It has often been said that relationships are work, and, as anyone who has begun the process of recovery knows, so is getting sober. Overcoming the challenges presented by sobriety and by the life long process that is recovery requires dedication and compassion toward one's self.
How then, does a person in recovery balance the relationship they must have with themselves in order to remain healthy and the relationship they have with their significant other, which comes with its own set of needs and demands? Here are five tips on how to maintain a healthy relationship while in recovery.
1. Be Honest
Honesty is key in virtually any relationship, romantic or otherwise. With honesty comes the opportunity to really get to know another person as well as a chance for the kind of open communication that can help to stop major problems before they start.
Honesty is particularly important to people who are in recovery as they work to maintain healthy relationships because there may be times when one needs personal space or the opportunity to be open about feelings that can be difficult to express. By getting in the habit of expressing oneself honestly, it is possible to allow another person to be sensitive to one's needs and to be a helpful agent rather than a hinderance.
2. Save Time For Recovery
One problem that many people in recovery face when they enter serious relationships is that they find that they do not have the same time they used to to devote to important and productive activities like attending twelve step meetings and therapist appointments. While a serious relationship does offer the chance to connect with someone on an intimate level, it is not a substitute for therapy or meetings.
It is important that in any relationship, no matter how serious, there is enough time for a recovering addict to do the work they need to do to maintain their sobriety.
3. Do Not Get Into A Relationship Too Soon
Many therapists and addiction health experts advise against dating in the early stages of recovery. There are a few reasons for this.
Firstly, early recovery can be a very emotionally unstable time as a newly recovering addict begins to full experience and deal with the strong emotions that they may have been numbing with drugs or alcohol. During this time, it is unlikely that a revering addict will be able to give another person the support and stability they need.
Early recovery also requires so much focus and energy that engaging in a relationship may mean pulling focus away from the important work required to get healthy.
4. Be Emotionally Intelligent
It is inevitable that in relationships, as in any meaningful life activity, there will be emotional highs and lows. It is important for a recovering addict to be highly aware of how they are feeling because strong emotions can be potential triggers for use if they are not dealt with in a healthy and productive way.
Often, by the time an emotion is strong enough to cause a person to behave in a certain way, they are already in danger of making ill-advised decisions.
5. Help the Other Person To Grow
A successful relationship means they both people have a chance to continue to grow and evolve as people. It is very helpful for both partners to continue to help one another evolve into more mindful people.
Doing this for another person also helps one to see the ways that they can improve their own lives and to continue to find meaningful ways to change for the best.