Alcohol and Divorce

Ran across this interesting piece this morning promoting Al-Anon as an alternative to divorce for people married to alcoholics.

Is this news? Not really, but I tell you about it for two reasons: first, because I admire and respect the wonderful work Al-Anon does; second, because my anecdotal experience offers reason for caution. Let’s take them in order.

Al-Anon is a 12-step program just like Alcoholics Anonymous. Here’s what the article says about the strength of Al-Anon for family members of alcoholics: “[T]he people you will find in the Al-Anon meeting rooms understand, as perhaps few others can, exactly how you feel. They have been there too, but they have discovered that they can find contentment and even happiness, whether the alcohoic is still drinking or not.”

Al-Anon recommends that you attend at least six meetings before you decide whether Al-Anon is approprate for you. As the group says, “There are no dues and fees in Al-Anon and, as an old saying goes, -If after six meetings you decide that Al-Anon is not for you, we will gladly refund your misery.'”

Now the caution. Al-Anon really isn’t focused on stopping your spouse from drinking. It’s more about achieving happiness independent of the behavior of others. And that’s probably the right focus. At least in my anecdotal experience, getting your alcoholic spouse to leave the bottle alone is no panacea for your marriage. In fact, if anything, it’s the opposite.

I am intrigued at the number of divorces I see occurring soon after one of the spouses has stopped drinking. One of the spouses has been hanging on and putting up with that alcoholic for years. Finally, their husband or wife, for whatever reason, stops. Dry. Hallelujah, right? A new chance for this troubled marriage, right?

Maybe so, but a lot of them come see me, and it’s usually the non-drinking spouse who is the leaver. How come? Here are my guesses:

1. Now the non-drinking spouse knows the (formerly) drinking spouse will be able to make it, so there’s not quite so much guilt attached to leaving.

2. In their former drinking days, the non-drinking spouse could blame all things wrong on the drinking. And in a curious way, there was always hope that things would get better if the drinking stopped. Now the drinking has stopped, there’s little or no relationship, and now there’s no hope.

3. I don’t understand as much as I need to about co-dependency, but there’s no question that it’s real. Sometimes the non-drinking spouse in a twisted way needs the drinking spouse to keep hitting the bottle. There’s an emptiness that settles in when the drinking spouse stops, because the main role of the non-drinking spouse had been to manage his or her spouse’s drinking. Now what?

Does all this mean that if you’re an alcoholic or married to one that you should do nothing about it? Of course not. However, it may mean you address the problem with a little different perspective about what it might mean if you’re able to stop the drinking.

Your thoughts?

138 thoughts on “Alcohol and Divorce”

  1. Dear Comment by See Two – Congratulations on taking control of your life. I’m happy for you that you left and happy that your significant other is seeking help. There’s no urgency to rush back into the relationship. He needs time – time to discover who he is and whether he can commit to staying sober. He has to do it for himself, not for you, and not for your relationship. For you – you need time to regain your sanity and balance. Detachment is not about eliminating your emotions, but is about not being overwhelmed or preoccupied with what another is doing. Your happiness should not be based on whether he is drunk or sober. It really is one day at a time. If you focus on today, you don’t get overwhelmed with all the possible futures. The future will play out as today did – one day at a time. Nobody knows if he will drink tomorrow, but that’s really not important. His focus is to not drink today. Where will your relationship go? Who knows? But you know what you need to do for today.

    My wife has now been sober for 7 months. I have sole custody of our 4 little girls. The last two years have been pure hell. It’s great to see her maintain her sobriety. But I have the same questions even after 7 months of sobriety – will she drink if she comes home (she livesd in a halway house, who is this new person, and do I love her? All questions that will ne answered in time.

    Congratulations – you are on your way. The journey will be difficult, but if you take it one day at a time, you can handle it.

  2. Thank you so much, Children Come First. I can’t tell you how great it is to read your perspective; you are going through what I am going through too. I don’t feel so alone. Thank you for your insight. It helps.

  3. My mom had been married to an alcoholic for 15 years now and it has finally gotten to a point where she wants to get a divorce. They have a 13 year old daughter together and my mom hasn’t worked for the entirety of the marriage, and she is scared. Her first marriage and subsequently her first divorce from my father went horrible for her and she lost everything, the house and her 2 sons not to mention since she worked too throughout the marriage (cart collector at the grocery store) she ended up having to pay my dad child support. She was decimated, renting a single room in a bad part of Detroit while my dad seemed to walk away unscathed. She is worried the courts will do the same thing this time. That divorce took place in the early 1980’s / late 1970’s and I’m trying to convince her things have changed since then. She has very little savings and I’m sure I will be financing a lot of the divorce for her side, but I’m not rich, so I hope I have enough. She wants him to stop drinking but barring that she wants him to leave, she wants to stay in the house so my sister can stay in the same school, she knows she’ll have to get some sort of a job but mainly she just wants him and his destructive ways away from her and my sis. She is afraid none of this is possible.

    My step-dad drinks to the point he passes out everyday and when he wakes up, its only to get more booze. A few months back, when he had woken up and got in the car to go get more of the drink, my mom called the police to report a drunk driver, and they were at the house when he returned. He refused the breath-a-lizer at the house, but took one 25 minutes later at the police station and blew a point 0.28 which is amazing to me. He was booked and spent the night in jail, and things got even worse for my mom afterward. He hates her and blames her for all of these problems.

    I don’t know what to do exactly. I hope my mom doesn’t lose the house and can just end this.

  4. Why do u think that an astounding 95% of people that attend alanon meetings are divorced or in the process of divorce. Do u think it has to do with the views of alanon about dumping the sob instead of working it out???????? Remember 95% is hard to defend..

  5. My mom doesn’t go to Alanon and she’s been trying to work the thing out to no avail for 15 f’ing years…I’m not sure what Rich’s point was but I was hoping someone who’s been through this could give me some advice based on experience.

  6. I have been going to Alanon for almost a year now. My experience with Alanon began after I had already let my alcoholic husband. Alanon does NOT advice anyone to either leave their spouse or stay with their spouse. The principals of Alanon are to encourage friends and families of alcoholics to determine what is best for themselves, and to support them in whatever decision they make. I was surprised to find that there is very little talk of alcholics at Alanon meetings. At Alanon, we learn to focus on ourselves (maybe for the first time in our lives). I would agree that 95% percent of marriages to alcoholics end in divorce . . . don’t blame Alanon for that.

    And Toast – I am sorry you are going through this. I stayed in my marriage for far to long afraid that leaving would damage my children. Your mother is dealing with some very difficult things; and it is not easy. I have been out for almost a year — it is better but still not easy. Please take care of YOURSELF — check out Alanon or Alateen for YOU. It will help you to put everything in perspective.

  7. MY husband of 20 years is a functioning alcoholic who is otherwise a good husband and father. We have 2 kids- 8 and 11 who seem not to have figured out the problem yet. My 11 year old has completed DARE and has a very bad opinion of alcohol use at all. My concern is are my kids better off with an otherwise good alcoholic father in the home or as children of divorced parents. I love him and dont want to divorce him but cant stand the drinking, sneaking and lying any more. He has tried AA and counseling and it has not helped him. If anything I believe it has taught him that it is a disease and he does not have the power to overcome it. I dont believe he will ever stop drinking and I do not want to spend my life living with a drunk man.

  8. My definition of a “functioning alcoholic” is an alcoholic who is a good liar. I was married to one for 23 years. Loved him and wanted him to get help. I stayed because I truly loved him and felt his pain. He sobered up for what I believed was 9 years. Those sober years were worse than the ones when he was drinking. I was told by a psychotherapist that whatever age an alcoholic starts drinking is the age that he stops maturing emotionally. Makes sense. Instead of facing life, have a drink, no need to experience emotion, responsibility, positive or negative anything. So, when my husband stopped drinking I found myself living with an immature person who had no clue on how to face life or talk to people. His only skill was lying. A dry drunk is worse than a drunk, drunk. I found myself in a “be careful what you wish for” situation. I stayed in the marriage because I felt I owed him that much. He was trying, and I couldn’t walk out if he was sober. As a sober man he was uncomfortable in his own skin. He did not have any social skills. We rarely went out together. We never had friends over. He could not perform sexually while sober. He was a tortured soul. I felt it was a cruel trick. I waited so long for him to become sober, and it backfired. We must remember that Alcoholism is a disease that doesn’t go away when the person is sober. He did start drinking again. My spirit was broken the day he stumbled into my house after nine years of sobriety. I decided to go to an Alanon meeting. At the end of the meeting,a woman who happened to be an alcoholic and was married to an alcoholic , asked me how long I had been sick. I responded by saying “I’m not sick, my husband is an alcoholic”. She asked me how long I had been married to him, and I said 23 years. She then said “then you have been sick for 23 years”. The next day, I found a lawyer and filed for a divorce. Too late for my children. They will never forget all of the embarrassments and disappointments of living with him. If you are questioning whether to stay or leave your alcoholic spouse , don’t walk away, run. The alcoholic will pick the bottle over you every time. You will always be fighting for the competition with the bottle. An addictive personality will substitute one addiction for another. Mortgages weren’t paid, bank accounts were emptied, cars were totaled. Children cried, holidays were ruined. I’ve waken up in the morning with vomit in my bed, slipped on his urine on the bathroom floor and picked up his hat and coat in the middle of the street on the way to dropping the children off to school in the morning. I’m telling this story to anyone who has the slightest doubt about leaving. It won’t be easy, but has it been by staying? you may end up with nothing but the clothes on your back, but you will have peace of mind, and pride. It;s been along time coming.

  9. i admire everyone on here. i was married to an abusive alcoholic for 14 years. he was perfect until 8 years after we were married. i could no longer watch my children suffer and beg for his soberity.we have a 13 and a 10 year old they know whats happening and they were very scared. we were seperated for 1 year before i filed. of course he still blames me and is still drinking every night. since the divorce mine and the childrens lives are much better. we no longer live in fear of what he might do next.

  10. I don’t know what to do in my situation. My wife is an alcoholic and has threatened to leave me (sober and drunk). If she actually does leave, I’m concerned about my step-daughter’s well being.

    I should add that I have no custody rights to my step-daughter, so if she leaves, the girl goes with her. I’m concerned because on the days/nights my wife does get wasted, she’s about as mean as anybody can get, and my step-daughter gets very upset and scared.

    Any advice?

  11. If your step daughter is being abused by her mother, it needs to be reported to the child welfare system in your state. This is an issue which needs to be taken care of whether you decide to leave or stay with her mother. Your a victim of alcohol by choice, your step daughter has no choice, she needs you to speak up for her. I’m sorry if I sound cold, but your and adult. It is very easy to become codependent and there are many excuses to stay in an abusive marriage, but none of them are good enough. Wake up, brush yourself off and make a move if you really care about your step daughter. Do something to change the situation. Your step daughter needs to know that this life is wrong.

  12. Dottie – There’s no physical abuse and the verbal abuse towards the little girl is very minimal (usually because she’s asleep in bed when my wife is drunk). At least this is how it is for now. I’m fully aware of how this could change and my current role in all this. If push comes to shove, I have resigned myself to make the difficult choices that so many of you have made. At the moment, however, I’m trying to give her a chance. My wife wants to get help and wants to quit but she’s been through rehab a couple times now (long before I met her) and I feel like she’s losing faith that it will do anything for her. Does anyone have any suggestions that I can use to help point her in the right direction?

  13. I am interested in knowing if you have had past relationships similar to the one you are in now. We usually seek out what we are most comfortable with. Although I loved my husband,and wanted to see him succeed in beating alcoholism, I developed a self righteous attitude which at the time I was not aware of. If a person keeps repeating a bad behavior, that person’s failure gives the partner a boost of confidence in that he is needed, and must be a better person to stay when the going gets rough. There is always something in it for the partner too. I know it is not what anyone wants to hear or admit to, but owning up to these feelings is the first step in pointing her in the right direction. Your are not helping the addict when you stay and dance the same dance over and over again. The will to get help and stick to it has to come from within the person not from an outside source. In other words let go. Change the dance steps.

  14. No, I’ve never been in a relationship like this, which is why I’ve been looking for advice.

    I hear what you are saying. I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet, but I hear you. We’ve only been married a year or so, so I’m sure you understand why it’s hard to just let go.

  15. Living with an alcoholic spouse is, at its very best, living a half life. A life of ompromise, accomodation, and pain. I have been to Al-Anon, but have come to the conclusion that the compromise of living with a beautiful, smart, sexy woman who is an alcholic is simply not worth it.

  16. Mike, There are beautiful, smart, sexy women who are not alcoholics looking to meet smart, sexy, men who are not alcoholics.

  17. Dottie- This was given to me by a friend. I choose not to leave the authors name. says:

    Understanding the mind of an abuser is important so that is possible to determine, with some accuracy, what can be expected from an abusive individual. To an abuser everyone is a pawn to be used in order to meet his needs. Abusers can be very charming, sensitive, and even appear as understanding and remorseful. These feeling are genuine, but it is important to discern that even these feelings are about him, not about you. He is sad that he made the mistake and that he knows he has hurt you and that you might go away or cut him off. He is sad for himself. Even if he appears to be sad for you, it is really about him. He feels ashamed, guilt;y, or like he cannot “get if right”. The focus is on him. Hot you. He does not empathize with you. He does not look at incidents from your perspective. He does not give a detailed account of your feelings, but his. This is manipulation and exploitation of your emotions for soon you will feel sorry for him and soothe him and want to help him. Doing so doesn’t help either of you.

    You are always an object, not a person. He projects his thoughts about you onto you. You can be the object of his love one minute and the object of rejection the next. This is often referred to as “Jekyll and Hyde.” How can he change so quickly? Remember, it is always about him. Everything is seen from his perspective and meets his needs. You are a pawn for which to project his thoughts and feelings so that he may feel in control and have his needs met. Ever wonder why he doesn’t need to know what you are thinking or feeling? Wonder why he doesn’t ask you about you or your opinion? He doesn’t need to know. He has all the information he needs. You meet his needs by playing the role he has prescribed for you. He can change so quickly precisely because of this. He may be enjoying your company, as he feels safe and in control, but then you say or do something that appears to threaten that control and safety, say as to voice your own opinion, make a suggestion, not agree with him, or give him any kind of reality check. This is perceived as a threat. Expressing you emotions is also perceived as a threat. Anything that causes him to feel uncomfortable is perceived as a threat. Once threatened he defends himself against the perceived threat. You, the love object, may now be the object of his anger simply because he cannot mitigate his own emotions, let alone yours. Like a small child who gets frustrated and doesn’t know how to cope with his emotions and throws a tantrum, so does the abuser. He is frustrated and wants control back.

    Getting defensive is a coping mechanism. What does this do for him? It takes the responsibility from him and puts it on you. You are the scapegoat. It works like this: When feeling uncomfortable, therefore frustrated, he distorts his cognitions so he can be the victim. Therefore, you become the abuser, in his mind, and he feels attacked. Since you are just a pawn, nothing that has to do with you is taken into account, i.e. your feelings intentions thoughts, etc. He can’t afford to take you into account or it would impede his process. He must be the victim. He will blame you for how he feels. He will tear you down by assassinating your character, perhaps even call you names. If you try to clear up the “misunderstanding” or say focused on the issue he will throw out more road blocs to resolution. Including escalating his behavior by raising his voice, throwing things, cursing, dredging up the past to point out hoe bad your are, blaming other things on you, shutting down and running away or throwing you out. He does not want resolution. He wants to hurt you. He feels attacked and he wants to retaliate. Since he is the victim, he is not responsible for any of this and therefore is not responsible to do anything about it. In his mind, it is you who owes him an apology.

    Being at odds with your love object can be frustrating too. Who will comfort him? Who will keep him company and meet his needs? After time, sometimes hours, sometimes days or longer, the abuser will seek to feel safe and secure and in control again. He needs you back. Some abusers may come back into your presence and act like nothing ever happened. This is most comfortable for him, for he does not want to deal with discomfort. Some come back crying,exclaiming how sorry and wrong they were and promising to get help and/or never do it again. The abuser is trying to get everything back to the way it was for him.

    Internally the abuser suffers from very low self esteem, emptiness, and self hatred. They don’t like themselves. They don’t understand why you like them and often live in fear that you will leave them. For this reason they might often get rid of you first. Small tantrums may lead to him threatening to, or ending the relationship. Abusers may even test you this way. He believes if you really love him, you will fight for the relationship and get upset at the idea of it ending. Abusers feel like they cannot control anything in spite of being very controlling. They constantly control you with fear of their anger, tears, silent treatments, and negative actions. Their inner pain often leads to escapism behaviors, like substance abuse, overworking, seeming obsessed with a sport or hobby, etc. They feel like they are victims of most everyone and everything, though in reality they are only victims of themselves.

    It is all about him. This cycle happens repeatedly because he does not break the cycle of his own cognitions. As long as he remains self centered, insecure and, objectifies people, and perceives himself to be the victim, he will not change his painful existence. All he can share with you is his pain, for that is all he has to share. Your optimism, validation of him, approval and happiness cannot pervade his angry, painful, selfish world. If you are with him, you are co-dependent. You cannot fix him, help him, change him, or possibly love him enough to make anything positively different for him. His choices about his behaviors have nothing to do with you. You are only the object which plays a role for him. You don’t help him cushioning his pain and you don’t help you by losing your time and energy for him. You lose focus from yourself. You get tired. You feel unappreciated, in spite of your great sacrifices for him. He doesn’t thank you, he blames you! You end up depressed, with low self esteem, and feeling lost and drained He doesn’t change. He uses you as his whipping post. He loves you when he needs you and discards you when he doesn’t. Your are just a pawn in his pity party for himself.

    Yes I know, he is really funny, charming nice, and wonderful and you love him. But he doesn’t love you, he needs you. Is that good enough for you?

    1. I went through four years of this married for a year and finally quit as my husband always put me after his alcohol and friends. This seems to be true: once starting a course they always see the other partner as the root of the problem even if that problem was there before they met them.

  18. dottie:

    Thank you. It is SO interesting how cookie-cutter the alcoholic personality can be. You described my husband to a T. I am in the process of making the decision to leave, after 32 years of marriage. One of the first diary entries of mine, in 1974, was “I don’t think this relationship will last because he is an alcoholic and I am determined [because of having lived with an alcoholic father] that I will never marry an alcoholic.” Background: I had a therapist who told me that I had to get deal with my father’s drinking… and I probably never have.

    Here I am, 2009, 56 years old, and still on this see-saw of should-I-stay or should-I-leave? Between 1999-2004 he was sober for 5 years: 5 great years. And now I have endured almost 5 years of relapse. I don’t know why I’m still here. But your microscope into the mind of an alcoholic gives me confidence and resolve… and a great deal of sadness.

  19. Dottie- This was given to me by a friend. I choose not to leave the authors name. says:

    The motto “One day at a time” is an important one for the spouse of an alcoholic also. If we look too far into the future, leaving can be an overwhelming unreachable goal. You have made the first step, you know that the life your living is not the one you want to continue living. You want to get back the control of your own destiny. You are the only one that can change it. Next step is to have a plan. Stay focused on your needs for. It maybe the first time in 32 years. This is liberating in itself.

    It’s important to remember that your not alone. You need to talk to someone who left, not someone who stayed in an abusive marriage. Surround yourself with strong people and don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for guidance. Be proud of yourself. We have survived unbelievable disappointments and unmentionable hours of heartache behind our closed doors. Instead of weakening us we developed a strength to survive.

    Please write to me I’ll be thinking about you. Your giving me strength also.


  20. I have been told by an attorney that it is not possible to sue my wife for divorce if she is an alcoholic in the state of Illinois because she is considered ill. Any truth to this?

  21. We have been married for 26 years. Our boys are in their 20’s. I stuck with him,saved his life countless times, took him back, endured his job losses, relapses, lying, etc… Now he has met his “soul mate” online and in just two weeks has decided he is madly in love and wants divorce. I am happy, sad, angry, thrilled, hurt, elated and so much more. I need some friends who understand.

  22. It’s a blessing in disguise, a tragedy,and a second chance at your own happiness. You did everything you could to make it work. Now take care of yourself. Buy yourself a pocket size notebook (this will be your best friend for awhile). Write down everything, all appointments, phone numbers, dates of events and lists of things to do. Keep it in your pocketbook at all times. You don’t want any clutter in your head, so this is a way of keeping track without worrying about forgetting details. Find someone wise who you can vent too. Make sure it is someone who you can trust. Call a lawyer for a consultation. Then give yourself a present, file for divorce. Don’t look back, keep looking ahead. It will probably be the hardest thing you have ever done. Please believe me, it gets better. You get stronger. You heal and your life takes a new course, which you can’t even comprehend yet.

    Very important! Don’t beat yourself up because he has someone else. She will be in your shoes soon enough. Look it as if she did you a huge favor. Once a cheater, always a cheater.

  23. To Mike in IL: Talk to another lawyer. I lived in NY, and had a similar problem. Most states and judges view abuse as an illness, just like any other medical condition. They take the approach that “it’s not their fault”.
    So if you want a divorce, be careful. Be very careful. You could be supporting her for the rest of her life, or at least a decade or more, depending on your situation.

    Being a man, and if you’re the sole breadwinner, or even if she worked, you could be in for the fight of your life. And if you have kids, it’s a very tough ride.

    In NY you need “grounds”, and while it seemed like I had a slam-dunk case, I didn’t get a divorce because I got a bad judge. It happens more often than you think, in all states. And most divorce lawyers only care about their fees.

    I tell you this only because you need to understand that common sense, justice and fair play have little to do with it. I had to take my kids away from their school and their friends, and move to another state, to get a divorce from an alcoholic who had a police record of violence and abuse. I’ve had other lawyers and judges tell me it’s terrible, it’s wrong, it’s not fair. But it’s the law, and it happens all the time. Remember, the same selfish, destructive traits your alcoholic shows in the home can be translated to a legal battle.

    You could lose everything. I did. Literally, everything I’d worked for all my life. Except my kids, and now we don’t have to deal with the alcoholic, and my kids are leading relatively “normal” lives again. And that’s priceless.

    Read my older posts. Plan. Prepare. Assume the worst, and protect yourself.

    Good luck.

  24. Dottie- Thanks for taking the time to respond. I just don’t know how to handle the financial panic. I will lose my home and can’t afford much on my own. He seems to be rubbing his new found love in my face. Claims this time he is sober forever because he found the “right” woman. I have a long road ahead of me, but I know I will triumph!

  25. To CMB- Wow! Your story is my story. The 26-year marriage, the 5 years of “sobriety”….we are even the same age. I hope you post more.

  26. Annica, Don’t panic. You need to have a level head. Find a lawyer, preferably a lawyer that someone you know has used and was pleased with. Make an appointment for a free consultation. Go prepared with a list of questions. It’s best if you bring a friend. Four ears and two heads are better than one. Why are you so sure you will lose your home? If this is so, you will be surprised how much money you will save by not having him with you. Remember there is no “Right Woman” that will keep him sober. There isn’t a woman, nor a pill, nor a secret potion that will keep him sober. The only thing that will keep him sober is within himself. He is looking in the wrong places. It’s safer that way. If he fails at sobriety, he can blame the other woman, just like he blamed you. It’s a no-win situation for you and for her too.

    Your doing great already. Your a positive independent person. There is so much more to life in the direction you are going. I’m sure you will be fine.

  27. Thank you, Dottie, for your kind and supportive words. I know this is the right thing to do…..funny how a complete stranger can say such important things! Thanks again, my best to you.

  28. Dear Dottie:
    Thank you for sharing that information. It was very helpful. I can’t wait until I am involved again in a healthy relationship with a man. It will be like spring water. Life is too short to live with a cave dweller. They love to absolutely go where there is alcohol. That means, girls, that you will be confined in a jail-like situation with the love of your life and he will be in love forever with the alcohol IN A BAR!!!!! BORING, BORING, BORING……If you want to break out of JAIL and BARS AND HAVE A LIFE WORTH LIVING…….then you should not be with this man!!!!! Just let go and read about him somewhere at a later date. But for now you deserve a life in the sun. They are all about DESTRUCTION. If there is a GOD and SATAN…..then they are SATAN…….they will say the most horrible things to you, short of physical abuse, just as painful. You should be giving your beautiful love to someone who can feel it and send it out too! You’ll see……just let go and shortly thereafter another man will be showering you with happiness and seeing you for the beautiful person you are!!!

  29. I have a question. My friend was an alcoholic for many years. She started in her teens and just quit a few years ago. Her husband and she have three children. Stacey (the alcoholic) quit drinking a few years ago, but hasn’t really dealt with the issues that led her to become an alcoholic. Now, both she, her children and her mother (the ultimate co-dependent) are scapegoating her husband and blaming him for their lousy marriage. Obviously, he too is/was codependent but to me, he is no more at fault for the terrible relationship than he is. For some reason, they still live together. She won’t divorce him (I believe) because she doesn’t want to have to work full-time and he says he won’t “abandon his family” even though he is being mistreated by them and he is doing the same to the children.
    It’s a mess, as you can see.
    Any advice for any of these players? It is sad to watch. I am looking at this from afar and wondering what mom and husband can do about the “dry drunk” who is a complete egomaniac. Thanks.

  30. Bernice,
    First your friend IS an alcoholic, not WAS. The politically correct term is a “recovering alcoholic”. I want to comment on your kindness and concern for your friends. You must remember that since your friend Stacey started drinking when she was a teenager, she has not developed emotionally since the day she started. We are not talking about a teenager or young adult who has a few beers with friends on an Friday night. Rather, someone who has been drinking to ease pain, shirk responsibilities, and avoidance of communication with friends, family and society.

    As a friend it is sometimes hard to understand why someone stays in a bad marriage. We are standing outside, looking in. It is much easier to point a finger and say quit. Here is the thing that caused me to write to you. Your friends husband has been waiting and hoping for the day when Stacey would see the light and put him and her family before the bottle. It has happened, but there is one thing missing. I hope they found good therapist who will see ea them individually. You must look at this marriage as if they are newlyweds. They need time to get to know each other as two sober individuals.

    If you want to help and be supportive, babysit for them, listen and don’t take sides. They have a long road ahead of them. Remember Stacey’s husband has to live with the memories of all that had happened, while Stacey probably doesn’t remember a thing.

  31. Hi all,

    It’s been a while since I’ve been on… Looking to see if anyone has any advice.

    My wife and I seem to be perpetuating a vicious circle. When she drinks, it seems like her whole personality changes. I’m walking on eggshells around her, trying not to set her off, all the while, growing resentment for having to deal with all this. My resentment is carrying over into the times where she’s not drunk, and as time goes on, my resentment is more and more noticeable. This of course adds stress to my wife, which she copes with by drinking. And around we go…

    How do I break this cycle? I’ve tried very hard to be supportive of her, but I’m tired of enabling her drinking and feeling like a man-servant/bartender in my own home. Our fights must be effecting my step-daughter, and I really need to figure this out before she’s scarred forever. Part of me thinks that if I wasn’t around, my wife would have to confront her problems in the face of the responsibility of raising her little girl on her own; but what if she’s too far down the path of self-destruction and takes the little girl with her? I think I’d feel awefully responsible if that were to happen.


  32. I just 2 years ago left my husband cause he’s very abusive .I’ve been living with my feiance for 2 years I’ve filed the petion for divorce but he won’t sign now I can’t find him . What can I do?

  33. I left my husband after over 25 years of drinking. What took me so long? He knew there was a change in the air- and 4 weeks before I left he told me he was going to stop drinking completely- for the first time ever. But at that point I had already made up my mind to leave. I had signed a lease and lined up the movers. I have heard marriages break up when the drinker stops drinking, somehow displaying that the nondrinking spouse somehow needs to have the other person drink. Not necessarily so. The drinker will keep right on drinking UNTIL the spouse finally has had enough and actually makes the moves to leave and not just threaten. Would I go back? 2 out of 3 alcoholics relapse in year one. I won’t go on a plane with those odds. I am done.

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