One crucial component of recovery from substance abuse is family therapy. Even if only one person in a family has an addiction, the whole family unit is impacted. This is equally the case with couples. It is impossible for the substance abuse of one partner to not affect the other. Fortunately, family therapy is a tool that can help couples support one another in recovery as well as promote better mental health for both parties.

How Family Therapy Improves Communication

We all have times when something we say does not come out right. It is far too easy to say something we regret, yet it is impossible to take it back. When emotions are running high and tension exists, we are more likely to say things that may damage our relationships.

Family therapy can help couples establish better communication and avoid these pitfalls. Communication flourishes when we remove blame and accusations and, instead, express concern, care, and interest in the other person. Different strategies will work for each couple. A therapist can help work with couples to develop an open line of communication that is both productive and respectful.

Family Therapy and Conflict Resolution

One of the most difficult parts of being in a relationship is handling conflict. Conflict is inevitable. No person is perfect, and similarly, no relationship is perfect. While conflict is not negotiable, the way that two partners navigate conflict can improve and evolve. Sometimes conflict can be avoided with proper communication, but in the event that it cannot be avoided in a certain situation, having the right approach can make all the difference between a minor disagreement and a severe escalation.

It is not uncommon for couples to experience conflicts that were once swept under the rug. This is because it may feel easier to just move past the issue and try to let time take care of it. However, these issues tend to pile up if they are left unaddressed. Additionally, conflicts may become worse each time they arise. Therefore, addressing old conflicts can reduce existing points of tension and break negative patterns. 

Building Resilience and Moving Forward

Family therapy is focused on the future. It is intended to equip participants with the tools to solve problems as they arise and prevent them from happening in the first place. This instills hope and faith in the future of the partnership. Being able to work through issues productively and collaboratively lays the groundwork for relationship success. It also allows past struggles to serve as lessons and promote resilience going forward rather than becoming painful scars.

Fostering Shared Goals

Family therapy can also help couples establish shared goals. Each member of the partnership will have individual goals. These goals might relate to work, school, or other endeavors. It is important to maintain these individual goals and continue to work on them, in addition to being supportive of one’s partner in their personal pursuits. This will further strengthen the relationship. Moreover, individual goals should be shared goals for the relationship. These can include major decisions like starting a family or buying a house, for example.

Family therapy can help couples define these goals. It is not enough to try to avoid problems and negativity in a relationship. Having concrete objectives to focus one’s energy on can be more productive and foster positivity for the entire relationship. Additionally, it is necessary to discuss values and worldviews in order to develop shared ideas for the future. This process can be aided by a licensed clinician who can facilitate those conversations and introduce important questions and considerations.

When One Partner Struggles With Addiction

For those with partners living with substance use disorder (SUD), it can be challenging to know how best to support them. It can be difficult to understand what they are going through. Addiction is difficult to understand or empathize with for those who have not experienced it. With this said, relational support is essential for their recovery. Substance abuse can be isolating and frustrating, and having the support of a dedicated partner can help to mitigate some of this. Family therapy can provide education and understanding, fostering greater support for the partner in recovery. 

As described above, family therapy can help develop more effective communication and conflict resolution. Family therapy also provides an avenue for both members of the relationship to feel understood. It will give each partner an opportunity to further understand each other’s healing and recovery needs their needs. Additionally, family therapy can help individuals communicate and process how their partner’s substance use is impacting their life.

When Both Partners Live With Substance Abuse

When two partners struggle with substance abuse, teaming up for sobriety can be paramount. Neither partner has to feel isolated or fundamentally understood. Each partner can hold the other accountable and keep motivation high. With that said, this is a situation that requires a careful approach. Remaining proactive and vigilant against relapse is important for both partners. Working with a family therapist can help both partners safeguard their individual and shared recoveries.  

If you are working on your recovery from addiction, having a supportive partner can make a big difference. Oftentimes, misunderstanding and lack of communication can pose barriers to this support. If you are on the other side and love someone with substance use disorder, you might be wondering how best to support your loved one. It might even be the case that both you and your partner are in recovery and you are not sure how to navigate that. Family therapy can help in each of these scenarios, and Family-Centered Services is your partner in this journey. Our individual and family therapy and family recovery program are part of our comprehensive array of services. Call (509) 991-5822 to learn more.