in her healing, and it is a ladder that brings her closer to God. This ladder leads her out of chaos. The rungs of the ladder include spiritual, physical, emotional and mental self care.
Examples of these may be prayer, exercise, scriptures/conference talks, studying and gaining knowledge of addiction and betrayal trauma, mindfulness and meditation etc.
If she is able to take care of herself, then she’ll be more peaceful and calm and have more help through the trial she is going through. Self care is action oriented, and she must have continuous action to move her from her state of pain. Self care and forward movement do not take away the situation she is in, they help her work through, then find healing and growth during the situation.
As often happens with betrayal trauma, there is a feeling of not wanting to move away from her husband. She wants to be as close to her husband as she can to watch and make sure he is working his recovery, or she sits next to him with the hope that he will figure it out, constantly moving back and forth at the bottom of the triangle. With the God triangle there can be a misconception that if she’s moving towards God, then it feels like she’s moving away from her husband.
As she works on her own recovery, is doing her self care, spending less time trying to work her husbands recovery and working on strengthening and getting grounded in her new discoveries of self, does that mean she is moving away from her husband?
In reality, the beauty of this triangle is that where ever she is on the ladder – she is never any further away from her husband from any point in the triangle.
She can know what to do and have clarity and peace in the direction she is going instead of being stuck. She doesn’t need to be in a constant place of despair, pain and hopelessness.
She can be at any place on her ladder of self care and still love and have hope in her husband. As she moves up her ladder she can find the peace and calm, the clarity and guidance that Heavenly Father provides. She will have more of an ability to help have peace and know what to do for herself and others regardless of where her husband is at on the triangle.
Written by Jennifer Johnson, CMHC, CSAT. Jennifer does individual therapy for women suffering from betrayal trauma. To schedule an appointment with Jennifer, please call 855-229-2336.