What Can I Expect from a Spouse and Family Support Group?

When your spouse or loved one is struggling with an addiction or problematic behavior, it can have a painful impact on your life. You may feel overwhelmed, betrayed, angry, hurt, and embarrassed. You may not want anyone else to know about your situation. You may be unsure how to move forward with your own life or how to help your loved one. Meeting with a spouse and family support group can give you the guidance and strength you need to find healing.

You may not know what to anticipate when participating in a support group meeting. The information below will help you know what to expect from a spouse and family support group meeting sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

You’re not alone.

You may feel as though no one else is going through a struggle like yours. However, many people have loved ones struggling with substance abuse, pornography use, or other problematic behaviors. Other group participants will relate to your experience and will help you feel connected, understood, and accepted.

Meetings participants use the spouse and family support guide, are led by volunteer Church-service missionaries, and are supported by a meeting facilitator.

The principles found in the spouse and family support guide serve as the foundation for the meeting. Church-service missionaries and facilitators conduct the meeting and invite participation.

The facilitator is typically someone who has been in your situation before. She or he has most likely experienced a spouse or family member struggling with addiction or other challenges.

These meetings are guided by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but individuals from any or no faith tradition are welcome to attend.

A spouse and family support meeting is a safe place.

The goal of the facilitator and the Church-service missionaries leading the meeting is to make all attendees feel comfortable and safe. To help create a safe environment:

  • All participants are encouraged to introduce themselves by their first name only to protect anonymity.
  • Meetings are held for men and women, men only, or women only.
  • You can choose to listen only if you don’t feel comfortable participating. If you prefer only to listen, simply say “pass” when it is your turn to read or speak. You are welcome to participate to whatever extent you feel comfortable.
  • We follow the rule of Alcoholics Anonymous: “Who you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here.”

Meetings follow a regular format.

Meetings begin with a reading of the Spouse and Family Support purpose statement. Then if the participants are comfortable doing so, they will introduce themselves. After that, the group will review all 12 principles outlined in the spouse and family support guide and then discuss one principle each week.

After reviewing one of the steps, the group will move to the sharing portion of the meeting. During the sharing portion, participants are invited to share their related personal experiences and how they applied gospel principles to them. The facilitator will ask you to focus on solutions and to avoid graphic details.

Sharing allows you to discuss your personal experiences and assures others in the meeting that they are not alone.

You can choose to call into a phone meeting if needed.

Call-in meetings are held to eliminate travel, make meetings accessible to more people, and provide a degree of anonymity that is not possible in a face-to-face meeting. Call-in meetings are very worthwhile, but face-to-face meetings are preferable.

Participants learn helpful principles at group meetings.

The spouse and family support guide teaches gospel principles and doctrine that can help you find peace and healing through Jesus Christ and His Atonement. Discussion topics include how to set boundaries, deal with relapses, and provide appropriate support to your loved one.

Meetings are places of hope.

Dealing with the consequences of a loved one’s addictive or compulsive behavior can be painful and difficult; however, the Savior Jesus Christ can compensate for the pain of and extend healing to those who are suffering. As you discuss and apply the gospel principles taught in the spouse and family support group, you can receive power through Jesus Christ and His Atonement and find peace, understanding, healing, and hope.

Find a spouse and family support group near you.

Note: The Church also holds recovery support meetings for those struggling with addiction and other problematic behaviors. Your spouse or loved one may benefit from attending a recovery meeting. See “What Is a Recovery Support Group?” or “What Can I Expect from a Recovery Support Group?” for more information.