We recently stumbled upon the 36 Questions to Love, a questionnaire developed by psychologist Arthur Aron and detailed by New York Times writer Mandy Len Catron in her piece “To Fall In Love With Anyone, Do This.”
It got us thinking about relationships in recovery, and the relationships that we see at our sober living home in Boca Raton. Your hubby has already completed addiction rehab and now it’s time for some therapy. We get it, it’s necessary. But couples therapy exercises for recovering addicts is not just something you can find down the road. So, with that in mind, we offer you some couple’s therapy exercises you can do at home. This is perfect for guys in recovery or girls in recovery.
Remember – It’s Not You Vs Them, It’s You and Them Versus the Problem
We urge all couples in recovery to keep this in mind. Sometimes, especially in early recovery, it can be easy to slip into the blame game. Your significant other is learning to process all this stuff and they are realizing that some of their past issues may have come from a parent, loved one, or an experience in their past.
They may be tempted to blame others at first. Remind them that this not a fight between the two of you, but a battle against the problem, and the two of you are standing next to each other facing these issues. So, draw your swords and let’s take on that dragon head.
These couple’s therapy exercises for recovering addicts are meant to be used as a starting point. If there is real trauma, consider reaching out to a couple’s counsellor and looking into additional focused couple’s therapy.
We also caution that you only do these exercises when you are ready. You shouldn’t be tired, hungry, frustrated, or flustered. Try to find the time to do them when both your moods are neutral, as difficult as that may seem sometimes.
Exercise 1 – Making Emotional Needs Known
You must lay a firm foundation to begin to get to know each other all over again. It begins with identifying where you are emotionally and how your emotional needs must be met in order for you to feel connected and valuable.
This is not a test and there are no right or wrong answers. You can retake this as many times as needed. The only thing you have to do is put an X next to the statements that you agree with.
__ I need to feel passion.
__ I need to feel respected.
__ I need to feel and be told that I am loved.
__ I need my partner to be proud to call me their own.
__ I need to feel accepted, flaws, shortcomings and all.
__ I need to feel that the two of us are close and trusted friends.
__ I need to feel desired.
__ I need to feel like wanted, for more than just the tasks I perform.
__ I need to feel that I am a priority to my partner.
__ I need to feel that I can be forgiven for past mistakes.
The goal of this exercise is to identify your own needs and to clearly identify the needs of your partner. Understanding what’s important to them in this relationship and in recovery.
To complete this, take a guess at what your partner answered before sharing with each other.
Exercise 2 – How Well Do You Know Each Other
Addiction robs us of our awareness and our ability to prioritize relationships. The most common symptom of addiction is a blindness to those around us. Without criticism, it’s important to discuss what you know about each other and begin learning again.
Each of you should ask the other these questions, allowing the other enough time to fully answer it, one at a time.
1 – Who was your best friend growing up?
2 – Who is your best friend now?
3 – What is your greatest accomplishment?
4 – What was your failure?
5 – If you could be anything what would you be?
6 – If you could live anywhere where would that be?
7 – If you met God what would you ask?
Each question is meant to increase in depth, to allow you both to open up to each other.
Exercise 3 – Pick a Target
The final couples therapy exercises for recovering addicts is about the future. We have found that people in our sober homes do better with a plan of action, with a target to aim for and a goal in mind. Both of you should answer these questions separately and share your responses:
1 – What would my perfect life look like in 3 years?
2 – What can I do every day to get a little closer to that?
3 – What will my worst life look like in 3 years?
4 – What would I have to do everyday to get closer to that?
Take your time and include as much detail as possible when answering the questions above. Not only will this give you a sense of what is important to your partner, but what you can do to help them get there.
We wish you all the love and caring in the world. Good luck to you both!