alcoholism, Marriage, recovery, Sober Living, Uncategorized

Marriage. Soberly divided.

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.

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9 thoughts on “Marriage. Soberly divided.”

  1. Wow..I can SO relate to this. In very similar situation and my husband has quit for the most part. A couple weeks ago we ended up with a friend, in a bar of all places, and he had one beer. On the way home he told me how relaxed he felt and how he should do that more often. I was like WTF?! He should know better than to say something like that to me. So, all hell broke loose for a few days. Apparently his buzz didn’t help his judgement before he opened his mouth. Anyway, yep, this is something I definitely need to work on. Thanks. Helps to know I’m not alone in dealing with this.

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    1. It’s tough!! I often used the analogy that if he all of a sudden became diabetic, would he want me to eat cake in front of him? However, we have to work together and compromise. These are the “good times and bad,” and thankfully, it’s only occasionally that it feels bad. Best of luck to you! And please feel free to reach out anytime so we can exchange support!

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  2. Amazing!!! I was a dry drunk for a long time and then I relapsed. Then I went into rehab and learned about cognitive behavior. I too have had that envy,resentment all of it. Now I know that alcohol can never be in my life. I am a much better person without it. My family loves me for it and I love myself for it. I have to get this book. I’ve seen it mentioned In a lot of my groups. The quote is spot on. Thank you so much for sharing this. It brought tears to my eyes. I know I’m learning to be a better person each day and reading these blogs helps me immensely

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    1. Oh, I’m so happy for you!! Your words are very encouraging, as this is a tough part of sobriety to balance. I’m glad I’ve recognized what I need to do, sooner than later. I’ve had my fair share of relapses, and I really want to stay strong this time around. Like you, I love reading blogs… really helps to know we’re not alone in our feelings. Please feel free to reach out anytime!

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  3. I am so proud of you!! I love this blog. You have grown accomplished so much. Your words really touched me, such an inspiration. I love the raw truth you have written, so beautiful. I know you will continue to grow as a the beautiful strong woman that you are.
    Love you so much
    Ashley

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  4. Wow, great article. We too are a sober divided marriage, one which was founded on alcohol. I’ve been sober for over 13 months now and we’ve had our fair share of discussions. In the beginning my husband was really angry and it was directed at me, because becoming sober changed our dynamic and he didn’t care for it. We are in a much better place today, thankfully, and he has become way more understanding and supportive of the path my sober life is taking me.
    Thanks for the post, it’s nice to know I’m not alone. Keep up the great work.

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  5. Hey Alison, thank you so much for this article, and also to everyone who commented! I am also in a relationship that was founded on alcohol. We have both been doing ‘dry 40 days’, since 2 January. So far, I have had no cravings for alcohol, but we have had more arguments in the past 2 weeks than in the previous 2 1/2 years put together…!! At this point, I don’t know if I want to drink again, because I am just so relieved to not ‘have to’ drink. However, my partner is quite looking forward to the 10th of February, as that will be the day she can drink again, if she so chooses. So, I think we might end up in a ‘soberly divided marriage’ as well as I do not want to go back to drinking the way I did for the past 2 1/2 years… So, it is encouraging to see that there are others who are in similar situations, and surviving!
    Thanks once again!

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