To Anonymous from Step One:
Thank you so much for your comment. Thank you! I really can not express adequately in words the gratitude I feel for the things you said. You were so honest, but so kind and encouraging and through your words I could feel a sincere love and concern.
I thought Mac gave a great response to your comment, and I appreciate you asking because sometimes our own perspective seems so clear, that until we ask, we have no idea what it looks like from another perspective. One of my favorite quotes is "Our view of reality is only a view, not reality itself." [Francesca Farr.] I admire YOU for being open-minded and inquisitive.
Now I'll adress your question because it deserves to be considered.
It has been absolutely encouraged by both the 12-step program and my counselor to put myself first. Here is a quote from the manual.
"Taking care of ourselves is not selfish; it is essential to our well-being and our ability to learn from this life experience. Applying Step One gives us permission to rest, give needed time and love to children, return to other interests and rejoice in all aspects of our lives."
I will wholeheartedly acknowledge that for some women this means leaving the relationship. I liked your word "toxic." There is absolutely a point at which a woman can not feel happiness in the situation or love for her addicted husband. I judge no woman for leaving, and furthermore she need not justify to the world around her why she chose to do so.
Having said that, I plan to stay, indefinitely, and this is why.
Because this blog is dedicated entirely to dealing with my husband's addiction, it seems as if this issue dominates my life. I rarely/never take time to discuss Pete's good qualities here, or the wonderful life we enjoy together 85% of the time. I am not a bragger/boaster either, it is not in my nature to give compliments freely. But let it be known; Pete is a wonderful man. He believes in Jesus Christ and desires to follow him. He is ambitious and successful in his career. He is a gentleman to me and especially lately takes time to let me know I am appreciated. He is not a perfect father, but he strives to improve and is aware of his short-comings. He makes me laugh, and he finds ways to execute even my most outrageous plans. This is only a small part of why I married him and why I remain with him, and says nothing of the memories and life we have built together. I am quite certain that should I be the one with the addiction, perhaps to pain-killers or over-eating, he would stay by my side.
Above and beyond that, there are other reasons such as our children. As you mentioned, the issues that come with divorce are many. Also, it has been said that divorce is often just an exchange of one set of problems for another set. All men have faults.
Lastly, in my heading I mention the promises I made across the altar. You may or may not be able to relate to this, but when Pete and I were married we made covenants with each other and with God. They didn't exactly say "Through richer or poorer, sickness or health, etc" but the effect was the same. I have thought about this many times. Deep in my soul I believe that God took me seriously when I made those promises, and I am accountable to him. Do I believe that God expects me to stay should the circumstances become dire? No. But do I believe that God will reward both my husband and myself eternally if we endure this together? Absolutely.
But I do not consider myself some saintly martyr who will endlessly suffer for the noble cause of her marriage. I am not endlessly suffering. Nor am I perfect, and Pete could probably write a blog about the bad habits/attitudes I have that contribute to frustrations in our relationship.
In short, I would not stay with my husband if I did not believe I could, or even presently feel happiness with him. In fact, I do not only feel happiness in spite of my husband, I feel happiness because of my husband.
God bless you dear reader friend. I hope this made some sense.