God, Marriage, and Addiction 0
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Advice for Married Couples: How to Overcome Addiction to Save Your Marriage
My wife and I have been through some pretty tough times together in the last few years. I suffered a difficult injury in a car crash that eventually lead to a painkiller addiction. I found myself acting like a different person and shutting out my wife, not to mention that I was spending our money on drugs. Needless to say I was in a really bad place. Rather than kicking me out, my wife pushed for us to start counseling, and then I sought addiction treatment. It was the best thing I could have done, and I feel so lucky that we were able to save our marriage. I know we are both healthier and happier for it. And even though that rough patch was pretty rocky, I think it shows just how much we love each other that we were able to pick up the pieces and put things back together.
An increasing number of recent studies are finding that there are more physical, mental and emotional health benefits to staying married than we previously realized. While a healthy marriage obviously brings us joy, love and companionship, research has shown that marriage may also improve our physical and mental health. One study showed that married couples often have lower cortisol levels, which indicates a lower level of stress. Lower levels of cortisol have been associated with reduced inflammation, which may help prevent certain diseases.
The results of this study also complement previous social science research, which showed that married couples generally tend to be happier than those who aren’t married. Why were the married couples happier, healthier and less stressed? It is believed that having a supportive spouse to talk to and depend upon during times of stress or crisis can help ease the mind. Additionally, sharing responsibilities like chores, housework and childcare are all helpful in reducing one’s psychological stress.
Marriage can indeed have many benefits on your overall life - but what if you (or your spouse) are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction? This can complicate and even strain the marital relationship. Addiction causes many issues in marriages and other relationships, including but not limited to:
- a higher risk of infidelity
- increase of fraudulent or illegal behaviors
- increased risk of abusive behavior
- increased instance of divorce
- codependence or enabling behavior by the addict’s loved ones
Various studies have shown that marriages where one or more parties struggle with addiction are up to 3 times more likely to end in divorce. If you truly love your spouse and are interested in saving your marriage (or at least giving it one last chance) here are some pieces of advice that might help:
First, you’ll need to become aware of codependence and how to stop it. Codependent behavior occurs in almost all interpersonal relationships where one or more parties are addicted. It’s a behavior seen when the loved one of an addict actually participates in behaviors that enable the addiction to continue. This can be done knowingly or unknowingly.
Know that it is important not to drink in front of your alcoholic husband or wife. It is also important to support your spouse through times of transition. There may be personality changes as you or your loved one go through addiction recovery treatment and start getting off the drugs and alcohol. Marriage counseling with a licensed therapist may be helpful in navigating through this difficult time.
Some general advice to all couples affected by addiction, whether married or otherwise, is that it is important to stop allowing addiction to hide in the unspoken shadows. Talk to your loved one about your concerns. See how you can help your loved one get into addiction recovery treatment (or ask your loved one to help you, if you are the addict).
It is possible for many married couples to heal from addiction together as partners. However, if the marriage is becoming abusive or if one (or both) partners are struggling to move forward from a traumatic event such as infidelity, it might be best to consider whether the marriage can be saved. By working with an addiction recovery program as well as a skilled marriage counselor, you can determine the best options for you.