Husband of an alcoholic - new to this.....

Old 02-06-2011, 10:00 AM
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Husband of an alcoholic - new to this.....

This may well be the most painful and difficult thing Ill ever type . . .

I am married to a substance abuser. I am married to perhaps the clinical definition of an alcoholic.

No . . . Im softening it too much. Lets be clear: I am the 51 year old husband of a 50 year old alcoholic.

My life, as I knew it, is suddenly upside down and I am frightened like never before in my life. As I sit here wide awake at 4:30am after, perhaps, a 90 minute sleep my head is spinning with what-ifs and questions about my culpability (if any) in helping create this situation. I am fearful for my wife taking her own life. I am fearful she will choose the bottle over her marriage. I am frightened by the possibility of life without her.

And I didnt do anything intentional to turn my world upside down. Perhaps that is the most confusing part of this. I fancy myself to be a very good husband and friend to my wife but behavior like that seems to indicate that something in her life may be going unfulfilled. The doubts and the fear I feel are by no hand of my own or so I feel. We have an amazing and loving relationship . . . and while I have achieved very public acknowledgement for my achievements for what I do professionally, she has always been there to support me by making sure I am taken care of so I can do all the things a husband is required to do for his family.

Lets start with what I found . . .

Id noticed a sudden assembly of empty vodka bottles in the garbage that started to appear just after Christmas. (God bless my wife, even in her sickness, shes still concerned about recycling . . .) It was alarming as I knew I wasnt the person contributing to the collection. So I began to count and mark the liquor bottles. Since Christmas she has gone through 9 bottles of vodka - and she doesn't even drink vodka. Or so I thought . . .

Last night, when I came home, I found a new bottle of the same brand of vodka . . . almost empty. The one I had marked containing 3 or 4 more shots was gone. It was replaced by a bottle with NO marks of my own. Dear God . . . had she really consumed almost an entire bottle of vodka in the 8 hours I was at work?

Friday night we arrived home from a funeral (and quick dinner with a beer for each of us) and later I found a mini-bottle of empty Captain Morgan in the garbage. What I feared was happening came true. She was sneaking the liquor and hiding it from me. Classic behavior, to be sure. The arrival home to a wonderful meal of Eggplant Parmesian wasnt as welcome when I opened the pantry door and found the new vodka bottle sans my hidden marks sitting amongst a rearranged liquor cabinet.

I quietly ate my meal and waited to finish before I spoke up. As I was cleaning up my dishes I paused and said, I need to talk to you about something. I explained what I had been doing for the previous few weeks and she didnt deny it. How could she? She attempted to explain that she dumped out the one bottle with the few shots remaining in it and then said she also dumped out half of the new bottle.

Uh-huh . . . and Im supposed to believe that? Sorry, my experience with alcoholism isnt so limited as to take that feeble attempt of hers to lessen the amount consumed and believe that story. If there is one thing I know about alcohol abuse it is that the offending person will try to cover up their consumption from their loved ones, family and friends.

For the next 5 hours we talked and she lied and I cried and she was truthful and I cried and she asked for forgiveness and I stared blankly and . . . well, you get the idea and need not be bored with her attempts to blame shift, justify and explain the reasons behind her actions. Surely she had to still be drunk if that much vodka was consumed. So her anger and other unappealing behaviors seemed flawlessly clinical in their execution by the abuser. Ive fought with her drinking since the days I had my townhouse back in the mid-1990s . . . but I NEVER imagined it would devolve into this.

She asked that I not tell anyone. How can I not? I cant trust her to visit a friend and let the friend allow her to drink. I cant not tell her family and alert them to the problem we now face or THEY will be made unwilling accomplices in her illness. Thats the thing about substance abuse . . . it destroys trust, it is the epitome of selfishness, it forces people to lie and deceive in ways that bring others into their illness.

My head is spinning still . . . I hit a wall here and probably need to stop typing. Its 5am now Super Bowl Sunday. Ive packed up all the liquor into the back of my truck again and will take it to work to keep it out of her . . . well, just to keep it out of her.

Life will change now. But what will it look like when all is said and done? Will I remain married? Will she choose the bottle over me? What will my life as settled as I presumed it was just one day earlier now be 180 degrees in another direction? My fear is that my married life as wonderful and amazing as it was will never, ever be the same again and I am powerless to do anything about it.

What did I do?

How would I ever consider that I would ever ask that question of myself?

How can trust ever be reestablished?

I feel ashamed. I feel like my life - in the span of 24 hours - went from the sincerity of the depth of our love by speaking about how I might feel if she passed away before me (probably a normal conversation after a funeral of a loved one) or the hurt she would feel were I to pass away . . . and now, I'm wondering if my life as I knew it has ended.

The miracle we both felt we had in our relationship is battered and I fear I am losing the future I once peacefully took for granted . . .
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Old 02-06-2011, 10:14 AM
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You only have this 24 hours to work with, don't squander today worrying about the future you had planned. Your wife will quit when she is ready to do so. That may not happen soon, but you have taken the first step - drag the topic into the open. It seems you instictively know that her desire for secrecy is dangerous. But don't kid yourself that you can prevent her from drinking. That's a fools errand. Find a local therapist or doctor with whom you can discuss what is happening and how best to approach this issue. Involve your wife if she seems inclined to want to change (though it sounds like this is not currently the the case).

Most of all, don't despair. You have a limited amount of time and energy, regardless how this plays out, you will need it. Most of all, seek help from others who can assist.

Best of luck.
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Old 02-06-2011, 10:49 AM
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Hi, Jay,

I replied to your thread on the Newcomer's forum. Welcome.
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Old 02-06-2011, 10:59 AM
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Old 02-06-2011, 11:05 AM
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Jay, please seek out an al-anon meeting. You will learn in al-anon that you can't control her drinking and that you are as powerless over alcohol as she is. Al-anon will teach you to put the emphasis on yourself and that wll help you deal with her. Take care of you. If she'll be upset by your attending a meeting, just go and tell her you're with a friend. Whatever it takes, get to a meeting.
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Old 02-06-2011, 11:10 AM
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I'm in tears. I feel the love and help you all send my way. That's not sappy sentiment . . . it's gut-wrenching honesty from a man with an incredibly broken heart . . .

Thank you for caring and sharing your advice and counsel with a total stranger. I am ashamed that I have allowed this to progress . . . and I am willing to move mountains to save the love I had before this happened.

Please God . . . help me help her.
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Old 02-06-2011, 11:28 AM
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Hi JayR, I replied to the other thread, not sure if it should have been this one?
Take it easy ...Stay strong
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Old 02-06-2011, 11:30 AM
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WELCOME to Sober Recovery. You have found a great place with lots of Experience, Strength and Hope (ES&H) from folks who have been where you are or are where you are now.

Check out the 'stickys' at the top of this forum. Read as many of the other threads as you can. Check out Al-Anon and you might want to get yourself a copy of Melodie Beatties "Co Dependent No More", available on Amazon at a very reasonable price.

Please God . . . help me help her.
Here's the bad news, YOU CAN'T HELP HER. All the rehabs in the world cannot help her, until she is ready and WANTS help. By what you have posted so far, it does not sound like she is ready for help yet.

One of the first things you will hear in AlAnon are the 3 C's:

You didn't CAUSE this.

You can't CONTROL this.

You can't CURE this.

This is all on her, she has to start 'suffering' the consequences of her drinking.

Removing the alcohol will not help, she will just get more, one way or another.

However, you will also learn in AlAnon how to work on you, how to set your personal boundaries, ie one might be your home will now be an 'alcohol free' home. Another might be, you will not 'engage' in any way with her, conversation, etc if she has been drinking.

Your boundaries not ultimatums.

The good news is there is support for you. AlAnon, counseling, SR, etc

No one will tell you this will be easy, because it won't. We are here for you, and some face to face meetings will help also.

Please keep posting and let us know how you are doing as we care very much.

Love and hugs,
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Old 02-06-2011, 11:33 AM
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Sometimes the most helpful thing we can do is express our belief and faith in our partner's ability to recover, point them in the right direction, pray, and then keep our hands off their recovery. It's really really hard at times, not to "help" too much, but this is one instance where less is more.

You can help by encouraging without nagging. You can help by letting her experience the consequences of her own actions (not covering up--but not "outing" her to people just for the sake of "outing"). You can help by learning about her disease so you will have an idea how difficult this is for her. But controlling her actions, looking for bottles (or marking them), cutting off her source of supply by visiting bars or liquor stores--uh-uh. Those things don't help.

Oh, yeah, and as Laurie said, getting the booze out of your house, and not drinking in front of her, can be very helpful.
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Old 02-06-2011, 11:41 AM
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Keep coming on this board. There are amazing insightful people here who have heard and done and felt the same way as you. You will also find that at an Al Anon meeting. Meetings have saved me. It is difficult to put the focus on yourself when all you want to do is help someone you love who needs help. But the problem is that more often than not they don't think they need help and don't want our help. What it does do is make us just as sick or sicker than they are. I spent so much time and energy thinking about how to help my AH and control the situation that I will lost sight of my own life. Be aware, Be supportive be encouraging but don't let it consume you. I know that is so hard to do. It is a daily struggle for everyone that loves an alcoholic, which is why the 12 steps and slogans of AA work for us too. You have taken the first step by coming here.
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Old 02-06-2011, 12:26 PM
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I feel your pain. My alcoholic fiance hid his alcohol. I was so afriad of confronting him. I wanted to keep the peace. He had to hit bottom before he got help. I go to alanon. I am still new. I've only been to a few meetings. I think you should try to attend a meeeting. Youre not alone. This disease is cunning, powerful and baffling. We didn't cause it, we cant control it and we can't cure it. Wishing you best

Last edited by suave75; 02-06-2011 at 12:27 PM. Reason: Typos
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Old 02-06-2011, 12:27 PM
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Welcome JayR. Here's a good sticky from the "best of" section I like to share with newcomers. I followed each suggestion as if my sanity depended on it. I hope it helps you as much as it did me. Keep posting!
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Old 02-06-2011, 01:08 PM
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yep. You are not alone. You simply have to decide if you will continue to live with this while she gets help. Or decide not to. As the others have said, you can't make her quit. Ask me how I know! I tried everything. Mine was given 100 last chances. Finally, with the divorce papers drawn up, filed, and sitting on the coffee table combined with our children telling her they too will cut her out of their lives, she "started" her recovery.

No amount of being nice ever helped her quit. After she pretended to get sober for 8 months she finally had an "ah ha" moment and decided on her own to quit. I truly don't think she can quit, we'll see. But I've got so much invested in the relationship now, with the smallest light at the end of the tunnel, I have decided to stay. For now. Divorce is still filed. Tick Toc. Tick Toc.

good luck
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Old 02-06-2011, 02:18 PM
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Take care of you, that's all you can do. When she is ready, she will seek help.

I am sorry that you are going through this, but as you said, your whole life has been turned upside down...that is what active alcoholism does. Give your self the time to process what you are dealing with.

Keep reading and posting, there is so much wisdom and support here.

Sending positive thoughts your way.
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Old 02-06-2011, 04:10 PM
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Hi JayR to SR. Thank you for posting. I would like to focus my post on this:
we talked and she lied and I cried and she was truthful and I cried and she asked for forgiveness and I stared blankly
I am glad that you had the opportunity to discuss things with your spouse. These types of conversations are difficult to say the least and often we need the support of other people to process and get through what you are going through. So first, I'd like to strongly recommend that you also seek out Al-Anon meetings in your community. There you will meet people from all walks of life who have been through and are going through exactly what you are experiencing. There is much strength there. Al-Anon saved my life. Here is a link: How to find a meeting in the US/Canada/Puerto Rico

Second, what I'd like to gently point out to you regards her asking you for forgiveness. Yes, it is difficult when we have been betrayed. And often, someone "wrongs" us and they apologize. We can forgive a transgression or not. But we often take the drinking personally. We continue to think that the drinking is a wrong against US. But in reality, an alcoholic's drinking has nothing to do with anyone other than the alcoholic. She does not drink and hide her drinking because of you. She drinks because she is an alcoholic and she hides her drinking because she is an alcoholic. The forgiveness she asks of you, though understandable, is wrongly placed. And as long as we operate under the fallacy that we can provide forgiveness to someone for their alcoholism, the alcoholic will continue to believe their "wrong" is only against you. Try to start thinking in terms of letting HER own her disease.

Please take great care of yourself. Try to keep your focus just on today, and not take on trying to figure out what you are going to do about the rest of your life just right now. (((hugs))) Keep coming here, reading and posting.
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Old 02-06-2011, 07:54 PM
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Welcome JayR to SR,

I first 'found out' that my husband of 22 yrs was an alcoholic about 16 months ago. With lots of reading books about alcoholism/codependance, attending al-anon meetings and visiting/posting on the SR website it has taught me what I need to know about alcoholism and the effect of the disease on me. I still struggle to put what I have learnt into practice but I keep trying.

Like you, I too, recorded my alcoholics drinking, keeping an excel spreadsheet on all of his purchases, noting how many beers were in the fridge on a daily basis. I also argued with him, berated him, nagged him and finally gave him an ultimatum - the beer or me. He chose beer. He said that he was going to drink for the rest of his life and if I didnt like it, I could leave. I was a mess. Its really hard work playing booze detective with an active alcoholic and It was making me insane.

I believe alcoholism is one of the only diseases that requires a completly different approach than what we would consider the norm. Whatever I had been doing I needed to do the opposite and this felt very alien to me. For the alcoholic to want to stop drinking they first need to feel their own consequences from their actions. I had to give up trying to control my AH and his drinking and ignore it when it happened and when I started to do that, I began to feel as though an enormous weight had been lifted.

The idea is that we have to bring serenity into our own lives. No more up at 4am worried, stessed out, head spinning that isnt healthy for us. I sometimes feel that I am so sick that I could die from feeling so stressed out about my AH alcoholism. What sort of life is that for me. So I am trying to bring serenity into my life by detaching and leaving my AH to destroy his own life with alcohol. He continues to drink and hasnt changed in the slightest! Hopefully one day he will see what a nice life I lead without the stuff and what a miserable existence he leads with it and will make the descision to get sober for himself.

One day sobriety may come for him, but in the meantime I choose to focus on myself and not my AH, thats all I can do.
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Old 02-06-2011, 08:04 PM
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Eight Ball summed it up nicely. Again, it is like you people have been watching what goes on at my house.

I did all the the things she said, and finally tried to stop caring. I didn't stop being in love with my wife. I just stopped looking, and obsessing about the drinking. And told her it was all up to her. Told her I expected the truth if I asked about her drinking, so I would know who I was dealing with. But of course, the next time she admits drinking when I ask her about it will be the first time.

You life has not ended with the discovery of your wife's alcoholism. But your life has certainly changed. There is a lot of collective experience here to help you regardless the path you choose.
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Old 02-07-2011, 07:36 AM
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I feel for your situation. My husband and I have been married for almost fourteen years, ten of those I was living in active addiction. In the beginning my husband would say he didn't mind, than he was in denial because everything was going well. Our life worked so well because I could never let the ball drop or there would be questions about my behaviour.
In the end, when there was no denying I was killing myself, all my husband could do was give me a safe place to sleep and some food until I decided to stop. At this point, he was not emotionally involved and our relationship was in shambles.
He will tell you, there is nothing you can do until she decides to stop. I would say that is true. Recognize that she is physically addicted to alcohol, so her body demands the drug or she will become ill. If you ask her to stop, give her suggestions how she is going to get through the withdrawal process.
I've been sober for 16mo. now and my husband and I have a wonderful relationship, better than it ever was. That is due to the fact that we are both in recovery. I think everybody needs recovery in their life, be it marriage, career or spiritual
I credit my recovery to God helping me to help myself. I believe our marriage survived because of my husband's unconditional love for me.
Take care,
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Old 02-07-2011, 08:14 AM
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Hi Jay and welcom,
One thing you will find as I did a lot of good information on this site. One of the first things that was sent to me was the Three "C's"

You didn't Cause her drinking
You cant Control her drinking
You can't Cure her drinking

this has helped me a lot with dealing with my AW problems. You will also find that there are a lot of similarities with other folks. I have been dealing with alcoholism for about 5 years now. My DW has at least a bottle of wine a night, passes out on the couch while the rest of the family is hanging out. She minimizes her consumption and is in denial of her problem...all classic. There are a good group of men on this site (not taking anything away from you ladies) that have been a great source of encouragement. Just take it a day at a time my friend.

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Old 02-07-2011, 08:22 AM
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Those first days of awakening and acknowledging the real issue are, by far, the hardest! I feel your was as if someone kept repeatedly kicking me in the stomach over and over. What's funny is I knew, but I didn't know, until I finally admitted it to myself that I really do know. It took a long time to get to that point. Then I went to an Al-Anon meeting. I cried the entire time. I went back the next day and cried again. The third day I said , "my husband is an alcoholic and he loves alcohol more than me" and that was the first time I said it out loud to anyone else. Amazingly, I began to feel better after that! It was strange - kind of empowering to openly acknowledge that I was powerless over this. But it was one of the longest weeks of my life, that I do remember vividly.

Hang in there - and do try an Al-Anon meeting; read more on this board (especially the stickies), read everything you can get your hands on and let me know if you want some suggestions; my 'alcoholism and the family' themed digital library is getting quite large!

I do agree with other posters here already that it is a myth you are creating for yourself to think you can keep her from drinking; we've all tried this is some form or another and it doesn't work. Give it a try if you need to, but be prepared for disappointment. She can't control herself right now, its a compulsion that goes above and beyond anything else, including you. She's a very sick woman.

Welcome to SR, hope you keep coming back.
Take good care!
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