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Ask Dave

Trust Him With Half?

Cathy is separated from her husband after finding out he's addicted to porn and dating sites. Should she trust him with half of their emergency fund?

QUESTION: Cathy in Los Angeles is separated from her husband after finding out he’s addicted to porn and dating sites. Should she trust him with half of their emergency fund?

ANSWER: There are two issues. There’s the issue of what he’s legally allowed to have in California in the event of a marriage being dissolved, and then there’s the issue of if you trust him. The issue is very simple: Should you trust him? No. You shouldn’t trust him. He’s an addict.

There’s one thing that we know about addicts. I work with them all the time. Our coaching team does—not because we coach addicts, we don’t—but 100% of the addicts eventually have financial problems, and we get to see them. You end up—in 20 years of financial counseling—learning a little bit about dealing with addicts. They’re very sad, broken people. There’s always a level of pity, but in the midst of that, you need to know that 100% of them are manipulative liars. When you are addicted, you learn the skill of manipulation and lying. And you’re a pro at it. They’re the best you’ll ever meet at it.

You can’t trust him. He can’t trust himself. He lies to himself. He’s lost his marriage over this stuff. That’s how big a liar he is. Until he gets some healing, he’s not worthy of trust. Does that mean you get to keep this money? Not necessarily. I don’t know what the law is going to tell you. But no, you don’t just turn it over to him because he wants it. You need to seek a legal opinion. You need to start talking to a divorce attorney, and your divorce attorney needs to tell you what to do with the money.

I would guess that your counselor at church told you the same thing I told you. If you ask your counselor if you trust an addict, they will tell you no. You treat him as if he’s not worthy of trust until he has proven over an extended period of time that he is worthy of trust, which means that he’s gotten some healing on the addiction, and that’s wonderful. I sure hope that’s how it works out, but no, just because he thinks he can have the money doesn’t mean he can. If he wants to push that, then we have to talk to a divorce attorney about what he can legally do. Under the realm of common sense and I want to work out the marriage, no, you can’t have the money.

If he’s doing cocaine and has a drug problem, we don’t give him money because he’s going to buy cocaine with it. That’s what he’s doing. The only difference is it’s skin. That’s the only difference. It’s the same behavior pattern. Treat it like it’s cocaine in your mind, and it’ll help you clarify that you’re not being the wicked witch of the west. You’re the only one here who’s sane right now. You’re dealing with somebody that we hope gets sane again because we want him to come home, and we want the marriage to be healed. I think that’s an admirable goal, and I sure hope it works out that way. Your 3-year-old is the reason to not let him come back home unless he’s healed.

Pornography addiction is not a physical addiction. It’s a decision. It’s a mental decision and a spiritual decision. It is a choice at the end of the day. As you’re learning, you get inside and figure out what’s broken, and you fix what’s broken and healing starts working on that. God works on that. Then the person is able to stay away from the symptom, which is the porn. Addictions are usually the symptom of stuff that’s broken inside. Again, I’m not a counselor. It’s not what I do. I’ve just learned this in working with real counselors.

I’ve seen a lot of people turn the porn thing or the gambling thing, which are the two fastest growing addictions in North America right now, around.