Addiction is a heavy word. And when we think about addiction as it relates to marriage, the word becomes something that destroys. Compulsive behaviors that drive people to serious sexual addiction or substance abuse are often the death toll to a relationship. However, addiction plays more of a role in the everyday marriage than most of us realize. And these “lesser” addictions can insidiously worm their way into our relationships and wreak just as much havoc as their more famous counterparts.
In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul quotes a popular saying of the day, “I have the right to do anything,” —but challenges that by saying, “not everything is beneficial…I will not be mastered by anything.” We can do what we want, but certain things have the power to consume us and distance us from the people we love the most. While the passage is dealing with sexual sin, the idea behind it can be applied to every area of our lives.
Addiction is being mastered by something. It’s being tied to a behavior in order to deal with pain, struggle, desire, or uncomfortable emotion. Lesser addictions can be things like iPhone use, Facebook, food, TV, work, shopping, video games, Starbucks, sports, spending time with friends, hobbies, busyness, and many more. These usually non-destructive things can become destructive when one or both spouses use them excessively. They provide a distraction from the problems in a marriage, a way to avoid fighting or dealing with the demanding needs of a spouse or family.
Are you allowing something to master you right now? Another way to ask this question is: Are there things in your life that detract from your relationships with people around you? And when a spouse or child asks you to redirect attention to them, how do you respond?
We’d also challenge you to go a bit deeper.
Why do you think you need to bury yourself in a particular pursuit? What are the emotions behind the behavior? What are you hiding from or what is making you so uncomfortable you need to avoid it?
Sit with these questions for a while. Let them sink into your soul. Maybe you discover wounds that need to be healed. Maybe you need to talk with a counselor or have a frank discussion with your spouse. Unearthing the reasons behind addictive behaviors should lead to a reconnection with your loved ones — a reaching out to bridge the gap of hurt or pain or loss or whatever it is.
Ask God to open your eyes this week, so you can see addictions that might have wormed their way into your life or marriage. Ask Him to give you the strength to face the reasons behind the behavior—with His help, and with love and support of your spouse.
Jake and Melissa / @marriageismessy