How It Works

Adapted from the book Alcoholics Anonymous
© 1939, 1955, A.A. World Services, Inc.

Rarely have we seen a couple fail who have thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands mutual and rigorous honesty. There are those, too, who cannot or will not make a commitment to their partners. There are those who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.

At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas, and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.

Remember that we deal with addictions-cunning, baffling, powerful. We also deal with all those memories of past hurts, misbehavior, and vows violated. Without help our anger, hurt, and mistrust are too great for us. But there is one who has all power; that one is God. May you find God now. Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked God’s protection and care with complete abandon. Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery.

Rarely does a couple fail when they make a commitment to their partners and make an honest effort to apply themselves to the principles of RCA. We believe couple recovery begins when we take and accept the first step together. We define recovery as the ability to remain committed to the relationship. A relapse occurs when we question our commitment, refuse to take mutual responsibility for our problems, get into blaming or judging behavior, violate the saftey guidelines, and/or stop working the program together. If this happens, do not be discouraged. No couple in RCA maintains continous adherence to these principles. Our love is not perfect, our energy not unbounded, nor our relationsips ideal. There is no such thing as the ultimately caring and nurturning partner or perfect intimacy. The point is that we are willing to accept a Higher Power and nurture our relationship with a sense of hope and freedom. We strive for spiritual progress and for greater caring, communication, and intimacy. Our understanding of our compulsive behaviors and of our personal histories before and after recovery as individuals — and as couples — make clear three pertinent ideas:

  1. Our coupleship had become unmanageable — despite our best efforts we were headed for separation and/or divorce.
  2. Probably no human force could have resotred us to commitment and intimacy.
  3. God could and would if God were sought.

© 1991, 2011 by the World Service Organization for Recovering Couples Anonymous, Inc. All rights reserved.