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How do I deal with this schedule?

Old 06-12-2009, 06:43 AM
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How do I deal with this schedule?

My AW is in her 4th week of recovery in an outpatient clinic and doing well. I think I am generally doing well also, unless of course you take into consideration a rant I posted over at newcomers forum a few days back, but that wasn't me writing that, that was resentment.

Anyway, I've decided to go to counseling and start attending Al Anon meetings. I've been posting here for a little over a month now and have started speaking up at the center my wife goes to on family nights. It's helpful. Last night we did a "Family Communication Exchange" where each of us answers 5 questions in front of the group about the program. One question is what we fear about the future. I answered honestly that I fear the wife will become more and more wrapped up in the program and its members and spend less and less time with me and the family. Probably not what the center wanted to hear, but screw it, they asked the question.

OK, here's my dilemma that I would like some advise in dealing with. I have 3 small children, too small to be left alone. I would like to first start seeing a marriage/substance abuse counselor (which I had to cancel my first session for reasons below) and/or start attending Al Anon meetings to help me make the right choices with the new lifestyle. The wife just went to her aftercare orientation yesterday and she is has an evening set aside Thursdays. Additionally, she plans to go to AA meetings 3 times a week, Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday. She works 2 shifts a week, 9:00 am until 8:30 pm so that puts her out of the house until 9:00 pm Mondays and Wednesdays. I work full time during the day. So as I add it up, she's out Mondays, Tuesday evenings, Wednesdays, Thursday evenings, Saturday mornings, and Sunday mornings. Plus she needs to be meeting with her sponsor. That leaves Friday evenings, and Saturday and Sunday afternoons (when she not with her sponser) free for me to do what I want. Then I get to chose: do we spend some family time together or do I go to counseling and meetings or do I do something on my own (I did have a life myself up until last month)?

We spoke about it last night and she doesn't seem too concerned. The recovery meetings, be it aftercare and/or AA is set in stone, can't change that commitment and don't want to. The work schedule is probably the best we can do to keep her 20 per week and access to health care with the least amount of childcare expense (I get home as early as possible to keep the babysitter cost down during the summer). It looks like we don't have a lot of good options here until the kids are old enough to stay home alone, at least 5 years off.

So, I am having some difficulty here for a few reasons:

1) I feel like I have to make a choice between getting some help myself vs. trying to keep the family together and as "normal" as often as possible. The kids are not dealing with Mom being gone so much very well, and the more they see us all spending time together the happier they seem to be.

2) As I stated my fear, she is going to be spending more time with the program than with me. I know work throws a wrench into too, but for the foreseeable future (it's a 2 year aftercare program) we are going to be ships passing through the night. To me that is not the foundation of a solid marriage. To be clear, we clearly didn't have a solid marriage when she was drinking, but now that she is sober (and me as well) we have this obstacle to overcome.

3) Very selfishly, my life is going to revolve around her schedule. For instance, I just joined a tennis club, thinking if we weren't going to be drinking in the evenings anymore I'd like to go out and do something healthy (breaking bad habits!) That's out, unless of course I want to trade that little time on weekends for spending it with my wife or with all 5 of us doing something together. For the kids sake, we only have 2 afternoons a week to do anything together so I think that makes the most sense.

When my wife decided to enter the 4 week program I cleared everything I could to make sure that it happened and the kids were looked after. I am very, very proud of her for dedicating herself to sobriety. But what, if anything, do I do about this schedule? Am I over blowing this whole thing? Should I just be a man about it, suck it up and realize that my life, not even just a little bit of it, isn't about me anymore?

Clearly many people here have dealt with the time commitments that spouses with children (or even without) have had to adjust to. Any and all advise on how this was dealt with and outcomes would be much appreciated.
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Old 06-12-2009, 07:12 AM
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Hi 9Iron,

It sounds like you two are going to become experts in time management, for better or for worse.

There are lives that don't cross much, for other reasons (people in the military, working long hours/opposite shifts, etc.) and I've seen the best ones make it through by sitting down with a calendar -- and without resentments -- and carefully scheduling What Matters Most.

Some initial thoughts:

I personally think it's important to schedule time to be together, preferably without the kids, to keep your connection to each other alive during this painstaking process.

I would throw the "trying to keep the babysitting budget down" out the window during this time. Cut something else out, not that. Do what you have to do to stay healthy and connected. I think it doesn't do any good to save money if you're going insane because you're not getting any exercise or any "you time".

Maybe one of your weekend days needs to be sure to have a family event in it, something that hooks you all together again.

Your recovery has to be as important as hers. I read your meltdown post and it was painful to see the lengths to which resentment drove you (temporarily). You've got to find a way to schedule this time for you, for meetings or counseling. Can you do counseling on a skewed lunch break? Are there any lunchtime Al-Anon meetings? Can you schedule a sitter for a regular evening Al-Anon meeting that coincides with the times she's gone? This is important.

I understand her need to concentrate on her sobriety. But I also know that you should not have to suspend your own happiness and growth while she's doing it.

Hoping others will chime in with out-of-the-box ideas for making time for YOU.

Hang in there. There are solutions, though they may come in strange packages sometimes.
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Old 06-12-2009, 08:04 AM
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Quick Update:

I found an Al-Anon meeting up the road this morning (just now) and had a quick break in the schedule. Great, my first one ever!

Got there and it was canceled. Damn!
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Old 06-12-2009, 08:26 AM
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I would recommend printing Givelove's response and putting it somewhere you can see it every day for awhile.

It's my experience if you don't take care of yourself and make your recovery as important as hers "resentment" will make another ugly appearance and it may not restrain itself to posting on the internet.

Write down YOUR needs then go get them

"your meetings"
"together time"
"tennis/health time"

set gentle but FIRM boundaries then go and sit down with your wife and work out an amicable compromise that enables both of you to get your needs met.

When you present this to her, present this as "you working on your recovery while she works on hers". Don't let either partners "recovery" be more important then the other.

She has now been informed that recovery is the most important thing in her life. That if she puts anything "above" her recovery, that will be the first thing she loses. If you can frame "your recovery" in the same language and let her understand it has the same priority, if she is serious about her own recovery she will respect that.

I have some experience with this.

Truly, I would print out GL's response, everything you need is in that post.
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Old 06-12-2009, 12:05 PM
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9iron - I don't have any advice just lots of commiseration. I, too, am trying to figure out the same thing right now.

I'm one of those people that needs LOTS of time at home to "recharge". Being on the go every minute of every day absolutely wears me to a frazzle.

I am committed to attending the Family Sessions at AH's IOP one night a week (we are getting a babysitter on these nights) and one local Al-anon meeting on a night when he is home to stay with the kids. Beyond that, I have been looking at the Al-anon online groups (emails or chats). I haven't joined any yet, but I'm seriously considering it. Maybe someone else here has some experience with that????
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Old 06-12-2009, 09:02 PM
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9Iron - do you possibly have any family members or friends who would be willing to watch the kids for an hour while you go?

In the meantime you might want to pick up a copy of the Alanon book "Courage to Change". It really helped me.
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Old 06-12-2009, 10:21 PM
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P.S. Many meetings have child care

I have seen many couples go "into recovery together" and I have seen it be a beautiful thing, something they actually do together sometimes, they have AA/Alanon meetings, many times both meetings at the same time in the same building even, then many couples go to dinner afterwards

It doesn't have to be a painful awful experience, it can be a shared experience that makes you two closer. I have seen this with my own eyes. I have done this.

maybe DesertEyesMike will 'weigh in" he has wonderful stories of shared recovery
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Old 06-13-2009, 04:18 AM
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i agree with everyone here...don't let your own recovery take the back burner...

time to get creative as to how to solve that...

it sounds as though a bit of money would solve the sitter issue...

is there something you could sell and raise some cash? that old campervan, gas bbq, third tv set, grandmother's china set?

what about a big yard sale, that the kids could participate in, and the money goes towards paying a babysitter?

could you cancel some sort of monthly bill...like cable tv or something and use that money for your own activities?

is there someone who loves you who would give you a loan/gift for a bit of free time?

it's not selfish to take time for yourself and get some breathing room...it's healthy.

hope you can make it happen,
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