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Old 12-20-2012, 09:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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in love with a recovering alcoholic

Hello SR!

My name is Lauren, and I am in love with a man who struggles with alcoholism.

Here's the deal: Save the bottle of wine we shared on our first date, I have not seen him drink during our four months together. He's been open with me about his alcohol problem from the beginning... well, after that bottle of wine. We spend a lot of time talking about it. We talk about his history, what he wants, what he expects, how I can and cannot help... the whole nine yards.

He spent most of his college career binge drinking, and a year in Ireland doing likewise. In between the two he was sober for an entire year. He's done the AA thing, and his undergraduate advisors coerced him into a year of counseling. He relapsed while in Ireland after a lot of pressure from friends and his now ex-girlfriend. They gave him the old song and dance: "you don't have to quit entirely... you just have to quit drinking a lot." But as so many of us know or have heard from those that do: one drink is too many and one-hundred drinks are not enough.

He told me that I am the first person in his life (outside of his family) who knows of his problem and actively encourages him not to drink, not even one sip. The question is: should I? Should I quit drinking altogether now that I am with him? And not only with him... but seriously in love with him.

He asked his last gf to give up drinking and it ruined their relationship. So from the beginning he's told me to just do what I'd normally do. The truth of the matter is that what I normally do is not much. I'll have a beer if someone offers or a glass of wine/whiskey...but I am rarely drunk. My friends (now his friends too) do not drink all that much either. Again, the occasional glass of wine but that's about it.

The whole thing is confusing, because he doesn't want me to change because of him but he also is uncomfortable when he's around alcohol (understandably). I try to minimize my drinking as much as possible when he's around, but it feels like one of those damned if I do damned if I don't situations. Typically speaking, he is great about everything... or he tries to be. He is really open and honest about how he's feeling, for example, and is patient with my complete ignorance w/r/t alcoholism.

Love is horrifying enough as it is...but loving a recovering alcoholic feels particularly tricky. I don't know when or if I'm being naive. I don't know how to honestly assess the risk of loving him, with all of this extra baggage.

Anyway, there are a lot of questions in this post...but I don't know how to ask them directly. I'd love to hear any and all feedback.

Sincerely,
-L
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Old 12-20-2012, 09:33 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I can only share my experience. My AB did not want me to be different because of him, would even buy my drink if we were out with others. Told me he was fine with that. But also admitted he struggled being around alcohol, would avoid certain functions. Left me confused.

I have learned that I have to always make sure I'm not totally focused on him, that his recovery is his responsibility. But I also looked at my own relationship with alcohol, how much does it really matter in my life? For me, it doesn't. So in order to support his sobriety, I made the personal decision to stop drinking. The key was letting him know it was my decision, and then never making an issue of it. I found that when we are out together, it makes us stronger as a couple to have a great time sans alcohol. No one has ever questioned why we're not drinking. Of course, we're vegetarians, so friends already think we're strange! I think when alcoholics have a lot of sober time under their belt, it may get easier, but when it's still early and a struggle...the less exposure the better.

Just my opinion based on my experience. But you have to do what is right for you. Otherwise, it will be like his ex. If you do it only for him, resentment can grow, and it won't work in the end.

I wish you the very best. You will get a lot of great support on this site.
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Old 12-21-2012, 12:15 AM   #3 (permalink)
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My wife is a recovering alcoholic. We were friends for a couple years before I knew that. We used to do happy hours and we'd hang out at the bar when traveling.

First we found out she was an alcoholic stage 4 who was amazingly functional... Didn't grasp it until she spent weeks in a hospital.... We didn't understand it. After she was dry for a few months she figured she could drink like a "normal" person. She figured she was safe if I was with her. We had a bottle of wine over dinner - down from our prior cocktails followed by wine and drinks after dinner... That went ok. Then we did the same thing a week later and she wound up on a downward spiral.

She Got "into recovery" about a year ago. She had two lapses in September but did not get " drunk" - I missed it. That seems like no biggy but she was quite pregnant. After that she really started recovery - she committed to AA rather than just showing up.

So, I'm in your shoes. At first she told me to go ahead but eventually confessed that it made it hard. Watching me drink was like Edward watching Bella.

She later confessed that she feels guilty about the impact her disease (it isvavdisease, not a character defect) has on me and doesn't want me to suffer because she can't drink.

So I don't drink around my wife. We don't keep it in the house and we don't go to parties or bars. Our social group is mainly recovering alcoholics but that's not a big sacrifice.

So it is something to think about. There may come a time when it doesn't bother him but he may need to stay clear of it forever in order to stay sober. It clicked in my head when my wife and I moved in together. She is one of those people who can eat cookies and candy and still have a perfect figure, shoot -she just had a baby without getting a stretch mark (yeah, I know ladies....Bitch!). Well, obesity runs in my family. Actually it waddles in my family. I'm the only thing that ever ran in my family and I have to limit junk food to one free day per week even though it's typical for me to bicycle around 5000 miles in a year. It... What's the term? It bugged the crap out of me and I pleaded with her not to bring that crap home because I will eat it! So I see having a drink while she sips diet sprite like her eating a nice gooey brownie while I munch my apple... Don't want to kill her fun but I'd rather have acsixpack and love handles, not a keg and armrests and she wants me healthy so she abstains in front of me.

If you enjoy being able to go out with your sig other and drink or you really love wine like I do then it's something to consider. In my case, no drink in the world could taste good enough or give me more joy than looking at my wife laying next to me right now sleeping with the baby nestled against her knowing that she is recovering.

If she drinks, she goes to a rehab center or she leaves, period.n living with an alcoholic who won't work to remain sober is not something I could stand. I would give my life for her, I just wont watch her kill herself.

You are the only one who can judge whether he's worth giving up alcohol arOund him. If he asked his ex and asked you but did not want you to suffer because of him I'm willing to bet it would be hard and he really needs his partner to help him by not waving it in front of him.

FWIW - he sounds like he is considerate and serious about sobriety, the only bad thing I heard was that he drank on your first date. Alcoholics who fail at recovery convince themselves they can drink like a normal person. Diabetics don't think they can eat candy like a normal person ...same deal but addiction impacts the mind.

Welcome, keep reading and keep visiting. It's good that you are concerned and want to help. Just remember that only he can do it, you can be supportive and you can abstain or drink but his sobriety is up to him. If he's said that watching you drink is hard, believe him. That's a good sign.
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Old 12-21-2012, 02:31 AM   #4 (permalink)
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My RAH said the same when we got together - he didn't mind if I had a drink but he wouldn't put up with me being intoxicated.

This was a change for me. I was never an at home drinker but I did go for drinks with friends and co-workers at least twice a week. That stopped. It was weird at first because it was such a routine, relaxing and fun. I realized that all too often I did drive when I shoudn't have - not drunk but certainly buzzed and DUI material. I consider myself lucky for not getting one.

Over time I changed my interests. RAH and I started a business outside of my regular job. We started doing things that filled the routine. I would have cocktails every once in a while at dinner - I turned into a cheap date really affected by one drink.

Then he relapsed this past summer. I am not sure if I will ever drink in front of him again but as for now NO. I don't miss it one bit - though there wasn't much to miss I had basically stopped drinking anyway.

We do have dinner with friends who drink but its just a glass or two. This doesn't bother him - I do think it would be very, very difficult for him to be with me if I was a drinker in fact he would either join the party or leave permanently.
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