How To Cope with Addiction in Marriage
addiction and divorce

How To Cope with Addiction in Marriage

Life throws some major curveballs at you, doesn’t it? One of the hardest is when your spouse struggles with substance misuse. You wonder if your marriage will survive, how their addiction got so out of control, and what you can do to help. The uncertainty and chaos can feel overwhelming. But there is hope. Many couples have faced addiction in marriage and come out the other side with their relationship intact. If you’ve felt alone, know that there are solutions and a community to help you. Our drug and alcohol addiction treatment rehab in California offers specialized programs to support you and programs you can refer your loved ones to who are dealing with addiction.

How Does Addiction in Marriage Affect Couples?

Addiction in marriage can have profound and far-reaching effects on both individuals and the relationship as a whole. Partners may feel lonely, hurt, and helpless. Arguments become more frequent and intense. Trust and intimacy suffer. It can feel like the addiction is an intrusive “third person” in the marriage. Here are some of the numerous ways in which one spouse’s addiction can harm the other spouse and erode the bonds of marriage.

Breakdown of Trust

Addiction often leads to lying, deceit, and broken promises, which gradually destroy trust between spouses. The partner suffering from addiction may prioritize their substance of choice over the relationship, leaving the other spouse feeling betrayed and hurt.  Trust is a vital component of a healthy marriage, and its breakdown can result in significant strain and conflict within the relationship.

Communication Problems

Addictions can hinder effective communication within a marriage. The supportive spouse may feel frustrated, hurt, or angry, which can lead to a breakdown in open and honest dialogue. On the other hand, the other partner battling addictive behaviors may also struggle to express their needs, emotions, or intentions clearly due to the influence of their addiction. This lack of clear communication can create misunderstandings, increase tension, and hinder the couple’s ability to address the underlying issues in their relationship.

Emotional and Psychological Impact

Living with addiction can result in emotional turmoil for both partners. The partner without addiction may experience feelings of sadness, anger, resentment, or helplessness. They may blame themselves or feel responsible for their partner’s addiction, leading to low self-esteem. On the other hand, the partner who misuses substances may experience guilt, shame, and self-loathing, which can exacerbate the addictive cycle.

Neglect of Responsibilities

Addiction often leads to the neglect of familial and household responsibilities. The substance-dependent spouse may become preoccupied with obtaining and using drugs or engaging in addictive behaviors, leading to a lack of attention and care for the relationship and family life. This can cause strain on the other spouse, who may feel burdened with an unequal share of responsibilities.

Financial Difficulties

Addiction can lead to financial strain within a marriage. Substance use or addictive behaviors can be expensive, leading to financial instability or significant debt. This can create tension, arguments, and a lack of financial security, impacting the overall well-being of the couple. Seeking treatment for substance use disorder in California can help resolve these issues.

Why Drug and Alcohol Misuse Can Lead to Divorce

Addiction and divorce share a significant connection, particularly when substance and alcohol misuse come into play, severely damaging the foundation of a marriage. When one spouse struggles with substance misuse, it often leads to a breakdown in communication, trust, intimacy, and the ability to resolve conflicts in a healthy way.

Over time, the non-misusing spouse may start to feel like the “bad guy” for calling out the issue, and the misusing spouse may become isolated and withdrawn. Resentment builds, secrets pile up, and couples can grow apart. Many spouses of people with substance use disorders report feeling lonely, trapped, and hopeless.

If left unaddressed, these issues frequently end in divorce. The inability to stop misusing, repeated broken promises, financial troubles, and parenting conflicts associated with addiction are major contributing factors.

However, divorce is not inevitable. With professional help, commitment to change, and a willingness to understand each other’s perspectives, couples can heal the damage caused by addiction. The key is for both spouses to participate actively in the recovery process. This may involve counseling, support groups, setting boundaries, and learning better communication and coping strategies.

While it’s a difficult road, many couples report coming out the other side with a stronger, more meaningful connection. With hard work and patience, substance misuse does not have to end your marriage. There is always hope, and help is out there.

How Can Couples Cope with Addiction? Communication Is Key

Communication is the lifeline of any relationship, and it becomes even more crucial in marriages impacted by substance misuse. Talking openly and honestly about the problem is the only way to improve the situation, though it can be difficult.

Confronting the uncomfortable. You may feel ashamed, guilty, or afraid to broach the subject, but avoiding it will only make things worse. Find a time when you’re both calm and open to listening. Explain how their misuse makes you feel and affects your relationship and daily life. Be specific about your concerns for their health and safety as well as your own. Speak with love and compassion, not with judgment.

Listen to them in return, without interruption. Try to understand their perspective and any underlying issues fueling the misuse. Compromise when you can, but stand firm in your boundaries. Seek counseling or join a support group to help improve communication and set healthy limits.

Work as a team to find solutions. Ask open-ended questions to make sure you fully understand each other. Brainstorm options together and be open to each other’s input. Consider relationship counseling or addiction therapy in San Diego, both together and individually. Make a plan to limit access to substances in your home and daily routines. Provide positive reinforcement and accountability to help motivate change.

Be patient through the process. Overcoming substance misuse is challenging, and relapse is common. Offer your support and encouragement without enabling the behavior. Take good care of yourself during this trying time. Make sure to maintain your own health, relationships, and outlets for stress relief.

Seeking Professional Help and Support Groups

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When substance misuse affects a marriage, it puts immense strain on the relationship and requires work from both partners to overcome. Seeking counseling and joining support groups are two of the best ways couples can start to cope with this challenge.

Marriage Counseling

Speaking with a professional marriage counselor or therapist can help you work through communication issues, set boundaries, and find strategies for supporting each other.  At AToN , we offer family therapy for addiction, which can help couples as well. Counseling provides a safe space to openly and honestly discuss how substance misuse has impacted your relationship. A good counselor will also help you identify unhealthy patterns of behavior and give you tools to build a healthier dynamic. While it can be difficult to open up about such personal struggles, marriage counseling is often the best way for couples to reconnect, rebuild trust, and find their way back to a loving partnership.

Support Groups

In addition to marriage counseling, attending a support group can be tremendously helpful for both partners. Support groups allow you to connect with others experiencing similar challenges, share stories, ask questions, and find empathy and understanding. Many support groups focus specifically on addiction/substance misuse, and relationships. Look for groups in your local community or find online options.

Making the decision to seek help shows your commitment to improving the health of your relationship and overcoming this difficult situation together. While the road ahead may not always be easy, professional counseling and support groups can provide the tools and resources you need to cope with addiction’s impact on your marriage.

What are the Signs of Addiction?

Signs of addiction can vary depending on the type of substance or behavior involved, but there are some common indicators to look out for:

  • Increased Tolerance: Over time, individuals may require larger amounts of the substance or engage in the behavior more frequently to achieve the same effects.
  • Withdrawal Symptoms: When the substance or behavior is reduced or stopped, individuals may experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, nausea, or shaking.
  • Loss of Control: Individuals may find it challenging to control their substance use or behavior, often engaging in it even when they are aware of the negative consequences.
  • Neglecting Responsibilities: As addiction takes hold, individuals may neglect their responsibilities at work, school, or home, prioritizing the substance or behavior over their obligations.
  • Social Withdrawal: Individuals struggling with addiction may withdraw from social activities, hobbies, or once-enjoyed interests to focus more on their addictive behavior.
  • Continued Use Despite Consequences: Even when facing negative consequences like relationship problems, financial difficulties, or health issues, individuals with addiction may persist in their behavior.
  • Lack of Interest in Other Activities: Hobbies, friendships, and activities that were once important may take a backseat to the addiction.
  • Physical Changes: Some addictions can lead to physical changes like bloodshot eyes, sudden weight loss or gain, or noticeable changes in grooming habits.
  • Financial Issues: Individuals suffering from addiction may struggle with financial problems due to spending significant amounts of money for their substance cravings.
  • Legal Problems: Engaging in illegal activities to obtain the substance or, due to impaired judgment, can lead to legal issues.

Get Help for You and Your Spouse’s Addiction at AToN Center

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If you and your spouse are struggling with addiction, know that help is available at AToN Center. We understand the challenges and hardships that come with addiction in marriage, and we are here to support both of you on your journey to recovery. Our specialized programs offer personalized treatment plans tailored to your unique needs, ensuring that you receive the care and attention you deserve. Take the courageous step to seek help today at AToN Center and rebuild your lives together. Contact us now!

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