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A funny thing happens with time. When you start to accumulate too much of it: whether it be in a job, a relationship or in recovery, you start to get comfortable. Your routine starts to slip and you start taking things for granted. It's only natural, and it's happened to all of us at some point; as a matter of fact this happened recently between me and my husband, which led to a very interesting conversation the other day.

 

Whenever you've been in any situation for a long time, in this case a relationship, you start to take things for granted and just assume that everything is fine. My husband and I have known each other for 27 years; we met at a very young age and basically grew up together. Though we weren't together that entire time (he spent 11 years in active addiction) we've been together as a family and he has been clean and sober for the last 14 years.

 

When you've been with someone that long, you tend to develop a shorthand when it comes to communication because you know each other so well. You can just look at each other and know exactly what the other person is thinking. It's a wonderful feeling to be so connected to someone that you don't even need words, but there's a danger in that as well.

 

Communication is needed in all aspects of life; and when it comes to relationships, it is vital. When you're in a relationship with a person in recovery, it's essential! So that brings me to the conversation I had with my husband the other day…

 

My husband went back to school, got his degree and recently celebrated his first year of working in the field as a drug & alcohol counselor. It is a very demanding, stressful job that doesn't pay a lot and he absolutely loves it. It is his way of paying back the gift of recovery and honestly, it's what he was meant to do. If you can't tell, I am very proud of him!

 

Because his job is so demanding and emotionally draining at times, there are occasions when he will come home and just need some time to decompress and then he will be fine. Lately, the amount of time that he needs to decompress has been getting longer and frankly I was starting to feel a bit ignored.

 

Usually I would talk to him about this, but I've been in my feelings a bit lately (my issues, not his) and instead of saying something, I've been quiet and letting the resentment build. Finally it came to a head and I sent him a text while he was at work which basically said 'I don't know what your problem is, but you need to get it together!'

When he got home, he told me that when he got the text, he wanted to respond but couldn't and that he thought everything was fine and didn't know what the text was about. In his mind he's thinking 'what did I do now?' and was thinking I should be thankful that we have such a great relationship after all we've been through, so what exactly was my problem.

 

I will admit when he said that line about being thankful, I looked at him like he had two heads, but in actuality he was right. We have been through the depths of hell together with his addiction and we have been able to come out the other side stronger than ever, with a real respect for what the other has been through to get to where we are today. So what exactly was my problem??

 

My problem was rather than communicating my feelings about being ignored, I let them build up to the point where I started to feel resentful. I expected my husband to read my mind and fix the situation when he didn't even know there was a problem! For his part, he just assumed everything was okay even when he knew I was being quieter than usual and instead of asking if I was okay, he just let it go.

 

The bottom line is we both made assumptions that we shouldn't have because we are so comfortable with each other and didn't communicate. All it took was a 20 minute conversation to smooth things over and see where we were both wrong and come up with a simple solution, which we have and things are much better.

 

This isn't the first, nor will it be the last incident like this because I can be stubborn (smile) but I've learned that communicating my feelings and/or problems with my husband will go a long way to ensuring that any future incidents are few and far between!

 

Nadine Herring is the owner of Virtually Nadine, a virtual assistant company that provides online administrative support to addiction specialists and social service organizations. I specialize in working with this undervalued and overworked field to help them deal with the time consuming process of running an organization.

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