Realizing you married an addict brings about a host of emotions. My first thought was I can handle this. We just need to get him to a counselor and an AA program. Secondly, I can love away the hurts of his past life and the addiction will go away. Truly, my all time favorite is, “He loves me so much surely he does not want to choose the addiction over me!”
I Married an Addict Trying to Resolve Issues in My Life
The hardest realization for me is, I married an addict because of the hurts, habits, and hang-ups in my life. I married him because I was trying to feed my own addiction to relationships, to control other people, to be the hero, to feed my need to be wanted and loved desperately.
Truth: My addiction to controlling another person’s life or fixing them makes me as sick, if not sicker than the addict I am trying to “help”.
In my case, I kept seeking unavailable relationships with men who put me second. Being first in their lives after God was too much responsibility for me. It felt clingy, clawing, and suffocating. Then when I did hit the right mix of self-struggle inside another person, I was intrigued by their inner conflict and how they dealt with it. Where could I help or fix them?
False: Loving another person can transform them against their will.
Choosing an emotionally or physically unavailable partner was intentional at least on a subconscious level for me. How do I know this? Sitting in my closet holding the phone, weeping over yet one more failed long distance relationship, I came to a realization. I was choosing the same type of man over and over. Even though each man seemed to struggle with different issues,( drugs, work, depression, long-distance relationships, anger, fear) all these men came with significant internal struggles that kept them at a distance and made me want to rescue them. It takes vulnerability to love another person for who they are and not your fairytale dream of who you would like them to become.
Truth: We can’t fix ourselves let alone another person.
Why did I freely choose to marry an addict? Where was the connection? Often my answers started with “I didn’t know,” “He lied,” “I thought it would stop when..” but as I matured in Christ and recovery I begin to realize my unhealed brokenness created an attraction to an addictive personality. The Message Bible says it best:
Matthew 7 1-5 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.
False: If he would just stop the addiction, I could be happy.
While crying in my closet, miserable over the end of yet another failed relationship I had a revelation. I was the one making myself crazy! Not the long list of ” hims” I choose to bring into my life. Trying to make people behave in a way you can live with never works. My unhealed hurts were coming to the surface and another romantic entanglement was not going to solve it. I need to get up and wash my own face first. My wholeness, happiness, and feeling of serenity could no longer depend on the performance or lack thereof by another human being.
Truth: Frankly, loving another whole person is scary.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe only Christ was perfect and that all breathing people still have areas of their lives that contain hurts, habits, and hang-ups, BUT, mature adults realize this and work conscientiously to heal the inner parts of themselves.
As 2 Cor 3:18 teaches: we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
I married an addict for better or for worse and started in earnest on my own healing journey. God’s divine grace brought me to a place where I faced my own addictions to relationships. My own struggles to transform myself and others are now laying at God’s feet. Each time I try to pick up the old controlling behaviors, I am often painfully reminded that my “job” is to surrender my life and the life of my spouse to the Jesus. Our combined wholeness depends on our obedience to God not our misplaced obedience to each other or the world. So out of my own sickness, I married an addict, who through just being himself encourages me to mature and take responsibility for my choices, my actions, my reactions, and ultimately my daily surrender to my God.
Why did you marry addict?