First, I want you to learn to trust your intuition. Being married to an addict can make you question everything–including your own ability to intuitively know when something is wrong. With my clients, in nearly every case where a wife feels unsafe, she has good reason to feel that way. Either her husband has slipped and hasn’t told her yet, or he is in danger of slipping. Often he’s just emotionally checking out or avoiding recovery work. You have a right to ask him to proactively work toward helping you feel safe. It’s how your relationship will heal over time.
One resource I love is Doug Weiss’ DVD set: Helping her Heal. It’s expensive, but in my opinion, well worth it.
Your husband may be sober, but that doesn’t mean his recovery is solid. I strongly recommend that he create a daily set of measurable, visible recovery routintes that you can see. These routines will help you trust that he is serious about recovery. I have a booklet online that you can review on this subject. It’s called How Do I Know if He is in Recovery?
Additionally, he should be telling you when he’s feeling triggered so that you can see that even if he’s sober, his recovery struggle is real. If he says he’s never triggered, you’re unlikely to believe that because it’s just not realistic. Here is what I recommend in terms of how to share triggers:
1. take ownership of the trigger
2. share the underlying emotional pain or shame that is likely driving the trigger
3. discuss a relapse prevention plan, which will usually involve accountability with you and a 12-step sponsor
4. follow-up with you later on how well he stuck to the plan and how it turned out
Invite him to be brutally honest with you about his addiction struggle. Paradoxically, while it may be painful for you to hear how often he struggles, when he is honest about things that may upset you about his behavior, you will know that his commitment to honest is becoming stronger than his commitment to self-protection.
When he slips, invite him to slow down and share more about his incident (you get to decide how much you want to know). If you are worried he is hiding details form you, help him know that you want to know what really happened–that you’re worried he left out some details out of fear about how you would respond. Give him a day to think about it and write down what happened. Then he can come back and read what he wrote to you. Very often, he will share more than he shared the first time he talked about the slip. Let him know that you understand that he may have left out details because of his fears. Help him understand that you need total honesty if you are going to stay in the marriage.