Jerry and Carol (not their real names) came in for couples therapy. They stated that they had a good marriage, but that they needed a "tune up". Jerry talked about how he felt that stress was impacting their relationship, Carol agreed, but also expressed concern over Jerry's alcohol use and wanted him to better control his drinking, like he used to.
Some years ago I remember leading a family group at a drug and alcohol treatment center. I opened the group with the question: What does it mean to be a family or couple in recovery? Some people struggled with the idea that the non-addicted members of the family had some part in going forward in recovery.
I remember as a kid we would be on vacation. At scenic observation areas on the way sometimes there were those coin-operated binoculars. I also remember being absolutely fascinated with those things thinking how cool they looked. They were all metal and indestructible. Those beauties, made by Tower Opticals, could swivel to move the viewing area vertically and horizontally. All it took was an available binocular and 25 cents.
Deciding whether to deal with the relationship while managing individual recovery requires some sorting through. There are risks to couple recovery, but the evidence suggests that healthy relationships lead to better long-term recovery outcomes.
Carol met with the counselor, despite her reservations and having more than a little bit of anxiety. The counselor asked how she was doing and how thing have been since John started recovery? At first Carol didn't understand what she was being asked and thought the counselor was asking her how she thought John was doing.