She sets conditions for drug addict husband

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: During our 16 years of marriage my Husband was using drugs (any type of pills & crack cocaine) and lying about it. He lied to me constantly, I usually believed him, or now I realize that I chose to believe him because I didn’t want our daughter to come from a “broken family”. I felt like I was being a good Mom in putting her needs first, and he has always been a good Dad to her.. etc. although over the years at least once a year I would find some drugs of his and confront him & ask him to leave (he would stay at his Sisters) He would then make promises never to use again and he would be right back home, it was a bad pattern. His drug use was never really apparent to us until recently when he had a complete drug induced episode – he was out of control and caused a horrible scene at our family party, he was screaming at our daughter (now 15) and me. I asked him to leave for good- he then checked himself into rehab and stayed for 24 days. He has been out of rehab now for a month and a half. We are separated but he still stays here half the time. I told him that I require that he 1.go to na/aa on a daily basis 2.see a therapist 3. have a sponsor 4.have drug testing done reguarly, before I can feel good about our marriage again. He has been going to the meetings & enjoys them – he just celebrated 60 days sober, he has a therapist but has not yet done the drug testing or gotten a sponsor. I believe that if he cared about me or our marriage he would have already done all four, he says I am rushing him – am I ? it has been over a month and I am feeling like he really doesn’t care. Please help

A. You’ve been patient for 16 years and he thinks you’re rushing him? Please. He’s looking for loopholes, just like addicts often do. He seems to think that doing half of your conditions will satisfy you enough so that he doesn’t have to totally face his problems. And you are inadvertently letting him know he is right. You’re letting him come home half the time!
I know you are concerned about keeping the family together for your daughter’s sake. But, now that she is a teen, it may be more important to give her a model of an adult woman who has enough self-respect to demand that her husband follow through on his promises and do his share in keeping a marriage together. You don’t want her to think that being married requires putting up with lies, violence, and drug abuse.
You are not doing anyone a favor by backing down or making compromises. He needs a sponsor to hold him accountable for working the program. He needs drug testing to prove to you that he is staying clean. And you need to get yourself to Al-anon so that you have the support and practical help you need to keep yourself from slipping back into enabling behaviors. If there is an Al-ateen program nearby, your daughter might benefit from attending those meetings as well. Don’t underestimate how easy it is to fall back into old patterns and old habits. Put supports in place so you have the help you need to stay on track.
I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Oct 2006

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2006). She sets conditions for drug addict husband. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2006/10/11/she-sets-conditions-for-drug-addict-husband/