Tuesday, January 23, 2018

So Your Spouse is in Recovery from Addiction?

For Better or for Worse:  It’s not just for the golden years or an unexpected death.  What about the unexpected?  Addiction.  

So often the middle area is forgotten.  It is a purgatory lived on Earth.  In this discussion we are not talking about divorce or the end of a relationship.  We are talking about love or commitment or being placed in an unfair situation while in a commitment.  To love someone as an addict is
challenging.  To support and commit to that someone as they swim through recovery (and relapse and act out and self sabotage and struggle) is testing the challenging perimeter. Whether you knew of your partner’s addiction prior to marriage (or commitment) or the addiction happened after marriage you are in a position of joint struggle.  This romantic or spousal role of being connected to, and supporting, an addict is horrific at best and defines the meaning of for-better-or-for-worse.  

Moody shot of hands holding each other in romantic red light
There is plenty of discussion about dating and courtship.  And even as courting morphs from the past romantic comedies of You’ve Got Mail into a more clever contemporary hook-up The Big Sick there is a dialogue.  In divorce and in the death of a spouse there is information available to support you as you navigate through your understanding about your relationships.  But there are some domains that have no easily accessed templates.  Support for addictive partners is not something one can casually ask your BFF (best friend forever) about.  How often are people giving tips on vacation spots, restaurants, finances or IRAs, or effective ways to avoid arguments with regard to pleasing spouses (or relationships)?  Giving and getting advice on relationships and planning for the future is easy.  However tips on supporting your alcoholic partner is clandestine at best.  Tips on substance abuse is not casually asked perhaps due to shame or risk factors.  
Despite empirical evidence suggesting addiction is a disease there is a negative stigma attached.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse’s website offers further information, questions and data on prevention, treatment and the cost incurred on the United States.  So with stigmas and negative perceptions attached to addiction where does the partner (spouse or significant other) fit with regards to an addict’s recovery?  What is the partner’s role?  When does for-better-or-for-worse become such an energy drainer that one becomes better served to transition out of purgatory?  How does one maintain reverie if they choose to support their spouse while in the recovery process?  

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