Trust, safety, connection, love, forgiveness, recommitment and growth.
“When addiction sweeps through a couple’s life together, many factors can get in the way of forgiveness, recommitment, trust, connection, love, and growth in the partnership.”
Addiction is the number one barrier to intimacy. Dishonesty and absence become the norm. While one partner is having an affair with their drug or behavior of choice, the other is scratching their head, wondering how they became not enough or became the rescuer in keeping everything from falling apart. In addition to the intimacy dynamics of the couple, children know the truth at a very young age, they are affected by their parent’s absence, temperament, and unavailability to connect with them. Children are also sensitive to their other parent’s disappointment, anger, and frustration.
The family becomes a household living on eggshells. The addicted loved one treads lightly avoiding any potential conflicts, not wanting to be the focus of the family’s attention. Family members walk lightly trying not to upset the status quo of their relationship, and children adapt to being the caretaker of their grown-up’s emotions. The unspoken house rules become “don’t talk, don’t ask, don’t feel.”
Can a Couple Recover from a Divide of this Magnitude?
Couples therapy offers an opportunity for growth, supporting each partner to align with their authentic self. This authenticity may lead to ‘next level’ relationship skills that didn’t happen in one’s family of origin (fishbowl), recommitment to one’s partnership and diligence in rebuilding the trust for intimacy to thrive. Or, it can lead to partners finding their voice, establishing healthier boundaries for themselves leading to the couple parting ways.
Having a supportive guide to help a couple recover from the impact addiction has reaped on your beloved and on your relationship, to rebuild trust and safety, to be seen again, can help a couple bridge the polarizing gap, move into full alignment with their values and connect on a deeper level than even before the addiction.
Couples therapy is not a competition or enlisting a therapist to collude with one side being more right than the other. It is, however, an opportunity for both partners to recognize their patterns, that include addictive behaviors, and heal their relational wounds. This creates space for new ways of connecting authentically and growing together, where they had inadvertently stopped growing.