While we strongly insist that both partners do their individual work, we also introduce couples therapy early in the process. The addict/partner marriage is in extreme crisis, and we believe couple’s sessions can help the partners stop the bleeding in the relationship. We advocate a marital time-out where both spouses agree to postpone any major decision (like divorce) for 6-12 months while they both work on their individual issues and begin to examine patterns in their coupleship.
Early couple’s work is more to stabilize the relationship than to specifically address significant issues. Some couples structure a therapeutic separation, which gives them some breathing room and lowers the reactivity. We strongly encourage an in-house separation if at all possible, instead of an out-of-home separation. A period of sexual abstinence is vital.
This beginning stage of couples counseling is often more like doing individual therapy with the spouse in the room. A couple’s session informs the mates about each other’s process and progress. It also provides a forum to put out any fires that flare in the relationship. Our Healing for Couples workshop is designed for this early stage of couple’s work.