We are all familiar with the marriage vows “for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health”. A person who expresses these vows rarely considers that the “better or worse” might include living with a partner who is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction. While some marriage partners might prefer to terminate the marriage relationship, others will stay with it and will enable a partner’s addiction to continue. The sober partner will then find himself living with the stresses and difficulties of a codependent marriage.
Addiction and Codependent Marriage
In a codependent marriage, the sober partner’s natural instincts will generate the common first response to the addicted partner’s drug or alcohol problems. The sober partner will nag, cajole, yell, and express sense of natural frustration and anger when the addicted partner succumbs to the substances that control him or her. These natural instincts fail to consider that addiction is a disease, and that the addict can no more stop using drugs or alcohol than he or she can will himself not to get a cold or flu. Rather than pigeonholing alcoholism or drug addiction into the “better or worse” part of the marriage vows, it is more appropriate to categorize addiction under the willingness to accept a partner “in sickness and in health”. The sober partner needs to realize and understand that he or she is living with a person who has contracted a serious chronic disease.
Addiction Recovery and Marriage
If you are becoming concerned that your marriage relationship is a codependent one, ask yourself a few questions:
- Is your primary motivation making your partner happy and stress-free?
- Are you trying to eliminate stress from your partner’s life while hopping that removing stress will convince him or her to stop using drugs or alcohol?
- Do you feel good about yourself when you are caring for your partner when he or she is intoxicated?
- Are you in a cycle of first nagging your partner about his or her use of drugs or alcohol, followed by assisting your partner to buy and use drugs and alcohol?
- Are you more interested in keeping the peace than in encouraging your partner to get outside help?
The answers to each of these questions will bring you closer to understanding your relationship with an addicted or alcoholic partner.
Breaking Codependency in Marriage
The first step toward breaking codependency in a marriage relationship is for the sober partner to change his or her approach to the addict. Addiction is a family disease, and many groups exist to help families and partners to solve their own issues before they try to help their addicted family member or partner to get his or her own help. Sober partners need to accept that they did not cause the addiction, that they cannot control it, and that they cannot cure it. By realizing that they did not cause and that they cannot control an addiction, a sober partner will be better able to overcome instincts that would otherwise cause the sober partner to nurture the addict. Understanding that they cannot cure the addict will help sober partners to put aside anger and frustration that often accompanies failed attempts to keep drugs and alcohol away from an addicted partner. This is not a matter of giving up on the addicted partner; rather, it is an impetus to seek outside help rather than struggling to cure a disease with methods that are generally doomed to fail.
Addiction Treatment at The Last Resort Recovery
If you and your husband are struggling in a codependent relationship, please understand that your relationship is unlikely to improve without dramatic changes in your approach to it. The Last Resort Recovery offers mens addiction treatment programs to help men overcome their addictions and live happier lives. Additionally, the Last Resort Recovery offers other programs such as:
Please call the Last Resort Recovery Center at (512) 750-6750 for more information about codependent marriage relationships and assistance in recovering the good in your relationship with your partner. We can provide the support, encouragement, and therapy that you and your partner need to overcome both your partner’s addictions and the destructive tendencies that those addictions have brought into your marriage.