With the holidays approaching it can be very trying on relationships… especially if you are in a relationship with someone making a go at being in recovery from drugs and alcohol. Most holiday gatherings are centered around alcohol and family – two things that are problems for most addicts. Having a roadmap to navigate this time of year is the key to keeping your relationship healthy and supporting your partner through recovery.
Here are our Top Five Tools to Surviving the Holidays with a Recovering Addict:
1. Speak How You Feel.
This sounds so easy and yet can be so hard when we are in love with someone who has an addictive personality. Communication is the foundation to every healthy relationship, so this essential step is crucial. Share your worries, your fears, your concerns from a place of responsibility – “I feel worried that…,” “I am scared that…”
Using “I” based language as opposed to “you” based language is the best way to avoid blaming or shaming your partner. Own your feelings. Take responsibility for them. This will leave room for your partner to take responsibility for their feelings.
Share your feelings as an example. Do not ask, “How are you feeling?” Let them share when they decide to do it on their own.
If worry comes up all the time and is pushed into anxiety, get yourself the help of a professional to deal with your own emotions. It is not your partner’s job to “make” you feel differently. How you feel belongs to you. Own it.
Trust does not occur on a dimmer switch. We either trust someone, or we don’t. When making a go at your relationship, particularly, when someone is in recovery it’s imperative that you give it everything you’ve got, so either you’re in or you’re out. No sitting on the fence.
If you are concerned about your partner’s ability to stay in recovery, and not relapse, make the deal-breaker LYING about their behavior, not whether they use. This is a great way to keep Trust alive in your relationship so that you can support your partner in their recovery completely.
Sharing a simple, “I believe in you” can work wonders, and you must mean it, don’t put on a show.
3. Inspire Your Partner to Connect.
Addiction occurs to avoid feeling some negative emotion. It is a coping method. Inspire your partner to connect with you, not to check out. A “Movie Night” is not a great way to inspire connection.
Instead, plan activities that inspire you and your partner to connect: Try a new restaurant, or stay in and have a meal blindfolded while being fed by your partner (then switch), go ice skating, or hiking, or watch a game together, or host a game night, etc.
It doesn’t have to be activities for just the two of you, however, plan something that you both enjoy, where you can have connection and share how much fun you had together at the end of the day and beyond.
4. Give Your Partner Space.