Why Do I Need to Work the 12 Steps?

Again, as spouses, we wonder why we should have to do anything to change our lifestyle. After all, it is our husband’s problem and if he will just stop his hurtful behavior, certainly all of our problems will be over.

Research shows that women who have lived with a husband with a pornography problem have most of the symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Therefore, we as spouses need our own healing and recovery from the confusing decrease in self-esteem and the trauma.

Dr. Jill Manning has identified 6 things that the afflicted spouse needs:

  • Connection
  • Advocacy
  • Validation
  • Education
  • Direction

A 12-step program, specifically for the support and recovery of an affected spouse, such as S-anon, can offer these things.

At a good 12-step program, we will find other women who have experienced similar feelings and betrayals in their marriages. That connection can feel like the first time that a woman has been able to share her feelings openly and honestly with others who understand. The understanding can bring a feeling of validation that “my feelings are not crazy or abnormal.” Actively working the 12-step program with a sponsor who has walked a similar path and worked her own recovery and 12-steps gives education about the path of recovery and a solid direction of where to go “next.”

Finding a good 12-step program can be challenging in many areas. Sanon.org gives a list of cities, meetings, and contact persons. There are also phone or online meetings that can be very helpful when an in-person meeting is not available.

Generally, someone should attend a meeting at least 8 times before determining if that particular group is for them. The language, the setting and the subject may seem uncomfortable at first and it is often difficult to hear others’ painful experiences, but as we are willing to do what it takes to find our healing, we will soon discover the many gifts and blessings that come from working the 12 steps. It works when we work it!