When someone we love has an addiction, it’s easy to be drawn to all-or-nothing expectations.

There are many addictions that can plague our relationships. It can be particularly difficult for the partner, and children, of one who is drawn to an addiction.

The path ahead for their partner, and their family members, can be a long and patched one. Here’s an insight that can help partners of one who struggles with an addiction.

It comes from an excerpt adapted from a talk by Bradley Wilcox.

Perhaps it can be helpful to partners of those who struggle with an addiction. Look for the insight around how not to say “never again” too quickly. Bradley said:

One man wrote: “Over the years, I’ve struggled with addiction. I always felt so ashamed that I could not get things right.”

Each time he slipped, the pain of regret became so intense, he harshly judged himself to be unworthy of any kind of forgiveness from his wife and family, or additional chances. He said: “I decided I just deserved to feel terrible all the time.

I figured my wife and family probably hated me because I wasn’t willing to work harder and get on top of this once and for all. I would go a week and sometimes even a month, but then I would relapse and think, “I’ll never be good enough, so what’s the use of even trying?”

At one such low moment, He said to his friend: “Maybe I should just stop coming to the recovery group. I’m sick of being a hypocrite.”

His friend responded: “You’re not a hypocrite because you have a bad habit you are trying to break. You are a hypocrite if you hide it, lie about it, or try to convince yourself the recovery group has the problem for maintaining such high standards.

Being honest about your actions and taking steps to move forward is not being a hypocrite. It is being persistant.”

“Weakness seems different than rebellion. When I think of weaknesses, it is always with some kind of hope and understanding.”

That perspective gave him hope. He no longer thought his children and wife might say, “he blew it again.” Instead, they were probably saying, “Look how far he has come.” This man finally stopped looking down in shame or looking sideways for excuses and rationalizations. He looked help, and he found it.

Considering how long he had struggled, it was unhelpful and unrealistic for friends and family assisting him to say “never again” too quickly or to arbitrarily set some standard of abstinence to be considered “out of the woods.” Instead, they started with small, reachable goals.

They got rid of the all-or-nothing expectations and focused on incremental growth, which allowed him to build on a series of successes instead of failures.”

Perhaps we too can start with small, reachable goals, and get rid of all-or-nothing expectations around our loved one overcoming addictions.

Perhaps it’s more helpful for us to be focused on incremental growth and allow our partner to “build upon a series of successes instead of failures”. To not say “never again” too quickly.

Your situation may vary widely from the one cited. However, this insight might draw us toward a helpful persective as we move forward slowly in a relationship where there is addiction present.

Henk Ensing


Wilcox, Bradley, Adapted from Worthiness Is Not Flawlessness, Oct 2021 General Conference.