Can you read your partner’s mind? Of course not! Neither can your partner read your mind. But this is what you may have come to expect of each other if you grew up in a movie-script, hearing phrases like: “Love is never having to say you are sorry.” Or perhaps you learned as a child that: “You should not have to tell someone what you are feeling or what you need if they love you”

Feelings, expectations, fears, and dreams go unsaid because we believe our partner should already know these things about us. Our partner cannot respond to or help us unless they know what we need. Honest and direct communication is vital to the recovery process and to the success of your partnership, even though it may bring pain. Ask your Higher Power for the patience to move slowly through the learning process and the willingness to work with your partner in honest and genuine ways.

Patience, willingness, honesty, and being genuine will promote the change needed for effective communication. That change may seem slow when we compare it to the openness we feel with others in the recovery community. It can appear to be safer to share with members of our support group than with our romantic partners! We have all been there: sharing our story at a meeting, relating the details of our darkest moments, and feeling the empathy and support emanate from the listeners. Why, then, is it so difficult to share these same details with our loved ones?

Well, the difference that separates our partner from the rest of the world is the emotional tie we have with him or her based on our shared vulnerability. Thoughts such as: “If I tell her my story, will she still love me?” Or: “Am I at risk of losing him if he really knows who I am?” are understandable, but your past is a part of who you are, and you owe it to your partner to reveal all of who you are.

Here is the secret to successful progress in direct communication in spite of your fears and uncertainties: Allow yourself freedom to ask for help from others. Asking for help will allow you to move beyond the fear that may block you from helping your partner to know all of you and for you to get to know him or her. Share your fears with members of your support group or therapist and solicit input on what you might do to successfully work through the fear.

Author's Bio: 

John and Elaine Leadem are the co-founders of Leadem Counseling & Consulting Services, PC.
Their professional service to addicted individuals and their families has involved their participation in the development and operation of addiction treatment services in a full array of modalities over the past 38 years and has evolved into a subspecialty which targets the needs of the victims of traumatic abuse and betrayal.
John and Elaine are published authors, retreat masters for couples, and happily married in recovery for the past 35 years. Their commitment to a “Shared Program of Recovery”© is the predominant distinguishing professional contribution of theirs.