It can be incredibly difficult to try to maintain your sobriety when your partner isn’t supportive of your efforts. In this post, the team from Waypoint Recovery Center’s South Carolina residential substance abuse treatment program shares a few tips to help you navigate this challenging situation.
Consider Your Partner’s Perspective
When you’re working hard to build a better future for yourself, it’s natural to assume that everyone around you will be supportive of your recovery efforts. So, realizing your partner isn’t interested in quitting drinking can certainly feel like a rejection.
Before you can have a productive conversation about your partner’s drinking, it may be helpful to try to understand their perspective. If they’re not personally struggling with addiction, they may not see why quitting is necessary. They may see drinking as a way to relax, socialize, or relieve stress that they shouldn’t have to give up for your benefit.
Alternatively, if your partner is also a heavy drinker, they may be secretly wondering if they should reconsider their own relationship with alcohol. This internal struggle may be what’s keeping them from being supportive of your recovery.
Help Your Partner Understand Why Sobriety Is Important to You
It is important to be open and honest with your partner about what sobriety means to you. Let them know why you have chosen to stay sober and how difficult it is for you to see them drinking. This will help them to understand your perspective and may make them more considerate of your situation.
Encouraging your partner to be involved in your addiction treatment may help them see that you are living with a chronic disease. Your partner may be basing their views on outdated stigma and not realize that quitting drinking isn’t just a matter of pure willpower. At Waypoint Recovery Center, we offer a variety of family services designed to help spouses, long-term romantic partners, and other concerned family members better understand the disease of addiction.
Set Firm Boundaries
To protect your sobriety, you must set boundaries with your partner around drinking. Let them know what you are and are not comfortable with. This may mean that you don’t go to bars or clubs together anymore. It may also mean that you have a rule not to drink in front of each other. Being honest about your triggers and setting clear expectations will help to prevent arguments and reduce tension.
One important boundary to consider is where alcohol will be stored. It can be very difficult when you’re in the early stages of sobriety to be confronted with a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer every time you open the refrigerator to make a sandwich. If your partner won’t quit drinking, it’s not unreasonable to ask them to store their alcohol in another location.
Come Up With New Ways to Have Fun Together
If you previously spent a lot of time drinking with your partner, they may be wondering how your relationship will change now that you are sober. It’s important to find new activities that you can both enjoy. This may mean trying new restaurants, going to the movies, or taking up a new hobby together.
It’s also important to find activities that you can do separately. Just because you’re not drinking doesn’t mean you have to spend every waking moment together. It’s healthy to have some time apart to pursue your own interests and socialize with your own friends.
Seek Support From Others in Similar Situations
There are many sober groups and forums online where you can connect with others who are trying to stay sober while their partner drinks. This can be a great way to feel less alone in your situation.
Developing a strong sober support network can help you feel more confident in facing recovery-related challenges. This is especially important if your partner isn’t providing the level of emotional support you need.
Consider Professional Help
If your partner is willing to consider it, couples counseling may be beneficial. Discussing your concerns with an objective third party may help the two of you reach a suitable compromise.
Couples counseling can also be useful if your newfound sobriety has revealed other sources of tension in your relationship. For example, you may have previously used drinking as a way to avoid confronting financial problems, parenting disagreements, or conflicts related to dealing with your extended family. Addressing these issues now can help you strengthen your relationship while reducing your risk of addiction relapse.
Remember That People Sometimes Grow Apart
If you feel like the relationship has become toxic, it is important to remember that you have the right to end it. This is a difficult decision, but it may be the best thing for your mental and emotional well-being.
If your partner isn’t willing to quit drinking or to abide by the boundaries that you have set, you may need to accept that and focus on taking care of yourself. You can’t force your partner to change, but you also shouldn’t have to settle for a relationship where you feel your needs aren’t being met.