Monday, September 3, 2012

The Dysfunctional Family Wheel – Part 4 Find Healing for Addiction While Helping Your Spouse Adjust

Over the last three weeks I’ve written about how the spouse is affected when an addict begins to find healing. It is also necessary to address how the addict can continue to find healing while helping the spouse adjust to the frightening changes? I’m going to list-out some necessary steps for the addict to take, however I’m not suggesting a cookie cutter plan that guarantees specific results. Taking these steps is not to be for the purpose of manipulating the spouse, rather to help the addict recognize what is necessary for his/her own healing and to create an environment that is most conducive to the healing of the spouse. In doing so, it is necessary that the addict:

  • Ask for forgiveness for all the ways in which the addiction has affected the life of the family.
    • It doesn’t really matter how the spouse responds, what’s important is that the addict humbly verbalizes the recognized impact of his/her behavior.
    • Asking for forgiveness also requires a response, placing the spouse in a position to consider whether or he/she is ready/willing to forgive. The addict needs to be prepared to understandingly accept that the spouse may not be ready.
  • Affirm that
It is impossible to live with an addicted person and not be affected,
but it is very possible, with God's help,
to live with an addict and not be controlled by his/her addiction.

Explain that his/her desire is to help the spouse come to this point of freedom.
  • Help the spouse to recognize that the time, energy and resources that he/she has spent trying to change and protect the addict has not worked, therefore changes are necessary.
  • Point out to the spouse that rescuing prolongs the inevitable. Giving specific examples, the addict needs to help the spouse to see that even though it may feel unloving, it is absolutely necessary for the recovery of the entire family for the spouse to stop rescuing:
    • “If I miss work, do not call-in for me. I realize that this may be difficult because we all suffer the consequences if I lose my job, but accountability for my choices it is necessary for my recovery.”
    • “Please do not continue to lie to people about my behavior. If I’m in bed drunk, I need for you to be honest about my true condition.”
    • “If I request money to purchase alcohol, I need for you to deny my request.”
  • Explain how important it is to sobriety that an addict remains committed to meetings, sponsorship relationships etc., yet, assure the spouse that he/she is loved and that time with him/her is necessary. Jointly determine a time together that can best be worked into the schedule.
  • While open and honest dialogue is essential and can be necessarily painful, it often leads to disagreements, arguing, digging-up old circumstances and blaming. Make a commitment to not fall into this trap, but to remain available for loving, constructive conversations even when it hurts.
  • Describe the deep guilt that he/she already feels and help the spouse understand that heaping more guilt upon him/her does not help, but is emotionally and spiritually debilitating. Help the spouse to realize that maintaining a focus on redeeming virtues would be far more helpful than the paralyzing guilt!

Don’t wait for your spouse to change in order to move ahead in your healing.
God seems to use the healing of one person to begin the process in another.

As you make changes in how you approach your addiction, it forces your spouse to begin to re-evaluate and make changes in his/her approach. Don’t assume that this means that your spouse will choose to seek healing, he/she may not. You can’t control the outcome. As difficult as it may be to accept, your only responsibility is to stay focused on what God has for you and leave His plan for your spouse up to Him. He is sovereign and His plan and timing is perfect for both of you!


P.S. Please feel free to contact me with questions, thoughts, topics you’d like to ponder or to read past articles at: You may also contact me at:
Bonnie Jaeckle
In Search of the Whole-Hearted Life
Diagonal Progress
505 Jefferson St.
Diagonal, IA 50845

No comments:

Post a Comment