Marriage, Divorce and Addiction

Marriage, Divorce and Addiction

By Lakeview Health
Lakeview Health
Published: May 10, 2012

It’s true that a marriage can survive a drug addiction, but it’s also equally true that marriage relationships are always negatively affected by the addiction. Addiction is considered a family disease and it therefore directly impacts all non-using immediate family members. This causes great strain on a couple, both before and after drug rehab. Getting educated and informed about the different dynamics that take place in a marital relationship with an addicted member may assist couples with avoiding divorce.

Unhealthy Marriages in Addiction

Addiction encompasses a whirlwind of emotions that are unstable and intense. Toxic relationships begin to form. Different events surrounding addiction produce unwanted, uncomfortable feelings and thoughts. Some harmful feelings are:

  • Mistrust – Usually produced from continued lying or controlling behaviors
  • Betrayal – Usually produced from broken promises and/or lack of follow through on commitments
  • Rejection – Usually produced by feeling turned away, detached or unwanted by the other person.
  • Unloved – Usually produced by feeling unaccepted, lonely or despised.
  • Pain– Usually produced by increased conflict, miscommunication and avoidance.

Hurting one another is a product of addiction and, once the addict decides to attend a substance abuse rehab, relationship issues still need to be worked on.

Marriage Relationships Change with Addiction Treatment

When an addict goes to addiction treatment, he or she will experience a flooding of emotions. Once detox is complete, addicts recognize how addiction has negatively contributed to the destruction of relationships. Non-addicts will also have to address a level of responsibility for their own behaviors during the active addiction. Behavioral changes to be made:

  • Identifying Codependency – Recognizing when you are putting someone else’s needs above your own.
  • Building Trust – Practicing honesty.
  • Learning Forgiveness – Setting healthy boundaries to avoid repeating the same patterns.
  • Resolving Past Pains – Learning new skills such as conflict resolution and fighting fair.

Learning new skills takes practice and attending Lakeview Health’ family program will set the foundation for some of these changes to take place.

Healthy Marriages in Recovery

Seeing a relationship through the recovery process takes work but it is doable. When non-addicts are actively involved with their own recovery programs, the relationship can continue to blossom. A healthy marriage relationship must contain:

  • Love – Unconditional love is not the same as enabling behavior. It is important to be honest and tough when needed.
  • Respect – Use assertive communication, be responsible for your own behaviors without attributing blame, and remember the value that the other person has in your life.
  • Acceptance – Do not attempt to change the other person to fit what your expectations are. Full acceptance allows the other individual to thrive and grow, ultimately benefiting your relationship as a couple.

Options for Recovering Relationships

It is common for dysfunction to attract itself. Addicts will pair up with non-addicts who have enabling qualities. Enabling qualities will seem attractive to an addict, but the enabling will contribute to his or her continued substance abuse. If the non-addict monitors the addict’s every move once he or she is back home from drug rehab, it will only contribute to a potential relapse. This is why it is essential for both parties to be accountable for how they contributed to unhealthy patterns. Three options recovery relationships face are:

  • Marriage Counseling – An addiction professional will be most helpful in navigating the new patterns of behavior in recovery as they impact your relationship.
  • Separation – Prior to deciding to divorce, some couples will seek a period of separation for a limited amount of time to work on themselves and their relationship without being around each other 24/7. This serves as a reflection period.
  • Divorce- When you cannot forgive and move forward, are unable to reconcile or the above two options have not helped you, this is your last option. Sometimes, people change as a result of addiction and are not able to function together in a new relationship.