Have you been sober for a little while now but your partner or significant other is still giving you the cold shoulder? You wouldn’t be the first.
It’s common to think that if the main problem in your relationship is related to your actions and attitudes when you were drinking, that stopping drinking will solve things. Wrong answer. Stopping drinking only stops the creation of additional wreckage related to drinking. It does not undo the hurt or rebuild the trust that has been lost.
You might be sleeping on the couch. You might be out of the house. They might be out of the house. Whatever it is, they’re pissed and they most likely have a right to be. This is a good time to remember that you can only be in control of one person’s actions: your own. You can go to meetings. You can stay sober. You can work the steps. You can do all of your amends. And they still might not forgive you. But they might. Welcome to the wonderful world of powerlessness. We say that a little tongue in cheek. But sink into it for a moment and try to feel the relief that comes with not being in control. It’s scary at first. And then, frankly, it’s a load off.
So here are some things that you can do to ensure the best possibility that your relationship recovers:
Keep Going to Meetings and Keep the Focus on Yourself
Your recovery is the most important thing in your life right now. Without it, you have nothing. Work your program like your life depends on it. Because it does.
Don’t Try to Fix - Give Your Partner Some Space
Let your partner know that you are there for them. However, also let them know that you understand their need for space and that they might need some time before they are ready to talk. Let them initiate. Sometimes a little time apart can do wonders. And trying to fix things too early can be disastrous.
Hold Off on Those Amends
Step Nine is Step Nine for a reason. There are eight other steps we suggest you do before that one. It’s really tempting especially with those close to us to skip ahead to those amends. Don’t do it. Trust us.
Be Responsible and Meet Your House Obligations
You’ve probably made your partner’s life hard for a while. Think about ways that you can start meeting your household obligations. And then think of ways you can do a little more. Sometimes quiet acts of service can be one of the best ways to show someone you’re going to be approaching things differently. You know why? Because actions speak louder than words. What would you rather have a hollow apology or a refrigerator full of food?
Give it Time
There is a slogan in the program “Give Time Time.” It applies to so many things but also to healing relationships. As alcoholics and addicts we’re accustomed to wanting instant gratification. Delaying that desire is perhaps one of the most important lessons in recovery. And it can be especially painful when dealing with the potential of the loss of one of our primary relationships. Those of us who have been there before know that time can work wonders.
Ultimately, this process is all about focusing on your recovery right now and getting healthy again. You might save that relationship. And you might not. You might think all will be lost if you don’t. But whatever happens is going to be what was meant to be. You’re not in control. Turn it over.