October 12th: The Benefit of the Doubt

I spent many years married to my husband… close to twenty.

And I often gave him the “benefit of the doubt” when things seemed out of place to me.

When my husband was in recovery, I knew that I could usually count on his word… but… when he was active in his disease… I knew I couldn’t.

While our marriage was coming to an end, his behavior led me to believe that maybe he was using again.

I couldn’t put my finger on what I felt was wrong and so I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

I didn’t find out until much later that “what was wrong” was our relationship and why things seemed “out of place” was because he hadn’t yet told me that he wanted a divorce.

When I found out, I thought about all of the times I had given him the benefit of the doubt and I was really quite angry.

But then… I took some time and thought about it calmly.

Why had I continued to give him the benefit of the doubt when I felt in my gut that something was wrong?

Where were my boundaries in this situation? My voice?

It was up to me to decide how many times I was going to give someone the benefit of the doubt before I called them out on their behavior.

I realized that I still had some boundary work ahead of me in my future.

Today, when I look back on this time period, I realize that my husband was fearful to tell me the truth, fearful to end our marriage, afraid of my reaction, and the inevitable fall-out of a twenty year marriage coming to an end.

Could he have handled his end of things differently?


Could I have handled my end of things differently?


I know now that we both did our best with the skill set that we had at the time.

Today… I know that I must be reasonable when I give someone the “benefit of the doubt” and be willing to address an issue as needed and not just allow it to continue on in a limbo of denial.

“Dear God, help me to be strong. Help me to express myself calmly and logically to friends and family if I feel that they may be skirting a difficult issue.”

11 thoughts on “October 12th: The Benefit of the Doubt

  1. I feel like you are speaking directly to me. I, too, have given my husband the “benefit of the doubt” when I shouldn’t have – when my gut was telling me something was off. Dealing with addiction is horrible. Facing yourself and your own short-comings while dealing with a spouse’s addiction is even harder. I’m just breathing and taking things one day at a time.

  2. It’s amazing looking back on this now. I kept hearing — “you didn’t do anything wrong; you didn’t do anything to deserve being treated this way”. Well if I’d set limits/boundaries on what I could really tolerate, and I’d had the emotional courage to move forward, it may have all happened another way. But I agree, I felt all of this in my gut but kept thinking some of what was happening was my imagination. I’ve learned so much for what was a horrible time in my life — trusting one’s instincts.

    • Yes… and even if you had done it differently… it probably would have ended with YOU leaving! 🙂 Don’t be hard on yourself… for some reason you were meant to learn that lesson and now you’ll be ready for whatever great is headed your way… 🙂 D.

  3. Funny… someone just said that very thing the other day. Including, “stop blaming yourself”!
    And in the meantime, a friend happened to see my ex and he’s literally trapped in a situation of his own making, that is light years from the love and support he had before. But he thought he was strategic. I was so afraid this would happen, but it’s all meant to be and it wasn’t my role to stop it.
    It’s like seeing the train coming straight on, it roars by, and it’s not going to stop. It’s so clear that if I’d had the strength to end the marriage some years ago, I was already “there” with gut instinct. It is an incredible lesson. And to not “caretake” or “enable” in future relationships is going to be so critical.

    • Do you know what is lovely, P? At first… I searched for the same type of man… very charming… usually a “former” addict. And I became… his new drug… then when “NEW” wore off…. dismissive… detached… selfish. Once I worked through my issues from my past relationship that changed and I have now been with my man for ten years and he is kind, thoughtful, watches me have TOTAL meltdowns and accepts it for who I am… I am able to be completely vulnerable because he is willing to care-take me if necessary… we care-take each other… it is SO different from what you and I have experienced. So different… and it is lovely…. and I want you to have that…. and the Universe wants you to have that… an equal… that gives like you give… and is willing to receive all of your love. 🙂 D.

  4. Thank you, D
    Soooo true
    Someone who cares, has compassion and tolerance – yes! A relationship that has some balance to it!
    I’m a long way from starting down that path but I’m finally healing enough to take care of myself and keep rebuilding self esteem.

    • It took me time too… you know that… I’ve shared it with you before 🙂 Heal….. rebuild…. and a new and wonderful partner will “appear” 🙂

  5. Actually felt some joy reading the dialogue from last year. The rebuilding and healing continue , and I can see and feel results now.
    It’s great to come back here and remind myself that the timing and the lessons learned were meant to be . 🙂

    • Good! That’s what I love about creating an annual…. the message always seems relevant each year that you go back to it…. and your own comments remind you where you were and how far you have come… I’m glad you commented on Oct. 12th because that post is actually my own favorite post. I read it again yesterday and actually sighed! 🙂 D.

  6. Funny thing you should post this……I remember thinking maybe I was going crazy or imagining that things didn’t feel right. But turns out I was right. The boatload of truth was revealed to me when I was ready. I was told that so, so many times in the beginning….God will reveal it all in due time. And truth be told, if I had known then what I know now, I don’t think I would have been able to handle it. But it’s all healing slowly but surely. There are still (surprisinglyl!!) rough days when some song plays or some 20th anniversary of an event asking “where were you” that pricks those emotions all over again. But the rough days are becoming fewer and further between….thankfully!!! I don’t even imagine they have a perfect relationship anymore because now I know better. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he, too, has found himself trapped in a situation of his own making because he jumped out of a marriage into another relationship without taking a breath or some time for himself. I will never understand how men are able to do that. Used to make me feel like I was some disposable part of his life. I now know that I cannot blame myself for all of it. All I can do is work on myself and that is what I have been doing. My life now is not all roses but it’s not all thorns either….and it’s way, way more roses lately than I can contain!!! Thanks again for this outlet!!!

    P.S. I wish I’d had the courage to comment when I first found this website but I was too embarrassed to expose myself – thinking no one knows my pain. I now know the healing is in the exposure of those very things that I want to hide. I would have loved to be able to look back at my progress. But I did write in my journal and what a flashback some of those entries are!!!

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