Because people generally love their spouses, it makes it difficult to watch them go through addiction problems. Sometimes, a spouse might take on the role of an enabler, something that usually has a negative effect on the drug user. Other relationships fall apart under the strain of the addiction. In all cases, a successful stint in treatment provides a basis for rebuilding the marriage.
Unfortunately, the best resolution for a badly damaged marriage is sometimes separation/divorce. It might well be the only way to keep the recovering spouse from enduring too much stress, which might initiate a relapse. However, there is usually room and a willingness for healing.
The good news is there are lots of ways a spouse can participate in their loved one’s recovery. In many cases, it’s the best way to ensure the recovering individual has a support mechanism to help them stay strong during times when they might be vulnerable to a relapse. The following information discusses the role a sober person can play as support for a spouse in addiction recovery.
Don’t Forget About Your Own Welfare
Addiction does not only affect the addicted individual’s life but the lives of everyone around them. Watching a family member disintegrate under the weight of addiction is one of the worst things any of us will ever encounter. Still, there’s the love and care no matter how helpless we feel.
While in recovery, your spouse is going to benefit by having your support. However, you need to make sure you are on solid footing. You are of very little use if you harbor resentment or have residual problems with what transpired while your spouse’s addiction was in full flight.
The best ways of taking care of yourself would include:
- -Going through co-dependence counseling
- -Attending family support groups (Al-anon) attached to 12-Step Programs
- -Practicing self care
- -Giving Support for a Spouse in Addiction Recovery
All relationships in recovery are going to require extra work. Marriage is particularly sensitive because of the emotional and legal ties that bind the people together. Working on the presumption you are a loving spouse and want to give your husband/wife all the support possible, you need to first recognize your loved one is going to go through changes. It’s necessary because the old them has a disease called addiction. Keeping that in mind, here are some things you can do to give solid support to your spouse.
1. Educate Yourself – Both addiction and recovery are complicated processes. In order to understand some of what your spouse has been and will be going through, you would do well to educate yourself about the nuances of recovery. By learning more about the obstacles you will both encounter as you navigate from one day to the next, you can anticipate more. By being able to anticipate issues, you’ll get a chance to put safeguards in place to prevent those issues.
2. Open Communication – The lines of communication need to be clear and two-way. First, your spouse needs to communicate what they want/need from you in support of their recovery. Likewise, you need to communicate your expectations of them in regards to staying clean. Couples counseling is a great place to learn more about communicating within a marriage.
3. Prepare for Possible Separation – Despite everything you both may do, there may be issues too big to overcome in the marriage. You owe it to yourself and the marriage to do all you can. However, if the time comes when the relationship is beyond repair, let your spouse know you will still try to be supportive even during separation/divorce.
5. Be Patient With Them – First, their lives changed when the addiction took hold. Now, their life is changing again in recovery. There’s a strong chance they are no longer the same person you married. Allow them time to grow into the new them. The recovery process takes time. They may not be ready to immediately take on all their prior responsibilities. They will need time to put into place their recovery game plan. Give them all the time possible to settle into a routine that will keep them safe from harm.
6. Rebuild the Relationship – There’s every reason to believe your spouse still loves you and wants to be married to you. In that regard, the relationship may need some repairing. You can start that process by finding forgiveness for the things that happened while your spouse was in the throes of the addiction. It wasn’t them, it was the disease that was controlling them. Try a little romance. You are still a married couple, making dates and intimacy an important part of staying connected. The addiction is not the marriage. It is just an issue within the marriage. You can take comfort in knowing all relationships in recovery need some form of reshaping.
7. Dealing With Relapses – Be prepared. A lot of people in recovery relapse. It’s not your fault, it’s not their fault so try not to blame them. It’s a disease. As a primary source of support, you can help them quickly get back into treatment. The old addiction behaviors may reappear, but now, you are likely to be better equipped to deal with the issues. Your support will serve to help solidify their desire to do better.
It will be difficult to get the family unit back on firm ground. It’s going to require hard work and patience from everyone involved. With that said, the work and patience will most likely return huge benefits. In many cases, marriages have gone through addictions, only to come out with the couple having a stronger bond. Let the love you have for your spouse rule the day and the future will still be bright. If you or your loved one are struggling with substance abuse, contact us for help taking the proper steps towards recovery.