Articles for Married Couples

Everything listed under: addiction

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    Addiction and Marriage, Part 2

    Addiction and Marriage, Part 1 told of a married couple’s struggle with alcohol and its impact on their marriage. The story ended with Ellen resolving to find David (names changed to protect their privacy), who was drinking heavily, had quit his job and left town. She was going to bring him home and move forward with divorce.

    “Little did I know, the Lord had other plans,” Ellen says.

    She knew he had gone on a business trip to Las Vegas and resigned from his job while there, so she headed for the Nevada city.

    “I had a name of a hotel I thought I had heard in one of the phone calls (from David). I arrived in the middle of the night. When the taxi driver saw the name of the hotel, he tried to talk me out of going there, saying I had no business in that part of town.”

    At the hotel, Ellen found her husband on the brink of death from drinking.

    “It took six paramedics and police officers to get my husband out of that room and to the hospital,” Ellen says. “I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. In 48 hours we were on a plane home. When the plane landed, David went straight into treatment knowing our marriage was over.”

    Over the 30 days David was in treatment, Ellen received letters from him daily. Through the letters, she got to know her husband again.

    “If we had been talking, we would have been fighting because I felt so much anger toward him,” Ellen says. “I never once wrote him a letter. I did take the kids to see him on Father’s Day.”

    That day, Ellen saw her husband healthy for the first time in a very long time. In spite of her anger and resentment, she had a small glimmer of hope, like something bigger than themselves was going on.

    “Both of us had been trying to make everything better on our own,” Ellen says. “We didn’t think we needed anybody to help us, nor did we want people knowing our business. Exhausted and at the end of my rope, I finally broke down and shared about our situation with a group of friends.

    “Even though David was in treatment again, I was still so angry I could not even pray for him. I asked them to pray for him to heal and that my heart would heal. While I had no hope for our marriage, I didn’t want to hate him. I couldn’t say his name without getting sick to my stomach.”

    By the time David returned from treatment, Ellen had decided it was worth seeing what God could do with their marriage.

    “It was a scary time,” Ellen says. “Both of us believed that God had been mightily at work over the 30 days he was in treatment. We decided it was time to change our entire way of living.

    “Memorial Day 2015 will mark two years since the beginning of our transition. The peace we have today is something we didn’t know existed when we were in the throes of the addiction. It has not been easy, but it has been worth every bit of the time, energy and commitment.”

    If you find yourself where Ellen and David have been, they would like to share some thoughts with you:

    • Few alcoholics or addicts intend to destroy their marriage.

    • It is never too late to seek help. While it was often hard for Ellen and David to see past the shame, pain and embarrassment, getting treatment and allowing others to come alongside them in the midst of their struggle was one of the best moves they made.

    • Stop trying to fix it. Ellen had to acknowledge her role in this situation. She thought she had to fix it alone. When she stopped trying to fix him, things changed.

    • Healthy boundaries are necessary. Boundaries that honor God, yourself and your marriage allow you to make wise decisions. Sometimes leaving for a time is necessary.

    “For all of the men and women who find themselves feeling like they are at the end of their rope, we both want them to know there is hope,” Ellen says. “This has been a very long walk in obedience for both of us. It was so worth being uncomfortable and hanging in there when I didn’t want to and to see how God would take two very broken people and bring healing to our marriage.”

    Where to Find Help

    CADAS: 877-282-2327

    Parkridge Valley Hospital: 423-894-4220

    Bradford Health Services: 423-892-2639

    Alcoholics Anonymous: 423-499-6003

    Al Anon: 423-892-9462

    Celebrate Recovery: chattanoogarecovery.info

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    Addiction and Marriage, Part 1

    When David and Ellen* married, Ellen never suspected David might be an alcoholic.

    “We had a large time with friends and family,” Ellen says. “I knew he drank a lot, but it didn’t cause issues for us. I never felt unsafe. My life looked very normal to everyone around us. David was a good provider and the good far outweighed the bad in our marriage.”

    In 2004, David and Ellen moved to Atlanta with their 6-month-old daughter. While Ellen noticed behaviors in David that raised red flags, she didn’t think it was a big deal.

    “I noticed David was drinking more at night,” Ellen says. “In addition to David being super-stressed at work, I was terribly lonely and did not want to be away from my family. We had some knock-down drag-out fights which I attributed to both of us having too much to drink. Several times I left and stayed with my parents for a while. When I came home, we both apologized and life went back to normal. The fights were few and far between. We did not realize they were warning signs of things to come.”

    In 2008, the couple moved to Chattanooga feeling like this was a great opportunity to advance their lives.

    “I convinced myself that a new house, more money and getting out of Atlanta would help our situation. As time unfolded, things remained the same. We had great times and really bad times. Sometimes I wondered if I was crazy because life could go along for so long and be wonderful, then wham.”

    In 2012, Ellen began to notice a significant difference in David’s behavior.

    “I honestly believed he was having an affair,” Ellen says. “He was unhappy with everything including me and drinking seemed to be the only thing to help him cope and relax. Finally, David acknowledged he had a problem and tried outpatient treatment. Shortly after that he quit his job of 20 years, convinced that was the problem and took a new job in Louisiana. At that point, I was ready to do anything to get my husband back, even leave Chattanooga and friends I loved to support him.”

    In Louisiana, David was only home on weekends, and he hid his drinking well. Unfortunately, things went south pretty quickly. After months of living in denial, Ellen finally acknowledged her husband was an alcoholic. Now with two children, she decided she could no longer live with David. She left with the stipulation that if he went to treatment she would commit to trying to salvage their marriage.

    “While I was gone, David got a DUI and was fired from his job,” Ellen says. “Once again he entered treatment. When he came home, we made a plan to move back to Chattanooga. David found a job pretty quickly. I knew he was having relapses, but I overlooked them thinking that if I could just be a better wife, I could make him better. I now know that was not true.”

    In 2013, David’s life spiraled completely out of control. While David was away on a business trip, his co-worker notified Ellen that David had called to resign from his position - and it sounded like he planned to take his life.

    “At this point in our marriage, we are barely speaking to each other,” Ellen says. “I had no idea where he was and I had no interest in going to find him. I was actually determined not to go - I was tired and had rescued him one too many times. My heart was done with him. Something in my core kept saying, ‘Show him grace one more time.’ I resolved that I did not have to be nice to him, but I had to go get him one more time and then I could be done with him.”

    Read part two of Addiction and Marriage for the rest of the story, and find resources for those who struggle with addiction in their marriage.

    *Names changed to protect privacy

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    9 Warning Signs of Porn Addiction

    Fighting the New Drug: Pornography, warns about some of the dangers of porn addiction.

    There is no question that pornography impacts the brain. Research says it’s more addictive than cocaine and it's a habit harder to break than heroin.

    The U.S. Justice Department believes that 9 out of 10 children see online porn between the ages of 8 and 16. The porn industry preys on young people, understanding the brain’s power and the challenges of forgetting these images once they seem them.

    Many men understand that porn is costing them all they have – in many instances their career and their marriage – but they can’t quit. One man told his counselor he spent $75,000 in one month viewing porn.

    Laurie Hall, author of An Affair of the Mind, found herself married to a porn addict. Like many others, she asked herself a million times, “What did I miss? How could I be so stupid? What is wrong with me?

    “I knew something wasn’t right, but I couldn’t put my finger on it,” says Hall. “My husband was respected in the community, very intelligent and a hard worker.”

    Their marriage did not survive. Now Hall educates others about the impact of pornography

    “The idea that porn is victimless is a cruel joke,” Hall says. “Forty percent of professional men who are involved with pornography are going to lose their jobs due to their involvement with porn.

    “When you are engaged in fantasy, you lose your ability to connect between action and reaction. You no longer follow cause and effect. The more you fantasize, the more you become disconnected from what I call common sense. It affects your business judgment and it affects your ability to interact properly with other employees. It affects your ability to be intimate with your wife. The reality is most people don’t realize how pornography reaches out and grabs people.”

    While anyone can struggle with porn addiction, the overwhelming majority of porn users are men. These questions can help you identify red flags indicating involvement in this highly addictive activity:

    • Is his body language open and does he respond appropriately to questions? Does your husband look you in the eyes when speaking?

    • One lie often leads to another. People may give very complicated answers or different answers to simple questions than the day before.

    • Does your mate have appropriate boundaries or seem to live in constant drama and chaos? He may ask you to do strange things like videotape or take pictures of yourself getting out of the shower or at intimate moments.

    • Does your spouse excessively use inappropriate sexual humor and innuendos in conversation?

    • Is your spouse preoccupied with sexual behaviors or constantly wanting to push the boundaries and experiment sexually in questionable ways?

    • Does he exhibit inappropriate anger that appears to come from nowhere? For example, if you ask him about household cash flow or what time he will be home, he explodes.

    • Has he lost interest in you sexually or has his demand for sexual activity increased, but he is obviously not engaged emotionally during sex? Sex at this point is not about intimacy, but about control, power and what he can get you to do.

    • Do you seem to constantly have money problems regardless of how much money comes in?

    If you or someone you love is struggling with a pornography addiction, click here to learn about some resources for the battle.

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    Fighting the New Drug: Pornography

    This is the first in a series on pornography and its impact on marriages, families and communities.

    Numerous studies indicate that porn is a very significant problem in the U.S. In fact, the Justice Department estimates that 9 out of 10 children between 8 and 16 have seen online porn.

    Furthermore, at an American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers meeting, two-thirds of the attendees said excessive interest in online pornography contributed to more than half their divorce caseload. A leading Fortune 500 company study found that men spent 62 percent of their computer time on cybersex sites.

    Here are additional statistics:j

    • More than 25 million Americans visit cybersex sites weekly and 60 percent of all website visits are sexual in nature, according to the Sexual Recovery Institute of Los Angeles.

    • According to a May 2004 Internet traffic study by InternetWeek.com, people visit porn sites three times more often than Google, Yahoo! and MSN Search combined.

    • About 3 to 6 percent of Americans (20 million people) are sexual addicts, according to Dr. Patrick Carnes at the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals.

    “Rarely does someone’s participation remain at just looking at porn,” says Dr. Mark Laaser, author of The Pornography Trap. “They begin with looking at porn, then they move to self-stimulation and then onto pursuing the things they are looking at. There is definitely a progression from soft porn to harder porn.

    "While some believe soft porn has a disinhibiting effect and could be helpful in relationships, I have never seen a case where pornography has been helpful to a marriage,” he says. “It always winds up negatively. Porn is designed to make you dissatisfied. It is not designed to help you feel content with your marriage partner.”

    Many have joined the fight against pornography, including an organization called Fight the New Drug. Their mission is to raise awareness on the harmful effects of pornography through creative media. Its website gives helpful information about porn’s impact on the brain, the heart and the world.

    Laaser says research shows that the endorphins released in the brain while looking at pornography are 200 times more potent than morphine and more addictive than cocaine. Researchers believe porn addiction may be harder to break than a heroin addiction. Why? It's because the brain stores images and can recall them at any moment.

    According to Fight the New Drug, porn physically changes the brain over time. When one looks at porn, there is a surge of the chemical dopamine that feels really good. Dopamine helps create new brain pathways that essentially lead the user back to the behavior that triggered the chemical release. Porn users can quickly build up a tolerance as their brains adapt to the high levels of dopamine released by viewing porn. Even though porn is still releasing dopamine into the brain, the user can’t feel its effects as much.

    “It is as though we have devised a form of heroin - usable in the privacy of one’s own home and injected directly to the brain through the eyes,” says Dr. Jeffrey Satinover of Princeton University, describing porn’s effect to a U.S. Senate committee.

    In porn, everything from the way people look to how and why they have sex is not real. Unfortunately, porn addicts often obsess over chasing some fantasy so much that they miss out on actual relationships. Porn kills love.

    Click here to learn more about warning signs and where to find help.