Addiction takes a heavy toll on marriage or long-term relationships. It is no surprise that people end up parting ways after an addiction problem.
Actually, couples dealing with an addiction problem are four times as likely to divorce than those who aren’t. After going through the pain and difficulty of an addictive partner, there comes a time when you have to draw the line. There is only so much you can take, especially when the children are still very young.
It’s no news that people with a substance abuse problem tend to get moody and physical. In a worse case scenario, you and your children are exposed to domestic violence. When it’s obvious that there’s no future there, it is time to pull out.
According to addiction specialist David Gerrard, a significant number of these divorces occur when the addicted spouse is in recovery. However, not every addicted person is able to make that decision.
Based on a study released in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, almost 48.3% of participants with a history or existing case of alcohol abuse got divorced after some time.
Whether you divorced your spouse in recovery or not, it was a decision you had to make for yourself and your family. There is no guilt in moving on, especially if you put in your best to make it work. Now that it’s over, the next step is healing and recovery from the damage you may have suffered physically and emotionally.
Below are 6 tips to help you heal after marriage to an addict
1. Take time to heal
Healing doesn’t occur instantly, so you would have to give yourself some time to get your life back on track. There are also other things to consider, such as childcare, housing, career, and other financial issues. It is also important not to dwell on the past or sacrifices you may have made in your marriage.
2. Seek help from friends and professionals
According to relationship experts, it’s not unusual to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety after an abusive marriage. Reaching for assistance can be difficult, but you’ll get relief, validation, and support by sharing your experience. It is also advisable to rebuild your self-esteem through professional counseling.
You may want to ask your general practitioner or local addiction support agency for recommendations about a divorce counselor specializing in addiction recovery issues. This would enable you to determine if your children were affected in any way, and get them the help they deserve.
3. Make out a creative outlet
Express your emotions creatively. You could start journaling, writing poetry, or painting. If you are musically inclined, use it to fill that void of discomfort. These forms of expression are known to be cathartic. Facing and letting out your pain is a good way to heal from an addiction-led divorce.
4. Resume your usual routine when you feel ready
After a difficult divorce, especially an abusive one, you may feel like the ground has been pulled from your feet. Maintaining a regular routine can help you rebuild a sense of normalcy. Try not to over-eat or over-sleep. Note that times like these could trigger some form of addiction. Instead of staying alone, find trusted friends or family members you can spend time with.
5. Join a support group
There are groups for people who are affected by addiction, whether it’s a divorce or long-term relationship, you’ll find succor in sharing. These support groups aim to address the difficulty of rebuilding, and how to guide members forward. They are also a safe place to discuss certain issues with people who understand because they experienced the same thing. Similarly, listening to other people tell their own stories gives you the feeling that you are not alone. The empathy and validation shared can speed up your recovery.
6. Don't date too soon
Beware of getting involved in another relationship too soon after your divorce. At least not for the first year. This is because you are emotionally vulnerable at this time and your better judgment may be affected.
Abusive marriages take an emotional toll on the victim, making them more prone to entering another one. Be careful so that you don’t end up falling for someone who’s only around because of your vulnerable state.
Rather, take time to build yourself up again, grow your self-esteem, and overcome that part of you that learned to settle even at the expense of your wellbeing.
Spend more time with your children, or take up exciting new projects. These are effective ways to develop a better sense of self. Eventually, when you meet someone deserving, it will be at the right time, and for the right reasons.