Verbal Reality--Why you can't believe an addict and what you can do as a co-dependent

I recently came across the below article when websurfing for information about verbal reality, a concept a friend introduced me to last year during a time I was trying to figure out is someone was telling me the truth or not. The below article is specifically for Porn addiction, and comes from a very good website, but I've found it true with all addictive behaviors. If you've never heard of Verbal Reality, and you question whether or not your spouse is being honest, this is a good way to help you sort it out, and a great tool for your recovery.
Consider This. (from

Addicts of any kind live in a "verbal reality." This means if they say it, it is true and if they say it passionately enough even they believe it is really true. Men who have an addiction to porn live in a verbal reality. A sex addict believes what he is saying while he is saying it.

Your most helpful tool in dealing with verbal reality is looking at his measurable behavior.

He says, "I can quit" but logs on again. The behavior is always the truth.

He says he wants to change, but attends no 12-step meetings and makes no calls to counselors or therapists, and so his behavior is the truth.

Don't be fooled by verbal reality and don't blame him if you buy what he says to you. In the past, your own desire to believe the best and not implement measurable behaviors has set up a system that you both are now familiar with. The system is: he does what he wants, Says: "I love you" or "I'll change". You believe him, nothing changes and then you get to repeat this cycle again.

The way to stop this cycle is to ask what recovery behaviors he is committed to and where he is going to check off if he did them or not. Addicts themselves believe their own verbal reality so YOU can't if the
both of you are going to get on a path towards health.

(I'm back)

As an Adult Child of Dysfunction, I've learned that one of my main issues is trust. That is because ACD's are trained to believe Verbal Reality. We live in the Addict's and Codependent's fantasy world. This is how the outside world can literally go a lifetime and not see the pain, confusion, dysfunction and anguish behind closed doors. It is why a child who is sexually molested by a father doesn't see their father as a monster or why the child of an alcoholic rarely sees drinking as something that causes them to black out, vomit, do or say embarrasing things or lose control, but rather as something that everyone does to have fun--so much so that most Adult Children of Alcoholics become Alcoholics themselves. Or maybe why the victim of severe abuse has no memories of childhood at all, because they were told over and over again it never happened so that it becomes a secret buried deep inside, problaby because they are told over and over again no one will believe them.

No matter what our background, though, as a co-dependent of any kind of an addict we have to have some self accountaiblity--but it has to be for the right things. The co-dependant can't take on the addict's lies or issues and blame ourself for their behavior. For example, if a husband has an eating addiction he can't blame his wife because she is a good cook. Neither can the co-dependent justify supplying the addict with the object of their addiction because it is what we've grown accustomed to or ignoring behaviors because we don't want to face the truth.

To break the cycle we have to first acknowledge that to a point the verbal reality is usually more desiralbe than the reality, and that is why we tend to 'fall for it every time.' We WANT to believe the best of our spouse, friends, child, goverment offical (okay, that might be taking it a bit far, LOL) so we ignore what is right in front of our faces. And, if we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that on some level we know something is not right, even if they are very good at covering their tracks.

After we accept the behavioral reality, it is our job to hold firm to that truth--not to police our spouse, but to make it very clear the evidence isn't looking to good for them and then leave it in their laps to deal with.

In the end the addict has to decide for themselves to seek out recovery. The co-dependent might try to do it for the addict, but the best thing the co-dependant can do is seek out a support group for themselves! There might be a time you have to do some very tough love, and it will be hard to stick with it on your own, especially because that honeymoon period after the initial confrontation is so sweet and easy to fall victim to. You want to find a group that focuses on what you can change, not trying to get you to focus on the addict's problem. Once you've confronted, there is nothing more you can do other than choose to leave or stay, and how you respond from that point on. Choosing that support group will be the most important thing you do, especially if your goal is to save your marriage. You want a group that will listen, not try to fix or tell you what you should or shouldn't do, but rather present options and allow you to choose without pressure. It should be a group that has gone through something similar and survived, who is positive, forgiving and loving, not judging of you or your spouse. Most importantly, they need to be willing to make themselves vulnrable to you by sharing their stories. If they are still in denial, they will take you on a canoe trip in the wrong direction!

Lean on God and not your own understanding. If you pray God reveal the truth as I need to know it, He will be faithful to do so. If you let the Holy Spirit handle the convicting your spouse part, your marriage might even have a chance to survive and might even eventually thrive.

No one is beyond the reach of God's mercy and grace, unless they choose to continually run away from it.

And when as a co-dependent you are strongly judging and condemning your spouse years after they have started recovery, reminding them of every little thing they ever did wrong in your life, I pray that God will shine His Light brightly on every unturned sin in your life so that you will focus on your thoughts and feelings and find the true freedom in being the branch, hanging in there clinging to God until He produces new fruit in your life. If you have time, you can always pray this over me!!!

God can heal all wounds and forgive all sins and take the most wretched sinners and turn them into soldiers for His kingdom!


To learn more about Celebrate Recovery contacgt Rodney @ 479-659-3679 or email


  1. Thanks for this post...I am linking to it from my blog post today. I am on our CR's Leadership team...and I will be sending this on to my small group ladies (Co-Dependents of the Chemically Addicted).

  2. Thank you. This is so very true! I always said that my husband believes his own lies. To add to the issue my husband's large family of orgin is in denial and have made me the villain and would love to send me on a "canoe trip" far far away.

  3. Thanks for the post! I pray that The Lord reveals the Truth to my husband. I pray The Lord removes the scales from his eyes. I am getting out of the way for God to work.


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