Jerry and Carol (not their real names) came in for couples therapy. They stated that they had a good marriage, but that they needed a "tune up". Jerry talked about how he felt that stress was impacting their relationship, Carol agreed, but also expressed concern over Jerry's alcohol use and wanted him to better control his drinking, like he used to.
Some years ago I remember leading a family group at a drug and alcohol treatment center. I opened the group with the question: What does it mean to be a family or couple in recovery? Some people struggled with the idea that the non-addicted members of the family had some part in going forward in recovery.
In my article, "Trauma is Not Codependency: Learning the Difference", I address the importance of acknowledging and understanding that active addiction creates trauma for both the person with the addictive disorder as well as for partners and family members. It is important for couples to recognize and accept that the impact of addiction often follows couples and family well into recovery. This is normal and to be expected in most most circumstances.
When a partner gets into recovery all sorts of emotions tend to come to the surface. These emotions may at times feel in opposition: hope next to fear, relief side-by-side with anger, and so on. If you have experienced these swings then you know how confusing and overwhelming emotions can be, sometimes rapidly go from one feeling to another.
John had hit bottom and decided to get that help. He began an outpatient program and got into recovery. Carol was relieved and felt that the problem was finally being addressed and that their life could maybe get back to normal.