One of the most difficult things anyone can experience is being attached or married to an individual who has an addiction—alcohol, drugs, gambling…pornography!
Not only is it hard to see the individual you care about destroying their lives through their use/abuse of an addictive substance, but also disrupting your own life. Add to the mix of trying to live with their unstable/changing personalities and this makes life even more unbearable. Not only does an addiction render and addicted individual ‘helpless’, but it also leads loved ones to feel not only helpless, but over time “hopeless” to the idea that they will ever get better.
Many times the partner of the one with the addiction was a ‘user’ or addict them self. When they got help to become sober, their partner was usually the main obstacle as they were not ready to change, and definitely did not want their partner to change. When one person gets help and is in recovery, the dynamics of the relationship change. This adds tremendous pressure to the relationship. When the individual who has become sober wants their mate to become abstinent this is met with resistance. They still want to use! Conversely, the one refusing to get help may try to convince the sober one to use again, or mocks them for cleaning up their life. This creates the division for tolerable behavior and leads to many disagreements and arguments. The one who has cleaned up their act is accused of being ‘holier than thou’, which definitely creates dissension in the relationship.
It is common place for someone who has become clean and sober to not want to be with their addictive mate any longer, and may start to pull out of the relationship, or even end it.
When one partner becomes sober, they begin to realize they are in a state of positive change and no longer see that they have very much in common with their mate. After all, most likely one of the main tenets that brought both of them together was the use/partying with alcohol, or drugs. They start to perceive their addictive mate as the ‘black cloud’ to their addictive past, and want to leave them because they see their mate as a ‘trigger’ to addictive behavior. The one still with the addiction may start to ‘justly’ become suspicious that their sober mate will leave them, thus putting more stress on an already dysfunctional relationship. This could lead to controlling behaviors, even abuse!
If you have a partner who is an addict, still continues to use even after they have tried to quit repeatedly, there are positive options for dealing with your mate. Marital counseling is an option, but most likely to be met with resistance from the one with the addiction, especially if they deny that they have an addiction. One-on- one counseling or even support groups are an option only if they are receptive to it. They may be more open to it as to not have to share embarrassing details from their past, with you, their spouse. They will seek help when they admit that they are ready. This could take a long while, or never, which is unfortunate for both of you!
There is the final, ultimate option which is leaving.
You leave you partner because you can no longer tolerate one’s addictive behavior. This is quite harsh, however when things get out of hand, it may be a final option, especially when there are children involved, and the situation is growing more and more abusive. If you are thinking about sticking it out, then your best option may be to attend Al-Anon groups. Al-Anon Groups are for relatives and friends of alcoholics, whereby they share their experiences, coping strategies while instilling hope in one another to help get through addictions because they perceive alcoholism/addictions as family illnesses where the addicted individual needs all the help they can get as well as their partner. I get into this in my ground-breaking book for treating addictions and helping partners with loved ones with addictions, Right Now Enough Is Enough. Working with individuals with addictions for more than 20 years, I outline and teach methods that truly do work! Relationships take time and effort, and even more when addictions are a part of them. The key is that one’s health/life is most important, no matter how much you love someone with an addiction. When children are a part of the equation, the equation becomes even more complicated!
Read more posts by JenningsWire Blogger Peter Sacco, an international lecturer on psychology/self-help related topics.
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