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Am I doing the right thing?

Old 04-29-2011, 03:54 PM
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Am I doing the right thing?

It has been a bit since I actually started a thread, but I think I need some feedback to make sure I am on the right path and not missing something.

Quick recap for anyone who doesn't know me and my situation: Started dating AH when we both were teens. Married at 22 and have been married for 21 years now. We have 3 kids. There is no physical abuse, not much in the way of verbal abuse. AH has admitted for the past 8 years he is an A, has tried to quit multiple times, no formal rehab, but lots of AA and working with a T. He is actively drinking, but sneaks all of it.

Over the years his illness has progressed which has really damaged our marriage. He is a HFA and holds a good job without any issues. I am a stay at home mom (I have a college degree and had a good job until I quit to stay home with the kids 10 years ago). He has never had a DUI, doesn't get smashed and pass out, but mostly keeps to himself. He has become somewhat of a recluse. Until recently we have been doing the alcoholic dance where we go through phases of pretty normal, walking on egg shells, grumpy and unreasonable, and then a big blow up.... then a "honeymoon" phase of me thinking he gets it and he is Mr. Charming and is pretty good... and then the circle continues. Over the years this is getting faster and faster with less of the good stuff. After MC and then our last big blow up it became painfully obvious that until he is in active recovery there is not much we can work on to get the marriage back on track.

At this point I have read Codependence No More, continued personal therapy and started alanon. I am busy reading the Alanon book and come here and read often. I learned detachment real quick and have been focusing on my recovery (I am also an ACAP). I know I still have a long way to go with my recovery (but my T told me that I am moving along really quickly).

Emotionally and physically I have detached from my AH (of course I love him and I am not totally emotionally detached) because I felt I needed to after so many lies, bad behaviors etc I became unable to trust that any "love" he was giving me was genuine. The only time he went out of his way to show me "love" was during the honeymoon phase which I think was just to draw me into his dance. I need to feel loved to want sex otherwise it feels like I am being used.... so there is nothing physical left between us. At first, after I stopped the "dance" he would hold my hand but once he realized nothing was coming of it (ie sex), that has stopped too. Maybe he thinks he needs to give me some space, maybe I need that space right now, but really it all just sucks.

After reading about others on this site I know things could get better (ie he actually does become a RAH and his attitude gets better) or things could continue to go down hill. I know I have no control over his illness and I only can control me. I want to remain hopeful that by me changing and healing that he too will want better and he will get better. Remaining hopeful is hard after seeing what has happened to others on here.

We are at this awkward place where no one is jumping ship, things are calmer since I don't engage in his quacking any longer (well I try not to), but I am pretty sure he is drinking more. I think I just need to continue to focus on me and my recovery and give the rest to my HP. BUT I am worried that I should do something more. I guess the codie in me lives on because I want to have one of those great talks with him to see where things stand, but I know unless he is working a plan and not drinking it just puts me back into the dance. Do I need to just give it time? Is there anything else I could be or should be doing now? It has been over 2 months since I stopped the "dance". I just hate where things are and want better.
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Old 04-29-2011, 04:24 PM
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Do I need to just give it time? Is there anything else I could be or should be doing now? It has been over 2 months since I stopped the "dance". I just hate where things are and want better.
For a really, really long time things weren't bad with my AH. They just weren't good. I wasn't miserable but I wasn't happy. And I said aloud to a few friends that I wished things would either get worse or get better bc I didn't feel like I could justify leaving when there wasn't anything tangible that was awful (like abuse, job loss, DUI etc...)

I wish sometimes I'd have "known then what I know now" bc I would have said "it's okay to want more and to leave even if things aren't all that bad".

I guess that's my indirect way of saying that if you want better and certainly you deserve better, you don't have to wait for things to get bad or worse to justify leaving.

All that staying longer has done for me is make it harder and more complicated now that I'm taking steps to leave.

It's great to not engage or do the dance and I am sure many people can be happy living their own life and still stay with their A spouse and detach and be okay with what is and not want more. I realized I am not one of them. And from reading just the bit you shared in your post, you don't sound like you're sure if you are either.

For me, I realized that if I am with him I am always going to want there to be the marriage that I "signed up for". So, I accept that I want more than what is and I take responsibility for that-- I'm not blaming AH for not being what I want him to be. If anything it's me not accepting him as he is that's brought us to where we are. When I gave myself permission in my mind and heart (even if my actions haven't caught up fully yet) to say "I want more and deserve it and it's okay to feel this way" it made it okay for me to admit my marriage was over. Right now I'm just figuring out the details.

You said above that you want better and that makes me think that like me, even if you detach and live your own life but stay in the same house and the marriage with him, you may always feel those longing feelings wishing it could be something more.

I don't think it's bad at all to want more, to want better. Life is short. Living just tolerating each day, hoping the next might be better or just appreciating the moments that are good in between the ones that are bad-- that's not much of a way to live (for me at least).
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Old 04-29-2011, 04:59 PM
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If he is coninually drinking, he is not in recovery.Do you want to live with an active alcohlic?That really is the question..it may not be horrendous, but hardly sounds fullfilling.If you are ok with living with active addiction, then this may be how things remain.It's really hard to have levels of trust and intimacy with someone in their disease, and it sounds like you would like these things (who wouldn't?)
Lots of the older women at my alanon meeting stayed with their actively drinking husbands..most of the younger ones don't..it can be done, to what level of stisfaction i am not sure..
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Old 04-29-2011, 05:33 PM
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I think one thing people need to consider is, what happens when the disease progresses? For as so many people say on this forum, Alcoholics get worse.

Many people have seen their spouses deteroriate.

Things may be tolerable now, but what happens when he starts experiencing tons of health problems, as the drinking inevitably leads to? Or becomes completely nonfunctioning?

A friend of mine in AA asked me about my exabf, "Do you really want to be there in 5 yrs when he possibly loses his job, or starts having health problems? Knowing you could've spent those 5 years looking for and maybe finding someone who could treat you the way you deserve to be treated?"



Originally Posted by keepinon View Post
If he is coninually drinking, he is not in recovery.Do you want to live with an active alcohlic?That really is the question..it may not be horrendous, but hardly sounds fullfilling.If you are ok with living with active addiction, then this may be how things remain.It's really hard to have levels of trust and intimacy with someone in their disease, and it sounds like you would like these things (who wouldn't?)
Lots of the older women at my alanon meeting stayed with their actively drinking husbands..most of the younger ones don't..it can be done, to what level of stisfaction i am not sure..
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Old 04-29-2011, 05:43 PM
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Are the kids in Alateen? Do you talk to them about the elephant in the room? That would be my main concern at this point.
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Old 04-29-2011, 06:53 PM
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My ABF wanted to know why I left him now, when things were better.... it's because they weren't. He got a DUI, started binging, stopped binging when I said I wasn't willing to live with him as an active alcoholic. Then we had ~ 6 honeymoon weeks. Until he lied, endangered my son, and reneged on a promise, again, all at once.
Not drinking does not equal sobriety. Not drinking because of your codie spouse is not recovery.
I have to let go of the fear of the unknown. Of not defining myself in relationship to anyone except God.

I understand your situation ~ no advice, just a hand to hold.

- Sylvie
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Old 04-29-2011, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by anvilhead View Post
if you two were both in a boat, would each of you have an oar? that's a visual i like to give to relation-ships...is everybody rowing, or is one person punching holes in the hull?
Love this analogy!
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Old 04-30-2011, 08:38 AM
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Thanks everyone for their advise and input!

I'd like to address the question about the kids first. They are all doing fine. The two younger ones (10 and 7) do not know that daddy is an A. AH is good with them and is only grumpy every now and again, but nothing out of control. Our oldest is a 17 year old son and he does know. I have had multiple discussion with him. As I am learning and educating myself I share information with him. He understands what detaching is and knows to walk away if his dad is arguing with him. He is a teen so sometimes he doesn't so if needed I step in to get it to stop. I have discussed Alateen with him, but at this point he is not interested. I am sure there is some anger and frustration with his dad, but all in all I have to say he is a well adjusted teen. If AH's illness progresses to the point where it is causing harm to my kids then things will change to protect them. However like others have stated on here, absent abuse, I worry about divorcing him since then I would have no control over what he does during his time with the kids. I would have no way of knowing what is going on.

You guys hit on some or all of the points I feel I need to consider. While my life is not horrendous right now it sure isn't even close to the kind of relationship I would like with my husband. Long term I do not think I am okay with status quo, but for now I do think I need to stick it out to see if things do get better as there is always that chance he will become a RAH and a chance we can build back our relationship. The other point that really hits home is the fact that his illness is very likely to progress and do I want to wait around for that and waste even more of my life before I do make huge changes? If I had a crystal ball I guess it would make it easier *sigh*. I need to not only think about myself but also my kids. Right now they seem good, they are having a good life and if I left this relationship it would really cause a ton of chaos for them. Of course if we can't continue to keep our issues out of their lives then things will have to change. If we were not married with kids this would be easy (or at least easier) and I would not put up with this crap for a second. However I am married with children so I need to carefully consider how I handle things.

What I would really like to be able to do at this point (I think) is be able to return back to work so that if I do need to get out at least I have more financial security and am building my own career back up. The issue with that is we have NO support or help since none of our family nor close friends live around us. I also worry that it would add even more stress which is the last thing our family needs right now. As I think and type what is hitting me is I should wait about a year to see how things are going. I think in about a year I will have a clearer picture of everything. Do you think that seems reasonable? In that year I can continue my healing, better understand who I am and what I need to change ... and that should be long enough to see if the changes in me are affecting AH and his possible recovery. I finally gave up on trying to" help him" a few months ago. This is the first time I am stepping away and not being an enabler nor codependent. I am here if he needs my support but that will only come at his request.

Keepinon now I am wondering if I am one of the "older" ladies or not...hahahah. I do see your point. The older ladies in my alanon group seem to have stayed with their AH. They seem to be happy, but maybe they are just more accepting of a life that is not what they really wanted and their AH's illness never produced abuse etc?? hummm interesting ...

What I do know is that it sucks having an AH and having to face all of this crap. Life is too short and if I could go back in time knowing what I know now I would have seen that cute teenage boy that I feel in love with and kept moving on. Maybe if he finds recovery and we build back our relationship I'll feel differently, but right now I wish my HP would have found me a different person. It is hard to love someone and watch them slowly destroy themselves.
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Old 04-30-2011, 09:27 AM
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I went to a lecture by an addiction therapist..he said that he and his colleagues love 12 step, but differ from alanon in the not physically detaching.He said it was basically impossible long term to remain detached in the relationship and they advise getting into recovery and giving it a year..a year for the codie to recover and see if in that time the spouse finds recovery.
His theory was that if the spouse/partner did not seek recovery in that time period, it was not a healthy relationship to stay in.I LOVE alanon..go all the time, but this makes sense to me.
So, when you said you might give it a year..I DO think that's a really good idea.Gives you time to make a plan, OR perhaps your husband will find true recovery...either way it doesn't feel like waiting endlessly for something that may or may not happen..
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:49 AM
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Hey, I did that! I started going to AlAnon, and stopped my raging, and waited.... and what came out was the severity of the impact his drinking was having on our lives. Well, my life, since he seems okay with whatever it is he's doing.

-Sylvie
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Old 04-30-2011, 12:00 PM
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Keepinon... just for clarity not physically detaching... I assume the therapist thinks you should physically detach. If that is the case then I am already there. For me it is a boundary within myself that I need to feel loved and respected to want physical intimacy, otherwise I feel used. Am I wanting no sex to help my DH find recovery? YES but it is not THE reason why I am detaching. Honestly at this point since he is such a HFA and just simply destroying our relationship is okay with him (ie because he continues to drink), there is part of me that would like to think not having sex may help him really see what his illness is doing to the relationship. Not having sex he has got to miss (I know I do) but it is such a natural consequence to where our relationship is at. For a long time I buried that and had sex at times because I was fearful if I didn't he would just get crankier. I also think sex he equated to life is okay... our relationship is okay, which it clearly isn't okay.

Thank you for sharing what the T said about waiting the year. I'm glad I was on track with what a specialist thinks. That came from my gut on what felt best.
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Old 04-30-2011, 04:19 PM
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Hi Alone22... your story really resonated with me. I've been struggling for a few months - trying to have sex so he wouldn't get cranky and then feeling used by it. Just recently (maybe 2 weeks ago) I decided I wouldn't be intimate unless I wanted to, even if he got grouchy about it. It's early days and I find it hard, but mostly because I'm not sure what will happen next. Like you, it's not as bad right now as it was. This is the first "honeymoon" where I haven't engaged and hoped he finally gets it. It's been very challenging and difficult. It's tempting to hope, even though the pattern is the same as always.

I find it uncomfortable to be in a relationship that's like this, because it's definitely not what I want, but at the same time I'm not ready to take the next step. I'm hopeful that the detachment will give me time to make plans and really determine how I feel.

I am also working on my own recovery and TRYING to stay out of his. I still feel angry when he drinks, but there's nothing I can do about it so I'll keep working.

I only wanted to add - take whatever time you think you need. It will happen on your timetable, not someone else's.

Thanks for sharing - I felt less alone when I read your story.
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Old 04-30-2011, 09:23 PM
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What the therapist meant by physically detaching was no longer living in the home/exiting the relationship..not just emotionally detaching...
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Old 05-01-2011, 02:16 PM
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Alone22, your story resonated with me too because it almost parallels mine except I've been married longer. I'm also very tired of the same old dance routine and have detached emotionally, and physically. We just started MC recently and my AH thinks everything is great! He is not the one feeling a lack of respect and love so he doesn't get it. I feel there is no need to talk to him one-on-one because I've tried far too many times. Nothing comes of it or he avoids me for days afterwards. I don't know that there is much we can do to make them get it, and they certainly won't leave us. Our AHs know when they have it good. I ask myself often though if I know that I don't have what I want and desire in a relationship. I'm totally convinced now that I don't have it and not sure that I'll ever have it with him. What I do about that is totally up to me as it is for you. In good time we will make our decisions. Good luck to you in your journey to recovery. Thanks for sharing your story because it's good to know that I'm not the only one living in such a desperate marriage. From the outside most of our friends think we are such a nice couple and don't see through the facade. I feel that I'm living in the state of non-decision currently, but I'm praying that my higher power will guide me through this. It is sad and it does hurt when I think about my marriage and how it's going straight downhill faster than a speeding bullet. All I can do is give the MC a chance and pray for clarity. Hugs to you while we both struggle through this. And here's us do our own dance instead of their dance.
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