Coping with Recovery When your Spouse Cannot

Recovering from addiction has long been thought to be a process that is best accomplished as an individual. If two members of a relationship are simultaneously recovering, they were given separate plans and told to focus on themselves and their own recoveries. New research and methods for recovery are emerging that suggest that approaches can include working together as a couple, not just as individuals. However, if one half of the couple is not as committed to getting and staying clean as the other, huge problems may arise.

Addicted as a Couple

If you find yourself one half of an addicted couple, making the decision to get clean becomes twice as difficult. It may be easier to recognize addiction if you can see it in your spouse and your spouse sees it in you. However, you both supported each other’s addiction, which makes the situation worse than if just one of you had a problem.

One of the biggest roadblocks to recovery from addiction is being around people who are still using. For many addicts, this means maintaining contact with old friends who are users and who encourage their destructive habits. Saying goodbye to these friends is not easy, but it is doable and necessary. If you have to ditch your harmful friends, you may have backup in the form of family, friends who don’t use, or your spouse. When your spouse is the bad influence, however, it is much more difficult to cut that person out of your life.

Coming Clean as a Couple

Thankfully, separating or getting divorce may not be necessary. Many treatment facilities now offer recovery programs specially designed to help the two halves of a couple recover individually and together. While in the past, recovery therapies focused solely on the addicted individual, now addiction specialists realize the importance of involving the whole relationship in recovery.

When both members of a relationship are committed to recovery and work separately as well as together, there is huge potential for success. You and your partner can support and help each other while also working on building your relationship. A major advantage to recovering together is that you each understand what the other is going through. There is risk involved as well, though. If your spouse slips up, your chances of doing the same are increased. It is very easy to justify having a setback when you are both doing it and you are both retreating to past behaviors.

When your Spouse Chooses not to Commit

While couples recovery has amazing potential to lead you both down the path of wellness and staying clean, if one cannot commit to it, failure is nearly inevitable. If your spouse is not ready to come clean or tries but fails, you are at a great risk for failing as well. In that case, your spouse may need more intensive treatment. Together, you may need to consider going your separate ways for a time to pursue recovery independently. Your spouse may require an inpatient treatment plan, while you are doing well on an outpatient basis. If more serious treatment for your spouse helps them to get back on the path, you may be able to come together again later to work on recovery as a couple and to work on rebuilding and strengthening your relationship in a healthy way.

When to Walk Away

If your spouse refuses treatment and insists on using, you have a very difficult decision to make. It is nearly impossible for you to recover from your addiction while you are in a relationship with a user. Being around the agent of your addiction is a huge impediment to recovery. As tough as it may be, you need to consider ending your relationship. When you have exhausted all of your efforts to get your partner help, you need to walk away. To recover and save your life, you must move on and put your spouse and your addiction behind you. Turn to friends and family in this event for support and love, as it will not be an easy action to take. This is also a decision best made with the help of a sponsor and the support of a therapist. If you haven’t sought therapy for your addiction, now is a good time to anchor yourself. Your sobriety is now the most important thing in your life.