Substance Abuse and Marriage
Importance of Marriage and Substance Abuse
Marriage is one of the most important life goals in many peoples lives and heralds a time of settling down and children. Successful relationships require dedication, intimacy, trust and respect from both partners. For people in a marriage or marriage-like relationship, this is even more important. Spouses are the closest and most important person to one another and when this relationship begins to break down it can turn to bitterness, resentment and anger.
When substance abuse is involved in a spousal relationship there can be many serious and devastating problems that occur. Feelings of abandonment, anger, violence, lack of intimacy, money problems, co-dependency and sexual issues are just some of the problems. Children and other family members will also be affected by substance abuse and can have a long-lasting impact on future relationships and personal development.
Intimacy and Substance Abuse
One of the most important aspects of any marriage or spousal relationship is intimacy. The close emotional and physical connection that two people have reinforces the importance of the relationship and the love, care and compassion that is shared. Drugs and alcohol can destroy this essential part of a marriage easily as a partner chooses drugs or alcohol over spending time with a spouse. This can lead to many personal problems including resentment, sexual dysfunction and lack of trust.
Intimate relationships are considered essential to any close relationship and may consist of physical and sexual contact and emotional intimacy. This emotional connection is what drives many people to have a relationship with another person, to share personal thoughts, spirituality, sexuality, aspirations and fears. An intimate relationship, especially one that is between spouses, requires dedication, awareness and compassion for it to be sustained. Both partners should be aware of changes and support one another through any hurdles and problems the other may be facing. Sadly substance abuse can destroy the sensitive balance of an intimate relationship very easily. This can make previously loving and caring partners become angry, resentful, depressed, fearful and scared.
Physical Intimacy and Substance Abuse
Physical intimacy is also affected by the use of drugs and alcohol. Sexual dysfunction is a common side effect of drugs and alcohol. For males, chronic use of alcohol and drugs may inhibit their ability to develop and maintain an erection, cause impotence and libido problems. Women may find themselves with fertility problems, menstruation issues as well as a reduced desire for sex and problems with orgasms.
Sexual desire issues are known to be impacted on by drugs, including prescription medications, as well as psychiatric conditions. When this problem occurs between spouses, the consequences can be severe. Without sexual contact or desire, marriages may have serious, unresolvable problems such as chronic disharmony between partners. Psychological issues may also arise out of sexual problems in a marriage that could be incredibly difficult to treat.
Responsibility and Substance Abuse
Spousal relationships often involve a significant level of responsibility for one another and for other aspects of each others lives. This responsibility could include earning money for the family, paying bills, maintaining a house, seeing children to school or minor things like cooking dinner. When a person fails to meet their share of responsibilities, resentment can easily build up and lead to relationship problems. Drugs and alcohol often impact on a persons’ perception, memory and ability to perform simple acts. Changes may occur in a persons concept of personal responsibility when they begin using drugs and alcohol. They may also bring drug-addict behavior into the family home which can upset the delicate balance of a marriage. Hurt, pain and anger are emotional responses that spouses feel when they are let down by the other partner not meeting their side of the obligations of marriage.
Co-dependency and Substance Abuse
Co-dependency is an emotional and behavioral condition that is often called relationship addiction. When a person has this condition they are often unable to have healthy, mutually satisfying relationships with people. Many co-dependent relationships are emotionally destructive and in some cases abusive but they are very common for people who have substance abuse problems. Most co-dependent people have incredibly low self esteem and engage with people who make them feel bad about themselves without realizing.
In co-dependent relationships, there may be two ways that alcohol or substance abuse could occur. Firstly, a person may begin to abuse substances as a way to deal with their low self esteem. They may use drugs like cocaine or amphetamines to boost their confidence but regular use will turn to dependency. Using drugs and alcohol to feel better about yourself, or your situation does little to improve self-esteem or social standing. Secondly, a co-dependent may find themselves attracted to a person who has a substance abuse problem and they want to take care of them. However, this type of relationship is set up to fail as the alcoholic or drug addict simply takes advantage of the relationship and allows the codependent to cover up their addiction and negative behaviors.
Co-dependent relationships can have very damaging impacts on families and individuals. If a person is abusing drugs or alcohol, their partner may make unhealthy sacrifices, go beyond normal effective levels of care to compensate for the impact of substance abuse on the family and those around them. The family dysfunction can go beyond parents and children may also make significant life compensations for a drug dependent parent.
Sadly, the influence of addiction on a relationship can cause it to break down and not be fixed. For marriage and marriage-like relationships, it can be a long, painful and drawn out process that often includes children, homes and other assets being divided. This can cause significant financial and emotional woes for partners and in this situation it is common for people to begin to drink or use drugs as a way to dull their emotions and ignore the issues at hand.
Marriage counseling is one way of dealing with the problems within a marriage that may or may not be caused by substance abuse. Strong, successful and healthy relationships can help a person overcome their addiction and this is particularly true of a marriage. Working through issues that may be caused by a dysfunctional relationship and contribute to a persons’ substance abuse issue can help to alleviate some of the fears, anger and resentment that may have built up over the life of a marriage.