Marriage is a beautiful bond, and it can be a rewarding union between two people. However, when one person falls victim to addiction, that union can be threatened. Addiction can negatively impact a marriage, making it difficult to tell when to stay or go. Love, especially the love felt for a spouse, cannot simply be switched off. There are many factors and potential life changes to consider when thinking about leaving an addicted spouse.
How To Know When To Leave An Addicted Spouse
People often wonder when is the right time to leave an addicted spouse, and it all depends on the situation and individual circumstances. However, there are some signs that can indicate it’s time to leave. These signs include if a spouse, partner or significant other has:
- verbally or physically used anyone in the family
- used drugs and/or alcohol in front of any family members
- gotten high or drunk in front of any family members
- refused to seek help
- stolen from the family or others
- created constant, negative turmoil in the lives of family members or friends due to their substance use
For some, it may take only one of the above signs to make them leave. While others may experience all the above signs and still be unsure whether to stay or go. Knowing when to leave an addicted spouse depends on the exact actions of the addicted spouse and their partner’s tolerance towards their actions. When these issues escalate to the point safety is a concern, then it is time to consider leaving. [bottom-inline-cta]
Leaving An Addicted Spouse
Sometimes, in order to recover from a relationship with an addicted spouse, it is necessary to leave. When someone gets space and time away from their relationship, they can see what life is like without addiction and its many consequences. In some cases, detaching from an addicted spouse may be the wake-up call a person needs to realize the damage caused by their addictive behaviors and get help. However, leaving doesn’t necessarily need to be permanent either. It could also mean no longer participating in enabling behaviors, such as bringing home a bottle of alcohol in order to avoid a fight.
Why Some People Stay With An Addicted Spouse
When thinking about leaving an addicted spouse, it is common for people to feel anxious and uncertain. It is important to determine the source of these feelings before making a final decision about leaving. Possible reasons someone may stay with their addicted spouse include:
- if children are involved
- changes in finances and living situation
- they’re in a codependent relationship
- fear the addicted spouse will get worse without them
If Children Are Involved
When children are involved, leaving a spouse can become more complicated. Often, people may not want their child to be without their mom or dad, so they will stay in a bad situation. Kids are like sponges, absorbing everything they see and hear. If they hear an addicted parent verbally abusing their other parent, or the child takes the brunt of the use, it can be emotionally scarring. This is why it is so important to get an addicted spouse enrolled in an addiction treatment program so they can begin to heal and support their partner and spouse.
Changes In Finances And Living Situation
In some cases, the addicted spouse may be the main breadwinner of the family. This can make it difficult to leave, as some people may struggle on their own. So, they stay with an addicted individual because they feel they have no other choice. Not having a place to go when considering leaving a spouse can also be a big deterrent. Having a place to call home provides security. Without that security, staying with an addicted spouse can seem like a necessity, especially when children are involved. Leaving an addicted spouse can feel overwhelming, however, counseling can be very helpful in these situations. No matter what changes need to be made, it is important to know there is help available.
Addiction In A Codependent Relationship
When someone is suffering from addiction, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of constantly catering to their needs because they’re the one with the “problem.” As a result, the non-addict may cease trying to improve themselves and this can happen without the person even realizing it. [middle-callout] In healthy relationships, people continually grow and challenge each other. But in relationships involving addiction, growth often stagnates for both people involved. It’s fairly common for those who are with someone suffering from addiction to struggle with codependent tendencies, and talking with people in similar situations can be helpful. When trying to identify if a relationship is codependent, it may be worth checking out a local Codependent Anonymous (CODA) meeting. CODA can take the focus off the addicted spouse, and help individuals learn about themselves, why they stay with their addicted spouse and how to develop and implement better boundaries if they do decide to stay.
Fear The Addicted Spouse Will Get Worse
In some cases, a non-addicted spouse may feel responsible for their addicted counterpart. This can cause them to stay in the relationship because they feel that if they leave, their partner’s addiction may spiral out of control. Sometimes, when someone has been wrapped up in a tough situation for a long time, it can be hard for them to see anything but what is directly in front of them. This can blind them to other possible solutions to their problem. One way to ease any skeptical feelings about leaving is to get as much perspective about the situation as possible. If family members and close friends are constantly mentioning that something is wrong with the relationship, it may be time to step back and listen. Try looking at the situation as objectively as possible, and consider factors such as whether the relationship is a healthy one and what changes could be made if it isn’t.
Finding Help For An Addicted Spouse
Ultimately, the choice to leave is completely up to the non-addicted spouse. However, if the addicted spouse is willing to enroll in an addiction treatment program, there may still be hope to recover together. Inpatient treatment can provide the tools and resources necessary for a successful recovery and ensure the best individual care. Although relationships affected by addiction may never be the same, with the help of formal treatment, they can get better. To learn more about whether or not you should leave an addicted spouse, contact a specialist.
Sources National Center for Biotechnology Information—Substance Use Treatment and Family Therapy, Chapter 2 Impact of Substance Use on Families