Newly sober and in a relationship

Some alcoholics still have families when they get to AA. This is a place to ask questions and share experiences about relating to family members sober, especially when newly sober. (If you are not an alcoholic, please use the "Our Friends and Families" forum.)

Newly sober and in a relationship

Postby Dnoga322 » Mon Jul 07, 2014 8:40 am

I've been sober now for about two weeks and am in a serious long-term relationship that was established while I was still drinking. Prior to that period, I was in the program for about ten years--I would get 6 months to a year under my belt and then I would relapse. Then I spent about five years in denial of my alcoholism, trying to convince myself that I could drink normally. Suffice it to say, I am sensitive to many of the issues that come up in early sobriety and know well the advice of "steering clear of emotional entanglements," as the corresponding chapter of Living Sober puts it. Were I single right now, I would be avoiding a new relationship like the plague. However, I'm having trouble in this case reconciling that with the corresponding advice not to make any big decisions in early sobriety.

Even though I just got sober, my decision to do so has already begun to shift the dynamics of our relationship. We used to live together, though we don't now, and so we've established a pattern of being very close and involved in each other's lives. However, I am feeling the need to spend a lot more time focusing on myself rather than on my relationship. Sometimes this is difficult for my girlfriend to understand. Alcohol numbed a lot of my emotions and I am getting in touch with who I really am--new feelings are emerging, I am speaking my mind about issues I remained silent about before, and boundaries are being re-negotiated. There is a lot more tension now than there was before and I really need space.

But "sorrow is born in the hasty heart," and I don't think that breaking up is necessarily the best way to handle this; primary relationships are important. Learning to face certain difficulties while remaining sober is part of the process; I can't just quit my job because I'm sober now and can't deal with my boss. I can't disown my parents, or a sibling, because it's inconvenient. If I had kids, I couldn't just toss them out because I am vulnerable in my early sobriety.

How do I know where to draw the line between stepping up to the plate and facing necessary challenges, and being responsible to myself and my sobriety by establishing boundaries?

Boundaries were never an easy thing for me to manage, sober or otherwise.
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Re: Newly sober and in a relationship

Postby Blue Moon » Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:03 am

Dnoga322 wrote:I've been sober now for about two weeks and am in a serious long-term relationship that was established while I was still drinking. Prior to that period, I was in the program for about ten years--I would get 6 months to a year under my belt and then I would relapse. Then I spent about five years in denial of my alcoholism, trying to convince myself that I could drink normally. Suffice it to say, I am sensitive to many of the issues that come up in early sobriety and know well the advice of "steering clear of emotional entanglements," as the corresponding chapter of Living Sober puts it. Were I single right now, I would be avoiding a new relationship like the plague. However, I'm having trouble in this case reconciling that with the corresponding advice not to make any big decisions in early sobriety.

Even though I just got sober, my decision to do so has already begun to shift the dynamics of our relationship. We used to live together, though we don't now, and so we've established a pattern of being very close and involved in each other's lives. However, I am feeling the need to spend a lot more time focusing on myself rather than on my relationship. Sometimes this is difficult for my girlfriend to understand. Alcohol numbed a lot of my emotions and I am getting in touch with who I really am--new feelings are emerging, I am speaking my mind about issues I remained silent about before, and boundaries are being re-negotiated. There is a lot more tension now than there was before and I really need space.

But "sorrow is born in the hasty heart," and I don't think that breaking up is necessarily the best way to handle this; primary relationships are important. Learning to face certain difficulties while remaining sober is part of the process; I can't just quit my job because I'm sober now and can't deal with my boss. I can't disown my parents, or a sibling, because it's inconvenient. If I had kids, I couldn't just toss them out because I am vulnerable in my early sobriety.

How do I know where to draw the line between stepping up to the plate and facing necessary challenges, and being responsible to myself and my sobriety by establishing boundaries?

Boundaries were never an easy thing for me to manage, sober or otherwise.


Many of us have boundary issues, sometimes long into sobriety. They come in 2 flavours - too rigid, or too loose; neither is conducive to healthy relationships with others. But it's good to know that you have the issue, that alone can be a big step towards addressing it. Of course, sobriety needs to come first, so where there's any question over priorities that needs to be #1. But this doesn't mean that everything else needs to be cast aside. After all, we don't stop eating just because our #1 physical priority is breathing.

The suggestion of not making too many life-changing decisions in the first few months is a good one. But getting sober itself was perhaps the biggest life-changing decision I ever made. Finding a sponsor who had half a clue was another. So plenty of big decisions were made early on. But, frankly, most other decisions could be put off for a while as I already had enough to deal with.

That is another option when making many a choice: to decide to not decide, say for 6 months. It's surprising how often the right answers present themselves when I'm no longer trying to push the timeline.
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Re: Newly sober and in a relationship

Postby Squawking Hawk » Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:07 am

Hello Dnoga322 and welcome to e-AA. I was single when I got sober and came into the rooms of A.A. several years ago. But I do know of many in A.A. who were in relationships when they got sober, some married couples that I knew when I got sober and even more recently, come to open three-speaker meetings together. I remember such couples, they made an impression on me. There are folk here on the e-AA forums who were in a relationship when they got sober and I suspect that they will chime in when they can.

Yes, I was a daughter and I do have one sister. My parents lived out of state, my Mom passing on when I was six month sober and my Dad passed a few years later (over 20 years ago). My sister has always lived out of state. Working a fourth and fifth step helped as did making amends. In my sister's case, she was not impressed, but as time went on, I hope that she has seen that I am a different person. When I was with my Dad and/or my sister sometimes the best I could do was to be aware of my program and to continue to work my program while I was with them. Early on, I found meetings to go when I visited. Or I kept in touch my AA buddies by phone. It took a some time after I got sober to work things out with my sister to where we could have better relations. Today, I have a much better idea of what causes trouble with me and my sister and I try not to repeat those things. And I have to keep my mouth shut sometimes and not argue or put my sister down.

With work. I needed the job. When I got sober, I tried to focus on doing the best job that I could at work. Which meant paying attention to my duties and not arguing with my bosses.

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Re: Newly sober and in a relationship

Postby LynZ » Thu Aug 07, 2014 10:21 am

Hi, I'm also newly sober and in a long term relationship and marriage. Today I have 101 days of sobriety, and I couldn't be more grateful. The clarity and peace of mind that I have today, I will forever cherish. When I was out there, I had a 10+ year run, with my husband and more so without him. Today I am working the program, while he sits and watches. Believe me I have tried my hardest to encourage him to.join me. He doesn't think he needs to make such a life commitment. I have learned that our relationship has been co-dependant the entire time. I will not be making any decisions today about where are headed, i just know I have to keep trying. 15 years and 3 kids isn't something I can give up on. However it is very trying. I feel as if I need space also. Where he is very needy and clingy. He needs me to make him happy, and can't see it any other way. I am getting to learn that I can only make myself happy and do my best onto others daily no matter what. I keep praying for the best possible results, I pray for him to find his way...

good luck with your relationship... I couldn't be much helps with advise, I'm sorry, but I am looking through these forums for my own relationship issues.
get another day!!
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Re: Newly sober and in a relationship

Postby ann2 » Thu Aug 07, 2014 11:42 am

Hi LynZ welcome! Great post. Thanks for sharing your experience. My husband and I have 14 years and 2 kids and things are not always rosy between us, but with the steps I can let him be himself and do my thing and usually I'm ok about it. When I'm not, it passes :)

Hope to keep reading you!

Ann
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Re: Newly sober and in a relationship

Postby Tommy-S » Thu Aug 07, 2014 8:34 pm

Welcome Dnoga

Thanks for sharing.

I learned the only thing I had to do to be successful in AA was NOT pick up that Fatal First One... And the most important relationship I could to establish in early sobriety was the one with a Sponsor.

If you haven't, get one... And remember, Sponsors are like Deodorant, they only work if we use them :)

Keep stacking up those 24 ours hours... It pays off.

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Re: Newly sober and in a relationship

Postby Lali » Tue Aug 26, 2014 6:44 am

rabie wrote:Someone mentioned to me that they're having difficulties with composing long posts, in that they get timed-out and reverted back to the login screen, losing all they've typed.


That just happened to me, but I blamed it on my cat for stepping on my keyboard.... Sorry, Lucy.
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Re: Newly sober and in a relationship

Postby Brock » Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:46 am

Welcome to the forums rabie, might I suggest that next to the red X at the top right which switches off the page, the square logo will minimize the page and make it full size again. I find it best to minimize it and drag to the right, open word and compose my post. If you minimize word and drag to the left you can see both at the same time if you wish, so things you want to comment on are visible while you type your response. Word has a better spell check and you can use a larger type face, stop for a snack or whatever. When ready you open the post a reply box, highlight your post in word and drag it across, the type will automatically adjust to the right size. Best of luck with this.

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Re: Newly sober and in a relationship

Postby kenyal » Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:59 am

I was married when getting sober. I heard the cautions to refrain from starting new romantic entanglements for a year and took that to mean I needed to go a whole year before starting another affair. Later on I grasped that the AAs meant something different by that.

The support of your loved one can be a real asset in your sobriety. Achieving sobriety in AA helps in healing and continuing the good relationships we have, and is certainly not about breaking them apart.
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Re: Newly sober and in a relationship

Postby PaigeB » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:25 am

It is our secrets that keep us sick. No matter what I did, I should probably tell my sponsor ~ Step 10. I have found the truth in the eyes of my sponsor when she said that I am not the only one. And surely you are not the only one who has laid eyes on the 4th Step of another.

Just my opinion, but telling that person ~ confronting that person would be contrary to the 9th Step where it admonishes us to not harm another person to clear our own conscience. We must be hard on ourselves but never on them - or something to that effect.

Clean your side of the street before the secret drives you to drink. Just my opinion? Maybe, but I have had to tell my secret to another and I have found freedom from its grip and taking the direction of my sponsor to try & make things right.

I haven't found it necessary to take a drink over it. Keep coming back to meetings and to the Steps.
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