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Relationship vs. Marriage

Old 08-21-2010, 08:29 AM
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Relationship vs. Marriage

Can someone help me understand the difference between the "rules" of recovering alcoholics who are in relationships and those that are married?

I am in a relationship with a recovering alcoholic, whose drinking has not really been a burden on our relationship at all, and he has been a great man, although I suspect his drinking has been a burden on him and therefore he, and therefore the relationship, could be better. We have been together for 3 and a half years. Don't really subscribe to the marriage tradition at this point in our lives, and are wondering the reality of the situation for two people who are not married but are in a committed, dedicated, and overall very supportive relationship.

He has had a few slip in the past few years-which I was oblivious to until recently. So I support him recovering and being honest with himself and everyone.

I know the guideline/understanding is, is that recovering alcoholics should take a year to be alone while in recovery. But what about people who are already in a relationship that is worth keeping and working with?

I am also taking time, during this time, to work on myself as well--for the record.

Thanks for your insight! It is a confusing issue for us.
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Old 08-21-2010, 08:54 AM
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That isn't a RULE..it's sometimes a suggetion...the other suggestion is to make no major changes.
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Old 08-21-2010, 09:11 AM
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Hm. Okay. That makes sense too. Thank you so much for your response.

Do you guys think there are certain factors that sway whether a relationship should go one way or the other (no for a year vs. no major changes)?

Obviously every situation is totally different, and this is such a broad topic. It is just such a gray area concept. And I don't want to be a hindrance to anybody's growth and recovery.
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Old 08-21-2010, 09:28 AM
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Welcome to SR. You have found a great place with lots of ES&H (Experience, Strength and Hope) from folks who have been where you are or are where you are.

As to your question, the 'suggestion' is:

"No MAJOR CHANGES the first year."

Now that has evolved somehow into: "no relationships the first year." NO

If one is in a relationship, has a job, has a place to live, NO MAJOR CHANGES unless one of the above is JEOPARDIZING SOBRIETY. Now if one is not in a relationship, the first year is not a good time to get into one.

Those that are in committed relationships, usually the SO or Spouse is encouraged to go to Al-anon or counseling to help themselves, as the alcoholism has a WIDE affect on those around the alcoholic.

It is important for the SO or Spouse to understand fully that the alcoholic will be taking a lot of their 'we' time to work on themself time, but I have seen relationships get through this as the partner is usually working on themselves also.

Please keep posting and let us know how YOU are doing as we do care very much.

Love and hugs,
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Old 08-21-2010, 09:31 AM
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I don't want to be a hindrance to anybody's growth and recovery.
You won't be if you are working on your own recovery from living with an alcoholic.

A first good step for you would be to obtain a copy of Melodie Beattie's "Co Dependent No More." It's is available at many bookstores and Amazon.com at a very reasonable price.

J M H O

Love and hugs,
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Old 08-21-2010, 10:02 AM
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this has been extremely helpful. thank you SO very much for sharing your knowledge and insights. <3
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Old 08-21-2010, 10:22 AM
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It sounds like you have a solid relationship.....and he will be glad that he has that....no reason for you to give up a good thing...those are hard to find.

He will be going to get support from other alcoholics..it just needs to be that way.
I also suggest al-anon so that you can learn your role in this.

Please feel welcome here....there are alot of good stickies with info at the top of this forum.

It tends to be a bit slow on the weekends around here....I am sure many others have helpful insghts.
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Old 08-21-2010, 02:59 PM
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There are no rules per se, just guidelines. It doesn't miraculously happen that after one year, 'presto!' they can manage a relationship. It depends on the people involved. It is more about the demands of recovery and the amount of focus it takes to be in a recovery program. And that is just the AA stance. For some, having stable support actually is helpful, for others a distraction or hinderance. If he is going through therapy or other means of recovery then it is about what works best for HIS personal recovery process.
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Old 08-21-2010, 04:04 PM
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Laurie's right, it's "no major changes" that's suggested. Getting into, or out of, a relationship in early sobriety is a complication most people in early recovery don't need--first, everything is in flux--their perceptions, their thinking, their habits. Until the dust settles (a year's just a rule of thumb), recovering people don't even know what they need or want half the time. When I was in early recovery I had trouble ordering from a menu in a restaurant--too much COMMITMENT, lol. In addition, coping with big changes in jobs or relationships is a distraction, so a bit hazardous from that standpoint, too.

My ex-husband got sober after we'd dated for three or four years, and we got married a year later. He's been sober over 30 years now (our divorce had nothing to do with alcoholism, and we remain good friends).

It sounds like you have a good relationship, and it's great that you are doing some recovery work, yourself. When the relationship is good, it can be very helpful to recovery. One thing I learned to do was to recognize when what was going on had to do with his alcoholism (he wasn't drinking, but nobody gets "well" all at once), and step away from the situation so he could call his sponsor or a friend. It gave us both breathing room so the problem didn't snowball.

BTW, welcome to the forums!
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