Shaming Vs. Naming Guilt

     Addiction causes all kinds of problems for those navigating relationships. The more I initially learned about addiction, the more I found it difficult to interact with my husband as I worked my way toward healing. I knew I wanted to stick to my values of being respectful and kind while holding firm to the boundaries I had created to protect me. But round and round the Drama Triangle we would go! 

     I did not want to shame my husband, and fear drove me to voiceless caution as I knew I would "pay" with another betrayal should his shame surface. I ended up continually shielding him from the consequences of his actions, sparing him the healthy and healing pain of guilt in order to avoid the effects of shame.  

Balancing boundaries and your own dignity while stepping aside and allowing guilt to do its work is your ticket off the Drama Triangle into peace. 

     Scripture tells us that Christ bore our shame on the cross. His very life brought us the message that we are "lovely because He loves us." He gives us our inherent value and pronounces us "good." Yet, our Savior and Friend looks down from that same cross and pronounces us guilty of sin, the sin that demanded His perfect sacrifice. 

     We, as wives, can convey this beautiful mystery daily by sacrificing shaming phrases like "How could YOU do this" and "What is the matter with YOU" and replacing them with "I statements" like this one:

"I felt angry and triggered when I saw you using your laptop with the door closed after you agreed to leave the door open. If you choose to do that again, I will ask you to not use the laptop in the house at all."

     Articulating your own feelings and the nature of his wrongdoing allows the addict a chance to feel potentially behavior-changing guilt and allows you to stay true to Christ's teaching that every person is loved and cherished by God, deserving of respect. Fight the New Drug recently shared some fascinating new research on shame versus guilt in pornography addiction. As a betrayed spouse, I appreciate the validation that calling wrong "wrong" does not mean I am shaming anyone. In fact, I am actually participating in Christ's work in my husband's heart while He protects mine. 

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