For many people recovering from drug or alcohol addiction, getting married is not at the top of their priority list. However, marriage is not something they should deprive themselves of, especially if it will be with a person who can help them with their journey to sobriety.
If you are planning to get married, you are likely at a point where things have gotten a lot better—but may not yet be perfectly stable. After all, you are considering entering a marriage—no recovering person will make such a decision unless they are sure they can handle it.
However, the path to sobriety tends to be rocky. It can be a difficult topic to discuss, but here are some of the best tips that can help you prepare for a new chapter in your life:
1. Wait for the right time
If your addiction recovery plan still includes withdrawal management like heroin detoxification, it is a clear sign that you should hold off your wedding before making such a significant change in your life. But if you are now only going in for check-ins with your counselor or therapist, it can be a great sign that you are ready. Either way, it is imperative to wait for the right time—as with any other marriage. Jumping into a relationship without being fully prepared can lead you to even more problems down the road, and in the worst-case scenario, it can lead you to a relapse.
Furthermore, planning a wedding can be very stressful. And if stress is one of your triggers (as is the case for many people struggling with addiction), it may make it harder for you to control your cravings. Wait until you feel that you have the upper hand against your cravings, as well as the triggers that cause them.
2. Talk to your healthcare team
Whether it’s your recovery counselor or therapist, talk to them about your plans for getting married. They can weigh in with their expert opinion on how you can manage your treatment while taking a big step in your life. Furthermore, they can validate your feelings about the impending marriage—or the whole relationship in general—and help you manage your emotions in a much healthier way.
3. Communicate with your partner openly
At this point, your partner probably already knows about your journey to sobriety. If they only know bits and pieces, consider telling them the whole story. After all, they deserve to know what they are getting into, especially with something that affects your life significantly.
Tell them about your past, what your triggers are, and what your treatment plan is like. This way, they can help you avoid temptation in day-to-day life; provide support during your recovery, and help you feel safe and secure in the relationship. If you are afraid that they will back out if you tell them everything, think of it as a litmus test for a suitable partner—after all, you’d want someone who can give you full support during your recovery without any judgment.
4. Consider an alcohol-free wedding
If you are recovering from alcohol addiction, it is highly advisable that you hold an alcohol-free reception. Alcohol is a big part of social events, yes, but it’s your wedding—and if banning alcohol is the best way you can avoid feeling uncomfortable, then don’t be afraid to do just that.
If guests ask you about it, just tell them that you want everyone to drive home safely after the party. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, and alcohol is not a staple for a wedding anyway.
5. Go to therapy with your partner
It can be hard to talk about addiction with your partner with just the two of you in the room. Sometimes, having another person to facilitate helps the discussion flow more freely between the two of you.
That said, consider going to therapy with your partner to talk about your past addiction and any qualms that you have about your plans to get married. Oftentimes, people recovering from their addiction might feel that they are wholly unprepared to enter a marriage, which can be challenging to communicate with their partner unless there is a professional to help them through it.
Marriage in the context of addiction recovery is not something that many people talk about, but it deserves all the discussion that it can get. If you plan to get married while still on the road to recovery, these tips can help you prepare yourself—and your partner—for the next chapter in your life, which will hopefully open up an easier path.