It is easy to think of addiction as simply a personal choice, but the truth is that it is a disease. Studies indicate that approximately 21 million Americans have an addiction of some kind.
Addiction can — and often will — put a serious strain on a marriage.
Lack of trust
It’s not uncommon for addicts to be ashamed of their conduct. They can be ashamed of both the underlying addiction, and of the fact that they are susceptible to the disease of addiction. This motivates them to keep their addiction secret from their spouse.
They may start to lie to their partner about where they have been, what they were doing, and/or who they were with. Once the lying starts, it compounds. Sometimes, addicts are bad at keeping these secrets, and it doesn’t take long for the cracks to start appearing in the relationship. Other times, addicts learn over time how to get better at keeping their behavior and addiction a secret, and they can go years without getting caught. A happy marriage is founded upon trust, and secret addictions can erode this.
Many addictions involve purchasing substances such as drugs or alcohol. Gambling addictions are also relatively common, with around 4 million people believed to be problem gamblers in the U.S.
Everything mentioned above costs money. If an addiction starts becoming too expensive, it can impact life at home. A couple may miss mortgage payments and not be able to act on the plans that were made earlier in the relationship, such as starting a family or buying a new house. Sometimes, when couples separate, one learns that the other has racked up considerable credit card debt to fund their addiction, and there are simply not enough assets or income to dig out of the financial hole.
Abuse and abandonment
Addiction is dangerous. If your partner has an addiction, then it’s natural to want to help them. However, sometimes addictions are very severe, and they may even result in abusive behavior. At the very least, when a partner is trapped in addiction, the hyperfocus on that addiction comes at the expense of the addict’s family. When a person is addicted to something, they prioritize it over all else, including their personal relationships and their familial obligations. You may feel hurt and abandoned, and not even know why — until the truth of the addiction is realized.
It’s also important to look after yourself and divorce may be your safest option. Seek legal guidance to discuss your choices in further detail.