Can You Maintain A Marriage Affected By Addiction
Yes, it is possible to maintain and even strengthen a relationship that has been impacted by addiction. However, both partners must remain honest with each other and be serious about getting help for the addicted individual. The addicted individual must also have support from their family and friends in addition to their spouse for them to have a healthy recovery process. There are many treatment options out there for individuals and couples struggling with drug addiction, such as:
- Inpatient or outpatient programs
- Addiction support groups for couples
- Medication for substance abuse
Even though it is very possible to save a relationship that has been affected by addiction, sometimes the more beneficial option may be for both parties to go their separate ways.
Create A New Marriage
If you or your spouse are in recovery, you may hope to go back to the way things were before. Unfortunately, addiction is often accompanied by deception, neglect and deep hurt. Its impossible to forget everything that has happened.
Being able to confront the hurt and anger does not mean your marriage is over. In fact, once these issues are addressed and worked through, you may be able to create a new marriage.
While you may look back fondly at the pre-addiction days of your marriage, its now time to do things differently. Communicate with your spouse and commit to change.
The Reality Of The Recovery Lifestyle
Ive talked about this before, but rebuilding your relationship after discovery isnt quick and it isnt easy. Thats why I like to call it the recovery lifestyle.
Lifestyle? Am I telling you that this is going to last for the rest of your life? Honestly, I kind of am. You will have a scar from this. It will fade over time. Like the one I have from falling off my bike when I was 8. I got stitches and they healed. It doesnt hurt anymore, but its still there. And if you poke at it really, really hardits still sensitive. If youre married to a sex addict, you will heal, but there will be a scar.
And during the healing phase youll be triggered, youll have to set and hold new boundaries, there will continue to be arguments, and youll wonder if its worth it. And you will get tired of it, I promise. But if your spouse is addressing BOTH their compulsive sexual behaviors AND their integrity-abuse disorder, then there is hope.
What is the right kind of help? Honestly, its hard to find. Most therapists dont recognize the abuse component, and therefore, you end up getting hurt even more in the process. The best program in the country is Center for Peace, a year long program for abusive men that includes the partner.
Hear me loud and clear on this..NO COUPLES COUNSELING. This is not a marriage issue or a communication problem. Your spouse has an entitlement-integrity problem you play no role in that.
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Q: How Did You Move Forward Afterward
A: You know how they say everything happens for a reason, well thats an understatement for me! Once Tom and I split, he was forced to deal with the mess hed created. I was no longer there cleaning up all the fallout for him I know now that I was just enabling his addiction. At the time, though, I really thought I was helping him.
Tom voluntarily entered a long-term rehab program that was located seven hours away. Meanwhile, I was doing my own healing. I joined two therapy groups and quickly learned that my situation wasnt uncommon not by a long shot. But it was so nice to be able to talk to people that intimately understood what I was going through. That support is worth its weight in gold, let me tell you.
I know now that I was just enabling his addiction. At the time, though, I really thought I was helping him.-Janet Howe
Tom spent nearly six months in a recovery program and transitional sober living house. We spoke once or twice a month I began to hear flashes of the Tom I used to know. He slowly found a new kind of peace within himself and that gave me comfort. I knew he was going to be okay.
How Addiction Can Impact Romantic Relationships
Addiction can impact romantic relationships in multiple ways. The effects all depend on the specific drug addiction and the severity of the addiction. After all, some addictions may be hidden for years and some may emerge as the relationship progresses. If someone in a relationship is struggling with an addiction to drugs, they may display the following behaviors:
- Lying to their spouse about the severity of the addiction
- Being dishonest
- Lying about how much money was spent
- Possible domestic abuse or violence
- Increased arguments or decreased interest
If your spouse has displayed any of these behaviors, its completely natural to feel overwhelmed and to not know how to approach the situation.
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Start Taking Care Of Yourself And Your Family First
While you are running around worrying about and cleaning up after your spouses addictive messes, you probably have lost focus on other areas of your life and that of your children. When you constantly put the addicts needs first, you may think you are being a good spouse, but you are really just hurting yourself and your family and breeding resentment. You and your children need to have lives that are as normal as possible, no matter what the addict is doing.
- Maintain normal family activities church, school plays, baseball practice, etc.
- Eat your meals together
- Get plenty of sleep and exercise
- Visit with family and friends dont isolate yourself
- Keep an eye on your health stress can damage your immune system
- Practice stress-reducing techniques yoga, meditation, etc.
The Donts Of Dealing With An Addicted Spouse
In addition to this list of dos, theres also a list of donts when dealing with an addicted spouse.
In order to help your addicted spouse, dont:
- Turn away from your spouse: Even if you have to move out temporarily, keep in contact with your spouse. Turning away or locking them out of your life should be a last resort reserved for people who become violent or abusive.
- Blame yourself: It is never your fault that your partner struggles with addiction. Genetics, social factors and, yes, family factors can influence addiction. But the ultimate choice to drink or do drugs was with your spouse. After a while, the ability to choose is lost as addiction takes hold. Your spouse did choose to take that first drink or dabble in drugs. Youre not to blame for their behavior.
- Expect things to return to what they were: Even after your spouse enters recovery, your life and your relationship will never return to what it was before. That happens no matter what serious illness a couple faces, whether its cancer, a heart attack or an addiction. Accept that your relationship is on a new footing, and learn what this means as you both embark on your spouses program of recovery.
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Work Your Own Recovery Program
In these programs, loved ones of those who struggle with addiction actually go through the 12 steps themselves. The 12 steps are good for anyone to do, regardless of whether they struggle with alcohol or drugs. Both Al-Anon and Nar-Anon also have meetings and helpful literature as well.
As with any marriage, its essential that you take time to be together and reconnect.
Have regular date nights. Dress up and go out together. Do things you both enjoy. Try new things together like ziplining, horseback riding, or whitewater rafting.
One of the reasons those who have substance use disorder turn to alcohol and drugs is that they dont feel loved, so make sure that your partner does feel loved.
Being married to someone in recovery isnt always easy. Its also true that you will meet some of the most amazing people in recovery, and addiction recovery can transform your partners life, your life, and your marriage. And you should always be supporting your spouse.
Whats The Difference Between Helping A Partner Versus Enabling A Partner
There is a very fine line between supporting the partner and enabling them. It is human nature to provide care and support, especially to the ones close to us.
Simply put, to support the partner means to help someone do or achieve something they are incapable of doing. In the case of drugs, its helping them keep the vice away. It is a behavioral characteristic that provides assistance to someone in gaining control over something.
On the other hand, an enabler is someone who, through their behavior, allows someone to do something. In the case of drugs, it means to enable alcoholic abuse. It means to support a behavior that is harmful.
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How To Help A Spouse With An Addiction
Finding Support For Yourself As A Spouse
Its very natural to feel overwhelmed if you have a spouse with a substance abuse issue. You want to support them, but it can be very difficult sometimes. And you cannot be there for someone who is struggling if you are not able to be there for yourself. If your spouse or significant other has a substance abuse disorder, there are many support groups and other resources to help you along the way.
To learn more about marriage and substance abuse, contact our team of recovery specialists here 866-488-8684.
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Are There Other Resources For Spouses Of Addicts
An Al-Anon support group is a great place for married people to come and discuss the everyday problems and challenges of having an addict in their family. They can listen to your struggles, help you see how its hard on everyone involved, including the children, and provide guidance as well. Many married addicts who can find it hard to attend support groups and will feel more comfortable attending with their spouses.
When an addict is disgusted with his or her use of drugs or alcohol, this feeling can make them want to go back to rehab, but when they relapse again, they will feel even worse about themselves and be driven even further into addiction. Always remember that addiction is a disease andno matter how much your married addict hates the things they are doingthey cannot stop using on their own.
Telling them what to do wont help in fact, itll only push them away from getting the help they need. If youre married to an addict, its important not to yell or humiliate them because you drive them back into substance abuse.
How To Support A Spouse In Recovery
The first thing youll want to do to is look deeper into addiction. While were still working on understanding what addiction is, and there is debate around the issue some argue that its a chronic brain disease, others argue that its a developmental disorder we have a much better idea today of what to do and what not to do to help those in recovery than we did in the past.
Second, put yourself in your spouses shoes. Its hard, and even humiliating to some struggle with addiction recovery you must make sure that your partner understands that you two are there to support each other no matter what, and that youll stay to help.
However, you must make sure you want to stay. Taking care of your own emotional health is critical when supporting someone in recovery. Early recovery especially can be a massive emotional rollercoaster, with outbursts of anger, sadness, joy and resentment. Learn to be patient and understand that there is a lot going on in your partners head. And that the stress of trying to fix themselves and continue living a normal life can get to be a bit much.
Finally, its important not to be overbearing and to be calm when youre accused of something. Some behavior may seem supportive, but can come across as condescending and patronizing. While you may only be trying to help, your spouse might take it that you have no faith in them. Again, be patient. Talk to them. Communication is vital if you two want your relationship to survive through recovery.
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What Are Signs Of Substance Abuse If Youre Married To An Addict
The signs of substance abuse if youre married to an addict will differ on the frequency, type, and potency of the substance. But whatever the substance, here are some signs of substance abuse you should be looking out for:
- Change in mood swings
- Frequent absence from family activities or together time
- Increased secrecy or privacy, especially on their electronic devices or accounts/computers.
- The decline in personal hygiene
- The decline in work performance or other responsibilities
- Increased risk-taking behaviors
- Disappearance or lack of funds
Addiction And Relationships: The Hard Truth About The Impact Of Addiction
The strength of personal and romantic relationships is truly put to the test in recovery from alcohol or drug abuse.
or other, long-term, committed relationshipsand substance abuse dont mix. If your partner drinks too much, the effect is felt by his or her spouse and children, friends, relatives, and coworkers.
Many would argue that, aside from the drug abuser, the abusers partner often pays the highest price.
Keep reading to learn the hard truth about addiction and relationships.
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I Im In Recovery And Want To Date Again
If youre in recovery and ready to get back into dating, its very important to continue prioritizing your recovery, even over your budding relationship. Youll need to be cautious, honest with yourself, and careful not to lose sight of your sobriety.By following these guidelines, you can find the balance between recovery and romance.
Light At The End Of The Tunnel
When treatment begins, the prospect of making it through addiction as a couple might seem slim. If the rehabilitation center is close enough for occasional travel, its helpful to visit and participate in the family-based therapy the facility might offer. Most facilities provide couples therapy or family therapy as part of the treatment plan. These sessions can jumpstart the healing process and help family members learn to communicate effectively again.4
Participating in your loved ones recovery process is very encouraging and offers tangible proof of familial support.
Additionally, if the partners substance abuse problem was being enabled, its important for the enablers behaviors to be identified and changed.
During treatment, addicts learn how to substitute substance abuse with better, healthier behaviors. These new behaviors promote sobriety, which is important when a recovering addict is confronted with people, places or things that previously triggered substance abuse. Remaining involved in a partners treatment and recovery is enlightening and helps family members develop strategies that promote the addicts abstinence. Visiting and interacting is also when the spouses progress can be seen, finally offering a little light at the end of this difficult tunnel.
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How To Salvage Your Marriage In Recovery
One of the casualties of addiction is usually relationships. If you are married, the relationship is likely to have suffered a lot of damage due to the substance abuse. In some cases, the harm caused by addiction is too much and the becomes unsalvageable, even though it may continue to limp along for a few years after you become sober. In many cases, the will be salvageable though, but it is likely to require effort from both you and your partner to put things right. Here are a few tips for how you can begin to heal this relationship.
Tips For Being Married To An Addict In Recovery
We often view marriage as an equal partnership. But, when your spouse was struggling with their addiction, they likely werent equally contributing to your home life.
Explore the following tips for spouses who are married to an addict in recovery to better support yourself and their recovery process.
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