Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to other couples, and to practice these principles in all aspects of our lives, our relationship, and our families.

Step Twelve is about taking the message of couple recovery to other couples. Those who have worked the Twelve Steps have much to offer other couples. When we are able to shine the light of our own recovery experiences in such a manner that others find their own way, we are practicing the Twelfth Step.

We find spiritual awakenings seldom are sudden occurrences, but more generally, gradual shifts in perspective. These spiritual awakenings are often obtained through couples working the Steps of RCA together. We typically gain an awareness of the importance of our coupleship as a oneness and an entity, and thus reach new levels of commitment. When we learn that neither one of us is the center of the universe, we may see how we fit together and how our coupleship fits into the rest of the world. These awakenings transform us both individually and as a couple.

We acquire new depth and understanding of the wisdom of the Twelve Steps. As we watch those couples around us being transformed, we witness the spiritual nature of the program in action. We come to believe in miracles.

Just as in our individual programs, in the RCA fellowship the message is carried in many ways including:

  1. Sharing as a couple in RCA meetings.
  2. Seeking and accepting service positions.
  3. Being sponsors and temporary sponsors.
  4. Carrying the message of hope to others:
  • at retreats
  • in our individual program meetings: (for example) by posting flyers and ads, as well as talking to people who have couple issues about RCA,
  • informing the helping community (spiritual, medical, legal, and counseling),
  • and by making a schedule of RCA meetings available.
  1. Supporting the national convention through participation, voting as a group delegate couple, and making financial contributions.
  2. Serving on the World Service Organization Board of Trustees, or on a WSO Service Committee or volunteering.
  3. Writing our couple story and sharing it with others (especially by having it published in the RCA Blue Book).

Having worked these Twelve Steps, it is important to remember the Step work is meant for a lifetime. As we practice these steps we have a better understanding of our history, our lives, our coupleships and our Higher Powers. As we share our experience, strength and hope, we see the positive effects on our relationships, and if we have children we can break the chains that have bound families for generations. We learn from those couples who have gone before. The message we carry is a liberating one. Working with newcomers is not only a rewarding experience, it shows where we have been and where we need to go.

We sought through our common prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.

In Step Eleven we have an opportunity to develop a deeper relationship with our Higher Power. This Step is about our spiritual awakening. We improve conscious contact with our Higher Power through prayer and meditation. Appropriate prayer is: sincere, humble, and not for our own selfish gain. We pray for Higher Powers will and our willingness to act on it. Meditation is an ancient art of quieting the mind. You may find it difficult to sit quietly and relax or quiet your racing mind, but this becomes easier with continued practice.

Couples achieving some progress with this Step, may develop a greater sense of gratitude. You can expect to feel a sense of being connected, guided and sustained as you work together as a couple.

It is beneficial to spend daily intimate time together. You will find that intimacy with your partner depends not only on connecting emotionally, but also spiritually. As we develop more trust in our Higher Power we can become more vulnerable and find a deeper acceptance of each other. At this point you may want to revisit your spiritual quest in Step Three to review what you want to add or change.

If you have difficulty praying or lack experience with prayer and meditation, it is suggested that you use the Serenity Prayer:

God grant us the serenity

To accept the things we cannot change

Courage to change the things we can

And wisdom to know the difference

Heart-Line

God grant us the serenity

Serenity means that no longer recoiling from the past, no longer living in fear because of our present behavior, nor worrying about the future. To maintain serenity it is helpful to regularly seek healthier behaviors, and avoid depletion, which tends to make us vulnerable to despair and old, self-destructive patterns.

To accept the things we cannot change

Acceptance means acknowledging that there are situations over which we have no control. By changing our behavior we avoid suffering, occasioned by clinging to that which no longer exists.

Courage to change the things we can

Courage to Change– involves remembering that to give up attempts to control outcomes does not require that we give up our boundaries or best efforts. It does mean an honest appraisal of the limits, and abilities of what we can change.

And wisdom to know the difference

Wisdom in RCA often derives from painful experiences in which we tried to control situations that frightened us, only to discover that we could not. Wisdom is our ability to evaluate our past experiences, learn from them and let them go. Wisdom is critical in determining which are the things we can change, and which are those we can’t. Once you arrive at a degree of acceptance and begin to let go, you should find a new energy and enthusiasm for life.

We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it to our partner and to others we had harmed.

Step Ten is about continuing to take inventory of our coupleships by reviewing our behavior. A suggested way of taking this inventory is to ask: What has my partner done to help the coupleship, and what have I done to harm the coupleship? Also, What have we, as a couple, done to harm or help others? This can be done daily or weekly, privately or publicly. Much of our harmful behavior involves blaming our partner. A daily or weekly inventory tends to reverse the process of blaming. It also expresses what we like and appreciate in our partner. In first doing your Tenth Step, it may be helpful to write this inventory. By its nature Step Ten is an ongoing process, repeated daily or as often as necessary. The hope is that this new behavior will become familiar and automatic

Ongoing practice of Step Ten maintains our honesty and humility. If we become comfortable and start believing we dont need to continue practicing Step Ten or to regularly attend meetings; we tend to become irritable, short-tempered, think negatively, and relapse. Examples of relapse behavior might include avoidance, excessive working, spending, isolation, busyness, control, manipulation, withholding feelings, and difficulty with intimacy. Nothing stays the same in our life or coupleship. We are either growing or regressing.

In your ongoing Step Ten practice, we suggest the use of three types of ongoing inventories:

  1. Spot-check inventory (whenever agitated or fearful you might pause and spot-check your underlying motives).
  2. Daily inventory (What have I done that is harmful to our coupleship? What has my partner done to support our coupleship?).
  3. Long-term periodic inventory (perhaps an annual spiritual retreat focused on how your coupleship has grown [or otherwise], and your role and your partners role in this growth).

Although Step Ten is ongoing and never fully complete, having demonstrated willingness to fully understand and own your own role in the dance of the coupleship, you should be ready to move on to the spirituality of Step Eleven.

We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

This is another action step and requires a willingness to confront our issues. In order to avoid unintended harm, you may wish to review your proposed amends with your sponsor couple. For example, parents or children might be harmed by learning of compulsive behaviors. It takes courage to do this Step, good judgment, and a careful sense of timing

Many of us begin our Ninth Step with our children. Depending on their maturity, we discuss our unhealthy behaviors only when it is clear they will not be harmed. We make further amends to our children by respecting them as individuals, by maintaining our own recovery, by striving to be healthy and happy adults ourselves.

You are cautioned not to confuse apologies with amends. Sometimes apologies are called for, but apologies are not amends. Amends are made by repairing damage when possible, and then acting differently. For example, you could apologize ten times for being late to a meeting, but this does not “amend” the issue. Being on time and changing your behavior becomes your amends.

As you repair the damage done to others, you are “healing” your own coupleship. You will find satisfaction in knowing you are doing all you can to pay off emotional, material, moral and spiritual debts.

In preparation for the actual making of the amends we suggest you:

  1. Read the Safety Guidelines
  2. Devote time to prayer or meditation.
  3. Think about what you want to say
  4. Be clear–possibly writing out your amends
  5. Create a comfortable, safe setting

In making the actual amends we suggest you:

  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Express a desire and/or ask permission: “I (we) need to admit the harm I (we) have done and take responsibility for my (our) actions. I (we) would like to make amends to you. Are you OK to receive an amends?”

The form of your amends may be something like this:

“I (We) want to make an amends about ________. I (We) ask for your forgiveness. I (We) plan to change my (our) behavior by ________.”

In making amends, you will also need to make amends to yourself and your partner. How do you make amends to yourselves? You develop new attitudes that reflect a willingness to love and to forgive yourselves. The format for making an individual or coupleship amends may be similar to other amends, but you may want to use this suggested format:

“I want to make an amends to our coupleship about ________. I would like you to forgive me for all the words that were said out of fear (thoughtlessness, inconsideration, anger, immaturity, self-righteousness, selfishness, etc.) and out of my own confusion. I ask for your forgiveness. I plan to change my behavior by ________.”

As a result of doing our amends we are developing ourselves as persons within a healthy relationship. We ask our Higher Powers for the courage and wisdom to face each new challenge in our coupleship. We take responsibility for our mistakes and learn from our experiences.

The final three Steps are about practicing what we learned in the first nine Steps.

We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step 8 is about those peopleincluding ourselveswho have been harmed by our couple dysfunction, such as family members, children, friends, and fellow workers. In this Step, we continue to take our coupleship inventory. This Step helps us to interact with other people in new ways. This Step calls for changes in our behavior.

In Step 8 we need to determine the harm that we caused. What was the exact nature of this harm? It helps to categorize our wrongdoing into four groups:

Emotional Wrongs

  • Raging
  • Holding grudges
  • Withholding information
  • Giving our partner the silent treatment
  • Making shaming or blaming statements

Material Wrongs

  • Borrowing, spending, or withholding money selfishly
  • Cheating, or not abiding by terms of couple contracts
  • Disregarding others boundaries regarding personal things
  • Destroying or violating joint property

Moral Wrongs

  • Setting bad examples
  • Engaging in infidelity, broken promises, lying
  • Engaging in emotional, physical, sexual, or verbal abuse

Spiritual Wrongs

  • Neglecting obligations to ourselves, family, support group, or community
  • Avoiding self-development
  • Lacking gratitude
  • Neglecting our spiritual quest
  • Lacking humility
  • Being self-righteous
  • Preoccupying ourselves to the point of emotional unavailability

Now look at the facts and ask yourselves:

  1. What are your thoughts and feelings about the harm you have done?
  2. What are your fears about making amends?
  3. What causes your resistance to making amends?
  4. What consequences of your harmful behavior are you willing to accept?
  5. What ways do you plan to make amends?

Now you have a better idea about what dysfunctions existed in your coupleship. Make a list of people you have harmed including yourself.

Review your amends list with your sponsor couple. Now ask for guidance on how to make amends that will not hurt or injure others. When direct amends are not appropriate or possible, we suggest you devise alternative amends, such as praying for the well-being of those people, being kind and responsible to your partner and others, doing community service, or donating to a charity.

You become willing to make amends by admitting this harm to yourself, your partner, and others. As you become willing to look at your own behavior, you tend to become more tolerant and forgiving, less rigid and judgmental. Your viewpoints, attitudes and beliefs will begin to change as a result of your participation in this process.

Now you should be ready to move on to Step Nine.

 

We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

In Step 7, we need to form a working partnership with our Higher Power. We seek humility. Humility is defined in many ways including:

  • the ability to face reality;
  • knowing there is a Higher Power, and we, or our partner, are not it;
  • we dont think less of ourselves, but we think about ourselves less;
  • we are spiritually no better than, but no less than anyone or any other couple.

The real change happens as we let go of our false pride and work to change our in partnership with our higher power.

We frequently ask our Higher Power to remove our shortcomings. We know we cant change our old ways of doing things on our own, but in partnership with our Higher Power, we can. The more we work the RCA program, the more our shortcomings are relieved. Many of us found contracts to be a vital tool in overcoming these shortcomings by adding accountability (see contract section). We learn to avoid being hungry, angry, lonely and tired (HALT) as those states seem to make our shortcomings worse. At the very least, we avoid making crucial decisions while experiencing those states.

A suggested Seventh Step Prayer (or meditation topic):

I want to be more sensitive to my partner,

As sensitivity to my partner opens awareness of my innermost self.

Higher Power help me become more open and aware.

I need to see my own fear behind my shortcomings:

My tendency to be sarcastic and stubborn,

My tendency to blame and make my partner wrong,

My need to make my partner feel disrespected and less than.

Higher Power, help me find the courage to acknowledge my own shortcomings, 

instead of focusing on those of my partner.

I promise to try to use the coupleship tools I have learned

To stop interrupting my partner

To speak from I statements,

And to acknowledge the strengths my partner brings to our coupleship.

Higher Power teach me humility and remove my character defects

so that I may love more sincerely and completely.

Amen

We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character, communication and caring.

Step Six has a clear message get ready for some changes! The first three Steps showed us we couldnt change on our own, but where we could find the power needed to change. Then Step Four helped us recognize our defects. Step Five allowed us to get rid of much of our shame. With Step Six we become willing to have our Higher Powers remove these defects. We dont have to let go of behaviors. We just need willingness to allow our defects to be removed. The more we work the RCA program, the more willing we become.

Every recovering couple has dysfunctional patterns of behavior. These patterns typically occur at times of stress, over-extension, or depletion. Often these happen during an opportunity for intimacy. One or both partners elect to avoid closeness by going to their old patterns. Recovering couples need to recognize these patterns.

Warning signs that old patterns are resurfacing:

  1. Arguing repetitively
  2. Falling into frequent periods of denial
  3. Communicating non-productively
  4. Suffering extreme over-extension or depletion
  5. Making statements we do not mean
  6. Taking actions we regret
  7. Fighting about issues that are not important
  8. Stating you always, you never

Make these lists together and pick a time to talk when you are both feeling balanced. You are now ready. Enjoy the process. See the humor. Open up to healing in your coupleship. Always start by reading the Safety Guidelines aloud. Take your piece of paper and gather more information for your coupleship by answering the following questions:

  1. What are your dysfunctional patterns of relating?
  2. What are your dysfunctional patterns of communicating?
  3. What are your dysfunctional patterns of caring-taking?
  4. What are your dysfunctional patterns of nurturing each other?
  5. What are your dysfunctional patterns of being sexual?
  6. What are your dysfunctional patterns of fighting

If, as a couple, we don’t work on our relationship, similar issues will likely surface with subsequent partners. This means that we should practice couple recovery with our partner now. Our couple issues probably were the same in this relationship as they were in previous relationships.

We admitted to God, to each other, and to another couple the exact nature of our wrongs.

Most of us choose to share our Fifth Step with a sponsoring couple or other couples who have been in the RCA program long enough to have worked the Twelve Steps. It is also important to give this inventory to couples who seem to be living the program.

This process of doing the Fifth Step is a vehicle to self-acceptance. This may be difficult because of shame. However, this is your opportunity to have shame transformed into humility.

We suggest you begin with a moment of silence and then the Serenity Prayer followed by reading the Safety Guidelines. We encourage you to record your experiences in a journal and to get feedback from the sponsoring couple. We find sharing honestly and openly with other couples to be healing, because we realize our coupleship is accepted in spite of our dysfunctional behavior.

Step 5 frees us to begin anew.

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of our relationship together as a couple.

We suggest you look at the impact of your individual behavior on the coupleship. First you may share your individual inventories. Next you can complete your coupleship inventory. The goal of these inventories is to gain awareness of the extent of our dysfunction. We all need to be fearless in our inventories. When a couple is able to face their reality honestly, they can grow in their love. Here are some questions that may help you in your individual inventory.

  1. Unfinished Business: In what ways have I not raised things with my partner, letting those unfinished things build resentments?
  2. Hyper-vigilance: In what ways have I looked for things to go wrong?
  3. Self-Responsibility: In what ways have I failed to take responsibility for my actions?
  4. Comfort and Feelings: In what ways have I not shared uncomfortable feelings with my partner?
  5. Accuracy and Honesty: In what ways have I placated my partner or avoided sharing my own perceptions?
  6. Connection: In what ways have I not been available to my partner? In what ways have I sought to connect?
  7. Stress: In what ways have my over-extension and stress affected my partner?
  8. Separateness: In what ways have I developed a separate life from my partner?
  9. Personal Needs: In what ways has my partner needed to guess or been expected to know my needs? Have I clearly asked for these needs to be met?
  10. Shaming and Blaming: In what ways have I sought to shame or blame my partner?
  11. Pain Thresholds: In what ways have I tolerated emotional pain, that was unnecessary and caused distance from my partner?
  12. Choice Clarity: In what ways have I been unclear about my choices, leaving things undecided or up to my partner?

To complete your couple inventory, review together the following questions and record your answers on paper. Writing helps to organize your thoughts and beliefs. Please begin by reading aloud the Safety Guidelines.

Please answer the following questions as a couple:

  1. In what ways have we let fears or resentments interfere with our coupleship? How has that affected our intimacy?
  2. In what ways have we created crises when there weren’t any?
  3. In what ways have we fought that never accomplished anything?
  4. In what ways have we neglected our coupleship?
  5. In what ways have we avoided being intimate?
  6. In what ways have we pretended our problems did not exist?
  7. In what ways have we isolated from couples and friends who could have supported our coupleship?
  8. In what ways have we allowed ourselves to become depleted, leaving nothing to give each other?
  9. In what ways have we tolerated abuse?
  10. In what ways have we had losses (having never achieved financial goals, having children with problems, having dysfunctional sexual relationships, etc.)?
  11. In what ways have we grieved these losses?
  12. In what ways have we treasured our partner and the coupleship? What are our strengths as a couple?

Having a better understanding of how frequently our problems arose from within us rather than as a result of external hostile forces, many of us found it was very freeing to reveal our problems to other couplesoften our sponsor couples. Although sharing our problems was typically intimidating, the relief we found was enormous when our problems were disclosed and accepted by other couples. In many cases we found we were not unique in our problems although we believed so before Step Five.

We made a decision to turn our wills and our life together over to the care of God as we understood God.

Together two people in a committed relationship form a coupleship, a oneness, a distinct and separate entity. This coupleship has a life of its own and needs to be nurtured. Couple recovery depends on this nurturance. Each partner needs individual recovery such as meetings, sponsors, support groups, spirituality, recreation, vocation as well as individual interests. The coupleship needs these same elements for couple recovery.
Trust is a major issue for most couples, since almost all couples have had trust violated in the past. Just as Step Two focused on what we decided to trust together, Step Three focuses on how we decide to turn our coupleship over to our Higher Power.
Letting go of outcomes is especially helpful. Many of us feel compelled to control events believing that our happiness depends on resolutions favorable to us, only to find disappointment when the happiness we expect is only temporary or nonexistent. In spiritually centered coupleships, we simply do our best while leaving the outcome to our Higher Power.
Some couples find Higher Power Boxes helpful in visualizing relinquishing control. Coupleship problems are written down and placed in the box, symbolically turning them over to their Higher Power. Similarly, some couples make a ceremony of burning their problems or having the tide wash them away.
The practice of meditation and prayer, especially the serenity prayer, is the spiritual bulwark of most couples. Focusing on insight, courage, willingness and acceptance seems to be the key to letting go.
Becoming more integrated in an RCA group is a vital part of any Third Step. Sharing our fears and stories at the group and sponsor level is an emotional letting go. It also allows us to relate to others, breaking our sense of isolation and uniqueness. Participation in a meeting can lead to a change in perspective and a return to sanity. Letting go also means not going alone.
Before Step Three can be completed, many couples go on a spiritual quest. Spiritual quests vary widely, but could include:

  • Starting each day with thanksgiving
  • Reading spiritually significant literature together
  • Meditating
  • Going to a house of worship or other spiritually significant place
  • Going to recovery groups
  • Praying
  • Going on a spiritual retreat together

These quests could take days, months, or even years. Hopefully, a mutually acceptable statement of faith will emerge. You are encouraged to write down a quest agreement. This
could be in longhand or printed suitable for framing and witnessed by friends or your sponsors. This presents a truly warm, supportive and validating experience for all involved. Additionally, it is suggested that you chair an RCA step meeting, and share your experience, strength and hope with other couples.
Ultimately, Step Three involves turning our relationship over. Many couples find it important to do something significant, even formal, such as a rededication of couple vows in the presence of friends. This may occur anywhere: in a place of worship, or at an informal gathering such as a picnic or at home, to celebrate our spiritual renewal. You are invited to be creative and have a personally memorable event celebrating your increasing commitment to each other and to the relationship.
We recognize that we are on a spiritual path together. Placing our relationship in our Higher Powers hand would mean the end of power struggles and seeking to control. We make a decision. We surrender. This is the spiritual principle upon which Step Three stands.