Addressing Addiction as a Couple: How to Foster a Healing Connection with Your Partner

Addiction can create a lot of heartache in close relationships.

While an intimate relationship is meant to be a safe haven, it becomes unpredictable when your partner struggles with an addiction. You don’t know when your partner will be accessible, or when they might disengage. If you’re the person struggling, you likely deal with a myriad of emotions, often guilt or shame, when you’re around your partner.

But committed partnerships can also greatly benefit both partners. They can offer an alliance, and motivation, to overcome things like substance abuse or compulsive behaviors.

So, instead of dealing with your addiction and its effects on your own, address it together. With perseverance and compassion, you can create a healthier and stronger relationship, overall, and learn to bond in ways you never have before.

Moreover, doing some work in therapy can help you create a safer and more intimate connection with your partner where you can turn towards one another instead of retreating into old patterns and habits. You can learn to help one another through the trying times of your journey to recovery and healing. You can find a new forward way together.

Let’s take a closer look at how this works.

How Does Addiction Affect Relationships?

When one partner in a relationship struggles and doesn’t know how to turn to their partner—pain, conflict, and loneliness arise. Disagreements cast a cloud over the relationship and what you once had seems like a distant memory. Even when sober, you struggle to enjoy the love you once enjoyed together.

Unfortunately, this vicious cycle develops in many relationships and is especially profound where one (or both) partners are dealing with addiction.

If the cycle continues, the addiction becomes central to your relationship. You’ll have a hard time talking about anything else or focusing on anything else. in many cases, the addiction itself doesn’t come front and center, but rather other issues that arise because of the symptomatic behaviors and emotions.

This may include:

  • Trust issues
  • Financial problems
  • Legal problems
  • Health issues
  • Depression and anxiety

There are many ways in which addiction impacts a relationship. While it might seem hopeless, just because a partner is struggling with substance abuse or compulsive behavior doesn’t mean the relationship is doomed. It is possible to heal and mend broken bonds.  It’s even possible to create an entirely new way of being together, with the love you feel at the center.

If You’re the Addict Turn Toward Your Partner, Not Away

Yes, it’s difficult when you feel you are causing your partner a great deal of pain to ask them for help.  You don’t feel like you deserve it and you don’t want to burden them. But when you begin to recognize the feelings that fuel your addictive cycle, begin to share those feelings with your partner.  

Do not expect your partner to keep you from your substance or behavior, but do allow them to know your more vulnerable side.  For example, if you recognize that work stress leads you to use, then learn to talk to your partner about your work stress. Can you share with them, “I’m so overwhelmed, I feel inadequate and I’m afraid of failing.”  Those may be hard things to say, but this is the way out of your addictive cycle. It’s likely that you are using to cope with unwanted feelings and being vulnerable fosters healing connection.

Don’t forget to tell your partner often what you appreciate about them.  And remember, your partner loves you or they wouldn’t still be around.

Self Care is Critical When Supporting a Partner Through Their Addiction

The best way to foster a healthy connection with your partner is to keep your focus on what you know is possible for them and for the two of you together. Tell them what you want. Share your feelings and desires in clear concise ways. Remind them what they are capable of and what you can have as a couple. Show compassion, but also expect accountability.

At the same time, it’s important to take care of yourself. Establish a support system and your own healing practices.  

If you’re also struggling, take responsibility for your needs. Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean me first, it means me, too. You can both heal, together.      

Considering Counseling for Addiction

One of the best ways to heal from addiction is to consider counseling as a couple for addiction. Our approach to couples counseling allows for both partners to go through the process side-by-side.

As a result, you’ll both learn how to become the best version of yourselves. You can learn to celebrate yourself and your partner, no matter the circumstances. If you both do the work, you can create a partnership that supports the new person you are each choosing to be.

When you start to focus more on your growth, the addiction doesn’t have to be the main focus of your relationship. When we learn to live with wholeness in the company of one another, we experience love.

The fact is—no one has to go through life’s struggles alone.

When you have a partner at your side, it can make a world of difference. And when you’re willing to commit to recovery as a couple, the right type of counseling will guide you every step of the way.

If you or your partner are struggling with an addiction, we would like to help you work through it as a couple. Contact us to set up a couples counseling session. We’d be honored to provide our services so you can build a stronger, healthy relationship with the one you love.

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