When one partner in a relationship is grappling with an addiction problem, it is very rare that the addiction does not negatively impact the health of the relationship. Whatever the cause of an individual’s addiction, a troubled relationship may actually make things worse for them.
As a domestic violence lawyer from a firm like the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright can explain, addiction becomes a vicious cycle: An addict turns to their drug or behavior of choice to block out the pain of their relationship, which then contributes to destroying that relationship further.
Though couples counseling can help both individuals recognize the destructiveness of an addiction, it cannot in itself “fix” the addict. Dealing with an addiction is something that an individual must do on his or her own. However, counseling can provide support opportunities for both partners as an individual works through their addiction program. It may also offer relief from the pain generated by a relationship that is troubled because of the additive behavior.
Another benefit to seeking couples counseling is the prevention of enabling behaviors. When one partner is engaging in addictive behaviors, it is very easy and common for the other partner to enable that addiction, and enter into a codependent relationship with him or her.
Codependency can lead to additional problems such as addiction on the part of the second partner, domestic violence, and serious health conditions if one is meeting all of the obligations of both persons.
Enabling a Partner’s Addiction
When one partner has an active addiction and the other partner eventually succumbs to the same or another form of addiction, it can become very difficult for either to disengage from the destructive behavior and quit.
It’s important to seek counseling for your own behavior as well as for the relationship itself, preferably as early as possible. Of course, this requires both partners to have the desire to repair their relationship. However, unless the addict ceases their addictive behavior, it may be impossible for the relationship to survive. It may also prove to be too detrimental for the other person to continue in the relationship while the addict is indulging in their behavior.
Another important consideration is whether or not there are children involved. Their safety should be regarded as the priority and whatever steps are necessary to protect them should be taken. This may necessitate petitioning a court for an emergency restraining order.
Enabling a partner’s addiction may take the form of covering up their addiction so that their employer, friends, or family members do not realize what is happening. It may involve lending or gifting significant amounts of money, lying to others, or putting up with abusive behavior. Mental and emotional abuse can be just as devastating as physical abuse and should be recognized for the harm it can cause. Couples counseling can help both partners to recognize how each has been harmed by the addiction and how the patterns of behavior on both sides has lent to the toxicity of the relationship.
If couples therapy isn’t working, you might need to reach out to a divorce or domestic abuse lawyer to save yourself from a toxic relationship.