Partner's Workshop: Stage Four; Lesson One

Health Monitoring

Health monitoring for partners is a series of progressive awareness activities to facilitate stability in not only your own healing, but to develop confidence in monitoring your partner's health as well. These skills take several months to develop, but once mastered, they should serve as an effective internalized monitoring system to identify those times when either you or your partner may be losing focus and/or balance.

There are three parts to effective health monitoring for partners: daily monitoring, weekly monitoring and partner monitoring. Developing these tools will begin mechanically, but with the ultimate goal of creating an internalized awareness that runs 24/7 — much like how you monitor your body temperature. The great majority of time, your body temperature is within your comfort zone and so, you pay it little attention. But then you become either too hot or too cold and that awareness shifts from your subconscious to your conscious — thus requiring action to regulate the temperature crisis. The same process needs to be developed to help you regulate your emotional health.

Defining Emotional Health

An awful lot has been said about emotions to this point in the workshop, yet what exactly constitutes 'emotional health' has not been clearly defined. Let's do that now. When we refer to emotional health, we are not just talking about your ability to recognize and manage emotions, we are talking about your ability to derive emotional fulfillment from the life that you lead. Establishing an emotionally healthy life is to learn how to derive meaning from the pleasure and the pain of what you experience. We are talking about being able to recognize when you have experienced emotions outside of your comfort zone and thus, recognize the need for action. It is learning that all emotions have limits and that only two — terror & rage — can be so extreme as to potentially override conscious choice. And of them, only one — the experience of terror — is beyond your control. That every other emotion may influence your perceptions, decisions and actions — but they do not dictate them.

Emotional Immaturity vs Emotional Volatility

We already know about the emotional immaturity inherent in those with addictions. As a partner, your biggest threat is not immaturity, it is emotional volatility. Volatility triggered by the perception that you are helpless to change anything that your partner has already done to you or your relationship and perpetuated by the helplessness of what they continue to do. There is a legitimate argument to be made that emotional volatility is a natural, even healthy response to such discovery. But there is another argument, just as legitimate, that the sooner you are able to identify this volatility and embrace the responsibility for managing it — the healthier your healing process will be. Note though, that 'managing it' is linked to what is in YOUR best interest, not your partner's.

There is a concept in psychology called 'external locus of control'. It refers to one's propensity to assign responsibility over their life to external sources. For partner's, this is almost inevitable soon after the discovery as the source of the current crisis can be directly related to behavior that was perpetrated by another — beyond your knowledge or control. Health monitoring will seek to guide you from such an external locus of control — where emotional volatility reigns — to a more peaceful, stable internal control.

Monitoring Your Partner

In lesson four of this developmental stage, you will be taught how to monitor your partner's health. Note that this refers to his health, not his recovery. In only the rarest of situations should you take any responsibility for managing or even monitoring your partner's recovery. Monitoring his health, a necessity in all healthy relationships.

Exercise Twenty-Five

1. Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the Health Monitoring area of the Partner's Manager.

2. Prior to the discovery of your partner's addiction, how did you two monitor each other's relative health relating to fulfillment, stability, balance, etc.

3. What objective signs would you look for in identifying when your life is not being managed well?

4. What objective signs would you look for in identifying when your partner's life is not being managed well?

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