You aren’t really sure where to start with your marriage, but you know that being married to an addict is taking a toll. That’s where I come in. As a therapist, I’ve specialized in working with the family members of addicts and alcoholics. Specifically, people who are married to an addict or a person in recovery. So, there are some common questions that come up when I’m working with a married couple. Read on for these questions, and maybe consider your answers. If you want more support or an unbiased party to help process it all, let’s talk.
“People tell me I’m enabling my spouse by staying in the marriage. But, I’m not ready to leave. What should I do?”
I have a different view of enabling than maybe some of your friends. Enabling is technically when we’re taking away the natural consequences of someone’s actions. But in many instances in our life, we have to “enable” because of our life circumstances. For example, the alcoholic is calling in sick again to their job because of a hangover. Of course, the spouse calls the boss to lie in order for the breadwinner to keep their job. Yes, that’s enabling. And, it’s also necessary. The spouse who is not working may need the alcoholic spouse to keep their job or else they’re really screwed. In this case, my advice is to stop listening too much to others who insist on enabling is either bad or good. It just may be where you are in life. And then do what the next right thing is, such as begin to look for work yourself.
“My husband has just begun to recover from alcoholism, and he wants me to throw out all our booze. I don’t have the problem, he does. Why should I have to do that?”
Another common question/attitude. And here’s a direct answer:
Getting rid of the booze has a better chance of setting up the recovering addict for success.
Many people ask “what can I do to get them to stop?” And then they don’t want to throw out the booze when push comes to shove. Nobody is saying you have to stop drinking, or that forever you’ll never have any Booze in your house. But throwing it out, for now, is a way to set up your life to get much better.
“My wife is finally getting the help I’ve wanted her to get for many years. But, I am still mad at her. What should I do?”
The damage that alcoholism and drug addiction do to a marriage can be long-lasting. And, many marriages are then bent to the breaking point even if the addict gets clean. That said, presumably, if you’ve always wanted your spouse to get help, you want them to succeed. That’s why I say that your job was to apply leverage to get them to seek help. Now that they have, your job is to offer love and support. You need support for yourself in either Al-Anon or individual therapy for support people, to deal with your feelings that still exist. When the recovering person has some time under their belt (like maybe 90 days to six months) let’s revisit. Returning to couples counseling will give you a chance to process your feelings with your spouse in a productive way.
“My husband says it’s not the drinking-it’s depression. And I think he is depressed. Isn’t insisting on alcoholism treatment doing more harm if he’s really depressed?”
No. You’re not a doctor, clinician, or therapist. You can resign starting now from the diagnosis department. Then, resume your most important job of taking care of yourself. If the drinking is a problem in the marriage, then insisting that it stop is what you want. If the alcoholic goes to treatment and discovers that it’s actually depression and not drinking – Great! Now, they’ll get the help they need, and your life might get better. But, in my experience and professional opinion, addiction treatment is the first step. If somebody is doing damaging drinking in a marriage, they have to end the drinking prior to doing anything about any underlying issues. This includes depression and anxiety. Yes, the alcoholic is probably depressed. But, insisting they get depression treatment rather than alcoholism treatment can sometimes be bullshit. Just a way to keep drinking. Keep your eye on the ball. You want your life to be drinking-free.
We can help your relationship thrive, in couples therapy online in New Jersey or in Mountainside, NJ.
If you’re seeking a trained and qualified professional for your couples’ therapy, NJ based therapists from Mountainside Counseling should be your top choice. See firsthand how you can build a stronger relationship with my targeted methods. Starting marriage counseling at my New Jersey mental health clinic is simple. You don’t have to live with conflict in your relationship forever. When you’re ready to begin, follow these steps:
- Click here to schedule your first appointment.
- Meet with a trained couples therapist in New Jersey who gets it.
- Get your relationship back on track with the right tools for communication and connection.
Other Therapy Services at Mountainside Counseling Center
Here in Mountainside, NJ, we know that you are not a one-dimensional human. That’s why we treat your mental health needs in a comprehensive, individualized way. In addition to online counseling, our therapists provide a range of mindfulness-based therapy services for individuals and couples. We can help you with anxiety treatment, therapy for depression, stress management, premarital counseling, discernment counseling, and therapy for teens. One of our specialties is serving individuals recovering from addiction, the partners of addicts, and the family members and loved ones who are supporting them. We also have more on our blog, regularly updated with relevant information for your life. We look forward to meeting you, soon.