Our common welfare should come first; couple recovery depends upon RCA unity.

As a fellowship we have seen that by working the Twelve Steps of the RCA program, our coupleships have grown in commitment and intimacy. The Twelve Traditions provide guidance and direction for the RCA fellowship. In order for the fellowship to flourish, the Twelve Traditions need to be understood and applied.

The Traditions are the glue and backbone of RCA itself. These Twelve Traditions come to us from the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and were adapted to the needs of our fellowship. We follow the Traditions to ensure the RCA fellowship will always be available for those couples who are recovering from addictions or dysfunctional behaviors that have affected their coupleships.

Many of us have found that doing service has helped to speed our healing process. We have a new sense of belonging when we learn to not isolate and to work with other couples.

Before recovery, many of us thought our own personal approach was the only correct one. However, we learned in our RCA groups to listen to our partner as well as other couples. We learned from other couples that partners have differing opinions and viewpoints. We became able to listen without judgment. We learned to share time with each other and not monopolize the group with “oh, ain’t it awful” stories. In our meetings, we learned to stay focused on the meeting topics. We learned to follow our Safety Guidelines and our group conscience process. Learning to respect the needs of the group taught us to respect the needs of our coupleship.

In addition to our own recovery, we have a responsibility to express ourselves to promote group unity. We have experience, strength and hope in our coupleships to share. We have histories that need to be heard which show we are not unique. As couples, we sometimes share just by listening and being present to hear other couples stories. However, if we consistently remain silent, it inhibits group unity.

Making newcomers feel welcome promotes RCA growth and unity. Some of the ways we have found helpful in making newcomers welcome are:

  • providing temporary sponsors,
  • giving out newcomer chips,
  • sharing how RCA has been helpful to us,
  • handing out newcomer packets with phone numbers of active members.
  • And of course, chatting informally with newcomers before and after the meeting.


For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority –  a loving God as known in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.

Locally, we have service or leadership positions such as secretaries or chairs, treasurers, group contact couples, or delegate couples. Nationally and internationally we may see people serving on the Board of Trustees of the World Service Organization, or on its committees.

Those are individuals and couples who are willing to devote time, work and dedication to the RCA Fellowship. These RCA members serve and direct our fellowship by following our group conscience. The positions do not give authority beyond the consent of the fellowship. Ultimate RCA authority is from the bottom up, not the top down.

Rotation of officers gives equal opportunity for service, and restricts dominance by any individual or couple. This rotation emphasizes group conscience rather the control by any individual. Following this Tradition emphasizes equality among all members, teaching us that equality is the cornerstone of our coupleships.

Even when there is difficulty in finding someone to take a leadership position, it is important not to allow an individual or couple to continue doing the work indefinitely simply because they are willing to do so. People who remain in leadership positions too long can begin to feel they’re indispensable, or conversely, feel put upon or used. Therefore, we search for and encourage couples and members to volunteer for positions. Service helps a couple experience growth in their coupleship.

The Second Tradition reminds us not to assume authority over a sponsee couple. Our purpose is not to give advice or impose a decision. Sponsor couples agree to share their own experience, strength and hope. They are fair witnesses helping sponsee couples see their own processes as well as providing a safe space to work on their issues and options.

Longtime RCA couples may be helpful in starting new groups. Their role should be to guide the development and structure of the meetings, but then encourage other couples to assume the leadership roles as they gain program knowledge and experience.

The group conscience is what governs the group, and we arrive at this conscience, by open discussion. We set limits on holding office. We share the workload. This Tradition protects and safeguards all of us and our group. When this tradition is followed a state of humility exists because the source of authority is our Higher Power.

The only requirement for RCA membership is a desire to remain in a committed relationship.

Tradition Three tells us who are eligible to be members of RCA. We are couples committed to restoring healthy communication, caring, and greater intimacy to our coupleships. We suffer from addictions, co-addictions, or other dysfunctions; some of these identified and some not, some treated and some not. We also come from many levels of brokenness. Many of us have been separated or near divorce. Some of us are new in our coupleships and seek to build intimacy as we grow together as couples. We may refuse no couple who wishes to recover.

Ultimately, we feel it is important for both partners to be involved in individual recovery for real progress to be made in our coupleships. However, individual recovery is not a requirement to get started in couple recovery. RCA is a safe place to begin the healing process, and it offers support for continued individual work.

Any two or more couples gathered together for restoring the commitment, communication and caring to their relationship may call themselves an RCA group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.

Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or RCA as a whole.

Each RCA group is autonomous and responsible to its own group conscience. However, we strive to conduct our work in the program according to the spiritual principles outlined in the Traditions. Following our Traditions safeguards our program, guiding us while not controlling us, allowing us to act independently but reminding us to be ever mindful of our group as part of the larger fellowship.

RCA is less a top-down organization than a bottom-up fellowship made up of couples in recovery. But when our plans concern the welfare of neighboring groups, those groups ought to be consulted. No group, regional committee, couple or individual should ever take any action that might affect RCA as a whole without conferring with World Service Board. On such issues our common welfare must be paramount.

Each group is responsible to conduct itself in a way that is good for the fellowship as a whole. The RCA Blue Book has Safety Guidelines and a suggested meeting format in it to explain how to conduct meetings. Each group is free to choose its own meeting program and topics for discussion; to decide where and when it shall meet and how the funds will be apportioned.

We all strive to carry a unified message to the couples who are still suffering. To do this, it is RCAs intention to be open to all sincere couples; to use conference approved literature; and to provide a safe place for the sharing of our pain and hope. To check how well we are doing this, it is suggested each meeting regularly take its own inventory. Further, it suggested that local groups conduct periodic business meetings where discussion at length may be indicated. Minority opinions are to be aired and taken into consideration. Each RCA group is responsible to take the time to know the Traditions and understand why they are important to the Fellowship.

Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message to recovering couples who still suffer.

Tradition Five suggests that we will best be able to help other couples who are still suffering when we first help ourselves practice the Twelve Steps. The Twelve Steps give us the guidance we need to:

  • share our own experience, strength and hope with other couples,
  • give comfort to other couples, and
  • listen to other couples.

Each Recovering Couples Anonymous group ought to be a spiritual entity having but one primary purpose – that of carrying its message of intimacy and commitment to couples who still suffer.

Many couples come to RCA not knowing if they belong. Some may not even be aware that anything is wrong with their coupleship. In RCA we have the “Characteristics of Dysfunctional Couples,” which is a list to help couples identify problem areas in their coupleships. Couples do not have to relate to all of these to admit their coupleships are suffering or to seek help or guidance. The identification of such characteristics serves to let us know that “we are not alone” in our struggle to find intimacy.

RCA believes that a coupleship is like an infant, needing constant nurturing and care from both partners. It is important that each partner accepts responsibility for the problems or progress of the coupleship, and that each recognizes individual recovery as an important factor for couple recovery. In RCA we think of coupleship as being represented by a three-legged stool: our individual recovery, our partner’s recovery, and our coupleship recovery are all important “legs” to the serenity, stability, and intimacy we seek.

When we welcome newcomer couples to our fellowship, we share our experience, strength and hope. We offer spiritual support and the opportunity to connect with other couples, typically through sponsorship, meetings, and RCA social events. We provide RCA-approved literature, the Blue Book, the newcomer brochure, and where possible a listing of meetings in the area and local phone numbers. Tradition Five reflects that in order to “get the program,” we must “give it away!”

RCA ought never endorse, finance, or lend the RCA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.

The purpose of RCA is to carry its message to recovering couples who still suffer. Tradition Six is an elaboration on the many possible ways a group might not stick to its primary purpose as well as, a reflection on how to avoid actions which could lead to disunity. It establishes boundaries for our fellowship, much as we set personal boundaries.

Problems of money, property and authority may easily divert us from our primary aim. Therefore, significant property, should be separately incorporated and managed,.

An RCA group, as such, should never go into business, but we need to cooperate with many other entities that have similar or supportive aims. Without this cooperation we could not let couples that suffer know of our existence and our program. But while an RCA group may cooperate with anyone, such cooperation ought never go so far as affiliation or endorsement, actual or implied. Adjuncts to RCA, such as clubs, therapists, couples counseling entities, ought to be separately incorporated and so set apart that, if necessary, they can be freely discarded by the groups. They should not use the RCA name. Their management should be the sole responsibility of those people who financially support them.

An RCA group can bind itself to no one. It has been our experience that outside organizations are attracted to RCA. They send members to us. RCA has a common bond with other 12-step programs such as AA–that of recovery, but even though we have similar aims, we should not affiliate with them.

When we adhere to the principles of Tradition Six we are able to carry the message and interact with others, knowing that we will not compromise our purpose. Some of the principles that help us observe Tradition Six include humility, integrity, faith, harmony, and anonymity.

Every RCA group should be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.

The principle is simple–being self-supporting is a tremendous source of strength and self-respect. This Tradition places the responsibility for supporting our group on our own shoulders. We do not accept outside contributions. We do not sell our independence. We do not owe anyone favors. We do not give anyone special treatment. As a fellowship we are responsible for our own financial survival, just as a couple or an individual we are responsible for our progress in recovery.

This tradition should govern the actions of the World Service Organization and WSO office just as it includes the individual groups in Recovering Couples Anonymous. We do not solicit funds outside our fellowship. We do not use the RCA name in connection with any allied enterprise. We believe that accepting gifts or contributions carrying any obligations is unwise. Joint ventures with outside organizations or individuals always contain downside obligations. They should be rigorously avoided.

In keeping with Tradition Seven, the membership supports the World Service Organization by group contributions, by individual donations, and the sale of approved literature and other materials from WSO. Although there are no dues or fees for membership, voluntary contributions are typically collected when each meeting “practices the Seventh Tradition” and a basket is passed.

It is a tradition of RCA to not accumulate funds in excess of that needed for basic RCA functions. If excess money were accumulated, problems could arise diverting us from our primary purpose. Funds beyond normal operating expenses and a prudent reserve should be forwarded to the WSO office. WSO should always invest in the RCA fellowship.

Recovering Couples Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

Tradition Eight provides guidance for our trusted servants as well as to RCA members who may be in the helping professions, such as counselors, therapists, clergy, physicians, social workers, and other professionals. Sharing at meetings should be about personal couple recovery. No one should participate in a professional capacity or as a therapist. We help each other as equals. Our work with others is done to further our own spiritual growth – not for money or from any position of superiority. RCA committee and subcommittee work is unpaid 12-Step service work.

Service workers may be contracted to do work in our service centers. These paid service positions are not limited to those in the RCA fellowship as they normally do not involve 12-Step work. 12-Step work should never be compensated.

RCA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.

RCA, like AA, is a fellowship where the power resides in the fellowship, and not the officials. The officials are just trusted servants. Some of the positions may be called secretary, chair, vice-chair, trustee, facilitator, treasurer, literature person, sponsor, or group contact couple. These positions should rotate on a regular basis so that all couples involved have a chance to share responsibility. No couple directs and no couple controls the other couples.

The spirit of RCA is service. All couples are invited to volunteer their services. All local groups are encouraged to have group contact couples who facilitate communication between the groups and the board of trustees. Our WSO Board of Trustees is directly responsible to the fellowship of RCA. The WSO office is directly responsible to the WSO Board of Trustees, providing literature and information to the fellowship as well as the general public. “Hand in Hand”  is the official publication of RCA and is generally issued quarterly.

 Recovering Couples Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues: hence the RCA name ought never to be drawn into public controversy.

An RCA group should not express any opinion on outside issues, nor should couples, if they are speaking for RCA. The Recovering Couples Anonymous groups neither endorse nor oppose other organizations or their causes, particularly those concerned with controversies, politics, addiction reform, sectarian religion, or particular therapy programs. RCA couples come from all walks of life and hold diverse opinions; little binds us together except our primary purpose—to carry RCAs message to recovering couples who still suffer. If we focus on other issues, either inside or outside the group meeting, we run the risk of alienating other RCA couples or other allies in recovery and possibly shattering the fellowship.