There’s no doubt that many forms of addictive behaviour cause a fall out amongst close family members, work colleagues and have the potential to damage many aspects of society as a whole. One area that it often takes more toll is on the marriages of those who find themselves trapped in the vicious cycle of an addiction such as this.
Addiction in the marital home can take many forms including:
A marriage may begin with the non-addicted spouse knowing about the problem and working hard to come to terms with it and help their wife or husband. This can sometimes succeed but can also end up with the situation worsening, eventually leading to divorce. Other partners are unaware of the addiction initially and don’t become aware of the extent of it until later when perhaps things get noticeably worse.
Addiction can end up with other harmful behaviours developing. For example, drug and alcohol addiction can involve violence in the domestic situation which soon becomes unbearable. There may be children involved who are being harmed by the situation. A substance like alcohol reduces the inhibitions and can make a partner who is usually in control become violent and abusive. A person who has a gambling addiction may turn to crime in order to feed their compulsion.
If both partners have an addiction problem, for instance, if they are both alcoholics, then the relationship is more likely to thrive, at least for longer, according to research undertaken by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Out of a group of over 600 couples, heavy drinking partners had about the same divorce rate as non-drinking couples (30%), compared to 50% where only one spouse was a heavy drinker.
There’s no doubt that divorce rates are affected by problems such as addiction and that many marriages end in failure because of the problems of one partner. Finding a way through and helping the partner is always an option but takes a lot of hard work that sometimes doesn’t produce the right result no matter how good the intentions are. Strong marital partnerships, however, can overcome the challenge of addiction and there are many examples around the world of couples who have done just that.