Almost a year ago my husband moved out of state due to an addiction problem. We have two teenagers still at home. We do talk about every month or two and when he does call its all about missing me and wanting to come home. I know we love each other, I just asked him two weeks ago if he wanted a divorce and said no I want my wife back. Really I am struggling with this, my heart is breaking I truly love this man. Just wanted some good advice, I enjoy reading your articles and they do help. – Carolina
Hi, Carolina. I know you’ve been through hell with this, and I applaud you for taking the time to consider this carefully before you make a decision.
Before I say anything else, you should know I’m NOT a professional therapist or healthcare provider, and I don’t even specialize in this area.
I hope you will consult someone who is trained in the very specific area of addiction and marriage/reconciliation.
Until then, I do have a few simple thoughts about how I might approach this, for what they’re worth to you.
1. Want him to come home for the RIGHT reasons
My very first thought is that I hope you want him to come home for YOU. Not for “his good” or “the good of the kids” or because he’s begging and pleading, but for you. Because you love him and want to spend your life with this man and are willing to work through an incredibly difficult mess with him to get to the good stuff.
Addicts can wreck lives. Before you allow that back into the world you’re holding together with work, children, and so on, you need some reassurance that he’s not going to wreck yours.
2. Let him get and keep a full-time job near you
He needs to show you he’s stable by getting/keeping a regular job. Has he been working where he currently lives, or has he been in detox this whole time?
3. Date before moving back in together
Consider letting him move back to his own apartment near you, or move in with a family member or roomate, and let him get a job first and establish himself a bit.
Then you can “date” for a while to give the two of you time to get to know each other again.
You should go to some, too. There can be some very helpful information and support in these groups that you can get no other way. Addiction recovery groups often have “Spouses Of” and “Children Of” groups they can refer you to. Ask at a local church or community center for meetings near you.
5. Expect a high level of appropriate treatment from him
You don’t want to be in the full-time business of “taking care of” an addict. That’s what detox is for. Marriage is about a connection between partners, not a “mommy” and a grown man who is behaving like a child.
Also – and you already know this – abuse is never acceptable. If you’re getting hurt, or suspect you might, you need to get out and protect your own safety and that of your children.
6. Understand that your marriage will be DIFFERENT if he comes back
So be ready to create new habits, systems, routines, and expectations. That’s why I like the idea of letting him move back to a small apartment (or in with a family member or roommate) and dating for a while so that the two of you can make a fresh start without all the immediacy and intimacy of a live-in situation.
7. Get the best kind of help you possibly can
And by that I mean from a licensed therapist or coach who specializes in addition issues. Even a trusted friend or mentor would be better than no help at all. This can’t be all on you; you’ll need support! So plan for that.
You need to know that what he SAYS will match what he DOES.
It will take time, of course, but that’s the main thing you’ll need to get you two through this — lots and lots of trust-building.
You want to be married to a man of integrity and a RECOVERING addict, not an addict with addiction-related behaviors.
Please share your story and resources…
Remember — I’m not a professional therapist. This are just my basic thoughts on the issue. I hope they are helpful to you in some small way.
If you’ve been in this situation, I hope you’ll leave a comment and any helpful resources you can recommend! Many thanks…