How to Preserve Your Marriage

by Katie Donovan
June 24, 2019

“Katie, stop doing everything for her!” my husband, John, would yell.

“You’re just too hard on her, John; give her a break already!” I would reply, furious.

He would then retreat to his man cave in the basement, and I would go upstairs to our bedroom and cry. This was pretty much the bulk of our conversations for many years. We never seemed to be on the same page, which usually resulted in us arguing daily.

Dinners were spent with the entire conversation revolving around my daughter, Brittany. Vacations were put off, as our fear of something happening while we were gone kept us paralyzed. The blame game was in full force, and our marriage was slowly slipping away.

Then, we came to a point where we just stopped talking. Both of us were angry, but in our own ways. It seemed to be easier just not to communicate, as when we did, it was exhausting. So we just existed. We turned into roommates, only talking when we had to, about bills, groceries, things like that.

I was miserable, he was miserable, and we didn’t know a way out. We blamed everything on my daughter’s addiction, though, which created a lot of hurt feelings, animosity, and grief. Neither one of us wanted to live this way, but we didn’t know a way out.

So what did we do?

Well, we had come to a point where we knew we couldn’t go on like this. It was either time for us to separate or jump into our marriage with full force and dedication. We both had to be willing participants, or else it was not going to fly.

One of the first things that we did was put our resentments on the table. We both needed to clear our minds of the clutter that was occupying them. The KEY though, was honoring, respecting, and witnessing how the other felt. If I said, “John, it makes me feel like I’m not important when you shut me out,” he couldn’t reply and say, “Well, if you didn’t do X, I wouldn’t shut you out!” Our agreement was that we would accept how the other felt, without judgment.

Talk about HARD!

We also started to make time for each other—true quality time, turning our phones off and not talking about addiction. We had to start dating again, looking at each other as a man and a woman. That was hard, too. But we kept going; we kept trying.

We made a commitment to each other that once a quarter we would go away, either for a weekend or just overnight. It has helped us so much.

We started golfing together and taking walks in addition to bringing back “family night” at home. We had to do whatever it took to bring LIFE back, as for so many years we had both felt dead inside.

Today, our marriage is better than ever. I just love this man so much. Do we still argue? Of course! What couple doesn’t? But we learned to communicate on a much deeper level that has given us a new outlook not only on our marriage, but in other areas, like work and extended family.

Even though addiction in our family has been the hardest thing we’ve been through, quite honestly, it has made us both into better people, learning to love without judgment.

Katie Donovan
Family Recovery Coach, Life Coach

Tour de Force Speakers Bureau
A Mother’s Addiction Journey – Blog & Coaching
Taking Back Your Life – Podcast

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Katie Donovan

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