Friday, June 6, 2008
Balancing in relationships
I talked with a sponsee about how to balance responsibilities in a relationship with an alcoholic. He has a couple of children and is having a hard time because his wife is not really parenting but is busy with active alcoholism. He wants their marriage to be whole so that "two become one". He is frustrated and doesn't know what to do.
I don't think that any relationship really is healthy when "two become one" , and this is especially true when alcoholism is involved. I had some kind of fantasy in my head that marriage would involve doing everything together, making decisions together, and generally getting inside each other's skin. It became more a situation in which we got under each other's skin. And it wasn't a pleasant scene. The alcoholic was self-centered, shut down during conversations, was moody, depressed, and generally indifferent. I was angry, depressed, controlling, and self-centered because I knew that I could fix everything if she would just do what I said. I had forgotten who I was and maybe never really knew who she was.
So to keep balance in my relationship, I have to maintain who I am. I have to have my own time and my own life. Sure, it's connected to another but we are two separate adults. We each can enjoy our own hobbies, our own friends, go to our own meetings, and generally live our own life. And then when we are together, we can share about those things. We can accept that we have the right to our own opinions, and that having a life isn't contingent upon what the other one does or thinks or feels. This isn't an easy process by any means. But it tends to keep the relationship in balance in which no one person gets swallowed up by the other.