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What to Do When They Won’t Get Help?

by Esther Lauri on April 14th, 2012 in Spouses

I’ve considered myself blessed many times because my husband was willing to seek for his addiction. That has been the saving grace of our relationship and his freedom from addiction.

However, not everyone is willing to seek help. It’s difficult for some people, especially some men to admit to a counselor or accountability partner that they can’t handle their problem on their own. Since I didn’t have a lot of experience on this topic, I did a little research asking the world of face-book, what would you do? I had a ton of responses, and emails from people-men and women-explaining to me their personal story and how they have dealt in the past or would deal in the future with a situation like this. The common line was, “you can’t force someone to change.”

There were many people that said they would threaten to leave the relationship if they didn’t seek help, while others said they just left the relationship and didn’t look back. Some felt the best role was to be a supporter while making sure they weren’t an enabler. This was the approach I took with my husband. I supported him, making sure he knew I understood the difficulty of his struggle but at the same time we put locks on all technology and passwords on all internet access (computers, phones, video games etc). While I agree with the common theme, you can’t force someone to change the question you may be asking is, then what do I do? If someone won’t change on their own do you continue to stay in the relationship and take the hurt, feel the stress and feel the loss of trust? Most people in this situation end up doing just that. Because they have a deep love for their partner, leaving them, even under these circumstances seems impossible.

Therefore, most stay and continue to wonder, what do I do? As a counselor I see many women that come in and are seeking help for their spouse who has an addiction. I say to them that I can’t help their spouse who isn’t seeking help. All I can do is offer help to the one coming in. My advice for anyone out there, reading this is: you can only change yourself, you can only get help for yourself. You can pray your partner through, you can support your partner without being an enabler, you can ask for honesty but you can’t make someone change that’s not willing. Prayer needs to be your foundation. As people we are weak but Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

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