I believe the 12 traditions are as important to my life and the way I live it as the 12 steps. One of the best applications of the 12 traditions for relationships was written by Dave and Polly P. from Cypress, California. It is titled “The Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous in Relationships”.
Excerpts from the site:
1. It is said that the unity of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon is the most cherished and valuable quality that our societies have. Our lives and the lives of all to come depend squarely upon it. The practice of our 12 steps puts our lives in order, but not necessarily our relationships. How to live successfully with others can be found within our traditions. They are our guidelines for behavior.
Unfortunately, we find members and their partners who are getting healthy individually but who are in relationships that are far from robust. It has become our belief that the quality of a relationship will improve significantly through the use and practice of the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. The when, where, what, how, and why of that belief, based on our own actual experience, is what this workshop is all about.
Most of what we will be sharing with you is based on our personal adventures, both before and since our marriage. It is our wish to share what has actually happened to us and what we really did rather than what we think – the emphasis being on experience rather than opinion.
2. ” Touch of History:
About 1796, a doctor named Rush (who by the way was a signer of the Declaration of Independence) wrote a paper describing alcohol abuse as a disease. The name alcoholism was not yet invented and the disease concept of alcoholism did not originate with Alcoholics Anonymous. Dr. Rush explored the subject in some depth in his paper but few, except those who delve into the history of AA ever heard of him or his paper.
Later, around 1840 when the temperance movement was thriving, there were a half dozen or so alcoholics in Baltimore who drank together every day in a local tavern . One day, while discussing the temperance movement, it was decided that they should check it out. With true alcoholic wisdom, they decided that only one of them need to go and he could then report his findings back to the group. The report had an impact and from that arose a movement called the Washingtonians. Within six months, there were several hundred members and within a few years, there were thousands. Abraham Lincoln spoke at one of their gatherings so they were successful and accepted in society without any kind of stigma. Remember, AA was formed in 1935 and by 1940, when the Big Book was written, there were only about 100 members.
3. “A Change in Perspectives”:
We will also need to take a look at the baggage we bring into our relationships. We have a friend who says that all emotional baggage must fit under the seat. We all have it. It is important therefore to stop and consider the conscious and unconscious behaviors we display in our everyday lives that came from our families, friends , and previous relationships. So we need to ask ourselves: What baggage do I bring into my relationships? It comes from many areas of our lives:
- Dysfunctional behavior from my family of origin.
- Functional behavior from my family of origin.
* taste or preference in food or the way it is prepared
* ways to do things – make beds, fold socks
* attitudes toward institutions and groups – education, religion, gender equality
* political leanings
- Sexual abuse, both physical and emotional, from family or previous relationships
- Emotional and mental abuse
* Accusations of laziness, stupidity, or incompetence
* Perpetual, relentless nagging * Being an unremitting “critical parent”
- Bad habits/good habits – smoking, eating, exercise
- Ideas about personal hygiene, dress, behavior.
- Fundamental attitudes (usually in the form of sweeping generalizations), especially about members of the opposite sex.
4. “The Twelve Traditions in Relationships”:
“Our common welfare should come first. A healthy relationship depends upon unity.”
“If you have one hundred people who live together, and if each one cares for the rest, there is One Mind.”
–Shining Arrows, CROW
One of the principles of Community is Unity. The alignment of thoughts in groups of people will cause One Mind to form. One Mind is Unity. Each individual in the community must align their thoughts with what other members are thinking. If all the people think of helping one another, then the community will be service oriented and powerful results will be enjoyed. Having our thoughts aligned within a group will cause our children to experience a positive environment. When they have children, the grandchildren will automatically experience these results also.
For each tradition, the authors give a checklist–Checklist for Tradition 1–
- What am I willing to sacrifice for our relationship?
- What affect do my actions have on our relationship? On our family?
- Am I a giver or a taker?
- Do I do unifying things? or am I quick to criticize? Slow to praise?
- Do I use silence as a refuge or punishment while expecting my mate to read my mind?
- Do I listen when my mate has something to say?
- Do I admire and approve of my mate? Does he/she know that?
- Am I a healing, mending, integrating force in our marriage or am I divisive?
- Am I a peacemaker? Or, because of my own insecurity, is it critical to my ego that I be right?
- Can I be flexible? Flexibility is taught by nature. You will see the trees bend in the wind. You will see that tree branches are flexible. To be rigid is to break. When we have life problems it is good for us to be flexible. Sometimes we need to flow with what is going on. If we resist, it becomes more painful. We need to be on the path of least resistance. Water flows down the mountain through the path of least resistance. Electricity flows through the path of least resistance. Power flows through the path of least resistance.