Drug and alcohol addiction can take a toll on your marriage. The behaviors you exhibited while addicted, such as lying, stealing, and often cheating, can destroy the trust that you and your spouse worked so hard to build.
Even if you are taking the brave step of getting needed addiction treatment, you may be wondering if your spouse will ever trust you again. While it may be a rocky road, and you are bound to face setbacks along the way, there is always the chance to rebuild trust in your marriage – if you are willing to put in the effort.
“Rebuilding those relationships will take time and is best accomplished after recovery,” says Ellen Golding, MFT, a Los Angeles-based therapist. “It doesn’t matter the length of the addiction before you sought help. There are many lies, sneaky behaviors, and possible theft issues for your loved one to trust you again.”
But don’t lose hope. Damaged relationships can be fixed.
“With hard work and trust on the part of both people, relationships can be repaired,” she says. “It means patience on the part of the addict, and an open mind and zero resentment on behalf of the other.”
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Regaining Trust after Addiction Treatment
If you are returning home from addiction treatment, here are a few tips to help you regain the trust of your spouse:
Exercise patience. It’s possible you’ve caused your significant other a lot of pain because of your behavior at the peak of your drug or alcohol addiction. Perhaps you lost your job and the entire financial responsibility for the household fell upon their shoulders. Maybe you were occasionally violent. So, don’t expect you’re going to get their trust back immediately.
“Immediate trust usually doesn’t happen. This concept is hard for the addict to grasp, and if this issue is not handled delicately, could result in a relapse,” says Golding. “In other words, if the addict feels that his relationships are damaged beyond repair, he might think there is no point in remaining sober since it will not make a difference either way.”
Prove your dedication. Follow the storyteller’s mantra: show, don’t tell. “Trust is gained through the mantra ‘actions speak louder than words’ and by apologizing to those you have physically or emotionally hurt,” Golding suggests. “This demonstrates a dedication to recovery, to changing your lifestyle in order to avoid the addictive substance, to practicing honesty, and to finishing your recovery program.”
Don’t forget recovery. Even though you’re now sober, you’re still susceptible to relapse. It’s vital for you to understand that you’re still recovering and put your energy into that as well. As part of recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction, you’ll be involved in a 12-step program that will task you with making amends to those you may have hurt while using – including your spouse.
Seek couples therapy. The time after you exit addiction treatment can be quite fragile – you’re still recovering and your partner is trying to make sense of the entire ordeal of first dealing with your addiction and now supporting you in recovery. It’s possible that both of you feel inadequate to adjust to the new situation. Seeking couples therapy could prevent the situation from getting worse.
“I believe it is difficult to heal a relationship without professional help, especially if trust in the relationship is damaged,” says Golding. “The therapist not only mediates conflicts, he allows the addict to have a stronger voice because while the addict’s words might not resonate, the therapist’s will.”