Ways Of Coping With An Alcoholic Spouse


I was married to woman who had a drinking problem and pill-popping addiction. There was never a moment when she was awake that she didn’t have one or the other in her system. The person who is mixing narcotics and liqueur together, on a regular basis, experiences intense mood swings.

My ex-spouse had some serious issues with criticizing others even if she wasn’t being influenced by some sort of drug. Her very nature was to be extremely critical of other people. Along with this negative behavior, she also had a temper that was unstoppable. She was a very angry alcoholic at times.

When she was under the influence of some mind altering substance, these negative emotions intensified to the point of extreme emotional, physical and verbal abuse on her part.

I have sure had plenty of training in learning how to cope with an alcoholic spouse. My knowledge on how to gain peace and serenity was gained through hands on experience.

During the intense season of being trained in how to handle outbursts of rage, juggle countless lies and deal with an unfaithful alcoholic spouse, I was attending no less than six support group meetings per week.

The information I’m sharing with you on how to cope with an alcoholic spouse was all learned from real life experiences, through reading many books on coping with alcoholics and by hanging out with people, in support group meetings, who had been dealing with alcoholics for many years.

On many occasions, I was left abandoned by her, plans were broken and promises never fulfilled. I’ve been lied to, cheated on, called every name in the book and physically abused.

I’ve been spit on and had things thrown at me. On one occasion, I was pushed down a small flight of stairs. One night when I couldn’t get into another room and lock the door fast enough, she forced her way in and hit me in the back of the head and kicked me in the back as I knelt in the corner with no way to escape.

I was with her when she decided to go into rehab and I was still there when she relapsed. The night she got arrested, I was the one who got the second phone call and the husband who refused to bail her out.

I know what it is like to be obsessed with an alcoholic. I know what it is like to be lied to repeatedly. I can also help you learn how to cope with an angry alcoholic.

Here are a few proven methods of coping with an alcoholic spouse that work:

  • Understand that you didn’t force them to drink. They have decided to become what they are through their own choices in life. Nothing that you have done caused them to be an alcoholic. Nothing that you do makes them continue to pick up alcohol.
  • There is now way that you can have any effect on whether they drink or not. You cannot stop them or convince them to not drink. Their choice to consume alcohol is beyond your control.
  • You cannot provide a remedy for their illness, there isn’t one. They will only quit when they decide that it is time to get help for themselves. One exception to the rule, sometimes in rare cases an alcoholic will be sentenced to attend AA meetings by a judge. Periodically, people will find sobriety in those meetings and stay clean and sober. In most of these instances, the person was at their bottom and were ready to accept that they had a drinking problem.

Every situation that we encounter with an alcoholic requires different coping skills. In alcoholism support group meetings these skills are referred to as tools.

Here are a few more suggestions to help you cope with an alcoholic spouse:

  1. When they lie-don’t confront the lies.
  2. When they stay out all night-just go to sleep.
  3. When they want to argue-refuse to participate.
  4. When they come home-don’t analyze them to try and figure out if they are drunk or not.
  5. When they ruin your plans-be sure to have a plan B.
  6. When your mind wants you to snoop in their things-don’t do it.
  7. After the alcoholic spouse has left you a nasty phone message-don’t listen to it, delete it instead!
  8. Do something that you enjoy-instead of spending your time obsessing over what they are doing.
  9. If you get really angry with them-exercise, call a friend or attend a support group meeting.
  10. If your spouse gets arrested-consider leaving them in jail to suffer the consequences of their actions.
  11. Stay present in the moment-avoid obsessing on past events or fearing the future.
  12. Do something kind for someone today.
  13. Do something kind for yourself today.
  14. Spend time asking God for help on a daily basis.
  15. When you don’t have any expectations of them-you will never have to deal with a resentment.
  16. Never give an ultimatum unless you are going to follow through with your decision.
  17. Never argue with a drunk.
  18. Avoid having serious conversations with them when they are intoxicated.

I wish there was a magic formula I could share on how to cope with your husband or wife who is the alcoholic. As you can tell from the list above, there are different things that we do in different situations to help us cope with an alcoholic spouse. The main objective of all the ones that I have listed are to help you become more emotionally, physically and spiritually stable.

There’s no way that you can make your loved one quit drinking. You have no control over their choices, but you do have control of yours. When you begin to cope with the situation differently, then things will gradually begin to change in your favor. You can be happy in this dysfunctional marriage. It all starts with you taking responsibility for your own happiness.

For more helpful tips buy our Book On Coping With An Alcoholic Spouse.

Written By: JC


197 comments to Ways Of Coping With An Alcoholic Spouse

  • Paula g

    Diane,
    Wow I never heard of that one, i have heard of doctors prescribing anti-anxiety meds. But again only useful for fairly short periods. http://www.mnwelldir.org/docs/therapies/alcohol.htm This is something i found online(You might have to copy and paste to see it) and then I found the patent too, which I can’t attach here but if your interested I will find a way to show it to you and anyone interested. I have tried to get research people to look into it, but so far no luck. Take care Diane

  • Diana

    Paula G,

    Wow, that’s amazing. It would be a great study for somebody’s dissertation. And it makes sense, especially if alcoholics are truly allergic to alcohol. It’s similar to what allergists do for patients with severe allergies. It seems as if there’s got to be somebody in a PhD program who might want to do this as their final project. The ingredients aren’t harmful; thus, the risks seem very minimal. This was an interesting read. Thank you for sharing the article. Take good care, Paula.

  • Mike

    I’m not here to bash your finding, but I had neighbors growing up that were gang members. The whole family. The eldest took the youngest away from that neighborhood and never was in gangs. For example, when the discussion of obesity comes up, they alway point to the kids also being fat. That should be obvious, as the whole family is eating the same foods. Maybe there is something in the home that is causing the drinking? Bad company ruins good habits. Just like yeast, all it take sis one bad family member to ruin the family. I have seen it in my in-laws. I saw the one who stayed home, ruined and the one who got out saved from drinking. The ones saved from alcoholism seldom associate with the drinking members and it has worked.

  • Diana

    Mike,
    Until recently, I served a lot of gang members or families of gang members at a community college. It wasn’t always a milk and honey situation. In fact, there were times that were darn right scary, but I had to keep a stiff upper lip and pretend that I wasn’t afraid. I’m not a big person, and I became very aware of my size during those times. Even so, most of my students were hard-working people and appreciated the opportunity to get a college degree. I loved my job because I felt as if I was contributing to a better world somehow. Now that I’m retired and moved away, far away from that community, my stress level has dropped significantly. In fact, my blood pressure has dropped to a healthy level again. So yes, if there are bad ones in the group, it can affect many in a variety of ways that aren’t good. No matter how hard families try to keep their kids out of the gangs, it’s very hard for the kids not to join. I think my upbringing around alcoholic and violent parents, if you want to call it an upbringing, prepared me for this situation. I never really left my family totally behind even though the alcohol and drug situation was really bad. It’s actually my siblings that keep me connected. Now with my proximity being far away from all of that negativity, I am able to live in peace most of the time,and prior to visiting family and that community, I prepare myself in advance. I visit this website a lot whenever I’m going to go there and also directly after I come back home and away from it all.

  • Mike

    This is my lesson from my experiences with alcoholism in my spouse.
    It did not start with the first drink. It started form a way of living and and p[bringing that was filled with dysfunction.
    It was constant and was able to lure the young drinker into a dysfunctional life in adulthood.
    The choosing of the alcoholic partner was one made with blinders. Blinders we chose to wear. We all saw that there were huge red flags, but in todays world we are taught to ‘not judge” and non-judmental people look at the positive. Of course as we dealing with drinkers, we need to see the negative. We need to because it is the main part of their life. The person you see is the person you get. You never marry for potential. You may hire a young worker because you see potential there, but in a spouse, it never gets better, it stay the same
    Drinker now, drinker later. See, the brain and psyche is damaged in a physical and emotional sense. They have perfected hiding it.
    Then when you get married, they mask can’t possibly be worn forever and the fraud collapses and then we see what we refused to believe.
    It is a lesson we all could have warned ourselves about, if we could’ve talked to ourselves long ago.

  • Paula g

    Hi Mike,
    Here; “We all saw that there were huge red flags, but in todays world we are taught to ‘not judge” and be non-judmental people look at the positive.”, This is the key as I see it. We, Adults of course need to be educated, and need to educate our young about being familiar with our boundaries. For example; we do draw a line somewhere, even though we may be immersed in certain attitudes depending on our own set of morals we take or leave certain behaviors(ei vandalism,B&E). This indicates that we are able to decide what we accept and what we do not. All this to say; we need to be educated to listen to our guts and respect our own boundaries, and maybe introducing this kind of education in school might give young people the strength to stand their ground, and decide to leave or move out if they see that they might be being dragged into something they don’t want to.
    Of course I am aiming for preventative solutions as you suggest.

  • Diana

    Good morning,

    On the notion of knowing that we are entering a relationship that involves an alcoholic…

    There is another way that people end up with alcoholic partners. Many times the alcoholic or drug addict doesn’t become addicted until well after the couple has committed to the relationship; thus, the signs aren’t always there when we choose to be with somebody. In fact, my first husband was a very balanced and good spirited young man, which is what attracted me to him. Four years after we married and 18 months after our first child was born, he was in a super bad dump truck accident. He attained a severed aorta and head trauma and miraculously lived through it. I was so grateful that he lived through the surgery and was released from the hospital just nine days later. However, the head trauma changed him and he became mean, and he started abusing alcohol and taking drugs. I managed to stay with him for five years after the accident, but the violence, alcohol and drug abuse continued to get worse. He had no impulse control over his anger or his sexual behaviors as a result of frontal lobe head trauma; thus, he started having many affairs and didn’t care that I knew. I felt as if I should leave him but I also felt that it would be unfair to him if I were to leave him because all of his actions were a result of his injuries. It was only when he finally punched me in the face so hard that I flew across the room that I made him leave and divorce him because once that starts it just gets worse. Interestingly, he eventually stopped taking drugs, and he didn’t quit drinking; he just didn’t abuse alcohol anymore and just drank socially on occasion. In other words, he wasn’t an alcoholic or drug addict. For a period of time, he used both as an escape. He eventually became a brilliant engineer, but his original person never returned. Long story short, prevention is not always possible, and our gut doesn’t react to future events, so many times we get stuck in a relationship that goes sour due to unexpected events. I loved him and admired him and he was the father of my children, so to leave took five years and a punch in the face before I knew for a fact that I had no other choice but to leave.

  • Diana

    I guess what I’m saying is that we can’t blame ourselves for entering a relationship that is or becomes dysfunctional. I think that blaming ourselves becomes part of our problem and psychological dependence on somebody who is not fit to be in a relationship. I felt guilty for leaving the marriage for years after the divorce.

  • Patti

    Paula,
    That article was Amazing! Thanks for sharing it here!

  • Patti

    Unfortunately, I can lead the AH to the water, but can’t make them drink! I was beginning to think how I could help my AH to find this information, but realized he’d already told me twice that he likes being high and he isn’t going to quit. I’m not prepared to put myself on the line to help anymore. I know that anytime I push in the quitting direction, he pushes harder in the drinking direction. I’ve done a lot of work with myself, and I can coexist with this person long enough to complete my obligations, take a few more steps towards independence, and ascertain if I’m ready to give the 1x ultimatum. I’ve seen it here many times…DO NOT threaten to leave unless you MEAN IT! I’ve learned a lot from this blog, for sure!

  • Patti

    I realize that one result of my dysfunctional childhood is that I always attract other dysfunctional folks as friends and lovers. I’ve never been a drinker, yet ALL of my boyfriends were drunks. I may have to leave my marriage at some point, but my first priority is to grow & evolve myself, so I can break that relationship pattern. I don’t want to step out of the frying pan and into the fire! Been there, done that! I think beginning with myself first will bring the successful results I desire, and the changes will occur when I’m ready.

  • Diana

    Patti, You’re so right about not threatening to leave unless we truly mean it because that’s when things get violent with or without alcohol. And true again, the more we try to help them, the more they rebel and drink even more. We can’t help them because they don’t want our help unless it somehow supports their addiction. If anything ever happens that I become single again, I think I’ve had enough of relationships. My husband now is a sweetie; I just got lucky with him. I had sworn that I would never marry again, and that’s when he came into my life. Our 25 years together have not been pristine; however, what problems we have encountered, we have been able to work through them and get back on track again – for the most part, that is. That’s probably because neither of us abuse alcohol. We both get sick from it, which is a blessing. I don’t really trust my choices in partners, even though my husband now (third time around) is a great guy, but he can be passive aggressive at times and tries to control me on occasion, which never works so I don’t know why he even tries. My problems with alcoholics now involve blood related family members, but what I have discovered is that I’m not choosing addicts, but I tend to choose partners with compulsive obsessive disorders. I tricked myself into thinking that if I don’t choose a partner that drinks or takes drugs then everything will be hunky-dorey. NOT! I kissed a lot of frogs before meeting the man I’m with today, and most of those frogs had serious issues. This may be because of my alcoholic parents and also my father and his wife who weren’t alcoholics, but they were abusive. I don’t really know what a functional relationship is supposed to be like. I do know that there are so many problems among married couples these days. The “Leave it to Beaver” days have come and gone, but truthfully, most of what happened back then happened behind closed doors.

  • Paula g

    Diana,
    You have sure had more than your share of experience with this. I totally agree and know from my own life that we think we have things pretty much figured out and then find out we know nothing at all, my daughter and I laughed at the idea of making a t-shirt that reads… “the more you know, the more you see that you know nothing, now go to bed”. lol For sure there is no easy answers or quick fixes, but we learn an awful lot of useless stuff in high school, and only small percentages of kids actually get what is being taught in any given course, but if taught right some tools for just dealing with life and trying to cope with what it throws at us, could help some people. Heaven knows some parents don’t teach them, and some kids can’t hear things for the simple reason that it is coming from their parents. I’m not sure if that made sense, it made sense to me.lol

  • Paula g

    Hi Patti,
    I have found the most effective way to communicate with my AH was always 100% truth delivered without emotion, when he was sober, then he see’s you are 100% serious. Don’t forget, between the two of you, you are the only one concerned with your quality of life. That being said be concerned with it and make it a priority, do what you have to do for your own welfare. I understand your plan is to get yourself in shape before you leave, but let me put it to you that , that would be a lot easier to do if you were alone, and single. Alcoholics being manipulators are always testing the water, so whoever you meet next, let them see a strong person who can’t be coerced. I am also a person on a similar journey to yours. My weakness is I need to be loved, and clever manipulators see right through that, and they know how to work it. But in my travels I am understanding much more about knowing what my boundaries are and the importance of stating them and not wavering on them. A book that you might like is “Your souls plan” by Robert Schwartz, If you keep finding yourself with alcoholics there may be an unconscious reason. I read this book and found it very interesting and helpful.
    Good luck sister

  • Mike

    I hope we can teach the lessons of our mistakes, and that’s what they are. We married the wrong people because we refused to look at the real picture. No matter how pretty/handsome, nice, gentle, kind, family loving, we refused to see the alcoholism. It was there, but we brushed it aside. I am telling you, THAT is what needs to be taught. It’s not selfish to demand a sober spouse. There is no one married to a drinker that did not see it. Amplify every trait of the person you’re with x 10. That is what your life will be in ten years. Prevention is still the best medicine. Tell your friends and family to never date alcoholics. Don’t even date drinkers. If they still think they can do what the rest of the world could not show them theses posts. It is that black and white. We are all stuck. All we can do is have other learn from all our mistakes.

  • Paula g

    Mike; We need to try to bring these ideas into public forum, this sounds very responsible to me.

  • Diana

    Hi Patti,

    I’m not encouraging you to leave your partner when I say this, but from my own experience, I had to get out of the bad relationship in order to evolve. The alcoholic in the relationship doesn’t care how he/she hurts his/her partner when they’re drunk. In the meantime, all of the negative and angry blows to our self-esteem continues to plumage downhill.

    As the old saying goes, “We either marry our mother or our father.” Those of us who were brought up by alcoholics continue to crave the love that we missed out on while growing up. Whether it be our mother or father or both, we look for them in prospective partners. So instead of looking for a healthy partner, we always seem to find one that is dysfunctional.

    I thought that I was choosing the opposite of my parents and looked for and committed to non-alcoholics/drug addicts. What I forgot to mention to myself is to also pay attention to other cues. I have always chosen men who would bring me down and psychologically abuse me while stone sober.

    It’s really hard to break the chain, but what I have found is that breaking the chain means to get away from the abusers and then I can work on healing and understanding my own motives for choosing the partners I’ve chosen throughout my life. One of my boyfriends in the past actually told me that I tend to choose men with broken wings. He was referring to other men but also to himself. I thought that was generous and honest of him to say because I have never been with a man that was psychologically stable. My present husband has grown to be a very stable man, but he came into our relationship with some serious problems. We’ve been together for 25 years, but a good 17 years of that time was extremely hurtful. I stayed with him because his entire family died off within about four years, and my family was the only family he had left. He too was brought up by an abusive alcoholic mother. I had to throw some serious honesty at my present husband in order for him to choose to change, but keep in mind, he doesn’t drink or take drugs, so he was stuck with the hurt that he caused me.

    Even though we don’t drink or take drugs, abusive partners is OUR drug of choice. I only speak from my own point of view, but us adult children of alcoholics seem to choose the same or similar pathways. I wish you the very best as you travel this journey.

    Diana

  • Diana

    Hi all,

    In regards to the partners we choose, this has been the best conversation that I’ve ever been involved in. I looked back to when this conversations began. The date was March 3 when this particular conversation began. I have actually looked forward to it each morning. Thank you all and have a wonderful day.

    Diana

  • Mike

    I wasn’t abused, molested, or a drinker anymore. I had stopped eighteen years before. I was divorced and trying to deal with my mom and niece’s deaths. I was being sued by my ex and by a man from a car accident I was in that was my fault. I was getting things back in order with my faith. A faith that I had only talked about. I wanted to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. I gave my ex everything she wanted after almost killing that man in the wreck. I lost everything. I still had my job and health.
    So in my new life, I met someone I had known for many years. As we got closer and more serious, I noticed drinking was a very big issue with her. Not knowing the truth of alcoholism, I figure she could stop like I did. Cold and on the spot. You choose it and it’s over. That is how I did it in 1998.
    When we were talking marriage, I required that she not drink anymore. She promised and so I believed her. Got married, moved in and then the lies and the life I thought I was re-starting, collapsed. And this is where I am. Regretting that day, waiting for the assurance that it was meant for the better, but still not seeing that purpose. Today, I am married to a woman who really can’t do much. Clean, cook, hygiene. All thing she faked. She hates herself and her family? Good grief they are a mess. “Don’t judge people” was the advice from everyone. Ha, had I been the judge that I normally am, I would have run like greased lighting.
    That is my sad testimony about how alcohol helped cause so much pain in my life. That, and some bad choices.
    Here is my advice to those thinking about marriage, and I wish I had listened to it before.
    1) Do you like her/him as they are, right now, today, with no improvement necessary?
    If the answer is ‘no.’ Leave and look elsewhere. No one is going to change. They are what they are and wishing they were just a little bit different is a waste of time. Don’t buy the promises. They would have done the changing on their own had they really meant is.
    2) Look at her/his family. Do you like what you see? If not, run away. The person will be just like that family. They know nothing else. Trust me on this one. When you don’t know what to do, you do what you know.
    If you like him/her as she is and you like the family and how they are, you have down 99% of the work into picking a suitable partner in life. And always keep watch that things don’t come in and ruin them.

  • Ben

    I’m, lonely so lonely , my wife hasn’t wanted affection or sex in over a year, she’s mean and verbally abusive. I can’t seem to leave , I ignore her insults and put downs I try and stay busy, I take the kids to school ,and activities. I’m using the suggestions found in these articles like never argue when their drinking , don’t believe them with the put downs , name calling , yelling, I’m just so unhappy , she curses at me everyday , until I leave for a couple of hours, then she accuses me of having an affair when I leave because I can’t be around her. I just don’t know what to do. I went to alanon , I didn’t get anything out of the meeting. Just stories like mine. I’m just tired and lonely.

  • Bill

    Ben, thanks for sharing. You are not alone in your struggles. The pain and frustration that you are feeling are normal in situations like yours. It hurts, it’s frustrating, it’s discouraging and emotionally draining when coping with an alcoholic spouse.

    Dealing with an alcoholic spouse is very much like dealing with several different personalities.

    You might consider trying about six Al-anon meetings. That’s the usual suggestion. Try different ones. They tend to have different flavors. Within those meetings are people who have been coping with alcoholics for many years and they are full of wisdom. The meetings will give you a safe place to escape to. You will also begin to develop amazing friendship as you continue to participate.

    As far as doing things you’ve read about on this website, just do the best that you can. If you goof something up, it’s okay, just start over.

    The ideas you have gained from Alcoholic’s Friend are tailored to help you make small changes in order to help you have more sanity in your personal life.

    Your wife is going to point the finger at you and do things to try and make you mad. These things are known as trying to “push your buttons”.

    Here are some search results from this site that can help you in this arena:
    https://cse.google.com/cse?cx=partner-pub-0773501472177423:7524027931&ie=UTF-8&q=pushing+buttons&sa=Search&ref=#gsc.tab=0&gsc.q=pushing%20buttons&gsc.page=1

    Do your best to continue to make positive changes. Your wife isn’t going to stop doing things that irritate you, but you can learn how to not let those things irritate you.

    Start keeping a journal of your interactions with your wife. You will begin to see recurring things she is doing to try and get a negative reaction out of you. Once you identify these things you can start responding with self discipline rather than reacting in the moment in negativity. The process of getting good at coping with an alcoholic takes practice and time.

    Additionally, it’s important to make a firm decision that you are going to endure this season in your relationship because you believe in your wife and marriage. In doing so, you will find a solid foundation to stand upon.

  • Patti

    Diana, Thank you for your thoughtful sharing and insights. I can see you’ve been through the same type of turmoil, and I think it’s fantastic that you got a better man this time around. I’m sorry you had go through a lot to get there, but at least He was & is Able to work with you! As you know, the AH/Addict will try to/pretend to? work with us until they’re under the influence and then they get twisted, nasty and undo all the good they ever did. Trying to get an addict to stick to what they said or did is like trying to nail jello to a tree. 1yr plus with Alanon and a good Church have brought me a lot of peace and hope that I had lost. I feel a lot more like me “good old self” and am returning to my normal level of functioning and well being, despite whatever the AH is doing….I had a terrific Stepmom who gave great advice including: ” Always move from a position of strength”. I know that I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in a relationship with someone so “unconcious”, but we have built up a bit of sweat equity together, and I hope to get our house in order before we split it up, which will be difficult enough. I’m too close to retirement age to just run away and leave it all behind. Besides, running away has been my lifelong standard modus operandi to any and all problems, and it didn’t serve me that well. “Wherever you go, there you are!” I’d like to make some preparations for myself and then give the ultimatum, like Mike did. I will keep my eyes wide open now, and I will leave at the first sign of violence. My AH is verbally & emotionally abusive, but never yet physical. I thank God for that. Places like this are also terrific for my understanding and serenity. It’s so good to know we’re not alone!!!

  • Patti

    Mike, You are a smart person who has lived and learned a lot! You speak your mind & express yourself very well, and I admire your “nuts and bolts” attitude. You don’t mince words, you say like it is. You are correcto-mundo about Many things in my life. Indeed, the red flags had flown many times while dating my AH. I was in my mid thirties and never married and when he asked me, I thought we “could work things out”. I feel really dumb for giving the whole thing a pass just because he was the first one who’d asked me! I would’ve been better off with a roomate, which I always had, prior to our marriage. With roomates, everyone takes care of themselves! Any sharing, giving and taking is done through discussion and agreement, rather than the less responsible partner dumping most of the responsibilities onto the more responsible one…I’m so glad to have your male standpoint to look at and learn from.

  • Patti

    I also must express My feeling that legalizing recreational marijuana use in the US is a BAD idea!!! Many of my friends and family love their pot as much or more than their booze. It makes most of them appear really spaced out or stupid, just like any other drug, or alcohol. Many of these folks tell me “you can’t get addicted to pot”, but they must have their continuous supply just like all other addicts. Kids and teenagers of course will want to try and can now get some much easier than ever before. I’ve read many medical articles now, stating that if one gets high before age 21 when the brain is fully formed, there can be much brain atrophy & damage. Do we want to inadvertently foist these serious problems on to our next generation? As a child of the 70’s, I experimented too much, but luckily for me I eventually realized that any substances which affect my body, mind and emotions like that also make me feel very uncomfortable. No thanks man! I prefer being “grounded” any day. I remember being amazed to discover I could have as much or more fun at parties or with friends, while being totally sober. Especially when everyone else is too. That is why I’m making a whole new group of “straight” friends. Man, we have great times and no hangovers!!

  • Patti

    Paula, Thank you for your very valid points also! I come from the same place of lacking, the “need to be loved, at any cost”. I can see that getting free of the AH has had many positive effects on your life!! I’m going to keep what you said close to my heart and remember it often. I need to keep re-examining the situation as often as it takes for me to keep my happiness. I’m NOT going to let that AH person steal that from me ANY MORE! I’ve already become pretty good at ignoring and not discussing things with a drunk. Every time I turn them down/turn them away I give myself an “Atta girl” I’ve been DEVOURING so much helpful literature, and will DEFinately add your book “Your Soul’s Plan” by Robert Shwartz, to my list! It’s amazing how many resources are out there, once we begin looking…Another friend of mine suggested a children’s book by Shel Silverstein called “The Missing Piece”….

  • Patti

    Bill, I totally agree with what you told Ben here. I went to 4 or 5 different meetings before choosing. One of them felt really icky to me, and two of them ended up tying for my ultimate choice. I’ve kept them both, one as an alternate, on a different day of the week. The meetings vary quite a bit, depending on the particular set of members, the location and the ease of you getting to it! A lot of Alanon guys have said they get a lot/more out of “men only ” meetings. It seems reasonable that one can probably be much more comfortably open with a group of the same sex then when it’s mixed. My favorite meeting is a mixed group and I really enjoy seeing both sides of the issues.

  • Mike

    Patti. I’m not ay smarter than the next person. What I am is honest even when it makes me or anyone look bad. I thought I was through with bad decision making, but they keep coming wham we are not thinking straight. It is very hard for men to remain single after a divorce, especially one that I did not want. I asked for a divorce after a year of my ex not wanting me. She said she wanted something else. Her parents lived in different countries so she thought it could be down like that after a year of telling me she did not want me, I asked for a divorce. It’s as if she did not want to stay the word “divorce” but did everything to have it. She threatened to
    call the Marshals to have me removed. In hind sight, she had the new guy already. I forgave her. Hurt men make very bad deacons even after my dying mom said t wait two years. We just don’t listen to wisdom. Especially those like me who think they are experts on everything.

  • Paula g

    Patti,
    Power to you, and to all of us who struggle with these traps.

  • Patti

    Mike, OK then. You’re honest and articulate! Great qualities for communicating, especially in a place like this…I’m sorry you had to go through basically the same scenario twice. I can see that you’re using those as opportunities for growth and it sounds like you may have now acquired the strength to avoid repeating the pattern again! I was just reading in my bible yesterday and it says that God brings adversity into our lives to prepare us for greater things! I am glad you are here to “represent”. I hope we can all get to the place where we no longer have to live with the daily insanity of addiction in our lives. Hey, I just realized I’m lucky that no one asked me to marry when I was younger, or I DEFINITELY would’ve experienced my first AH relationship struggle when I was younger and not as smart, not as strong…

  • Patti

    Paula G,
    Thank you for the validation, feedback and advice. I’m so thankful to have stumbled across this website and this particular conversation as well. This is how we learn to help ourselves and improve our lives. I’m still feeling amazed about the treatment you referred to earlier on here. If it is as effective as the author says, then why haven’t they brought the treatment into the mainstream so that thousands of folks could feel the benefits? I’ve heard that in other medical fields like Cancer, they have more cures than they reveal, in the name of making the most $ by “keeping people sick”…Isn’t that sickening? I hope it’s not true. I would like to believe that mankind is kind at heart…

  • Paula g

    Ben,
    I hear you, the kids, the idea that you are taking what you can and trying to live by the rules, but I am going to go out on a limb here and say…you don’t have to stay there, and your kids don’t have to be witnesses to the abuse either. They say lead by example, and to me that includes not taking the abuse. It sounds like it’s time to leave.
    In my experience it’s not going to stop until you make it, and since you can’t change her you have to change everything else. I find myself repeating this often, because we like to believe our significant other is concerned for us, as I did for many years, but when we are dealing with an alcoholic you can safely assume that ‘they aren’t concerned for your quality of life’. You need to be because there is only you and your kids who depend on you. The alcoholic is on their own journey and sticking around trying to help them truly isn’t helping them, it is just prolonging the inevitable. Mostly they will not even consider getting better until life becomes so intolerable that they have to drop down to their knees and ask God to help them, and admit that they are helpless to their addiction, and that they need help. Usually they are alone when it comes to that.
    Depending on our make up some of us come into these relationships feeling like we are protectors of weaker people or that our patience will get us through and we feel we can stand by them, but the truth ends up being ; we waste a whole bunch of time and deny ourselves things we need and keep our children in bad situations and the person in question does not improve or get better. Remember your life has value, you are worthy of being treated well and with respect, your children are deserving of a better example, and only you can make these decisions. You are the captain of that ship, because your partner is intoxicated and emotionally unavailable. The most helpful words I ever heard where “it doesn’t have to be that way”, and this opened up the world to me, and i felt free to make the decisions i had to make. As if I had been given the permission to leave.
    Everyone here hears your dilemma, and can relate, but in the end remember you are the Captain.
    Good luck Brother.

  • Paula g

    Patti,
    I am wondering if the researchers have done research on it, or if it just got missed or forgotten in the patent offices. I have written a few research places and no one has any idea about it

  • Diana

    Ben,

    I was so taken by your situation with your wife. While reading your comments, I was right there with you. It’s so frustrating, hurtful, and such a lonely existence. I see that you have kids, which makes it even harder for you to figure out what to do with your own life because you are their protector. You are so brave and the fact that you are so open about your feelings will open doors for you. In the meantime, please be kind to yourself, and try to remember that the alcoholic will do anything he/she can to keep their partner down. It is their best tool of manipulation. Kindest thoughts to you as you go through all of this.

  • Diana

    Hi all,

    I was thinking about that treatment that Patti was talking about. The only problem is that AHs quit when things get so bad for them that there is nobody there to support them and/or their addiction. Even if there was a treatment that was a sure cure for AH, the AH has to want to quit. For the most part, most don’t want to quit until things get so horribly bad for them that they have no other choice but to look at themselves with truthful eyes. Many times, that just makes them drink more.

    That brings the whole issue back to us, the responsible ones who hold things together. We have to make choices that are best for us and for our children if there are children involved. I can say from my own experiences that children who live with the AH suffer and it affects them for life.

    A friend of mine once said, “Life is so precious, and it’s such an incredible and precious gift that we were granted even if we were born only to be a blade of grass.” It’s so true, and life goes by far too quickly. Living with an AH is a waste of many precious lives and so many horrible things happen as a result of it. I truly believe that it’s best to leave a relationship like that because it’s not going to get better even if we want to save them from their own selves. No matter how much we wish for them to get better, it’s completely up the them, and like Paula G noted, “they’re usually alone” when they finally give in and decide to find a way to heal.

    It’s interesting to read everybody’s comments because we all come from different walks of life, but our experiences with alcoholics/drug addicts are the same or so similar that we can actually empathize with each other. Thank you all for so much insight.

  • Patti

    Diane, Dang it you’re right! I keep realizing that although I’m much better at ignoring the drunk person who is in the room, I still suck myself into trying to help them, behind the scenes. YUCK! Today’s reminder to self: THEY HAVE TO HELP THEMSELVES, I CANNOT HELP THEM. I CANNOT HELP THEM TO HELP THEMSELVES! I CAN ONLY HELP MYSELF!!!! Shiva the goddess of destruction may have to come and take things apart before the need for change is addressed.

  • MCP

    Ben,
    Have you tried an intervention? I did an intervention for my wife. Now I am not going to say that it worked because we have a long way to go. The intervention did work, in that, it got her to seek treatment. We are two weeks in as of today, so far so good. If you go the intervention route, get her friends and family to participate, not yours. Have your children participate. If you choose your family and friends it will be viewed as “ganging up” on her. Don’t lose hope. There is always hope.

  • Mike

    Awesome, good news!
    Just don’t buy into the tears and promises. Actions are the only thing that can be trusted.
    They are master manipulators. They will find the cracks into your heart with the most pathetic, heart-wrenching stories.
    It’s like a movie script. Not real.
    Stay strong.

    The bible says, “The man who spares the rod, HATES his son.
    Not spoils the child as some think. Imagine that, hating your son.
    But we do that when we fail to discipline our children, became we hurt them in the end.
    It is the same with drinkers. They are just old children being told “No.”

  • Patti

    MCP, That’s Fantastic News!

  • Patti

    Ben, I’m praying for your and your family. I hope that, whatever you do, you will keep your kids at priority #1. Your mate may or may not, depending on the mood…Myself and many others I bet could testify as to how large of an effect these types of issues has on children, and the affects can last a lifetime. When I was young, I didn’t see the connection, but was deeply affected by it. Getting older, I remembered some things: My grandpa at the restaurant, yelling at the waitress because his martini didn’t have enough olives…Brother! Later on, he drove his car into a tree at a park, and the cops found canned martinis in his trunk. No more driving for grandpa….My grandma always seemed to tiptoe around him, and he yelled at her and everyone a lot…My brother and I getting ourselves ready and off to school because mom wouldn’t wake up. We didn’t know how to make breakfast and put kool-aid on our cereal…Yuck. My mom seemed to sleep all the time. We were supposed to be quiet while she was sleeping, and when dad came home, we had to be quiet some more, for him. I couldn’t wait to get outside so I could be active like kids need to be. Every night when I went to bed, my parents would begin to quarrel and yell. Did they think we couldn’t hear them? I remember thinking that they must not really be my parents. I thought they must’ve kidnapped us and that’s what they were yelling about. I thought the theme song from Perry Mason sounded scary because my parent’s fighting began right about that time…Sorry, I got carried away in memories…You can see what I’m getting at…

  • Diana

    Ben,

    I try not to say this, but please get your children out of that situation. If you manage to take that step, try not to think of it as temporary in hope that your wife will choose to quit drinking once she misses all of you. Even if she does quit and you go back to her, it’s likely that she will start drinking again. Your wife is unavailable to both you and your kids, so why stay in this situation? Her partner in life is alcohol. Your children are in need of a functional family environment and they shouldn’t have to experience this. It’s a difficult choice to make, but you are experiencing spousal abuse. If your kids continue to see this, they’re likely to have similar problems in relationships once they’re old enough, and they may end up resenting you instead of her. They will long for their mother, but they already do. Patti just reminded me of what it was like to have a mother who was so addicted. It was horrible.

    I hope that I didn’t step over my boundaries by saying this. Take care and remember that you and your children’s lives can be better if you choose.

  • Patti

    As a young adult, I was blissfully lacking in real knowledge about alcoholism. I remember hearing that it “runs in families”. When I heard that, I thought that it must be a genetic tendency…Al Anon has showed me that the real big reason it runs in families is because folks that grow up surrounded by addiction issues are so affected by it that they often sub-consciously grow up to A) Become addicted to something or B) Marry an addict or a person that reminds them of the addict in their family…I married a heavy drinker who reminds me of my dad and has progressed into an Alcoholic. At first I was afraid to tell anyone, but things in my home became so uncomfortable I HAD to tell someone! After sharing my situation with my close friends, I was amazed to find they all had one or more addicts amoung their own family and friends. When I multiply that, I wonder if addiction is a contributing factor to the current state of stress and conflict in our country and our world at this time…. Addictive substances are often expensive, illegal, and cause financial hardships…We are like water drops, our energy ripples out and affects everyone and everything around us…

  • Paula g

    Mike that quote from the bible, starts my mind going in so many directions. I think about all the meanings inside so few words. My ex was turning my kids against me….long story…but he was not a drinker, but had many attributes of an alcoholic. His biggest technique wasn’t physical but instead mind control. Which in turn he started using on the kids, even though they were young adults. But in one e-mail I told him “how evil is a man who tries to make his own son believe his mother doesn’t love him?”, this is the result of toying with peoples minds. When a person tries to control another mentally this creates hate, resentment and rebellion. Interesting, thank you for reminding us of that.

  • Patti

    Mike, Many Thanks for that great bit of information. I also had that common misunderstanding of the bible verse: “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” Reflecting on the Actual phrase:”The man who spares the rod hates his son” provides such better understanding of God’s love of us and wishes for us. He doesn’t wish us to punish our kids to keep them in line. He wants us to keep them from harms way, by teaching them right from wrong! I’m certain my parents did not have this understanding. My dad could be very critical and rarely gave positive feedback. He made the mistake of calling us “Stupid”, which wreaked havoc on my self esteem. My mom was very loving, and gave little to no parental guidance, she let us run wild. No wonder they didn’t stay married. No wonder we were confused…I don’t have any kids, but I now have a dog, and was amazed to learn that lesson of not letting her do things that can hurt her.

  • Patti

    Paula G,
    I used your advise about being 100% truthful, without emotion, when they’re sober. I used to have difficulty finding a good time to discuss important things with my spouse. In “the old days” we were able to talk in the evening, while relaxing for the next day. Once he started being drunk every night, that became useless. The only other time we have is in the morning, before we go to work. I was worried that wouldn’t give us enough time, that his head would hurt and he would yell or something. I GOT OVER IT! I’ve happily discovered we can complete our conversations in the am, with ease and no chaos! We avoid the junk and both remember what was said! I’m also more vigilant about avoiding his attempts at Mind Control. He was so good at Getting my Goat, and getting me to argue or feel bad. Now, I silently repeat this little saying : “Your negativity is like glue, it bounces off me and sticks to you.” For now I am learning to cope, for later I have my own hope!

  • Paula g

    Hi Patti,
    I think he will be surprised that the buttons he used to push don’t work so well anymore. 😉 You sound like a brave hopeful person, Confucius said “It doesn’t matter how slow you go as long as you don’t stop”. I love this quote. Sometimes we need to move so slow it’s hard to tell we are moving forward, but sometimes we need to do that just to keep from slipping back while we get a solid footing. Each step forward is a movement in the right direction. This is a good vision for everyone trying to accomplish anything.lol Good news!

  • Patti

    Paula, Thanks for the compliment and validation. Those go a long way in keeping me steady on my Recovery Road…One of my favorite phrases is a quote from a past president, I think it was Roosevelt or Coolidge: “Persistence and Determination alone are omnipotent”. I can’t remember the whole quote, but that is the heart of it. Alanon has reminded me of how powerful a phrase can be, especially when used to move us in a positive direction. Good news indeed! Yesterday, I had St. Patty’s day dinner with family. On the way, the radio kept advertising pub crawls and green beer, alternating with warnings of not to drink and drive!!! Oh Brother….It was nice not to go that direction….Have a wonderful weekend!

  • Paula g

    I had never heard that one i looked it up it was Coolidge, I like it. I’m going to think about that one, thanks!

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