Secret Relationship Destruction - Understanding the Devastating Effect of Addiction on Marriage

By: Dwight Bain, LMHC

The #AshleyMadisonHack, #JoshDuggar, #JaredSubway and #BillCosby scandals have stunned America the last few days. How could leaders who were so trusted and so well-liked have such dark shocking secrets?
Why would someone who had it all- marriage, family, kids, money, career, fame, health- risk it all for fifteen minutes of physical pleasure? If they wanted another marriage partner they could have just legally divorced and gone on to date other people- right? Wouldn’t there have been an easier way to experience an intimate connection that wouldn’t have created so much scandal and shame for themselves and their families?
            Reputation ruin comes after secret addicts are discovered by a marriage partner- or in the case of these respected leaders- outed by the media. It’s a major new story when these dark secrets are leaked to the press. But that isn’t new. Did you know there was actually an ancient story about a public outing of someone with a secret lifestyle of adultery? Scripture teaches the Master Teacher was confronted by an angry crowd of leaders, (think CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX), who had caught a woman in the very act of adultery. They were judging her – they were humiliating her and they wanted to destroy her and the Master Teacher as well. Jesus simply said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Here is a trusted leader who understood there are two sides to complex situations. The public opinion side and then the spiritual transformation side and he always took people to the side which involved facing the issue and then having a very honest conversation. This approach changed everything then and it still does today.
            Reputation repair comes before the scandal- it comes when a man or a woman have the courage to face the secret addiction in their life and voice it to another. Maybe in a 12 step group meeting, or to a priest or pastor- perhaps to a trusted friend or family member, and for some it involves talking openly with their therapist. The gutsiest people are the ones who directly talk with their partner about the secrets- to straight up face the music with the one who they broke most trust before they get caught. Who expose their weaknesses openly which then allows others to help. This is rare – but when it happens you know someone is on the right road headed toward freedom from their secretive past.
            Secret addictions are broken when someone reaches the critical mass of saying to themselves- “I can no longer live this way- these secrets are eating me alive.” Maybe that is how you feel, or maybe it’s how someone you care about is feeling. Today could be the time for reputation repair by looking into the mirror and facing the secrets in the light of day. Secret addictions are in dark, and usually involves sneaking around. Open confession with a therapist or trusted family member is a way to bring secrets out into the light of day to do something bold about it – to create real change.

            Your reputation is in your hands. Will you wait for the hackers to reveal your secrets on Facebook or will you take control of your future by outing yourself with the people who matter most?  Secrets keep you in an addictive cycle that leads to dysfunction. Talking to someone is a way out of the darkness to a better place. This could be your time to shatter the addictive cycle to really experience freedom.  Please pass this on.

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