Addiction & Marriage

A couple of months ago I received an email from Caleb Anderson asking if I’d be open to him writing a guest blog post on addiction and the effect it can have on a marriage. I honestly don’t know much about addiction, having never experienced it myself or suffered through it with someone close to me. But, I can only imagine how it could wreak havoc on not just the addict, but on the relationships surrounding the addict. So, I invited Caleb to submit a blog post and it is full of helpful information. Please take time to visit his website. And, my dear friends, if you or someone you know is suffering from addiction please seek help.

The Hidden Dangers of Drug Abuse

 It is well accepted that drug abuse can cause long-term physical and mental damage without treatment. However, something few people discuss is the impact drug and alcohol use can have on a relationship. Drug addicts tend to have more relationship issues and engage in more sexually risky behaviors than others. This, according to ABC News, may be due to an active DRD4 gene, which can trigger thrill-seeking behavior in the brain.

Regardless of the cause, repairing a relationship after an infidelity is difficult and is made even more so when drugs and alcohol – and all the things that go along with them– are involved.

Helping or hurting?

As found by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are more than 24 million Americans suffering with addiction at any given time. And many of these continue to do so through the enablement of their spouses. There are a number of reasons that a partner might continue to aid or ignore these types of behaviors. Fear of being alone or triggering unpleasant emotions are the most common. Allowing these behaviors to continue only exacerbates the problem and can lead to further marital issues down the road, including lying and cheating, which addicts often do as either a means to obtain their fix or as a distraction from the reality of hurting a loved one.

Tackling treatment

The first step toward mending a damaged relationship is to seek help. And while the infidelity is an issue that will need to be addressed, the addicted person must face more intimate issues on their own. If you are seeking to help a friend, loved one, or partner with addiction you must speak with them about your concerns. Don’t initiate a conversation while they are using and let them know you’re confronting them with care not castigation. The following tips may help open up the dialogue:

  • Avoid hostile tones. An addicted person may get defensive when they feel as though they are being accused.
  • Be aware of treatment resources available locally. Have available the telephone number for your local chapter of Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous.
  • Consult with other close friends or family members who may be able to provide additional support.
  • Point out the ways in which your spouse or partner’s drug use is affecting not only you but may likely damage their career or relationship with children.

The Health Encyclopedia of the University Of Rochester Medical Center explains that addiction is a brain disorder and, as such, requires professional intervention for healing. Keep this in mind as you talk with your loved one. It often helps to look at addiction as a disease and infidelity as a symptom.

When Happily Ever After Ends

Even with an open heart and a clear understanding of addiction as a disease, some relationships simply can’t recover from an affair. When the infidelity has led to the birth of a child, an emotional attachment to the other person, or has resulted in contracting an STD, it may be time to take the high road and ride away from the relationship. If the deception has killed the love that once held you together, try to keep your cool and don’t fall apart. Avoid the temptation to badmouth your partner to friends and family – especially if you have children. Speaking of children, don’t get them involved until it absolutely necessary and make a conscious effort not to use them as leverage.

For some, an addiction-related infidelity may be a new beginning. Once the addicted partner is in recovery, the couple can both move forward with a clear mind and, hopefully, a clean slate. If you or someone you love is struggling with drug addiction and infidelity, don’t hesitate to get help. A simple phone call could save not only your relationship, but your loved one’s life.

Author

Mr. Anderson co-created RecoveryHope to help people with substance abuse disorders and their families. Image via Pixabay

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Hard Truths About Cheating

This is a post I’ve wanted to share for a while, so now that the book study is complete, here is an article I’d like you all to read:

http://familyshare.com/Marriage/before-you-cheat-14-things-you-need-to-know

Okay, now that you’ve read that, let’s be honest. That was painful, wasn’t it? Either you know someone who has cheated or been cheated on, or you, yourself, have ventured into that arena. The painful truth and reality of affairs is quite real and it happens more than we’d like to admit.

This article comes directly from the heart of a man who has been down that path as the cheater – the guy who made a really bad choice. And, it seems that he paid dearly for it. I’ve had conversations with people in that situation and it truly is just that painful (and confusing, destructive, scarring, etc.). I’ve also had experiences with those who were on the other end of that situation – the spouse who was betrayed. That, too, is tremendously painful and damaging. Clawing your way back into a healthy, trust-filled and loving relationship after that is extremely difficult. It can be done, but it is not easy.

I’m sharing this article with you so that you can take a realistic look at what a bad choice can cost you. After the many conversations and personal experiences I’ve had over the years, I can say with certainty that it is much easier than you think to go down that path. Often times it begins as a simple friendship with someone of the opposite sex that turns into an inappropriate relationship. Or, it could begin as a “simple” one night stand only to turn into something with emotional ties. Whatever is begins with, it always ends up decimating your marriage. Friends, it is simply not worth it.

Here are some other tips I’d like to add when it comes to avoiding this serious mistake:

  1. There is never an appropriate close relationship with someone of the opposite sex (that you are not related to) that is not your spouse. Casual, work-related or church-related conversations in public are definitely acceptable. But, going out alone, meeting for drinks/coffee, running or exercising together without your spouse, etc. is not appropriate. I don’t want to sound like a prude, but that is hovering on dangerous territory and could lead to inappropriate relationships. It’s too easy to begin to lean on that person for the type of emotional intimacy that you should be getting from your spouse.
  2. Be extremely honest with your spouse and don’t get defensive when your spouse asks you where you are going, have been, or who you were with. Honesty is the best policy – ALWAYS. If you feel uncomfortable telling your spouse who you had coffee with, that should tell you that you probably should not have had coffee with that person. Trust your gut – if it feels wrong, it probably is.
  3. Share passwords to electronic devices and be open with finances. If your spouse does not have access to these things, they should. This is not to encourage “snooping,” but rather to allow for openness and to not hide anything from your spouse. More times than not, if you are open with passwords and finances, that’s all your spouse needs to know and there will be no snooping. The mere idea of openness truly encourages intimacy in your marriage.
  4. Finally, if you are facing or have faced an affair in your marriage please don’t think that you have to throw in the towel immediately. If the offending spouse feels remorse and wants to rebuild your marriage there is hope. If the spouse who was betrayed wants to work through it, there is hope. A good marriage counselor can help you navigate that healing process and you can have an amazing marriage after an affair. It’s hard and painful, but counselors have told me that couples can come out the other end of it stronger and happier.

And, at the end I have to share the power of God’s grace in all of this. Regardless of whether you are the betrayer or the betrayed, God’s grace is yours and you are loved no matter what. Your heart and soul can be mended as well as, possibly, your marriage. I encourage you to lean on God’s love and grace and let that be your strength. If you know of others dealing with this in their own lives, perhaps you can be the beacon of light that guides them. In the meantime, I am in constant prayer for all who are seeking healthy marriages. I know that God’s love and strength can build us up and heal the most broken of us all.