My dad was incredibly insightful. He wasn't well educated, but he knew so much from experience. When I was dating, his favorite saying to me was, “You drink the poison you select.” I was smart, 16 years old, knew everything and thought he was out of it. He wasn't, but I was. I am a psychotherapist now, and I couldn't find a better way to tell people to be aware when you're dating; know what you want and what you don't. All the time, men and women tell me things they saw and noted with their dates, but somehow married them anyway, thinking these things would change. These things don't change, they intensify after marriage. What you marry, you live with. You drink your own poison.
If you marry someone with an addiction, it is never going to go away. They can learn to manage it, recover from it, but it is always there like a demon begging them to come back. It's tough to fight it, and they cannot fight it without your support. Telling your spouse to “get over it” is like telling you to keep a baby from coming out during labor. It is not going to happen. The baby is born, and your spouse who is an addict is addicted. It makes no difference in regards to the drug of choice. Pot, food, sex, gambling, porn, the list goes on and on. It is a poison though, and if you marry into it, you are going to drink it.
When you get married, you do drink a certain amount of poison. No one is perfect, and a little poison won't hurt you from time to time. A wise rule of thumb is to be aware of whatever this person portrays. Anything you notice while you are dating will be multiplied by a thousand times when you are married. Choose your “poison” with great care.
In this light, I would determine if you actually want to move ahead with this marriage. If you choose not to, I would be honest with him and tell him you're not comfortable with some of his choices and don't want to ride that roller coaster. If you choose to move ahead, you have to be willing to take things as they are today because there is no guarantee that they will change. If you choose him, it's an all or nothing deal because those demons, freaks and monsters will still be there in some capacity.
I think she knows not to marry him.. The question is, how to tell him? OP, do correct me if I am mistaken.
Yes. I don't mean I don't ever want to marry him. I just don't want to marry him until he gets his life together. And people are right - the monsters and the drugs go together. Although I don't think he's using, to me true commitment to recovery would be for him to eliminate those things from his life that lead to him using. I don't know how to tell him that. It sounds very judgmental. However, I just can't have those people on my doorstep - his doorstep is bad enough.
Dr Lara, yeah I know some people don't care for her, has a good rule of thumb for this type of situation.
Before committing to marriage with an addict, the addict must have been "sober" for as many years as they were really using. So if he has been at this for say 4 years, then he has to be clean for 4 years before you consider a marriage. This means he/she has committed to sobriety and is ready to commit to you.
As others have noted, his addiction(s), will always come first. Before you and any children. He has to make the decision to put the addiction away and yes it will be a daily even minute2minute battle for him. But it is decision to make.
Good luck and keep your eyes open.
"Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
Courtesy my cousin Tim
I agree, sober addicts can be OK but it is a long, hard, winding road to that place. My father was addicted to narcotic pain killers after a long hospital stay where he was on a morphine drip. This was before I was born but he's always been open about his struggles with addiction. He did two stints in rehab and was at one point put into a drug induced coma to get through the withdraw period. Still, to this day, he won't take anything more than tylenol for pain. He needed to make the choice to have a totally clean break from anything connected or related to the narcotics. He still identifies himself as an addict. He's been clean since before I was born but it's something he lives with every day. Even though he never used and was always clean with no relapses for 30+ years, it was something we were raised with and knew about because it does become part of who they are.
With your boyfriend still holding on to those vague attachments to his life as a user through the "friends" he keeps, I don't think he's 100% ready and committed to the total change and transformation that needs to happen for sobriety. I think there will be several more bumps in the road for him. You just need to decide whether you want to be along for the ride or meet him at the finish line.
I think support can be a wonderful thing for a recovering addict but you need to protect yourself too. I think seeking support though a support group or counselor can be a fantastic tool for you to figure this out.
That is kind of what I've been doing. It is getting harder though, especially because his mom keeps dropping hints. She and my mom are good friends and are basically planning the wedding. I'm not saying that it's his fault that yet another business partner just stole over $50,000 from him, but it happens to him at an abnormal rate. I do want to marry him - it isn't that, but I feel these are things he should change about himself. And I told him this guy was no good, and he said I was right, but he couldn't get out of it. I said that was silly, but he went on and look what happened.
An addict saying that they had 50k stolen would make me wonder if it was really stolen, or did he use it to buy drugs...I mean, how many times does something like that REALLY happen to people, and you say it is stuff like that that is always happening...
If you want him to be honest with you about his addiction, how he's handling it, and whether or not he's using, then YOU have to be honest with HIM about the things that worry you. He needs to know how his addiction hurts YOU - it's not judgmental, it's truth. You feel the way you feel, it's not his fault, per se, but it is a consequence of his habits.
You won't cure the essential addictive personality though you may be able to give him help in his desire to control it, but he needs to know how it all affects you.
Women always think that their guy will change.
And guys always believe their perfect lady never will.
As another poster said: RUN!!NOW!
AS FAST AND AS FAR AS YOU CAN!
I understand this sentiment as I have had very close friends who are addicts and have lost one childhood friend to an overdose. But it makes me sad when people just have a knee-jerk reaction to tell someone else to just run away. It isn't so easy.
Addicts are people too, who need love and relationships. And OP loves her SO, so she isn't likely to just pick up and run away. You don't do that when you love someone. And you sure do not always have a choice as to whom you fall in love with, although it seems we are all preprogrammed to fall in love with a certain type of person.
It seems the best thing would be for OP to tell her SO where she is coming from in terms of taking this relationship further. If her SO has been in treatment then he understands the role his addiction plays and why she would be hesitant to hitch her wagon to his . And he would understand that her reluctance to do so is a healthy choice on her part.
OP, your SO can commit to staying clean and I think you can let him know you are uncomfortable with the people he hangs out with and why you are uncomfortable. But for the poor business decision making and willingness to be taken advantage of?
That part isn't going to change without him understanding it is a problem. Does he think it is a problem or is he always taken by surprise when it happens? When you offer ways for him to protect himself going into situations, does he just poo-poo it and proceed? You need to tell him how you really feel about this stuff and that it makes you hesitate to commit to anything with him. Because this type of stuff will become much more difficult to deal with as you become more involved - as someone pointed out, how will you feel when he is losing money the two of you have as opposed to just his money? And it's not just about the finances, it is about the inability to protect himself from being taken advantage of and his inability to make good decisions. Which makes me wonder about his ability to make decisions in other areas of his life when the going gets rough.
Marriage is irrelevant. By staying with him NOW, you are enabling him. If you care about him at all, tell him that you cannot continue in a relationship with a substance abuser. Tell him that you do not want YOUR life to be all about substance abuse.
Then leave. You may be saving his life.
Here is a way to think about it that I have found to be extremely helpful-
What bothers me is that you keep saying you "don't THINK he is using."
If you're not even sure about that, how honest is he being with you? What else is he hiding? How honest are you being with yourself?
Nasalberry and Electic Horseman are right. If you stay you will continue to enable him. His mother enables him, and your mom needs to know why you aren't marrying him. The wedding planning needs to stop. And if you think his mother is only interfering now by planning your wedding with your mother without you wanting it, just wait until she tries to butt into everything else that's your business too. You have a lot of boundaries to draw with lots of people, and if you let someone push you into marriage with an addict you will be sorry everyday of your life. The first part of a successful rehab is not associating with other users, and he's already failed at that, and found a set of comfortable friends who will help and enable him. Users hang out with other users, and if you think he will ever get sober and still hang out with his loser friends, then you are very wrong.
You deserve to have a good life, with someone who is good to you, and an addict will always be relying on you for money, enabling, and picking up the financial and emotional pieces of his life. And what happens when his using increases? And think about what happens the day he wants to use, and you say no. You will be very sorry if you get between him and his addiction.
Did OP even say that he WANTS to get married, or is it just she and his mom that wants it?
There are more out there that can be your true love; ain't just one. I know he must have many fine qualities to make you say this about him, but he is NOT the only one that will make you feel the GOOD way you do sometimes with him.
Sometimes is just not enough, though. The worry about 'will he backslide', 'is he using again', 'will this business decision break him'....not something I'd look at as a risk worth taking on a daily basis. Life can be stressful enough in the best of times....
"As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use."- William James
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Proud member of the Wheat Loss Clique.
You cannot change someone. First he must want to change. Then he will need help from experts to change. Addicts tend to have many setbacks and some are never able to quit, even if they want to. A lot do not want to quit their addictions.
One of the worst things to do is to go into a marriage expecting to change someone's longstanding habits. Even worse is to go into a marriage trying to make someone quit being addicted to drugs or alcohol.
If you love someone as he is, and would be happy for him to continue being as he is, then marry him. Otherwise, don't marry him. Lots of people try to change their mate's habits and fail. Trying to make someone give up his addictions is a guaranteed recipe for disaster in a relationship.
Trying to force an addict to quit is going to make you a nag, and make him angry.
I think it is easy to confuse a person's status with their identity. Being an addict is part of his identity now and he can't change that nor would I expect him to. He can change his status - whether he uses drugs and whether he continues to have things in his life that make it more likely he will use. He can also learn to be assertive and stand up for himself. To me these are all things he can and should change.
I think it is easy too to read one thing about someone and think that is who they are. There many things good and bad about all of us that make us who we are. He may be an addict, but there are many things about him that have nothing to do with his addiction. That said, there is a difference between not using and mentally healthy and I don't think he's mentally healthy, even if he is not using. I am not responsible for his life or his mental health and won't be. He has to be and I won't marry him unless or until he is. I'm sure that sounds really reasonable on the internet, but he is human and people tend not to understand things like that when they are said to them.