13 November 2007

Why stay in a relationship with an addict?

Mary P Jones has written two excellent posts over at A Room of Mama's Own in which she gives her answer this question. The first focuses on what addiction is and what it isn't. The second is more about the actual answer to this question. Good stuff.

Personally, I like to think that I would take my commitments, both to the person and to the institution of marriage itself, seriously enough that I would stay married, even if she turned out to be a full-blown addict of any sort. This is largely due to my upbringing and the very strong emphasis in my religious denomination on the sanctity and permanence of marriage. Nonetheless, they are called vows, and I also want to take any vows I make to be taken seriously. Primarily by myself, but also by others.

Staying married, however, doesn't mean living with or putting up with the crap. Frankly I'm amazed that Bitter Cookie stayed with me for almost 24 years. Things went downhill almost continuously during throughout our time together. There was a brief, inexplicable rekindling of our romance for a few months less than a year before she filed for divorce (I'd been sober 3 years at the time), but other than that, the relationship just continued to worsen. It was so bad, that one of my daughters actually told me she was glad we got divorced. In the end, Bitter Cookie decided that she liked me even less sober than drunk and that was it.

Notice I started off saying, "I like to think..." The fact of the matter is that I've never really had to deal with the kind of behavior like that the spouse of an addict like the Junky's Wife describes in her blog. I look at my life today, at the rudeness and inconsiderateness that I put up with at home and how I react to it, and I see that it probably wouldn't be that simple for me. My friends think I'm nuts to stick around but for whatever reason, I seem to lack "courage to change the things I can." Well, that, in part, is what working the 12 Steps on this relationship is going to be about, I guess. Sigh!




Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

7 comments:

thejunkyswife said...

I guess we never know what we can or will take until we are in the situations, you know? I was married once before, to an alcoholic, and it didn't take me very long to get out of the relationship. His behavior wasn't nearly as insane as Mr. Junky's, but I had less of a connection with him, and I tolerated far less from him. It scares me, sometimes, to think of how much this madman I've married means to me...I sometimes wonder where it will stop.

Kathy Lynne said...

On the flip side, the hardest part for me in getting sober, once the obsession to drink was lifted, is my marriage to my "normal" husband. I am changing and he isn't. That's not to say it won't get better but it does make the road to recovery a little more bumpy. Sometimes I wish I could just live in a sober house so I could focus all my energies on my sobriety. It comes first but there are so many competing forces such as husband, children, job, etc. that make it challenging.

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Sorry it has taken me so darn long to get over here. I think I'm going to follow through on my idea of reading blogs on weekends and posting during the week...

I think that your statement -- "staying married, however, doesn't mean living or putting up with crap" -- is key. In staying in a relationship with an addict, the partner has to learn how to have healthy boundaries and take care of themselves too. That's why the Anon programs and recovery for partners are so wonderful and beneficial.

I think a lot of people misunderstand "staying in a relationship with an addict" as "resigning yourself to letting someone take advantage of you" -- and that doesn't have to be the case.

More to blog about, go figure! ;)

James said...

Help.... I just celebrated my 6 month sober date. I have been an alcoholic for 20 years. During the first 30 days of sobriety, I fought tooth and nail to get back together with my wife, who is still very much an addict. She is addicted to marijuana. She has told me she cannot and will not live without it, and if we were going to reunite, after an 8 month separation, I would have to accept it. She also still binge drinks, but never around me. I am torn between whether or not I should leave her, once and for all, having chosen the sober path.......advice, please!

Namenlosen Trinker said...

James, we know far too little about you and your situation to be giving you advice about what to do. Other than suggesting that you continue to discuss this with your sponsor and other people, in and out of A.A., whose opinions you respect. Oh, and whatever you do, don't pick up a drink. There's no problem so bad that a drink can't make it worse.

Anonymous said...

Difficult one. My other half is a seriously harmful drinker with brain and liver damage now. Many health problems. I have tried to get help for him as he simply does not want to live and so now I am left wondering......should I just let him die?

Namenlosen Trinker said...

Short of trying to get a court order for involuntary commitment on the basis that your partner is a danger to themselves (an attempt that would probably fail), Anonymous, what can you possibly do to prevent the consequences of their behavior from playing out? Nothing, I think. So why should you stick around and allow yourself to suffer by watching it happen? There's always the chance that the act of leaving will motivate him or her to DO SOMETHING about their drinking.

I highly recommend attending Al-Anon as a way of getting support for taking care of yourself.