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Question
Posted by: Fanie | 2020/01/21

Relapse vs Infidelity

Good morning. I had a drug relapse not too long ago. I confessed to my pastor who in turn told my wife. Obviously she got very upset and angry to say the least. I never used it with anybody, always alone. I know I know it's bad, wrong, etc. but there's a reason to be giving this info. I've been begging my wife for forgiveness. This is a process, I understand. She has posed me a question I'm struggling with. She asked Yes or No if she had cheated on me (with someone else I'm assuming) would I be considering forgiving her just as I am now asking her to consider forgiving me? What is your opinion please?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink
- 2020/01/21

Hello Fanie,
There will probably be rather different opinions among our readers here. Personally, I would be concerned about the pastor having broken his duty of confidentiality to you, by revealing your lapse to your wife.  In people actually properly trained in counselling ( which most pastors are not ) it would be considered unprofessional and wrong to reveal anything someone confessed in a confidential discussion, to anyone else, without the consent of the primary person.
Now it appears that rather than truly helping either of you, he may have created problems, and pre-empted your freedom to discuss these problems with your wife.
What a counsellor / therapist would probably do in such a situation would be to discuss with you the issue of whether you may have some obligation to discuss this lapse and related problems with your spouse, and perhaps encourage you to do so,  rather than doing it themselves without your consent.
The issue also seems to have become muddled.  If you have taken marriage vows, promising to be sexually / emotionally faithful to your wife, if you at any time failed to so so, you could be said to owe her an apology and explanation, and to ask her forgiveness for having broken an explicit promise you had made to her.
If you have a drug abuse problem, it would be highly unusual if this primarily involved some vow or promise you had made to her to never ever relapse again.  That might be something she hoped for, as, surely, did you ; but hopes are not the same as promises. 
The example in the question she has asked you is not really comparable.  As someone with drug problems, of course you owe it to your wife and family to do your very best to avoid relapse, and indeed you have disappointed her and let her down.  Yet the primary promise anyone with such problems needs to make is to themselves : to remain sober and work on recovery.  As I have often said and written, stopping drugs or alcohol is fairly easy : it's Staying Stopped that hard but essential.
Maybe you owe yourself an apology.
If you have previously agreed to work together to maintain sobriety, then the discussion shouldn't all be about her : did she owe you more of a duty of support and encouragement, especially now, to help you to stay sober ? Demanding apologies and making the other person squirm, is not helpful.
Depending on the nature of your problem, maybe you need the advice of a professional counsellor with experience in this particular field, rather than the amateur counselling skills of a pastor ?  Such a counsellor or psychologist could help your wife to be usefully involved in the plans you make to remain as sober as possible in the future,  so you can work together, on the same side in the struggle.

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