Intimacy in our primary relationships is at the heart of our ability to be happy. Healthy loving relationships not only improve your mental health but according to research actually increases your life span. As recovering people many of you have experienced dysfunctional relationships, some as children and some of you as adults. Those of you with the Abandonment Core Issue are probably struggling with intimacy the most.

One-way intimacy skill development begins in early recovery by sharing yourself and your inner emotions with your sponsor and/or therapist. The second skill is to get outside yourself, listen to, care about and connect to another person’s internal emotions. Helping another alcoholic/addict often gives you this experience.

Now it’s time to take these intimacy skills into your close relationships with significant others (SO), children, close friends and sometimes your parents. (Intimacy is reserved for people who are emotionally safe. Untreated, dysfunctional people are not safe.)

Start by really listening to the things your Significant Other (SO) or children are saying. Being tired is not an excuse not to listen. People know you are listening when you look at them, ask questions and refer back to the conversation. When someone is sharing with you DON’T OFFER ADVICE. If someone actually wants advice they will ask you, “What should I do?”Otherwise don’t try to problem solve for someone else or they will probably get frustrated or angry. Actually listening to someone without judgment is one of the most loving things you can do. Your partner as well as your children will feel closer to and loved by you if you will practice listening, empathizing (trying to stand in their shoes) and reflecting back what you heard.

Everyone wants to be listened to, understood and affirmed as important in their relationships.

These skills will go a long way into bonding you more deeply with the people you love most.

Now go out there and start loving your family.

Tammy Bell

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The Relapse Prevention Center

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