Many have suggested that this recovery slogan, Live and Let Live, seems to be advising romantic partners to stay on separate parallel tracks and avoid getting personally involved in each other’s recovery. We found out early in our own recovery how detrimental our separate recovery programs became for our own marriage. We became more emotionally and spiritually intimate with our respective sponsors and support groups than we were with each other! We have subsequently seen this identical disconnect occur in so many of the couples that we have had the opportunity to work with over the past 40 years.
John and Elaine Leadem are licensed clinical social workers whose combined investment in the field of addiction treatment spans more than sixty years. Their commitment to helping recovering families has provided the core inspiration for the development of a "A Decision to Be IN Love"© which has helped many couples move from the traditional parallel model of recovery to strong united core support group. They are both certified Sex Addiction Therapist and have co-developed a model for treating couples during the crisis stage of recovery.
Editor: Nadeem Noor
Unfortunately, partners who are less emotionally and spiritually intimate with each other than they are with their respective sponsors or support groups are more likely to grow apart than they are to grow together. True intimacy and union is developed by becoming one with each other – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – without secrecy or deception.
How then are we to practice “Live and Let Live” while sharing all aspect of our lives with our partners in such a close and intimate way?
Live and Let Live in a relationship is asking us to allow our mate to develop his/her own sense of worthiness, individuality, and uniqueness. Avoid the trap of trying to mold your partner into who you believe they should be, what you believe you want them to become, and what you decide your mate’s journey aught to look like.
Of course when asked, most of us would deny that we want a partner who looks, thinks, and acts like us. We cry out that we want our partner to “be an individual with his/her own mind” and we resent times that he/she does not “think for himself/herself.” What then drives us to try to push and manipulate our partners to do things “our way”?
Often it is our own insecurity that seduces us into trying to mold our partner into our own image and likeness because we falsely believe that the problem in our life is our partner. We tell ourselves that the problem is that our partner doesn’t understand or act appropriately. We use this as an excuse to explain our own frustrations. “If my partner would just change” we think, “everything would be all better.” So we proceed to try and change our partner. This can become dangerous.
That is why our respective recovery programs ask us to “Live and Let Live.” Our mate is not a carbon copy of ourselves, but rather a unique individual who brings characteristics distinct to himself/herself. Ask yourself if you have attempted to squelch the uniqueness of your partner to offset your own feelings of ineptness.