3 ways to begin to heal relationships
While healing individually is stressed as the primary focus in recovery or at any stage in life, learning to navigate a marriage or relationship with a significant other can be challenging. Often new rules, roles, limits and boundaries need to be set. As the relationship with self changes and improves, new ways of interacting and engaging in our primary relationships need to be explored. Behaviors or interactions that once were tolerated in the relationship may no longer be acceptable. Below are 3 ways to begin that process.
Identify your needs from a partner
I often hear in session “he or she “should” know my needs or wants”. That is a cognitive distortion that needs to be challenged. The only way a person knows what we want is by asking, hence as scripture states “we do not have if we do not ask” referring to God, I believe that statement applies to our interactions with others as well. Think about your wants from your husband, wife or partner and take the time to put those desires in writing to discuss your expectations. Sometimes wants need to be negotiated, however discussing allows us to avoid disappointments due to unmet expectations. If in early recovery, you may have never given any thought to verbalizing your needs in a relationship. This is a great opportunity to create the relationship you want.
Set rules of engagement
There will be basic rules of engagement that need to be set. For example, no name calling, no cursing at each other, no character assignation, learning effective conflict resolution skills, no yelling, no hitting or other problematic patterns of interacting in the past. Remember love always trusts and always respects. We can’t trust what we don’t respect and we can’t respect what we don’t trust. Tell your partner how you want to be treated. Take the time to teach, lead and guide to express what respecting each other and boundaries means to you both as a couple.
Take a daily inventory
Taking a personal daily inventory at the end of each day is highly recommended in recovery. On a daily basis it helps to be aware of successes and shortcomings so if we are blessed with tomorrow we can try again, being more present, mindful and aware. Truly living one day at a time, we can create a fulfilling, satisfying life in recovery as well as relationships. I recommend that couples do this exercise as well. It helps to identify and appreciate the positive changes as well as quickly identify any hurts or disappointments or old patterns that can turn into resentments if not addressed, worked through, forgiven and let go.
These three tools are very important in healing a relationship challenged by addiction in the past and being successful moving forward. It will take all the components of love such as patience, tolerance, slow to anger and quick to forgive, giving the benefit of the doubt and believing the best to allow the relationship with yourself and significant other to be the very best it can be allowing ourselves to love and be loved.