Alcoholic Family Story
from M2010

Alcoholic wife blames husband.

October 25, 2010 (M2010's Story) - Well, here we go. Married for 18 years. Was alcoholic myself (clean for over 2 years). I have an alcoholic wife in denial that drinks heavily 3 to 4 times a week.

For last 7 or 8 months she spent all weekends (leave the house on Thursdays or Fridays mostly unannounced and returns Sunday evenings or Mondays) with her friends drinking heavily, neglecting not only the house and me, but also our 2 daughters (16 and 11 years old.)

While she's out she usually text and call me reminding me of bad stuff that happened blaming me. For example: She's on probation for domestic violence, attending classes for 2 years - got drunk and beat me up because I took her cell, car keys and dumped her beer. She doesn't see it that way and tells me I had no right to get her in trouble. She says that I was cold with her while she was pregnant (11 years ago) asks why I hurt her so much. She won't ever be that good wife again, etc. She gave me her best and can't do it anymore, etc.

When she returns usually Monday around noon she does nice things for the kids, cooks diner sometimes and talks to me as if everything is cool. If I mention the desire to talk about us, and our situation, she evades.

We are not having sex for about 30 days now. I went to bed last night and she asked me to sleep in the couch. When I said, 'girl I think we need to talk' she ignored and said that she had to sleep.

She gave up on her job about 9 months ago and I'm the provider. I pay her car, cell, cigarette, etc.

It bothers me to live like this. I'm trying to detach since I heard it's the best thing to do.

Sometimes when I insist she tell me where she was she makes me believe that she spent the nights with her friends (all singles) the same way her friends spend couple days at my house and said that she has no fun being around me and I'm too jealous (which I am when she's drunk and flirty).

She used to apologize and promise to get better but lately she doesn't show any signs of remorse and says that she's not doing anything wrong. She says got no man and that she was an awesome wife for 10 years and got tired of it.

Her mom is bipolar (mental hospital last 20 years) and her father (cool dude) is an alcoholic. We are both mid 30's and we together since 15 but it's taking a toll on me living like this.

Last night she was out drunk and called me 10 times. I picked up once noticed her voice and kindly said 'I will call you back.' She texted all kinds of FU's making it seem like I don't care that's why she's out.

I work 65 hours a week and she shows no appreciation. It's like fuck it, it's my turn now.

I'm doing better on controlling my anxiety with study and exercise but really wanted her to open up and maybe we could resolve this.

How should I react?

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October 30, 2010 (from Wendell) - Wow, except for the fact that my alcoholic and I had no children, your story sounds so familiar, especially the part about staying out partying with friends and telling me that I was no fun to be with.

One of the things to consider is that the two of you used to be alcoholics together. Then two years ago, you changed. You quit drinking and probably made other changes in your life to deal with your alcoholism. For that I congratulate you. That has to have made a big difference in the lives of your two daughters. However, it has also made a big difference in your wife's life. She lost her long time drinking buddy. Now she finds herself married to a different person; one she believes is judging her all the time and trying to control her life.

I did all of the things you describe – paying the bills, trying to talk to my alcoholic about the issues, putting up with totally unreasonable behavior, letting her blame everything on me and believing it, reading books looking for ways to fix my alcoholic and constantly trying different things to make things better. None of it worked for me either.

Eventually I got outside help. In my case, I went to counselors and joined both Al-Anon and CoDA. I learned about detachment. I also learned that I had to accept my alcoholic just as she was. I learned that I had to take care of my problems and not hers. But most important I learned that there was nothing I could do to help her except to stop enabling her unacceptable behavior.

Stopping enabling was the hardest. It meant that I had to let her experience the full repercussions of her behavior. If she ran out of money it was her problem to solve. If she fell asleep drunk on the floor, it was my job to not put her to bed but to leave her where she lay, as long as she wasn't in danger of vomiting and choking.

I stopped confronting her. I stopped arguing with her. I stopped trying to fix her and got on with fixing myself. Let me tell you; that was hard. I had been blaming my problems on her drinking for a long time. Now I had to deal with them myself. It was a lot easier to blame her. Blaming her meant I didn't really have to engage my issues. Not blaming her left me no excuses.

One interesting side effect of this change on my part was that at first she was happy as I was leaving her to do what she wanted. After a while though she started to try and engage me in the old behavior patterns because they gave her control. After I disengaged, she no longer had control and she didn't like that.

In her case she eventually started going to AA and has been sober for nearly 20 years now. However, our marriage didn't survive. We figured out that with her sober and me dealing with my own issues, we no longer had much of a relationship. We were just sad together a lot.

In your case, you also have two daughters. There is an organization called Alateen that is a version of Al-Anon for teens that have alcoholics in their family. In Alateen they learn skills for coping with their alcoholic family life. You might want to consider it for your daughters (I'm not sure if the youngest is old enough yet, but maybe, especially if she goes with her older sister.)

The most difficult thing for me was reaching out to find help. I hope you do that, both for you and for your daughters.

Please let me know how it turns out.

Good luck!


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