It is easy to give advise and or judge, when we are not living in someone else’s shoes. Telling a woman to leave home, or put out her substance abusing spouse out sounds simple, but may be hard to do. Ann Landers often told those who wrote her for help to ask themselves one question. “Are you better of with, or without your spouse”?
For those whose lives are not in danger, are not being physically abused, and have spouses who bring in income, leaving or putting the substance abuser out, may not be as cut and dry, as it seems to those on the outside, looking in. If you decide to continue in your home with your spouse here are some tips that may help, until you are able to make a definite decision.
One of the biggest issues with drugs and alcohol is financial. I have heard so many stories of men who were sober all week, until pay day. Even though bills are due and there is no food in the house, they blow their entire checks. Money seems to be a trigger.
If the addicted spouse is the sole bread winner, and you are raising children and unable to work, that is a serious situation. I am not addressing that issue. I am reaching out to those whose situations are not as extreme.
If you work, try to set aside as much extra money as you can from your own income. Make a goal to need less and less of his. Shop at thrift stores, or wholesale grocers. Find all available food and clothing pantries in your area. Use coupons, and look for sales.
If you are unable to work a second job, check the internet for ways to make money. You can find sites where you get paid to write, or blog, or you can s items on Ebay.Open a paypal account and obtain a debit card. This way you will not have cash, but the card will be at your disposal.
2. Be aware of triggers
I had a relative who told me that he worked 2 jobs and was a loving husband and father all week, but on weekends he said it was as if another life called him. He would drink from Friday evening until Sunday morning, sober up and go to work on Monday. I have also noticed that holidays seem to be triggers for many people.
I went to meetings at a drug treatment facility in 1988 to gain understanding of addiction. We were told that when an individual is trying to get clean and sober,, or they simply cannot obtain their drug of choice, they become belligerent. We were told they would say hateful things and not to take it personal.
If your spouse is normally loving and kind, but changes into a monster because of drugs or alcohol, please be aware. When you recognize that “look” on your spouse, as if he is possessed by the devil, disengage. If possible leave home. Go to the mall, visit friends or take your children to the park. Do not become offended or argue with anything he says that you know to be a lie, or is disrespectful.
This is his body going through withdrawal. Unfortunately, this is so uncomfortable, that most addicts cannot deal wait it out, so they medicate themselves. I have had women tell me that they have given their spouses money, just so they would get enough of their drug of choice to take the edge off.
Most consider this as enabling , but the wives considered it self preservation, to keep peace.A male acquaintance of mine said that his wife cursed him, accused him of sleeping with her mother and said he was not a good provider when she was craving beer and cigarettes. He would then purchase them for her just to get some peace.
4. Don’t be defined by him
Years ago a minister told me, that when husbands are treating us well, we should not get on cloud 9 and believe that all is well. This way, when they shift, we will not be as disappointed. She said she enjoyed th good times with her husband, and made the most of them. When he became angry, she did her best to not take it personal.
This is difficult, because when you feel loved it shows, and when you feel your spouse is being hurtful, your countenance can change. Find ways to define yourself without him, so that at least in your mind, life is more balanced.
5. Don’t complain
If you choose to stay, please do not inform others when your spouse is indulging. Addicts do what addicts do. There is no point in letting the world in on what they already know is going on. This only makes you look bad, and annoys those who do not understand why you stay.
If you have never walked in their shoes, It is difficult to understand why women and men stay with spouses who are substance abusers. There are many reasons that husbands an wives continue in these situations, Some may not have the finances or credit to move out on their own, or maintain their current home by themselves. For others the good times out weigh the bad.
There are those who take their marriage vows of in sickness and health, for richer or poorer till death seriously. Praying spouses may believe for a “miracle” to be on the way. And of course there are those who have considered the question that Ann Landers posed, and believe they are better off with their husband or wife.
My grandmother used to say of marriage; You know what you have, you don’t know what you will get.” While the grass may look greener, this is not always the case. There are those who leave what they perceive as bad relationships, and do great on their own, or find better relationships.
On the other hand there is no guarantee, and some spouses stay because they are emotionally drained. They know what they are dealing with and what to expect from their current spouse, and are afraid of the unknown, or jumping from the frying pan into the fire.The bottom line is some individuals do stay, and because they do, they need coping mechanisms, and not judgement.