Get Help Now

(207) 679-5005

Couples in Recovery: Authentic Communication

Issue 27

Communicating with your partner honestly about yourself is one of the most feared and avoided topics.

In our last column for Journey, we discussed ways to assess how well you differentiate yourself from the relationship. The next step is the ability to communicate your deepest thoughts, feelings and desires with your partner.

Over the many phases of recovery and growth, you change; thus the relationship is constantly straddling stability and change. To have a successful partnership, each person needs to explore who they are, their willingness to build a foundation of trust and how to mutually communicate. This is how to become authentic as a couple.

You First

Before you can have heartfelt communication, you need to know (at least for today) who you are, how you feel and what you need. Insights into your behavior patterns, feelings and needs is the homework before the conversations. Individual therapy, working the steps of AA and Al-Anon, meditation, etc. can all be helpful.

Speak from the Heart

The most authentic expression is unscripted and honest. Use language that feels natural to who you are. Have the conversations when you won’t be interrupted, where you can be fully present in the moment. Communicate in a way that shows you value the other person. Often it is helpful to start this process with a couples’ therapist.

Listen, Listen, Listen

The greatest gift you can give another is to listen actively, with curiosity and patience, complete attention, and respectfully, even when you don’t agree. Try to understand their story, their perspective, and do not take anything personally. Recognize how much trust it takes to be vulnerable.

Agree to Adapt

Adaptability is about responding to new information with good communication and a willingness to be flexible. Pushing past our old resistance helps us become more flexible and reap the benefits of growing as individuals and together.

Overall, communicating authentically requires being honest, respectful and present in the moment. Your bond strengthens and creates an authentic couple by making the time to talk, check in with each other and create rituals for intimate conversations. In the words of Bruce Lee, practice makes it natural, skillful and steady!

Elaine Shamos
Elaine Shamos
Elaine Shamos, MPH, has 30 years experience as a public health professional and is the former director of Dartmouth’s Women’s Health Resource Center. Glenn Simpson, LCSW, CADC, has a private practice specializing in substance use disorder, and couples therapy. They are working together on a book for couples in recovery.

Related Articles


Join the movement to make recovery stories, resources and programs visible!

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Sponsored Content

Quick Links