Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: When a woman's husband is addicted, she doesn't have to face her situation alone. The church needs to be there for her. Here's Ed Welch.

Ed Welch: The nature of addictions is that they thrive on secrecy. They thrive in the darkness. And in part, the next step is saying, to the Body of Christ, "I need help."

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, September 4. Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: One of the recurring themes in the e-mails and letters I receive from our Revive Our Heart's listeners is this matter of living with a husband who has addictive behaviors and patterns.

Many women are crying out and saying, "What does God want me to do in this situation?" I want to welcome back Dr. Ed Welch. He's been our guest all this week on Revive Our Hearts.

Ed Welch: Thanks, Nancy. It's good to be here. Thank you.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Dr. Welch is a biblical counselor connected with a biblical counseling center in the Philadelphia area. He teaches at Westminster Seminary there in Philadelphia.

He's written a book and a booklet on this subject: addictions. And we'll be telling you how you can order a copy of the book or the booklet for yourself.

Now, for the last couple of days we have talked about dealing with our own addictive tendencies, but today we want to move to this matter of living with, particularly, a mate who has addictive behaviors.

And, Ed, I'm holding in my hand a number of e-mails I just pulled off my computer this morning that deal with this common thread.

One woman says that for 20 years, without fail, her husband has gone out at least once a week to a bar or casino and has not come home sometimes for 24 hours. "He's gambled away more money than I can believe." She said that she has banks and credit card companies and casinos calling her almost daily. This has wreaked havoc in her marriage.

And another one here with the issue of pornography. This woman says, "My husband's addicted to pornography. The hardness of his heart and his self-absorption have nearly destroyed our marriage." We hear that one frequently.

And then the issue of drugs. "My husband has used drugs for most of our 21-year marriage," and on and on. So we have women who have children whom they are also trying to protect and they ask "How do I handle this situation"?

The husband may be a professing believer; he may not be a believer at all, but the wife is crying out and saying, "I'm living with this addicted man. What do I do?"

Ed Welch: Well, I'll tell you the first thing I do as I respond to that is my mind always goes blank and I say, "Oh, oh, this is so, so painful," which is another way of saying these women need the Body of Christ to surround them. They need that. But let me get to that a little bit more slowly and try to give a few steps before we get there.

Number one: Everyone who lives with a person who struggles with addiction had better make sure that they know that Jesus Christ forgives sins. They must know their sins are forgiven.

Now what's the big deal there? There are a few things there. One is this: There's probably not one woman who lives with someone who's struggling with an addiction who doesn't feel guilty in some way because addicts are world-class experts at excusing their behavior.

And then when they're really desperate and they get desperate fairly often, the best defense is a good offense so the finger turns around, "Well, what about you, what about you, what about you?"

And there is not a woman in the country who's going to be able to stand up under that day in and day out.

Well, step one is, if you are in Christ, you better know that you have a righteousness that comes through faith and that you are thoroughly forgiven.

That frees you to go before your heavenly, loving Father and say, "Lord, search me. I feel guilty and should I feel guilty? Are there some ways that I have sinned?"

Now, that sounds like a harsh way to move into it, but that's just a normal procedure biblically for when we begin to consider the sins of another person.

Matthew 7:3-5, what does it say? Before you look at somebody else's sin, take a real hard look at your own and look at how your own heart ultimately really is not that different from the other person's.

Look for the log in your own eye before you look for the speck in the other person's eye.

So what happens when we look at our own lives before we look at the other person? We might say, "Well, I don't see the sins that he is talking about. I don't see them." And then we have to go back and ask him what they are--to be more specific.

The other thing I can do is obviously just go before the Lord and say, "Lord, search me."

There's a great freedom we have in Christ. To look at our own sin is not that bad. To look at our own sin means that the Holy Spirit is on the move.

So that is step number one. And it's a huge step. We must know that we are forgiven and then we can have the freedom to say, "Okay, and where is the log in my own eye?"

Now the scripture is very realistic and it says that then you'll be able to see even more clearly to help the other person with the speck or the major speck in their eye.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Okay, help me here. If my husband is a pornography addict or addicted to gambling, I'm not involved in those sins at all. But you said that the issues of my heart may be not much different than the issues in his heart.

What might be some of the sins that God would expose in my own heart that I need to confess before I can help him with the speck in his eye?

Ed Welch: The basic motto would be what are the things that I find to be absolutely essential for life other than Jesus?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And what might be some of those?

Ed Welch: The opinions of other people, the love of your spouse might be a very important one, food, romance novels (those are some things we have talked about before) are classic things that women can find in their own lives.

But just that willingness to say, "Lord, show me where my I wants are. What are some ways where I want my world to work apart from faith in Jesus Christ?"

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So even saying, "I have to have the love and respect of my husband can in and of itself become a sinful demand?"

Ed Welch: When it moves from "I would truly like my husband to love me" to "I must have in order to live" or "I need my husband to love me," that's when a good desire is moved to the screaming I want idolatrous desire.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well and that can really affect the way a woman responds to her husband, the way she prays for him.

If her supreme motive is to get her husband to behave, to get her husband to love her, to get her husband to be respectable, then she's settling for something less than God's best for her life and for her marriage, which is that her husband would be right with God--that she would be right with God and that their lives would bring glory to God.

Ed Welch: Critical, critical point.

We could move that even into a step two: When I look at my husband's struggle, my husband's struggle is not primarily against me. It is primarily against God.

In other words, my husband is in great, great danger. And in his danger, does his sin have consequences on other people? And does it hurt me and does it hurt my family? Indeed, it does.

But primarily, fundamentally, my husband is in great danger before God himself because he is saying, "I am committed to my own desires."

Now you see, when we consider the addictive person that way, it brings almost a pity for the person--recognizing that they are vulnerable to the wrath of a Holy God. They are in a very, very dangerous place.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And that can give me a heart of compassion rather than hatred or anger.

Ed Welch: How can we partner and help a person struggling with addictions if we're going to move toward them in anger or frustration?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So how can a woman develop, a woman who's living in this very emotionally intense situation, where she might think she's losing her mind because she's having to deal with the phone calls from the bill collectors.

And she's having to live with his anger, his rampages, how does she get herself stabilized and balanced enough to start to see this all from God's point of view?

Ed Welch: Most every woman who is living with an addict or is close to an addict will experience guilt. It's guilt that's imposed on them oftentimes by the addict.

They will often experience shame. The two tend to go together. In other words, "I don't want people to see this because this is a reflection on me." And when we struggle with shame, the last thing we want to do is let other people know what's going on.

The nature of addictions is that they thrive on secrecy. They thrive on the darkness.

And part of the next step for these women that you've read from, part of the next step is saying to the Body of Christ, "I need help."

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Even though it may be an embarrassing thing to acknowledge that this is going on in my home.

Ed Welch: It may feel like an initially shameful thing. So what motivates them is "This is simply the way God ministers to His people."

We turn to Him, we know forgiveness of sins, we know that He is with us and then He reminds us of the many, many resources that we have in the Body of Christ.

It may be appropriate just to be as open and honest as possible as a way to move against the secretiveness and dishonesty of the addiction and to say at least, "I'm going to talk to my pastor; I'm going to talk to this person.

And, yes, my focus is going to be on myself; but I'm going to talk about the environment that is a challenging one to me. I need to seek Christ in the midst of that."

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And that's one of the reasons that it's so important too that every one of us be connected to the life of a local church because in the Body of Christ, God has provided resources to help us in this process of growth and dealing with life's issues.

And I want to say to a woman who's listening to us today who is in this chaotic situation living with an addict, you need to make sure that you are a part of a local Body and that you go to a pastor, a spiritual leader in the church, and that you go and ask for godly counsel.

That's part of their God-given responsibility--to provide spiritual protection for you so don't try and do it by yourself.

Ed Welch has been giving up some very practical insights about living with a husband who has addictions.

We're going to pick up on that subject again tomorrow and talk about how to then speak truth into the heart of that addicted loved one.

But let me encourage you, if you're dealing with this issue or you know someone who is, go to the Web site, print off the transcript of today's program.

Both today's program and tomorrow's program will be very practical in helping you know some steps that you can take to dealing with this kind of situation. And that resource is available at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie Basham: Thanks, Nancy. That's also the Web address where you can find out how to get a tape of this week's series with our guest, Ed Welch.

When you order on cassette or CD, you'll get additional pieces of the conversation that we didn't have time to air. Again, our Web address is www.ReviveOurHearts.com.

Or you can call us at 1-800-569-5959.  This week is special for us at Revive Our Hearts. Here's Nancy to tell us more.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: This month is something of a marker for Revive Our Hearts as we're celebrating two years of being on the air.

I just want to say a huge thank you to each one of you who in some way has been a part of this ministry as you've listened and responded to the truths that we've shared on this program; as you've shared the ministry with others and encouraged others to tune in to Revive Our Hearts.

Thank you to those who have given financially to make this ministry possible. Those gifts mean so much. And can I say that the greatest gift that we've received from many of our listeners has been those who have told us that they are praying for me and praying for this ministry.

You can't imagine what that means to me. Some of those listeners have said, "We wish that we could support you more financially."

Well let me just say, "The greatest gift you can give is the gift of prayer."

So please pray as we enter our third year of ministry on the air that the Lord will keep His protection and His hand on my life and that the Lord will grant His anointing, His favor and His blessing on this ministry and that truly hearts and homes and churches throughout this country will be revived by the power of His spirit.

Leslie Basham: Would you write and tell us that you'll pray for Revive Our Hearts?  Thanks for your support for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

About the Speaker

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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