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Old 12-22-2018, 04:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Why do women stay with an alcoholic husband?


i am new to this site searching for answers. I had two highly functioning alcoholic parents and now am married to an alcoholic. I was a Heavy drinker through college and into our marriage and living in a family of drinkers it was never a popular choice to not drink. Over the years alcohol has become less important in my life and I have been alcohol free for about two years now. My husband struggles with anxiety, sleeplessness and alcoholic behavior. After multiple stints in detox, one rehab and two bouts of ending up in the hospital due to alcohol he continues to relapse.
I have found Al Anon, which has helped me to begin a journey of working on myself and not focusing on my husbandís addiction. As I get stronger and healthier I am realizing this is not the life I want to have but there is something stopping me from making a move. Maybe it is the hope that he will get better, maybe it stems from having that happily ever after relationship, that I never got from my parents.
I donít know where this will lead, this is the first time I have participated in an online forum. I read about so many women with similar situations as me, and they seem to be able to make it work. Why do they stay? There is something knawing at me to leave but I just canít make that move.
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Old 12-22-2018, 04:29 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Not sure I have any answers for you but I can share my experience. My ex partner was not a drinker but did have a serious porn and cocaine addiction. I stayed with him for 10 years, he never accepted he had a problem and blamed everyone else for why he did what he did if challenged. I felt that I needed to stay and see it through, that if I left I would be giving up and I should have more faith and tenacity because that's what good people do right?. Previous relationships had always gone badly for me and with this one I thought that I needed to grow up and stay when the times were hard, that's what you do isn't it? Through thick and thin and never turn your back? What I learned was that isn't always the case and sometimes the right thing to do is to walk away. The serentiy prayer is a perfect moto to live by and I realised that nothing I could say or do was going to change him, I was lonely and desperately unhappy. To stay in the relationship to support him meant I would loose myself and that is not a healthy MO to live your life by.

I guess I stayed the amount of time I did because I lacked confidence, I took his addiction to mean some kind of failure on my part as a human being. If I was better or nicer or whatever he would get better no? Also becoming single again was a terrifying thought, no one to watch tv with, meals for one, sleeping alone and the fear of being lonely and alone. But the reality was whilst in that relationship I was already lonely and alone. xx
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Old 12-22-2018, 06:02 AM   #3 (permalink)
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The reason I will never remarry is because I know that it's not "till death do us part" for me. There are things I'm not willing to put up with, abuse, cheating, and now that I've recovered from my alcoholism, I won't be in a relationship with an alcoholic. When I walked away from my marriage I promised myself that that would never ever happen to me again.

There are a lot of good men out there and you only get one life.
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Old 12-22-2018, 06:10 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Yeah, I'll jump in with my two cents too.

I echo what MantaLady and BillieJean said. I won't be in that kind of relationship again. My one life is too precious and there is too much to do and lots of people to do it with (when they treat me well and when I feel like it.)

I think in relationships of any type I have to 100% accept them just as they are or limit my time with them for my own sanity. That's been the only thing that has ever worked for me. I can't change them. I'm not that powerful.
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Old 12-22-2018, 06:31 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I want to recommend a book about abusive men called Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft

https://www.goodreads.com/work/quote...ontrolling-men


I'm not saying that original posters partner is abusive or that being an alcoholic means being abusive too.

But the book is outstanding for trying to understand the mind of the abuser and I can't recommend it enough for any woman dealing with abuse.
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Old 12-22-2018, 06:34 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Conversely, why would a husband stay with an alcoholic wife? I bring this up, because your question doesn't apply to just women. It means to me why would a normal person stay with alcoholic spouse?

Further, I think the answers are as complicated as the field of human psychology. I think a big factor, as is your first suggestion, that one always hopes the spouse will get better is probably a very common response. Marriage is an investment, and one always hopes it will succeed. And in fact, sometimes the spouse does get better, although statistically this is a bad bet. Recovery rates for alcoholics appear to be dismal. I don't know if anyone actually knows what the rates are, but I remember hearing somewhere around 5%. That sounds low to me, given that I associate with a lot of normies and former alcoholics, but if it's more than 5%, I personally wouldn't think it is higher than 15%.

Having said that, I'm guessing you're hoping your husband will get better. Other reasons obviously include marriages where both are alcoholics, and both parties get along suffering together. It could also be that the spouse provides an adequate income, which is important in a marriage, and while one hates the drinking, he/she also sees other advantages in the marriage. Another factor is just plain inertia; It's easier to remain married than face the big changes one has to make after a divorce. Some reasons make more sense than others, but the study of human relationships is complicated, because individuals vary so wildly in behaviors and motivations.

So are you seriously considering divorce? I think that's reasonable to consider it in your situation, but I wouldn't dare give you advice on what to do, especially with so little information.
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Old 12-22-2018, 09:12 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I'm an alcoholic and so is my ex-husband. I fought like hell to get sober, but honestly, I got nowhere until he left us. And even then, it took me years.

I kept thinking if I said the right thing, or watched the right show, or read the right book, everything would fall into place and he and I would get sober together.

I also think so many people view marriage as disposable and I was determined to make mine work. But you can't save it if only one person is trying. It's a team effort or it's a lost cause. And you can't save anyone else from their addiction. They have to want it and they have to fight for it. Facing that truth is one of those universal battles. We all intellectually know it, but it's one of those things the heart is resistant to hear. It thinks, "If I love her/him enough, I can SAVE her/him!" No, no you can't.

When I got married, I was on drugs, I was drinking, I was a complete mess. We were married for twenty-one years and it shifted. I've been off drugs for twenty-two years this Christmas. And he started drinking more and more, and sabotaging any efforts I made to quit. I'd say I was going to go a week or a month without drinking and he'd sweetly make me a drink and tell me "he forgot."

He gave into every AV that whispered to him after a while. Porn, gambling, sex (the gambling was the scariest and the sex was the most hurtful). And into this came.... our baby. Lovely timing. But it was a god moment. I think if we hadn't had a kid, I probably would have tried to stay and save him (and let him kill me in the process, I'm sure). But all of a sudden we had this tiny human who had an interest in staying alive.

I'd been a doormat to my ex before the kid came along, and quite frankly, the ex was horrified that I placed the kid first. Within two years, he left. He was sure that I'd die of my alcoholism and that I'd fail at everything.

I did not fail at everything. I did okay. It took me years to quit drinking, but I did. He did not. I divorced him last year (that took me WAY too long, but I stupidly kept thinking I shouldn't break up the family and that maybe he'd figure it out and quit drinking himself). I also stupidly never realized he would never make me or the kid a priority in his life and never view us as anything other than his property.

He spent the last few years telling me that I was lying about sobriety and that he knew I'd cheated on him relentlessly throughout our entire marriage. I hadn't, but it took a hell of a lot of effort to not engage and try to prove myself and my innocence.

Flash forward to October of this year. The kid and I are doing okay. I'd been sober for ten months at that point (and I STILL AM, yay me and us). I got this phone call that he was dying in a hospital and they needed someone to sign the medical papers. Turns out he has nothing and no one aside from his ex-wife and our kid.

We went to see him. It was unreal. He was yellow - like someone had colored him with a highlighter. He had the giant distended belly from drinking and he'd lost about sixty pounds due to muscle atrophy. And they were trying to figure out why his organs were failing. He was completely out of it, but what he was telling medical staff was that he never drank, that his wife was the alcoholic. He didn't remember that we'd gotten divorced. His alcoholic dementia also makes it so that he believes his own lies.

It was stunning. He did not die during that event. They got him stabilized and moved him to a rehab - at which point we left and went home. He signed himself out of rehab two days later. He still, to this day, insists I'm the alcoholic and not him. I'm the addict, not him.

I'm a guilty person by nature, and I have some major guilt over seeing what became of him after I gave up on him and focused on life without him. But it is NOT MY FAULT. And whatever happens with your husband, it is NOT YOUR FAULT.

You have a right to a life that doesn't revolve around someone else's addiction. You can't fight their battles for them, you can't save someone else from the bottle, you can't want it for them. If you could, there would be a crapload more sober people, because all of us have people who love us enough to save us.

But I understand the emotions, I understand the urge to try, to not fail them in their hour of need. I hope you can take a step back emotionally and try to view your situation as objectively as possible. Are you damaging your life and yourself in order to try to save your husband and your marriage? Can you fix it all on your own? What do you need to do to protect yourself and your family?

I'm not trying to be mean nor suggesting I know what's best for you. I just have been in that pit and I want someone to look out for YOU as well in your situation.

Best of luck.
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Old 12-23-2018, 05:00 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Over years- we age. Our skin changes- as does all the inside bits. But each day- say over a 15 year period, the changes are oh-so slight, we do not really 'feel' the change.

As an alcoholic (of which I was the one who destroyed my family) my drinking slowly go more out of control over years...day by day. So the stress my ex felt- day by day was slow to build up- and on a daily basis- turns horrible circumstances into that we know and understand.

Humans do not like change. Even if the change is for the better- we tend to relate to what we know. I came from an alcoholic family of origin with a huge amount of dysfunction- but this was normal to me, and so when I became an adult- my distorted view of the world- made me think anything outside my negative self loathing and stuff- was natural and normal.

To break out of this miasma of feeling an offence to the universe for me is hard- and I resist, because the negative stuff is all I have known.

I think this is why people stay together- they change but do not realise it, they become so accustomed to feeling like crap and over years- it becomes harder and harder.

My prayers and support to you.
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Old 12-23-2018, 05:30 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I am glad I didn't divorce my husband when things were at their worst (and I was very close to leaving him.) He is now over a year sober, and I have 19 months.

Having said that, I think each situation is unique.
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Old 12-23-2018, 05:35 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I have heard from many wives, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, women and men about the answer to this question being found in Alanon....

Maybe it would be helpful for you.

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Old 12-23-2018, 06:14 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by SuddenlyISee View Post
I read about so many women with similar situations as me, and they seem to be able to make it work. Why do they stay?
Hi SIS,

I don't know what or where you are reading, but is it possible that examples you refer to are outliers and not the norm? I too grew up in an alcoholic household and it's amazing to see how my upbringing shaped/shapes how I perceive situations and relationships. One of those things is the tendency to compare my insides (how I feel and fear) with everyone else's outsides (how others appear to be).

Perhaps other questions could help: what do you value most, what do you want, and how much are you willing to sacrifice to get or keep them?

Two of the insights I have found in recovery:
  • I cannot make someone else understand or want to get sober
  • When I care more about someone else's sobriety than they do, I have put myself in an impossible situation where I can be of almost no use to them and they have almost infinite power over me.
Our lives are precious, fragile and short. How we choose to spend our days is the most important choice we make.
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Old 02-17-2019, 08:45 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Perhaps other questions could help: what do you value most, what do you want, and how much are you willing to sacrifice to get or keep them. [/QUOTE]
Thank you eddiebuckle, this was very helpful and has made me think about what is it I do really want in this life. I need to hold true to that and continue on this path.
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Old 02-17-2019, 11:39 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by FlawedNFntastic View Post
I'm an alcoholic and so is my ex-husband. I fought like hell to get sober, but honestly, I got nowhere until he left us. And even then, it took me years.

I kept thinking if I said the right thing, or watched the right show, or read the right book, everything would fall into place and he and I would get sober together.

I also think so many people view marriage as disposable and I was determined to make mine work. But you can't save it if only one person is trying. It's a team effort or it's a lost cause. And you can't save anyone else from their addiction. They have to want it and they have to fight for it. Facing that truth is one of those universal battles. We all intellectually know it, but it's one of those things the heart is resistant to hear. It thinks, "If I love her/him enough, I can SAVE her/him!" No, no you can't.

When I got married, I was on drugs, I was drinking, I was a complete mess. We were married for twenty-one years and it shifted. I've been off drugs for twenty-two years this Christmas. And he started drinking more and more, and sabotaging any efforts I made to quit. I'd say I was going to go a week or a month without drinking and he'd sweetly make me a drink and tell me "he forgot."

He gave into every AV that whispered to him after a while. Porn, gambling, sex (the gambling was the scariest and the sex was the most hurtful). And into this came.... our baby. Lovely timing. But it was a god moment. I think if we hadn't had a kid, I probably would have tried to stay and save him (and let him kill me in the process, I'm sure). But all of a sudden we had this tiny human who had an interest in staying alive.

I'd been a doormat to my ex before the kid came along, and quite frankly, the ex was horrified that I placed the kid first. Within two years, he left. He was sure that I'd die of my alcoholism and that I'd fail at everything.

I did not fail at everything. I did okay. It took me years to quit drinking, but I did. He did not. I divorced him last year (that took me WAY too long, but I stupidly kept thinking I shouldn't break up the family and that maybe he'd figure it out and quit drinking himself). I also stupidly never realized he would never make me or the kid a priority in his life and never view us as anything other than his property.

He spent the last few years telling me that I was lying about sobriety and that he knew I'd cheated on him relentlessly throughout our entire marriage. I hadn't, but it took a hell of a lot of effort to not engage and try to prove myself and my innocence.

Flash forward to October of this year. The kid and I are doing okay. I'd been sober for ten months at that point (and I STILL AM, yay me and us). I got this phone call that he was dying in a hospital and they needed someone to sign the medical papers. Turns out he has nothing and no one aside from his ex-wife and our kid.

We went to see him. It was unreal. He was yellow - like someone had colored him with a highlighter. He had the giant distended belly from drinking and he'd lost about sixty pounds due to muscle atrophy. And they were trying to figure out why his organs were failing. He was completely out of it, but what he was telling medical staff was that he never drank, that his wife was the alcoholic. He didn't remember that we'd gotten divorced. His alcoholic dementia also makes it so that he believes his own lies.

It was stunning. He did not die during that event. They got him stabilized and moved him to a rehab - at which point we left and went home. He signed himself out of rehab two days later. He still, to this day, insists I'm the alcoholic and not him. I'm the addict, not him.

I'm a guilty person by nature, and I have some major guilt over seeing what became of him after I gave up on him and focused on life without him. But it is NOT MY FAULT. And whatever happens with your husband, it is NOT YOUR FAULT.

You have a right to a life that doesn't revolve around someone else's addiction. You can't fight their battles for them, you can't save someone else from the bottle, you can't want it for them. If you could, there would be a crapload more sober people, because all of us have people who love us enough to save us.

But I understand the emotions, I understand the urge to try, to not fail them in their hour of need. I hope you can take a step back emotionally and try to view your situation as objectively as possible. Are you damaging your life and yourself in order to try to save your husband and your marriage? Can you fix it all on your own? What do you need to do to protect yourself and your family?

I'm not trying to be mean nor suggesting I know what's best for you. I just have been in that pit and I want someone to look out for YOU as well in your situation.

Best of luck.
Wow thank you for sharing this. I just read this to my wife in the car on our drive home.

Powerful story, and makes me so glad Iíve decided to pursue a life of health and sobriety ó not just for me, but for them. Both of us have.

I hope you continue your journey into health.
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Old 02-17-2019, 02:24 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Prayers and support to you.
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Old 02-17-2019, 04:33 PM   #15 (permalink)
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When I was at my worst, I asked my wife to leave me because she deserved better. Her reply was that she signed up 'For Better or Worse', I know it's cliche but she's seen more of the best of me than the worst and is hopeful I'll snap out of it. I'm trying to snap out of it.
That's my story, yours may be different.
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Old 02-17-2019, 04:36 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Hi, Suddenly.
Welcome.
I think that people stay with addict partners for many reasons.
Financial concerns, fear of living alone, hope that the partner will get sober and be the person they used to be, not wanting to be a single parent.
I will say what I most often say when this question is asked: unless the partner embraces recovery, things will only get worse. Alcohol makes us sick, and as we age, we get sicker.
Everyone is different. I have seen people who have no business being alive still walking around, but they are not healthy.
whether you stay or leave is no small decision and only you can make it, but, as others have said, you get one life.
How do you want to live it?
Final thought: No one on this site who has left their addict partner has ever said that they regretted it and wished they could undo it., at least not that I can remember.
If anything, they wished they had left sooner.
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Old 02-18-2019, 03:11 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I'm trying to snap out of it.
That's my story, yours may be different.
JamesSquire the important part of your story is that you are trying. In my situation he doesnít see that alcohol is any way the problem and it is my trying to control him to stop drinking is the problem. Other than trying to set boundaries I do not harp on him about his drinking other than say please drink at home and donít drink and drive. It is when I set those boundaries is what sets him off. He wants me to remain silent and submit to a life of wallowing in his self pity. Congratulations to you to want to get healthy. I hope you and your wife find your happily ever after.
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