You also don’t have to contribute to it….
There are hundreds of blogs and websites on the internet about marriage. How to improve it, save it, sustain it. Many of them give good advice, many of them don’t. I want to discuss the ones that don’t. I feel that many of the ministries and blogs rely on formulas. If you do A and B you will get C. Christianity is not a formula. What works for one may not work for another. When it comes to dealing with someone who is addicted to something such as sex, food, drugs, and alcohol, standard marriage formulas or ideas do not work. I am a recovering alcoholic, and I want to share some things and let you know what may work better. I say may, because every one is different. Hopefully sharing what worked in my life, and what didn’t, you will have a better idea of how to deal with a spouse who is an addict.
You cannot make someone recover. You cannot love them enough, yell enough, or cry enough to make them stop. Trying to be a better wife or husband will not change them. Enabling them to continue in their behavior under the guise of love will not make them stop, it will make the problem worse. Enabling behaviors are calling in sick for them, bailing them out of jail, paying their fines, babying them or having sympathy for them if they are hungover or dope sick. It’s okay to have empathy, but not sympathy. Sympathy is ‘you poor thing’ and making sure they eat, drink, etc. as if caring for a sick child. Empathy is ‘I am sorry you feel so bad.’ and letting them take care of themselves. However, if they are unable to eat or drink anything and keep it down or have the DT’s you must get them medical attention. I think you understand what I mean.
When I was deep into my alcoholism I had many people begging and pleading for me to stop. We addicts can be selfish though and I believed that they were my problem. If everyone just left me alone and did what I wanted, I would be fine. When the begging and pleading didn’t work, they enabled me by watching my son, giving me money, bailing me out of jail and more. The more they did to try to ‘help’ me, all the while telling me it was because they loved me, the more I took advantage of their ‘help’.
What actually helps an addict? Letting them hit their bottom. You must pray for them, but it has to be the most dangerous kind of prayer there is. “Whatever it takes God.” You have to be willing to hold them accountable for their actions. The Bible has many scriptures about holding one another accountable, and none of them say ‘unless it’s your spouse, then you can’t hold them accountable for anything.’ (Yes, I have actually heard and read that advice.) Different people have different bottoms. Some lose everything. Some fearing the loss of everything will open their eyes. Standing by them, not saying anything, or doing anything, will only lead them further down a destructive path.
Sometimes, separation is in order. I know many may not agree. However, many children have been taken from homes of addicts, even if only one spouse was using. Many addicts become violent when using, and your child’s safety is paramount, even over your marriage. I grew up with alcoholics, and I can tell you the damage that was done is still being repaired by God, at 42 years old. If you decide to separate, you can ask them to go into rehab or attend meetings before you or they return home. Be an encouragement if they are trying to find treatment or meetings, but don’t do it for them. When they do get into recovery, be their biggest cheerleader, but make sure they have some recovery time under them before you begin restoration. Often what happens is the spouse will attend three or four meetings, the other gets excited and restoration begins, only to have the addict go right back out once they are together again.
Keep praying, and then pray some more. But also be an active participant, don’t just leave it up to God. Often God will not do anything until we take that first step in confronting them. I recommend Celebrate Recovery. It’s a 12 step Christ based recovery program. The addict as well as those that love them are welcome at these meeting. This program has been instrumental at keeping me sober and growing my relationship with Jesus. You can find meetings by clicking on CR groups and info here-http://www.celebraterecovery.com/
Feel free to ask me questions regarding this topic or CR in the comments.