September is National Recovery Month

Rebuilding Your Marriage After Addiction and Infidelity

Article by Michelle Peterson, Recoverypride.org

Image via Pixabay

Recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction is difficult. If returning from a rehabilitation center, you’ll find that the world has gone on without you. The people in your life and your relationships have changed-- even the one with your spouse.

When you’re a drug or alcohol addict, the substances can make you do terrible things. Some of the core behaviors of an addict are to lie, steal, and cheat. If you were unfaithful to your spouse while battling addiction, there is a huge wound in your relationship that will need time to heal. Whether it was a long-term affair or a one-time thing, cheating on your spouse disrupts the trust that you took years to build.

Being Realistic with Your Expectations

After years of destructive behavior, your marriage has been damaged severely. When something is that broken, it takes a lot of time to fix-- and it takes both of you to do that. If your partner is not willing to work on fixing your marriage after addiction, there is not much you can do about that. You will have to move on and cope with separation or divorce. It’s important that this option is within the realm of your expectations because it could very well happen. If it does and you are prepared for it, you are less likely to ruin your sobriety with relapse.

Rebuilding Trust After You’ve Broken It

If you cheated on your spouse, the trust between you is basically destroyed. The rupture is augmented by the lying and sneaking around that comes with addiction. As you learned in rehab, it’s imperative that you take responsibility for your actions. It’s up to you to earn that trust back. You can’t rebuild trust by groveling, but you have to change your behavior. 

It’s also important to play an active role in your partner’s life. Be there for them when they need you. Surprise them with a gift or memento that reminds you of the love between you. It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. A grand gesture never made anybody fall in love with anybody. It’s the little things that build a strong and healthy relationship. Show your spouse that you are committed to recovery, both from addiction and within your marriage. If you are steadfast, open, and honest with your spouse you can rebuild that trust over time.

Learning How to Communicate Again

Addiction ruins your abilities to communicate with those around you. Instead of listening to them, you spend your time listening to the voice inside that says you need to find your drug of choice to feel normal again. You lie to the ones you love and to people you barely know. Becoming sober means you have to re-learn how to communicate with people, especially your spouse.

Sometimes communication with your spouse will be painful. They probably have a lot to say to you regarding your actions while you were under the influence. Use active listening techniques to prove to your spouse you take this seriously. It’s important to find the balance between keeping the lines of communication open and avoiding the conversation escalating into a major fight. Many couples dealing with infidelity utilize a couple’s therapist or mediator to help facilitate these discussions so they are healthy and helpful.

Addiction can ruin lives and relationships, but it doesn’t have to if your partner is willing to work with you. While you’ll never be in the same place you were before recovery, you can still return to a healthy and loving marriage that can move forward into the future. If you take responsibility for your actions, you can repair your marriage with commitment, open communication, and time. It all depends on you.

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