When we begin a new relationship, or, when we are attempting to rebuild a shattered relationship, we tend to wear our best face. Then, as our romance progresses, we begin to reveal both the good and the bad of our inner selves in the expressions of our thoughts, beliefs, and judgments.
It can be quite frightening to share our most intimate selves with our partner.
“Will he accept me knowing who I really am?”
“If I tell her my story, will she still love me?”
Still, we must develop an honest and open relationship if we hope to see any growth in this partnership.
If your partner turns away when you reveal something about yourself, remember that it is not “all about me.” Your partner may be distracted by something having nothing to do with you. Acknowledge that you have fear of being rejected, and let your Higher Power know that you trust in the care that is promised in Step Three of the 12 steps.
One of the strategies that we have found helpful is to
Harry and Sally found each other in the 12 Step recovery rooms and it was “love at first sight.” Both had long histories of romantic failure that included two previous failed marriages for Harry and one divorce for Sally. Both had vowed that their new sober relationship was going to be different than all the rest since neither had been sober in romance before.
When we first met them, Harry was struggling to stabilize his recovery after a relapse which interrupted a five year period of abstinence from his drug of choice. Sally relates that she had recently returned to her Anon meetings out of fear of Harry’s relapse but that her “program of recovery” has never been more then occasional meetings with no sponsor, no step work, and no service work outside of her marriage to Harry.
Harry regrets that he strayed from meetings after he and Sally had their first child in recovery and acknowledges that he had never progressed beyond the Fifth Step. Sally had heard of our work with couples in relapse and gave Harry an ultimatum to participate in a Shared Program of Recovery or get a divorce. Our first meeting with the couple was a memorable one as it was one of the first couples that confirmed for us that there were certain preexisting conditions that couples would need to have firmly established for our work with them to be successful.
Our work with Harry and Sally reinforced for us that a couple’s desire to have a sober romantic life that will be different from those in their individual pasts is not sufficient enough to ensure a lasting change. Sally and Harry had hit the “restart” button so many times in their romance that they were beginning to lose hope in their individual and collective ability to be successful in romance. They had reached this point of desperation despite the solemn surrender and commitment to change that preceded each attempt at reconciliation. They found themselves …