Difficulty with spouse drinking

Some alcoholics still have families when they get to AA. This is a place to ask questions and share experiences about relating to family members sober, especially when newly sober. (If you are not an alcoholic, please use the "Our Friends and Families" forum.)

Difficulty with spouse drinking

Postby Wickster919 » Thu Aug 27, 2015 8:00 am

This appears to be a continuing issue between us. I have been sober coming up on 4 years and feel great! She has cut back on her drinking (for the most part) since I got sober [we were partners in crime]. The issue that keeps surfacing for me is how to handle it (her) when she has more than a couple.

When she and I are together, I absolutely do not mind if she has a drink or two. My issue comes into play when she goes beyond that. And honestly, most of the time that she has more than 3, there really isn't much of an issue. I don't feel particularly close to her at those times but usually that is the worst of it. Sometimes she goes beyond that and I really do not like being around her. Her personality changes and I am left with the anxiety of waiting to see if I will be dealing with a happy, silly wife or one that will get upset and pick a fight. Not a fun place for me.

We have talked several times yet these issues continue to pop up. Our discussion pretty much established some ground rules:
1) If she was with me, I would prefer her to not drink excessively - to limit her consumption. I explained that I did not mind if she had a couple, but more than that becomes uncomfortable for me and I really do not want to be around her. If we get to that point, I need to remove myself from the situation.
2) If she wants to drink more than a couple or does not want to deal with the encumbrance of being concerned about me ("cut loose" as she calls it), she needs to go without me. She needs to make the decision to be with me or drink without restriction.
3) If/when she is not with me, I just ask her to stay responsible (ie. maintain control of yourself, do not engage in behavior she would not approve of me doing, be coherent enough to drive home safely...or call me to come and get her, etc.).

Most recently we went to visit her father. We had a nice meal and were enjoying each others' company and she and her father decided to polish off a bottle of wine and tapped into a second one. After hanging out for 5 hours and feeling rather isolated watching her and her father drink more, I wanted to leave. It was no longer comfortable nor fun (for me). This prompted a fight.

The next day we had a discussion. Since there was some grey area as far as where I become uncomfortable, I told her I was comfortable with her having 2 drinks. There is no alcohol-related issues when she stops at 2. If she wants to go beyond that, I would not want to stick around. I went on further to explain that I fell in love with the beautiful, intelligent woman that she is and when she drinks a bit more, she is not someone I care to be around. I also explained that if we go somewhere, I will stay as long as she wants if she stays as sober as I am. Typically when we socialize, just about everyone is drinking. At some point, it just sucks for me. It is worse if my wife is drinking along with them. If she chooses to drink, we need to leave when I have had enough....or she can stay and I'll get her later.

Apparently this is causing quite a conflict for her. She feels as though she will be walking on eggshells, that she is unsure on what to do, that she is going to be judged by me if she drinks, and, more importantly, that I am controlling her. That is not my intent at all but I do not feel I need to take some steps to protect myself. Her conflict concerns me. I really didn't think I was being unreasonable and I thought she would have some understanding.

Anyone have any thoughts or insight?
Thanks.
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Re: Difficulty with spouse drinking

Postby clouds » Thu Aug 27, 2015 8:27 am

Hi!
I'll just share my experience here.

I came to AA with a drinking husband, later we divorced when I was 9 years sober.

He drank heavily and kept a large amount of liquor in the house. One night after some months sober and me coming home from a meeting I got the idea to drink the cabinet full of hard liquor one night. For some unknown reason, which now I see as a spiritual experience, I did not drink those bottles up that night. But a few months later I asked him to stop buying any more liquor and drinking it in front of me. I changed sponsors a few months after that and my new sponsor told me to not mention his drinking to him, or to try to get him to sober up. She said I had no right to play God and that when he was ready to see his drinking problem it would be in God's time, not mine. I had already said to him I wasn't going to be physically intimate if he had been drinking in the very first week of my sobriety though.

He cntinued to drink and I accompanied him where necessary, as to weddings, business conferences, family occassions and social and business obligations. He continued to drink and get very drunk.

A few years later he decided on his own to go to AA. Part of the reason was that in those days we had a more close AA comminity were we had pot luck dinners in eqch others homes every few weeks and many of the old timers and their wives were great at making a lot of our spouses feel welcome, so it sort of naturally fit that he noticed his drinking was not just social drinking and he decided to try AA. He answered the AA pamphlet questions and he had plenty of the symptoms but he said he never experienced remorse, I guess that kept him away for a few more years.
" Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house." page 98 A.A.
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Re: Difficulty with spouse drinking

Postby cdogg556 » Sat Aug 06, 2016 10:55 pm

I can relate to this issue also, my spouse continues to drink, has alcohol in our house and also quite often has one too many, I also don't like how it changes her, but all I can do is be an example to her and hope that someday she will want what I have, we get along great, but I am just not into hanging out with a bunch of drunk people anymore, funny how being sober does that to me, I have to remind myself that this is about me and not about me changing anyone else, the only thing I can change is how I feel or react to a person, place or thing, and if I do not find that person, place or thing acceptable to me I can remove that person, place or thing from my life, or if I want to keep them in my life, then I need to accept them just the way they are!
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Re: Difficulty with spouse drinking

Postby ann2 » Sun Aug 07, 2016 1:08 am

hi,

I'm a little concerned that you may not understand fully the illness nature of alcoholism or the vows you took getting married. I say that because a friend of mine got sober 15 years after her husband did. Never did he put restrictions on her or give her anything but support, attention and devotion.

Have you taken the 12 steps? Do you go to Al-Anon? Can you imagine that someone else in the world might have problems too, and that recovery isn't all about you and your comfort zone?

Ann
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Re: Difficulty with spouse drinking

Postby Brock » Sun Aug 07, 2016 6:35 am

I also get a little distant from my wife when she has too many, but over the last couple of years she has cooled down to only having a beer or two when we go out. I also loose patience very quickly being around drunk people, I am not rude I smile and remember I probably acted like that or worse myself. But I don't see it as selfish if I remove myself from any drinking situation in which I feel uncomfortable, it's not like my presence there is adding anything to their fun. And the smell of alcohol on peoples breath is something that puts me off, I used to put on an old country tune by Loretta Lynn when she had too much, called “Don't come home a drinking with loving on your mind,”
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Re: Difficulty with spouse drinking

Postby CAM_72 » Thu Nov 03, 2016 8:36 am

It's nice to know I am not alone. When I met my husband I told him while we dated that heavy drinking was a turn off because I had an addictive personality myself. He thanked me for being honest and we continued to date. Five months later we got engaged because I was approaching 38 and really wanted to have a child. We lived together another five months before we got married. Looking back we both drank quite a bit but I thought we were just two crazy fools in love celebrating. I was blind.

When I got pregnant and started to bleed I tried to wake him up but he was too drunk. That was my first dose of reality. I found a friend to take me to the hospital. I tried to convince myself he was drinking because he was scared to be a father and it might change when things moved forward.

Then he hurt his back and needed a spinal fusion. He was drunk all the time. I was taking care of a newborn by myself. Again....I thought maybe so much had happened in the first year with the baby, the wait for back surgery that things would change. We moved when my son turned 2. My husband got drunk, we got into a disagreement over something I can't even remember. And before I know it he's got me in a corner, screaming at me, calling me names and grabbing my arm as I tried to get our son who woke up crying from all the shouting.

So I sent him to counseling with me....esp. because I refuse to let my son see his role model treated this way. I realize I can't make excuses for him. I've suggested AA and he says he doesn't need it. Sometimes I feel like a single mother and I get angry and depressed. I moved out to the midwest where I am 1000's of miles away from family and friends. I've thought about leaving where I have family and get away from the drinking. Then I question whether my son is better off without a father.

He holds a good job down and if I left I would lose out on good schools and neighborhoods if I did it alone. I'd have to live with my parents and take care of them approaching 80 with congestive heart failure and parkinsons but they finances and are happy to help. My biggest struggle is before I met him I just didn't buy alcohol. I knew I'd drink the whole bottle and not learn from my mistakes. I've been a drinker since age 12. Having it in the house now and feeling alientaed sometimes I fall to temptation and it's not fair to my son. It helps me sleep, it makes me forget my issues and melts away stress. I feel like I'm accepting of my weaknesses and he wants to act like it's normal. We both grew up with alcoholic fathers. Mine was always very sweet despite his drinking. His however was abusive in every way to the kids and his wife until he finally did them a favor and abandoned them. And maybe that's why some of the problems are drinking causes are normal for him.

I've stopped drinking in front of him when I do drink. The fact I feel a need to drink says something about me. If I wasn't an alcoholic I would just stop to support him. I feel like I could use al-anon and AA. Of course none of them have childcare and a meeting with a 3 year old isn't productive. I'm not sure my marraige can work. I know I have to change the situation at home or leave.
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Re: Difficulty with spouse drinking

Postby Lali » Thu Nov 03, 2016 7:04 pm

Hi, CAM. I don't have any advice for you. I just wanted to tell you my heart goes out to you. Might be a good idea to move in with your parents... Family is good at times like this.
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Re: Difficulty with spouse drinking

Postby CAM_72 » Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:01 pm

Thank you for the advice. I did go to an AA meeting for a first in a long time while he had gin and tonics at home. When I came home he agreed to a dry house and admitted we both have a problem. That he loves me very much and will try and do whatever he can. So while I know time will tell at least I have a partner who is admitting it's hurting the marraige and wants to stop. Fingers crossed...I just gotta stay on this!
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Re: Difficulty with spouse drinking

Postby clouds » Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:57 pm

Hi Cam, nice to hear from you again. :)

Its great you both have made this decision. You need to follow it up with plenty of AA meetings, getting a sponsor to lead you through the 12 step program and read the book 'Alcoholics Anonymous'. I want to also suggest you go ahead and do this, even if your spouse doesn't, as recovery isn't dependent upon your relationship, its dependent on the AA program of recovery we use to live a sober life.

Once I had an understanding of my own drinking problem and began taking the steps of recovery a lot of things fell into place that had been seemingly unsolvable before. That was possible with meetings and taking action on the 12 steps. I also needed the guidance of other people who were sober in AA to tell me how they did it. Women in AA, who were like me and who were dealing with some of the same things really helped me to see that I could stay sober even through difficult times.
" Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house." page 98 A.A.
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Re: Difficulty with spouse drinking

Postby Noels » Sun Nov 06, 2016 2:29 am

Good morning Wickster and welcome to e-aa
All I can add to the really good responses already given is this: whilst I was reading your post I had a smile while thinking "mmmm ..... how would you have reacted if presented with 1, 2 and 3 "the agreement " while you were still actively drinking. If You can put yourself back into the old you's shoes for a minute and ask your old you those questions your response will probably be exactly the same as your wifes which will bring you better understanding of her current reaction and alcoholism in general :wink:
Well done on 4 years :D
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Re: Difficulty with spouse drinking

Postby Noels » Sun Nov 06, 2016 3:48 am

halloooo :D me again :D this part of your post remained in my memory so I had to look into it a bit further

and she and her father decided to polish off a bottle of wine and tapped into a second one. After hanging out for 5 hours

I was a wine drinker - a particular brand only - but lets look at this with a bit of common sense - she and her father decided to polish off a bottle of wine - a normal bottle of wine is what ... 750ml? if a 750ml bottle of wine is shared by 2 people, effectively one person consumes 375ml correct? That will be equivalent (i think) to 1 beer? From being a wine drinker i know that i could get about 3 and a half glasses of wine from 1 bottle so lets say her dad and her had 2 glasses of wine from that 1 bottle. That sounds pretty normal drinker to me.

lets look at the next piece of highlighted script - and tapped into a second one. After hanging out for 5 hours - you don't mention whether they just " tapped into the bottle" or actually finished the bottle but going on the assumption that they finished the 2nd bottle and working on the same theory as i calculated before - her dad and her had 2 glasses of wine from that 1 bottle they would both have consumed 4 glasses of wine over a 5 hour period. Correct ?

Conclusion - 4 glasses of wine over a 5 hour period seems to be pretty much a normal drinker and there is no ways in hell i would have gotten badly sloshed on that type of consumption in that time frame AND they were drinking on a full stomach? Naaah bro, best you look at what really agitated you in this situation - the fact that she can enjoy her drink as well as the company of her father without making you the centre of her universe or just her drinking.

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Re: Difficulty with spouse drinking

Postby ladyluxury » Thu Feb 16, 2017 4:51 am

were you and your wife able to work this issue out? everything you described i am going through right now and him and i are having a hard time with our "new" relationship. i am just at a point where i will just keep going to meetings, but will not go do anything with him.

so i was just wondering if you and your wife were able to resolve this?
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Re: Difficulty with spouse drinking

Postby michmjon » Wed Feb 22, 2017 7:22 am

My spouse drinks. We do not keep alcohol in the house- and this was his decision, not mine. However when we go to family gatherings or out to eat he will have glass (or four =biggrin ) of wine. I am not going to deprive him of something he enjoys just because I have a problem. He has gotten drunk on occasions at family gatherings (he's a lightweight- a couple glasses and he's done in) and it doesn't bother me. He does not have a problem with alcohol. We had a discussion about him enjoying his wine shortly after I started to attend AA- he said if his drinking really bothered me he would stop. I told him I was not going to project my problems on him and it would be totally selfish and unreasonable on my part if I did. As an alcoholic I have to come to terms with the fact that other people- my friends and family- do drink and don't have a problem with it. Just something to consider- we can't be a selfish lot.
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Re: Difficulty with spouse drinking

Postby Noels » Wed Feb 22, 2017 7:46 am

Heya Mich :D spot on my friend :D I remember when I was still drinking - I would rather loose that friend than my wine. My wine was my wine :lol: oh what a selfish cow I was :lol:
mwah xxx
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Re: Difficulty with spouse drinking

Postby soberinseattle » Thu May 11, 2017 12:32 am

HI i'm just over one year sober, and my husband continues to drink a 1/2 gallon of whiskey every other day, early on i realized i can make him stop. that has to come from him, so i started to set down my boundaries, I told him i would no longer drive with him after 1 drink. and that i wouldn't be using him any longer as a emergency contact for any situation that called for one.
decided to live as a example for him in hopes he would see how much i was now getting accomplished and how much better I felt. and want that also.
so far no luck.. however last night during a very bad fight. he asked me for a divorce.. i thought a moment. then said. ok.. too which took him back as he thought i would be upset.'
i let that sink in for a moment. then continued on, with., I want to divorce the man i'm married to at night. the man that changes into a bully. finding peoples faults then digging in to them like he was trying to hurt them.
I wanted to divorce the man that gets angry, and falls when walking, and changes every conversation to be about him, and yells shut up at people when the argument he started is not going his way. or throws things, or passes out in the living room chair, or does nothing since he is retired and has in his mind earned the right to sit and watch judge joe brown all day and drink.while i maintain the house inside and out. that guy i would divorce in a heartbeat
but I want to keep the man i'm married to in the morning before the drinking starts, that man listens, is compassionate. kind, very giving, funny, and romantic, that man is the man i married. him i will keep. but this other guy the night time guy i would have never married. and he can take a hike as far as i'm concerned, but leave behind the morning guy... he was shocked, and stopped drinking for the night,, the next day he did not drink till 3 pm, then only had 3 that day. maybe this helped. by not yelling at him,, no threats,. just by speaking my truth, I go to meetings daily and secretary one day a week. and am also our clubs entertainment coordinator,,This is my first post here. i am really glad i found this forum
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