Relationships are significant casualties of substance abuse. Unfortunately, being married to an addict can severely strain the relationship, leading to mistrust, lying, suspicion, and, ultimately, heartbreak. Many people who are married to a recovering addict often wonder, “Do marriages last after rehab? If they do, will mine?” If you’re a spouse in this situation, you may feel deflated, isolated, and sad as the reality of your partner’s situation sets in. However, repairing relationships after addiction is possible, and our rehab in Texas shares some tips that can help.
Addiction and Marriage
Addiction is one of the greatest challenges a marriage can face. Being married to an addict can be a rollercoaster of emotional stress, chaos, and violence riddled with behaviors caused by addiction that can include physical and mental abuse. This can destroy trust, respect, and healthy communication - all essential aspects of any healthy relationship.
An addiction can also lead to financial problems when there are children involved. There can be arguments over parental responsibilities, neglect, and even endangerment. Any of these are likely. The insidious nature of a drug or alcohol problem can even destroy the romance, intimacy, and sexual health of a relationship, adding additional strain.
A drug or drinking problem ultimately alters the person’s perspective, making addiction their main focus rather than their spouse and/or family. All of their attention and energy is directed at satisfying a personal need. The dynamics of a relationship may change as the addict’s spouse becomes less of a romantic partner and more of a tool to further their addiction.
The result can be both sexual problems and harmful behavior. For one, sex and intimacy are essential components of a healthy relationship, as they allow partners to connect on a deeper level. It’s common for drugs and alcohol to impact a person’s sexual drive and function, especially in males, who are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction as a result of drug use.
Harmful behavior may also take place in a relationship affected by addiction. Harmful or abusive behavior refers to any kind of behavior where one partner attempts to exercise dominance and force over an unwilling partner. In the case of addiction, harmful behavior may include the addict forcing their partner to finance their addiction.
Other forms of abuse or neglect that may occur in a marriage affected by addiction can include:
- Yelling at a partner, insulting them, using humiliation tactics, and belittling.
- Partners can be raped (even within a marriage,) bullied into performing sexual favors, used in a sexually demeaning way, or denied sex.
- Use of fear and threats to manipulate and control a partner by forcing them to participate in drug abuse or to be a part of a drug high.
- Lying to a partner or engaging in secretive behavior.
- Stealing from a partner to buy more drugs or alcohol. \
- Lying to a partner about getting help.
Addiction in a marriage can also be linked to enabling and codependency. Enabling occurs when the partner makes it easier for their loved one to continue using drugs or alcohol. For instance, the partner may give the individual money to help them avoid withdrawal symptoms, or they may lie for them to get them out of trouble.
Codependence is also common in relationships impacted by addiction. In a codependent relationship, one person acts as a caretaker and enjoys their role. Eventually, however, this person is likely to become controlling and may even inadvertently prevent the addict from getting better, causing the addict to continue “needing them.”
Can a Marriage Survive Drug Addiction?
Separation and divorce are common consequences of marriages impacted by substance abuse, but neither is inevitable. Addiction is one of the biggest challenges a marriage may ever face, and we believe that marriages do last after rehab - with work. To help your marriage survive, you and your spouse need to work together and be on the same page.
This includes having an honest and open conversation with your husband or wife about their substance use and why they need to receive treatment. You can choose a treatment program together. Set clear boundaries upfront. If they don’t get help and try to get better, then you have to separate from them until they choose to get drug or alcohol treatment.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that you can’t nor should you force your loved one into treatment unless they’re in danger of harming themselves, you, or others. You also need to be patient with your spouse. Addiction is a progressive disease that requires professional intervention, and it will take time for your loved one to heal.
How to Repair a Marriage After Addiction
Repairing your marriage after addiction is possible, but you may be wondering how to go about it. Below are some realistic ways to improve your marriage after addiction that can help you and your partner get started.
- Keep your promises: If you are the spouse who’s attending addiction treatment, you’ll have to work on regaining your loved one’s trust. An essential way of doing this is to make good on your word. If you say you’re going to attend all of your appointments and sessions, then do it. Show your partner that you’re serious about getting better and working on the relationship.
- Create a routine: As a recovering addict, it’s important to create a healthy routine for yourself to stave off boredom and ensure that you remain on track. This includes eating healthy meals, exercising, and regularly attending 12-step meetings. It’s also nice to create a routine with your partner. This may include regular date nights and setting aside time to talk to each other at the end of every day.
- Openly communicate: Addiction naturally fosters secrets, lying, and isolating behaviors, so it’s important to openly communicate with your spouse during recovery. Your partner may be struggling to trust you again, but you can make it easier for them to trust you and understand what you’re going through if you’re open with them.
- Attend counseling: Rebuilding a marriage after substance abuse isn’t easy, and it won’t happen in a day. As the spouse of the addict, if you’re struggling to get over certain pains in your relationship, we encourage you to seek individual counseling and group counseling with your partner. Our Texas recovery center offers counseling for families of addicts that can not only help you to heal individually but to make amends with your partner.
- Be patient: As we previously mentioned, your relationship won’t be mended in a day, and being married to an addict in recovery will continue to prevent certain challenges down the line. It’s important to remember that your partner is going through their own challenges as they adjust to a life without drugs or alcohol. If your spouse relapses or slips up, it’s not because they don’t love you. It’s because addiction is a difficult disease to overcome. Just be patient and give it time.
Help for Addicts and Their Loved Ones
If you or a loved one is battling addiction, Banyan offers Texas drug and alcohol treatment that can help with all kinds of substance use disorders. From medical detox to family services to aftercare programs like 12-step meetings, we offer everything required for achieving long-term sobriety.