Relationship building is a lot like building a house; first we clear the land by starting the personal recovery program me and abstaining from dysfunctional behaviors. Then we put in the foundation of Communication, Caring and Commitment. Finally we construct each story of the house one by one. We start with the Casual contact, moving to Companionship, then on into Friendship, and finally we top the structure off with romantic love and committed love.
If we want to have a healthy relationship, first we start the program of personal change, and then we abstain from the unhealthy behaviors in our current relationships. When we start a program of personal change we have to admit that we are a part of a relationship problem. This is hard to do. It’s much easier to blame our partner than it is to take the responsibility for ourselves. There will always be things that you want to change about your partner. But what about you, what personal issues do you need to take care of? What do you need to change about yourself in order to have a healthy functional relationship? Are you so occupied with being strong that you don't recognize that you are a fallible human being who needs the support and caring of others. Does your need to be strong makes you grandiose and extremely independent? Are you self centered? Are you intrusive and pushy with your partner? If so these are the things that you are going to need to change.
We change by working a program of personal recovery, we can grow beyond our limitation, we can become healthy people, and we can have healthy relationships. As we grow in recovery we learn we are fallible human beings who have strengths and weaknesses. We learn that it’s okay to be strong and act upon our strengths without shame and guilt. We also learn that it’s okay to be a weak and vulnerable. There are times when we need to be cared for and nurtured. It’s okay to let others know our weakness. We don't have to hide our feelings from other people.
Once you have started a program of personal growth you are learning how to stop acting out in dysfunctional ways with your partner. You have to stop dropping bombs and stop overreacting to the bombs that your partner may be dropping. That’s called abstinence.
So the first step in relationship building is to abstain from dysfunctional behavior in our relationship. Then we are ready to build a strong foundation which is based upon what we call 3 Cs of intimacy.
Some people think that first C should be caring but people after time get into trouble because they invest their caring in the people that they never learn to communicate with. As a result what happens is that they end up caring about people that they don’t really know. Which later leads to a surprise. Communication starts within you. In order to communicate you have to know what you are thinking, what you are feeling & what you are doing. Then after put that into words and you are going to tell your partner. You also need to have a deep in what your partner is thinking, feeling & doing.
The second C begins to emerge from communication. Now caring begins at home. First of all I have to care about myself I refuse to put myself in abusive destructive relationship; I am not going to sell my own soul in the name of relationship. So I care about me and I have a healthy sense of self love, then I care about my partner, I genuinely show concern about my partner’s well-being, I genuinely want to my partner to prosper and to be the best person that he/she could possibly be.
When I care about myself as person and my partner as a person then I am ready for the next step, and that is I can care about who we are as a couple, there is you, there is me and together we can be much more than we could have ever been alone.
The ultimate expression of caring is the movement into commitment. The third C is commitment; commitment is a 3 leg stool. First I need to be committed to myself no matter what happens. I am committed to keep myself well & healthy, if I am chemically dependent, this means that I need to stay sober and attend a recovery program. If I am co-dependent, I need to stay into the recovery program in order to prevent myself from relapsing into self-defeating behaviors. The 2nd commitment is to my partner as a person. I am going to do whatever I can do to give my partner support as long as I don’t lose myself in that process. At times I might need to kick my partner’s butt because I don’t want to enable them. I am interested in my partner’s growth, I want my partner to be the best person possible but not at the expense of whom I am.
Now finally if the commitment is to bring us together, learn together, grow together, moving together in a committed relationship, then whether we are married or not. We make a promise that no matter how bad things get today I am not going to abandon you no matter how bad things get today, I am not going to leave you. It means that we begin to building forever, one day at a time. This is possible, as long as you have not abandoned yourself in the process.
With a healthy relationship we will find communication, care and commitment. What that means is that both partners work at communication, both partners work at care and both partners are committed to each other. If the commitment isn’t shared by both partners then it’s not going to be a commitment. I cannot be intimate with somebody who is not willing to be intimate with me. I cannot communicate with somebody who literally refuses to communicate with me.