Many individuals are prone to experiencing emotional isolation from their partners while they are struggling with an addiction and even during sober living treatment. For this reason, marital therapy is an important aspect of healing and the readjustment process.
Just as family therapy is designed to assist recovering addicts and their families to function as a cohesive unit, marital therapy is equally critical in strengthening the marriage. Marriage counseling is often recommended in establishing a more satisfying relationship by increasing intimacy and creating greater understanding among partners. In marriage counseling, both the recovering addict and his or her spouse ideally would share their feelings, experience, perceptions, and expectations in a supportive environment designed to promote an equal understanding of each other’s experiences. It could be seen as an educational process for both partners, where the recovering addict might learn of the pain and distress which resulted from the addiction and his or her spouse might learn of the struggles and experience of the addiction.
During an addiction, there might have been many circumstances that put a strain on the marriage, such as an increased risk of job instability, legal problems and health difficulties. Perhaps there were also psychological stress, including thoughts of suicide, depression, and anxiety, which also put a strain on the marriage. Marital counseling can help restore the intimacy of a relationship as the couple moves past the addiction, finds individual healing, and heals the circumstances that the addiction might be contributed to.
It’s important during counseling therapy session that the recovery addict acknowledge and express appreciation for the spouse’s support and presence during the addiction. Spouses may have incurred increased responsibilities not only during the addiction, but also throughout the intervention and the final decision to get sober living treatment. Successful marriage and family counseling ideally will serve to equally redistribute the spousal and parental duties, thereby restoring a balance in the family and marital system.
Although some couples might engage in marriage counseling during or after their sober living treatment, marital therapy may allow the couple to ascertain whether continuing to stay in the marriage is the best option for them. The truth is that for some couples, the psychological distress that comes with an addiction may make being in a marriage difficult. It may be impossible to function in a marriage after the psychological, emotional, and even spiritual unrest that comes with an addiction. Some of the difficult situations that are found in a marriage with addiction include:
- There are often many arguments about drinking or drug use.
- There are often arguments about money problems, staying out late, or not taking care of responsibilities in the home.
- One partner might regret having to “cover” for the partner who has been drinking or using drugs too much. He or she might have had to make excuses to a boss or co-worker that the substance user is “sick” and won’t be at work.
- One partner might claim that his or her drinking is related to stress and tension at home.
- Drinking and drug use is the only or one of the few things the partners like to do together.
- There may be episodes of domestic violence when one partner has been drinking or using drugs.
- One or both partners may need to be drunk or high to show signs of affection or to talk about the problems in their relationship.
- The relationship or family as a whole becomes isolated from friends and relatives to hide the drinking or drug problem.
To move past these difficult situations, each partner in the marriage may require extensive emotional restoration, which they may want to do individually first. At the same time, marital therapy may be able to restore a marriage despite the difficulties experienced during the addiction.
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