Q&A: Dealing With Substance Abuse

Q: What’s the best way to deal with substance abuse in marriage?

Gary: My approach is to see yourself as a positive change agent. The process is two pronged—first, tender love and second, tough love. By tender love I mean learn their love language and speak it daily no matter how they treat you. Then, 6 months into this process you make the request that they seek treatment. Keep loving them. Next, apply tough love. You might say, “I love you too much to sit here and do nothing while you destroy yourself. If you don’t go for treatment, I am moving in with my mother.” Finally, move out. Since you’ve loved them in a meaningful way for six months they now have something to lose. Typically they respond to this. After treatment you can get marriage counseling and rebuild your marriage.