As a writer and (poorly consistent) blogger, I feel it’s kinda like my job to read other writers’ books and blogs on the subject of alcoholic husbands and marriages. And while of course I respect everyone’s journey and each marriage is different (but not really), blah blah blah, there is one thing that always gets my fingers twitching on the keyboard and that is the stories of women who choose to stay in their marriages. It’s not they choose to stay that gets me all banging-out-an-opinion on my laptop. It’s what seems an almost universal sense of superiority and self-righteousness.
Hey, if a woman wants to stay married to her alcoholic husband, seriously, I will not debate or argue or judge that. 100% that’s for her to decide.
I will argue and debate (and probably judge a bit) the idea that somehow it is more noble to stay than to leave and/or that those of us who choose to get the hell out of drunken Dodge somehow give up on our marriages or betray our vows or abandon our husbands. There are only two kinds of marriages when it comes to being married to an alcoholic:
The marriage to a recovering alcoholic and the marriage to an active alcoholic.
If he’s an alcoholic, he’s either in recovery or he’s drinking.
And so, when a woman decides to stay, it makes a big difference which marriage she is deciding to stay in.
If she is staying in a marriage with an active alcoholic, 100% I will go to the mats on this, her life is greatly, greatly compromised. You just can’t live fully when you live with an alcoholic.
Even if she attends Al-Anon, and sees a therapist and spends each day working to manage her emotions, her feelings, her reactions to his behavior and drinking, think (THINK!) where all that energy, all that passion COULD be going. It could be going to Her! Life! To her dreams, her goals, her desires and hopes and wishes and wants. Even supposed “detachment with love” is an everyday energy drain.
If a woman chooses to stay married to a man who is pursuing recovery, well, I can’t really comment on that since that’s not who my alcoholic husband is. But I will say this:
I am moving out this year.
I spent over 20 years married to him.
In that time, nothing has ever indicated he’s interested in “recovery.” (Why would he be? He doesn’t think he has a problem.)
I’m not giving up on my marriage or betraying my vows or abandoning him because I won’t wait another 20 years to see if he comes around.
I’m reclaiming my life.