Addiction is a family disease. When we choose a partner and vow our love to them in holy matrimony, they become our family. They became our family the minute we knew we loved them. Relationships and marriage are not immune to the effects of addiction. Our spouses, our children, our family members– addiction tries us from every angle. Not all marriages with addictions, or related to addictions, have to become unmanageable. Divorce does not have to be the answer, and neither does suffering. It is possible to take a marriage from the depths of darkness into the vastness of light.
Create your Life
Codependency can become an ultimate coping tool when control and manageability starts slipping through our fingers. Our spouse’s actions become our great obsession. Marriage isn’t an activity and our spouse is not a collector item. We have to remember that he or she is a human on his or her own journey, however painful the path is at this time. We cannot control them or make them change. Instead of focusing on everything wrong with our marriage, we need to direct our energy toward making other meaning in our personal lives.
Have healthy expectations, limits, and boundaries
Our spouse has fallen into hard times with drugs and alcohol. The clear expectation is for them to put this behavior to rest and go back to normal. With addiction, this is both unrealistic and unhealthy. Heavy expectations are a catalyst to disappointment and raging resentment. We vowed to love in sickness and in health. When our loved one has developed an addiction, they have fallen sick. Like asking someone with paralysis to get up and dance, we cannot demand perfection beyond ability. Healthy expectations give each spouse the respect they need to live where they are– dark days, days of relapse, and good times. Healthy limits activate loving boundaries. Nobody has to tolerate abuse. Require safety and dignity to guide the way you draw your necessary lines in the sand.
Remember, you’re not God
We want more than anything to save the ones we love when we see them suffer. We want them to be well so we can depend on them to save us when we are down. It is essential to remember, there is a savior, but it is neither us nor our spouse. Forcing a hero-complex on either end can lead us to see our spouse’s less than heroic qualities as less than human. Think upon the things that are true, right, and noble about your spouse and marriage. Put down your cross and leave room for God to do the work. It’s his favorite thing to do.
At The Center for Life Change we support spouses moving through addiction in their marriage. We’re here to help you take the pressure off and turn the love back on. Our intensive outpatient programs offer family therapy sessions as well as family support meetings. For more information call (951) 775-4000.