My Wife an Alcoholic ?

Old 10-05-2010, 09:26 AM
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My Wife an Alcoholic ?

I've been staring at the screen now for half an hour not knowing what to write, backspacing, deleting, starting over,etc... I'll just bite the bullet and spill it out.

I think my wife has crossed into alcoholism or at least drinking too much for her health and it's scaring me.

Over the past year I would sometimes notice alcohol disappearing. For example I'd go get myself a beer and realize there was none. Or our rum would all be gone. I was never quite sure because I don't drink often so I could never remember when something was last purchased. Anyhow a few months ago, I noticed that our liquor pantry had rum (40oz) and this was a coincidence because I had happened to look the day before when we had some company over for supper and there we no more rum. Then, a few days later no more rum.

That's when I started monitoring the pantry. I noticed the rum would appear and disappear on a regular basis. So did wine.

She drinks only late afternoon to early evening and about the equivalent of a bottle of wine but it's everyday of the week. She doesn't get passed out, in fact it is even hard to tell she had something to drink (unless you know). She's never had alcohol in the morning or early afternoon (I monitored her during our 3 weeks vacation this august).

I haven't approached her yet but I will do so tonight after the kids have gone to bed. I want to tell her I love her and that she's scaring me and that I'm willing to do what it takes to help her. Is she addicted yet ? I don't know. But I want to get this resolved before it gets any worse. I know our marriage is not perfect and this might open up a can of worms but I can't hold it in any longer.

I did take the Al Anon Self Test and answered "yes" to 4 questions and "maybe" to 2. I know some of you might scoff that I only had 4 yes' but I'm scared nonetheless and I don't want it to get to 10,15 or 20 yes'.

Sorry for the long post but it feels good to at least write about it.
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Old 10-05-2010, 09:38 AM
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Hi HotPeppers,

It takes a lot of courage to take the steps that you have already taken. I'm in the same situation as you. My W drinks an average of one bottle of wine per night. More on weekends. I started noticing when our wine rack went from full to nothing over the course of a month. Then she would come home with a 6-pack of wine from the market.

Is my wife an alcoholic? Tough question to answer. What I can say is that her drinking has become a problem for me. That was enough to get me to start posting here and looking into al-anon meetings.

There are many wonderful people here with far more experience than I and much wisdom to share.

Please keep posting. You'll get a lot of support!
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Old 10-05-2010, 09:42 AM
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hi hotpeppers and WELCOME to SR. I'm so glad you found this forum. It's a wonderful place to get support.

First off, let me post for you the 3 C's of addiction, in case you don't already know them:
You didn't CAUSE it
You can't CURE it
You can't CONTROL it

For me, the last two were particular relevant because I spent the better part of my 5 years marriage to an alcoholic trying to "help", "cure", "support", "manipulate", "beg", "threaten", WHATEVER for him to stop drinking. It never worked. I never had the power to influence my husband's drinking, just as you are powerless to change your wife. The only power you have is over yourself.

As for whether or not your wife is an alcoholic...I'll rebuttle that if the drinking is a problem FOR YOU, then there's a problem in the marriage. It doesn't matter if she's an occasioncal binge drinker, a daily drinker, a functional one or a blue-spotted cow...if the drinking affets you, there's a problem.

I invite you to keep reading those "Classic reading" stickies at the top of the forum. There's so much wisdom to be found there.

And keep posting as much as you want. SR is always open.
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Old 10-05-2010, 09:43 AM
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Hi hotpeppers, and welcome to SR!

If your wife's drinking is a problem for you, then it's a problem. Best case scenario: you relay to her that it scares you for her health and she agrees and stops drinking. Worst case: you relay to her that it scares you for her health and she doesn't stop drinking.

You can plan for both scenarios, but do know that you cannot force your wife to to anything she doesn't want to do.

If she says no, or even says yes but continues to drink, what are your plans?
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Old 10-05-2010, 09:44 AM
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BTW, your post was nowhere near as long as some I've seen (and written myself) here, so no worries!
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Old 10-05-2010, 11:07 AM
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Wow! I didn't expect responses this quickly. thanks everyone for your comments.

Still Waters, I'm not sure what to do if she doesn't agree with me. I think it will be hard for her to deny she's drinking too much as I've been accumulating proof. She may deny she has a problem though.

How did this start ?. Is she depressed/stressed and turned to alcohol for relief ? We used to make our own wine from those kits you can buy at Costco. Is it because alcohol was too readily available and that it started out as a harmless drink after work ?

wish me luck.
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Old 10-05-2010, 11:37 AM
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Honestly, I wouldn't try to wrap my brain around the reasons WHY an alcoholic drinks...there always seems to be a "good" reason, and yet, as someone who isn't addicted, I just don't get it. In any case, usually when we're looking for the WHY it's because we're looking to point the finger at something or someone. There's really no point in that.

The situation is what it is right now, so deal with today. Perhaps later on in counselling you can rehash the past, if it helps you, but there's not really any point to it at the moment.

I wish you luck and I hope that you come back and keep us posted on what happened.
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Old 10-05-2010, 11:38 AM
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Hi hotpepper,

She may deny she has a problem though.

And if she does that's OK. I mean OK in the sense that it is not an unusual response, in fact for an A that's the normal 1st response to a 1st confrontation or question about alcohol consumption.

Well, the dream is we confront them they say Oh wow you're right and then they go get help, get sober, find recovery (meaning they deal with their underlying issues seriously) and we get the marvelous person who they all are sober to be a part of our lives!


No matter how she responds the only way to know if an A is serious about sobriety and recovery is if you see their behavior change. They will say all manner of things to keep the charade of "this is normal" going, and keep you wondering if it is your fault or if you are crazy and making it all up etc. Meanwhile, going along with an alcoholic's vision of normal leads to the whole family unit getting very sick and warped.

So pay attention to what she does, not what she says.

I thik this is a great statement:
I want to tell her I love her and that she's scaring me and that I'm willing to do what it takes to help her.

I might just want to define "willing to do what it takes" a little more specifically! An A can put you through the ringer taking all the help you can give!!! Don't take it personally (hard in a marriage I know) but she will just be doing what A's do. The addiction makes them use any means necessary to let nothing stop the drinking. So they will use all the rules of love, intimacy and engagement to their benefit...benefit being: nothing gets in the way of my drinking.

Glad you're here - collectively here on SR we've seen it all so you're not alone!
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Old 10-05-2010, 11:44 AM
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I hope your fears are unfounded, and I hope you have better luck confronting your wife than I did.

The first time I confronted AW, my daughter and I threw out her booze, and she either quit or eased up for six months or so.

The next time, after I noticed that she was getting drunk more often, she gave all of her liquor to a friend and said she would quit because it wasn't worth having me upset with her. That time, she lasted about two weeks.

Then, she promised to quit drinking if it would make me want to have sex with her more often... that one lasted two days.

I don't bother confronting her any more.

Once this disease takes hold, it seems to be very tenacious. My AW is drunk an average of four times a week now. If your wife isn't visibly drunk, maybe you can get through to her. However, if she's hiding it, that's not a good sign, from what I've heard.

Good luck; I'm relatively new at this myself, but you'll get some excellent advice from others here.
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Old 10-05-2010, 03:37 PM
  # 10 (permalink)  
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I know everyone's situation is different (body mass, tolerance etc), but in terms of daily consumption, one whole bottle of wine is definitely in the realm of the alcoholic. That is a lot alcohol, especially if it's red wine, which can average anything between 12 and 14 percent alcohol by volume. That is roughly 10 units of alcohol, over FIVE times the recommended daily limit of 2 units a day for women as defined by the World Health Organization.

I've read up on this because my AW consumes the same quantity daily without fail - at minimum 1 bottle of red wine (750 ml), generally with about 13-14 percent alcohol by volume. She's been doing this now for almost 3 years. I can tell you from my experience that this quantity makes her dumb as rocks now when she drinks. It's affected her brain for sure, I'm convinced she's permanently damaged it.

Also watch out for prescription drugs. An alcoholic often combines booze with sleeping tablets due to the disturbed sleep patterns that alcohol creates. It's an unholy combination because the sleeping tablets create a similar drunk state, and it amplifies the effect of alcohol when combined.

I'm not sure what her reaction will be when you approach her about it, but be prepared for a lot of kicking back at you. You simply will not believe how an active alcoholic rationalizes their consumption and how they want to minimize the effect of it on their lives and the lives of the people closest to them.

In my mind alcoholism is a disease where the consumption of alcohol is only a component of the problem. The other components are blame and denial, and there's every chance she'll blame you for it while simultaneously denying the problem is even there.

My AW sees me as being judgmental in a moral sense, but in fact we need to use our judgment as partners of alcoholics to be able to differentiate what is acceptable consumption and what is not. Often we subconsciously just go with the alcoholic's daily regimen of intake because it's something that becomes repeated daily and just becomes part of the routine of everyday life.

However if you take a step back and see that alcohol is being used here for purposes other than social or celebratory, then you get to see just how abnormal its daily consumption is. Once you start pointing that out to her, be prepared to open up Pandora's box!

If I can give you any personal advice, learned from hard experience, don't try and control her drinking - only she can do that. By the same token, don't let her endanger anyone, especially children if you have them. Do what you need to do to protect them. Don't let your relationship with her cloud your judgment around those kinds of issues. It's easier said than done, because we often act in what we think are the interests of our relationship with our alcoholic partners, when in fact we're perpetuating or enabling the conditions that allow them to drink.
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Old 10-05-2010, 04:21 PM
  # 11 (permalink)  
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I know what you are going thru. My wife has a problem too. She drinks a bottle of wine everyday. On weekend she drinks 2 bottles during the day.
She also sneaks to bars after work and quickly drinks a couple of drinks before she gets home. Sometimes she losses control and drinks herself to oblivion, but these events are rare. I am sure this will occur more frequently.

I think she has one more year before she starts drinking when she gets up in the morning. She is ill, very ill, yet she denies she has a problem and we are now seperating.

During the month of August she went on a binge. She was intoxicated everyday when I got home from work. (she has summers off), so I detached from her to cope. After detaching, she wanted to seperate.

My wife was just like yours, you could hardly tell she was intoxicated after a bottle of wine. Now its getting more noticeable after she drinks a bottle of wine. You know she's intoxicated.

I found that living with her has made me ill and I need to get better.

If your wife has a problem, you will notice the progression, it gets worst.
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Old 10-05-2010, 04:27 PM
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Tactless, it seems that one bottle of wine is like a standard or something. It's almost as if they pace themselves and say internally, well, it's only a bottle, I'm not a full-blown alcoholic, just a hard drinker.
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Old 10-06-2010, 06:12 AM
  # 13 (permalink)  
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Well pandora's box has been opened. Here's my recollection of events:
- told her I was very worried about her heath
- she asked me why and I told her I know she's been drinking too much
- she denied it with a "what are you talking about"
- when I told her she admitted to drinking but not alot
- when I told her I'd been monitoring and I know it's too much she admitted that she knows she should stop but I'm exaggerating that she doesn't drink "every day" and that she swears that she is not drinking a whole bottle of wine a day.
- then she started saying she's been depressed for many years brought on by her feeling lonely, feeling like no one in the family cares (especially me).
- she would say that she's not blaming me specifically but ....
- she assured me that she doesn't have an alcohol problem and that she'll stop to prove me wrong ... "you'll see" she said. She would also say that she only drinks in late afternoon, early evening. She still cooks and cleans and does homework with the kids.
- if we go out and she's the designate driver she doesn't drink (very true)
- I wanted her to get help for this but she doesn't think she needs it
- I wanted US to go get counseling but she doesn't think we need it.
- We talked for quite a while, which is good I guess. I promised to help out around the house more. I'll admit that I'm lazy when it comes to house work.
- The big "thing" are my parents. She feels like I take my parents side of things over hers and I'll admit she's partly right. My mom is like "Marie" in Everybody Loves Raymond and I mean literally.
- She also mentioned that she has nothing. I have a hobby that keeps me occupied and busy 4 months out of the year and she has nothing (just her job, the house and the kids). She feels that when we moved away for 4 years many moons ago that we lost touch with all our close friends (that part is true.. I don't have any "good" friends anymore).
- I did not sleep a wink and I'm tired at work. I admit now that I've been depressed too and the quality of my job has suffered. (I'm going to go talk to my boss after this)
- I feel like my tear ducts are full but nothing will come out.
- This morning after she left for work I emptied and got rid of all alcohol that I could find in the house.
- Should I come home early to make sure she doesn't go out and buy more liquor/wine ?
- Not sure of my next step.

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Old 10-06-2010, 06:19 AM
  # 14 (permalink)  
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To your recollection of your conversation with your wife, I'll respond:

Read this sticky and then tell me if you see any similarities.

It may be time for you to ask yourself what your boundaries are (i.e. what you're ok with in your marriage and what you simply won't accept). Then you can go about enforcing them.

For example, my first boundary was "I will no longer give you money for booze or go buy booze for you". It was huge for me. It was very hard to enforce at first. I did it half-assed, but my XAH got the message right away: I would no longer be "helping" him get booze. No worries though, he found other ways to get what he wanted.
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Old 10-06-2010, 06:23 AM
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Hi Guy,

great talk that you had together. I hope that she is able to stop.
i would not leave work early to make sure she doesn't get more booze. are you going to do that every day? no , you cant, right? it may put your job at risk, and is something you are not responsible for. she will get it somehow, if she wants to. you have to let go of trying to control her drinking. she is the only one who can do that.

keep posting,
this is an awesome site.
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Old 10-06-2010, 06:56 AM
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hi guy-

you will exhaust yourself being the booze police. she's a grown woman, she can drink if she wants to.

i agree with noday, a good next step for you is to consider what boundaries you have. things like her driving, her caring for the children, her having full access to your money...

they are resourceful and can hide the drink quite successfully. i heard one story where the guy shot vodka into oranges with syringes to trick his spouse.

her end of your conversation is common: the lying and then the blaming you or blaming just about anything for their drinking. we call this denial. try to recognize when she changes the subject from drinking to what's wrong with you. we call that blame-shifting, a common tactic to get the focus off their drinking.

don't take the bait.

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Old 10-06-2010, 07:20 AM
  # 17 (permalink)  
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Addiction, Lies and Relationships


The personal exceptionalism of the addict, along with his willingness to lie both by commission and omission in the protection and furtherance of his addiction, place a severe strain upon his relationships with others. It does not usually take those who are often around the addict long to conclude that he simply cannot be believed in matters pertaining to his addiction. He may swear that he is clean and sober and intends to stay that way when in fact he is under the influence or planning to become so at the first opportunity; he may minimize or conceal the amount of substance consumed; and he may make up all manner of excuses and alibis whose usually transparent purpose is to provide his addiction the room it requires to continue operating.

One of the most damaging interpersonal scenarios occurs when the addict, usually as the consequence of some unforeseen crisis directly stemming from his addiction, promises with all of the sincerity at his command to stop his addictive behavior and never under any circumstances to resume it again.

"I promise," the addict pleads, sometimes with tears in his eyes. "I know I have been wrong, and this time I have learned my lesson. You'll never have to worry about me again. It will never happen again!"

But it does happen again and again, and again, and again. Each time the promises, each time their breaking. Those who first responded to his sincere sounding promises of reform with relief, hope and at times even joy soon become disillusioned and bitter.

Spouses and other family members begin to ask a perfectly logical question: "If you really love and care about me, why do you keep doing what you know hurts me so badly?" To this the addict has no answer except to promise once again to do better, "this time for real, you'll see!" or to respond with grievances and complaints of his own. The question of fairness arises as the addict attempts to extenuate his own admitted transgressions by repeated references to what he considers the equal or greater faults of those who complain of his addictive behavior.

This natural defensive maneuver of "the best defense is a good offense" variety can be the first step on a slippery slope that leads to the paranoid demonization of the very people the addict cares about the most. Unable any longer to carry the burden of his own transgressions he begins to think of himself as the victim of the unfairness and unreasonableness of others who are forever harping on his addiction and the consequences that flow from it. "Leave me alone," he may snap. "I'm not hurting anybody but myself!" He has become almost totally blind to how his addictive behavior does in fact harm those around him who care about him; and he has grown so confused that hurting only himself has begun to sound like a rational, even a virtuous thing to do!
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Old 10-06-2010, 07:56 AM
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Thanks again for the support and the hugs everyone.

I think she'll do an acceptable attempt at stopping but I'm afraid that if her feeling depressed doesn't stop, she'll slip and then feel guilty about it and continue drinking.

Our marriage needs fixing, that I agree. I also agree that I can help around the house alot more but I will not take the blame for her drinking.

Another problem is that she's the "money manager" in the house. We have a joint bank and credit card accounts. She also has a couple of her own credit card accounts (from the days before we got married). How do I stop that ?

We have two kids my son is 13 and my daughter is 11. I don't think they are aware of any major issues right now. My wife doesn't pose any danger in any way to them yet (as far as I can tell). Do I approach them ? And explain what's going on with their mother ? Or wait and see what happens next ? I don't want to stress them out.

I had a talk with my manager and he seems to understand. He hasn't noticed anything wrong with my quality of work but I know it's been hurting. I procrastinate alot, give short bursts of good work and then slump into procrastinating again. Anyhow he understands and says his door is always open if I need to talk more.

Needless to say I'm scared of what the future holds. Never in my mind at any time did I ever consider that I would be in this situation. It's unreal.

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Old 10-06-2010, 08:16 AM
  # 19 (permalink)  
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Do you pay her credit cards? I would recommend you stop that if that's the case. If she maxes out her cards on booze, I'm not quite sure what you can do short of shutting them down. I know that in a lot of places, because you are married, you'd be responsible for her debt. Have you examined your bank and credit card statements lately? Is there a drain in your finances due to alcohol purchases?

IMO, this is a perfect opportunity for you to become more involved in the way the money is managed around the house. Time to sit down with bank statements, credit card statements and utility bills to actually examine your finances. Perhaps you also need to open up a separate account and start putting money there in case you need an exit strategy.

As for your kids, I'm sorry to say that at the age of 11 and 13, they probably already have an inkling of what's going on. My stepson was 6 when I met him, and he was 12 when I left his father. He was 9 or so when he pleaded with his father not to smoke or drink anymore. He was 11 when he asked me why his dad HAD to drink all the time. He was 12 when I introduced him to Al-Anon. Perhaps you could open the lines of communication with your kids and see if they have things to say; you don't need to force the issue or make a huge conversation out of this. Just let them know that if they are curious, angry, frustrated, scared or sad, you're there.

Have you considered individual counselling for yourself? You really do need support to get through something like this...Also, doing something like this will take the focus off HER and what she's doing/not doing, and bring it back on you. You kids need you to be healthy.
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Old 10-06-2010, 08:50 AM
  # 20 (permalink)  
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Speaking from the other side of things, you're going to drive yourself crazy trying to be the booze/money police. There are steps to be taken in order to avoid enabling - and folks here have good experience with that. But other than that...

When I was an active drunk, there was no stopping me. I had the secret cash accounts that the wife didn't know about. I had booze hidden in some damn creative ways.

If she is indeed an alcoholic and wants to drink, there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop her. She will find a way.
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