But she struggles with the fact that “alcoholics can be stubborn and we always think we what’s right.” Yet she also admits that underneath her desire to control is a fear that Ryan may relapse.“I try my best to live one day at a time—you never know what tomorrow will bring,” she says.I continue to see people with less than one year who don’t even have one step under their belt try to get into a relationship. ” For those with time however, relationships can still be daunting.Priscilla is a 29-year old nurse from Bridgeport, Connecticut with five years of sobriety who has been with her current boyfriend, who is also a recovered alcoholic, for less than two years.“Essentially, we can bring in our support systems—whether it’s spiritual or someone we trust in recovery. “I don’t need to be in a meeting or to talk to another alcoholic for that.The issue is to put a pause between the frustration and anger before going to the person [we’re angry at]. I still call my friends from the program—even if it’s just to bitch and complain.”“If each person is working their own program, whatever that means for them, a lot of things can go more easily,” says Dr. “There’s more opportunity for balance—with money, with how they spend their time.“To me, keeping my program and my partner’s program separate is the most important thing.”Relapse is, of course, an all too real concern.
“I just have to remind myself that I am not the Grand Designer of this world; if I was, I would stop famine in Africa, end all war, and make my boyfriend hang up his clothes every night.I know some couples for whom relapse is a deal breaker. For a long-term relationship in the program, you’re probably going to see the best success when one or both partners have at least five years sober and when they both have a sponsor, a network of friends in recovery, and have worked the 12 steps.Ultimately, it’s all about narrowing the odds.” While she adds that “two people with 30 days sober might make it, chances are, they will need more time and to have gone through the program to find a healthy relationship.”Anderson agrees, explaining, “There is always the timing element.“But if the sober couple uses the tools of the 12 steps and applies them to their relationship, they can find themselves in a better partnership than most.Though they might have a higher sensitivity to critical comments, they also have access to tools that can help them to be both loving and kind and honest.We have to think the comment through all the way to its consequences, just as we would play the tape on having a drink or taking a drug.”According to a Hazelden article on relationships in recovery, there are some solid steps that sober alcoholics can take to have better partnerships: “Get on the same ship by sitting down and having a conversation about your vision for your relationship. One of the biggest benefits of being in a relationship with another recovering alcoholic is that they can find support within their fellowship groups or by turning to a Higher Power.