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Should I tell my wife…

Old 09-23-2010, 08:23 AM
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Question Should I tell my wife…

Should I tell my wife I’m an alcoholic?

I’m seeking advice from this forum, since you are the folks most affected by an alcoholic’s lies. Thanks in advance.

Thirty years a drinker but only 10 months a husband. My wife knew I drank when we met, but I put on the appearance of a social drinker when we were together. I did my heavy drinking when we were apart and figured once we were married I’d just have to moderate my consumption. Of course that didn’t happen. In fact, it probably increased. Once married, I continued to drink, but hid the amount of alcohol by drinking after she went to bed, or by chugging down extra beers while in the garage “working on some project,” or pounding down a 40 on the way back from a “milk” run to the store.

A drinking mishap followed by enlightenment from a HP finally opened my eyes to my condition and on Aug 20th I decided to quit drinking, so far with only one relapse, which has served to strengthen my resolve. However, I’m sick inside from lying to my wife, sick about deceiving her, but more ashamed to tell her about my problem or my recovery. If I tell her, she’ll know she didn’t marry the man she thought she was marrying.

I can make this right if I never drink again, so I’m not sure what purpose it serves to tell her I’m a drunk other than disappoint her. But because I know my head isn’t screwed on right, I’m asking you. Should I tell my wife I’m an alcoholic?
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Old 09-23-2010, 08:27 AM
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In my opinion I would rather be told than lied to. Your recovery stands a better chance of being successful if you can be honest with her. To be honest- if I had ever once heard the words "I am an alcoholic" from my AH I would probably be still working though things with him now but at the one and only point he did seek help - he completely shut me out. He didn't even want me in the house when the guy came round for an initial interview - I ended up agreeing to stay out of the way. I can't tell you how much it hurt to be shut out like that when I really wanted things to work out for us.
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Old 09-23-2010, 08:32 AM
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It's entirely possible she already knows. We alcoholics aren't as good at hiding that fact as we think we are. I say let go of your pride and just be honest with her. If nothing else, it will help with accountability. She obviously loves you since she married you, so show her the respect she deserves and be completely honest with her.
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Old 09-23-2010, 08:35 AM
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She probably already knows.

Honesty is the way to go, in my opinion.
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Old 09-23-2010, 08:40 AM
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I'll second (or third?) the notion that she already knows, or at the very least suspects very strongly.

However, as a previous poster indicated, had my XAH told me straight out that he was alcoholic and that he was seeking help, we would no doubt still be together. His categoric refusal to admit his issue, and his habit of lying or blame-shifting to hide his drinking/drugging are what drove me away eventually (ok, that and the infidelity/STD he brought back home).

I would advise you to be honest, but not to expect anything specific from it. Leave the rest in HP's hands.
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Old 09-23-2010, 08:45 AM
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A marriage is a partnership based on trust....if you aren't honest that will come back to haunt you.
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Old 09-23-2010, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Live View Post
A marriage is a partnership based on trust....if you aren't honest that will come back to haunt you.
I couldn't agree more and that means being honest even when you know you may suffer consequences from it. I have to imagine what you would want if the tables were turned, knowing what you know about how hard it is to stay stopped. I would want to know the truth, honesty is the foundation of marriage. Good luck!
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Old 09-23-2010, 09:29 AM
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As the wife of an alcoholic, I can tell you with absolute certainty that the thing that hurts the most about this disease is the lies and dishonesty it brings to the marriage. Your wife probably already has a feeling that something is going on, and it's the constant sneaking around and deception and trying to figure out what's really going on that makes the sober spouse feel as if they're going crazy. The lying is the main reason why I'm not sure my marriage can be saved, because whether AH gets sober or not, the foundation of trust in our marriage has been completely broken down.

IMO, you can never go wrong with being honest.
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Old 09-23-2010, 09:47 AM
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Also, think about the practical ramifications of continuing to lie. I couldn't tell for certain if you're going to meetings, but if you are, aren't you going to want to share with your loved ones your important milestones, like your one year sober birthday? And if you're not going to AA, you should start, as it is IMHO very difficult for an alcoholic to stay sober without them--which is another reason you need to tell your wife. How are you going to cover THAT up?

Or what about when it's New Year's Eve, or when your buddies are over watching the game, or another time you would normally be "social drinking" in front of your wife. Do you not think she'll notice that now you never take even a sip, and wonder why that is? And if you "take a sip" to cover yourself, well--if you are a true alcoholic, I'm sure you know how dangerous that is.

I don't think you really even have a choice here, not if you want to stay married to this woman, not if you're serious at all about your sobriety.
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Old 09-23-2010, 09:50 AM
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We are as sick as the secrets we keep.
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Old 09-23-2010, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Freedom1990 View Post
We are as sick as the secrets we keep.
I just used this quote today! :P
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Old 09-23-2010, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by HurtingAgain View Post
As the wife of an alcoholic, I can tell you with absolute certainty that the thing that hurts the most about this disease is the lies and dishonesty it brings to the marriage. Your wife probably already has a feeling that something is going on, and it's the constant sneaking around and deception and trying to figure out what's really going on that makes the sober spouse feel as if they're going crazy. The lying is the main reason why I'm not sure my marriage can be saved, because whether AH gets sober or not, the foundation of trust in our marriage has been completely broken down.

IMO, you can never go wrong with being honest.

I can completely agree with that. 100% Thats my exact experience too.
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Old 09-23-2010, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by freebuthurting View Post
I can completely agree with that. 100% Thats my exact experience too.
Ditto.
It's funny, on the first date with my XAF I told her that honesty is for me, the most important thing in a relationship, that I've been lied to before, and I won't stand for it again.
I ended up getting engaged to a pathological liar.
When I caught her big lies, I was already madly in love with her, so I stayed.
When I finally left, she said I abandoned her and that love should be unconditional. I asked her: "unconditional? how can I be in a relationship if there's no trust? I can I keep loving you when you keep lying to me?". Then she said I'm bashing her.
Anyway, I don't see a real relationship without complete honesty. I really don't know how you can be MARRIED to someone and keep such a huge secret from her.
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Old 09-23-2010, 01:11 PM
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I'd agree that your wife may already know or suspect.

My STBXAH still cannot see that he has problem and cannot admit that he is an alcoholic, so I can't say with any certainty what I, as a wife of an A, would have wanted out of the conversation if he had freely and honestly admitted he's an A. I am certain that, knowing what I know now about alcoholism, I would need time to digest the information. I would want to know what his recovery program is; how often is he going to AA; is he also seeing a counsellor: where he is finding the tools he will need to work on his recovery.

I think first and foremost though is I would want the time and... space... safety (that's not quite the right word....)... to think, feel and work through my emotions, and to feel like I could ask questions.
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Old 09-23-2010, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by phineas View Post
Ditto.
It's funny, on the first date with my XAF I told her that honesty is for me, the most important thing in a relationship, that I've been lied to before, and I won't stand for it again.
I ended up getting engaged to a pathological liar.
When I caught her big lies, I was already madly in love with her, so I stayed.
When I finally left, she said I abandoned her and that love should be unconditional. I asked her: "unconditional? how can I be in a relationship if there's no trust? I can I keep loving you when you keep lying to me?". Then she said I'm bashing her.
Anyway, I don't see a real relationship without complete honesty. I really don't know how you can be MARRIED to someone and keep such a huge secret from her.
Ditto all of that too....I should have realised when I found out he lied about his age, and then lied about his age again...but by the time I found out he lied about his age I was already emotionally hooked. I still remember the sick and helpless feeling in my stomach though as he played it off as a joke (both times) after all our conversations about 100% honesty. I guess what he meant was I was to be 100% honest with him but he could tell whatever version of the truth he felt was right at any given time. I actually think it is entirely possible that he believes his own lies. Unconditional love seems to be expected to be given but its certainly not what is received. My AH seems to have a nice long check list of every mistake I have ever made - especially the ones I have apologised for countless times. Its about the only thing he can consistently remember!
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Old 09-23-2010, 05:18 PM
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DGC, thanks for having the courage to come here with your dilemma, and congratulations on the beginning of a new lifestyle. I wish you the very best in your recovery.

For me, lying was the dealbreaker with XABF. He hid the magnitude of his drinking for the first year we were together. After a 6 week breakup, he confessed the alcoholism and a drug addiction and was attempting recovery. I had a lot of respect for the courage it took him to come clean with me. It was freeing for him and I both. I eventually got back into the relationship, but he after a couple of months he was actively using...and actively lying again...and not willing to admit the magnitude of how out of control things had become. It was the lying that I just couldn't deal with. My trust was completely disinegrated.

By hiding the truth from your new wife, you're sending the message that she isn't capable of handling the truth. She's a full-grown woman. Please give her the dignity she deserves in knowing the truth about this important part of who you are. If she loves you, sure, she may very well have some pain and disappointment over it, but she will probably be able to handle it. And forgive you. And love you all the same.

Marriages need a foundation of rock-solid trust in order to survive and to grow. Would you rather she find out from you, with love, or somewhere down the road, from someone else? The truth will eventually reveal itself. I wish you both the best.
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Old 09-23-2010, 05:56 PM
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I'd say it's unanimous. Now, here's a possibility you may not have considered. She may try to convince you that you're not.

Most of the partners on this forum have been soundly convinced of their alcoholic's alcoholism, and are frustrated to no end by their refusal to deal with the problem. Early on, though, a lot of us were in denial about it, ourselves.

If you look around the alcoholics forum, you will find tons of people who are getting no support for their recovery from their partners because the partners refuse to believe they are alcoholic. Sounds weird, huh? Sometimes I think partners want to deny a drinking problem because they have preconceived ideas about what an alcoholic is (the skid-row bum stereotype). Or they may have had someone else in their lives (a parent, a relative) who was an alcoholic not in recovery, and they shudder to think of you as being "like them". Or they may think by telling you that you "aren't that bad" they ARE being supportive--sorta like saying, "No, honey, those pants don't make you look fat."

Just be prepared for the possibility. You may have to take her to some open AA meetings so she can see what REAL alcoholics look like--they look just like you.

You MUST be honest with her, though, and pursue your recovery as you must, regardless of her reaction. Because without recovery, your relationship is likely to suffer greatly.
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Old 09-23-2010, 08:14 PM
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While I concur with what has already been said (esp. about deceit in a relationship being the true deal breaker) and I see that someone else has already asked about the practical reality of how this could even be kept a secret, another aspect I would consider is how to have a successful recovery, how to put the odds on your side in terms of staying sober and serene in the long run -- is that really something that can happen while you are hiding the alcoholism and recovery from your wife? I would ask myself what is most conducive for my recovery? For me, I can't imagine the answer would be to keep all this from my spouse. I expect you'll have all sorts of stress to deal with, I can't imagine keeping up with the dishonesty to your spouse is an extra stress you want to, or can, keep dealing with.
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Old 09-24-2010, 11:41 AM
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Should I tell my wife...

Originally Posted by LexieCat View Post
I'd say it's unanimous.
I'd say so. I appreciate all who too time to reply. A lot of wisdom, painfully earned I'd say, from the experiences you all have gone through.

Originally Posted by LexieCat View Post
You MUST be honest with her, though, and pursue your recovery as you must, regardless of her reaction. Because without recovery, your relationship is likely to suffer greatly.
You're right it's imperative that I tell her, for my recovery's sake. One of the posts mentions accountability. I thought about that a lot. I'm not completely dismissing my reasons for not telling her, the shame, embarassment and general emotional toll that fessing up to my drinking will entail. These things ARE holding me back. But another reason might be that by not telling her, I'm keeping the door propped open for relapsing. I don't want to think that, but the alcoholic mind is devious. Relapse will be a death blow to my recovery, and as Lexie pointed out, "...without recovery, your relationship is likely to suffer greatly." Without recovery, it's not likely to matter what I do or don't tell my wife.
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Old 09-24-2010, 04:45 PM
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But another reason might be that by not telling her, I'm keeping the door propped open for relapsing. I don't want to think that, but the alcoholic mind is devious. Relapse will be a death blow to my recovery, and as Lexie pointed out, "...without recovery, your relationship is likely to suffer greatly."
This is awesome, and I completely appreciate your candidness here.

But...

You're right it's imperative that I tell her, for my recovery's sake.
and then...
Without recovery, it's not likely to matter what I do or don't tell my wife.
It does matter. Whether you're in recovery, or relapsing, or wanting to hide the problems, honesty in a marriage matters. It says to your wife, "I respect you. I trust you to handle the truth about this part of who I am." It gives her the dignity to respond as an adult woman with a clear picture of her reality.

It sounds like you plan on coming clean with her, ***Applause from the SR F&F crowd*** and I sincerely hope you do. I don't mean to sound negative with the above, but I felt like there was some contradiction in your words.
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