Is your spouse in recovery from substance abuse? Have you dreamed about life together after your spouse achieves sobriety? Your expectations might be high but, likely, life will not be as rosy as you imagine it will be post-recovery. In most cases, living with a recovering spouse is still challenging. Researchers find that over 48% of those with addiction see their marriages dissolve. If your spouse is going through recovery from addiction, you should be prepared for the challenges of keeping your marriage healthy and functional.
Although your spouse may have gone through detox, treatment, and early sobriety, the risk of relapse is always present. On the one hand, you want to be supportive and affirming. On the other hand, your marriage relations are not going to miraculously heal and become healthy, so there is much work to do and emotional stress to work through with a recovering spouse. It is important to manage your expectations and self-educate on what early sobriety means for marriage in recovery.
An Honest Self-Examination
Your spouse’s addiction may have brought storms into your life. While addiction wreaked havoc on the body and mind of your loved one, the emotional trauma of living with an addict has likely caused you a lot of pain as well. Before you and your partner enter into the post-addiction phase of your marriage, it is important to pause and ask yourself: Have you recovered from your spouse’s addiction? Are you aware of any unhealthy relationship dynamics that might cause a relapse? Have you found healing from the fear, distrust, and resentment during the past years? Do you have the confidence and determination to work through these things? If you find answering these questions difficult or unsettling, you should consider getting professional help, either through couple’s counseling or other therapies.
This self-examination is important because your emotional well-being is going to factor into your partner’s chance of sustainable recovery. Although it may seem that you are the “healthy” person in this marriage, both of you are responsible for the relationship dynamics. More often than not, the spouse of a recovering addict has some kind of issues that they need to work through as well. Don’t overestimate your ability to withstand the emotional stress after your partner returns home from detox treatment. There are going to be battles ahead of you, and intense emotions and pains will re-emerge. You need to seek healing so you can be a good support system for your spouse. Know what boundaries need to be changed and how to practice self-care when things get tense.
The Transition From an Addicted Lifestyle to Sobriety
One of the primary relationship difficulties is trust. An addictive lifestyle often breeds unhealthy codependent behaviors on both sides. Keeping both of you accountable is crucial. You may also face difficulty recovering finances from the cost of acquiring drugs and alcohol to feed the addiction, outside scorn, or the fallout of exposing your children to addiction.
If your spouse went through successful detox treatment for a considerable period of time, they might have changed quite a lot. You both need to spend time getting to know each other again, and you should talk about the things your spouse has learned in detox and treatment so you can facilitate continued healing and recovery. Watch for signs of backsliding into unhealthy ways, including placing blame and verbal abuse. Both of you need to learn how to release stress and divert tension while maintaining trust and open communication. If you want to be supportive of your partner’s long-term recovery, you must build healthy boundaries and know when to refrain from conflicts.
Strategies for Maintaining Emotional Health as a Couple
Because your partner has probably gone through relationship skills training, you should also learn these skills. That takes education on your part and communication with your partner. You might also begin individual therapy or participate in family therapy. These behavioral health sessions with clinical counselors can help you detect unhealthy patterns in communication and family roles.
Supporting your partner’s recovery towards long-term sobriety means that you as a family need to make lifestyle changes. This involves removing substances and triggers from your home, drawing lines in terms of what friends to mingle with, and what social events to avoid attending. It is best if you and your partner can build a support network of friends who have healthy lifestyles and habits. You can also become part of your partner’s recovery community, such as joining a local 12-step group. Consider this self-care for both of you as a couple.
Not every marriage that involves addiction has to end in divorce. We understand the challenges you face with a spouse in recovery. It is going to take time for your marital relationship to heal. We are here to support you and your loved ones in whatever way we can. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our clinical and counseling staff are always available to provide family support throughout your partner’s treatment. We also commit to providing regular updates on his or her progress. You will team up with qualified medical professionals with years of experience. Schedule an appointment with a licensed mental healthcare professional or therapist at Laguna Shores Recovery. We are here to listen, coach, and walk alongside you. We have both inpatient and outpatient programs, offering a range of treatments, including diagnosis, behavioral therapies, 12-step programs, and treatment plans. Call us at (866) 229-9923; we would be happy to walk alongside you.