I thought she was stubborn and broken, and she was to blame for her inability to move forward. We were trying to get better, and everything was getting worse. Alcoholism carries with it relentless punishments. The destruction lingers long after we drink our last drop. I put a burden on sobriety’s shoulders that it couldn’t possibly carry.
Julian Duran serves as National Business Development Representative for Burning Tree Programs. By educating families and providers on the unique program offered at Burning Tree Ranch, Julian seeks to create as many opportunities as possible for the chronic relapser. Prioritizing open-mindedness, teachability, and faith as the foundational principles of his own recovery, Julian helps our network of community partners continue to grow on a daily basis. Counted amongst Sober House his favorite hobbies are weightlifting, reading, dancing and service work. Sober since 2012, Julian resides in beautiful Arizona. Sally serves as a dedicated Admissions Specialist for Burning Tree Programs. She believes in the virtues of honesty, integrity, and compassion. Happily married, Sally enjoys the beach, reading, and eating her favorite icecream with her husband, Matt. Marriages—or other, long-term, committed relationships—and substance abuse don’t mix.
The survival of our marriage lived in that forgiveness. The seeds of trust sprouted in that forgiveness. Our marriage was reborn through the power of resentments forgiven. We read all the articles and talked to therapists and thought all the thoughts in an effort to marriage changes after sobriety make things better. Like an optical illusion that you can’t see until you hold the picture at just the right angle, we had to let go to learn to hold on. Self-preservation does not afford the luxury of trust. In a relationship, sobriety isn’t the end of anything.
- Yet it has been 11 years since I have truly felt safe, since I have truly felt loved.
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- Here’s an idea of how a relationship counseling session may play out.
- We either try to work it out, or maybe I’m one of the stories in the book that the marriage can’t make it through my sobriety.
“I like to meet people where they are at, listen and learn. Most recently, she has begun pursuing her counselor’s license. In her free time, Sarah enjoys reading, traveling, exercising and exploring the great outdoors. We are a highly sophisticated long-term residential treatment and aftercare program designed exclusively for the chronic relapser. Involving partners in treatment—at some point in the process—can be essential in helping treatment succeed. If you live with an addict, you’re at greater risk of victimization. You may experience an increase in frustration that leads you to express anger or act out violently against your partner. Our families find out what they can do differently to help their loved one make a full recovery. Unfortunately, yes — alcohol and marriage problems do go hand in hand. Whether both people in the marriage are suffering from an alcohol use disorder or one person does, problems will occur as a result.
A marriage in recovery: we need to get away, and fast
To Sheri, my commitment to sobriety was like promising not to pour gasoline on the charred remains of our house after it had already burned to the ground. Sometimes you don’t get to rebound from disaster. Anger, resentment, guilt, hurt, dependency, and blame typify these relationships, and that doesn’t necessarily change with sobriety. The cause is not the drug use, but the underlying codependency of both spouses and its symptoms. Toxic shame is at the core and leads to most of the dysfunctional patterns and conflicts. Partners eventually need to heal deeper issues of shame and learn to be autonomous and communicate assertively. See How to Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits and How to Be Assertive. Anger, guilt, hurt, resentment, dependency, and blame typify these relationships, and that doesn’t necessarily change with sobriety. Addicts may also resent their dependency on their spouse and feel managed by them. Their partners cling to control and have trouble focusing on themselves.
It tortured me that he could not stop his drinking. For me, that was the reality of his sobriety—that was the reality I had been avoiding for 10 years, a reality which I didn’t want to admit was mine. My married life was riddled with violence and self-deprecation. I was the victim of spousal abuse, physical and mental, and not only did I stay with my abuser, I stayed with him and started a family. He was now spending evenings at AA, filling his “drinking time” with “meeting times,” still leaving me alone with a toddler. And I was resentful, not of his healing but of the fact nothing had changed. I was still forced to keep it together while he took time to take care of himself. I was still forced to play second fiddle to my daughter and him, my feelings never good enough or worth enough. I was still forced to coddle him—or so I thought—and support him, knowing he hadn’t (and wouldn’t) do the same for me.
An outpatient program can be especially helpful as couples navigate their relationship during this newfound phase of sobriety. The patterns and interactions that were established during addiction are basically obliterated. A husband who used to stay out late drinking will now be spending much more time at home. A wife previously addicted to painkillers to numb difficult emotions or situations will now have to deal with them head-on, without the aid of substances. Codependent behaviors that used to be the norm are disrupted as couples stop playing the roles of addict and enabler and have to find their way back to the roles of spouses. Finally, trust between couples may have been broken during addiction if a partner lied about substance abuse and the process to rebuild it may not always be smooth. With all the changes that come to relationships with sobriety, there can be feelings of guilt, anger, sadness, shame, and more. When asking whether marriage can survive sobriety, the answer can be yes—if a couple takes a healthy approach to managing their problems and discussing their feelings. It will take time to rebuild trust so it’s important to not put pressure on each other and instead take it one day at a time.
Shelley wants to help alcoholics and addicts find their way to a successful sober life. Shelley and her husband have four grown children and two grandkids. Shelia Sirls serves as Client Care Manager for Burning Tree Ranch. With a 30-year background in behavioral health, Sheila assists our clients in developing the needed life skills to support a full life in recovery.