Question: I believe my partner is using and lying about it! She has requested we go to therapy together and I have told her that I think this is her problem. Shouldn’t she just go alone?
I imagine some people would like to hear me say is that this is all your wife’s fault, and she’s the only one who needs to get fixed. At a surface level, if you were not into your own growth, that is all you might choose to hear. Instead, I am going to assume you want to go beyond your original question and look deeper. In my workshops, I teach the ABCC’s of relationships. Since I feel the same principles apply here, I ‘d like to use these principles in answering your question. I am going to pose even more questions, all of which will help you find your own answer and identify what you are learning in this process.
“A” is for Awareness. People who are aware work to create conscious relationships. Conscious relationship means that you understand that everything in your relationship is a 50/50 deal, and each experience you have as a couple is a teacher for both you and your wife. It may appear to be easier to lay all the blame and shame onto one person, but that would not be very conscious, or truthful. Your wife may be using, but having a spouse who drinks or uses and lies about it is obviously a lesson that you signed on for, given that you are still with her. This lesson can teach you a great deal about yourself. How much judgment and or fear do you have about her and her behavior? What does her behavior mean to you? Did you enter into this relationship with the fantasy that she was/should be perfect? Does her lack of perfection mean that she does not love you, that you will be abandoned, betrayed? Have you looked deeply enough inside to know what your real limits are about this behavior? All of these issues are your issues.
What are your Boundaries, the “B” part of ABCC’s, with reference to being lied to, using and being in a relationship with a partner who is not present to herself or to you? Do you know how to set boundaries and get them respected? How do you respond when they are not respected? How much do you rely on your wife or her ability to maintain sobriety to fill your needs for safety, for happiness and comfort? Does her drinking mean that she does not love you or does not love herself? Why do you need her to confirm your truth about her substance abuse? If you know she is using, what still needs to be confirmed? Why don’t you trust your own truth? Are you open to supporting your partner in all ways?
Communication, is the first “C.” At what level are you Communicating with each other in truth and openness? What is the dynamic in the relationship that is preventing truthful communication? Are you both seeking new skills for communicating better? Are you placing the responsibility for communication on just one person? Are you setting time aside to practice honorable, ethical communication together?
And the final C, what is your level of Commitment? How much compassion are you willing to extend to your wife, such as joining her in therapy? What is your level of commitment to yourself, to your wife, to your own growth and hers? What’s your commitment to staying in the process and staying present until you feel you have learned the lessons you need to learn?
If you are really present to your own needs and truth, you will also know that it is legitimate to decide that you no longer wish to be in this process with a person who chooses not to be truthful or honorable. You may decide that your commitment needs to be to yourself first. But, should you decide that, do it out of respect for yourself and without judgment, shaming, or blame for your wife. It is her right to discover herself and her own answers however she chooses, and unfortunately, substances make it possible for people to postpone these realizations until they actually hit bottom.
You can see these principles generate lot’s of questions. If you can answer all of these questions in a way that indicates you have learned everything you can learn and have done everything you can do to be supportive, then, you must ask yourself why you are still in this relationship. If your answers indicate you still have lessons to learn for yourself, or you see ways in which you can express more compassion and support, you may choose to go to therapy with your wife for yourself as well as for her. If you have judgments about who she is, or her behavior. that are separating you or allowing you to feel superior, you need to examine those as well. Therapy may be a great, safe place to do all of that.
The bottom line is — anything you do to or for your wife that is loving — you do to and for yourself as well. Anything you do to create greater separation is also something you do to yourself and the latter choice is about your fear.
There is no right or wrong answer or action for you or your wife. We are all on a journey and we get to do the journey in our own way. It’s not even a question of right or wrong. Truthfully, there is only one answer for every single question we have posed. In the final analysis, there is really only one question. If you ask this question and act on the answer, it will prove to be right for both you and your wife. That question is… “What is the loving thing to do for you and for your wife?” Whether the answer is stay, leave, go to therapy, don’t go to therapy, talk about your feelings…whatever… if you do it, you will both win.
© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013. All rights reserved. No part of the intellectual property of Dr. Dina Evan may be reproduced, placed on mechanical retrieval system, transmitted in any form by electronic, video, laser, mechanical photocopy, recording means or otherwise in part or in whole, without written permission of the author. Contents are fully copyrighted and may not be owned by any other individual or organization.