Addictions in Marriage

These are a few of the addiction-related issues we have seen couples struggling with just in the past few Marriage Retreats we have hosted:

  • A wife is tired of her husband’s drinking leading him to become the embarrassing “life of the party”at social gatherings.
  • A husband is frustrated that month after month their budget is destroyed by his wife’s spending patterns that she tries to hide from him.
  •  Husbands and wives complain of emptiness and betrayal in their relationship as their partner spends more and more time on the Internet behind closed doors.
  • A wife can’t figure out why she can’t make her husband become a better husband, as hard as she tries to force him to change. (be careful as you consider this one–the husband might or might not have an addiction, but the wife almost certainly does–that of codependency.)

All humans have legitimate needs that, if we are to remain healthy and happy, must be met. The problem is that when those needs are not met in an honorable fashion, we will, sometimes subconsciously, try to meet them in unhealthy dishonorable ways. That is largely why we have prisons, rehab centers, sanatoriums, psychiatric couches and, to a significant extent, unhappy Addictionfamilies and marriages.

Whether we try to fill our needs and the holes in our inner selves with drugs and alcohol, uncontrolled spending, inappropriate sex and pornography, co-dependence, or any other potentially addictive substance or behavior, it is impossible to do so without direct or collateral damage to our most important relationships.

In a relationship where addiction, damaging negative habits, or destructive character defects are present everything will be out of balance. The addiction occupies the center of the addict and everything they say and do is processed through the addiction, not through the appropriate principles of life and relationships.

Addiction is a progressive condition (or disease if you prefer) and, if not addressed and treated, will always lead to the further dissolution of one’s life and relationships. While addiction often springs from deep and unmet needs with which we can sympathize, the addict ends up living in a world of deep selfishness and isolation that tends to alienate others.

A couple dealing with addiction in their relationship must first and foremost come to a place of honesty about it. Once the problem is recognized and admitted there is room for hope of recovery for both the individual and the relationship to grow.

While recovery will always be enhanced in a loving and supportive environment, often the sense of guilt and betrayal in the relationship will have to be overcome to find that love and support. And even in a loving relationship a spouse trying to “help” their partner through addiction recovery can easily slip into unhealthy codependency and derail the recovery and further damage the marriage.

Through our Retreats couples dealing with addiction as part of their marital challenges can come to recognize the addiction, develop a sense of hope for recovery, join together as a united team, and begin to formulate a plan of recovery. That plan of recovery might include therapy with a competent professional or involvement in a 12-Step support group, or a combination of both.

The wonderful news is that even the first step together into recovery will bring enormous rewards of growing trust and peace and the couple can fully expect not only the recovery from addiction, but the recovery of all that is best about their relationship.

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