How your marriage can survive addiction

I’m excited to share this blog post about dealing with addiction in marriage with you. This isn’t something I’ve dealt with personally and appreciate Charlotte Walker of taking on this difficult topic for Families with Grace. She has some helpful ideas for guiding your marriage through a struggle with addiction. Charlotte herself has been passionate about safety her whole life and enjoys writing about topics related to homes and home life. (Don’t miss her other guest post about house hunting with your family!)

While any relationship worth having takes effort, if you are dealing with addiction in marriage, then it’s going to take even more effort from you and your spouse to survive. Addiction is responsible for tearing many families apart, but that does not mean your marriage is destined for failure.

Discuss the problem

Having a conversation with your spouse about facing their addiction can be overwhelmingly scary; however, it is necessary in order to move forward. While the discussion may be uncomfortable for you both, some measure of discomfort is inevitable when seeking change. If you continue to choose not to speak up about the issue, your spouse may take your silence as condoning their behavior, which makes you an enabler. 

Whether you decide to talk to your spouse alone or through a family and friend-assisted intervention, it’s best to do it when they are not under the influence, tired or upset. Keep in mind that your spouse may not be open to admitting they have a problem, and you can almost count on some type of denial or minimization at first. However, you must be persistent in your efforts to break down the walls and discuss how their substance abuse is hurting you and what needs to be done as far as recovery. 

Once your spouse opens up and admits to having a problem, begin discussing their options for treatment. There are outpatient and inpatient treatment options available, but if this is their first time being treated for addiction, encourage them to stay at a residential drug rehab facility for a minimum of 30 days. An inpatient facility will give them time away from distractions and bad habits while providing a safe space for them to detox and begin the recovery process. 

Forgive them

Undoubtedly, your spouse’s addiction has caused you a lot of pain and turmoil, which doesn’t make it easy to forgive. However, if you really want to save your marriage, then it’s necessary to get to the root of the issue, let it go and move forward. Even if you and your spouse decide to temporarily separate to sort through the issues, forgiveness is imperative to repair and reestablish the relationship. 

Your first step to forgiveness is to gain an understanding of the addiction and start looking at it as a disease that is separate from the actual addict themselves. It may be necessary for this breakthrough to come in marriage therapy. Even though your spouse may have hurt you or made poor decisions while under the influence, remember it was the addiction that caused them to lose control of their actions. You may be hurting, but keep in mind that your partner is plagued by guilt as they realize their mind and body has been consumed by addiction.

Understanding the process of addiction will help you gain clarity and compassion for your spouse, which will make it easier for you to forgive them. While being empathetic toward your spouse does not minimize what you have been through, remember that forgiveness also benefits you by giving you a mental sense of wellbeing. 

Be supportive

In order for your spouse to have a fighting chance at beating their addiction, they will need your full support. Having your support will give them the confidence needed to trust themselves and regain control of their lives. You can offer support by attending group meetings with them, which will also give you a deeper look into the reasons behind their addiction and ways you can help them cope in the future.

Also support them making healthy decisions, like creating a healthy work-life balance. By learning to say “no,” delegating tasks at work and prioritizing your tasks, you can develop a routine that allows you to devote more time to personal matters. 

A workout routine can really help battle addiction. It’s not easy to do physical activity in an altered state, and working out will help with sleep as well as help them feel good about being sober. It can also help manage stress, which is a big part of recovery.

Battling an addiction is never easy, and a substance abuse disorder can have detrimental effects on a marriage. You and your spouse will have to go through a painful healing process, but with patience, support and love, your relationship can survive this difficult time.

Find more help

Don’t be afraid to seek help for your struggle with in addiction in marriage. Find a wide array of resources from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline. Connecting locally with a Celebrate Recovery Group, a Christian program for all kinds of addictions, can also be helpful.

About the Author: Stacey A. Shannon

Stacey A. Shannon is a freelance journalist and blogger who has been published internationally. She's also a Christian, a wife and a mom of two school-aged children. She started Families with Grace in 2019 to encourage Christian moms as they create homes filled with grace, love and faith.

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Dealing with addiction in marriageDealing with addiction in marriage