You may not know it, but you have married an addict. And once you’ve realized how into deep the addiction has become, it has already ruined your life, your family, and your marriage; because addiction, much like a spiteful third party, can drive a significant wedge between partners and create a massive gaping divide that can be difficult to heal. “You love the person and want to reach out to them and help them, but at the same time you don’t want to contribute to their alcohol abuse or dependence,” quotes Drew W. Edwards, Ed.D., MS.
But there’s still a spark of hope of not wholly washing everything down the gutter, and that is couples counseling. However, not every couple is willing to put their feet forward and seek help. Instead, what they do is push it down and pretend that they resolved the underlying problem. But that is where they’re wrong.
Why “we” refuse
Scientifically speaking, couples counseling is, more often than not, effective in mending shattered relationships that are ripped apart by negative consequences. According to Wendy L. Patrick, JD, Ph.D., “By intentionally avoiding compromising situations, they also avoid relational complications. Happy couples maintain their relationships by enjoying each other, not eyeing alternatives.” However, people might render it ineffective due to reasons that are usually the couple’s fault. Some of the excuses why couples refuse to go into counseling are:
- “We don’t want to.”
The “we” is so much as identified as either being a “she” or “he” for the reason that the other might be hesitant or is on the verge of consideration and the other is not convinced at all. And sometimes, due to fear of the partner, the decision of not going into therapy is more likely one-sided.
- “We’ll get past it.”
Addiction within the relationship is not something you’ll “easily get over.” Believing, even for a second, that you can weather this storm is honestly, absurd and irresponsible. When you or your partner has already drowned yourselves in alcohol or drugs, it takes more than just talking to each other or pleading for the desire to cease. Because when the trigger arises, the addiction resumes.
- “This is about the addiction and not about our relationship.”
One of the common misconceptions counseling meant for addressing an addiction problem within the relationship is that the focus should be on the addiction and the addict with the exclusion of the other half. What couples need to understand is that there are particular concealed reasons behind habit and one of it is because of the stress brought about by family or being in a relationship. You may not be aware of it, but you are causing your partner’s addiction and making it worse. Through couples counseling, both of you figure out when the obsession started and how to resolve it. Only then will medical professionals focus their attention on relieving the dependence through various forms of therapies.
- “It’s stupid.”
What’s stupid is allowing addiction into your lives and making it stay. Couples often decline to seek counsel because they feel ashamed that their colleagues or friends might judge them knowing that a once perfectly-polished relationship, once envied and gushed over, is now on the brink of falling apart. If you have friends who don’t recognize that there is an underlying problem or do not convince you to go into therapy, the best thing to do is to block them. You don’t need people who cannot help you in these kinds of circumstances. You are dealing with a lot of problems, and you shouldn’t waste your time worrying what others might think of your relationship.
- “We’re fine.”
The mother of all lies. What’s more dangerous and pretentious than claiming that you can surpass severe addiction with nothing more than just communication is denying that it even exists. To renounce something that is obviously discernible is detrimental and unhealthy; this, by the way, makes you an enabler. An enabler is someone who encourages negative behaviors that are destructive. By not seeking professional help, you are enabling the addiction, magnifying it to the point of recklessness and potential wreckage in your life.
It’s now or never
Addiction may come in any form and can happen to a person before or during the relationship. So, to answer the question, “Can couples counseling salvage our relationship that’s affected by addiction?” Yes, it can. By going through a series of therapies, couples will be able to efficiently identify the cause of the problem, find ways to resolve it, and eventually reinforce positive treatments for the addiction. “Addiction therapy is supported heavily by positive and frequent family involvement,” according to Steven Gifford, LICDC, LPC.
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