3 Important Steps for Rebuilding Your Relationship After Substance Abuse
-by Caleb Anderson
Photo via Pixabay.com
Life rarely happens exactly as we have planned. When the heart-breaking or challenging situations arise, we are faced with the decision to endure them or to give up and walk away entirely. This is especially true in a romantic relationship facing substance abuse.
Even without life’s significant struggles, relationships are hard. Two very different people are trying to coexist in one similar lifestyle. When addiction is present, any established lines of healthy communication, relationship roles, and commitments are blurred. The aftermath can be almost as painful as the struggle itself. Specifically, in the case of a substance-influenced affair, a relationship can experience a test like none other. Swift River explains it this way: “Infidelity is traumatizing. It causes the wronged party to question you, your relationship, and themselves.”
And yet, with a few key steps, it is possible to fully heal as a couple. If you and your significant other are in the midst of rebuilding your relationship in the wake of substance abuse, consider reaching out to a counselor, trusted advisor, or pastor to walk with you and help you along the way. Also make sure you discuss these three important steps toward healing:
The first necessary move toward total restoration is unifying your goals. If you both desire full relational recovery, then you are already closer to your healing. Addiction is hard to let go of, and you will need to find out if the addicted partner is ready to fully recommit to the relationship. Set aside some time to have a thorough conversation about your future as a healthy couple. Discuss topics like how you can help support each other during the healing stages, what argumentative triggers you can help each other to avoid, and what your role is if a relapse should occur. This may need to be divided into a few separate conversations. Be open and honest, but try your best to keep the conversation calm. These topics are not easy to talk about, but the discussions can have long-term healthy effects on the relationship.
The saying “time heals all wounds,” holds merit. Time and patience are some of the most valuable assets in rebuilding relationships. Of course, restored wholeness requires more than just time to heal from deep wounds. It takes perseverance, a willingness to see the situation from a different perspective, and self-control to see the circumstances through to the very end. While the connection with your partner won’t be the same as it once was overnight, by allowing time to pass and accepting one little victory at a time, the relationship might be able to grow even stronger than it was before. Set realistic expectations and healthy boundaries as a couple, and allow each other the grace to improve in communication and understanding, over time.
Surround your relationship with people who genuinely love and support you both. Find a few close, trusted friends who you can speak to about the situation openly, and ask them to check in on you both emotionally and physically. It is a vulnerable position to take, but it will be very relieving if you have the right group cheering you on. Battles are not best fought alone. Let your safe community fight with you, encourage you both, and remind you to stay hopeful about your future.
Healing is often much more possible than we tend to believe in the midst of our tough circumstances. While it may not be an easy road, it will be well-worth the determination it took to travel it. The outcome of your relationship can be just as positive as the time it takes to rebuild it.