Helping Your Husband if He's a Sexual Abuse Survivor

Helping Your Husband if He's a Sexual Abuse SurvivorToday’s post is a guest post from Jennifer Degler, psychologist, speaker, and life coach. She operates the website CWives, which gives women dares every month to keep their marriages sizzling! I asked her to write a post on something that I don’t feel equipped to handle: helping your husband if he’s an abuse survivor. She graciously agreed to do so:

One in six boys will be sexually abused before age 18. Apply this statistic to marriage, and you’ll quickly see that almost 20% of husbands have been sexually abused as children. How can a wife help her husband if she suspects (or knows) he was sexually abused?

First, let go of these false beliefs:

  • “If I love him enough, I can fix him.”
  • “I can make everything okay if I can find just the right words to say.”
  • “I need to get him to admit he was sexually abused.”

He doesn’t need you to “fix” him. There is no perfect combination of words which magically erase the negative effects of childhood abuse, and pushing a man to admit he was sexually abused (before he is ready to face this) may humiliate, panic, or enrage him. Remember, abuse victims were manipulated and coerced as children—the last thing they need as adults is someone forcing them to open up.

Second, educate yourself. While boys and girls react in many similar ways to abusive sexual experiences, there are gender differences. For example, female survivors often struggle with feeling like “damaged goods,” while male survivors struggle with feeling like they aren’t “a real man.” Most sexual abuse is perpetrated by males (although females can be perpetrators too). Thus, a girl is being assaulted by someone of the opposite sex while a boy is being assaulted by someone of the same sex. This creates in male survivors many fears about being gay or being targeted because the perpetrator “saw something gay” in him. Two excellent resources to educate yourself are:

  • One in Sixwww.1in6.org. Online resource with helpful, up-to-date information for survivors, family and friends, and counselors. Offers movie and book recommendations, and even a lending library.
  • When a Man You Love Was Abused: A Woman’s Guide to Helping Him Overcome Childhood Sexual Molestation by Cecil Murphey, 2010. This beautifully written book is for Christian wives and girlfriends of men who were sexually abused as children. In the first part, “Who He Is,” Murphey writes about his own experiences of abuse and healing, as well as the experiences of other men. The second part, “How You Can Help Him,” provides practical, compassionate advice on over 20 topics, including “Believe Him and Help Him Believe,” “Help Him Honor His Body,” “Accept His Shame,” and “Let Him Move at His Own Pace.” The author has also created an online site where hurting men can connect with other sexual abuse survivors: http://menshatteringthesilence.blogspot.com

Third, don’t become his therapist. He has much pain to work through, and this is best done in the context of group or individual counseling. While you should listen to him, if you are his sole source of support for a long time, you may find this straining your marriage. Encourage him to join a support group such as Celebrate Recoveryhttp://www.celebraterecovery.com or Christians in Recovery (an online support group,http://christians-in-recovery.org) and to seek individual counseling as well. Let him know he is worth the time, money, and energy required to heal.

Fourth, be patient and keep your expectations realistic. Recovery takes a long time and often is “two steps forward and one step back.” He may get closer to you emotionally and then create distance unexpectedly for a short time. This is what recovery looks like. This process can be hard on wives, which leads to the final suggestion below.

Fifth, take care of yourself. You, his wife, are the other victim. He was molested and now you’ve been affected by the fallout from his abuse. You will need extra support because his recovery from sexual abuse will be a marathon, not a sprint. Get counseling for yourself and practice good self-care (get 7-8 hours of sleep, eat healthy food, exercise regularly, have fun with friends, feed yourself spiritually).

What suggestions do you have for helping a husband who has been sexually abused?

Jennifer Degler, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist, life coach, and co-author of No More Christian Nice Girl: When Just Being Nice—Instead of Good—Hurts You, Your Family, and Your Friends. A frequent speaker at women’s events and marriage retreats, she also
maintains a counseling practice in central Kentucky. She is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and the founder of CWIVES, an organization devoted to helping Christian wives enhance their sexuality (www.cwives.com). She has been interviewed by Women’s Day.Com, Moody Radio, and numerous other media outlets. Jennifer and her husband, Jeff, live in Lexington, Kentucky, with their two teenage children. Visit her Web site at www.jenniferdegler.com.


Reader Question of the Week: He Won’t Take Our Finances Seriously!

'Questions?' photo (c) 2008, Valerie Everett - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/Every weekend I like to post a question someone sends in and let you readers have a go at it. This week’s question comes from a reader, who would like her husband to be more involved in financial decisions:

I am hoping maybe I can get some feedback from you or maybe the readers of your blog on this; in my marriage I am the one that handles the finances and it’s because I like playing with the money ~ lol!

The problem is that when I do want to talk to my husband about money issues, questions or such he gets annoyed with me and wants to have nothing to do with the conversation. I know that the reason he does this is because our money problems, mostly the lack of money, really makes him feel like he isn’t providing for his family the way he should.

I have never made him feel like our financial situation is his fault, but I do feel that as the head of the household he should be somewhat involved and its nice to talk to him about these things because you can’t go to your BFF and discuss something as personal as money.

Can I get him to stop feeling like money problems are his fault or is this something that I’m just never going to be able to talk with him about?

 

What do you think?  How can she better involve her husband in talking about finances?

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Reader Question: My Husband Thinks the Kids Are All My Job

'Questions?' photo (c) 2008, Valerie Everett - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/Every weekend I like to post a question someone sends in and let you readers have a go at it. This week’s question comes from a homemaker, who wants a better balance in the division of labor with her husband:

For almost 3 years, I have been a homemaker. When my husband comes home from work, I feel it is still solely my responsibility to tend to the children and cooking dinner. If I am standing at the stove cooking and our newborn starts to cry I have to ASK HIM to take care of her so that I can cook, and more often than not he tells me “you tend to her and I will cook”. I have tried talking to him about why it is that I am mainly the only one who cares for our kids even when he is home, and I am told “you are a stay at home mom that is your duty” I have been dealing with this for several months and feel absolutely terrible, but honestly I have months of resentment built up. I feel like it is putting a strain on our marriage since he believes that his SOLE responsibility is to go to work and come home. I do not know how to get him to understand where I am coming from. Yes, as a homemaker the household duties are my responsibility and i try to do as much as possible during the week so when he is off on Sunday, I can have a small break as well. However, I do not agree with him thinking I should be the only care provider for children we BOTH created. If I tell him this, he tells me “then go to work, but I am not paying for daycare”. He does not understand, and my resentment grows stronger everytime we have this discussion. I end up biting my tongue to prevent further arguing, but I am not sure how much longer I can bite my tongue.

How can she overcome in this? What are your thoughts?

Will You Still Love Me If…?

'Session - Ana y Hugo - Palermo - Buenos Aires - Argentina' photo (c) 2010, Emiliano Horcada - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Today, we welcome guest author, Jamy Whitaker, who shares about acceptance in marriage.

As women, we long to be wanted and accepted. However, many times our insecurities seem to sabotage us. The lies that we are not good enough creep in. Then one day that special someone comes into our lives and we feel that sense of being chosen and accepted.

Whether you are a newlywed or have been married for several years, I am sure that you would attest to the fact that your insecurities do not disappear as soon as you say, “I do.” In many cases, our insecurities are actually heightened. We start to wonder; will you still love me if I gain weight? If I lose my job? If the house isn’t cleaned? Or if dinner isn’t perfect? The list can go on and on. I know these things can run through women’s minds because they run through mine.

After my first husband left me with three small children, I was almost overtaken by the shouts of my insecurities, maybe if I was thinner or the house was cleaner or the meals were gourmet then he would have stayed. What was so wrong with me? It wasn’t until later that I realized it did not have anything to do with me. The void he was trying to fill could only be satisfied with God.

Fast forward. God brought an incredible man into the lives of my kids and me. He met everything I could have ever hoped for and more. It wasn’t long before we were married and all a family. No matter how incredible my husband is, the voices of my insecurities starting rising to the top; He can’t possibly love you, you’ve been divorced, You aren’t good enough to keep your first husband what makes you think this one will stay?

When these thoughts start creeping into your mind, the first thing you need to do is take them captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). You cannot let the enemy get this foothold in your mind. It can lead to destructive, self-defeating thoughts and a downward spiral in yourself, which can affect your relationship with your spouse. Do not let these thoughts and feelings go unchecked.

I recommend having an open and honest conversation with your husband. He needs to know what is going on in your mind. Your husband, like mine, can reassure you that these are not true and where improvements, if any, need to be made. Communication is the key in a healthy, strong marriage.

After having a conversation with your husband, start working on replacing Satan’s lies with God’s truth. I will start you off with one truth you can claim; as soon as we call upon the name of Jesus, we are accepted by Him (1 Corinthians 1:2). As Christians, we are set apart to have a relationship with Christ. Anyone who calls on the name of Jesus has the distinction of being an accepted child of God.

Whether we care to admit it or not, being accepted is important to us. The feeling of acceptance can also be present within marriage. The key is not to get hung up on being accepted by people. Do not let this mold and shape who you are around your spouse. By doing so, you are simply putting on the mask of acceptance. He is accepting who you appear to be, not who you really are. Our Heavenly Father has graciously bestowed acceptance upon us. All we need to do is call upon His name.

Our acceptance is also seen in Acts, “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21 NIV). Look closely at the wording of this verse; it says everyone. Not just the good ones, or the ones who have it all together or dress a certain way or fill in the blank, but everyone.

The identity of being accepted makes me think of young children. For the most part, children do not see fat or thin, pretty or ugly, smart or dumb; they see people for whom they really are inside. Our Heavenly Father freely gives this same kind of acceptance to us. God graciously extends acceptance to anyone who calls upon His name. We might as well take down the mask we are hiding behind because God sees us and accepts up just the way we are.

Once the lies have been replaced, you will be a healthier and stronger partner in your marriage, which in turn will grow. This is not to say that dealing with insecurities is a one-time thing. Satan knows our weaknesses, but we need to be on guard and ready to disregard his lies and replace them with the Truth.

JamyThe issue of our insecurities is addressed in my book, Get REAL: Stop Hiding Behind the Mask. For more information, please check out my website, www.jamywhitaker.com, or my facebook page, www.facebook.com/AuthorJamyWhitaker.

Jamy Whitaker graduated with a degree in English from Indiana State University. She lives in Indiana, in a picturesque, rural setting, lovingly referred to as Whit-Akers, with her husband and five children. Visit www.jamywhitaker.org to learn more about Jamy, her writing and speaking.