It's no secret that addiction can ravage couples. At times, the impacts may be apparent. However, they can also be subtle and covert.
Addiction affects communication, boundaries, and overall trust within relationships. When one or more partners struggles with substance use, both people tend to suffer the consequences.
Recovery alone doesn't guarantee a relationship turnaround. In fact, many people struggle with profound fear and resentment- which can linger for several months or years.
With that in mind, professional support can be paramount for rebuilding a healthy dynamic. Let's get into the benefits of couples therapy.
How do you two handle conflict? How do you discuss sensitive topics when they arise? How do you respond to sudden stress?
Every interaction can strengthen or weaken our relationships, and healthy communication is the bedrock for satisfying relationships. Unfortunately, in early addiction recovery, most people struggle profoundly with this skill. They may be so used to chronic lying, manipulation, passivity, withdrawal, or aggression that they struggle to integrate healthier communication patterns.
Poor communication can erode relationships. Both partners can benefit from couples therapy, as it will address communication issues related to:
working through codependency.
setting and establishing appropriate boundaries.
conveying empathy and support.
asking for help when needed.
Communication is an active process. Both partners need to be willing to work on this skill. That said, the more you two commit to the growth, the more satisfying your connection will be.
Many people conflate intimacy with sex, but intimacy is an umbrella term for closeness and affection. Both emotional and physical intimacy is important in romantic relationships. It's what makes us feel safe and supported by another person.
Couples therapy can help you and your partner work on intimacy. Addiction recovery can impact intimacy in various ways, including:
healing from infidelity or other issues associated with trust
coping with other stressors in recovery (work, family, health)
libido issues (some psychiatric medications affect sex drive or lubrication)
fears of vulnerability while in recovery
sexual problems (pain during intercourse, erectile dysfunction, etc.)
Therapy can help couples learn more about some of the root causes related to intimacy issues. While this discovery work can feel uncomfortable, it's often the first step towards making a positive change.
Cope With Transitional Stressors
Recovery is a significant life change. Although it's an incredibly positive change, it's still stressful. Many people feel afraid, insecure, and vulnerable during this time. Their partners may share those same feelings.
Any significant life transition- like a new job, death in the family, the birth of a child, moving to a new location- can impact one's mental health. As a result, the relationship can suffer.
Partners must learn how to support each other during these times, and you both may need to adjust to a new routine. These transitions can be uncomfortable, but your therapist can teach you useful coping skills to manage the change.
Understand and Support Mental Illness
Approximately 20% of Americans (1 in 5) struggles with a mental illness- there's a high likelihood one or both of you may be impacted.
Mental illness and substance use go hand-in-hand. Many times, people turn to drugs or alcohol to numb the uncomfortable symptoms associated with depression or anxiety. They may self-medicate as a means of treating their distress.
However, over time, the substances tend to exacerbate their mental health problems, resulting in a complex, vicious cycle. Furthermore, in recovery, many people become more aware of their concerning symptoms.
Partners often want to be supportive, but they don't know what to say or do. They don't want to enable problematic behaviors, but they also want to show they care. Couples therapy addresses mental illness and provides psychoeducation and resources for both partners.
Addiction aside, parenting can take a massive toll on a relationship. While raising their children, parents may struggle with obstacles like:
issues related to the division of chores and labor.
changes and issues with peer groups.
difficulties with extended family.
competing for free time or independence.
a lack of quality time spent together.
clashing parenting approaches.
Of course, parents want what's best for their children. That said, many people in addiction recovery struggle with collaborating and unifying their approach. They often turn against each other instead of coming together.
Couples therapy can help parents navigate these challenges. You can learn how to be positive role models for your children and improve the level of satisfaction in your relationship.
Exploring The Benefits Of Couples Therapy
At The Resurface Group, we are avid believers in helping couples and families restore their connection. We understand the benefits of couples therapy, and our therapists work hard to help couples improve their relationship satisfaction and joy.
Are you interested in learning more about our process? Contact us today to get started!