Some people think I’m nosy. I like to call it being curious. If I’m honest, I’d have to admit to both. I like to know! Whether it’s how something works, why a culture has the beliefs it does, or why someone would move from Malibu, CA to Allen, TX, I want to know! And, I love to ask questions. There are times when my inquisitive nature comes in handy. I make friends easily and I can talk to most anyone. But as Steve disclosed his history of sex addiction to me, curiosity threatened to ruin us.
I wanted to know everything. I needed to know everything. Yes, everything! While his addiction had not physically involved another person, mentally it involved many and I wanted to know the details about every single one. Who are these women that had occupied my husband’s thoughts? Do I go to church with them? Are they prettier and skinner than me? Are they my friends? These kinds of questions took up all the space in my head leaving room for nothing else.
When any addiction is being addressed in marriage, disclosure is vital. Sharing every gory detail is not! In simple terms, disclosure is stating facts, sharing secrets, coming clean and telling the basic history of the addiction. Because addictions are often seeded in secrecy and dishonesty, it is important to get everything out in the open and work from there. Honest disclosure is how you start rebuilding trust. At first, I confused disclosure with knowing every detail. Initially, Steve’s reluctance to share the details with me hurt. I saw it as a way for him to continue being dishonest. We had to sort out how to deal with this difference of opinion before we could start repairing our relationship.
I had to decide which was more important, knowing everything or just knowing enough. Knowing enough meant I knew the important things; that Steve had been honest with me and was committed to becoming authentic in our relationship. Knowing enough didn’t threaten to do more damage to our marriage but knowing everything might have. There is a place for telling every detail, but it’s not with your spouse. The best place for that kind of sharing is with an accountability partner, with someone who is healthy and safe. If Steve had given in and shared the sordid details with me it might have hindered the healing of our relationship.
For the first time in my life I realized that maybe I don’t need to know everything. Coming to that realization wasn’t an easy one, especially for someone as obsessed with knowing as I used to be. So when someone asks me if they need to know everything, my answer is no. Nine years later, I am thankful that Steve didn’t give in and share the details with me. Now I don’t have to battle images that were never meant to be in my mind. Being out of the loop allows both of us the freedom to have a clear mind when we interact. Now we are free to live in the present, and free from the ghosts of the past.