When your spouse undergoes recovery, whether for alcoholism or addiction (substance or behavioral), the important thing to understand is that you, as his/her partner, is the most necessary part of the recovery process. Your husband or wife needs you, more than anyone, in his recovery process. This may be unfair to you but in order to keep your partner sober, you have to be the support that he or she needs.
So how can you help your spouse, and keep your marriage alive, during the arduous recovery process? Follow these tips:
- Learn about the recovery process. The first things that you need is to learn about the dynamics of addiction and recovery. Understand the risk factors that may push your partner to relapse, and have a relapse prevention plan with your partner. This road to recovery is not for your partner to tread on alone and you are play a crucial role in his journey to complete sobriety.
- Communicate. Maybe during your partner’s addiction, you may not talk as much as you would like to, or end up arguing with every conversation. Now that he or she is in recovery, this is the time for you both to open up to each other. This is the time for you to also share to your husband or wife your own journey and how you feel. Talking regularly about both of your feelings, hopes, fears, and expectations help you both to work together towards a goal that works for you both and your family. Here at Bridges of Hope, we also conduct counselling that will help husbands and wife learn communication and coping skills that will help improve the dynamics within your marriage.
- Have hope. Your recovering spouse’s may be slow in his or her progress but you have to hold on to hope that the program works as long as you are also there to support him or her. It doesn’t help to compare yourself with others because each progress at their own pace.
- Welcome change. Don’t be afraid of change. Your husband or wife may want to explore his or her new found freedom from the vice grip of addiction, and allow him or her to enjoy this new life. He or she may have new friends, have new hobbies, do great at work, or excel in new passions. This change is a good change and welcome it.
- Open your mind and heart to all possibilities. Even if this is not what you want. In this new life, you or your partner may discover that you never really knew each other, or that the feelings have gone as the dust settled. The emotional rollercoaster of addiction and recovery may leave either or both of you feeling drained, or may even take an irreparable toll in your relationship. Have counselling with your spouse and make an effort to reconnect. Go back to that place that led you to love each other in the first place.
- Have patience. You may see a change in your husband or wife (or maybe in yourself) now that things are different in your life or in your marriage. There will be ups and downs, as well as the threat of relapse around the corner. Recovery is selfish because the recovering addict would have to put his own sobriety above everything else, even you. Understand this and have patience because this take time.
- Prepare for setbacks. Even after rehab, your spouse may still be struggling with his cravings, and there will be a whole new set of challenges that come with recovery. He may experience mood swings, depression, or many other things. Being in recovery does not guarantee a smooth ride so be prepared to tackle everything together. Be wary of red flags before it leads to a full-on relapse.
- Forgive your spouse and yourself. This time is the perfect time to give your lives a fresh start and you can only do that if you forgive yourself and your spouse. Don’t hang on to the past, and welcome a better future. It may be easier said than done after all the pain, problems, and anger that you have gone through. However, holding on to these may only hinder you and your spouse from moving on.
- Stop the blame game. The more that you understand that addiction is a compulsion, a disease, the more that you will know that your spouse have no control over it. And you have no control over your spouse. Your spouse knows the things you went through and is feeling remorseful about it. Instead of blaming him or her, give him or her a chance to make up for everything as he or she embarks on sobriety.
- Celebrate triumphs, big or small. Your spouse needs you to tell him or her that he or she is doing great. They need all the reassurance and encouragement that they can get. Tell them that you appreciate them, and show them your support by making them attend 12-step meetings and being active in their after-care program.
- Don’t take it personally. You play a big part in your spouse’s recovery, but it is not about you. It is about them. If they do relapse, don’t blame yourself and instead get them back into rehab ad recovery once again.
- Enjoy! Things may be different now that your partner is different (he or she is sober!). But if you take time to look closely, you will see that the person you love is still there and thriving. Get to know that person once again and enjoy this new life together.
If you need to talk to someone about your family or spouse who is in recovery, or if you fear that your spouse may be going into relapse, text or call us: