September is National Recovery Month, and a time for many to reflect on their accomplishments in the recovery process. – firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle Peterson got in touch with me about hosting an article for National Recovery Month and I am quite happy to oblige. Michelle believes the journey to sobriety should not be one of shame but of pride. Her mission is aligned with that of RecoveryPride, which is to celebrate sobriety and those who achieve it.
Common Marriage Issues That Arise in the Wake of Substance Abuse
One of the hardest parts is over. The addiction is subsiding and physical healing is on the way. Yet, the questions lurking in the back of your mind include concerns like, “What if my spouse experiences a relapse?” and “Where does the relationship go from here?” Since roughly one out of every seven Americans faces addiction, these questions are not uncommon.
Families of the addicted parties often struggle to manage their pain throughout the healing process. Sometimes emotional agony hurts much deeper than any physical pain, and many people don’t know how to manage a post-addiction marriage. For those couples who find themselves in the midst of addiction recovery, here are a few common things you could experience:
By now, you’re likely very familiar with addiction-related conversations. Beyond the initial conversations that led to rehab, medical care, or counseling, there are other tough conversations that will need to be addressed. Some of the topics that arise during healing stages could be as serious as infidelity, substance temptations, or how to talk to your kids about the situation. But as one source suggests: “It’s important to find the balance between keeping the lines of communication open and avoiding the conversation escalating into a major fight.” Before you begin difficult discussions, consider the time, place, and circumstances that are involved. These conversations can be healthy, if they are addressed in the appropriate setting.
During emotional hardships, it’s often hard to focus on daily tasks. That’s because stress can cause forgetfulness. The non-addicted spouse may suffer from the overwhelming anxiety surrounding the relationship and might forget basic tasks like paying the bills or going to the grocery store. Meanwhile, the recovering spouse may still struggle with side-effects of harmful substances or become overwhelmed with dramatic shifts in their daily routine. To avoid these types of experiences, try to make lists of the daily tasks that you are responsible for accomplishing and the ones that your spouse needs to complete. If a significant task is neglected, try to have patience with each other. You’re both recovering from the situation and need time to adjust.
Someone who has formerly faced addiction might struggle with frequent temptations. Some will crave the substance long after they’re sober. For others, simply seeing drugs or alcohol in their environment or on TV can trigger a desire for old habits. The spouse who isn’t tempted by these things should still be cognizant of the other’s reaction to them. The temptation could be strongest during the weeks directly following their decision to remain sober. Consider altering the home environment so that they don’t have to worry about facing these temptations.
Lack of Sleep
As you’ve likely already experienced, relationship issues can heavily impact your perspective and emotions. One minute you’re clear-headed and calm, then in the very next moment you’re in tears or furious at your spouse for something they did. Many times a wide range of emotions can also contribute to a serious lack of sleep. As harmless of an issue as it sounds, sleep deprivation can skew good decision making and negatively impact your relationship. Conversely, one source suggests that more sleep can result in happier relationships. If you’re having a hard time managing emotions on your own, it might be a good idea to seek counsel from a professional.
During this time of relational healing, it’s important that your marriage is surrounded with strong, trustworthy couples or counselors that can help walk you both through recovery. A healed marriage is only achieved when both the husband and wife individually choose to fight for the marriage. As you move toward full reconciliation, be aware of these common marriage struggles so that you can fight through them together.
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