Struggles with my Al Anon

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.)

Struggles with my Al Anon

Postby Larryp713 » Thu Mar 10, 2016 10:39 am

Hi, I am Larry, and I am an alcoholic. I have been sober since Dec 28, 2014.
I have been married for 17 years and am blessed with five children. My wife and I have always had difficulties communicating with each other. It certainly didn't help that I was so dishonest before I really started to adopt this new design for living outlined in the Big Book. But 14 months into this, and though I see improvements, we still are struggling.

I cannot really share specific details, but her reactions to situations are far beyond rational. We have three teenagers, and it is obvious she struggles with the loss of direct control she has over their lives. She seems spiritually sick - trying to control and manipulate things in our house, becoming resentful and angry when her family fails to live up to her expectations, and withdrawing from people outside of the family. It creates a toxic environment for all of us.

A wife of a friend of mine spoke with her about Al Anon and after that conversation, believed my wife would benefit from it. But my wife hasn't followed up with that. I believe it would do her a world of good, but she needs to be reduced to a level of desperation before she is ready to act. I am truly grateful I had alcoholism to drive me to my knees, but what if you don't have that? What causes a similar bottom for non-addicts? I am starting to listen to al-anon speakers on XA to hear their stories, but I thought I would throw this in the forum to hear your thoughts. My sponsor asked me, if not for the kids, would I still want to be married. At this point, I honestly don't know. Thanks - Larry
Trudging the Road of Happy Destiny!!!
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Re: Struggles with my Al Anon

Postby Noels » Mon Apr 04, 2016 8:33 am

Hi Larry, sorry my friend, your post seemed to have slipped through the cracks.
Being an alcoholic myself and busy with step 4 at the moment, I realized that my behaviour whilst i was drinking must definitely have caused feelings and resentments in my hubby who is not an alcoholic. Before realizing this his behaviour was also at times not understandable to me - mood swings, talking hard and ugly to me for no reason ..... simple little things which was just confusing to me.
Having a 19 year old son whom i adore i can only imagine that it must be really hard for your wife to have to let go a little bit with the teenagers as we mommys tend to worry and wish to always protect them.

According to your post things are already better in your home and relationship since you stopped drinking. 14 months is a great achievement. Congratulations.

Perhaps at the moment your situation is similar to what i was experiencing before the realization in step 4 - That although we stopped drinking so life on our side is better, our spouses still (the same as us) carry the memories, hurt and resentments that we caused while we were drinking?

As i am quite new in sobriety and haven't worked all the steps yet, perhaps an older member can assist further as from my line of thinking (being at step 4) amends is made further on in the steps?

Good luck to you and just don't give up at this moment. Explore further. We've been married for 21 years, at least ten of which have not been the most perfect, but my hubby stood by me. Personally i feel that it is now my time to stand by him.

Wishing you only the best,
Love and Light
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Re: Struggles with my Al Anon

Postby Duke » Mon Apr 04, 2016 4:14 pm

Hi Larry. I've been sober 32 years and married 40. So, my wife has been there for the whole journey. I've gone through so many ups and downs with her, it's hard to find a way to summarize it all. But your share touched me and I thought I'd give it a try.

My wife is not a member of our program. She still drinks enough that I did go through a period convinced she had a problem with alcohol. I'm glad I survived that little trip down judgment lane.

Because of her own struggles with life not conforming to her expectations, I've also been convinced at times that her spiritual program is in serious need of overhaul. She's never taken very kindly to my well-meaning but seriously deluded efforts to right her ship.

No, the only thing that's ever helped in our relationship is for me to accept her as she is and continue to focus on my spiritual program. I've reached a point these thirty-some years hence, where I've come to seriously appreciate her good qualities. We have a pretty unshakable partnership at this point.

It's based on mutual respect. I learned a lot watching other people go through relationship problems in the program. What I've observed is that changing circumstances seldom brings the peace people seek. What does bring it is an honest effort to focus on ourselves, our attitudes, and what we can do to bring positive, loving action to whatever situation we find ourselves in.

Please don't misunderstand me. I don't give relationship advice. I don't know what, if anything you should do about your marriage. I am simply saying I am very, very grateful I stayed with my wife long enough to put living these principles in my own affairs to a fair test. So much of my turmoil directed at my wife was self-induced. She's not perfect, but neither an I. As I put it one time:

True partnership. I love you, but I don't need you. Whenever I'm disturbed, there's something wrong with me, not you. Whenever you're disturbed, there's something wrong with you, not me. I will do you the courtesy of letting you work through your own issues without demanding that you change so I'll feel better. There is much we can accomplish together that neither of us could do alone. How may I be of service to us?

Best of luck my friend.
"If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.", Mother Teresa
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Re: Struggles with my Al Anon

Postby PaigeB » Mon Apr 04, 2016 7:35 pm

On page 44 of my 12 & 12 I have written in the margin:
Only one person in the relationship has to change to make a difference.
If I'm not able to say how I'm working my program today, then I'm not working my program.
The e-AA Group's 7th Tradition link: www.e-aa.org/group_seventh.php
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Re: Struggles with my Al Anon

Postby Jaywalker Steve » Tue Apr 05, 2016 3:48 am

Our paths to health are our own. Even for non alcoholics. Most that I know that have begun to trudge the road of happy destiny with us bottomed out just like us. The best thing we can do is carry this message, practice principles and be an example.
Every group has men and women who put too much thought and effort into their daily sobriety and not enough of themselves into their daily living. - Ed B., Akron, OH
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Re: Struggles with my Al Anon

Postby Larryp713 » Wed Apr 13, 2016 9:55 am

I forgot to check back here for replies, and I am glad I did today. Thank you all so much for sharing your experience on this. Duke, I really appreciate your share, especially the definition of partnership. That is incredible... I am going to copy that in my sobriety notebook. Thanks again! Larry
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