Relationship Advice

Within His Power

thoughtful man

I need some answers to my life. I lost my mother to cancer in the early 2000s and met my wife the same year. Through the years there have been many ups and downs, good times and bad times. There's been cheating on each other, more on my wife's side, and we are both victims of sexual abuse.

For a long time I've wanted to become a sober person, and I've been sober now three months. I don't know if we're going through a separation or not. I know in my heart I don't want to, but my wife continues to abuse alcohol. I pray she gets some help.

I feel I'm in a pause, like I don't know which way to turn, but I am receiving counseling. Over the years, when my wife hurt me, she wouldn't say I'm sorry. It has always been like this, and I know a lot of times I feel anger. But there's a place in my heart that's waiting for her. I miss her a lot and my children also.

I guess what I'm asking for is some direction, and if there is a message you can send my wife, hoping she will read it.


Karl, the way to start finding answers is by asking, what course of action will lead to success? The obvious answer is that drinking has no chance of leading to success. It masks problems, and it doesn't solve anything. So that's something not to do.

You want a solution. When we have a problem, we always want an instant solution. But with emotionally complicated problems, what happens is that the answer is not an instant solution but a process.

Processes take time to unfold, and that's why they are hard to follow to their conclusion. It is easier to go with a habit which blunts our pain, so we don't have to consciously endure it.

The first part of the process is learning how to manage your emotional pain day by day—without resorting to negative behavior. Because dealing with this is so difficult, you will need to anchor yourself on something.

You have a counselor. Your counselor can be your anchor, the person who keeps you from being adrift. The process of talking to this counselor will help you put your life story together in a way that makes sense. He or she can work on immediate problems like managing anger, fears, and pain, and introduce you to new ways to approach problems.

One of the most powerful effects of individual counseling is that it interrupts our usual thought process. That matters because if you continue to think in the same way, you will continue to act in the same way. And, as you know, habitual ways of acting haven't gotten you anywhere.

We cannot change anyone else. We can only change ourselves. We are the only person we have power over. So the place to begin is with yourself. You have to be the one who wants change; you have to want it more than anything. You can make overtures to your wife, but she must also be responsive and willing to change.

The one thing you have in common is your children. Part of what you will both want to do is help your children to have a better life than each of you has had. So work on common solutions which benefit the children. That may lead to you and your wife being together, or it may not. But whatever happens, you must honestly face the problems between the two of you.

Stay anchored to the process which can change your life. Realize that processes take time to get results. Do what you can to ensure your children have a better life. Have faith that you are growing in a positive direction. And see what happens.

Wayne & Tamara