Marriage Changes Once a Spouse Becomes Sober

Happy marriage at the and of therapy sessionContributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

If you have been in a relationship with a person who has been under the influence under drugs or alcohol, you have likely experienced a myriad of emotions as you watched your loved one struggle with addiction.

Your spouse’s addiction has likely not just affected them as an individual, but yourself and your marriage as well. Working through the recovery from an addiction is something that you must both be committed to in order to see your marriage survive the many challenges that are associated with addiction behaviors.

Addiction Strains Relationships

Living with a spouse who is under the influence of addiction can cause much strife and hurt in many aspects of your relationship, including your ability to communicate with one another, your capacity to be intimate with one another, finances, shared hobbies, outside relationships and more.

As a spouse of an addict, you may not be sure of how to support your loved one see you the recovery process or how to deal with the many challenges your marriage has faced.

Seeking Out Professional Help First

Seeking out professional help and treatment is it a necessary part of recovering from addiction and finding intervention for damaging behaviors that may be hurting your marriage. Because of the many complex factors that can contribute to addiction, it is important to realize that you are not at fault for the struggles your spouse may be facing.

Couple hugging and watching sunset on the beachBy removing self blame you can achieve greater clarity in your relationship with your spouse as well as better understand the ways in which you can support them in their recovery from addiction. You may find that you indeed a professional to help guide you through the many hurts you have a face as a result of your spouse struggling with an addiction.

It may benefit you to seek out help and guidance through the support of a therapist or counselor to help you work through the pain or traumas you have endured while your spouse has struggled through an addiction.

There Is No Instant Cure for Addiction

Sobriety and recovery is a process, one that takes time and commitment from both your loved one and yourself. Rebuilding a marriage through the process of addiction is also a process that will take time and perseverance.

Though you may likely feel burnt-out and stretched beyond your capacity in your relationship with your loved one through the process of their addiction and even recovery, it is important to understand that your love and commitment may make all the difference in your loved one’s life and in your relationship together.

The Changes that Come with Sobriety

Recovery is also something that may bring about many changes and emotions in your life. The person you may have been used to living with and being around may suddenly change. The initial process of recovery and sobriety can be extremely difficult to live with, particularly if you spouse is withdrawing from a substance, such as drugs or alcohol.

Man and woman hands helping conceptThe best way to support your spouse through this process is to ensure that they are receiving the appropriate help and care they need to get them through the different phases of addiction, including the withdrawal/detoxification phase.

By being involved in your spouse’s treatment process, you can better understand the phases of recovery that sobriety involves and have clearer expectations of what the process may be like.

Finding New Ways to Communicate and Love

As your spouse recovers from addiction and achieves sobriety, you may learn that you have to rebuild many areas of your life, your relationship and your marriage together. This may involve learning a new and more effective way of communicating with one another, reestablishing intimacy, finding new hobbies to enjoy together and more.

Sobriety is a wonderful opportunity to rebuild and strengthen your marriage and can allow you both to heal from the hurt that you have sustained from addiction.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

Have you been in a marriage where your spouse struggled with an addiction to drugs or alcohol? How did you support your spouse through this process? What encouragement would you offer to other individuals who are struggling to maintain their marriage with a spouse who is addicted?

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 12th, 2015
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