Non-alcoholic spouse's social drinking

The book Alcoholics Anonymous, aka The Big Book, is the basic text for the AA program of sobriety. "Alcoholics Anonymous" Copyright 2012 AAWS, Inc. All Rights, Reserved. Short excerpts used by permission of AAWS

Non-alcoholic spouse's social drinking

Postby Tim_M-1955 » Wed Aug 02, 2006 8:26 pm

What is the collective wisdom out there, with respect to alcoholic whose wife will have a glass of wine with dinner; have a cocktail when socializing with friends; etc.

Is there any generalization, as far as the stability of marital relationship (and longterm sobriety of alcoholic) when spouse drinks, albeit responsibly.

This doesn't create any white knuckle situation for me, or even a conscious craving for that matter. However, it does fuel a resentment and feeds my denial a bit <"hey, I could enjoy a single glass of wine responsibly"... the little voice says>

A relevant factor is that my "bottom" and my intervention resulted from other drug abuse. In retrospect, I have no difficulty appreciating the degree to which I abused alcohol and drank in a pathological manner. However, I probably had "some research left in me" when it comes to hitting an actual bottom with alcohol and that, I suppose, creates the thin edge of denial.

Anyway, I shouldn't minimize this, I suppose. After all, it was on my mind enough that I went to the effort of seeking this forum; going through the registration process; and typing this verbose posting.

Tim
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Re: Non-alcoholic spouse's social drinking

Postby Jim 725 » Thu Aug 03, 2006 4:12 am

I'm just guessing, but I think you'll find that the "collective wisdom" will run the gamut from "don't worry about it" to "Dump the inconsiderate sadist." I suggest a careful reading of the Big Book, especially the last paragraph on page 100 through page 103.
"A relevant factor is that my "bottom" and my intervention resulted from other drug abuse. In retrospect, I have no difficulty appreciating the degree to which I abused alcohol and drank in a pathological manner. However, I probably had "some research left in me" when it comes to hitting an actual bottom with alcohol and that, I suppose, creates the thin edge of denial."
I think the real relevant fact is where you are in the program of recovery--how much progress have you made in taking the Steps, not how high or low your bottom was/is. (also see pages 84, 85)
Jim S.
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Re: Non-alcoholic spouse's social drinking

Postby whitmore_fan » Thu Aug 03, 2006 6:33 am

Hi Tim_M

My wife is a normie and I an alcoholic. The two are not mutually exlusive.

She drinks occasionally, when we go out but also occasionally a glass of wine at home. But like a normie, she drinks responsibly and even today I am still amazed by this. It is something I could never do. So in terms of holding resentment, why bother. You couldn't enjoy a glass of wine in the same way as a normie can. You would more than likely crave more and more and return to the misery of active alcoholism. So the answer is NO, if you are an acoholic you will not be able to enjoy a glass a wine like your partner. But don't hold that against them. Accept it as you accepted your alcoholism in Step One.

Best wishes
Ian
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Re: Non-alcoholic spouse's social drinking

Postby Juanita1977 » Thu Aug 03, 2006 7:36 am

Hi Tim! I have no wisdom; but I do have empathy and your post was great for me today! I am married to a normie (grrrrr :) ). I remember very clearly one time after an incredibly bad night out that I was done drinking.. I meant it.. FOR GOOD! He said 'oh good that is what I wanted to hear!'He preceded to go to the hall closet and pull out a half a fifth of gin(to pour out)!!! I thought my friends and I had finished that bottle at a party a few weeks before. I asked him why did he have that and his reply? " I just thought I could take a shot every now then. Since I met you (10 years earlier) I never wanted a drink. I just thought it sounded good" I went literally over-the-top with rightous indignation!!! There by ending attempt at quitting drinking #268 that night I think! He can also smoke pot, and take these over-the counter stimulants I really liked too without abuse. He can take 2.. I like to take 12-24 seriously a day. I still get angry honestly about it. I had to accept what he said.. "Honey, I am not an alcoholic!'" That simple statement has taken me awhile to learn to grudgingly (very) to accept. I have heard and read that it is all a matter of spiritual fitness. I understand the resentment too and the dangerous ground it can bring. My hubby does not however drink or use anything in front of me and I asked him to not tell me about it either. That may not be "right" as far as the old-timers would go.. but it was an agreement that he happily obliges to. I am not trying to control or stop him, I just dont wanna witness it. It would cause white-knuckling for me I think. I wanna thank you for posting this, I am doing a step 4 and I forgot all about this resentment!! Juanita
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Re: Non-alcoholic spouse's social drinking

Postby SteveC » Thu Aug 03, 2006 12:23 pm

Having a resentment because my wife, as "normie" can have a glass of wine & I, as an alkie, can't, makes as much sense to me as being resentful because she's a woman & I'm not. It makes no sense. I'm not a normal drinker and I never will be. Period.

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Re: Non-alcoholic spouse's social drinking

Postby Scott_In_PA » Thu Aug 03, 2006 10:20 pm

Hey this is a really neat topic - I hope more folks add their take as this seems to be a real common topic at some meetings.

I don't think that my experience is the typical type and is going to look a bit out of place...but if it helps one person, then it was definitely worth it! Here goes:

My ex-wife and I...not so good. I was drunk when we met [in a local tavern] and I stayed that way for a while. She seemed like an earthling for a long time; she could pass on drinking when she had to work or if she had something to do...but as time went on, I wasn't so sure about that 'earthling' idea anymore. We got married about 3 months into my sobriety [so much for the no major changes thing - which I do not preach on anyway, since the first 4 steps are about changing everything we ever knew...but in my case, I should have listened to the old-schoolers and stayed single for a while].

She knew it wasn't very comfortable for me [in my early sobriety] when she would drink -especially if we were out somewhere, because I had no driver's license at the time and she was supposed to be driving...she took many occassions to drink in front of me or would run up and start kissing all over me or come to bed immediately after a few drinks. Her behaviour after a few glasses of wine was odd, at best and she would turn into someone else...but that never clicked in my head.
There were a few occassions -one in particular- when she went way over the threshhold and created a real problem for -not only herself- but a co-worker who did nothing wrong at all. There were times in my early days when I suspected that she was actually doing all of this stuff purposely to punish me for all of my drinking during our courtship...but she was right there drinking with me then, so...somehow things didn't add up {and this is something else that didn't really register for me for a few years).

I was an alcoholic and tried to keep my problem, my problem - I tried to keep from throwing it at anyone just because "I" thought they had a drinking problem - especially my wife...I didn't feel it was 'the right thing to do', taking someone elses inventory and all that...

Anyway, later on, she was drinking for reasons that an alcoholic would drink [good day, bad day, Tuesday, and so on]...and she was drinking 'at' people; top on that list was me and I was made fully aware of that fact on those days or nights. She was rationalizing her drinking on many occassions and sometimes long before she ever picked up a glass! She was hiding her drinking too, but I didn't find that out until after we divorced [via one of her family members who was concerned for our childrens' safety and the 'hidden drinking' was still going on at that time].
Sometimes I felt that she 'chose' me to cover for her own disease...but I attributed that line of thinking to my own insanity, self-importance, insecurity and judgemental inclinations. I thought that maybe I was just angry because she could drink and I could not...at least not like an earthling can drink. I never noticed that her drinking was similar to my own - that she was ending up in situations with consequences...just like I had been doing.

Well, when all was said and done, she finally told me that she liked me better when I was drunk. I don't know if that is because it hid her drinking, made her look 'better', or because -without a drink- I was a social misfit for years; alcohol was my socializing tool and without it, I got cranky and isolated. Since I didn't stay with meetings like I should have, my disease progressed without a drink and my head finally 'overfilled' one night [topic for another discussion].

Soon after we were split up and then, finally divorced.

She still drinks - she also re-married: another, self admitted, full-blown acoholic who makes her look very good, from a distance. We talk today, but talking to her today is like talking with me about 15 years ago...not much fun and there is an answer for everything. I stay away and only contact her when necessary [about something with one of our kids or what not].
Today I am qualified and have every reason to think that she is an alcoholic; but I have decided to leave that for someone else's 12th Step work. Coming from me, it would only be me trying to make her miserable for some unknown reason. I wanted to take that opportunity the night she 'should' have received a DUI for her part in an auto accident...but she is a 'professional' and the cop cut her a break. She ended up with a failure to yield the right of way and skated the DUI all together. Guess God wasn't ready to have her working with us yet. LOL!
My kids know where to go when the proverbial s*** hits the fan and who to call if they need a ride and think that she - or her husband - have been hitting the bottle.

My situation today...excellent. I did the 'unrecommended' thing and married someone in the program. We did this after we both had some serious, healthy sobriety and relied on other people's opinions [people in and out of AA] of our emotional and mental states - not our own - before making the marriage commitment.
So far, it has been the best commitment yet - second only to my contract with God and actually getting off my butt and taking some real action in AA.

My story's weird, but I figure that since we are not unique...at least one other alcoholic will see it and get some comfort from it, knowing that she/he is not alone.

Scott
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Re: Non-alcoholic spouse's social drinking

Postby Paul N » Fri Aug 04, 2006 8:57 pm

Speaking only for myself ... I'm with Steve on this one. I'm the alcoholic, not my wife.

An old friend in the program told me that "Some people will choose to throw all the liquor in their house away and some will not. It's up to each of them in how they handle that. For me, I accepted that just because I quit drinking, doesn't mean that everyone is going to hide it from me. It's all around me ... in the local taverns, grocery store, etc. If I can't accept the fact that some people can drink and some people can't, I don't have a ghost of a chance in staying sober. If mother decides she wants a can of beer, I have no problem with that."

He died sober over 10 years ago, 76 years young. Funny how he still helps me stay sober today.

<small>[ 08-05-2006, 02:52 PM: Message edited by: Paul N ]</small>
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Re: Non-alcoholic spouse's social drinking

Postby curtis s » Sun Aug 06, 2006 12:41 pm

Definitly just my opinion here:

We tell our kids over and over that if their friends value their friendship they won't drink and drug around them. Then all of a sudden we're grown up and when we expect our spouse who loves us so much not to drink around us because we want evidence that they are willing to make a sacrifice for us we feel betrayed because they think that since they aren't the alcoholic they can still drink. I think the feelings are normal.

But here's the thing. In reality I am able to stay sober even if my wife drinks her glass of wine now and then. And it doesn't affect our relationship. If she was drunk all the time it would affect the relationship and I might have to reconsider it. But that is not the case.

So what I really want is for her to pat me on the head, say what a good boy you are for getting sober, here let me help by making some sort of sacrifice. This is why the alcoholic is refered to as "His Majesty the baby"

It is very, very important for me to remember that not drinking is not a sacrifice in any way on my part, any more than cutting off a leg riddled with gangrene that was about to kill me would be a sacrifice. Stopping drinking was something I chose for my own good and it benefits me far more than it benefits anyone else. If anything I should be doing something extra nice for my spouse for the sacrifice she makes in putting up with me going to meetings and struggling with all the "issues" I like so many alcoholics in recovery seem to still have.

I need to remember that I got sober living with two men who drank like fish. So why should I object to my wife drinking occaisionally? In my case I think it is more about control than anything else. If I let this turn into a resentment I am in danger of aquiring a very big problem.

Of course if someone is new and this sort of thing is driving them crazy I think the spouse should try to be helpful. But I am not new, it is at most annoying, and I need to remember who the alcoholic is.

Curt
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Re: Non-alcoholic spouse's social drinking

Postby cyndi63 » Sat Aug 26, 2006 8:43 pm

Originally posted by Whitmore_Fan:
Hi Tim_M

My wife is a normie and I an alcoholic. The two are not mutually exlusive.

She drinks occasionally, when we go out but also occasionally a glass of wine at home. But like a normie, she drinks responsibly and even today I am still amazed by this. It is something I could never do. So in terms of holding resentment, why bother. You couldn't enjoy a glass of wine in the same way as a normie can. You would more than likely crave more and more and return to the misery of active alcoholism. So the answer is NO, if you are an acoholic you will not be able to enjoy a glass a wine like your partner. But don't hold that against them. Accept it as you accepted your alcoholism in Step One.

Best wishes
Ian
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Re: Non-alcoholic spouse's social drinking

Postby cyndi63 » Sat Aug 26, 2006 8:47 pm

I agree with Tim, I was only involved with other folks in recovery until I was 17 years sober and met a social drinker. We moved in togther a year ago. I am not jealous generally. However I began to get resentful that there was wine in the house always and I didnt feel like this was a safe home for brand new new comers any more. alot of this was my fault because I didnt set any boundaries and truly believed that being around alcohol even daily wouldnt bother me if my own house was in order. The problem is I am not spiritually perfect and there are days I really need my home to be sober and feel safe.. I cant tell you which day that will be. So I have had to ask not to have alcohol in the home. It is just too hard in too many ways.
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Postby FudgeBob » Sun Sep 17, 2006 7:53 pm

You have the problem, not her.
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Postby Ann262 » Thu Sep 21, 2006 3:10 am

Well, lots of good stuff here. Here's my take on it.

While I think it is important to avoid dangerous playgrounds and choose safe playmates, the reality is that in this world, people drink socially. To expect that I will never be exposed to people drinking in my presence is completely unrealistic. For me, for my recovery, I realize that I have to be able to be in the presence of alcohol and maintain sobriety. But that's me. As for my spouse, he drinks and has no intention of stopping. I've never expected him to. I am alcoholic, he is not and, quite frankly, he's put up with enough crap from me without me placing a demand on him to not drink at home.

But that's just me.
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Re: Non-alcoholic spouse's social drinking

Postby dscottr » Mon Nov 04, 2013 1:12 pm

Hi. I'm Scott and I just joined this group. My sobriety date is 5/11/1992 (21 years at this time). My first wife was also a recovering alcoholic. She had some slips and we stayed married for 19years. I am now in a relationship with a "normal" women. We've lived together for 5 months and plan to marry. "Normal" is a generous term for my girlfriend. She drinks 3-4 glasses of wine every night- 7 days a week. To her credit, she doesn't get drunk. Also to her credit, she stays within her limit. So saying she is normal, is kind of generous on my part. She drinks in front of me. She kisses me afterwards. I don't have a problem with this.

But I do have a problem. I have a problem because she goes out of town for two weeks at a time every two months. When she goes, she leaves an open bottle of wine and an open bottle of pre-mixed margarita. I'm fine with the margarita staying in the fridge until she returns. But I worry about the wine. Its going to go bad unless someone drinks it. Crazy thinking, huh? I'm tempted to give it to a neighbor because I don't want to see it go to waste. I shouldn't be thinking about it so much.

I think about drinking the wine (even though I prefer beer), but I don't think about it long, because I know its not meant for me. I don't think that's strange. It only makes sense sense that you're going to think about something you see.

I've got about 11 more days to go before she gets back. I wouldn't be surprised if I pour it out- just to keep from thinking about it.

I think its important to clarify that when I say I think about that bottle, I don't spend a lot of time thinking about drinking it. I just hate to see things go to waste. I was like that when I drank too. I could never leave a restaurant with beer still in my glass, because that would be a waste.

My advice: Let your spouse drink. Its your problem- not his/hers....But don't leave unattended alcohol around that is not serving an immediate purpose. If my girlfriend was here right now, I wouldn't have a problem because I could make the association between that bottle of wine and her. But right now, that bottle is unattended and going to waste.

No. I'm not crazy. I'm just sober. Ouch!
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Re: Non-alcoholic spouse's social drinking

Postby Squawking Hawk » Mon Nov 04, 2013 1:51 pm

Welcome to the e-aa forums dscottr. If I were in your position I'd probably dump the wine and the margarettas. But that is just me. Mostly because I don't like having the stuff around. But then neither my partner/spouse or I drink so this is a non-issue.

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Re: Non-alcoholic spouse's social drinking

Postby Duke » Mon Nov 04, 2013 3:07 pm

Hi Tim. My wife of many years drinks. I would say she drinks "normally", but I've found that my ability to judge that particular fact is among my lesser powers. What I do know is that her drinking is none of my business. Period. No opinion, no helpful comment, not really even any thought. So, when I find myself indulging in those little debates in my head, it's time to work a tenth step and focus on something positive I can do. Sometimes this means taking a walk, sometimes going to a meeting, sometimes calling a friend. What I know for certain is that when I'm working this program in all my affairs, I'm relieved of any thoughts of drinking, including hers'.
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