Being married to someone with an addiction is a difficult experience. Your love for them gives you hope that the person you married is still there somewhere behind their struggle, but the experience of watching their addiction take its toll on them (and your relationship) sheds doubt on whether what you had can be salvaged. You’ve been thinking about divorce, and are afraid that it’s the only course of action left—but is there another option? Can sticking together for the long haul really work?
When Working Together Might Help
When you feel yourself wearing down, it’s instinctual for you to want to leave and distance yourself from the chaos that addiction can create. That’s a completely normal emotion to feel—your health should be a priority. But sometimes, working through it together can provide both of you with positive learning experiences through the process of treatment, and you should consider the possibility that you can benefit from such experiences.
- Never underestimate the strength of the bond between two people and its potential for healing. Studies have shown that marriage has protective effects on substance abuse, with lower rates of Substance Abuse Disorders (SUDs) in married adults compared to those who aren’t married. Another reveals that the closeness of married couples can predict drug use during treatment. These effects are believed to be connected to the social support the comes from the bond of marriage, highlighting the potential for you helping your partner through their struggle with addiction.
- Marriage is a two-way street, and working through your spouse’s addiction won’t just help them, it will help you. One study found that seven out of ten couples can find a great deal of satisfaction in their marriage through counseling. The biggest factor that determines the benefits that you can get when working through it together is your motivation—if the both of you are motivated to grow together, you can learn from each other’s faults and shine a fresh light on the relationship, giving you new perspectives that can help you grow and heal.
- As you both grow together, you’ll get a better idea of the dynamics of your marriage and the best options and treatments for your situation. Maybe your spouse’s addiction is rooted in the dynamics of your marriage, and treatment will tell you that divorce and individual therapy might be better for the both of you. Alternatively, your spouse’s addiction could have roots in issues completely separate from your marriage, such as traumatic events that took place in their past. In this situation, treatments like art therapy that address the trauma at the core of their addiction could pave the way for your marriage to continue and thrive.
Proven Addiction Treatments for Couples
You tie the bonds of marriage because you care about someone so much that you want to experience life with them, through both good and bad times. Addiction is a perfect example of a rough time, one that could either be a sign that your marriage needs to end or a bump in the road on the way to something better. Whatever the case may be, there are a number of ways that you can address SUDs within a marriage and help you determine what the future holds for you and your spouse.
No matter what the outcome of treatment is, addressing your issues together is key, and Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT) is a great tool for doing this. One study found that in both married and unmarried couples, BCT can decrease substance use to a greater degree than couples that opt solely for individual counseling. However, that’s not to say that individual counseling isn’t helpful, as it can be a great outlet for the both of you to work on your personal growth outside of your marriage.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a go-to treatment for SUDs, showing effectiveness when used alone as well as part of a plan made up of various treatment modalities. And in the case of marriage, it should be done in combination with residential treatment programs that utilize family-based therapies so that your spouse has an outlet to address their addiction on their own, focusing on the exploration and treatment of their addiction.
Of course, there are extreme situations where the above treatments might not apply, including situations of spousal abuse. In these cases, you might feel like you’re on the brink of breaking, and calling a crisis line, such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline, can provide you with the immediate connection that you need to get the support and resources to determine the next steps to take.
Making Your Final Decision
Working through your spouse’s addiction, though challenging, can be a profound experience for the both of you, giving you the opportunity to learn more about each other and grow as a couple and as individuals. Often, treatment is just the solution that many couples need to realize their potential and overcome their struggles with addiction, and with the number of treatments available, these plans can be tailored to address the unique needs of all kinds of relationship dynamics.
Of course, despite the various treatment options that offer the possibility of recovering your marriage from addiction, sometimes divorce is still the best option. It’s a tough decision to make, to let go of someone that you love while they’re suffering—yet, in certain situations, this separation is necessary. Studies have shown that some people can actually benefit from divorce, most notably people who view it as a new beginning, rather than a personal failing.
Within a residential treatment program, your partner can have all the tools and resources to explore the nature of their addiction, your relationship, and the choices that need to be made to make way for healing. Whether you decide to continue moving forward together or part ways, temporarily or for good, the important thing is that the decision is one that takes your health into consideration. No one can judge you for your decision—if your own quality of life is being affected by your spouse’s addiction, or their addiction is fueling physical abuse that causes you to fear for your safety, you need to take care of yourself first, and focus on creating a future guided by the things that are best for you.
Alta Mira offers comprehensive rehabilitation programs for married couples struggling with addiction. Contact us today to learn how you and your spouse can learn the best path to take for their recovery and your own health.
Lead Image Source: Unsplash user Timothy Kolczak