At the beginning of your marriage, you and your partner vowed to be with each other through good times and bad times. As with anything, it’s always easy to stay around when things are going great, but if your spouse is battling addiction, those bad times may seem more frequent and difficult to withstand. If your marriage has been strained by addiction, here are a few tips on how you and your spouse can get past this difficult time.
Have a conversation
Talking to your partner about seeking treatment or how their drug abuse is hurting you can be scary and intimidating. However, if you are seeking change in your relationship, some discomfort will be inevitable. Continuing to turn a blind eye to their addiction or putting the conversation off until the “perfect time” is actually a subtle form of enabling, which is not encouraged. Whenever you decide to have the conversation, do not do it when they are under the influence, and try not to be extremely judgmental, because that will make them more defensive. Speak calmly and honestly, and focus on being heard. Without listing previous incidents, let them know that this isn’t the first time they have abused a substance or hurt you in the process of using. Then, ask how you both can find a solution.
There are several treatments available to choose from; however, for the first 30 days of your spouse’s recovery, a residential drug rehab facility is the best option. This will give them the break they need from day-to-day living and will provide them the chance to focus solely on recovery. Most residential facilities provide a medically supervised detox before rehab takes place to allow all the drugs and alcohol to leave your spouse’s body. After a successful detox, your spouse will reside in the facility for 30 to 90 days. Once rehab is complete, keep the support and communication flowing by setting up a recovery plan. Recovery is an ongoing process. Rather than thinking of rehab as a cure for your spouse’s addiction, look at it as initial treatment with follow-up care to remain healthy.
Even if your spouse successfully enters a rehabilitation program, their substance abuse can still have detrimental effects on your marriage. As difficult as it will be, the only way to get through this issue is to move on and let go of the hurts of the past. You will need to get a complete understanding of their issues and begin to look at the addiction as a disease that is separate from the addict themselves. Surely there have been plenty of times where your spouse has made bad decisions while under the influence, but remember that it is the addiction that caused them to lose control of their actions.
Also, look at the addiction from their point of view. Think about the terrible pain and guilt they must feel by being imprisoned by such an ugly disease. While this does not minimize the harm they have done to you, it may make it easier for you to forgive them. Keep in mind that it is not uncommon for spouses to attend couples therapy while in recovery, and this may be a good option to utilize if you both are willing to work on the relationship.
Even though you will be trying to overcome your own battles with your relationship, it is important that you stay supportive of your spouse while they are in recovery. Your support will give them the confidence they need to beat their addiction and regain control of their lives. One way to show your support is by attending Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings with your spouse. These meetings are a great support group for them but they will also prove to be beneficial to you as well because you will gain a deeper understanding of the reasons behind your spouse's addiction and what you can do together to move forward.
There are other simple ways to be supportive such as avoiding locations or people that increase your spouse’s temptation to relapse or revamping your home to reduce stress. A stress-free environment can be achieved by getting rid of clutter, brightening up the room with plants and paintings, or purchasing an oil diffuser to fill your home with happy scents. Our environment directly impacts the way we think, feel, and act, so creating a happy, care-free home is an important and easy change.
When faced with addiction, a couple’s risk for divorce is four times greater, but this does not mean your marriage is over. While this will be difficult to get through, with lots of patience, love, and understanding, your marriage can survive addiction and the road to recovery.