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Healing the Family: 5 Tips for Rebuilding Bonds Broken by Addiction

Healing the Family: 5 Tips for Rebuilding Bonds Broken by Addiction

Addiction and substance abuse does more than damage your health; it can destroy close family bonds and friendships, cripple opportunities, and bring bright futures, full of potential to a halt. When one chooses to break the hold addiction has on one’s life, it is the beginning of a complete transformation. Beginning in rehab, a skilled team of counselors and therapists can help you to cope with urges and triggers, remove cognitive ties to substance abuse, and gain a healthier, more positive outlook on life.

But what about the external damage cause by a substance abuse disorder? Is there no way to mend what has been broken while under the influence of an addicted mind? Must what is broken remain so?

Thankfully, our profound human nature allows for flaws and mistakes; we use these traits and experiences to learn and grow as individuals and as a global society. This adaptive nature also fosters the ability to forgive and progress in our lives and relationships- if all parties are willing to work for the betterment of the bond. If you are in recovery and seeking to rebuild bonds broken in your active use phase, following the 5 tips for rebuilding a bond broken by addiction is a good place to start.

1. Be Honest

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Be Honest About Your Wrongdoings

    You cannot ask for forgiveness without admitting wrong. Rebuilding external relationships begins within; you have to understand, or at least attempt to understand your wrongs before you can atone from them. Recognizing another’s feelings and your part in them is key to beginning the relationship healing process. That’s not to say you are solely responsible for others’ emotional well-being, but part of being a mature adult is recognizing and accepting responsibility for yourself and your actions.

    Approach your loved one open and honestly. Verbally acknowledge the cause of contention  and the part you played in the perpetuation of it, and express your feelings on it. Be sure to tell your family member or friend that you want to fix the problem, why, and how. Giving a solid, planned course of action helps them to see you are serious about overcoming the issues and moving forward with a stronger bond and appreciation for each other.

    2. Listen

    Active Listening is Key to Healing Relationships

      It’s equally important for the person whose forgiveness you are seeking to be able to speak honestly about their feelings regarding past transgressions. To help facilitate an atmosphere in which they feel comfortable being open and honest with you, make sure they know you are listening- really listening. That means an in-person (if possible) conversation which has your undivided attention: no multi-tasking, no electronic devices, no other physical crutches.

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      While it may be difficult for you if you are anxious about the conversation, showing that you are serious about rectifying your mistakes can go a long way in helping mend what has been broken. Sincerity, above all else, must be the core of your intentions if you wish to be successful in mending the bonds broken by addiction. If you find you cannot act in a sincere manner, or that your efforts are not being truly accepted and appreciated, perhaps you should rethink if the relationship is worth salvaging.

      3. Be Cooperative

      Cooperate with Those Trying to Help You

        It’s one thing to listen, but you also have to be cooperative. Getting defensive will only serve to cause tension and further widen the divide between you and your loved ones. That doesn’t mean you have to accept abusive language; by all means, if you’re being attacked, feel free to get up and walk away. Fixing the kind of damage addiction causes to your interpersonal relationships is rarely a smooth road- but if you are forthright and willing to put in the work necessary for redemption, it is possible.

        When faced with friends or family members asking you to modify certain behaviors in order to salvage the relationships you value, at least consider their words and viewpoint. However, there are some things which are not up for debate on which you should not compromise, such as:

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        • Your gender and/or sexual identity and your right to express it
        • Your right to feel safe and respected
        • Your sobriety
        • Your right to be heard as an individual
        • Your universal human rights

        4. Stay Consistent

        Consistency Shows Reliability

          One of the main reasons people are hesitant to believe in people in recovery is that, while under the influence of addiction, one becomes unreliable, inconsistent, and flaky. With one’s priorities shifted by a substance abuse disorder, being there for others or committing to one’s responsibilities rapidly fall into the background. Unfortunately, some view a history of relapse as reason to doubt one’s reliability rather a part of the struggle to conquer the chronic disorder. So how do you rebuild this faith with the odds stacked against you?

          There’s not much you can say to rebuild broken trust; but there is plenty you can do- by backing up your words with actions. Following through with your promises and staying firmly on the sober path can help re-establish the trust and confidence past actions may instill in others. Beyond that, sticking to your word and your goals is a great way to build confidence in yourself and your ability to turn things around. Learning to rely on yourself is essential to successful recovery addiction.

          5. Know When to Walk Away

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          Know When to Walk Away From Toxic Relationships

            The reality is, no matter how much we may wish to repair the damage caused in the past and rebuild relationships, it often isn’t up to us. Sometimes we simply cannot let go of the hurt or anger- and sometimes that is for the best. Anyone who would insist on holding your past against you even as you attempt to improve yourself and your life is not someone you need in your future. You do not deserve abuse, neglect, or mistreatment, no matter what others may say.

            Walking away from bad relationships- even ones within the family- is the best thing you can ever do for yourself. With time and distance, you will come to realize those relationships only served to hold you back in the long run. Ideally one would have the support of friends and family through the recovery process, but if they cannot recognize your attempts to better yourself, it’s okay. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people- they’re more important than salvaging a relationship better left in the past.

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            Last Updated on October 17, 2019

            How to Spend More Quality Time with Your Partner

            How to Spend More Quality Time with Your Partner

            You see your partner every single day. They are the first person you talk to in the morning and the last person you kiss goodnight.

            But does seeing each other day in and day out equal a healthy relationship? Not necessarily.

            Spending quality time with your partner is the best way to ensure your relationship stays healthy and strong. This means going above and beyond sitting together while you watch Netflix or going out for the occasional dinner. You deserve more from your relationship – and so does your spouse!

            What does quality time mean? It means spending time with your spouse without interruption. It’s a chance for you to come together and talk. Communication will build emotional intimacy and trust.

            Quality time is also about expressing love in a physical way. Not sex, necessarily (but that’s great, too!) but through hand-holding, cuddling, caressing, and tickling. Studies show that these displays of affection will boost partner satisfaction.[1]

            So how do you spend quality time with your partner? Here are 13 relationship tips on making the most out of your time with your partner.

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            1. Recognize the Signs

            If you want a healthy relationship, you have to learn how to recognize the signs that you need to spend more quality time together.

            Some telltale signs include:

            • You’re always on your phones.
            • You value friendships or hobbies over quality time with your spouse.
            • You aren’t together during important events.
            • You are arguing more often or lack connection.
            • You don’t make plans or date nights.
            • You’re not happy.

            If you are experiencing any of these relationship symptoms, know that quality time together can reverse the negative effects of the signs above.

            2. Try New Things Together

            Have you ever wanted to learn how to play an instrument or speak another language? How about skydive or ballroom dance?

            Instead of viewing these as solo hobbies and interests, why not involve your partner?

            Trying new activities together builds healthy relationships because it encourages spouses to rely on one another for emotional and physical support.

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            Shared hobbies also promote marital friendship, and the Journal of Happiness Studies found that marital satisfaction was twice as high for couples who viewed each other as best friends.[2]

            3. Schedule in Tech-Free Time

            Your phone is a great way to listen to music, watch videos, and keep up-to-date with friends and family. But is your phone good for your relationship?

            Many couples phone snub, or ‘phub’, one another. Studies show that phubbing can lower relationship satisfaction and increase one’s chances of depression.[3]

            Reduce those chances by removing distractions when spending quality time together and showing your partner they have your full attention.

            4. Hit the Gym as a Couple

            One way you can spend more time together as a couple is by becoming workout partners. Studies show that couples are more likely to stay with their exercise routine if they work out together.[4] Couples also work out harder than they would solo. One study found that 95 percent of couples who work out together maintained weight loss compares to the 66 percent of singles who did.[5]

            Join a gym, do at-home couples’ workouts, try couples yoga, hit the hiking trails, or get your bikes out. No matter which way you choose to exercise, these healthy activities can promote a healthy relationship.

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            5. Cook Meals Together

            Pop open a bottle of wine or put some romantic music on while you get busy – in the kitchen, of course!

            One of the best relationship tips for spending quality time together when you both have busy schedules is to cook meals together.[6]

            Spice things up and try and prepare a four-course meal or a fancy French dish together. Not only is this a fun way to spend your time together, but it also promotes teamwork.

            If all goes well, you’ll have a romantic date night meal at home that you prepared with your four hands. And if the food didn’t turn out the way you’d hoped, you are guaranteed to have a laugh and create new memories together.

            6. Have a Regular Date Night

            Couples experience a greater sense of happiness and less stress when they are spending quality time together.[7] One of the biggest relationship tips for a healthy partnership is to include a date night in your weekly routine.

            The National Marriage Project found that having a weekly date night can make your relationship seem more exciting and helps prevent relationship boredom.[8] It also lowers the probability of divorce, improves your sex life, and increases healthy communication.

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            Some great ideas for what to do on your date night include:

            • Have a movie marathon – Gather up your favorite flicks and cuddle up on the couch.
            • Play games together – Cards, board games, video games, and other creative outlets are a fun way to spend quality time together.
            • Recreate your first date – Go back to that restaurant and order the same meal you did when you first got together. You can spice up your evening by pretending you’re strangers meeting for the first time and see how sexy the night gets.
            • Plan a weekend getaway – There’s nothing better than traveling with the one you love.
            • Dinner and a movie – A classic!
            • Try a new restaurant – Make it your mission to rate and try all of the Mexican restaurants/Irish pubs/Italian trattorias in your area.
            • Have a long sex session – Intimacy promotes the release of the oxytocin hormone which is responsible for a myriad of great feelings.[9]

            Here’re even more date night ideas for your reference: 50 Unique and Really Fun Date Ideas for Couples

            Final Thoughts

            The benefits of spending quality time together are endless. Here are just some of the ways it can contribute to a healthy relationship:

            • Improves emotional and physical intimacy
            • Lowers divorce rates
            • Improves communication
            • Reduces marital boredom
            • Bonds couples closer
            • Improves friendship
            • Boosts health
            • Reduces stress

            These are all excellent reasons to start making date night a regular part of your week.

            It’s easy to have a healthy relationship when you set aside dedicated time to share with your spouse. Try new things together, make your spouse your workout buddy, and look for innovative ways to be close and connected.

            These relationship tips will bring great benefits to your marriage.

            Featured photo credit: Allen Taylor via unsplash.com

            Reference

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