Relationships In Recovery
When you hear someone mention relationships in recovery, your first thought may be romantic relationships. For many people, these relationships are the most important, aside from relationships with their children. But there are many types of relationships in recovery. Relationships with your sober friends, for example, and relationships with sponsors and sponsees. Two more very important relationships include your relationship with your higher power, and your relationship with yourself.
For many men and women, especially in early recovery, romantic relationships are a huge focus, and often a source of stress and unhealthy behavior patterns. In fact, romantic relationships are frequently a catalyst for relapse.
For some people, negative relationships may be even more detrimental than their drug or alcohol use was. These unhealthy relationships push out all other relationships, including those with friends and family, even children. These relationships are often abusive, either physically, emotionally or both.
Getting clean and sober is always a good thing, and generally has an immediate, positive impact on your life (even if it doesn’t always feel that way). However, there is almost always more work to be done, and relationships are often at the top of the list. A key part of being in recovery is learning how to have healthy relationships with all the people you interact with on a daily basis. From work, to home, to children, to friendships part of getting better is learning how to interact in a healthy way with others.
Romantic Relationships In Recovery
What does a healthy romantic relationship look like? People will have varying answers to this of course, depending on their temperaments, core beliefs and values, priorities and preferences, but generally, people agree that a healthy romantic relationship is a consensual, mutual relationship built on trust, respect and honesty. Each person is an individual, and is able to be themselves. Each person feels honored and respected and safe.
A healthy romantic relationship needn’t be serious. It can be as simple as casual dating, or it could be a major commitment, like marriage, or anywhere in between. That’s not what’s important. What’s important is that people trust each other, support each other’s recovery, and allow the other person to grow and pursue their dreams.
Supporting Your Partner’s Recovery
While not all people in recovery end up in relationships with a fellow recovering addict, it is common. The good news is that one addict is often best able to understand another, which is part of the reason these relationships are so common. We “get” each other. However, each person has to work their own program. While it’s important to support each other in recovery, we can’t dictate how someone does that. What we can do is allow the other person the freedom and support to pursue their recovery to the best of their ability, and never to interfere with it. For example, some couples prefer to attend separate meetings with friends, that way they are better able to focus and continue building their support system. Married couples with children should always make sure the other person has the opportunity to take a break from the kids and do recovery-related activities such as going to meetings and working with a sponsor. It’s not unusual for new parents to have difficulty getting to meetings or meeting with their support group, while the other party is free to do these things. When one half of the relationship isn’t getting enough support for their recovery, they are at risk for isolation and relapse. It has to be a priority for both sides.
What If Your Partner Isn’t In Recovery?
One of the worst mistakes a person in recovery can make is entering into a relationship with an actively using addict. It can be hard enough some days to stay on the right path, but if someone is using right under your nose, you are really playing with fire. It’s best to avoid these situations.
With that said, people in recovery also end up in relationships with people who aren’t addicts, and so don’t need to work a program of recovery. Also known as “normies” these are people who may or may not drink or use recreationally. These relationships can sometimes run into problems if the “normal” person doesn’t understand the need to continue working on recovery, or doesn’t respect his or her partner by using or drinking around them. This situation requires a lot of communication, education and support.
The Importance Of Other Relationships
Romantic relationships are nice and all, but they shouldn’t mean all other relationships go on the back burner. Friendships must also be nurtured, as well as your relationship with yourself and your higher power. When you let go of other relationships and focus solely on your partner, you are setting both of you up for a fall. First off, it puts way too much pressure on the other person. If you are looking to your partner to satisfy all your needs, not just for romantic love, but also for friendship, guidance, support, etc. they are bound to fall short. Be sure you continue to go to your friends, sponsor, etc. for those things. Also, don’t isolate yourself from others. If things fall apart in your love life, you want to feel like you can pick up the phone.
Healthy relationships in recovery are some of the best relationships you’ll run across, because you have two people who are consistently working to improve themselves, and have a wealth of tools and skills that many “normies” don’t have, as well as a supportive community backing them both.
Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.