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What do you think of Chapter 8 in the Big Book "To Wives"

Old 09-25-2013, 06:36 AM
  # 21 (permalink)  
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I'll tell you the book that has helped me more than anything.

The Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage.

It's an Al Anon book, one we've studied in our group, and it is far more relevant to me than anything I've found in the big book. It almost has a supernatural ability to speak to my current situation.

In some ways, yes, Chapter 8 is archaic; I found it had good points, but ultimately, we're not in recovery yet, so it plain doesn't apply. But even some of those points echo what we learn in Al Anon; that we focus on ourselves before them, always. The alternative to "live and let live" is to "Scream and let scream" for some of us. I have found that not jumping all over him for every perceived slight is more conducive to MY peace than anything, so that's what I do. That doesn't mean I ignore it; when he broke our agreement through my ultimatum, I had to stand firm, and ask him to leave.

Addicts are master manipulators. Focus on your own peace; it still sounds like you're letting him rule your emotions.
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Old 09-25-2013, 07:33 AM
  # 22 (permalink)  
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OnlyOneOroblem---when I step back and look at the "big Picture" of what you are going through---it reminds me that early recovery, for so many of us, is like a walk through He**.

Take a marriage that has run off into a ditch; add a newly sober husband whose brain has been addled with alcohol (see Hammer's analysis); add us, who have prayed for sobriety as the "magic" answer to all the pain. It is like walking into a bear's den without a stick.

I wouldn't give the first year of recovery to a "monkey on a rock" (A Dave Letterman quote).

I can only say to you---detach as much as possible---so that you can breathe and think.

As for the chapter in question in the big book----When I first read it, my hair nearly fell out! Then, as I read it again--and again--to make sure I wasn't imagining things, I think I know what is so jarring----I think it is the TONE of the writing---It is soo "Ozzie & Harriet". Yes, it was the tone of the times. We just have to ignore that--in my opinion.

OnlyOne Problem, I think your husband was (probably) admonishing you to be more patient, tolerant, and understanding. Whoa there---you will definitely have to take this up with Mr. Quackerson----or, on reflection---maybe just ignore him and detach......

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Old 09-25-2013, 08:15 AM
  # 23 (permalink)  
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I am going to keep my focus narrow and on chapter 8.

As the husband of an AW, separated 2 and a half years, married for 36 when I left, I found the chapter to be insulting.

It minimized my pain and my opinion, and placed me in the position of supporting her in her recovery.

It was not written in a way to be supportive of the spouses of alcoholics. To me the whole chapter was quacking.

Of course that is just my opinion so take what you want and leave the rest.

Your friend,
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Old 09-25-2013, 10:32 AM
  # 24 (permalink)  
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Not sure how you can stand behind the whole AA and Alanon philosophy if you try to ignore chapter 8. I dont mind chapter 8 because I think in this day and age it is a reminder to be kind to one another, and when your married to support your loved one when they are struggling. I have trouble with all of AA and Alanon being archaic in thought though. If they knew in 1930's what they know now I dont know if it would have been created as such. But what did they know about addiction and the brain and how it all worked in 1930's, they assumed addictions were a moral failure, and addressed the signs of addiction and alcoholism more than the causes. Least I feel this way. I find the whole concept of alanons belief that everyone is automatically codependent insulting. I mean this was again written long ago when wives were mostly housewives who had their main focus on their husband and their home. They had dinner ready when he came home, and were tied in very close with his emotions and actions. Most were not career women with their own lives, or going to graduate school, and balancing it all, focusing on themselves to begin with. Ive been reading a lot of the AA writings these past months and although Ive tried, cant get behind a lot of it myself. I know take what you want and leave the rest, and then ive been told only the big book and the 12 steps are really AA, but then you get to chapter for wives. Gotta take it in too I think if you follow the book accurately.
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Old 09-25-2013, 11:02 AM
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OneNightAWeek, I really haven't read much of the big book because by the time I got to Al-Anon I was in such bad shape I had to focus on myself. As my recovery got stronger I simply didn't have any desire to read it.

I can follow the Al-Anon philosophy and attend meetings with out buying into the dogma.

I don't really have a higher power, something outside of me to turn my life over to. I don't practice the 12 steps and I don't have a sponsor.

However I have gotten huge amounts of help from the program.

I have learned compassion for myself and for others simply by attending meetings and paying attention to others sharing.

I have learned how to let go of the past and not to dwell in the future by learning how to live in the moment, just for today so to speak.

I have learned how to forgive others and more importantly myself. That we all did the best we could with what we had at the time.

I have learned patience, that recovery is more of a way of life rather than a destination.

I have learned how to focus on myself, that it's ok to say no, that it's ok to take care of my needs and that I don't have to push them aside because others want something of me.

I have learned to detach, to see life as it is and not as I want it to be. That expectations really are future resentments.

And most importantly, I have learned how to love myself. Growing up in an alcoholic family and then marrying an alcoholic this was a skill I did not have. I now have self esteem, self confidence and a real sense of self based on me and not what others think of me.

I have supplemented my recovery program with a lot of reading in Buddhism and Taoism and now have a daily meditation practice.

I can now say I am enough just as I am. I am OK with walking my own path, which when you get down to it is all any of us can do.

Also, with the merger of a recovery program and a meditation practice, I have learned how to create that gap between stimulus and reaction. That I have choices and that I can choose how to respond to what is happening around me and within me. I don't have to live on auto pilot anymore, that I can be mindful and live life purposefully.

For me Al-Anon and this site have been life savers.

Your friend,
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Old 09-25-2013, 11:15 AM
  # 26 (permalink)  
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I have spent very little time with the Big Book. I'm focused on myself and my own recovery, and my AH is NOT in recovery right now so his Big Book has been collecting dust in our closet for several years. That said, my primary concern about some of what seems to be in Chapter 8 is the implication to the A that if he relapses, his spouse should just roll with it. SOME spouses might be willing to do that as part of a conscious choice to stay. But there are also many spouses who have set a boundary that if their A relapses, it's time to leave. I would hope that AA sponsors tell their sponsees that spouses are on their own paths, and that if a spouse chooses to leave for any reason, it is NOT because the spouse didn't "support the A's recovery." If my AH was in recovery, my decision to leave in the event of a relapse would be about MY boundaries that protect MY peace and serenity--not because I am a crappy, selfish spouse who abandons her alcoholic husband in his time of need. My hope is that modern AA groups make these kinds of things clear.
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Old 09-25-2013, 11:24 AM
  # 27 (permalink)  
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Yes, my RAH shoved Chapter 8 under my nose when he was first going to AA and seeking recovery and still drinking and still blaming me so reading it under those circumstances and also that it is based on 1930's notion that a wife has very little to do apart from her husband and outside of marriage didn't bode well for my acceptance of what it was saying.

I haven't gone back and reread it fully and admittedly still gag at certain parts when I have looked at it again. I have found compassion for myself and for my RAH and can read the passages you quoted with different understanding than I had before.

What I find amusing (now) is that it seems that many AH's when first active in AA are either led or seem to be compelled to want their "wives" to read Chapter 8. Early recovery screams for a way to be left alone and/or coddled and excused from participating in whatever reality one's modern or not so modern marriage is. I wonder how is it for AWs, are they led to Chapter 8 or something else they can grab onto, as I doubt they would feel compelled to share this so readily with their spouses?

The reality for me is that when I find myself in angst I read and reread various alanon, AA literature and go with what helps me move forward. Several times I have been quite surprised to have a different interpretation of something I read a while ago.

I did enjoy some of the posts that more eloquently than I pointed out the 1930's view of the chapter.

(((HUGS))) and thanks for the topic.
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Old 09-25-2013, 12:08 PM
  # 28 (permalink)  
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Dandylion, You summed up my reaction when you described Chapter * as being sooo "Ozzie and Harriet"!

M1k3, I also felt that it put a burden on me as far as my place in his recovery. Quite the opposite of what I have learned here about staying on my side of the street.

Dragynlady, thank you for the book recommendation and the reminder to Focus on my own peace, something I am still struggling with. I'm doing well with boundaries, but not as well with recognizing the quacking. I have so much still to learn

MsPINKAcres, perspective is everything! For the past week I've struggled to gain a new perspective. The events of this week have unsettled me and surely I did not read Chapter 8 with an open mind. Thanks for your point of view.

Not related to Chapter 8: In response to my AH filing for divorce, I paid my attorney his retainer fee today.
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Old 09-25-2013, 12:53 PM
  # 29 (permalink)  
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Chapter 8 was infuriating to me when I turned to the big book for help before going to Al Anon (I thought I would not be welcome in Al Anon at the time). Twelve years later, I can have a good chuckle about it knowing it was written by an alcoholic male in the 1930s who was also a womanizer: Bill Wilson wrote it, not Lois.
Anyway, to answer the OP this is what I think of chapter 8.

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Old 09-25-2013, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by m1k3 View Post
..... I found the chapter to be insulting.

It minimized my pain and my opinion, and placed me in the position of supporting her in her recovery.

It was not written in a way to be supportive of the spouses of alcoholics. To me the whole chapter was quacking.
Originally Posted by Aeryn
I find the chapter insulting. I feel it exudes the attitude that woman is merely an extension of a man and only valued in society when she is married with children....yes I realize it doesn't explicitly say that but the attitude is there for me (and my feeling is valid) and it's yucky. It reminds me of a woman with her hair in a pink bow, make up done slaving over a hot stove waiting her her "man" her LIFE to arrive home - "oh woe is me I've been without him 8 hours, how oh how did I survive?". A woman is not merely an extension of her husband nor is her life dependent on "standing by her man" - if that is still the attitude today wow we have not come a long way at all. A woman does not need to be married to be successful nor does being married or not married define her. Nor do we need to have kids to have meaning in our lives. If the "traditional nuclear family" means any of that I personally want no part of it - I am sick of being judged by what man I can get, how well I stand by him or how many kids a do or don't have. I am so much more than that...and I really thought that type of thing ended in the 1950s.

I really hate how in those excerpts the "wives" (I even hate the title "to the wives" - aren't we PARTNERS - and equal ones?) are all about the husband - what he is doing if he is drinking - oh woe is me, my husband defines me.

So what do I think of Chapter 8 - as the phrase goes "take what you want and leave the rest"...in this case I left the entire thing.
These posters petty much summed up my feelings about it. It reads to me like a lot of blame-shifting. Quack.
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Old 09-25-2013, 08:08 PM
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It was a disappointment to Lois that Bill wrote "To the Wives" and it is a disappointment to many of us that Lois did not get the opportunity to write it. That being said, the big message of Chapter 8 is that marriages can be saved, families can be reunited.... if the A is in authentic recovery and lives the philosophy of the Big Book which is the steps.

Being dry, even attending meetings is not necessarily going to insure the psychic change and the commitment to hard work and whatever it takes to become a loving unselfish partner, parent and citizen.

And A's in early recovery are worse than the wet ones... in my opinion!

Reading Chapter 8 is like any historical book and you read things in context and have an understanding of the author and times in which it was written. Families were close, and marriage revered and most women wanted to be homemakers and wives during that era. And yes... men and especially men that have an A history would certainly encourage women to be "patient and loving" with their spouse who claims to be an AA member....

time tells all. And the quacking will go on until they do get real, get authentic and get serious about their recovery program.
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Old 12-27-2013, 01:44 PM
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The only thing That I will say about this chapter is that even in 1939..Bill W. realized that the impact of alcoholism was eroding the American Family Unit. He knew the spouses were deeply impacted Mentally, Physically and Spiritually. He knew they were perplexed and he wrote the book with the Recovery of the A in mind.

Lois offered to write it (Rumors say Bill had asked Ann to write it, but that she declined) and Bill said no, stating he wanted to keep it in the style of the rest of the book. (Long story paraphrased) Lois had a bit of resentment over this and felt the chapter was insufficient..THEREFORE Guess what happened...Soon After AL-ANON was born.

So I'm thankful for this chapter in particular and the spark that was ignited in Lois to do more....but that's just me
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