The early stages are some of the most challenging times for a couple to go through. When your significant other is in their first year of recovery, the life changes they are facing can have a negative effect on the bond the two of you have built together.
This early stage of recovery can be somewhat of a selfish time, where the newly sober person turns inward and focuses on rebuilding their life and self esteem. A spouse or partner can in turn end up feeling left out or neglected.
In order to preserve the strength of a relationship during this vulnerable time, it's important to keep a few things in mind. Instead of turning away from a spouse or partner, try supporting them instead. What they need most now is support and compassion, so try to refrain from criticizing their actions or getting defensive.
In addition to offering lots of positive support, there are many other things to keep in mind when trying to support a significant other during recovery:
1. Get familiar with the recovery process - Stay connected throughout your partner's journey by educating yourself about what the recovery process involves and what can cause a relapse. Remember to have compassion for what your partner's been through and what they face in trying to stay sober.
It can be a good idea to work with your partner on a relapse prevention plan. Knowing that you have their back will make a huge difference in the long run.
2. Remember to communicate - It's important to be in tune with your partner's, as well as your own, feelings during the early stages of recovery. Therapy can help, as well as just sharing what you hope recovery will bring to the relationship.
Always remember that your own feelings and well being need to be addressed too. It can be easy to get too caught up in what your partner is going through and forget to take care of your own needs. This can only lead to resentment and conflict further down the road.
3. Be open to change - With recovery comes big changes, to both your lifestyles and your relationship. Being aware of this from the beginning and allowing your partner the freedom to make those changes is another way of showing support.
These changes can involve new friendships, a shift in the relationship's dynamics, or even a career change. Allowing these thing to unfold naturally will help the process.
4. The relationship may not survive - This is a possibility that a lot of couples don't want to acknowledge, but nevertheless it's there. There is a chance your relationship won't survive the stress or emotional Topsy turvy involved in this early stage of recovery.
If it doesn't, then maybe your relationship wasn't as strong as you thought or wasn't really right for you. If it does survive, the two of you will emerge much stronger and more connected than ever.
5 . Be patient with your partner - If you're eager for change, know that the recovery process may take some time to create improvements. Some people develop quickly, while others face more challenges and need more work at staying sober.
Your partner may have to take a break from their responsibilities and need to take some time to return to them. It's important not to push your partner or criticize their progress.