Love Languages of Recovery


My husband quit drinking almost 20 years ago and I quit drinking almost 3 years ago. The only thing our recovery stories have in common is the fact that we quit drinking. He did it his way, and I did it mine.

Dawn Nickel, from She Recovers ( says there is no one route to recovery. Rather than judging another person’s route as good or bad, we need to foster respect for everyone who is on the journey. I like her style. She is a wise, experienced and accomplished woman.

In previous posts I have been critical of other people’s mindsets about recovery. I was fixated on what works for me and lacking compassion for what works for others. For example, I have said in a number of different posts how stressful it would be to take a ‘one day at a time’ approach. For me the freedom comes with making the decision once and for all. When I asked my husband about this, he referred to a quote that has given him comfort in the past … “Any man can fight the battles of just one day”. He is also a fan of a number of recovery quotes that come from 12 step groups. They work for him.

So this got me thinking about the ever-so popular book - The 5 Love Languages book by Gary Chapman. This book came in handy at a time when we struggled to understand each other (more than usual). The premise of the book goes something like this: To get along as a couple, you need to learn to speak your partner’s love language. In other words, ask him …. do not assume… what makes him feel loved and provide that for him. And then tell him what makes you feel loved and thank him when he does it for you. So, if I feel loved by words of affirmation, then I need to let my husband know I appreciate the positive feedback. If my spouse feels loved through acts of service ie. hot dinner on the table, than I should provide that for him, lovingly - not resentfully. The effort to understand and act in a way that makes your partner feel loved, raises the whole loving vibration of your relationship and everyone wins.

So perhaps I need to spread the love languages to the recovery community. I need to seek to understand what makes other people feel motivated, connected and loved. If it is about spiritual connection, then I can speak that language. If it is about personal development, then I can talk that talk too. If it is about evolution, transformation or just plain survival, well let’s get down to it. I need not put myself in your shoes and wonder how the heck you do it…. I need to just let you wear your own shoes and walk along side you.

I realized as I talked with my husband, that although he has almost 20 years of recovery and I have just three, that I do a lot of the talking about the subject. He listens, and supports and encourages. He does not impose his thoughts on me; he just let’s me do it my way. I didn’t think about how generous, patient and non-judgmental he has been, especially given that he has a totally different mind-set about recovery than I do.

With a touch of humility and a bunch of love, I apologize for pushing my perspectives so hard. I commit to learning more about you, and my future clients while encouraging us all as we go about living our lives.