Let’s face it. Marriage is not always easy. Every married couple goes through challenges and obstacles together.
But when one partner struggles with drug or alcohol addiction, there are unique difficulties that will come up. The good news is that if your partner wants it bad enough, recovery is completely possible. However, being in recovery is still very challenging. Your partner is going to need a lot of support from you.
Here are seven ways to be more supportive
1. Be supportive of their recovery program
Whether your partner is in a 12-step program or an alternative recovery program like SMART Recovery, they are going to need to dedicate a certain amount of time to their recovery each week. This might mean going to meetings, calling a sponsor, or reading literature.
Be encouraging when your spouse wants to do any of those things, and understand that it’s going to require some time. Maybe this is a good chance for you to get engaged in a new hobby or passion of your own.
2. Don’t have drugs or alcohol in the house
I’m not saying you can’t have a glass of wine when you’re out with your friends, but it will be so much easier for your partner if you don’t drink or use drugs around them.
If they have a problem with prescription medicine, you may even need to take precautions to be in charge of their medicine or keep any of your own prescribed medicine away from them.
Just be aware that they may be more tempted if they have access to alcohol or drugs in their home.
3. Read helpful literature with your spouse
Your partner may be reading literature that’s associated with their program. They may pick up some helpful self-improvement books. Why not read these books along with them?
Then you can discuss the things you are reading together, and it will be just another way to support them in their program.
4. Encourage them to try new hobbies and passions
Is your partner interested in writing a novel? Do they want to take up photography or crocheting? Are they interested in taking a free history course online? Would they perhaps want to go back to school to become a nurse?
Encouraging your partner to pursue their dreams, hobbies, and interests is a great thing to do at any time, but especially when they are in recovery.
Addiction may have robbed them of their interests or hobbies, and one of the best things about recovery is that they can get these back. Remind them of that.
5. Be patient in the event of relapses
Relapses happen. Some people say they are a part of recovery.
If your partner relapses, try to be patient and loving. That doesn’t mean you have to condone the relapse, but just encourage them to get right back into their recovery program.
Don’t dwell on being upset about the relapse. Let them know that you understand that people make mistakes, and tell them that you know how difficult alcohol and drug addiction can be. And let them know you have faith in them and that they can absolutely be successful in recovery.
6. Work your own recovery program
Many loved ones of those who struggle with addiction, find programs like Nar-Anon and Al-Anon to be helpful.
In these programs, loved ones of those who struggle with addiction actually go through the 12 steps themselves. The 12 steps are good for anyone to do, regardless of whether or not they struggle with alcohol or drugs. Both Al-Anon and Nar-Anon also have meetings and helpful literature as well.
7. Make time to re-connect
As with any marriage, it’s essential that you take time to be together and reconnect.
Have regular date nights. Dress up and go out together. Do things you both enjoy. Try new things together like ziplining, horseback riding, or whitewater rafting.
One of the reasons those who have substance use disorder turn to alcohol and drugs is that they don’t feel loved so make sure that your partner does feel loved.
Being married to someone in recovery isn’t always easy. It’s also true that you will meet some of the most amazing people in recovery, and recovery can transform your partner’s life, your life, and your marriage. And you should always be supportive of that.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.