Living with an addicted spouse can create stress, despair, anxiety, and depression, along with other things. Even though the individual isn’t the one with the addiction, it’s common for that individual to grapple with serious short-term and long-term emotional effects. In the United States, abuse is the sixth leading cause of divorce. It’s not surprising that divorce can still be a factor during the recovery period. Just because a person gets sober and does all of the recovery tasks, doesn’t mean the core fundamental issues which developed as a response to the active addiction will work out.
It’s important to remember, while you can help your spouse get help for their addiction, you cannot control whether they want to conquer their addiction. Another important fact is you are not to blame. Addiction is a complicated beast. It’s difficult to really recognize that your actions are contributing to your spouse’s addiction. Unfortunately, addiction makes people do extreme things.
Your road to recovery is just as important as your spouse’s. Prioritize yourself by creating a plan of action and identifying elements where you will need additional resources and/or support.
Here are a few ways you can recover from your spouse’s addiction.
Communication is the foundation for every relationship – the relationship with your spouse and the relationship with yourself. If you don’t have active communication, in place, your relationship will not work.
Be honest with your spouse and discuss your feelings. It’s okay to be mad. It’s okay to be stressed. It’s okay to be disappointed. Schedule regular conversations with your spouse and voice your concerns. Having honest and open lines of communication, with your spouse, will be helpful for everyone. Your spouse needs to fully understand the repercussions of their addiction. Strive to always be clear and direct about your feelings.
Additionally, have conversations with yourself. Even though you may put on a strong front, it’s crucial to be honest with yourself because avoiding the truth will only prolong your recovery. Even though it’s helpful to talk with a friend or relative, a more constructive conversation can occur when it’s with an unbiased third party. You should consider talking with a counselor or therapist. Technology, such as Zoom and Skype, have created several ways you can successfully communicate with professionals.
There are a lot of preconceived misconceptions circulating about addiction. Take the time to educate yourself and learn the facts. Knowledge is powerful and can provide you with a better understanding as to why things are unfolding a certain way. Educating yourself will also help you, as you come to grips with your own feelings and the resentment you have with your spouse. Addiction is a disease and understanding that is key to your recovery.
Detach with love.
In order to care for yourself, you must practice detaching with love. Even though you’re frustrated and annoyed, your spouse still needs to know you love them. Some examples of detaching with love are: your spouse falls asleep on the couch and you cover them with a blanket, you notice your spouse is out of coffee creamer and you pick some up at the store, or your spouse forgets to record their favorite show and you schedule the recording.
Strive to be intentional but authentic. Being a loving human being will show your spouse that you care – despite your honest feelings of anger and frustration.
Attend family and/or marriage counseling.
If you have children, their well-being can cause worry and fear to arise. Implementing family and/or marriage counseling will unburden the stress and confusion of the situation. Counselors and therapists are trained professionals and they can provide you with reasonable tactics to resolve the trauma everyone has experienced. It’s important to understand that you cannot fix everything and everyone. Having an unbiased third party will reinforce the road to recovery and provide you with constructive self-care recommendations.
Do something for yourself.
Is there a hobby or activity that you enjoy? Maybe it’s yoga, running, pottery, sewing, martial arts, painting, or cooking. Sign up for a class and remove yourself from your norm. You deserve it and need the time to heal. Your needs and desires may feel like they’re getting lost amidst your spouse’s recovery process. It’s important to remember that your mental health is important, and you should make yourself a priority.
In every relationship, we are all individuals. If you’re unhappy as an individual, your relationship will not work out.
Don’t put yourself on the back burner – you matter. So, take the class and allow your mind to grow. Human beings are at their happiest when they are being productive.
Get comfortable with the word ‘no.'
You probably feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. During this time of healing, you must recognize the power of saying no. It’s okay to say no and not be able to do all of the things you normally complete. There is a polite way to saying no, without divulging a ton of information. Nonetheless, being vulnerable is a great way to articulate why you are saying no. Make a promise to yourself, uncommit from the things not bringing you joy. Initially, people may seem bothered; however, that is because they are accustomed to you always saying yes.
All in all, identifying the need for you to recover from your spouse’s addiction should be a priority. If you do not embark on a road to recovery for yourself, you’ll end up resenting your spouse, and be troubled with anxiety and depression. It’s important to remember that everyone’s process of recovery looks different. Each individual has different variables and there is no right or wrong way to work through the recovery season.
**Even though we consider our advice to be top-notch, we want to be sensitive to the long-term effects abuse can have on a spouse (and their family). If you need a treatment plan, there are free resources and services offered by the government. To learn more about local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations, check out the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).**