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As a clinical psychologist and certified addiction counselor, I see husbands, wives and partners in individual or couple therapy on a daily basis struggling with the decision to leave or divorce their spouse or partner. Therapists have long referred to the three “A’s” of divorce as legitimate reasons to consider ending a relationship when a partner’s behavior is clearly destructive, abusive, or there is no reason to believe it. ‘it will improve. Psychologists have suggested that the top three reasons for divorce are abuse, addiction, and business.

Researchers have long reported that financial issues are the main area of ​​conflict for most couples and that communication is the second most cited reason for marital discord. While this may be true, these problems pale in comparison to the serious and devastating consequences resulting from abuse, addiction and business.

When people ask me if they should leave their partner or initiate divorce procedures, very often it is because of one of the above. Any of these issues, in and of themselves, can be serious enough to make the answer to this question straightforward, but it is an extremely personal and complex choice and the decision must be made in the context of a consideration. attentive to oneself, to one’s family. , and state and federal laws pertaining to behavior. It is of the utmost importance that, when faced with a partner engaged in these behaviors, one sees a professional and receives support, education and advice.

These are not decisions that should be made in a vacuum – or alone. As social creatures and workhorses that we are, we have evolved over time to need and rely on social supports to better understand ourselves and the situations in which we find ourselves. Seeking help and support is a necessary, if not sufficient, first step in making the right decision for ourselves in the face of addiction, adventures, or abuse.

Many people are recovering. While keeping safety first in mind, a single instance of the three ‘As’s can be something couples can bounce back from if they receive enough help and support.

One person I worked with found out that she was starting to have feelings for a man she had met online who was living in another state. She had no physical relationship with this man, but she continued to be connected with him for two years in what she later determined to be an emotional affair. When she and her husband finally entered couples therapy, she was able to confess her feelings for the man and her “emotional infidelity,” and quickly end the affair. She was able to work on what made her move away from her husband and articulate the ways she felt she was not meeting his needs at home and in their relationship, and they were able to make changes. in order to save their marriage.

Another case of forgiveness for a violation of the three “A’s” involved a couple in which the man was physically violent. He would block his wife’s exit through a door when she wanted to leave the house, jealously hack her email, listen to her phone messages, and put restrictions on when she could go out and who she could spend time with. At one point, he pushed her and she fell, almost bumping her head on a low table. Although these behaviors are considered abusive in most states and punishable by law, the couple were able to learn more about the definition of violence – physical, sexual and emotional – and the man became fully committed to it. individual and group counseling. He found a local therapist who ran groups for men with anger and physical abuse issues, signed up for this program, and worked hard on himself for two years to save his marriage and family.

Often, couples come into consultation when marriages are on the brink of collapse and it becomes clear that one or both partners need individual counseling before marriage. couple work can succeed. The latter case is a clear example where individual therapy would be essential to begin with. The husband in this case began individual therapy and joint group therapy, focusing on anger management and coping skills. More importantly, he was able to identify and stop the abusive behavior, and the couple was able to resume their progress in couple counseling. After a lot of time and work, they were able to save their relationship and marriage. This involved the wife’s ability to forgive and trust her husband, of course, but also the husband’s ability to express his anger towards her in a more acceptable, healthier, and more useful way. The wife certainly needed her own individual therapy before she was even almost ready to begin couples counseling.

Addiction may not be different from business and abuse in this regard. When the addiction is severe, this is clearly a reason to end a relationship or get a divorce, but by no means always. When a husband, wife or partner adequately addresses their drug and alcohol problems or other addiction issues, such as shopping addiction, gambling, or love or sex addiction, a couple can recover from the pain, shame and consequences of addictive behavior.

Many people know the quote: “We are not responsible for the fall, but we are responsible for the ascent.” It’s a wonderful analogy for the “disease” addiction model. If you walk, don’t see a hole, and you fall in it, it’s not your fault. However, it is your responsibility to get up, get out of the hole, or ask for help. A person with an addiction is not responsible for the disease. It is sometimes a hereditary disease, a brain disease characterized by a chronic relapse of psychosocial, biological, personal and cultural origin. However, once someone knows they have an addiction, they are responsible for getting up, seeking treatment, avoiding the people, places and things associated with their addiction, and implementing a recovery program involving therapy, meetings and the use of a support network such as a 12-step scholarship.

Some important points to remember: The three “A’s” and the behaviors around them must stop immediately. In some cases this may be a work in progress, but in others it is not. The physical, sexual and emotional abuse must stop immediately. Some of this behavior is clearly illegal and non-negotiable. There is no way to continue an affair and work on her marriage at the same time. Individuals need a comprehensive assessment and assessment to determine the appropriate level of care and to commit to the level of treatment and support that will keep them and others safe. Once this has been determined, if the treatment is not working properly and this level of treatment is deemed insufficient, then the person will need to escalate their treatment to a higher level of care.

Often times, separation is a good idea as couples discover addiction, affairs or abuse. A healthy separation can allow individuals to focus on their treatment and reunite as needed when the two are ready. This type of separation allows both parties and their families to recognize that recovery is the responsibility of the individual and that it is also a family affair. Whether children or extended family explicitly know what is going on, of course, they are all affected. So when an individual begins to recover, so will the family, and each family member may need support and / or guidance.

It is the responsibility of the spouse or partner to communicate to their partner what is acceptable and what is not. It is also the responsibility of the spouse or partner to educate themselves about the law, about the disease of drug addiction, and to learn as much as possible about the psychological underpinnings of the three “A’s” and these types of behaviors. It is a partner’s responsibility to communicate as clearly as possible about what he or she thinks is happening and to insist that his or her partner get help.

Rarely is someone able to solve these kinds of problems without professional help. However, it is very easy to find someone to help you and your spouse these days. Therapist Directory is a great place to start. You can also contact your local city or state psychology society or association. Talk to a doctor or friend you know who has been in counseling and ask them or their therapist for a referral. Most local therapists are willing to consult with you for free over the phone to help you determine if they might be right for you or your spouse.

© Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Publication authorization granted by Jeremy Frank, PhD, CAC, therapist in Bala Cynwyd, PA

The previous article was written only by the aforementioned author. Opinions and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns regarding the previous article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.


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