An addict that is active in their addiction will lie, deceive, and break promises to maintain their using. People who are married to addicts understand how much pain this behaviour causes. They married someone for love, for security, for joy, and instead their lives turned into heartbreak, betrayal, and regret. Marriages can get utterly destroyed by addiction because the path through is not easy.

Your marriage can survive the wreckage of addiction if the addict begins showing basic respect and accountability, which sounds simple enough. This is difficult because the addict must lead the way, and in most cases, addicts have never done such a thing before in their lives.

Basic respect means that the addict in the marriage must stop the behaviour that is causing harm to their partner. Basic accountability means that the addict must claim responsibility for their actions, as well as the consequences of their actions. And while a person that transforms themselves from addiction to sobriety experiences massive changes in themselves, such changes do not usually happen very fast.

The most basic approach to such transformation for you, the addict, is that you must begin the path of healing and rebuilding, for you, your partner, and the marriage, and stay committed to this path, no matter what.

For the addict, it’s time to grow up. Your addiction is an old strategy for solving old problems, and today this strategy is creating more problems than it solves. Instead of blaming your spouse, your parents, your job, or the world for making life so terrible that you need to use, it is time to own your decisions, face your problems, learn your lessons, and take action.

Some of the most common delusions in addiction are “I’m not hurting anyone but myself”, or “what they don’t know won’t hurt them.” In a marriage, you are hurting your partner every time you choose addiction before them. The pain that you cause is traumatizing, and if you continue hurting them, each lie and broken promise brings up a cascade of other hurts you have caused.

Changing your behaviours is difficult. It is also difficult to stay patient while they watch you with uncertainty. It is part of your commitment to give them back the security that you took away, and wait for them to trust you again, knowing that it may take a long time for them to believe you are actually real.

Farther down the path of marriage through addiction, you will come to harder questions. Can the addict ever be trusted again? Are you staying married because of the kids, or the finances? Do you actually love each other? You may not make it to these questions, if you don’t handle the basics first. Untie the first knots before you get to the deeper ones. 

And know that saying that you will stop or intending to commit to sobriety are not enough anymore. Your partner will see if you are actually real by what you actually do.