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The Emotional connection--or lack thereof--with an alcoholic spouse

Old 11-18-2010, 07:43 AM
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The Emotional connection--or lack thereof--with an alcoholic spouse

Alanon tells me in their reading for the beginning of meetings that we can find our own happiness whether the alcoholic is sober OR NOT.

It's the OR NOT part I have trouble with.

My exah was responsible, worked hard, paid his bills. Granted, there's probably as many scenarios and personality types in alcoholic marriages as there are brands of liquor.

My problem was an emotional disconnect--or lack of connection. I attributed this to his large ego (successful man) and communication breakdown, and communication styles. I just don't get you was a regular thought of mine, pretty much daily.
I'd like to hear others tell me (whether their alcoholic spouse is drinking or not) about your emotional connection, and how successful it is/was.

It seems to me the crucial element of a marriage is an emotional connection that is strong and healthy. That two people relate and can see eye to eye, and when speaking the same language, can actually make sense to each other.
I am wondering if our emotional connection problem was really about the alcohol, or how much because of the alcohol, or is it something that would have been the same outcome even if he hadn't have been a drinker.

This confuses me. And how to live with an active drinker and be happy confuses me in a marriage, because alcohol seems like an emotional barrier of its own, regardless of other emotional barriers that may exist.
Has anybody had a terrific emotional connection with a drinker?

Thanks!
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Old 11-18-2010, 08:00 AM
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I think you are reading more into it than it says. It says you can be happy whether the drinker is drinking or not. It does not say you can be happy WITH them, drinking or not.

It's all about acceptance. He is what he is, he does what he does. If you are happy with him as he is, great. If not?

L
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Old 11-18-2010, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by LaTeeDa View Post
I think you are reading more into it than it says. It says you can be happy whether the drinker is drinking or not. It does not say you can be happy WITH them, drinking or not.

It's all about acceptance. He is what he is, he does what he does. If you are happy with him as he is, great. If not?

L

Alright, for this thread's purposes, let's say that what you said above is a given. You find your own happiness wherever.

Even if the spouse is an ex, I'd still like to hear stories of the emotional connection and how much its success/failure is attributed to the alcohol, or perhaps isn't tied to the alcohol!
Just trying to sort out in my own head that I blamed the emotional disconnect on the alcohol, but perhaps it is far more complicated than that. I don't know if he became sober whether I would be dealing with a different person or not. If he continued to drink forever, how much would be lost in translation?
The alcoholic brain. How much of their thinking is a result of the alcohol, how much is other things.

And for those whose spouses did get sober--how about the emotional connection then?
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Old 11-18-2010, 08:17 AM
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For my stbxah, he cannot handle emotion, that is why he drinks (my own perception after 10 years). When he wanted to emotionally connect with me his answer was sex. For the longest time that worked for me. Then I figured out that for me, in order to have sex, I needed the other emotional stuff first or the feelings just weren't there. Losing the emotional connection and realizing that he was undependable when I needed him was what got me taking care of me.
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Old 11-18-2010, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by brokenheartfool View Post
Alright, for this thread's purposes, let's say that what you said above is a given. You find your own happiness wherever.

Even if the spouse is an ex, I'd still like to hear stories of the emotional connection and how much its success/failure is attributed to the alcohol, or perhaps isn't tied to the alcohol!
Just trying to sort out in my own head that I blamed the emotional disconnect on the alcohol, but perhaps it is far more complicated than that. I don't know if he became sober whether I would be dealing with a different person or not. If he continued to drink forever, how much would be lost in translation?
The alcoholic brain. How much of their thinking is a result of the alcohol, how much is other things.

And for those whose spouses did get sober--how about the emotional connection then?
I think the answer is different for everyone. How much of people's emotional block is from the drink or from their own issues?
It depends.
I think, like my AH, many alcoholics drink to medicate emotional pain. Stopping drink doesn't fix that underlying pain.
For me, my AH has the emotional mine field of "do not go there" topics (the hard ones, the ones about his drinking or dishonesty or hiding).
That causes me emotional disconnect.
He can be gentle and loving and expressive at other times.
He is SUPER shut down when he's shut down.

Your time *might* be better spent exploring you and why you chose/choose(?) partners that are emotionally disconnected. That is an answer you can find in yourself.

Hugs,
peace
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Old 11-18-2010, 08:42 AM
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IMO active alcoholics already have an emotional connection - with alcohol. They will never have a true emotional connection with a spouse because they do not/will not/can not put their spouse first. Alcohol is their primary relationship.

I think I also suck at emotional connections/emotional intimacy and I'm not an alcoholic so some people have trouble without alcohol but, IMO, all alcoholics have trouble with it as long as they are active in their addiction.
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Old 11-18-2010, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by FindingPeace1 View Post
I think the answer is different for everyone. How much of people's emotional block is from the drink or from their own issues?
It depends.
I think, like my AH, many alcoholics drink to medicate emotional pain. Stopping drink doesn't fix that underlying pain.
For me, my AH has the emotional mine field of "do not go there" topics (the hard ones, the ones about his drinking or dishonesty or hiding).
That causes me emotional disconnect.
He can be gentle and loving and expressive at other times.
He is SUPER shut down when he's shut down.

Your time *might* be better spent exploring you and why you chose/choose(?) partners that are emotionally disconnected. That is an answer you can find in yourself.

Hugs,
peace
My exah has a very similar emotional style as yours. You pretty much nailed it, the unapproachable subjects, the result that has on you, the very warm and loving times, and the total disconnect when they shut down.

My question is really regarding re-entering this relationship on some level. At early stages of communication, I am trying to see ahead as to how much the communication can be improved, how much is futile, and do I want crumbs or the whole cake.
As to why I chose him...a little bit of it breaks down to --here's this big successful man who also wimpers like a puppy at the store...I could take care of him emotionally, and give him a home, nurture that abandoned puppy....
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Old 11-18-2010, 09:02 AM
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I can't answer that, since (after a year since having "the talk") I am walking away. We are separating with a 6 month review/check-in to come.

MY AH is totally functioning and wonderful 95% of the time.
I love him dearly and love the other aspects of him/our relationship.
I just can't deal with the total shut down/anger/avoidance/drama around his shadow side. Going ANYWHERE near a topic that makes him feel bad is forbidden. Well, hello! If you are sneaking around to drink and smoke and lying about it and medicating sadness/depression with alcohol, I think I'd like to share MY feelings on the subject! LOL!
So, I can't answer. Your AH (or RAH, I'm not clear) *may* grow through some of his communication issues. If so, I know that takes a long, long time and full commitment on his part. He also may not. You get to ask yourself if you are willing to accept him AS IS. Because he may never change. If you are holding on and HOPING he will "get better", you may give your whole life to your own fantasy. Which, is also your right, but not fun for anyone.
I would work on asking yourself if you can accept him RIGHT NOW AS IS and go from there.
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Old 11-18-2010, 09:44 AM
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My A was entirely incapable of connecting emotionally while drinking

He would sometimes feel feelings, and be unabashedly surprised and overwhelemed by the connect he had made, to our son, to me.

When I met him, and we were both younger, he was more available emotionally. He was not consumed by the disease yet.
I look at it like this, I have drank a lot in periods of my own life. During those periods, I was never able to wake up from a drunk, and to go back in the next night. Why? Well, I would be physically beat up, by varying degrees...but also, I would have some brain cell damage, LOL...I needed to regain footing.

Alcohol alters me, even at a few drinks on a "big" night out with the girls level. It alters my ability to be connected to myself. It makes us literally "forget". It literally "eases pain"
It is a drug. A toxin, even.
It impairs judgement, it changes personality.

When my best friend died suddenly a few years back, I drank to numb the EMOTIONAL PAIN. I drank for a few nights. These alcoholics drink sometimes all day, everyday. At the very least they over drink a few days or nights a week.
I have always seen that as means to dilute the pain of being in their feeling center.

As far as now, while he is 5 weeks sober?
In the last 5 weeks, in spite of having nuts and bolts difficulties, and him behaving a bit like a teenager in terms of responsibility, follow through, etc...

I have experienced having my boyfriend back. We have talks, he laughs at appropriate times, he has normal emotional responses to things.
He looks at me, and he is there, inside of his eyes.
He laughs with our son, who has been lapping up the emotional PRESENCE, which had been MIA, with fleeting moments of contact for his whole life in regards to his dad.
Its early in his recovery, he is out of the house right now, until he pulls it together, OR NOT...but, in response to your question,
He is incredibly more emotionally available than I even thought possible, and it was alcohol that numbed him away from that.
I have been held without expectation of some payback, I have been asked what I need, I have been smiled at without posturing, or plot.

It may all be a ruse, a con, or maybe some pink cloud action, but...He is in there, there is somebody home where there was nobody home for years, and that is after 5 weeks sober.

I am, whether he can conform to living here with us or not, very excited for him to be a living breathing emotional person again. I know it scares the sh*t out of him, though.

just my experience so far.
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Old 11-18-2010, 11:30 AM
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Great question! In one hour I will find out the "next step" for my AH. Will he be coming home from the nursing home, is he going into some sort of rehab inpatient or outpatient? What's going to happen? I started rereading Melanie Beattie's "Co-dependant No More" last night and I know that MY JOB is going to be continuing MY PROGRAM. I waited for 22 years to see the emotional connection. I don't think it's there anymore, but I may be surprised. I hope for your sake you two can connect, but as for me, I'm not going to live on hope, expectations, in case it doesn't happen...again. Every time I'm disappointed, I become more angry, hurt and codependant. It'll be interesting to watch myself grow, fall down, skin my knees and get up again, with or without my AH. It's still about you taking care of you. One day at a time.
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Old 11-18-2010, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by brokenheartfool View Post
Alright, for this thread's purposes, let's say that what you said above is a given. You find your own happiness wherever.

Even if the spouse is an ex, I'd still like to hear stories of the emotional connection and how much its success/failure is attributed to the alcohol, or perhaps isn't tied to the alcohol!
Just trying to sort out in my own head that I blamed the emotional disconnect on the alcohol, but perhaps it is far more complicated than that. I don't know if he became sober whether I would be dealing with a different person or not. If he continued to drink forever, how much would be lost in translation?
The alcoholic brain. How much of their thinking is a result of the alcohol, how much is other things.

And for those whose spouses did get sober--how about the emotional connection then?
This is what I call "spinning." Trying to figure out all the what if's and what might be's. It's a tactic my mind uses on me to avoid dealing with what is.

So, for purposes of this thread, let's say a bunch of us tell you "yes, it's all just the alcohol, and when he gets sober you will have an emotional connection again." Or, suppose a bunch of us say, "no, you can never have that kind of connection with an alcoholic, they are incapable of it."

Do either of those answers change your circumstances?

You're still left with what you have now. Is it what you want?

L
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Old 11-18-2010, 12:20 PM
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I can share this...

...I have a very large ego, which is also very fragile, and it has been a constant barrier for me and my wife as we have sought a deeper intimacy in our relationship together (by we I mean mostly her). How, after 12 years together, this alcoholic woman and this control freak with an enormous ego are still together I just don't know.

I can't control her and I can barely control me (thank God I wasn't born with the addiction gene or I'd be long dead by now), so that's not it. I'm pretty sure that it's her-- she is a fighter, far more than me, and is relentless in seeking her own recovery and trying to break through my ego (primarily by consistantly calling me on my high-level BS and hypocrisy-- very annoying).

Fast forward 12 years and we are in His and Hers Recovery. Seven years of Al-Anon for me and four months of AA/NA for her. This has helped me deal with my still too large ego and my urge to lie about everything to her and, as a result, our level of intimacy is increasing much to her delight and much to my dismay. I don't want to be this connected to her because of my fear of relapse. I built this wall for a reason, and watching it be dismantled brick by brick is scaring the shi* out of me.

Take what you want and leave the rest.

Cyranoak
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Old 11-18-2010, 12:24 PM
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You're still left with what you have now. Is it what you want?
LaTeeDa,
I feel as if I should send your therapist money, or you.
LOL
Woman, you are good.
Thank you for being here.
and

brokenheartfool,
my ex and i both drank together, avoided any emotional connection and still had two children together.
i got sober, waited for him to "get it" for a while, then the crack killed any chance of making an emotional connection with him.
alcohol saved me from making a connection and therefore (i thought) getting hurt.
alcohol saved me from experiencing much joy in my life, even with my children.
that is difficult to admit, but it is true.
for me there was no connection except to the numbness.

Beth
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Old 11-18-2010, 12:29 PM
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(primarily by consistantly calling me on my high-level BS and hypocrisy-- very annoying).
:rotfxko

cyranoak,
it sucks to be called on high level BS, especially when I have worked so hard to perfect it.
LOL
yep, i hear ya. and i feel the fear. do it anyway.
Beth
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Old 11-18-2010, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by wicked View Post
LaTeeDa,
I feel as if I should send your therapist money, or you.
LOL
Woman, you are good.
Thank you for being here.
Me please. I already paid her quite enough. I'll PM you my PayPal information. LOL j/k :rotfxko

And thank you for being here, too.

L
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Old 11-20-2010, 09:30 PM
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Right now- large emotional disconnect. Anger & frustration on both sides. No intimacy, at all. I'm being chided constantly. For instance right now- disassociation. Detachment? Things seem to get better, then worse again between us. I remember when things were good. That helps some. I can't control what is going on with her. I made myself sick trying to.
Anyway, it's difficult after having such a great emotional attachment and the going to alcoholic-emotional disconnect. My heart aches watching her go through this crap. I've learned by trail, error, & Al-Anon that I can't help her. I do my best to take care of myself & hope that she gets "it". I feel like I can't wait much longer for her, but I don't want to give up on our marriage yet.
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Old 11-20-2010, 10:03 PM
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I have been separated from my RAH for one year & three months. He has been sober in recovery for 8 months). While he was actively drinking/using, there was no chance to really connect. Since he went into recovery, I can see tremendous change in both of us. I too learned that I must work on myself. When he first became sober I was impatient. I wanted to set the boundaries & have him acknowlege the boundaries I set. He withdrew when uncomfortable topics came up. I felt angry that I found myself having to "detach" all the time. Things are far from where they need to be as "healthy partners" but as I relaxed & focused on me, I could see he was focusing more on his recovery. I am not ready to move back home yet. I am, however, more hopeful than ever that we have a possibility together.

He will always be an alcoholic (recovering, I hope). Will I therefore always be someone addicted to an A (recovering, I hope)? I don't think it is healthy to be with someone that requires me to detach eveytime "difficult" topics (for him) come up. However, seeing the changes I have seen in 8 short months after 18-20 years of active alcoholism/addiction is pretty astounding. I never thought he could stop drinking, let alone continue on his path of recovery for 8 months. I am not so naive to think that relapse is not possible. 8 months is still early in recovery! I want to be thankful for what has happened so far as I continue on my own path of recovery & healing.


I guess it's possible to connect with someone who is actively engaged in his/her recovery, but it takes a lot of patience & work. Is it worth it? Each one of us has to decide for ourselves.
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Old 11-20-2010, 10:14 PM
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Cyranoak, I like that "his & her recovery!"
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Old 10-29-2017, 01:36 PM
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Same here!

Originally Posted by sapphire69 View Post
For my stbxah, he cannot handle emotion, that is why he drinks (my own perception after 10 years). When he wanted to emotionally connect with me his answer was sex. For the longest time that worked for me. Then I figured out that for me, in order to have sex, I needed the other emotional stuff first or the feelings just weren't there. Losing the emotional connection and realizing that he was undependable when I needed him was what got me taking care of me.
This post has resonated with me. I have been married 32 years to what I call a functioning alcoholic and in the past 5 years more like being married on paper. The emotional connection is destroyed. I'm so tired of him coming home drunk after work, being sarcastic to me at the drop of a hat then next day him thinking sex makes it all go away without an Im sorry. Never admit he had more than one drink.
People who don't want to change for the better wont. I got a statement from him the other day if I wanted to go to therapy for coping skills he would go with me. Like as if I'm the one with the problem and his meaness when drunk is what I am to cope with! I shook my head no. I'm so tired of being emotionally hurt by him. The whole time in the conversation he has his hand covering a glass of wine! I'm at the point my coping skill is to disconnect and stay away from him. Seems to be working for me! He only comes home to sleep in another room and I don't have to be hurt anymore! Works for me! Do you have a better solution?
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Old 10-29-2017, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by brokenheartfool View Post
Alright, for this thread's purposes, let's say that what you said above is a given. You find your own happiness wherever.

Even if the spouse is an ex, I'd still like to hear stories of the emotional connection and how much its success/failure is attributed to the alcohol, or perhaps isn't tied to the alcohol!
Just trying to sort out in my own head that I blamed the emotional disconnect on the alcohol, but perhaps it is far more complicated than that. I don't know if he became sober whether I would be dealing with a different person or not. If he continued to drink forever, how much would be lost in translation?
The alcoholic brain. How much of their thinking is a result of the alcohol, how much is other things.

And for those whose spouses did get sober--how about the emotional connection then?
I think the person would be able to emotionally connect if not drinking along with better communication skills when it comes to marriage. I have seen friends relationships much better when the alcoholic admitted the problem and wants to change themselves for the better. People act poorly when drunk and that's where the problem lies. It changes the behavior. If you change the drinking for what ever reason the behavior gets better!
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