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Old 11-28-2005, 04:30 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I quit, wife still drinks, any advice?

Hello friends at SR.

I’m seeking a bit of advice and insight into a problem that I’m sure many have encountered. I will gladly and openly listen to any viewpoints. My wife is an alcoholic and seriously needs help. Not just for her own health, but for her own safety, ability to do her job as a nurse properly and to keep our marriage afloat. She will not listen to input from me or her sisters. She states the drunkards credo: “I am what I am and I like it and I don’t need help”. We have been married for over 22 years, we have no children. How dare I, a retired drunkard myself, try to request that my wife stops drinking also? We have been having relationship problems and I insisted that we attend marriage counseling. At the first session, the counselor told us that we both needed to quit drinking (I knew that was coming). I quit drinking the day before counseling, but now my wife won’t go back to counseling because she claims we’re going to “gang up on her”.

I feel helpless with my marriage. She drives drunk almost daily. I am concerned that her drinking might be effecting the care she gives her patients (she is a RN in an Oncology unit). I love her dearly and hope we can fix our marriage. Because I’m not drinking, she stays away from home and hangs out with her drunkard girlfriends. When she is sober, we have wonderful conversations. She emails me and calls me from work to tell me she loves me and to apologize for her behaviors from the night before, but when she gets home at night, and starts drinking, she is a completely different woman. Once drunk, there is no chance for love, romance, pleasant conversation or physical contact. I have never cheated or swayed. I truly do love her, but so much has left from our relationship. I’m sure that my drinking past has enabled her. I didn’t make her start, but I realize I may be partly responsible. There have never been any situations of violence, hitting, or physical abuse. Sure, there may have been lots of arguing in the past, but now I use techniques and philosophies I learned from Al-Anon. I am more calm, I treat my wife with dignity and respect. Yet, her getting drunk every night is tough for me to witness. Not just because she and her friends drink in front of me, but because after drinking she gets mean and venomous towards me. Recently she has asked to read some of my AA info and started tracking her drinking and even wrote out some goals for herself. But after a week of that, it’s back to the old habits again.

I don’t know if the possibility of divorce will bring her to grips with this problem or not. I realize that if I do use this as a “threat”, I must be prepared to follow through on it. I love her so much, yet I don’t know how long I can, or want to endure this. Let me clearly say that I am no saint myself. I had been a heavy drinker for 26 years. I joined SR in early November of ‘05. I stopped drinking on my own accord. I haven’t had a drop in almost 60 days and I have full intention of sticking with the program for life. I feel so much better and I am too afraid to ever drink again. It’s not easy, but all I have to do is remind myself of how miserable I would become again if I drank and that helps me to control my urges.

My goal and wish is to continue to work on my marriage and rebuild a happy, sober friendship. I am willing to do whatever is within my power to do this. I have been attending Al-Anon meetings and have openly accepted their principals and philosophies. I am willing to accept “what is”, but I do have some questions.

#1) By accepting the fact that my wife is an alcoholic, does that mean I must accept and live under these conditions?

#2) By “accepting”, does that mean I shouldn’t share my concerns with her or ask her to consider change or face ramifications?

#3) At what point does one decide that they must part ways?

#4) I realize that so often it is the alcohol or the disease talking, and I understand that I must be patient, loving, supportive and accepting, but for how long and at what price?

#5) Am I being too inflexible and should I be more patient?

#6) How could I be a better husband?

Any feedback, words of experience or advice would be greatly appreciated. Everyone at SR has been wonderful and helpful. Thanks in advance for any words of wisdom you can pass along to me. Mrakaronni.

Remember; the two most abundant elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity,,, let’s try to better develop more of the first one.
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Old 11-28-2005, 05:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Mrakaronni,

Accepting your powerlessness over alcohol or the alcoholic in no way implies that you need to tolerate abuse. I say this to woman and to men. In my household when I began recovery it was pretty ugly. Grown alcoholic child and husband both acting abusive toward each other and to me. And I gave back as good as I got. I soon learned after beginning Al Anon that I did not have to tolerate abuse (verbal, mind you) and began to leave the house whenever things heated up. I would go to a meeting or the library or just for a ride. I kept my books in my car and my keys and cash handy and walked out...every time. Every time. My husband (24 years) still comments on it. It got to where he knew if he raised his voice he would be talking to the back of my head as I was slamming the door behind me. It was pretty hard for him to fight with no one.

Someone has to be the one to step up and stop the cycle and since you are the one who see's it that can be you. I emotionally stepped away from my relationship while I worked on me. As I got better it really didn't matter any more if Ward came along for the ride or not. All I knew is that I was not going to live that way anymore. He stayed, our relationship not only survived...it thrived. But it easily could have gone the other way. The most important thing for you to know is the only one you can change is you. She may come along and she may not but you are not going to save her by climbing down in that hole with her. Work on you and the rest will fall into place.
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Old 11-28-2005, 05:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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#1 No.
#2 No.
#3 When you're sick of it.
#4 That is a personal decision. When you are either a)sick of it -or- b) see it isn't going to change then you make your decision.
#5 From my perspective, a hard drinker to sober for 60 days isn't in a position to tell me anything. Not to say that you aren't entitled to being treated with dignity and respect but, truthfully, you have some concerns to work through first before you become Einstein in this situation. JMHO
#6 You can be a better husband when you take care of yourself physically and mentally, and achieve a level where you can give more than you take.

I am married to a dry drunk for 7 years, now one year into recovery. Even with AA, his behaviors took months to begin to change. My thoughts are that you are more interested in *her* behavior than you are interested in what makes you tick. I also would add that, even when a person stops drinking, it doesn't mean that the underlying personality characteristics change immediately. It could very well be that she sees your newfound "Lenten experience" as one that is designed to make her look bad -- regardless of the intention. I would suggest that you question your own motives -- are they manipulative or truly altruistic?

Please know that I applaud your efforts and in no way are suggesting that you are anything less than above board. I am simply suggesting that her perception of your newfound freedom may be different than the way you are viewing your "new you."

Good luck!
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Old 11-28-2005, 09:01 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for the honest feedback.

Dear Beautiful.

Thank you for reading my long post, and spending your valuable time to write me such thought provoking advice. I agree with you on many levels. You have no idea who I am, what my background or personality is, or what my motivations are. All you are able to do is interpret who I am from my written words. And because you don’t know me or have any preconceived prejudices about me, I think that allows you to give me the most honest, unbiased feedback. I am at fault for not giving enough credit to my wife in my first post. We do have many wonderful times together. She is smart, witty, well educated, and stunning. I am a lucky man to have her as my partner. As an alcoholic, I am aware of what happens when one starts drinking, you don’t know how many it will be before you stop or pass out. You don’t know who may have to deal with the wrath. I wouldn’t be asking these questions if my intentions weren’t honorable. I am lucky to have family members who care and support us. My Father-In-Law is a Lutheran Minister, so my wife has a strong religious and spiritual value system. I know from my own personal experience how this disease can sink it’s roots deeply into the body and the mind. Al-Anon has been an invaluable program for me. I am truly amazed at the amount of progress we have made and the knowledge that has been opened up to me. Yet I am at a point of frustration. Your closing statement of: “I am simply suggesting that her perception of your newfound freedom may be different than the way you are viewing your "new you." will give me much food for thought. That statement alone makes me realize I need to express more patience. Recovery doesn’t have to be lonely and painful, it can be quite beautiful. Thanks again for your time, wisdom and sincere words.

P.S.: Thanks also J.T. Every bit of advice helps. I also do the same,,, I leave and go to the library or go to my Mother's grave site and ask for guidance. If my wife must drink, I would rather she does it at home with her girlfriends than hide it or go out somewhere.
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Old 11-29-2005, 06:27 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Congrats on 60 days sober,way to go.keep on,keeping on...
You say that you drank for 26 years.Married for 22 years.
your wife has never experienced you sober,for any lenght of time.This is all new to both you and her.It took me at least 2 years to come out of that fog that i was in.And has sence taken alot of time for changes,and still changing to this day.Growing never stops.Healing,changes takes time,patience,tolerance.
I know that when i first came to recovery programs i was on that hill-top that they speak about in the Big book.I was so excited,that there is a solution,finally.My problem was that i thought i had the solution for others,who were just not ready to make changes.Im alcoholic too,and forgot that one needs to hit their own bottom,before they will go for recovery.Forgot who i was there for a while.Forgot where i came from.Was caught up in changes for everyone.Youd think that i wouldnt forget,about understanding another alcoholic,but i did.How many times have others come to me,saying er,um,think you should get some help there gal,only for me to turn it all around on them.I look back at this time,where although i was sober,i had not changed inside.Selfishness,self-centeredness,self-will gone riot.Only with intentions of helping/giving solutions to others,this time.The same ,thoughts/actions i had done when drinking.Always trying to get the others to change.If they changed,then "I" would be so happy,yes life would be grand..My life would be just hunky-do..Life on lifes terms says differently.Its not about them,its about my own recovery,and to keep my focus on this.Growing out of the alcoholic mind,by living in the 12 steps of recovery.Step one,for both programs...Wasnt it people,places and things,that we as alcoholics blamed for all our woes.If only folks were more like me,than i would be ok...NOT.Recovery is all an inside job.If im ansty around others who drink,than i need to bone up on being more spiritually fit.My sobereity is not dependant upon people,its dependant upon my relationship with God,,BB...When i came to recovery programs,i had,had enough.By Gods Grace,Hubs drinking never bothered me.It was a remember when for me.Sick folks will never behave normal,until they go for help,,step2.When i let go,let God,working on my own recovery,this is what changed my life,and still does today.Recovery is all about changing the person who i brought into da recovery rooms,which is me.Its not about changing others.Thanks for letting me share,
Prayers for your family,
God Bless,and take care!!!!!!!
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Old 12-04-2005, 03:44 AM   #6 (permalink)
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As you know you have a side in you that wants to drink. Very badly. This is likely the side that tries to screw things up for us--mess us up so that we have a good, solid excuse to drink again. The negative side?

And, you have that posative side--the one that likely goes to meetings and wants to focus on you and what and how you can stay sober.

And whilst you live with someone else, whether they are drinking or not, it can be very difficulat to determine what each side of you is suggesting into the operation.

When we go to alanon, it is not to learn how to control, stop, help another person stop drinking...it is to help us learn how to focus on us and to find serenity whether someone else is drinking or not. It is to allow us to relinquish control over another persons life and choices in favour of controlling our own behavior and choices.

An alcoholic is very good at blaming another person for their unhappiness.

Remember the adage think, think, think?

What happens if you tell your wife to quit drinking or you will leave?

Liklihood she will tell you to stuff it and then you will have the choice to follow through or not. Divorce happens.

Can you really see yourself going through a marital break up at 60 days sober? Sure, you could blame your wife and 'her drinking' but she is likely to go to a lawyer and say "hey, I put up with HIS drinking for 20 + years and now he's found God and is giving me this holier than thou attitude" -- more likely than saying "ok, thank you honey, I will quit drinking now". So, she feels abandoned, you feel abandonned (can't she see I'm only trying to help) and then where do you go? She finds someone else, or you do...and then your dealing with even more feelings etc etc

It was said to me when I first went into the program was "no big decisions untill I had at least a year" which meant that any relationship issues barring abuse had to wait untill after that first year.

You say its the meanness that you have a tough time with. So, keep doing as you are...leave when she gets abusive. Eventually she will learn.

Ask someone in your group to give you information on the topic of acceptance. And keep thinking on that. There is a place (can't remember the page # offhand) where it starts out ... "and the answer to my problem was acceptance..." every time he focused on his wifes problems and defects they grew bigger and bigger yet every time he focused on her attributes and good things, they grew bigger and bigger.

Acceptance means that you accept the fact that she is alcoholic--remembering that the only person who can truly determine if they are alcoholic is the drinker themself. You accept that she is incharge of her own recovery--remember that the disease does NOT affect all people in exactly the same way or along the same time line. Meaning that for some the process is gradual whilst for others its instant. For some they black out--for others they don't. For some, they can drink a lot before acting like a jerk and for others they can be wonderful in a drink and act like a jerk withOUT a drink--the disease affects each individual in a slightly different way--all you need to focus on is how it affects YOU.

Acceptance means that you accept that YOU are an alcoholic. You accept that YOU can NOT control her drinking...you did NOT cause it and you can NOT change it, control it or stop it. Your recovery is up to you. Hers is up to her. And often times, the more we do to try and control another person, the more they will do the opposite of what we want.

Basically, I would suggest that you keep going to meetings--as many as you can and focus on YOUR problems, your feelings, your issues. Not her. She is NOT the reason you drink just as you are not the reason that she drinks. So, take the focus off of her and put it back on you. If and when the time comes for you to leave the relationship, you will KNOW it at that time. Stay in today. If you are unsure about things like this, then that is NOT the time to leave or do anything other than work on you.

Remember...one day at a time. Worrying about how long you put up with her....whatever....is sort of like worrying about next month or week or year and all you have to do is to stay in today.

Remember...think, think, think. If your anything like me, there can be reasons behind reasons and duplicity in almost every thing. Do you REALLY want the marriage to work or do you secretly want to can it, screw it up so you can get together with someone else or have another excuse to be unhappy? I'm VERY good at messing up something thats pretty good rather than just accepting things as they are.

Remember keep it simple...don't drink, ask God for help, go to meetings...do the steps.

Remember... do the steps. Now isn't the time to be judging anyone but yourself.

Remember...if you really want reminders on how bad it is out there---just go out with your wife a few times...or wait untill she gets a dui or messes up at work. In other words--you know that something could happen to her, likely will...when it does (might sound cold) but be glad it didn't happen to you and thank her for your reminder.

Remember...alcoholism is a disease--means she can't help it. YOU got divine intervention--many don't get that. Many can't hear for some reason...don't believe it, whatever...many stay drinking...you got your help when the time was right for you. Why force the time being right for her before its time...isn't that God's job to decide when her time is? Any act you do to try and force her is likely to backfire--just like if she had nagged you to quit drinking likely would have backfired on her.

Remember, you can get yourself so worked up about her problems and your problems with her problems that you can completely forget about why YOU went to A.A.--to get sober yourself.

Remember...if you leave her and end up dating someone else? Even someone in the program...there is no guarantee that this person won't start up again and you will be right back where you started from only with a bit more guilt.

Remember....words mean little, behavior means more. So, rather than telling her about how wonderful life will/could be when your sober--SHOW her. Meditate yourself, be happy and joyful...show her its worth it.

Seriously, I would give yourself time--a good year--before making any big decisions. And telling your wife divorce or get sober is asking for trouble. If she gives you a divorce it will be tougher than anything and if she gets sober because you told her too--it will be tough because she will likely resent the heck out of you even as she stops drinking. Let her come to her own decision when the time is right for her.

God bless
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Old 12-04-2005, 03:52 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks, thanks, thanks and thanks.

How come it seems that everybody else is always right and I’m always wrong? Oh,,, I know why,,, it’s because women are giving me feedback. (It’s a joke!!! My career is comedy entertainment). Seriously, I appreciate all the advice and suggestions. If I didn’t want to hear brutally honest answers I wouldn’t have asked my questions. And if all I wanted to do was “wife bash” I would have gone to wifebash.com

I know that I need to work on myself, I realize that others don’t come around until they’re ready. I’m trying the best I can to use Al-Anon principles with myself and in my relationships. I wish things would improve faster, but at least things are improving. I need to be more patient with others and myself. As I get healthier, and as I get more feedback from others with similar experiences, I hope I will become wiser.

By the way, I wasn’t the only drinker in our household, my wife has been a drinker since the day I met her 24 years ago. Sadly, my career field has put us both in places where alcohol and recreational drug use is common. Luckily, neither of us have done drugs for over 20 years. If we could quit and stay away from drugs, I know that we can keep on track with getting alcohol under control and out of our lives.

Thanks again to everyone. I truly look forward to more honest feedback. Mrakaronni.
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Old 12-05-2005, 08:47 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Honestly? It's not b/c your "wrong" its because some of us (me for example) have been down that road a few times and its easier on hindsight than forsight. Addictive personalities (alkies) are impatient--we want everything yesterday and its much easier to figure out what OTHER people should do than to actually just shut up and focus on ourselves. One of the easiest traps that I fall into (I'm not unique) is to figure things would be easier if the guy in my life stopped using and in my case i divorced only to find out that this wasn't an easy path--or necessarily the right one either. And for some walking away is the answer--for me it just perpetuated another set of problems and the origional ones kept resurfacing with every attempt at a new relationship I made. Fact is, is that nobody is perfect and because I grew up around drinking the chances are good that I will attract and be attracted to another person who drinks or who did drink. So, now, I'm back in the saddle again--often thinking my life would be so much better if only HE would get on track and do what I figure he should be doing. In my case, he's not even using--just not happy etc when I want him to be--and its still easy to figure I'd be happier if he only did what I think he should be doing :P Its way harder to live in the same house and to not get pulled into whatever mood he's in, yet this is why I go to alanon so I can learn some of these tools--not so that I can convince him to be Mr Perfect.

I'd hate to see a marriage of 20 something years go down the drain--especially when its so obvious that you do love her--just because of typical alcoholic traits that surface during recover...ie...perfectionism, impatience, desire/need to focus on someone elses recovery rather than your own and many others. If I had actually listenned to my sponsor and the other girls when they said "no big decisions in the first year" I think I would have saved myself a whole lot of misery.
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