there can only be one youDo you wear two faces? Are there two sets of behavior that you employ – one for the world and the other for the privacy of your home?

So many of us were taught, as children to wear a smile when going out in the world, even as the chaos in our home continued. We grew up thinking that this was acceptable behavior. We could be pleasant and personable at work and then come home and be discourteous and unkind to our mate.

Recovery wisdom suggests that it is a great deal easier to be sober at a 12 Step meeting than it is to be sober at home with family and in our romantic relationships.  Perhaps it is because people at meetings “really understand us” – but perhaps it is because we work to understand them more than we expect to be understood.

Time has taught us however, that no one will have quite the view of our behavior as will our romantic partners.  We sometimes think to ourselves that “if only my husband or wife understood me the way my sponsor did” then life would go a lot smoother.  It could also be argued that, perhaps, life would go a lot smoother if we behaved with our romantic partner the way that we do with our sponsor.  When is the last time you asked your spouse for input about how you are working your program – the way you might with your sponsor?  And when is the last time you sarcastically dismissed your sponsor who attempted to share a concern that he or she had for you – the way you might with your spouse?

The solution is simple (most good answers are!).  Let’s treat our romantic partners with the dignity and respect that we grant our sponsors, generally without them having earned it.  And let’s let our spouse answer our sponsor’s question about how we are doing when he or she calls us at home.

…Ok, so maybe that is a little too challenging for right now.  How about this: work every day to maintain only one version of you.  There should not be a sober-at-the-meeting you who is different than the sober-at-home you.


This article was written by John & Elaine Leadem, senior supervisors of the Leadem Counseling & Consulting offices in Toms River, NJ and East Brunswick, NJ. The content of this article is based on their soon to be published book for couples from Leadem Counseling titled: Awakening To Your Soul Mate: A decision to be IN Love (Leadem & Leadem, 2013)



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    Last reviewed: 25 Jun 2013

APA Reference
Leadem, J. (2013). There Can Only be One You. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 2, 2015, from


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Elaine Leadem, MSW, LCSW & John Leadem, MSW, LCSW are authors of many books, including One in Spirit & An Ounce of Prevention.
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