For as long as I know my husband, David, he has drunk himself into oblivion. Since we met in college and most people drank, including myself, I figured with passing time the drinking would lessen. I know that alcohol can play an exciting role in a couple’s life, romantic weekends with champagne, winery tours, and the toast on your wedding day. However, for many couples and especially in my marriage alcohol was not always associated with a good memory and for a while, I blamed it for destroying my relationship. For many people, it could be uncomfortable to live with or even just date someone with an alcohol addiction, let alone be married to one.
His Personality was Slowly Changing
Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy an evening out with a few cocktails every once in awhile, but I recently started noticing alcohol on David’s breath before work. His drinking over the years has seemed more extreme and his personality was slowly changing.
His Drinking Created Tension Between Us
The weekend was always reserved for our date nights. Whether we were catching a movie or trying a new restaurant, I loved this extra time to focus on our relationship, but it seemed lately my husband would rather spend his time getting drunk, which started to create growing tension between us. David worked long hours and started coming home late smelling like alcohol. He started drinking by himself more. He was obviously drinking and driving, spending entire nights out and then stumbling into our bedroom. I noticed a decline in his happiness and usual cheerfulness. Things have been bad over the past few years with our financials and his job but I didn’t realize he was taking it so hard.
The Alcohol Destroyed Communication in Our Relationship
I can vouch that alcohol use can destroy most, if not all, communication in a relationship. My husband started becoming distant and would go days without talking to me or the kids. I think this bothered me the most. He seemed less interested in engaging in play time with the children, paid less attention to them and seemed to almost completely back out of the parenting role. If I confronted him about his drinking, he became defensive, hostile, and aggressive. I began wondering if this was a safe environment for my children; after much deliberation, I decided that they would stay at my parents. I stayed behind with David; I knew he would never become abusive, but I didn’t want my children exposed to the pent up anger that seemed to be steadily increasing within him.
He Began Hiding Empty Bottles and Money
David’s obsessive drinking caused him to lie to me often and to make up excuses regarding his erratic behaviors. I noticed he was more secretive and kept his personal time extremely private. He also began hiding empty bottles and money. At times, I was really upset and I felt like he was just wallowing in self-pity about his drinking. I explained to him that I wanted him to be honest with me, but that did not seem to faze him.
Along with the lying, my husband was spending a considerable amount of money on alcohol as well as his daily bar trips. Our shared financials started to decline quickly and we had already been struggling to begin with. I know money is one of the top reasons for divorce, and I easily understood so. I began resenting David for spending money on himself rather on the household bills and necessities. It came to a point that he had gone through so much of our monthly income; I separated our bank accounts to regain our financials, since I have been making more money for the past few months anyway.
The Few Things He Did Attend with Me were Quite Embarrassing
Being married to an alcohol user will eventually start to spread out to family and friends. My family members began to interject their opinions about David and tried to give me advice. The few things that David did attend with me were quite embarrassing. He spent most of the time getting drunk and even started an argument with my brother that almost ended in a fist fight. It became extremely hard for me to deal with the constant criticism from my family and friends even though I know it only comes from love and concern. I really tried to keep the problem to myself for as long as I could, trying to divert the pressure and stress caused by other’s opinions regarding my relationship.
I was Searching for the Ways to Save My Marriage
As my family suggested I started searching for rehabs. Even though I did not look into other options, I figured an online search would give me the quickest results. I was overwhelmed with all the choices, and options. David did not know I was looking for a program for him and I was still unsure how I was going to break it to him, but one in particular caught my eye; an alternative program that focused on taking personal responsibility, common sense, and choice, all things that I believed mattered most in my marriage. I knew that I didn’t want his alcohol problem to be the reason our marriage ended and I wanted to make this work; I knew deep down he wanted that too.
He Agreed to Try
Asking my husband to consider getting help was very scary, but what I learned from my phone call with the program consultant was to not be aggressive, angry or over emotional. I calmly sat down with him and I addressed my feelings and my concern with just the two of us. It wasn’t suggested that I hold an intervention with all of our close family, because that could possibly make him feel attacked. I asked him what he wanted out of his life, and if he was happy with the choices he was making at this time. David admitted that he was not happy and needed a change. I described the program and showed him some brochure materials and a video, and he agreed to try it.
He Started to Show Affection
Over those 6 weeks David attended the program I visited him every single weekend along with daily phone calls. Slowly, I noticed changes in his attitude and presence. His face had restored color, he was smiling, and he actually would hold my hand and showed some affection. I joined him for Sunday brunches and he would excitedly share with me what he had learned. I too followed the program book from home, so I knew what he was going through, I would suggest this to anyone as it truly puts you in the shoes of another person.
There’s No Cookie Cutter Version of Overcoming Alcohol, but David and I Made it
My advice for anyone married and even involved with someone who has substance abuse problems or an addiction is to give them some time. Decide if staying with them and helping them find all alterative options possible would be best for you. If not, it is okay to want to live your own life and walk away from the situation if you choose to do so. At some point however, you will have to make the difficult decision of staying or walking away. Unfortunately, through my eyes there is no cookie cutter version of overcoming alcohol; every person has their own way of overcoming this personal struggle. If it makes any sense, David is a better man for what he’s gone through. The road wasn’t always easy but I never closed communication off, showed him great support and most importantly I was patient and I waited by his side. I know that the journey to sobriety is not easily walked, but I hope together couples can learn from my personal experience and make it through this difficult time in their relationship.