By Constance Ray, Guest Contributor
Substance abuse has a sneaky way of damaging even the strongest of marriages. At first, the lies start out so small you hardly even notice them. Then they grow. And multiply. Before you know it, you’re deceiving your spouse on such a regular basis that it feels second-nature.
And here’s the twist: often, your partner knows you’re lying.
This is Alonzo’s story of how his marriage helped him come to grips with his addiction and see the light beyond it. He said it was a long road to recovery, but in the end, both Alonzo and his marriage came out stronger.
Alonzo thought he’d kicked his old habits. He had three years of sobriety under his belt and was working a steady job. As he got busy with work, however, he began to deviate from his recovery track.
“Next thing you know, I stopped talking to my sponsor and stopped going to meetings and stopped being held accountable,” he recalled. “Overworked, staying late. Normally at the bar is where most of the contractors would meet, so we would drink and snort cocaine and make bad decisions.”
But it wasn’t just the fact that he was overworked and out late that made Alonzo’s wife realize something was wrong; it was the way his priorities shifted, too.
“She recognized my passion for helping others stopped — it was all about work, work, work, money, money, money,” he explained.
Like any good partner who doesn’t want to see their love go down the wrong path, she called him out:
“When she started seeing it was just all about me, she started saying, ‘I see you going in the same direction. You probably want to put that in check.’”
Pride is a funny thing when it comes to the one you love most. Though your partner should be the person you confide in above all others, admitting you’re struggling sometimes feels like failure — and no one wants to feel that way in front of their spouse.
So Alonzo denied his problem.
“I told [my wife], ‘I’ve got this,’” he said.
Her response was simple but true no matter the situation:
“Pride comes before the fall,” she cautioned.
The deeper you fall into addiction, the hazier your vision becomes. Many addicts will put themselves through hell to feed their habit without a second thought; your one and only priority becomes avoiding withdrawal, with all other responsibilities falling to the wayside.
“I was being selfish, just thinking about [myself] and not really thinking about my marriage and my family,” Alonzo said of his downward spiral.
But when he finally realized how much pain he was causing his wife, things snapped back into focus.
“It kind of stuck with me when I saw her hurting, because I realized I was hurting other people and hurting myself, and I saw how that affected my wife,” he explained. “She was really just screaming at the top of her lungs, ‘God, please help us!’ And that stuck with me.
“A week later, I made the decision to come to addiction treatment at Serenity,” he continued. “I wanted to invest in myself and do it for myself, and I knew if I did it for myself, everything would trickle down and help my family and everything.”
Now back on the sober path and looking positively to the future, Alonzo is working on both maintaining his recovery and repairing his marriage. He said one of the most important lessons he learned — one that’s crucial in marriage but relevant for all — was the importance of being able to ask for help.
“It’s OK to be weak,” he said. “That’s when you tell somebody, ‘Hey, I’m really struggling.’ That’s really when you’re strong, because you won’t fall.”