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Relationship after split caused by alcoholism (and associated behavior)

(119 Posts)
user1475360947 Tue 11-Oct-16 11:32:18

Hi folks,

I have been advised that I may get more of a response to below thread here rather than in Newbies section, there are a few updates which I can add but they don't really change the dynamic of what I am asking.

I'm a male and looking some advice. I am 37 and have recently split from my wife, the main factor in this being the fact that I am an alcoholic (I had been drinking 8 -10 beer per night and probably more on weekends) I am what would be described as a high functioning alcoholic, I got up and went to work in the morning and all the bills etc were paid and paid on time.

My wife left after one of many arguments just over a month ago. She says she had been unhappy for years and had been shielding my step daughter and son from my drinking and moods following drink - I would stress there has never been any violence in our relationship.

There have been issues with dsd ref use of alcohol and drugs - and when she wasn't behaving I may have gone too far in trying to get her to behave (possibly grounding for too long, not speaking to her, or blcompletely banning her from the internet). I have also been grumpy when not drinking the following day. Dsd is now 19 and recently dropped out of university (since, but not related to split with dw)

We also have a son who is ten years old. I also would have been in moods with him or been quick to anger when he did things which he shouldn't (kicking football in house etc)

OH has said that she has been unhappy and hasn't loved me for years, but in the other hand says that she does care for me and the final straw was over her going guarantor for a flat for dsd which I was not happy about (daughter isn't even named on flat lease)

Following split from OH I have enrolled in a recovery programme, they couldn't take me straight away and I immediately started in AA, I am sober today and have been for the past month.

The issue is OH won't take me back, I know I can't expect it straight away or possibly ever but was just wondering if any of you have been through similar and if there is anything I can do....I love my wife and would do ANYTHING to get her back, however she will not do anything to work towards it, won't think of marriage counseling, refused Al anon, and won't even consider going for coffee.

I'd appreciate any advice good or bad, as I say I'm in recovery, have a better relationship with my son and am trying to build bridges with step daughter.

pocketsaviour Tue 11-Oct-16 11:35:36

That is her choice. Your choice was to prioritise drinking over your marriage. I certainly can't blame her for being unable to come back from that, especially the damage that has been done to her children. She will have a much easier time mitigating that damage - and children of alcoholics usually end up severely fucked up, no matter how "high functioning" the alcoholic in question - without you being on the scene.

Even if she wanted to get back with you, I would always advise that the alcoholic have a successful sobriety of AT LEAST one year before even thinking about opening up discussions.

ninenicknames Tue 11-Oct-16 11:51:15

Speaking from experience here & disagree with PP that an alcoholic parent "fucks you up" quite offensive.

I am from an alcoholic parent. DM has been sober through AA 7 years and she was drunk throughout my entire childhood.

I am not fucked up.

For a start WELL DONE on being sober TODAY and for the last month.

You can't predict the future, but right now I would concentrate on your sobriety.

Good Luck smile

ninenicknames Tue 11-Oct-16 11:54:29

And sorry to the PP addiction is not a choice, whilst the OP has drunk through choice, there is never the intention to prioritise drinking. Addiction consumes you.

You can't look back, you must keep looking forward & focus on the sober future you will hopefully have.

Everything else will slowly fit into place.

hellsbellsmelons Tue 11-Oct-16 12:01:06

I've no doubt you've killed the love she had for you over the years.
That won't come back.
Stop worrying about your wife taking you back after a month sober and work on yourself and keeping sober.
Well done, but I'm afraid you cannot 'make' her fall back in love you.
You did a lot of damage and for most people there's no coming back from that.

It would absolutely be a good thing for her to attend al-anon, but you can't make her.
Keep working on yourself. Don't rely on anyone else for your happiness.
Well done!

Myusernameismyusername Tue 11-Oct-16 12:03:11

Congratulations on your sobriety.

I think a month is too soon to expect your wife to really consider another chance. You have let her down and broken her trust. It's going to take a long road to a civil friendship even.

I would stop focusing on trying to win her over and on your recovery and relationship with the children. Support your wife as best you can and be the man you want to be.

Myusernameismyusername Tue 11-Oct-16 12:04:36

I re read. Please don't badger her with offers I think that is not very appealing to any woman. Tell her you wish her well and respect her decision.

Respect is what she wants and needs

user1475360947 Tue 11-Oct-16 12:18:17

Folks, thanks for your advice so far,

Pocket saver, I thank you for your advice even though there are aspects I disagree with, I did not make a conscious decision to prioritise alcohol, in an alcoholic and can't help it, I'm sober just over five weeks, but I was still an alcoholic yesterday and I will still be an alcoholic tomorrow, the thing is I was sober yesterday, I'll be sober today and I plan to be sober tomorrow. I take issue with your children of alcoholics being fucked up....and this has been addressed by another poster. Re the advice you give about not opening discussions for a year fair enough, but can you give any reasoning behind that?

Ninenicknames: thanks, sobriety is the ine thing I am being selfish about now. My social life at the minute revolves around DS and AA meetings, the urge to drink has largely left, although it does still creep back in.

Hellsbellsmelons, I do hope you are wrong, but think you may be right. I do hope DW is happy, even if that is on her own or with someone else. I hope to rekindle a relationship with her, rather than one with drink, I'm hoping that it will be a new better more honest relationship where issues are resolved rather than arguing and then running off drinking. AA has promised happiness beyond my wildest dreams (not money etc, but happiness), I hope to share that with DW or for her to find her own.

Noodoodle Tue 11-Oct-16 12:18:55

OP, congrats for your sobriety so far.

Tbh though, your wife doesn't need to do anything to work on getting back together. She doesn't love you, she's let herself be unhappy for long enough with you, why would she work at trying to be with someone she doesn't love anymore?

To improve ANY kind of relationship with her or your children, all you need to do is stay sober, if that is what you want. Stay sober and just be there. One month, as good as it is after your situation, is nothing out of a lifetime, and is not any kind of timeframe that will make someone believe you have changed forever. They will need more time. I'm sorry if that's maybe a bit harsh?

user1475360947 Tue 11-Oct-16 12:23:21

Thank you myusername, I think I had been doing that, badgering her....and part of the reason is I want her to see how hard I am working -I would love her to be a fly on the wall in some if the AA meetings I've shared in, just to let her see I now realize some of the hurt I caused (although sometimes things come to the surface I didn't know about) ...although I don't want her to see me blubbering like a baby.

user1475360947 Tue 11-Oct-16 12:27:45

Not at all Noodoodle,...the only thing I'm hoping is that if there was love before and if there is anything left that I can rekindle that spark.

Contact (picking up and dropping off DS) is still emotional, especially when having any sort of discussion about where things went wrong.

user1475360947 Tue 11-Oct-16 12:29:58

Original posts

user1475360947 Tue 11-Oct-16 12:30:56

And here

RunRabbitRunRabbit Tue 11-Oct-16 12:34:26

You want her to see how hard you are working? Jesus wept. Look, she's worked fantastically hard to pick up after you for years. Badgering her for gold stars after one month of not being an asshole is probably the best way to drive her away.

To have any chance of reconciliation you need to prove you have changed as an absolute minimum, no coffee or counselling until you've met that basic requirement. I reckon it will take a year or two for you to have that proof. In that time you will have to respect her wishes to split, be completely sober and be a solid reliable co-parent. Anyone can fake that for a few weeks, most people could fake it for months, not many could fake it for a year or two, so that's why you have to build the evidence base. Actions. Not words. Sobriety. Reliability. No whining.

SmellySphinx Tue 11-Oct-16 12:34:48

Well done on recognising the problems alcoholism has caused yourself, your wife and your family. You may not have personally ideally chosen alcohol and you state alcoholism is an illness. You did choose it though and didn't hit the rock bottom early enough. A month is absolutely no time at all for everyone to accept and trust that you'll never touch it again. It is now a lifestyle choice that is incredibly hard to stick to, you may relapse (God forbid you do, I truly hope not). It's good to hear you are getting the help you need but for some it will take a lot, lot longer than one month to even begin to trust you in any way shape or form. Nobody will want to get back into a situation that caused them so much heartache and worry for years and years. Don't forget your wife has not only been worrying about herself and children for years but worrying about you yourself. No DV? Good, but there will be deep emotional scarring from the emotional abuse and constant walking on eggshells that everyone would have had to endure the days when you were hungover or didn't have access to alcohol. This recovery is for life and you must learn to live alone with yourself, for yourself and deal with it yourself. You're lucky she is talking to you at all and hopefully she can be a friend for support, I fear that will be incredibly hard for you just being friends though. Continue working towards a healthy relationship with your kids as you are doing but don't expect much more from your wife after one month of sobriety.

Stormtreader Tue 11-Oct-16 12:44:11

" just to let her see I now realize some of the hurt I caused"

Do you though? Do you really? Your OP doesnt seem to say anything about the hurt youve caused, nothing at all.

The furthest youre willing to go is to say "even though I paid all the bills on time, never hit anyone, was maybe a bit grumpy at times, She says she had been unhappy for years and had been shielding my step daughter and son from my drinking and moods following drink so she left."

That doesnt sound like someone who is ready to take responsibility for their actions to me.

Noodoodle Tue 11-Oct-16 12:46:32

It's understandable that as you, you can see the difference in you. You can see that you have changed. You can see the error of what your actions did to your relationships and that lightbulb moment was probably quite obvious to you. And you know in yourself, from what you have said, that you want to stay sober. But most people who have had this type of issue with their OH don't see those things because to them, the good you're doing right now, is temporary, it hasn't proved itself yet.

It might well be that in time things will change with your wife but the changes she will (most likely) want to see are not the ones happening now, but the ones continuing to happen in the future. Grand gestures and differences in the short term can mean little when the damage is long term. Different situation to a point but my OH keeps saying he's had enough of a certain thing and is giving it up (for a few reasons) and it has now gotten to the point where I will acknowledge and encourage on the surface but I don't believe it anymore because after a short time (this time 2 months) he's doing it again. I don't believe it will ever actually change. I've made my peace with that. But if it was consistent change over a longer period of time it would be different. As another poster said, it's actions. Actions and lots of time.

lovelilies Tue 11-Oct-16 12:51:21

This is interesting to read as I was (am?) the wife. Not yours, obviously, but split form DP in similar circumstances.

However I do still love him. He hasn't admitted to being an alcoholic though, agrees he drank too much (about the same as you).

I'll post more later, have small DC to look after.

LancsHotpot Tue 11-Oct-16 12:54:30

I've been sober for six years. It is hard to stop drinking, and it's also hard to stay off the drink. You can't do it to get your wife back. What if it doesn't work? You'll be back on the booze to get over it. Try to put your energies into building your new life, without a drink in your hand. Find things to do to fill the time you were drinking or sleeping it off. For what it's worth, the partner I'm with now is completely different from my partner when I was drinking - my life now couldn't be compared to how it was when I was a (high functioning) alcoholic, and there's no way my previous relationship would work in the way that my new one does.

OliviaBenson Tue 11-Oct-16 12:55:56

Sorry op but you have been sober for 5 weeks. It is a huge thing for you and is great, but after years of alcoholism it is no time at all.

My dad is an alcoholic and it destroyed our relationship. The effect is profound. It's not something that 5 weeks of sobriety can fix I'm afraid.

Keep going though, for your own sake.

SmellySphinx Tue 11-Oct-16 12:59:24

Just to add.
I hope you have a thick enough skin to deal with some of the responses you are likely to get out of this. Whilst some will be helpful some will project onto you their realities of living with an alcoholic. The anger and frustration, emotional hurt and chaos it's caused. I know you asked for peoples' experiences/advice good or bad but I hope you're prepared for what may be said. I suspect you may still be vulnerable after 5 weeks.

ninenicknames Tue 11-Oct-16 13:01:23

Good words Smelly.

SmellySphinx Tue 11-Oct-16 13:04:27

LancsHotpot - Brilliant point there, something I meant to add. The relationship may well just go back to the way it was

user1475360947 Tue 11-Oct-16 13:13:19


I mentioned DW shielfing the kids for years, but I think DW also shielded me from the harm that I was doing, DW constantly tried to make everyone happy, I'm not blaming DW, and I do wish there had if been some blazing arguments about the amount I drank. The thing is when I was drinking my thought process was that the only person getting hurt was me (hurt through my drinking) in that alcoholic thinking I didn't realize the harm I was doing....even when not drinking (hungover/stressed etc)

Don't get me wrong I'm not trying to make excuses, but I am trying to make amends. - I think I'm trying to become the person that my wife wished for, but I'm not doing it for her, I'm doing it for me, and hoping to be better for her if that makes sense.

As you can see from the other posts I hit a low point last week and was almost ready to take a drink, but was able to fight it, not winning a major war but a small victory that I am happy I won.

At the end of the day I want dw and D.C. to be happy, even if that is without me....although I hope I can be there.

I know a lot of you aren't alcoholic, and aren't addicted but the way I try and describe addiction is a bit like love....we all want it, we all crave it and sometimes go to any length to get it, but just imagine that love changing (as in Domestic Violence) you know the love is doing you no good, you know it will eventually kill you, but you still want it. Then imagine the physical part of it that if you don't get that love you become irritable, paranoid, shakes, sickness, hallucinations....the whole nine yards and then some. And I'm not making excuses, I should have given up years ago, but it is a battle, even now

user1475360947 Tue 11-Oct-16 13:17:10

The bad responses are as welcome as the good ones, it lets me know to a point what I put the family through, and what to make amends for.

I understand what you are saying lance and think I was writing the above post when you posted. I'm not doing this just to get my wife back, I probably should have been thinking about recovery early in marriage or possibly even before getting married.

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