I was married to a physician turned alcoholic in my first marriage, and toward the end of that 11-year-union, I learned to apply the slogans of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to cope with my everyday challenges.
But AA slogans shouldn’t be confined to only problems in alcoholic relationships. When I entered a stepfamily upon marrying the second time, I quickly recognized the value of the AA slogans in stepfamily relationships.
Here are a few examples of AA slogans and how to use them to create stronger stepfamily relationships:
1) Let go and let God
In the beginning of our marriage,we encountered countless problems in our stepfamily that were beyond my power to fix. I spent wasted time trying to control the situation or find a solution. When I learned to let go and let God be in control, I found the peace I’d been searching for. Solutions to our challenges didn’t surface quickly, but I knew God’s solutions would always be better than mine.
2) Let it begin with me and Be part of the solution, not the problem
As the adult, we need to step up and be the example for forgiveness, kindness, patience, and goodness toward our stepchildren. When they see us model this behavior, they are more likely to extend the same type of behavior toward us.
It’s also our responsibility to work toward a solution. I often see stepparents ruminating over their problems with others instead of seeking solutions. We become what we focus on – will you choose to focus on the problem or a solution?
3) How important is it?
It’s easy to escalate small issues into big boulders. I clearly remember a conflict ten years ago that I created. I insisted that all our children should attend my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. My stepdaughter, who was living with her mom at the time and had a strained relationship with me, didn’t want to go. I was angry when my husband couldn’t force her to be there and I made a big deal out of it, creating further conflict with my husband.
Fast forward ten years. My parents are celebrating their 60th annivesary next month. My stepdaughter and I have mended our ways and she wants to participate in the celebration! Many of the battles we deem important enough to fight will work themselves out over time.
4) One day at a time
“Building trust takes time, change takes time, healing old wounds takes time; there are no immediate ready-made solutions. This day is all I have to work with, and it is all I need. If I am tempted to worry about tomorrow’s concerns, I will gently bring my mind back to today.” (Courage to Change: One Day at a Time in Al-Anon)
Living one day at a time allows us to focus on the problems at hand, letting go of the problems of yesterday, and trusting God with the problems of tomorrow.
5) Keep an open mind
Stepfamily relationships evolve over time. Sometimes they get worse before they get better. But if we keep an open mind to different solutions when current ones aren’t working and remain flexible as we encounter change, we will have a better chance at long-term success in our relationships. It’s also important to stay united with our spouse, keeping open to their thoughts and ideas on what is happening in our home.
Other slogans of AA that can be applied to the stepfamily journey also include: Easy does it, first things first, just for today, keep it simple, listen and learn, live and let live, and think. If you’re interested in learning more about their slogans you can go here. I find Al-Anon resources (for families of alcoholics) helpful also.
I love AA slogans and can find ways to apply them every day. Do you agree?
How will you use an AA slogan to create stronger relationships in your stepfamily or have you applied one already? Will you share it with us?