Marriage is supposed to be one of the most rewarding relationships in our life, where spouses can go to each other for reassurance and feel loved in our everyday lives. Marriage is supposed to feel like a safe haven from the outside world.
Learning to Love in a Marriage when Differences Arise
Unfortunately, addiction can quickly turn the safe haven of marriage into a nightmarish cage. If you are the spouse of an addict, you’ve probably witnessed your partner change from a kind, loving person to someone whose mood requires you to walk on eggshells constantly.
Even if your partner is actively working to recover from their addiction, it can be all too tempting to give in to despair. I’m here to tell you that there are steps you can take now that will not only help you support your spouse but also help you gain some semblance of normalcy in your life.
Here are some tips on how to support your alcoholic or addicted spouse in recovery.
Be Honest – Avoid Denial
If you are married to an addict in recovery, the most important thing you can do is be honest with yourself about the situation. Too many people try to sweep their addicted spouse’s actions under the rug rather than address reality. However, ignoring the problem won’t help you or your spouse.
Being honest doesn’t mean you need to tell everyone you meet about your problem, but it does mean you need to face it head-on. Doing this allows you to take control of your own well-being and helps you to determine what your next step should be.
Do Your Research
Addiction is a disease that can affect everyone in your family. The person you fell in love with still exists, they are just sick and need help.
If you are married to an addict in recovery, all is not lost. There are many sources online full of tips and strategies to help you through this rough patch in your marriage.
You should also consider contacting an experienced treatment specialist as they can help you gain a much clearer picture of your situation.
The Steps Recovery Centers blog is a great place to start, as they regularly post blogs about addiction recovery and how to support an alcoholic spouse in recovery.
Whatever you do, and this can’t be emphasized enough, don’t enable your partner in their addiction. Enabling is doing anything that shelters an addict from the consequences of their actions and allows them to continue indulging in their addictions.
Enabling an addict always causes more harm than good. Your goal is to help your spouse overcome their addiction through love and care, not help them continue their destructive behavior.
Put You and Your Family First
Ultimately, there is only one person you can change in this world, and that’s you. If you are the spouse of an addict, it’s vital that you place the needs of yourself and your family first.
This means that you should continue with any family routines you may have, such as family dinner, even if your spouse doesn’t join you. Find some time to spend with family and friends. Taking the time to care for yourself can help you find inner strength that you didn’t even know you had!
It’s also important to know your limits. Most spouses will eventually get the help they need. However, it’s important to remember that marriage doesn’t mean that you need to be tied to a sinking ship.
Remember, addiction recovery is a process. Your spouse may make great strides some weeks and little to no progress other weeks. As many can attest, things can get better.
Tyler S. Hansen
Steps Recovery Centers General Manager
I am a recovering addict who currently has 7+ years clean and sober. I spent time in the Utah State Prison for drug and theft charges and now work as an Advanced Substance Use disorder counselor for
Steps Recovery addiction Centers and the Utah County Sheriffs Office. I am also attending the MSW program at Brigham Young University and an advocate and speaker for recovery.