When You’re in Recovery but Your Spouse Isn’t

Your recovery is a major part of your life path. You hope your spouse can join you on this journey — but relationships may become complicated when your spouse’s journey doesn’t look the same. So what can you do when you’re in recovery but your spouse isn’t?

The impact of recovery on a spouse

When you’re in recovery, there’s a lot of focus on you. While every path is different, your recovery will likely involve either inpatient or outpatient treatment, which can be time-consuming. And that’s not to mention the meetings and support groups you’ll often attend.

Your life is taking a turn for the better, but it can sometimes be difficult for a spouse to see it that way. While they likely understand that this is what you need — and may have encouraged you to seek treatment for alcoholism or drug abuse—the major lifestyle changes you make during your journey can take a toll on partners who weren’t expecting their lives to shift so drastically.

Talking to your spouse about your recovery

If you’re concerned about how your recovery is affecting your spouse, the first thing to do is have a conversation.

Be willing to listen to your spouse without judgment or anger. Your partner probably doesn’t want you to end your path to recovery. They’re simply frustrated at all of the changes in their own life. It may even be tough for them to accept that your sobriety has not “fixed” some of the problems they’d been struggling with in your relationship.

Navigating a new dynamic between you and your spouse

Recovery largely focuses on your relationship with yourself, but you’ll need others to support you along the way. In some cases, couples decide to seek therapy to navigate this new relationship dynamic. Otherwise, spouses can attend meetings intended for loved ones of those in recovery.

Many people also struggle with the fact that a partner still drinks or uses drugs. Some couples are able to sustain relationships where one person drinks or uses drugs casually, but it’s not for everyone. It’s okay to decide that this is something you cannot tolerate, but that doesn’t mean you should cast blame or judgment on your spouse.

Resources for families from the team at Rosecrance

The team at Rosecrance not only offers inpatient and outpatient treatment for drug and alcohol use, but also offers ongoing support for those in recovery and their families. Call (844) 711-5106 for more information, to seek treatment, or to find a support group near you.