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evenkeel 09-30-2010 08:05 AM

Need help sorting this out
Hello all. I am a 30-year-old woman married to the love of my life for 3 years. I went into our relationship (and then our marriage) knowing certain things about my wife that I think are now coming back to bite me in the butt and need help figuring it all out. I've talked to several people IRL and they've encouraged me to try to get help, but I'm not so sure how big of a problem the alcohol really is. There's a lot of history to this but I'll boil it down mostly to the present and if you need history I'll give it to you.

My wife was very much an alcoholic before we got together. She'll even tell you that. I believe she's back to toeing the line between "problem drinker" and alcoholic and I just don't know what to do. This is what she tells me about her history with alcohol: Since she was in her early teens she has been getting drunk with friends on a regular basis. Once she was able to pass as old enough to get into a bar she was going out 3+ times a week, and during her previous marriage she got to where she was drinking heavily 6, if not 7, days a week, every week. She told me that she was also cheating on him quite frequently for the last year of their marriage, at the rate of 2 or 3 different men and women every week, and rationalized it because she was lonely, didn't love him and knew she wouldn't be with him forever. She says she only did it when she was drunk, which was (conveniently) nearly every night.

In the present: she works 10-hour graveyard shifts starting at 6 pm and her days off are Friday, Sunday and Monday. Between when we became a "couple" four years ago and last spring she would go out any time we could get a sitter or I agreed to stay home with the kids while she went out. Six months ago my kids' dad started taking the kids every other weekend after not doing so for almost two years. Six months have now passed where she's gone out to the bar with friends at least three Fridays out of four and any other day besides Sunday and Monday that she's happened to have off of work. She'll also hop on any excuse to drink outside the house on Sundays and Mondays. I had a serious discussion with her about three months ago, addressing her going out and drinking, and telling her that I resented the fact that she was constantly choosing to go out and drink over staying home for a 'date night' with just the two of us. I wasn't asking her to stop completely-I was simply asking for time by ourselves once in a while without alcohol. She said she understood and that she would slow down. Three months have passed and nothing's changed. Granted, there's been some extenuating circumstances such as her grandma passing away a few weeks ago, but during her bereavement leave she got drunk every night at a bar or at a family member's house.

This last weekend I very nearly left her. On Friday we spent the evening with my mother. On the way home she told me she was going to go out. It was the birthday of my brother who was killed 2 years ago and Mom and I still have HUGE problems on that day. On the way home she told me she was going out. I was extremely disappointed as this was the first Friday in a few weeks that she hadn't pled "extenuating circumstances" she claimed as a reason to go out and I really just wanted her home with me for emotional support. I told her this. She went anyway. Saturday, I confronted her about continuing to break our agreement from 3 months ago. She told me it was my fault, that I had been in a bad mood and taking it out on her, and threw out a bunch of other excuses including "you're always tired on Fridays and I don't want to stare at the TV until 3 am while you sleep". No amount of trying to tell her that I didn't expect her to stay home the whole night, just a few hours, could convince her that maybe she'd been being disrespectful for the last 6 months. After several hours of arguing I told her she had one more chance to prove that she can be an equal partner in our marriage (we have other issues where she isn't following through on agreements either) and if it didn't change I was gone.

As I tell you all of this it occurs to me that, on the surface, this seems like a relationship issue and that alcohol plays a bit part in the whole scenario. It doesn't feel like a small role, though, and is a symptom of a much larger problem-her supposedly dormant alcoholism. Her solution to all of life's problems is alcohol. All get-togethers MUST include alcohol to some degree for her, even if she has to bring it. She insists that I drink when I go out with her, and if I do she then insists I get drunk. I hate drinking, I hate being drunk, and I hate that she teases and pressures me to drink and get drunk when I go out with her. If I don't drink or get drunk she gets mad. I used to do it to make her happy (how dysfunctional is that??) but I finally put my foot down and started either having just a few drinks or not going out at all (more on that later). At times she tells me she wants a beer at home but says she doesn't want to drink alone. I refuse to drink at home, so she doesn't and then whines as if it's my fault that she "can't" because I refuse to do so.

She literally whines if people are together drinking on a day that she works because she can't drink before work or has to work rather than go out. She always drinks until she's staggering, stupid drunk, physically ill, and on most occasions passes out more so than falls asleep afterward. She makes out with and gropes other people while drunk, though not as much as she used to since I started getting really mad about it (though it has occurred to me that she has just started hiding it, and the fact is that since I don't go with her most of the time anymore I don't know what she's doing when I'm not there. She's always laughed off my anger and says "It's what I do when I'm drunk! It doesn't mean anything!"

So...thoughts and/or comments? What am I dealing with here, and what can I do to make things better? I'm in a waiting game now to see if things change. We have a wedding to go to tomorrow, the mother of one of our friends. The reception is at a bar. The kids will be home this weekend and won't be able to stay at the bar for very long (small town, they serve food, private party, they can stay there until 8 p.m.). I'm betting good money that my wife will choose to stay at the bar until close instead of coming home to spend time with the boys on their one weekend home this month. She's all ready hinted at this being the case. Yes, we can spend time together Sunday, but we still have the issue of her choosing drinking over family and if she does stay out that will make 7 weekends in a row she's chosen to do so.

As an aside, her father is a severe alcoholic. He kept kegs of beer in its own refrigerator from the time when my wife was little, and due to her mother's disability, she was the one responsible for changing out the keg at delivery time and tapping the new one from the time she was strong enough to wrangle the kegs. He is very abusive, verbally more than physically-he's lost the strength and coordination to actually be able to seriously hurt anyone-but was very physically abusive to his family in the past. Her uncle (dad's brother) also died about a month ago because of alcohol. He drank until a week before he died, and only then allowed hospice in because he couldn't care for himself anymore and spent the last three days of his life in a coma. His death crushed my wife as she was close to him and made her even more scared for her father. Alcohol has had a LARGE presence in her life since she was very very young and that's why it's all the more concerning about the path she seems to be on and has been on before.

I acknowledge the part I have in all of this. I have a long history of going out with her so that I could keep an eye on her while she was drunk and drinking/getting drunk so I didn't have to deal with her teasing and pressuring. I've put my foot down in the last year or so, refusing to drink until drunk and eventually refusing to go out altogether most of the time. I totally own that it was MY decision to do these things and that it didn't help the situation, that my actions both enabled her and in some way validated her (in her mind).

But....I don't know what to think or do anymore. Can anyone help me?

suki44883 09-30-2010 08:13 AM

Why do you stay with her? You know that you cannot control her. She will do whatever she will do. The only one you can control is yourself. Decide what you will and will not live with and then proceed accordingly.

hurtandangry 09-30-2010 08:25 AM

hey even,

just went through a similar deal with my wife......

what it boils down to is what are you going to do?

stay and wait for her to decide to change (maybe she'll straighten up maybe not)

or get out and take care of yourself.

you can't change her but you can refuse to participate in inappropriate behavior.

Still Waters 09-30-2010 08:25 AM

Well, she's doing what she was doing prior to you two being together? I think, going by what you've written, that drinking is more important to her than you are or your relationship is.

In my experience, that's not likely to change.

You can change your expectations I suppose, or move on...but changing her is something you can't do.


nodaybut2day 09-30-2010 08:33 AM

first off...*hugs*...what a nightmare to have to live through.

second, WELCOME TO SR! This is an awesome place to find support. I hope you keep coming back and keep reading/posting.

Third, try to remember the 3 C's of addiction:
You didn't CAUSE it
You can't CURE it
You can't CONTROL it

Nothing you do, say, don't do or don't say will change your wife's addiction. You simply don't have the power. The only thing you do have power over is yourself. So, tell us, what do you want for yourself? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? How will you get there?

Fourth, please read this classic reading sticky. When I first read it, I thought it had been written specifically for my XAH (ex alcoholic hubby):

Finally...have you considered going to Al-Anon to get some face to face support?

Please keep posting. SR is always open!

evenkeel 09-30-2010 08:43 AM

So does she really have a problem with alcohol on any level? Or does anyone think that there's something else at work here that can be (more easily) fixed and the alcohol is just incidental?

I love her so much. I didn't know it was possible to love someone this much. She's a good person at heart, a good provider and awesome mom. I feel like it could be so much worse and that's the biggest argument against leaving her. It's not that I'm anxious to stick around and wait for things to get worse, but I'm just really wondering if she has an actual problem with alcohol, or if I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, or it's basic irreconcilable personality differences, or any number of other things. Just because this has happened before doesn't mean *we* can't deal with it, depending on the root cause. My wife and her ex didn't divorce because of her infidelity or alcoholism-they divorced because they had other problems and neither of them wanted or knew how to fix them.

And I all ready tried the "lowering my expectations" route. I told her if she didn't want to change things then I would just give her my blessing to go do what she wants so I could stop expecting or hoping for certain things. She didn't like that, said that she doesn't want her wife to tell her to "do whatever she wants". I told her that she was doing it anyway so I might as well stop hoping for her to be home on Friday nights and be pleasantly surprised when she does. She denied that she was doing whatever she wanted anyway. *sigh* Round and round and round.

Still Waters 09-30-2010 08:53 AM

You cannot reason with a person under the influence of alcohol or drugs, keep that in mind.

Only you can answer the question: Is her drinking causing ME problems.

It sounds like it is.

evenkeel 09-30-2010 09:30 AM

Okay. I understand now. It doesn't matter so much if alcohol is causing any other problems in our relationship, it's that the alcohol itself is a problem and causes issues all its own in some ways. I did remark to someone that it wouldn't really matter if she was simply going out and doing other stuff with other people without drinking, but I then realized that it WOULD matter. If she wasn't drinking I'd be far more inclined to go with her wherever she went and enjoy myself, at least for a time. I also wouldn't have to deal with the hangovers, concerns about her cheating, pressure to drink etc.

So...what do I want? I want a wife that will make an effort to spend a few hours a month just with me when the opportunity is available. I don't think I'm asking too much, and others have told me I'm not asking enough. Where do I see myself in 5 years? Honestly, the best picture I can come up with is still married to her and still putting up with everything I've all ready been putting up with. I just can't imagine leaving her because things are the way they are. I would have no problem leaving her if it got worse-she started drinking at home, missing work because of drinking, became abusive- because that impacts me AND the children. But right now? Probably not. I've also realized that even if I found out she cheated on me I still couldn't leave. Yes, things would change in regards to intimacy and such. But. If that's truly the way she wanted it (to be with other people also) I would accommodate it just because, to me, the intimacy with someone else isn't the issue-it's the lying. If it's out in the open I can deal with it. Call me weird but it's just how I've always felt.

So the question is, where do I go from here? I can't figure that one out. I don't know if I should talk to her, let it go and stand by my ultimatum even if I really don't want to, what?

nodaybut2day 09-30-2010 11:48 AM

Let me get this straight:

She DOESN'T want your blessing to go out and get blotto. She'd rather have you be the disapproving wife EVEN though she'll just go on drinking her into an early grave.

While we're at it, let's play this tape ALL the way forward. I'm going to suggest that you research the long term repercussions of heavy drinking. Perhaps others on the F&F board can come and chime in about what it's like to live with someone who's health has been damaged by years of heavy drinking....brain damage, liver cirrhosis, dementia are just a few that are popping into my head. I'm sure others will add their 2 cents to my short list.

Ask yourself right here and now if you're willing to watch your life go by as she commits slow and painful suicide, or if you're willing to become her nursemaid as she slowly lets go her hygiene, and you have to clean up pee, vomit, excrement, and all the while, she is drinking and drinking. Or will you have to bail her out of jail for various DWIs?

This is alcoholism. It's a progressive disease.

You mentioned having children. Are you willing to subject your children to a toxic home environment because you love HER so much? What about them? Don't they deserve a sane and healthy environment to live in? And what about your wife's children? Let's push the timeline even further...imagine your children, grown up, and married to a man or woman who treats them like your wife treats you...

I'm not saying you should save the world. That's a Codie's Dream and it's impossible. But just for a moment, consider the LONG TERM ramifications of just standing by her while she does this to herself, to you, to your children, *because you love her*.

There comes a point--at least for me--where *love* wasn't enough. Or rather, I loved myself MORE than I loved him.

You *DESERVE* more than what you're getting out of this marriage.

smacked 09-30-2010 12:19 PM

It sounds like you're ok with things proceeding the way they are.. and possibly progressing.

She has already (actions are SO much more telling than words!) shown you that alcohol is more important than time with you, or the children, frankly. That she doesn't respect the intimate committment of your relationship as she gropes and makes out with other people. That she is not there for you physically, emotionally, spiritually or otherwise. You're having a relationship with an empty shell right now, and if she is an alcoholic, will only get worse. It's your choice to keep on this ride and watch as this all goes down, kinda sucks you're taking children along for the view..

I hope you find yourself, and possibly your children are worth more than this..

And to answer your question about whether or not she has a problem with alcohol... it's a problem for YOU, it's not a problem for HER. She has absolutely no reason to change what she's doing.. but you can change what YOU are doing.

JTS 09-30-2010 01:21 PM

I agree with what everyone has said in reply, I went through the same situation with my wife and stuck it out only to make my life miserable for 16 fact I will be putting up a post about the impending results of my decision shortly here in forums. My advice is she will not stop drinking until she hits her bottom no matter what you say or do, for some alcoholics this could be as little as losing a job because of thier drinking, for others bottom can be far far worse. I would get out of the relationship, this may be the bottom she needs, but save yourself and your sanity first. That sounds selfish, but you have done all that you can do from the way it sounds.

LaTeeDa 09-30-2010 01:52 PM

I understand the temptation of trying to figure out exactly what the problem is so the two of you can work on it. But, honestly, it doesn't matter unless both people in the relationship want to work on it. From what you've described, she is not interested in working on it at all. This is not uncommon in alcoholics, actually I'd venture to guess it is the norm.

So, the only thing for you to sort out is whether you want to continue the relationship as it is. I spent quite a few years clinging to an option that didn't exist, all because the choices I really had were both unattractive to me. In a situation like this, the choices are to stay in the relationship and accept it the way it is, or get out. The false option of "working on things" or "getting the other person to see the problem" doesn't exist.

One of my favorite bits of Alanon wisdom is "Awareness-->Acceptance-->Action." I put the arrows in between because you have to do them in order. The fact that you are here signals Awareness. Most of us want to jump right to Action because we haven't yet accepted that we can only change ourselves. So, for now, I wouldn't worry too much about what to do. Instead, work on accepting that she is who she is and there is nothing you can do to change her. Once you can accept that, the action will become clear all on its own. :)


JenT1968 09-30-2010 02:36 PM

hey there even, just wanted to welcome you here, I've found it a great resource to work through my feelings and expectations and needs, in many areas of my life. Where you are right now is exhausting, worrying, confusing, I found reading around, especially the stickies at the top really useful in helping me start to make sense of what my life had become :)

Pelican 09-30-2010 05:20 PM

Welcome to the SR family evenkeel!

You will find lots of support for yourself here. We understand what it is like living with a loved one that chooses alcohol over quality time with family.

Here is some information that helped me understand alcoholism and how the body, brain and spirit become addicted. This is a link from one of our sticky (permanent) posts and it contains excerpts from the book "under the Influence" :

This is also from a sticky posts and contains steps we have taken along the way:

Make yourself at home by reading and posting as much as needed. We are here for you!

BuffaloGal 09-30-2010 06:22 PM

I recently read a well written article or excerpt... and I don't remember if I got the link from this website, or not... that held that alcoholics don't drink because they're stressed or depressed or unhappy or conflicted or having a bad hair day. They drink because they're addicted. Therefore, the standard theory that addressing the alcoholic's underlying problems will make the compulsion to drink go away is incorrect. Address the drinking, and then the other stuff can possibly be treated.

I hear ya, and no, you're not making a mountain out of a molehill. I threw out my much loved husband over his use of alcohol and porn: they were always going to come first, and no logic was too warped, and no sacrifice too great, to defend his addictions. His solution to all of life's problems was to reach for a bottle of wine and turn on the computer. My experience is like Stillwaters: it wasn't going to change. And I couldn't stand a life of having my life partner feed me cow patties. "It doesn't mean anything" is right up there on the bs list.

After my divorce, I dated a man who was equally uninterested in drinking and pornography, and who valued honesty. And... it was just as good as I thought it would be. I was right to feel that I deserved someone who could be emotionally present with me. I wasn't blowing anything out of proportion. Trust yourself-- if alcohol doesn't feel like a small problem to you, it isn't.

You may not be able to change your marriage the way you would wish, but you can make your life better. It is OK to love and still put your foot down about what you can and can't live with. Your refusal to go out drinking with her or keep an eye on her anymore freed her from an artificial constraint. My guess is you did help the situation; you stopped fighting a battle that you couldn't win.

Be well and be gentle with yourself...

evenkeel 10-01-2010 06:00 AM

Thank you so much!
Thanks so much for everyone's support and kind words!!! I really needed that kick in the butt.

She and I are absolutely fully aware of the long-term effects of alcohol. As I said, her uncle died recently from alcohol, her father is on his way out, and one of my uncles also died a few years ago due to alcohol. That's why it's hard for me to understand why she can't recognize the path that she's on. Or maybe she does and doesn't care. Or that she thinks she has it "under control" because she says she's hit her "bottom" before.

And she hit it, literally. She smashed her car into a light pole when she blacked out while driving drunk about six years ago. She doesn't remember anything that happened for forty minutes from the time she left the bar until she woke up behind the wheel with an airbag in her face and someone standing outside the car after the electricity went off in his house. She was very lucky in that she suffered no legal repercussions from that accident-the police never charged her with anything, something about not trying too hard to try to prove who was behind the wheel-and she knows it. She and the friend who was with her tried to stop drinking after that but within two weeks they were back at it again.

So...I guess I need to accept that alcohol is something that she has decided will have a presence in her life no matter what the consequences. I got some perspective yesterday that will help me to do what I need to do. I found out that there is a chance that she may be able to adopt my kids within a year. She's been dying to adopt them since we got married. Of course, there is no way I'm going to allow her to adopt them under the current circumstances, but then it occurred to me that if I don't want her tied to me as the other legal parent for the rest of my life it doesn't make sense that I'm willing to let her continue to be the other parent (even without the legal ties) for the long-term.

Unless I know that she's committed to at least trying to figure things out and at least reduce the alcohol there's no way I'm even going to entertain the thought. I think we will be seeking some counseling to try to get all of our issues addressed overall, and it may help to do it in the context of making sure our relationship is stable enough to pursue adoption. She asked for it, so we're going to go even if I think it's going to be useless. If she's as unwilling to listen to a counselor as she is to me then I won't be staying with her, much less allowing her to adopt the boys.

I know, I'm probably setting myself up for failure and heartbreak. The alcohol issue isn't going to go away completely and I run the risk of, one or five or ten years down the line, her being worse than she is now despite any agreement or how eager she is to work on things so I can feel comfortable with the adoption. Is this, on its face, a bad idea? Telling her that if she wants to adopt the kids we need to go to counseling and whatever comes out of it needs to be fixed before we could consider moving forward with it? It feels like dangling a carrot in front of her, but at least this particular carrot is something she claims she wants very badly and just maybe "for the sake of the kids" will be enough for her to at least try to straighten out. Isn't it at least worth a try? I really don't want to give up without making sure there is nothing else we/I could have done.

Oh, and I talked to her about the wedding today. She told me that if the boys aren't allowed to stay there very late then she wants to stay after we go home "to make it worth the drive". That's not really the answer I was expecting and don't know what I'm going to do if she can't find out how late the boys can stay before we go out there. We might just be staying home and see what time she comes home when she goes by herself.

evenkeel 10-01-2010 06:10 AM

Originally Posted by BuffaloGal (Post 2724993)
Your refusal to go out drinking with her or keep an eye on her anymore freed her from an artificial constraint. My guess is you did help the situation; you stopped fighting a battle that you couldn't win.

For sure. I've resolved that I will no longer go with her to the bars unless it's for a specific family gathering. It stinks, because the people she goes out with otherwise are my friends also and I don't get to see them anywhere else, but for my refusing to go with her to do any good I feel like I have to cut it out completely. I realized that *I* don't need or want alcohol in my life, so why should I let it especially when all I get in return is more grief from her? Does that sound like I think I'm a better person than her? I don't, it's just owning up to a belief and standing on it. Who knows what the consequences will be, mostly in the area of her propensity to cheat, but if my extensive family court experience has taught me anything it's "make the policy and deal with the problems if they come around".

evenkeel 10-01-2010 06:22 AM

Originally Posted by nodaybut2day (Post 2724664)
Let me get this straight:

I'm not saying you should save the world. That's a Codie's Dream and it's impossible. But just for a moment, consider the LONG TERM ramifications of just standing by her while she does this to herself, to you, to your children, *because you love her*.

There comes a point--at least for me--where *love* wasn't enough. Or rather, I loved myself MORE than I loved him.

You *DESERVE* more than what you're getting out of this marriage.

I've all ready left one long-term relationship after my ex became verbally abusive, and then she became mildly physically abusive while I was in the process of figuring out how to physically leave. You'd think that between that and leaving my previous marriage due to him being extremely controlling (among other problems) I'd be more aware of my worth as an individual. I had the strength two other times, so why don't I have it now? Why am I apparently willing to settle this time?

evenkeel 10-01-2010 06:35 AM

Originally Posted by nodaybut2day (Post 2724664)
Let me get this straight:

She DOESN'T want your blessing to go out and get blotto. She'd rather have you be the disapproving wife EVEN though she'll just go on drinking her into an early grave.

Yep. I don't get it. I've been over and over that trying to figure out why she feels that way and the only thing I can come up with is that she knows her drinking is a problem but doesn't want to deal with it, and giving the blessing is me acknowledging that problem. Her refusing the blessing is avoiding that acknowledgment.

suki44883 10-01-2010 06:41 AM

Only you can decide what you are willing to live with. We all have our "breaking point" and you obviously haven't yet reached yours. It doesn't sound like much of a loving relationship to me, but then, I'm not the one living with it. People have all different reasons for staying together. As an adult, you have the right to do what you want and so does she. If you can live with it, then that is your choice. Just know that you cannot change her and I think using the kids as a carrot is just wrong. Children are not pawns to be used in relationships. To do so can end with disastrous results.

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