Relationships in Sobriety- Newly Weds!

Relationships in sobriety can be an exciting and meaningful endeavor.  On April 13th, 2014, New Life House graduate, Derek and his girlfriend of three years, Irina, said, “I do,” at Porter Valley Country Club.  Upon their return from a honeymoon in Maui, I sat down with them outside a meeting in Beverly Hills to discover what ingredients make a happy and healthy partnership.  This is what they had to say:

When did you first meet, at a meeting? 

Irina:  August 20, 2011 and it was not at a meeting, it was at a sober party.

Derek:  It was a sober birthday party.  I went to the party and one of my friends, another graduate, took me and although I think AA parties are lame I thought I’d go and maybe I’d get a girls number.  I did, I got Irina’s number and 2 days later we went on our first date.   On our second date we came to this meeting and after I took her to sushi.  I knew that night that she was the one for me, it felt right.

Irina:  He knew right away, it was pretty exciting.

derek and irinaA lot of us have had dysfunctional relationships before we came into recovery.  Did either of you ever think “I’ll never find the right person or have a healthy relationship?”

Irina:  I personally did, I had a lot of doubts because I always had a hard time maintaining a relationship let alone a healthy relationship.  So this is my first healthy relationship.  I came here such a victim.  I couldn’t keep a healthy relationship because I didn’t know how to be honest, I didn’t know how to be vulnerable, I didn’t know how to be real, I didn’t know how to say, “That hurt my feelings,” I didn’t know how to communicate really.  So for me while it was very uncomfortable, the process, being in a new, healthy, sober relationship, I also experienced a lot of growth on myself.  I really got to learn more about myself being in a relationship than I did when I first got sober, really.  I’ve enjoyed the process.

How has being in a sober relationship helped your personal recovery?

Derek:  When I first got sober, I focused so much on the outside stuff.  But being in a sober relationship has allowed me to bring the program home.  We’re able to go to meetings together, pray together, take this spiritual path together.  It’s easier to be with someone in the program who understands me.  It motivates me to answer a sponsee call when I see her answer a sponsee call.  And vice versa.  So it’s really helped me.  Because of the foundation I got at New Life House and because recovery is such a huge part of my life, being in a relationship just brings that foundation home.  It’s like having a meeting everyday!

Irina:  It really helps being in a sober relationship because we’re traveling the same path.  I have someone who’s constantly holding me accountable, someone who’s motivating me to do better, to be better, who understands that when I say, “I need a meeting,” he knows what that means, and to do our writings together, to do the daily 10th step, to have a trudging friend who goes to meetings with me.  Not only is he my best friend but he’s also my husband now which makes it really, really fun.  It’s nice to be with someone who understands the language of the heart.

How have other couples in Alcoholics Anonymous influenced or shaped your relationship and the way you approach your relationship?

Derek: I remember when I was brand new in the house, I went to Mike J.’s wedding and that was my first experience seeing that it was possible.  When I ended up getting a sponsor from my home group I picked someone who is in a relationship, who is married.  There are tons of couples in my home group who are married and it gave me hope.  There are a lot of people who say, “People in AA are broken,” or, “I don’t date people in the program,” but I believe people who think that way don’t believe people can change.  So seeing the healthy relationships allowed me to seek out a healthy relationship for myself.

Irina:  We have a lot of friends in the program who are in long-term marriages and seeing them have a beautiful life and walk the path together shows me it’s possible and doable and gives me hope.  Like Derek said, we hear so many negative things….”oh you met in the program, well don’t expect it to last.”  As long as I work on myself and do my part, I think anything’s possible.  As long as we both work on ourselves and see our part in things it’s really not that hard.  It hasn’t been and hopefully it will continue to be this good.

Last question, if you had any advice to offer to a young couple in recovery, what would it be.  

Derek (answering without missing a beat):  Therapy!

Congratulations to the Jodzio’s.  New Life House recovery community wishes them blessings and happiness in their new life together.

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