Addiction can be crippling, and in a relationship, an addiction can come between partners. When a partner in a relationship is struggling with addiction, their addiction can take away their ability to empathize with their partner or partners as they struggle to feel fulfillment and to feed their addiction day after day. It can be debilitating for partners to deal with the reality that a substance or habitual behavior seems to have become more important than their happiness or comfort, while their addicted partner struggles—and often fails—to feel happy themselves.
Couples counseling can help partners work through the fallout of an addiction when one partner is ready to begin recovery, but sometimes the reality is that we or our partner may not be ready to address the addiction and the harm that it’s caused in a relationship. This can undermine the process of healing in counseling, and it’s important to understand how addictions can affect our relationships, even in counseling.
The Toll Of Addiction In Relationships
Addiction is a debilitating disease and there are a number of ways it can take a toll on our relationships. Some addictions are more subtle than others, and the effects of addiction can range from financial turmoil to abusive behavior.
Everyone is unique and so is their journey with addiction if they struggle with one. For some people it may be an inability to engage or empathize with a partner until they’re intoxicated or satiated, and—for some—it may be the way they feel when they aren’t intoxicated or satiated that harms the relationship. Others may spend so much time trying to hide or conceal their addiction that they become distant from those who care the most and want to help.
When A Partner Is Ready
When a partner struggling with addiction is ready to reach out for help and begin to heal, couples counseling can help facilitate the process of healing in a relationship. In therapy, partners in a relationship can work together toward repairing broken trust, acknowledging the pain that one’s addiction has caused for their loved ones and working towards forgiveness and acceptance from those who’ve been affected by a partner’s addiction.
Couples counseling can also be a great way to help a partner who is in the process of recovery or seeking help. Getting sober isn’t easy, and withdrawal can be debilitating and painful. Someone in recovery might be physically sick, or struggling to feel happy or fulfilled without substances or habits they’ve come to rely on, but if they’ve decided to take the next step and begin to heal, couples counseling can help them and their partner or partners work through the process together.
When A Partner Isn’t Ready
Nobody can make the decision for a loved one to take steps towards recovery, and unfortunately sometimes a partner may not be ready to seek help. In these situations, couples counseling may not be able to help them much while they’re still in an addiction cycle. Addictions can control us through fear and pain, and when someone is struggling with addiction they may have trouble being honest, bringing their authentic self to the table in good faith, and empathizing with their partner. In couples counseling, these are important parts of the process and being unable to do them can undermine the process of healing and recovery and keep the partner struggling with addiction from making meaningful changes that are healthy and fair to their partner.
What To Do When A Partner Isn’t Ready
If you or your partner struggle with or have struggled with addiction, there may be a lot of impacts that it has had on your relationship. You may feel alienated and alone, angry, and hurt. When we struggle with addiction, the addiction can take priority in our brain, and it can be difficult to focus on anything except our chemical needs or habits. If you or a partner is currently in an addiction cycle, the first step, rather than beginning couples counseling, may be to seek help for the addiction. There are myriad resources available for those who have decided that it’s time to get help and overcome their addiction, but that choice can only be made by the addict, and until an addiction is addressed, the relationship may prove difficult to improve—even with counseling.
If your relationship has suffered from addiction, and you or your partner is seeking help with your or their addiction, it may be time to address the harm that has come to you, your partner, or your relationship together. In couples counseling, you can begin the process of healing, together. It may be difficult to talk about the ways you’ve been hurt or caused hurt, and, in counseling, a therapist can help you navigate the process together.
If you’ve been thinking about starting the journey of couples counseling together, Love Heal Grow offers couples therapy and marriage counseling that can help you get on track to heal together. If your relationship has suffered from a past addiction or you or a partner are actively in recovery, don’t hesitate to reach out for help today. You are not in this alone and, together, we can help you rebuild bridges in your relationship.