Married to a recovering addict

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. Hi there. Been married for 3.5 years, 6 months into the marriage my husband began his oxy addiction of 2.5 years. I had no solid proof of my 6 month suspicion until i blatently caught him one morning in the bathroom. Forced him into rehab unless he would rather lose me. he went to rehab, but it basically took him about a year to get sober.

Now he has supposedly been sober for 6 months. Which is great. But I am feeling all the codependent issues, trust issues, feel like i have lost my feelings for him and that he is such a different person than i thought he was, angry how he could do this to us and to me. I try to bring those initial feelings of love back since i was not brought up to believe that divorce is ok. I know he is a decent loving person, and i do love him, but lately i feel i’m not in love with him. But I do everything for him (dinner, clean, work full time, bills, sex when I don’t even want it, etc) and i am feeling like i’m not getting anything back.

I am just depressed and overwhelmed and tired. I can’t remember the last time i really wanted sex, or the last time he flirted or pampered me to turn me onto sex. He usually just expects it when he wants it, and doesn’t really want to do anything for it. But when I don’t just go to him and give it to him he is upset and threatens me with masturbation or throws a fit. I try to get him to take the initiation to go to church, or plan something for us together. Never happens unless I plan it.

So, obviously there are many issues here. Is it naive of me to stick it out in hopes that our relationship will change? I feel like I try different things to fix certain scenarios. But mostly what I do is try to change myself to make it better. I am feeling from all this that i don’t even want to be married, find myself looking at other men, thinking of ex boyfriends. It’s horrible and I am praying to take those thoughts away. I love him, but I truly am not happy right now. Any advice besides Al-anon? Ive tried several Al-anon classes and do not find it effective for me. Am i being unpatient? Please help with any advice. Thank you.

A. You do not necessarily need Al-Anon but rather marriage therapy. Al-Anon can be helpful but you are also in need of professional assistance. Many of the difficulties you have written about are relationship issues as well as addiction-related issues. It is not naïve to think that this marriage can last if you want it to but it would be difficult to repair the relationship without the help of an experienced marriage therapist. You both should consider counseling and this could be either individual counseling with a therapist who the two of you like or couples counseling, where you both see a therapist together, or both. It is necessary that you both seek counseling.

I do not think that either one of you going to counseling alone would be enough to repair the relationship. Keeping clean is an everyday struggle in which he will need support in order to keep from relapsing. You have mentioned many issues that you are struggling with. Both of you need guidance and therapy can help. If each of you are committed to making the relationship last, and are willing to do the work through counseling to make that happen, and if you are truly interested in staying with your husband, then there is a good chance that this marriage can be saved.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 31 Aug 2007

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2007). Married to a recovering addict. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/08/31/married-to-a-recovering-addict/