Marriage is work. Marriage divided by sobriety is even more work.
Ten years ago, almost to the day, I met my husband…at a bar…on a Monday night. We clicked immediately and linked our way into each others lives from that night on.
We bonded a ton over drinking. We drank during the “courting” phase, the established relationship phase, the engaged phase, and newlywed phase. We drank if there was a good reason or not.
Then the kids came. From the moment my husband shared with me that he wanted kids, I knew that being a Daddy was his calling. He loves our children fiercely, and is so natural, eager and attentive. Where I feel anxious, he feels calm. When I am in question, he has an answer. When I’m tapped out, he’s already ready to go. He really was meant to be a Dad.
With his calling, he was also called to slow down on his drinking. But me? I amped it up.
There were many (MANY) times that he tried to share his concerns about my ever-increasing drinking habits. He tried to encourage me to pace myself, set limits, and take breaks.
Yet, I drank more and more, and it eventually got ugly.
By the grace of God, though, he has stuck by my side through all the ups-and-downs of my struggles and poor choices. He has loved me to the core even when he didn’t want to. He has forgiven me, challenged me, and created a safe space to scream when the struggle feels too tough.
But still, we’re soberly divided.
Try as I may to explain and express the joys, hardships, anxieties, and freedoms of sobriety to him, at the end of the day or week, he still drinks like a “normal” person. He is not in the same place as me and very well may never be.
There have been numerous discussions, arguments, and meltdowns on how we go about handling this difference in our home. And from what I have gathered, there is no black-and-white answer on how to deal with our division.
We’ve done a dry house, which in turn makes me feel guilty.
We’ve done a “normal” routine of him drinking on the weekends, which makes me feel resentment.
He’s asked permission, which usually results in me responding, “You don’t have to ask! I’m fine.”
He’s not asked permission, which sometimes makes me feel like my feelings are dismissed.
It’s not easy, and I realized how much the division can weigh on me on a recent family/friends vacay.
Seeing him drink with friends over the course of three days was tough. But why? Was I feeling jealous? Was I feeling left out? Was I afraid I was being judged? Did I feel like I didn’t matter? Did I want him to be on “Team Sober” with me?
On our way home we had yet another disagreement about our division, and then it hit me! I’m kind of a dry drunk.
A dry drunk is someone who has no more physical cravings or is not abusing alcohol anymore, but still has unresolved psychological and behavioral issues stemming from the addiction. Here is a good article I found that describes some of signs of a dry drunk.
Although I know most of my issues (i.e. anxiety) tied to my drinking, I still hold a lot of resentment. I still hold a lot of pain. I still hold a lot of fear. I still have some emotions I need to iron out.
Yes, I’ve made HUGE strides and feel way more confident this go around (I must if I’m blogging about it weekly, right? ;). I practice self-care more often. I feel good around others who are drinking.
But the “dry drunk” in me comes out mostly with my husband, my old drinking buddy.
Again, there’s no black-and-white answer as to what is best for us, but I do know that I need to start doing some work on this area in my recovery. I need to really expand my sober support and start digging deeper into my head and my heart. I need to be more empathic and understanding towards my husband and his choices. My journey is not his journey and that’s OK. But I need to really be OK with that concept.
I’m currently reading This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol: Find Freedom, Rediscover Happiness & Change Your Life by Annie Grace. (Amazing!! Seriously, if you have even doubted for a second about your alcohol consumption, just give this book a whirl. Very informative!)
In this book, she touches on my current issue, and says this-
“The truth is that any change, no matter how positive, disrupts the synergy of a relationship. Even if your partner is happy about your decision, it will change the dynamic of your relationship. Be conscious of the fact that a change for you will mean a change for them. Be aware and treat them, whether they continue to drink or not, with respect. Don’t force a change on them or feed them advice. Do share as much as possible about your journey, how you are feeling, and what you are thinking. Honest and compassionate communication is key.”
So yes, we may be soberly divided, but as long as we both do the work to communicate and embrace our new dynamics in a supportive, honest and loving way, we’ll conquer this… together.