More Than Cold Feet
June 24, 2021
I have fallen in love with a wonderful and engaging woman. In the course of our dating, I see this woman in my future and am having thoughts of asking her to marry me.
However, I have learned that her family forced her into detox/rehab because of an out of control cocaine addiction during high school. I am terrified of something happening that would trigger relapse on her part.
Not only that, but the addiction resulted in a criminal record, as well as more than several pregnancies and miscarriages.
We're both divorced and she has a 20-month-old daughter. In her past, her addiction was all-consuming. I have a billion questions about her addiction and behaviors. I need reassurance that she is over it and strong enough not to fall back into it during the rocky times in life.
She says she has been clean for almost four years. She has been perfect in reassuring me, while gently answering the few questions I asked. But I have many more questions. Should I ask these questions (and how), or let it be?
When I divorced, I promised myself I wouldn't stumble into another relationship without going in eyes wide open.
The Internet is full of horror stories about free-basing and cocaine addiction. My girlfriend seems to have mirrored these horror stories in her life. I have not been able to find a single bit of reassurance regarding relapse and successes.
In particular, how will this affect her ability to be a partner, mother, and wife?
I don't even know how to bring these concerns up without sounding judgmental.
A Reid, there is a reason you can't find reassurances. There are none to be given. No one has a crystal ball. No one can predict she won't relapse, just as no one can predict she won't get cancer or die in a car accident.
There is an obvious risk to you and to your future, and that risk must be assessed. The biblical injunction "judge not lest ye be judged" does not apply. This is about assessing risk, not about "sounding judgmental." It is the same reason your employer asks about your work history, and why your employer wants a list of people who can vouch for you.
There are two things you need to look at: your own fears and her freedom from addiction.
Gabor Maté, a medical doctor and addiction specialist, observes that people can be addicted to almost anything-food, exercise, drugs, or work. He believes underlying all addictions there is only one process, and all addicts share four qualities.
They are compulsively engaged in something, they have diminished control over it, they persist doing it despite the harm, and they are bodily upset when it is not available.
Those characteristics form the basis of the questions you must ask her. How strong are her temptations? How does she keep addiction at bay? How much of a struggle is it?
You cannot answer those question yourself. You are not trained in this field, and even if you were, you have a personal relationship with her which would color your understanding.
You also need to assess your own mental state and make a judgment about yourself. How much uncertainty can you tolerate? Are you troubled by the thought, If she relapses, I would not be able to cope with it.
We cannot give you a good reason to go forward, but we can give you one good reason not to go forward.
You cannot take the formal step of marriage, which you hope will last a lifetime, without being honest. You cannot go forward knowing you can't talk openly to the woman you want to spend your life with.
Don't move forward with doubt. Your questions must be answered. You must talk to her, free to go wherever that talk leads.
Wayne & Tamara
write: [email protected] AndTamara.com