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 that spiritual awakenings are seldom sudden occurrences, but more generally gradual shifts in perspective. These spiritual awakenings often take place 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 be able to 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 other 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 we carry the message in many ways including:

  • Sharing as a couple in RCA meetings
  • Seeking and accepting service positions
  • Being sponsors and temporary sponsors
  • 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 about RCA to people who have “couple issues”
    • by informing the helping community (spiritual, medical, legal, and counseling)
    • by making a schedule of RCA meetings available
  • Supporting the national convention through participation, voting as a group delegate couple, and making financial contributions
  • Serving on the World Service Organization (WSO) Board of Trustees, or on a WSO Service Committee, or volunteering
  • 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 that Step work is meant for a lifetime. As we practice these Steps we have a better understanding of our history, our lives, our coupleship,
and our Higher Power. 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 knowledge of our Higher Power ’s will for us and for willingness to act on it. Meditation is an ancient art of quieting the mind. Some of us find it difficult to sit quietly and relax or quiet our racing mind, but this becomes easier with continued practice.Couples achieving some progress with this Step may develop a greater sense of gratitude. Many of us feel a sense of being connected, guided, and sustained as we work together as a couple.

It is beneficial to spend daily intimate time together. We find that intimacy with our 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


God grant us the serenity

Serenity  means no longer recoiling from the past, no longer living in fear because of our present behavior, nor worrying about the future. To maintain serenity, we regularly seek healthier behaviors. We try to 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 the suffering that comes from clinging to that which no longer exists.

Courage to change the things we can

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

And wisdom to know the difference

Wisdom in RCA often comes 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 things we can change and which we can’t. Once we arrive at a degree of acceptance and begin to let go, we 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 coupleship 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 the Tenth Step, it may be helpful to write this inventory. By its nature Step Ten is an ongoing process, repeated 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 don’t need to continue practicing Step Ten or regularly attending meetings, we tend
to become irritable and short-tempered, think negatively, and may relapse. Examples of relapse behavior might include avoidance, excessive working, compulsive 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.

RCA suggests three types of ongoing inventories:

  1. Spot-check inventory: Whenever agitated or fearful, you might pause and spot-check your underlying motives.
  2. Daily or weekly 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 not), and your role and your partner’s role in this growth.

Step Ten is ongoing and never fully completed. However, having demonstrated a willingness to fully understand our own role in the dance of the coupleship, we 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. This Step takes courage, 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, and by striving to be healthy and happy adults ourselves.

We caution you 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, we can apologize ten times for being late to a meeting, but this does not “amend” the issue. Being on time and changing our behavior becomes our amends.

As we repair the damage done to others, we are healing our own coupleship. We find satisfaction in knowing we are doing all we can to pay off emotional, material, moral, and spiritual debts.

In preparation for the actual making of the amends we suggest that 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 that 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 willing to receive an amends?”

The form of our 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, we also need to make amends to ourselves and our partner. How do we make amends to ourselves? We develop new attitudes that reflect a willingness to love and forgive ourselves. 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 Power 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 Eight is about those people—including ourselves—who have been harmed by our couple dysfunction, such as family members, children, friends, and co-workers. In this Step, we continue to take our coupleship inventory. This Step helps us to interact with other people in new ways. It calls for changes in our behavior.

In Step Eight we need to determine the harm that we have caused. What is the exact nature of this harm? It helps to categorize our wrongdoing into the following 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 we suggest that you 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 are the ways you plan to make amends?

Now that you have a better idea how your coupleship dysfunction has affected yourselves and others, make a list of people you have harmed, including yourselves. Review your amends list with your sponsor couple. Now ask for guidance on how to make amends that will not hurt 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.

We become willing to make amends to our partner, our-selves, and others by admitting the harm we have done. As we become willing to look at our own behavior, we tend to become more tolerant and
forgiving, less rigid and judgmental. Our viewpoints, attitudes, and beliefs will begin to change as a result of our participation in this process. Now we should be ready to move on to Step Nine.


We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

In Step Seven, 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; not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking about
ourselves less; being 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 in partnership with our Higher Power.

We frequently ask our Higher Power to remove our shortcomings. We know we can’t 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 information
in Appendix) . We learn to avoid being too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired (HALT), as these states seem to make our shortcomings worse. At the very least, we avoid making crucial decisions while experiencing these 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.

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 couldn’t change on our own, but that 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 Power remove these defects. We don’t 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.

Here are some warning signs that old patterns are resurfacing:
  • Arguing repetitively
  • Falling into frequent periods of denial
  • Communicating non-productively
  • Suffering extreme over-extension or depletion
  • Making statements we do not really mean
  • Taking actions we regret
  • Fighting about issues that are not important
  • Stating “You always. . .” or “You never. . .

We suggest listing your dysfunctional patterns. 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 caretaking?
  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 in this relationship are probably the same 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 another couple who has been in the RCA program long enough to have worked the Twelve Steps. It is also important to share this inventory with a couple who seems 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 Five frees us to begin anew.

(For information on sponsors and what to do if sponsors who have worked the Steps are not available, see the section on sponsorship in Chapter IV)
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 failed to raise issues with my partner, letting those unresolved issues 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 to each other?
  9. In what ways have we tolerated abuse?
  10. In what ways have we had losses (never having achieved financial goals, having children with problems, having a dysfunctional sexual relationship, 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 gained a better understanding in Step Four of how frequently our problems arose from within us rather than as a result of external hostile forces, many of us found it very freeing to reveal our
problems to another couple—often our sponsor couple. Although sharing our problems was often intimidating, the relief we felt was enormous when we found that we were accepted. While we may have believed that we were unique in our problems before taking Step Five, we often learned that the couple with whom we shared our inventory had experienced many of the same issues.
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, sponsorship, support groups, spirituality, recreation, vocation, and 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 to visualize relinquishing control. Couples write their relationship problems down and place them 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.” Many couples go on a “spiritual quest” as part of their Third Step. Spiritual quests vary widely, but could include the
  • 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. We hope that your own spiritual outlook as a couple will be deepened. We encourage you to write down a quest agreement. This could be in
longhand or printed suitable for framing and witnessed by friends or your sponsors. This is a truly warm, supportive, and validating experience for all involved. Additionally, we suggest 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 of us find it important to do something significant, even formal, to celebrate our spiritual renewal, such as a re-dedication of couple vows in the presence of friends. This may occur anywhere: in a place of worship, at an informal gathering such as a picnic, or at home. We invite you 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 Power’s hands 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 rests.