What does it mean to be abused verbally everyday by someone who you know truly loves you?
What does it mean to live with someone who has horrible mood swings, on a nearly constant basis?
What does it mean to have no money, ever?
What does it mean to never be secure of your or your children’s welfare?
Thank G-d have never been married to an addict. I have, however, had the opportunity of knowing and working with people who have been. First, generally speaking, people who are addicted and married are statistically not drug addicts. The addicted partner may be a food addict, or a gambling addict, but generally not drugs. Why, again, because people are generally past that period in their lives prior to saying “I do”.
Addiction is addiction however, and is absolutely as destructive whether it is drug addiction or exercise addiction. It destroys the family just as quickly if the spouse is working 18 hours a day and never sees their family because they are a work addict, or if they spend the same amount of time per day at the gym.
Addiction is addiction. It is an “equal opportunity destroyer”. I have seen crack cocaine take the most “well-heeled” person, and turn them into a street rat with-in a month. I have personally witnessed methamphetamine nearly destroy a marriage, and nearly take a life.
There are people who understand exactly what it is that you are going through. Other addicts, who have found a way to stay clean and sober, therapists who used to be addicts, doctors who were as well. I do not exaggerate, these people know precisely, at any given moment, exactly how you feel, and can help you and your spouse to move through, and eventually past, the craziness that is currently your life.
And as much as a holistic network of therapists, doctors, trained friends and family members can go a VERY long way toward assisting the addict, there is a group that I recommend equally as whole-heartedly for the non addicted spouse. It is a program called Al-Anon. This is a 12 Step Group. But as much the addicted spouse needs an extended support system that truly understands what they are going through, so does the sober one.
As wonderful as Al-Anon is, it does, of course have its negative points, as does every recovery and support program. Everyone is in everyone else’s business constantly. People ride in on high horses (no pun intended) on a regular basis. Etc. Still, all in all, it is a superb program, where family members of an addict can find genuine, qualified help.
What the non-addicted spouse learns primarily in Al-Anon is they have no control over the addicted spouse. But that also, while the spouse is in active addiction, they basically lose all right as a parent in all decision making when it comes to the children, finances, etc, until they are sober, and prove that they can stay that way.
So what it means to be married to an addict is incredibly complex. It is frightening, it is utterly unsure, insecure, and instable. However, after all is said and done, the proper help is received on both ends, and in a utopic situation, the addict gets and stays sober, and the couple remains married. Their marriage can be one of the richest, most rewarding relationships that either has ever experienced. When both have gone so deeply into one another’s psyches, and learned each other so well, often not only do they wind up a wonderfully happy married couple, but a couple of best friends as well.