Every recovering addict needs a mutually loving, supportive and fulfilling relationship. It makes recovery more certain. But a relationship is like a machine—it needs oil to keep going and the oil in this case is communication. Without communication, the wheels of a relationship fall off.
Here are seven problem areas that can rise up in a relationship. If you and your partner cannot recognize and connect in these issues, it may be time to move on.
1. Lack of Intimacy
Passionate sex fades with time but when sex disappears altogether or becomes a chore, your relationship is in trouble. If you can’t connect in the most intimate area of your relationship, it makes other areas of your life difficult. You’ll be awkward with each other at breakfast, dinner or in the car. Worse still if the relationship revolves around sex. It means it lacks the camaraderie and respect needed to try to get things back on track. But even with the right foundation, success is not assured. If you cannot be candid and honest about what’s not working, either in conversations with each other or through a counselor, it’s best to call time on your relationship. Nothing will change and you’ll grow further apart.
2. Preoccupation with the Past
If you find yourself replaying over and over all the happy times of the past so you don’t have to face the anger and pain of the present, it means your relationship is not working. You’re trapped in the past instead of being in the present where it matters. You take refuge in romanticizing and justifying an unworkable relationship because communication has failed. If you can find the courage to discard the baggage of the past and see your life for what it is, you will realize the pointlessness of holding on to a relationship that’s not offering you anything in the present.
3. Pressure to Change
A true relationship is based on unconditional love. You accept each other’s good and bad points as well as each other’s individuality. But when your partner can’t accept you for who you are and keeps trying to change you, you’d be better off moving on. It’s okay to want to change if you initiated the idea yourself and your partner gives you a gentle shove in the right direction, like losing weight, for instance. But when your partner constantly controls how you dress, eat, laugh or tell a bad joke, you’re no longer your own person. You’ve just become an extension of your partner. You won’t even be allowed to own your recovery program. It makes a relapse all the more likely.
4. Unequal Commitment
Coupling works best when there’s a 50/50 commitment. The relationship is then evenly balanced. But if you’re putting in 80 percent to your partner’s 20 percent and consequently feel drained, you need to move on before your health suffers. If you stay, your partner will continue to weigh you down with his or her needs and demands, while completely ignoring yours. If you try to communicate your dissatisfaction, you’ll likely face blackmail—crying, tantrums and a possible breakdown. And that’s retrogressive for a recovering addict. You need your partner to be as supportive and encouraging as you are and exercise some independence if you’re to have time to devote to your recovery program.
5. Incompatibility on Long Term Issues
Compromising is essential for a healthy relationship. If you can’t meet each other halfway on issues such as when to start a family or how best to use family savings, you won’t be able to advance into the future with confidence. You have to wonder whether you even have a future together. Even if you agree on short-term goals, not having a common vision on long-term plans is no justification to staying together.
6. Endless Fighting
Arguments are a normal part of every relationship if they’re conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect, objectivity and a willingness by one partner (although not always the same one) to admit to being wrong. Afterwards you are still able to laugh and enjoy each other’s company. It’s a growing experience that can only strengthen your relationship. But there’s serious pause for thought when every conversation turns into mudslinging with the possible threat of violence. Your problems may become like a festering sore if you can’t relate to each other calmly even under the supervision of a counselor, or friends and family. There’s no apparent way forward.
7. Comfortable Being Apart
All couples need time apart for their relationship to flourish but you should consider a break if your happiest moments are when you’re apart. When you’re in a caring relationship, you miss your time away from each other. And when you’re back together again, you can’t wait to swap information, laugh and joke or just sit in companionable silence. However, if you’d rather be apart, spending time together is a chore. There are long, heavy silences and you’re not enjoying yourself. When either of you goes on a long trip or a night out with the mates, you hope he or she could stay away as long as possible. This doesn’t make for a long-term relationship.
Relationships are fickle. Communication is key. But if you find you’re incompatible in the areas listed above, you would be wise to move on. Often people remain in difficult relationships because they’re afraid of being alone. It’s a brave decision to walk away from a relationship that’s not working but it’s also an act of self-love. It means you won’t settle for anything less than a relationship that fulfills your needs and allows your individuality to shine through.