Loving an Addict

Partner addictIon

Loving the addict can be one of the most difficult and gut-wrenching experiences, especially for a husband or wife. You are in the situation where you love someone more than they love themselves. You worry more than they do about themselves. You find yourself more invested in their recovery than they are. You can see the future better than they can. You recognize that if this person that you love continues doing what they’re doing, they will end up losing everything including the marriage.

So as a husband or wife we often find ourselves being held hostage by the addict. This constant state of the emotional hostage is the fuel for co-dependence and enabling. Even if we know logically what the “right” thing to do is, we still allow ourselves to be guided by guilt, fear, and the unknown.

So after years of being on both the giving and receiving end of this distressful dynamic here is what I have learned.

When trying to help your marriage partner first ask yourself:

  • Did they ask for help?
  • Is this their agenda or mine?
  • What do they want?
  • What will make them feel happy and successful?

Many times we push our agenda and expectations onto the addict we love. But our definition of happiness may not be their hope for happiness. Our success may not look like their success. So sometimes learning to let go, breathe, live in the moment, be mindful, listen, and just being present is the healthiest and most rewarding thing we can do, not only for ourselves but our husband or wife as well.

Tom Buckley
Psychotherapist, CASII
Tom is a CASII (certifed addiction specialist) with a bachelors degree in Social Work from California State University of Los Angeles. He is the Outreach Coordinator for NOVUS Mindful Life Institute, which helps individuals affected by sex addiction. Tom has years of experience working in the social services and mental health fields including working with at-risk youth, in group home settings, in-patient and out-patient addiction services, and with the Forensic and incarcerated population inside Los Angeles County Jails.