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.

12 comments:

  1. Very nice post, Syd. I love your blog.

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  2. I agree. Your sponsee has to realize for his sanity and recovery, that they are two separate people who have two separate lives. Maybe they intersect somewhere.

    At rehab -- where my wife went -- they showed us in hoola-hoops to demonstrate "our lives." We who have qualifiers tended to step into the qualifier's hoola hoop (life) and manage it. We became them. And still stayed us too. We lived or were living two people's lives. WHich is - as we know - impossible. This drives us crazy, the alcoholic crazy and enables him or her, and sooner or later the whole family unit collapses, becasue the children watch us and they start stepping in other people's hoola-hoops or they "act out" to get the attention of the parents who are too busy to parent because everyone is focused on the alcoholism. This is the family disease craziness.

    I hope you are well.

    Joe

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  3. Hi Syd,
    Well I cant say too much about relationships its ages since I was in one, but as usual Syd your advice sounds good and well thought out.
    I always imagine having a perfect soulmate who will go everywhere with me and become part of me, I guess its just a dream, reality is usually so different

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  4. Interesting way to put it. Have a good weekend, Syd.

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  5. You once again expressed my feelings,and I agree 100% with this concept of marriage. Mine is like that(no alcohol,though)and it has worked for 30 years.My space,your space, shared space. Perfect.

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  6. But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
    - Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

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  7. This post and y'alls comments are music to my ears.

    Thanks.

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  8. I could not agree more with you!

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  9. Lord, if only I could put all of that into practice.

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  10. Wow, great post and so true.

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  11. I could not agree more. It is so important in my marriage that I maintain who I am as my own person and grow as that person. I also need to allow my husband the space to be his own person too! Great post!

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  12. you're so right. i don't think a relationship is about become 1 either. i think it's about enhancing one another. allowing each other to become and grow. easier said than done...

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