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When addiction or problem use is present, most spousal relationships will eventually become strained. When both partners are experiencing challenges with substances there will be varying levels of functioning between the partners. These levels of functional behavior may surge positively and spiral down negatively seemingly out of the blue. However, there is almost always an enabling pattern present. 

My wife is my rock and takes care of daily living when I am hung over.

My husband provides the foundation when I am on a binge.

Habitual leveling off is common for those who are at a stage where maintenance of home and employment is still evident. These leveling off periods are what keep two addicted spouses engaged. However, when only one individual has acknowledged addiction or problems with use, the movement between lower functioning and upswings causes a higher level of emotional strain then does the functional rhythm in coupled addicts.

Historical relationships often play a role in partner selection and in communication patterns. The historical relationships of significance are early childhood (caregivers) and pre-teen/adolescent relationships. 

A common theme is for partners to use substances together early in relationships. Over time, however, one may develop patterns of substance abuse while the other partner gravitates toward the role of caregiver (maintaining the home, finances and childcare.)

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