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Question for those that choose to stay

Old 05-22-2020, 07:01 AM
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Question for those that choose to stay

I have a quick question for those that choose to stay, were/are you able to work on the other issues in your relationship with the ongoing drinking? AH and I have relationship issues to work on, healthy communication, etc. but I have a hard time when I feel like we can't address the elephant in the room. I guess I want to know how, or if it's possible, to ignore the elephant and still clean up the room. Thanks for any insight.
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Old 05-22-2020, 08:04 AM
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It seems to be the practice, of most marriage counselors, that couples counseling is not done unless the drinking or drugging has been arrested. (for several very good reasons).
Here is a big caveat---many partners will go into the marriage counselor's office (dragging their drinking/druging partner with them). and all the while not being honest with the marriage counselor about the actual drinking. The drinker will usually deny the drinking or minimize it to great extent. The non-drinking partner is too afraid to bring up the drinking issue for fear of rocking the boat.

If the marriage counselor learns of the ongoing drinking--the usual practice is to recommend individual counseling until the drinking has been dealt with---via some treatment program for the alcoholic---and individual counseling for the non-drinking spouse.

*****a big word of caution. I suggest that one only see a marriage counselor that is a SPECIALIST in only marriage counseling/family therapy. That is a highly specialized area of therapy.
I do not suggest going to a generalist counselor---because they will not have enough training and experience to deal with addictions within a relationship, if it is ongoing. They can easily be manipulated by the alcoholic---and, it can make the situation even worse for the non-addicted spouse.
I recommend that you google "how to locate licensed Family and marriage counselors" whenever seeking marriage counseling.
Even with an individual counselor, it is best to find one who has had special training in addictions.

I am sorry that I have not been married to an alcoholic----but, I have worked with alcoholics in my career---and,their spouses.

My personal opinion--------------if you can't be honest with the person that you are seeing---you will be shortchanging yourself and wasting your own time and money---not to speak of the added frustration that it can bring you.
Counselors need all the cards on the table---as they are not mind readers and do not have magic wands. They cannot do much if they don't have 2 honest and committed partners to work with.
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Old 05-22-2020, 08:18 AM
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I have a quick question for those that choose to stay, were/are you able to work on the other issues in your relationship with the ongoing drinking? AH and I have relationship issues to work on, healthy communication, etc. but I have a hard time when I feel like we can't address the elephant in the room. I guess I want to know how, or if it's possible, to ignore the elephant and still clean up the room. Thanks for any insight.
Yes you can work on the other issues within the marriage. You can also set boundaries around the drinking and it can work for a time. The drinking however only gets worse and worse over time. You have to be fully aware that the drinking will not get better or miraculously stop being a problem until the alcoholic decides to address it.
It seemed in my marriage, everytime I accepted the drinking for what it was and learned to work around it, the drinking cranked up a notch. I was making all the compromises, the drinking escalated. I wore myself out to the point of becoming very ill and then I left.
Are you attending Al-anon? I found it very helpful while I stayed in my marriage and worked on our relationship issues. Most of all, it helped me to work on myself, something I will forever be grateful for.
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Old 05-22-2020, 10:51 AM
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Well, it seems like one would get the most out of counseling by being sober for the session. Nobody especially likes counseling.

My husband and I took ballroom dance lessons for a while. He didn't care much for dancing, but he at least liked the social aspect. He liked seeing the pretty women in class. He liked flirting with them. After some time, though, he stopped going. He preferred drinking to going to doing something social: and this was something he at least liked a little.

I imagine (don't know) that it would be easy to feel sick, have extra work to do, get caught in traffic, rather than show up for counseling. The excuses could be endless, even if one weren't an alcoholic. I guess what I'm saying is that if the appointment interferes with his drinking schedule, it will be hard to get him to go.

When I found some rather extreme porn on our shared computer, my husband offered to pay for MY counseling. He didn't see any need to go himself.
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Old 05-22-2020, 11:22 AM
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By your own metaphor, you can't clean a room with an elephant in it. And even if you could, the elephant won't take long to mess it up again. That's what elephants do.
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Old 05-23-2020, 02:07 PM
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I don’t think you can, not for long term success anyway. If you discuss issues while he is sober it may work while he is sober but once he starts drinking more than likely that will go out the door. One of my big issues was the excessive porn use. Last time I brought it up (until marriage counseling once he was sober) was several years ago. It took a lot for me to discuss it with him because I felt like I was being unreasonable because porn and masturbation can be a completely normal thing when nit doesn’t affect the relationship. In my case I felt it really affected our sex life and of course he minimized it because it is normal and he is a visual person and bla-bla-bla., so I never brought it up again until marriage counseling a couple of years ago. He doesn’t even remember having had that conversation.....like at all. There is a reason marriage counselors usually won’t do counseling if one of the people is still actively drinking. It is just a set up for failure. Their drinking is #1 in their life and the are master manipulators who turn everything around on the other person/gaslighting. When issues are brought up. You can’t win that. So you can probably deal with some minor issues but unless the elephant is in the room has been treated I don’t think you can resolve issues. And it will only get worse as time goes on.
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Old 05-23-2020, 06:36 PM
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I think working on issues may be one sided. I can work on my issues. My husband and I have become better at communicating but he hasn't gotten better at compromise. It's still his way in many regards. Of course all partners are different. I think work is only temporary if all issues can't be worked on by both partners.
The other issues become the elephant in the room. Staying depends on how many elephants you can ignore because one can only fix themselves if they want to.
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Old 05-23-2020, 09:18 PM
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This is a tough one & something I struggle with ALL the time. We saw a marriage counselor for a short time where I felt like we were making progress but anytime I tried to bring up the alcohol & how deeply it affected so many other aspects of our relationship she told me we “weren’t ready to deal with that yet”. Whatever that meant I never found out b/c we moved across the country & never found a new counselor. I will say that I’ve seen some definite improvements in other areas of our relationship over the past 1-2 years. Communication is better for one (as long as it’s not about me finding his stash of vodka). I attribute the improvements to 2 things - 1 - he let go of a lot of anger & resentment that he’d been taking out on me, making him more willing to be nice. & 2 - I don’t discuss anything of substance with him in the evenings, & if he starts to twist an innocent conversation or seems drunk enough to make me uncomfortable I immediately disengage & go “to bed”.

Ultimately though I don’t think we’re building or improving anything in our marriage b/c none of this is what a healthy relationship looks like. And I don’t know if any of this will be helpful long term. But it’s a lot easier to live with day to day than it was before. Good luck to you.
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Old Yesterday, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Tacotuesday View Post

Ultimately though I donít think weíre building or improving anything in our marriage b/c none of this is what a healthy relationship looks like. And I donít know if any of this will be helpful long term. But itís a lot easier to live with day to day than it was before. Good luck to you.
I think maybe this is all I can hope for. I know it seems crazy but I feel like I just want to be in a happier daily space while I wait for the other shoe to drop. Or maybe I can never be happy if I feel like the rug may be pulled out from under me at any moment.

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Old Yesterday, 05:43 PM
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That’s exactly it. You (or I do anyway) acknowledge it’s not going to really “repair” things long term. But you’ve decided to stay & you do what you can to make the day to day pleasant. It’s unbearable to keep fighting a losing battle day in & day out & more constructive to focus your energy on what can make better.
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