Healing After a Spouse’s Addiction

couple holding hands

Addiction is a disease that has destructive effects on relationships. As the addict deteriorates and loses control, they cause direct harm to those who love them the most. Addiction is especially hard on a marriage. The spouse of the addict often tries to pick up slack and find a way for the family to survive. It’s exhausting trying to keep up with an addict. There are lies and deception; and then there are physical, financial, psychological, and emotional consequences which can impact the safety and security of both marriage and family. The aftermath is often two people who are broken, tired, and feeling hopeless as recovery begins. Whether your spouse is struggling with addiction or in recovery, you also deserve help and healing.

Focus on Yourself

Addiction has thrown your marriage and family completely out of balance. If you continue to focus on helping your spouse while neglecting your own needs, the imbalance will continue. Failing to establish a healthy balance in your relationship can lead to continued marital problems, or even relapse. You may have already discovered that you cannot control your loved one’s recovery, but it is hard to let go.  By getting help, you will be healthier and happier.  You can also provide better support for your spouse’s recovery.  Taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do right now to help your family get back on track.

Keep a Journal

Opening up the lines of communication between yourself and your spouse can be very difficult.  A pattern of lying and avoidance often occurs; hurt and resentment are often the result.  Overcoming these barriers will take time and work. You likely have feelings and concerns that you need to get off your chest in order to heal. Rather than bombarding your spouse with everything all at once, try keeping a journal about your feelings. You can vent your emotions in private, and then decide which thoughts and feelings you want to discuss at this time.

Get Professional Help

Just as your spouse may need professional help with their addiction, you could probably use some extra support too. Joining a support group like Al-Anon is a great place to start. Individual and marriage counseling is also beneficial. This can help you sort out your feelings and gain a better understanding at a very confusing time.

Making a New Marriage

Now that substances are out of the picture, you may find there are many issues to address within your marriage.  With so much focus on the addiction, couples often fail to address other challenges within their relationship. Neither of you are the same people you were before addiction. All of the hurt and uncertainty takes a toll. Expecting your marriage to be as it once was is unrealistic, but there is an opportunity for an even better relationship than before.  As you and your spouse get to know one another again, you’ll see that many of the things you loved about each other are still there. As you work to heal the wounds of the past, your foundation can be strengthened. Recovery can restore your relationship and help it be even richer than before.