When you first met the love of your life, everything was perfect. They whispered sweet nothings into your ear and told you they'd never leave you. They bought you flowers and surprised you with gifts. They swept you off your feet and made you feel like you were the only person in the world for them. And then things changed… Your loved one became withdrawn and increasingly isolated. They began having mood swings and temper tantrums. Perhaps they became depressed, anxious or even abusive.
After experiencing long periods of chaos, trauma, and dramatic outbursts, you began wondering what went wrong. One painful day, you learned the truth: your beloved is struggling with addiction. Regardless of whether it is alcoholism, substance abuse, sexual addiction, or any other type of addiction, this is a devastating and heartbreaking moment in any relationship. Where do you go from here?
Upon learning that your loved one is struggling with addiction, you probably began wondering where things went wrong. Was it something you did? Something you didn't do? You might have started asking yourself what you possibly could have done differently. Perhaps you felt guilt, grief or shame. Perhaps you blamed yourself for your loved one's addiction. Could you have prevented their addiction?
First, know that this is not your fault. You are not psychic. You are not a superhero. There's absolutely nothing you have done to cause (or deserve) your loved one's addiction - and there's absolutely nothing you could have done to prevent it. This addiction doesn't mean that your spouse or partner loves you any less; it simply means that they are sick, possibly with an inherited condition, and they are probably in need of addiction recovery treatment.
In addition to helping your loved one find the proper addiction recovery treatment, you'll also want to consider joining a support group for the loved ones of addicts. Many loved ones, spouses, children and family members of addicts eventually develop a condition known as codependence. Even if you are not abusing alcohol or drugs yourself, you may be unknowingly engaging in some unhealthy behaviors. Support groups, couples counseling and twelve step programs for codependence will help you to no longer enable your loved one's addictive behaviors.
Keep in mind that there are some issues that you may not be able to heal from as a couple. If the addiction has led to infidelity, there may be a risk of sexually transmitted disease. If the addiction has led to fraud or if your partner has stolen money from yourself or others, you may feel humiliated and outraged. There is also a likelihood that these issues will cause you to struggle to forgive or trust your partner again. If that's the case and you find that you simply cannot move on, that's okay. If one or both of the partners are unable to move forward, or if there is any level of abuse (verbal, physical, mental, emotional, etc.) in the relationship, it may be in everyone's best interests to consider separation.
You'll know what's best for your relationship. The decisions to seek treatment or counseling, separate, or remain together are all deeply personal decisions that you and your partner will have to make together, as a couple. Whatever you decide, we wish you the best of luck.
Sent in by Caleb Anderson
3844 Cedar Springs Rd, Dallas, TX 75219