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Wife's Drinking is a Problem for Me

Old 09-08-2010, 10:40 PM
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Wife's Drinking is a Problem for Me

I've been sober four and half years. I've been married almost two, my first, her second. She has one son who lives with us, and we have two boys of our own, 14 months and 2 months. Not sure if that's relevant, but there it is. We dated for about nine months before getting married. At the end of that nine months I was in the process of breaking up with her because she wouldn't stop drinking. She knew this was the reason as I had talked about it with her. Then she got pregnant with our first son. I love her immensely, and I didn't ask her to marry me just because she was pregnant, but it was admittedly the catalyst. When I asked her to marry me and she said "yes," I immediately followed that with asking her if she knew that also meant she had to stop drinking, and if she accepted that. She said "yes" to that, as well.

Almost two years later, she's still drinking, and I'm nearing my wit's end. I read another thread on here by Blondie about her fiance's drinking bothering her, and the general consensus seemed to be that the problem was hers and not his. But is it? In addition to being an alcoholic, I'm also a Christian. As such, I believe that when a man and woman are married, they become as one flesh. That's not to say that we don't have lives outside of each other, but it is to say that what affects me affects you. It does mean that we share each other's burdens, joys, fears, griefs, and, yes, even problems.

I've tried explaining this to my wife, but she either doesn't agree, or she doesn't care. She says that she does both, but her actions prove otherwise. When she drinks, it's not so much that it makes me want to drink (although I do dream that I can drink in moderation when she does), but it's much more of an insult. It's as if she's saying that my struggles don't matter to her, and that both hurts and offends me. Aside from that, I simply don't want to be around her when she's been drinking. I can smell it a mile away, and it disgusts me. Her personality changes completely, and I don't like the person she becomes. I've proposed the idea that she might be an alcoholic, at which she laughs. I've told her that her drinking WILL, sooner or later, end our marriage. Still, she drinks. It's not every day. She doesn't get plastered, well, not regularly. Because she isn't drunk from the moment she wakes up until the moment she passes out (like I used to be), she thinks she's not an alcoholic. But if a person who places alcohol above their own family isn't an alcoholic, then I don't know what is.

Personally, I'm not terribly concerned with whether she's an alcoholic or not. I JUST WANT HER TO STOP. I've tried everything I know to get the severity of this through to her, but nothing works. She just doesn't seem to get it. I'm occasionally around other people who drink (I can't live in a bubble), and she throws that at me. She knows people who used to be alcoholics, but now drink in moderation. Her telling me this seems an insinuation that I should be able to do the same, which is ridiculous on multiple levels.

Sorry I'm rambling a bit, but I'm pretty pissed about it right now as she is out on the front porch drinking while I type this on the back porch. Has anybody had similar problems? Is there some good way I can make this real to her?
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Old 09-08-2010, 10:51 PM
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Hi fiveyearzen

I won't debate theology with you

If you have any experience with alanon at all you'll have heard of the three C's 'you didn't cause it, you can't control it, and you cant cure it'.

It's an acknowledgement that an addict has to want to change - they can't be forced to - and as an alcoholic myself I've lived that.

It's also an acknowledgement that the only person we can expect to really change is our self.

We may not be able to change our partner but we can change the way we react to the things they do, we can make sure that we're not enabling our partner, and we can make sure we look after ourselves and the rest of our family in this equation.

I encourage you to check out our Family and Friends forums, as well as this one - you'll find a lot of help and support there too.

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Old 09-08-2010, 11:09 PM
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I agree with what Dee said. That being said, my wife knew I was a heavy drinker when we met and dated for 5 years. She mentioned that she hoped that I would be able to get it under control before we married. Then we got married, and I still drank like always, and she tried as hard as she could on and off for 15 years to get me to quit or slow down. I slowed down occassionally to keep the peace, but all I ever really knew was drinking, that's what I had always done. There was no way that she was going to change me, and I resented her for trying. "How dare her try to change me, she knew who I was, and she knew how i drank, and when she married me that's what she signed on for." Now that I have decided to give up drinking for good, I wish i would have listened to her sooner, and made my mind up earlier, but there was no way she or my family was going to keep me from drinking if I still wanted to drink. She even threatened to leave me on more than one occassion, and I would be a good boy for a couple of weeks, or would hide it, but I wasn't going to change.

I still wonder if she would have really left if I would have really been able to quit for good to get her back, or whether I would have jumped back in the bottle even harder?

I don't know the answer to that question, or whether I would have quit and resented the hell out of her for the rest of my married life. Either way, for some stupid reason, I had to quit on my own terms and it had to be my decision. I am truly happy that I have made it.
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Old 09-08-2010, 11:27 PM
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I do know the three C's, and I never completely agreed with the first. But I'll not debate theology, either :-) The three C's, as I understand it, are about taking responsibility, which I do and have done every day for the past four and a half years. However, I don't think it means taking responsibility for my problem to the exclusion of other problems. I am an alcoholic. My wife is bringing alcohol into our house, and into my life, which is making it increasingly difficult to raise my kids and keep a family together (which is difficult enough on its own).

Friends and family probably would have been a better place for this thread. I didn't see that. Maybe a moderator can move it there?
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Old 09-08-2010, 11:31 PM
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will do

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Old 09-09-2010, 04:42 AM
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My take is that if one of you in a relationship has a problem, you both do. If you are bothered by her drinking enough that you have asked her to stop (and indeed she promised to before she married you) and she hasn't then that is a problem. Your problem is that you have a wife who won't stop drinking when it distresses you, her problem is that she wants to keep drinking and has a husband who finds this distressing. There is no absolute "you're right" and "you're wrong" here.

My husband and I could not come to a middle ground on this, and boy we (or at least I) tried; the full range from me trying to live with his drinking as much and as often as he wanted (and denying my own feelings and needs) through to him attempting to not drink (although this never lasted even 24hrs) and every combination in-between.

We could not come to a resolution that allowed both of us to be happy and be together. I also found a number of his attitudes and behaviours aside from the drinking intolerable, and there was lots about me he just didn't like either. Neither of us could force the other one to be someone other than we were.
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Old 09-09-2010, 04:50 AM
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hi fiveyearzen-

i think that the most important thing is that you protect your recovery.

when i was with my xABF, he didn't appear to understand my concerns, no matter how i voiced them.

however, what he did understand were ACTIONS.

whilst we can not control another person, we can in deed take steps to safeguard ourselves (and the children).

perhaps consider your boundaries. what are they?

for example, you could choose not to be present with her if she is drinking. as in, walk away and go somewhere else. this is not to control her, but to protect yourself and your hard-earned recovery.

and what of the children. are they in her care whilst she is drinking? what are your boundaries here?

i found it helpful to figure out what my boundaries were and then enforce them.

i think that many of us say or threaten to do something and then never follow thru. this sends a message to our alcoholic that we're just going to put up with it.

i do think that a loving partner who was not an alcoholic would stop drinking in support of their partner.

as for the christian view of things, i doubt that a loving god would want you to stay with your wife at the risk of damaging yourself and your children. as you know, alcoholism is progressive, it gets exponentially worse and the alcoholic will take down the entire family.

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Old 09-09-2010, 08:16 AM
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Yes, my first thought (as a young mother) was "hold up, there are TWO infants in the house, in her care". Does she drink WHILE caring for them? Does she still nurse the 2 month old? This is very dangerous.

I completely agree that if you have a problem with her drinking, then the marriage is in trouble, whether she acknowledges it or not. However, your FIRST priority should be the babies. They cannot be left in the care of a mama who is blotto, or even just a little buzzed. So many things can go wrong!

Normally, I'd say "let go and focus on yourself", but the children's presence in this equation changes everything.

I urge you to speak to your wife's doctor, perhaps to a social worker and even to a lawyer, because this situation could quickly get nasty if one of your children gets injured while in your wife's care.

Keep us posted...
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Old 09-09-2010, 11:41 AM
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Well, I awoke this morning to my wife proffering a deal. Her deal was that if I quit gambling and smoking (cigarettes), then she would quit drinking. I asked what would happen if one of us broke the deal, and she said that would mean the other could, also. I told her that I had no interest in a quid pro quo arrangement, and I said that I thought it would be best if she and her son took an apartment (which she had previously talked about doing). Immediately, she turned everything into my problem again.

The end result was that... well, I'm not sure we're there yet, but we're moving in a positive direction and she is not moving out. I'll go through what I left out for those who want to read, not because I particularly care to type it, but because it may help somebody.

Thanks to those who posted. The responses here were much different than those in the alcoholics group. There's probably a good reason for that, but it's another thread. Alcoholism is her problem as well, because she is my wife. She may or may not be an alcoholic, but it is a problem in her life that requires management on her part. I would submit that if a reader disagrees, then the reader is either not married, will soon change his/her opinion, or won't be married for very long. I suggest that she take an apartment not because I wanted her to, but rather to enforce some boundaries that I had previously made clear but never gave consequenses for breaching. After her initial reaction, she took her son to school, which gave her some time to think. When she came home, we talked about it some more. We reached an agreement that we both needed to make some changes in our lives, but we didn't exactly settle how best to do that. She seems to still favor a quid pro quo approach. To me, that doesn't work. When one person engages in destructive behavior, that should not be license for another person to engage in destructive behavior. The end result will be... destruction. As an addict, I'm all too familiar with this type of bargaining. For now, she has agreed to discuss this independently with our marriage counselor. Hopefully, she can interpret messages from a third party differently than she does with me. She has agreed to stop drinking, but I'm skeptical because of her motivation and because she is very much a score keeper. It's hard enough stop an addiction without having the threat of "if I blow it once, then she will do something to get even" looming overhead.

In answer to the question about her keeping the kids: she doesn't. I'm a stay at home dad, at least until the next school year (I was a teacher). As a man, I feel this testosterone laden need to give a lengthy explanation for that, but I won't. It works out well, and I feel much better not having my babies in day care. I think it's important, when at all possible, for kids that age to have a parent give them full time care. Well, a sober parent
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Old 09-09-2010, 11:52 AM
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That's so friggin awesome that you're at home with the kids. Really friggin awesome.

I hope you're continue to get support from your marriage counsellor (or from an individual counsellor). This can't be an easy situation to go through.
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Old 09-09-2010, 12:37 PM
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For me, FiveYearZen, what my relationships with other people ultimately boil down to is whether or not I have Peace and Serenity with them in my life. When I am unhappy in a relationship for whatever reason, and when history shows that my expectations of the other person are not being met, something has to give. I either have to lower my expectations, or make some change. If I keep lowering my expectations but still there is no Peace and Serenity, I have to decide what change needs to be made in my life in order to get back to Peace and Serenity.

Is your life, the way you are living with it, unmanageable? How long do you want to live with it the way that it is? Is this relationship enough for you if it never changes and if she never stops drinking? Have you gone to any Al-Anon meetings? Have you practiced Detachment or set Boundaries with the alcoholic? There are many tools available to you through Al-Anon that will help you in this situation. I recommend giving a few meetings a try.

I am a recovering alcoholic. Whenever I have included in my life people who continue to drink alcohol, I have eventually relapsed. Not saying this is everyone's truth, but for this reason, I do not allow these folks into my life anymore. Again, because I desire Peace and Serenity for my life, my sobriety is my NUMBER ONE priority. If invited to be around any drinking or partying, I decline. IMO, the bargaining and finger-pointing she is doing (pointing out you hang with drinkers and the "If you do this, I'll do that") is all part of what I have heard folks in the Program refer to as "Partners In Crime." Do you want to revert to that old way of relating?

I hope something I have said here is helpful to you.
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Old 09-09-2010, 04:38 PM
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As a man, I feel this testosterone laden need to give a lengthy explanation for that, but I won't.

You don't need any explanation - that's awesome.

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...lics-make.html


Problem? WHAT problem?

Primitive and unconscious denial is classified as a psychotic defense mechanism because it denies or distorts reality itself. Those in the grip of psychotic denial are literally out of touch with reality. Thus an alcoholic with multiple and perfectly obvious negative consequences from his pathological drinking(legal, health, marital and job problems) may, difficult as this is to believe, indignantly and -from his perspective- honestly deny that he has a serious problem with alcohol. He doesn't know what people who criticize his drinking are talking about - and he is genuinely hurt and offended at what he perceives to be their unfair and unreasonable attacks upon him. He often reacts to expressions of concern about his drinking with self-pity, resentment, and -of course- more drinking.



You're not so pure yourself!

Following the adage that "the best defense is a good offense" the addict seeks to turn the tables and distract attention from himself by "attacking the attacker," i.e. the individual who attempts to point out to him the reality of his addictive behavior. Under the spur of necessity to defend their addiction as they are, most addicts possess a keen eye and a sharp tongue for the shortcomings and faults of others - even as they deny or are indifferent to those of themselves. Thus the addict is often almost demonically astute at exploiting the vulnerabilities and Achilles Heels of those who, wittingly or unwittingly, threaten the continuance of his addiction.



When it comes to alcoholics there is nothing new under the sun.
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Old 09-09-2010, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Learn2Live View Post
Is your life, the way you are living with it, unmanageable? How long do you want to live with it the way that it is? Is this relationship enough for you if it never changes and if she never stops drinking? Have you gone to any Al-Anon meetings? Have you practiced Detachment or set Boundaries with the alcoholic? There are many tools available to you through Al-Anon that will help you in this situation. I recommend giving a few meetings a try.
I too, am a recovering alcoholic, which is why her drinking bothers me, just as being in relationships with drinkers bothers you. But she is my wife and the mother of my two boys. Leaving is an absolute last resort, and I'm not even so sure it's an option then. I do tend to agree that she is probably an alcoholic, although I wouldn't have when we got married. Behavior like what you mentioned changed my mind. That was a lot of questions that I'll answer in short order: nothing is unmanageable (for God); Is the relationship enough for me? If you are asking how I FEEL about it, then no, because I am hurt, angry, etc. But a marriage is a committment, and love is a choice, not a feeling. My choice now is to honor my committment. My feelings will change; I have set boundaries, and enforcing them seems to have had a positive effect; I went to AA early in my recovery, but I stopped going because the only thing people there talked about was drinking, and that just made me want to drink. Instead, God blessed me with a sober family who were committed to my recovery and provided that support for me, and he sent me some new, non-drinking friends.
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Old 09-09-2010, 10:36 PM
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So ... if I'm reading this right ....

can it be possible you really can't see
that's just another version
of a control trip, then?

You want what you want - your way?
And somehow religion backs it up you should get it?

I've never known either an alcoholic or a codie to get that.
Not a single person here -
either here, or in the alcoholic forum
got to keep their lives intact
by stopping drinking
or stopping someone else from drinking.

No one gets their way in recovery.

I think I see now why the others were saying it's your problem.

Whenever we try to bend someone to our will

it's our problem.

The need to control someone - anyone else
to suit our own purposes
even if it's for THEIR own good -
is a problem all right.
OUR problem.

I hope you find what you're looking for.

Good luck to you then.
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Old 09-09-2010, 11:09 PM
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I thought you might be my wife under an assumed name until I saw your number of posts. She accused me of the exact same thing: trying to control her. I've had to give that considerable thought, because it is a valid concern. Codependency isn't the issue here, though. Codies either try to fix problems in others rather than in themselves or they allow another to do all the fixing for them. I'm not avoiding my problems.

If she weren't my wife, then it wouldn't be an issue. I'd simply walk away and wish her the best. I suppose I am trying to control one thing: the stability and safety of my home. It's a fine line to walk, I know, and it is a responsibility I do not take lightly. I don't think I used religion to back that up. The basis of my assertion is not that her drinking bothers me because I am a Christian, but because I am an alcoholic.
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Old 09-10-2010, 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by fiveyearzen View Post
I thought you might be my wife under an assumed name until I saw your number of posts. She accused me of the exact same thing: trying to control her. I've had to give that considerable thought, because it is a valid concern. Codependency isn't the issue here, though. Codies either try to fix problems in others rather than in themselves or they allow another to do all the fixing for them. I'm not avoiding my problems.

If she weren't my wife, then it wouldn't be an issue. I'd simply walk away and wish her the best. I suppose I am trying to control one thing: the stability and safety of my home. It's a fine line to walk, I know, and it is a responsibility I do not take lightly. I don't think I used religion to back that up. The basis of my assertion is not that her drinking bothers me because I am a Christian, but because I am an alcoholic.
welcome to our world.....

I used all the same arguments to try and change my husband. Having a problem with someone elses drinking, and trying to get them to change their behaviour, to solve our problem with it, repeatedly, is a codependent behaviour.

That is not to say that you are "wrong" not to want to be around someone who drinks, nor is it wrong to put boundaries in place to protect yourself against behaviour that you don't want to be near. But to expect someone to change to suit us, to solve our problems...... if that worked, this would be an empty board, and the AA boards would have significantly less traffic.

I wouldn't go down the bargaining either (although I tried often! LOL), but it might be a time to wonder whether your gambling and smoking are things that are healthy for you to continue, are they indeed issues that need tackling? this you can control, because it is about you, keeping your side of the street clean.

Your continuing recovery from addiction is your issue, and you have to set out boundaries that protect that. But you talk about her drinking as a personal insult to you. Is it?

I used to get into terrible rows with my ex about a couple of friends I had that he didn't like, he thought my continuing to associate them, when he didn't like them was a personal insult to him. I didn't expect him to associate with them, and there was no effect on my behaviour that he could come up with that was a reason for him to not want them in my life (other than paranoid fantasies that because they were single I would somehow forget that I was married if I went out with them). Still he thought it was a basic respect issue: that if he didn't like something, I should change my behaviour to suit him. My take? I had few friends, these people had known me a long time, I valued their friendship, I understood that he felt threatened by them, although he was wrong, I am not that forgetful, or easily led, but why should he have a power of vito over who I could and couldn't be friends with.

If your reasons for not wanting to be in a relationship with someone who drinks are that it threatens your own sobriety, then you have a pretty stark choice. If it is for other reasons, can identify the behaviours that she exhibits when drinking that bother you? and put boundaries in place to make those not an issue?
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Old 09-10-2010, 08:46 AM
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Actually fiveyearzen, I would like to respectfully point out that codies DO try to control. Fixing is a codie behavior. But controlling is, too.

I have the dubious gift of being both codie to several alcoholics in my family as well as being a recovering alcoholic. I have tried in my codie relationships to both fix and control. (!)

Have you considered alanon and/or some literature for codependency? There are some great suggestions on this site for books and lnks.

I understand your frustration: I hope your wife comes to the realization that her drinking is a negative factor in your marriage. I denied my drinking's consequences for years. I would drink thinking that I deserved it because my marriage was not so great, blahblah.

Now I think my marriage is a good one. I don't blame my unhappiness on the people around me. Whew: what a relief.
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Old 09-10-2010, 10:10 AM
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Alright. I see your points about codependency. I don't think I've crossed that line yet, but I am getting dangerously close. I suppose that's what the orignal post was about- tyring to avoid that and how best to deal with the situation.

I know I was codependent when I drank. And I was for some time after I quit. I have since recognized that behavior and done my best to diffuse it. Since then, I've found the word "codependent" to be a slippery slope. For example, I could say that those who are trying to identify me as codependent and keep me from doing it are being codependent. They could, in turn, say that I am being codependent for trying to fix their codependency for trying to fix my codependency. See where I'm going? I think it gets thrown around a lot when people are just trying to help, and that's why my initial reaction to claims of codependency is so strong. I'm not trying to fix my wife's drinking. I've told her that I have no problem with her drinking responsibly away from our home, and I honestly don't. My problem is when she comes home intoxicated, and when she brings it into the house (there are eight empty wine bottles stashed behind a stack of clothes in the closet). Those actions put me in a position where I must take measures to protect both myself and the integrity of our home (because it does affect our kids, especially her son, who is almost ten). The question I initially asked, which may not have been completely clear, was what are the best measures to take?

I think there will always necessarily be some elements of codependency in a family, because a family IS interdependent. I remember my father constantly telling me when I was in HS that what I did affected him and reflected on him. I thought that was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard, because I was me, he was him, and the two were completely separate. Now that I am a father, my view has taken a 180. Actually, it started to change when I began teaching. I'd look at my bad students and wonder just what the heck their parents were doing. Ideally, we are all independent beings responsible for our own actions. Practically, it doesn't always play out that way, because people are inherently flawed creatures, each with their own flawed perceptions to varying degrees, all stuck on the same little planet and crashing around into one another.
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Old 09-10-2010, 10:20 AM
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So, you've asked her (multiple times) to stop drinking and she won't. Ball's in your court now.

What's your boundary? And what's the consequence?

Quite surprised that you got involved with a drinker when you were in relatively early sobriety. Did she stop drinking when she was pregnant?
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Old 09-10-2010, 10:54 AM
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This is a great thread, fiveyearzen; thanks for posting and sharing. It sounds like you have a lot of things going on all at once that you are trying to sort and make sense of.

Originally Posted by fiveyearzen View Post
Leaving is an absolute last resort, and I'm not even so sure it's an option then.
I hear ya' there. One thing I have learned is that I have to stay true to myself. And that includes my values and morals, and no one else's.

What you have chosen for yourself is a tough road, I know, as I have 42 years of front-row experience witnessing this with my parents. My mother will never leave my alcoholic father because of her values. It is not a life I would personally choose for myself but I have to respect that HER life is HER choice, but I also know that she has had 50 years of living with a horrible disease. It has been her faith and her unfailing self-care that I believe has seen her through it.

I too, am a recovering alcoholic, which is why her drinking bothers me, just as being in relationships with drinkers bothers you. But she is my wife and the mother of my two boys.
Our personal commitment to an alcoholic is a dilemma we all seem to have. But yours, like mine, is a double whammy. There is our own sobriety at stake. I must do what I must to protect myself from relapsing. I hear you say that her drinking "bothers" you but what do you mean by that? In what way does it bother you?

I also hear you say that you do not want to go to meetings and you do not want to leave the relationship. So, what other things can you do to take care of you and your sobriety, despite what the alcoholic is doing? Do you have a strong social support network that you use on a regular basis? There are other kinds of non-12-step groups. There is church. etc.

I do tend to agree that she is probably an alcoholic, although I wouldn't have when we got married. Behavior like what you mentioned changed my mind.
It sounds like there may have been some red flags when you first met that could have indicated that the person you married is alcoholic. Many people do not realize that a person they are interested in is alcoholic. And alcoholism is a progressive disease so if the alcoholic does not stop drinking, the symptoms of the disease get worse as time goes on. I think probably all of us affected by drinking have been "tricked" by the disease in this respect.
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