Three years ago, I separated from my husband of seventeen years due to an unhealthy relationship caused by his drug addiction. Loving each other has never been a problem; we just can’t seem to communicate about the important things. Currently we’re dating and trying to resolve our problems, but we’re still having trouble communicating about our issues. How do we more effectively restore our marriage?


While I applaud your tenacity in wanting to make this marriage work—and it can—I encourage you to take things slowly. You separated from your husband for a reason. There were problems that needed to be addressed, and some of them are recurring. So, let’s take things one at a time.


First, keep in mind addictions come with unique problems. You cannot have a healthy relationship if your spouse has an untreated addiction. So, ensure that your husband is recovering. This means doing more than stopping using—or being known as a “dry drunk.” Make sure he’s actively participating in a treatment or aftercare program. He must be practicing the principles learned in a recovery program such as Celebrate Recovery. You, too, must recover from the impact his addiction has had on you.


Second, face your issues. Do you know what they are? Have you sat with a qualified professional who can help you sort out your issues from his issues? Scripture aptly tells us that “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8: 32). Truth challenges us to be honest about what is happening. Truth challenges us to let go of denial and face issues squarely, making the changes demanded of us.


Third, develop effective communication and problem-solving skills. These skills are rarely acquired by osmosis, but rather learned and practiced under the watchful eye of a professional. Once you start taking responsibility for your issues and communicating effectively with your husband (without blaming or shaming him), you’ll be freed to connect to your mate in healthy ways. It takes humility to be ready and willing to change.


Finally, hold each other accountable for making changes. I doubt you’ll be able to see your dysfunctional patterns and acquire the skills to replace them with healthy ones without expert counsel. Don’t keep doing what you’ve always done; you’ll only get the same results. Instead, lean into change. Don’t take shortcuts, but invest in in-depth change. You’ll love getting rid of old baggage, healing from the wounds you both have, and being connected to your mate in a healthy way

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