When your partner has just completed addiction treatment, it is an important milestone that will definitely change the dynamic of your relationship. Having substance abuse not part of your lives anymore is something both of you should celebrate, however, the journey does not end there. A lot of couples struggle during this sensitive time.
If you are the partner of someone who is just newly sober, you may be feeling unsure about how to deal with your spouse. Are you on your toes and scared about what to say? Is there awkwardness in the way you deal with your partner because of your uncertainties? If you are in this situation, here are some tips that could help you deal with a newly sober partner.
Be patient. Understand that recovery is a continuous journey
Don’t expect that once your partner leaves rehab, that means everything is back to normal and all your problems are solved. Your partner may have kicked out substance use for now but to have a successful recovery means continuous hard work.
Your partner needs time to adjust to this new lifestyle and you also have to adjust as well so don’t expect perfection from Day 1. Instead, you have to exercise patience. Expect that there will be difficult days. The only thing you can do is offer your support and your encouragement.
Keep communication lines open to build trust
In any kind of relationship, having open communication is very important. If your spouse is newly sober, it is much more essential that both of you keep communicating with each other. Don’t hide your thoughts or feelings because that could do more harm than good. At the same time, encourage your partner to share with you what they’re feeling. Always offer a listening ear. Don’t just be the one who always speaks. Communication is a two-way street so you have to make your partner feel that you are trying your best to listen and understand. When your partner feels that you are not receptive to what they are saying, the tendency is for them to clam up and isolate themselves.
While it is important to be honest and open towards your partner, make sure that you do so calmly and reasonably. Avoid raising your voice, bringing up past issues, or playing the blame game. If you feel that your or your partner is in a sour mood, wait until both of you are calm and ready to tackle the issue without shouting or fighting.
If you are not sure how to open a topic or how to initiate a conversation, one idea is to establish a daily routine like maybe an afternoon tea with each other. Use this as an alone time where you talk to each other about your thoughts and just general stuff. Making it a daily habit makes it less awkward to talk about things and it could help you avoid hiding small issues so they don’t become a major problem.
Participate in the recovery process
One of the most dangerous things a newly sober person could face during recovery is the feeling of being alone. You have to show your support to your partner during their recovery. It’s not just about saying it through words but also devoting time and adjusting your lifestyle to show them that their recovery is also important to you and you’re always there for them.
For example, you can join them during alumni recovery activities or join in a family therapy session. You can also make sure that your house is substance-free and you should be sensitive that you don’t drink alcohol in front of them. By showing that you are also fully committed towards your partner’s recovery, this could help your spouse feel more empowered and motivated to be on track.
Find a support group
There will be moments when you will feel that the situation is just too difficult for you to handle. Maybe you want to give up… maybe you want to shout or vent out… but you can’t because you’re afraid doing that will worsen the situation. Keep in mind that you need to take care of yourself too. Don’t keep it all inside.
What you could do is find a support group for loved ones of people with substance abuse issues. By talking and sharing about your experiences with like-minded people, you could voice out your feelings without fear of judgment. It is also an opportunity for you to learn from other people who are going through the same experience as you.
If your loved one is struggling with substance abuse, help is available.
Contact Anaheim Lighthouse today.