Guest Post from Recovery Hope
Marriage is undoubtedly comprised of highs and lows, but if your spouse is addicted to drugs or alcohol, it can feel more like a perpetual downer. In fact, alcohol and substance abuse are among the most common reasons for divorce in the United States, but the rank varies depending on gender — third for women and eighth for men. Regardless of sex, the strain on the marriage remains the same, so it’s crucial that you address the issue with your loved one in an effort to heal individually and as a couple.
How to Know There’s a Problem
While your spouse may be in denial that there’s a problem, you may be in denial that you see one, especially if their behavior is out of character. Some telltale signs to look for when someone has an addiction include:
- Failure to meet social, career, and family duties on a regular basis
- Borrowing or stealing money without a good reason
- Uncharacteristic mood swings or personality changes
- Withdrawal from social situations
- Puncture marks or lines along arms or legs
- Nose and throat problems, including nasal or sinus infections
- Regular bloody nose
- Skin Infections
- Loss of coordination
- Constricted pupils
- Rapid or delayed eye movements
Getting Your Loved One Into Treatment
Convincing your loved one to get help is no easy task. It’s liable that anger will appear as a self-defense mechanism to shield the fear of wondering how they will cope without drugs or alcohol. A credible addiction organization can help you work through this process, especially if your spouse refuses help. In this case, an intervention may be necessary.
How to Heal as a Couple
It’s important to separate the behavior your spouse is exhibiting while treating a substance abuse problem from the person they were when you two were happy. Addiction is a disease that can sometimes be hereditary or the side effect of a mental illness, such as depression, so you can’t expect your loved one to stop cold turkey. To help you understand what they are going through, consider couples therapy. Individual treatment is not a bad idea as it can teach you how to deal with your own emotions, too.
Being Mindful Of Self-Care
Supporting a spouse with an addiction can take a serious toll on your mind, body, and spirit so it’s important to institute self-care on a regular basis—and without feeling guilty about doing so. If you don’t step away once in a while, you’re only liable to build up negative emotions, which are not going to help your marriage. Set time for activities, such as mindful meditation, maintaining or trying a new hobby or activity, planning an outing with a friend, hitting the gym, decluttering your home, maintaining a gratitude journal, disconnecting yourself from electronics, and much more.
Knowing When It’s Time to Separate
Not every marriage will end in divorce, and sometimes, only a temporary separation is necessary to get back on track. But if therapy doesn’t seem to be working, a relapse occurs, or there appears to be an unstable environment for any potential children, ask yourself a few questions before serving divorce papers to your spouse. For example:
- Have you dealt with negative side effects as a result of your spouse’s addiction?
- Have you talked to your spouse about leaving or getting a divorce if their problem persists?
- Have you tried a trial separation?
- Are you really willing to leave for good?
Getting your spouse to agree to enter therapy is the first of many hurdles you’ll experience before the treatment process even begins. The success rate of your marriage depends upon many factors, and not all of them have to do with your partner’s actions alone. While it may not be easy, the only way to truly know if you can repair your marriage is by making a team effort.
- "Signs That Someone May Have a Drug or Alcohol Problem" by Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. Retrieved at MentalHelp.net
- "Recovery Help for a Loved One". Retrieved at National Addiction Institute
- "134 Activites to Add to Your Self-Care Plan". Retrieved at GoodTherapy.org
- "So You're Married to an Addict: Is Divorce Inevitable?" by Susan Pease Gadoua L.C.S.W. Retrieved at Psychology Today
- Image via Nik Shuliahin at Unsplash