The first step to moving on from addiction is facing up to things together. When addiction is a problem in your relationship you both need to take the same first step – both you and your partner have to be honest with yourselves and with each other that the problem is there.
If it is the behavior that is getting out of hand – for example drinking too much ‘every’ Friday night – it may still be possible for the person responsible to agree to try to cut down their drinking. Ideally with support from their partner. However, if it feels like you are past the ‘take it or leave it’ stage, or communication between you has broken down, it is time to seek professional advice, information or counseling.
It is often valuable for both partners to seek support. Often the partner without the addiction asks “Why do I need counseling? I’m not the one with the problem!” However, living with an addicted partner causes personal stresses and strains. You may have ‘bottled things up’ scared that you might upset your partner or make things worse. Counselling provides a safe, confidential space to talk through your thoughts and feelings.
To attend counseling as a couple can be a great step forward. It will allow space and time for both of you, to be honest with each other about your thoughts and feelings and to identify and address problems that may have arisen in your relationship through the addictive behavior. The counselor will ensure you each have space to say what you need to say and support you in improving communication with each other.
Betrayal of trust is often the biggest hurdle to overcome after addiction. The partner of the addicted person may have had broken promises before. They wonder “How can I be certain this time it will be different?” If the addiction was hidden, it may feel harder to trust as they fear not knowing if relapse occurs.
The partner who has stopped their addiction may feel frustrated at their partner’s lack of trust wondering, “Will I ever be treated as a responsible adult again?”
It may take time, but you can work together to rebuild trust.
Every relationship is different. Only try these suggestions if you think they might be right for you.
Online advice, support, information and counseling can be very valuable in many cases. Many users of thecoupleconnection.net have found our articles on trust and using the forum to be helpful and feel less isolated.
If the addiction problem is long term or involves drugs, alcohol, cutting or physically harming yourself or has been triggered by traumatic life events it may be advisable to seek face to face counseling from a specialist agency or via your GP.