Dr Tim And Mrs Noreen Muehlhoff
Dr. Tim Muehlhoff is a professor of communication at Biola University in La Mirada, California where he teaches classes in family communication, interpersonal communication, apologetics, gender, and conflict resolution. Tim and his wife, Noreen, are both on staff with Biolas Center for Marriage and Relationships where he is a co-host of The Art of Relationship podcast.
You Don’t Have To Be Married To Raise A Happy And Healthy Child
Peter Lobl is a clinical psychologist specializing in relationship issues with adults and couples, with a private practice in New York City.
Thanks for your letter about your family situation, which sounds both stressful and painful. I read that you are trying to take a stand for yourself and for what you think is right. You’ve maintained boundaries with your husband and with men you have dated in the past, and you are now trying to take a stand with your stepdaughter and mother-in-law. If the two of them tried to alienate you from your family, it is only normal that you would at least demand an apology before resuming contact with them.
In reading your letter, however, there is another dimension to your family relationships that I think needs addressing it involves your relationship with your husband. What is happening with your marriage may be very difficult to acknowledge, because fully acknowledging what is happening in that relationship may be so painful.
In your letter, you wrote that your husband said he is in love with another woman that he has been publicizing and sharing pictures of this other romantic relationship on social media that he visits this other woman whenever he can and that he tries to keep the reality of your marriage secret. If he is doing all of this, what then is really left of your marriage? By filing for divorce, isn’t your husband saying that he believes the marriage is over?
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Stop Living In Denial
Too often, the people closest to the addict/alcoholic dont really want to admit that there is a problem. They minimize or justify destructive behaviors or ignore the evidence that is right in front of them. Have you ever said statements like this
- Its not that bad?
- He/She likes to drink a little bit. Its no big deal?
- Theyll stop using drugs if I do this?
- She/He is just under so much stress?
Heres the uncomfortable fact if your spouse is misusing prescription medications, using illegal drugs of any sort, or drinking more than two alcoholic beverages a day, and IF that drinking/drug use is having negative consequences for them or your family, then your spouse is probably addicted.
Addiction In The Family
The pain of addiction is something that everyone within a family is familiar with. Quite often, people only think about how the addict is impacted. The truth is, the family suffers as well. There are all types of addictions, and each one stands to tear families apart. The cost of addiction has the power to ruin an otherwise beautiful home and marriage. To make matters worse, the effects of it are long lasting for everyone involved. It is so hard to live under the same roof as someone who is abusing substances. It seems as though problems are caused left and right. The addict is torn, wanting the stable life and the family at the same time. When things go wrong, they blame others for their own actions. There is no denying the type of pain youre in if this is the life youve been forced to lead. If you have an addicted spouse, you need answers for your dilemma. Whats more, you need real-life advice that you can put to use right now.
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Recovery Is A Family Project
Lastly, think about recovery as a family project. Youll find there are helpful programs for the partners of recovering addicts and your children, too. Al-Anon, for instance, helps families of alcoholics with a program thats similar to the 12 steps of AA. You may find other programs at your local church or through your therapists office.
Finding a recovery center that includes family members as part of the plan for recovery is also important. While those struggling with substance abuse are responsible for their own behavior, there can be family dynamics that increase the odds of addiction. Being in recovery together, even if youre not actively addicted, can help you heal psychological wounds that may be holding you back, too.
Whatever you do, if you plan to stay in the relationship, know its going to be hard work. But what marriage isnt hard work? Anything worth doing is worth doing well, and anything worthwhile takes effort. Marriage isnt any different. Even in the healthiest marriages, things can go wrong.
Thankfully, theres a lot of support out there for people living with an addicted spouse. One such place is 12 Keys Rehab.
Knowing When And How To Leave A Drug Addict
Often, addiction affects the loved ones of addicts as much as it impacts the addicts themselves. This is definitely the case when it comes to the significant other of an addict. Many people who are the significant others of individuals who suffer from addiction wonder to themselves if they should end their relationships. In many cases, the answer to this question is yes. Although, there are times when it may be appropriate to stay in the relationship. Ending a relationship with a drug addict is difficult. So, knowing how to leave a drug addict is important.
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How To Cope With A Spouse Who Struggles With Addiction
Trying to cope when your spouse or partner is struggling with addiction can be challenging. As previously mentioned, its important to ensure your own safety and wellness first and foremost. Even though you may have seen firsthand how the disease of addiction can change the way a person acts, that doesnt mean that its an excuse for poor behavior or that it is okay for them to treat you in a disrespectful or abusive manner.
Someone using drugs or alcohol can seem like a completely different person when they are under the influence, and they can display erratic behavior or unpredictable mood swings that could make you or others feel unsafe. Ensure your safety and take necessary steps, such as staying with a friend or calling authorities, if you feel that you or your loved ones are in a potentially unsafe situation.
Its also important to make time to care for yourself and ensure that your needs are met. You cant help someone else if you dont first take care of yourself, and you have a right to have your needs taken care of despite what anyone else might be going through. If you are having difficulty separating your feelings and needs from the other persons and you find that their mood determines how you feel, then you may be experiencing codependence. This can be harmful to you, your partner, and your relationship overall, which is one reason why taking care of yourself is so important.5
Q: What Finally Made You Change Your Mind About Leaving
A: Believe it or not, I was watching an addiction documentary on TV and felt like it was a mirror image of my life. I knew I had to be strong and put myself first for once. I wanted a better life and, if Tom wasnt interested in improving our lives as a couple, I had to go.
Dont get me wrong Id done all the research and reached out to counselors beforehand. Tom ultimately entered, and was kicked out of, seven rehab programs. It was an ugly pattern that just kept repeating itself. In the end, I had to give myself permission to leave him in order to save my own life. And that wasnt an easy choice to make it was the hardest thing Ive ever had to do.
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Addressing Addiction And Relationships In Recovery
Preventing an addiction may be impossible, but loving and observant partners often recognize the signs of substance abuse before anyone else.
The truth is, juggling addiction and relationships is a truth many loved ones must face. If you have cause to suspect a substance abuse problem, you should confront your partner without judgment or a tone of confrontation. This will give them an opportunity to come clean before submitting to professional treatment.
Were here to help you talk to your significant other about achieving lasting sobriety. For more information, call 877-389-0500 or contact us here to learn more about our programs.
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Forgiving Is Not Forgetting
You must not feel ashamed of trying to restore a marriage that was broken by sexual addiction. You will not make this process easier if you do not forgive your husband. However, if you believe that forgiving equals forgetting, you are making a big mistake.
You will not achieve anything positive by seeking revenge or a way to make your husband pay for his flaws, and forgiving him does not mean that you are renouncing your pain and grief. Forgiveness will free you from resentment and when it becomes too difficult for you to let it go, seek help for your emotional well-being.
Get Other Women In Your Corner
You want to avoid placing the full force of all your pain and anger only on your husband. This isnt to say that you shouldnt express your feeling to him you should, but you also need others who arent emotionally involved to talk to. Having other women to talk to will take some of the pressure off of your marriage, which may already be at the boiling point.
We offer individual counseling and 3 different support group options, including talking to the group leader for a first call at no charge. Please see the Wifes Support Group page for more information.
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Things To Inquire About Prior To Ending A Relationship With A Drug Addict
While ending a relationship with a drug addict is often best, there are times when it may be best for you to remain in the relationship. To know whether or not ending a relationship with a drug addict is the right thing for you to do or not, make sure that you ask the right questions so that you get the intel that you need to make the right decision. Some things that you should inquire about prior to ending a relationship with a drug addict include:
Find Ways To Connect With Others In Your Situation
Youve been through a terrible situation, and maybe its been years since life seemed normal. Its important for you to connect with others who can share in your experiences. Joining an Al-Anon group near you is a great first step. Youll get to meet others and learn from what theyve been through as well. It can be so helpful to share your story with others. Sometimes it helps just to be able to talk about how you feel among a caring group of people who understand.
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Identifying Triggers In Your Marriage Part 1
They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lias story, youll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!
Common Signs Of Substance Abuse
If you are worried that your spouse is abusing alcohol or drugs, take the time to know what common signs to look for, such as:
- Staying out late or not coming home for several days.
- Associating with new friends that like to drink and use drugs.
- Encouraging you to join in and drink and use drugs with them.
- Engaging in risky behaviors, such as having unprotected sex with multiple partners.
- Allowing strangers to move into your home that clearly have a substance abuse problem.
- Noticing the money in your joint bank accounts disappear.
- Noticing all your joint credit cards are maxed out.
- Your spouse is late to work or taking an excessive amount of time off.
- Your spouse has lost their job.
- You find drugs and drug paraphernalia in your home or in your spouses clothing/belongings.
- There is a lack of personal hygiene, like wearing the same clothes for days or not bathing.
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Loving An Addicted Spouse
Are you married to an addict? Is your significant others drug problem impacting your marriage and you dont know what to do? If you have searched for how to help my husband with drug addiction hoping for answers and still feel lost, you are not alone. Dealing with an addicted spouse is not easy and addiction is a lifelong disease.
The consequences of drug abuse and alcohol abuse are numerous. Being married to an addict, you have likely experienced many. Substance use disorders do not just affect the individual abusing drugs or alcohol. Rather, they have many real and significant impacts on those closest to the addict and alcoholic, especially on intimate relationships. When a wife or husband is an addict, it is highly likely that their partner will also suffer the negative consequences of addiction.
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Encourage Them To Seek Help
Encourage your spouse to get help, even if you dont understand why they relapsed. Introduce the topic and either consider a previous treatment option or something new. Dont get bogged down trying to figure out the perfect solution. Just help them open up to the idea of recovery and remind them youll be there for support.
Reasons To Continue Supporting Them
These are just a few of the reasons why it is important to continuously support your spouse. They are going to need someone to help them through the struggles they will encounter in the recovery process.
- Facing challenges isnt as difficult with support. Having someone to rely on when temptations or obstacles arise makes those emotions seem manageable.
- You can hold them responsible for their actions. Sometimes, addicts become too confident in recovery or fall back in old behavior patterns. A loved one provides valuable insight into their behavior. This accountability can help them address the issues.
- Their confidence and self-esteem grow when they have the support they need. It feels good to have people who want to be around you and who care for your success. It is the same with overcoming addiction a cheering section in their favor will help them have a more positive outlook on the future.
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Stop Enabling Their Addictive Behavior
Sometimes, the spouse of an actively-addicted person will change their behavior and even go against their own sense of right and wrong just to get along. They may tell themselves that they are helping or protecting the addict, but what they are actually doing is enabling making it easier for the addiction to continue. Have you ever
- Bought their drugs or alcohol for them?
- Intentionally given them money for drugs or alcohol?
- Made excuses to family members or friends to save them embarrassment?
- Lied to police or probation officers to keep them out of trouble?
- Bailed them out of jail?
As long as you enable your husband/wife, they will not have any motivation to stop using and drinking. Enabling sends them the message that it is all right to keep on doing what they have been doing.