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Supporting your spouse in early recovery can be very difficult.  Sometimes it can seem hard to show support for a loved one in early recovery, because many times there can be damage done before the alcoholic or addict gets sober.  Even though you may want the best for them, learning how to support them in their recovery can be a difficult process and everyone’s support can look different. Allowing some patience, understanding and trust into the process can really mean a lot to a person in early recovery.

Leaving The Past In The Past

Trying to show support for a spouse who is new in recovery from alcohol or drugs can be hard if you are constantly reminded of the damage that was caused before your spouse got sober.  Finding support for yourself can really help the both of you when you are trying to show support to your early recovering spouse.  Whether you find support for yourself in a therapist, friend, family or self-help group, it does not matter, the important thing is that you have support.

Now, if you have identified where your support is coming from, then you can start to use that support when you are plagued by the recurring thoughts of damage that was done by your spouse.  This is very important, because you may be trying to show your loved one support, but also be struggling yourself, because you feel like you need to address the past.  Your spouse is already worried about addressing the past and more than likely are plagued with it just as much as you are.  When the time is right, it will be addressed.

Support Can Look Different For Everyone

Trusting a person in early recovery can be tough, because that person may have abused the power of trust when they were drinking.  Now, the same person who abused trust in the past, may be asking for some trust from you now and in order to show support for their recovery process, you may need to give them some trust.

This does not mean that you should automatically believe everything they say or not ask questions if you are concerned.  This just means that if your spouse wants to go somewhere without you, you should not assume that they are going straight to the bar.  Ask them where they are going and if you are still having trouble believing them, then maybe ask to go along or for more details of when they will be back.  Make sure they know that you are not trying to hover over them, but that you are trying to show support and just want to know how to help them.

Many times in early recovery a person can get defensive, because they may feel shame and guilt about their current life circumstances.  Trying to show support for your spouse in early recovery will really help them if you are practicing patience and understanding.  For example, if your spouse is having trouble finding employment in early recovery, it is very important to show them that they are making progress, rather than pressuring them to get a job quicker.  Or if your spouse is worried about going to a local 12-step meeting, because they are afraid they might run into someone they know, then suggesting to go to a meeting farther away may really help them.  Showing support in these situations rather than enforcing what you think they should do is going to help your spouse in more ways than you can imagine.

Support Can Save Your Spouse

If you do not know what kind of support your spouse may need in their recovery, then ask them to tell you.  This may be a question that they cannot answer right away, but try implementing some of the suggestions listed above.  You may need to ask more than once, because in the beginning of your spouse’s recovery, the support you show may look different later on in their recovery.  The important thing to remember is that you are trying to show support for your spouse.