Watching someone you love go through the physical and emotional pain of addiction can be one of the most difficult things you’ll ever face, especially if that person is your partner in life. No matter how much you want to help your loved one, sometimes it’s just not as simple as letting them know how much you love them. Addiction is a powerful force, and it can create a hold on even the strongest person. It’s important to remember to keep your loved one separate from the addiction. The person you love is still there, but it can be incredibly frustrating to deal with the behaviors that come with addiction to a substance, such as lying or engaging in dangerous activities. You may feel that your loved one is to blame for the issues within your marriage, and it can be tempting to use strong language that lets them know your anger and frustration.
“No doubt, addiction is one of the greatest challenges a marriage will face. It is also perhaps one of the most frustrating in the sense that a rational non-addicted person looks at the addict and says, “Can’t you see what you’re doing to us? Why won’t you stop using?” or, “If you really loved me, you’d stop drinking, spending too much, starving yourself,” writes Susan Pease Gadoua.
However, if you are committed to making your marriage work and helping your partner through their addiction, there are ways around the blame talk. Here are a few tips on how to start.
The first step is finding help that your partner is willing to accept. Recovery is a long, difficult road, and many individuals who are battling addiction are scared to start down it, either because they know that without substances they’ll have to face harsh emotional pain, or because they don’t want to fail. It’s important to do some research and find the best recovery option for your spouse’s needs rather than jumping into something quickly.
Separate your spouse from the addiction
It can be difficult to do, but it’s important to remember that the person you love is still inside there, battling something that you might not understand. If it has led them to partake in activities that are illegal or have brought danger or shame to your family, they are likely aware and might be feeling their own shame or guilt, which perpetuates a tricky cycle of substance abuse in order to numb the pain. Have a conversation with your spouse about their behavior or actions and stay away from the blame. Listen to what they have to say and try to find a constructive way to build upon it.
Renew your relationship
Once your relationship has taken a few hits, it’s hard to think about what it was like in the beginning, but it might help both of you to see the value of your bond. Once your partner is in recovery, go on dates. Get to know one another again. Think of it as a way to find common ground and strengthen your partnership.
Set a goal
It’s a good idea to have something to look forward to together, such as taking a vacation or having a date night just for the two of you. Or, you might dream bigger and decide to buy a new home in the near future. Whatever you choose, do it together, and make it a point to listen to one another. Helping a loved one through an addiction is never easy, but if you start with a good plan and try your best to stay patient, you can get through it together. Communication is key, so think about the best ways to talk without using harsh words and use constructive ideas instead.
Susan Pease Gadoua
best recovery option
go on dates
do it together