Keep it Simple

The effects of alcoholism or other addictive disorders on a romantic partnership can be devastating (understatement). We assume that the damage done is going to take time to repair.  Most of us imagine that our relationship will survive; we understand however, that there are no guarantees.

The fear of a failed relationship after entering recovery can be overwhelming.  This fear may cause you to delve too deeply into the wreckage of the past at a time when the relationship is still too fragile for this level of exploration.  Far too many “why” questions are asked of our partners and of ourselves.  When asked why a particular event happened in the past, the answer, if it is honest, is far more than many couples are ready to handle without a good deal of intense work.

We are frequently asked by colleagues:

How does a recovering couple continue to work on strengthening their bond without applying too much pressure to the foundation of their relationship?

The early months of the relationship in recovery should focus on the simplicity of relationship building. The exception of course, would be if romantic or sexual betrayal has been involved.  If that is the case a good deal of intense sharing is required to stabilize the relationship. This is often best facilitated with the guidance of a competent professional or Marriage Counselor. In most other cases however, it is generally understood that in the very early stages of recovery it is still too soon to explore each other’s past motivations or lingering defects of character.

That said, still the principles of recovery can be applied to your romance on the very first day.  Consider these simple principles:

  1. Treat your partner with dignity and respect.
  2. Do not ask for or give advice.
  3. And pray together.

There are a great many ways of stabilizing a relationship without professional help, such as shared prayer and meditation time or attending open 12 Step recovery meetings together.  Taking the time every day to share personal insights obtained from recovery literature or meeting topics will make a positive investment into the relationship and both partners will get to benefit from the others’ personal growth.

Perhaps you already have your own experience strength and hope. Or perhaps you are struggling some in this area. Whichever it is, please share with us and our readers some of the simple things you and your partner have done to stabilize your relationship during fragile times. Or you can ask us or our readers for some input that can help you make the positive changes in your life that can bear fruitful results for you and your partner.

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This article is the second in a series we will run over the next few weeks on the subject of popular 12-step recovery slogans, specifically, “one day at a timekeep it simple”, “let go and let God, and “let it begin with me. These blogs are written by John & Elaine Leadem, senior supervisors of the Leadem Counseling & Consulting offices in Toms River, NJ and East Brunswick, NJ. The content of these articles are based on their popular book: “One in the Spirit: Meditation Course for Recovering Couples”



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From Psych Central's World of Psychology:
Best of Our Blogs: July 19, 2013 | World of Psychology (July 19, 2013)

From Psych Central's website:
Should I Really Ignore What Bothers Me in My Romance? | Couples in Recovery (August 12, 2013)

From Psych Central's website:
You Can Love – One Day at a Time | Couples in Recovery (August 14, 2013)

From Psych Central's website:
Applying Program Slogans to Your Relationship | Couples in Recovery (August 26, 2013)

    Last reviewed: 14 Aug 2013

APA Reference
Leadem, J. (2013). Keep It Simple …and Loving. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 1, 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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