Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Secret Society of an Alcoholic's Wife

I am married to an alcoholic, albeit in current recovery, but nonetheless an alcoholic. Shave a zebra, and it still has stripes. Remove an alcoholic's drink and they are still an alcoholic.

My History as an Alcoholic's Wife
Being married to an alcoholic is a very secretive world. I have been with my husband since we were 19 years old. At 19, most people aren't considered an alcoholic, you are just having fun. And maybe becoming an alcoholic is like growing weeds in your garden; all of the sudden the plant sprouts a flower and you realize you have a dandelion. As we became married, Rocky's drinking steadily increased as mine steadily decreased, I considered the fact that I was married to an alcoholic. It wasn't until we had Georgia, I was 5 months pregnant with Houston, a SAHM, and I had to have my volatile, drunk husband arrested - that I realized I was indeed married to an alcoholic.

I was so embarassed with the events surrounding his arrest. I was embarassed to admit that I was married to an alcoholic. But I knew the only way to save my husband was to talk about it. I contacted his friends that would provide a great support system, and let them know where he was and why. I asked for their help. I sought solace with friends and family that would support ANY decision I made regarding my marriage.** [It is sometimes unwise to maintain friendships with people that always opt for leaving (because if you stay - you will dispise them later)]

Rocky committed to Alcoholic's Annoymous 90 day program - 90 meetings in 90 days. He would arrive home from work, have an early dinner, go to his meetings, spend an hour with Georgia, and then off to bed. Being supportive was very hard, and I feared anything I did or didn't do would drive him back to the bottle. It was a rough 90 days. Rocky stayed alcohol free for a solid 8 months. We have had a couple bumps in the road, where he thinks he can drink like a normal person, but he is quickly brought back to reality and settles back onto the road of recovery.

Why am I sharing this?
Growing up, I knew several parents that were alcoholics. I grew up in upper-middle class America, attended Catholic High School - alcoholism does not discriminate against social class. My husband is a blue collar worker, and grew up in a blue collar society - I grew up in a white collared world. We come from mixed backgrounds, with a mixed group of adult friends, however, I currently know of NO other woman that admits to being married to an alcoholic. It's a very secretive society. Here are the facts though:
  1. 43% of Americans have had a child, spouse, parent, or relative with Alcoholism.
  2. 19% of Alcoholics in the US are married.
I understand for several reasons why women aren't talking; the first is that it's embarassing to admit you are married to an alcoholic. In a nation where divorce still stands at a horrid 50%, it is almost with expectation that you leave your marriage for such a serious offense. You are judged as a mother, and you are looked upon as weak, and unintelligent.

What I've Learned
I am NOT a bad mom for staying married to my husband. My children are loved by both their parents, and Rocky's drinking never affected his abilities as a father. If my children were to ever be physically or emotionally harmed by his drinking, you can bet your balls he'd no longer have his.

I AM a strong, confident, intelligent woman! I never sat around waiting for my husband to become magically cured. I am proactive, stay involved, and I react with actions, not words. I am also no longer afraid that everything I do will return him to drinking.

There is no cure for alcoholism as it is not a disease. Alcoholism is a personality weakness, and a practice in selfishness. It is no different than practicing racism, over indulging with food, or spending beyond your means.

As long as Rocky is willing to work towards sobriety, I'm willing to be married. He hasn't given up, why should I? He wasn't an alcoholic when we met, and I took vows for better or for worse. No one defined what worse would be.

Alcohol is over-rated. I don't need to drink for any reason. I don't have time for it anyway, and it makes me tired so what's the point (especially hard to drink if you have to get up 2-3 times a night with little ones). I actually don't miss it, and I'm not suprised by that.

Talk about it! Sure, it's embarassing, but it exists! Judge me if you must, but God will have the final judgement, and I prefer His verdict.

Resources for Wives of Alcoholics
Unfortunately, there is a limited number of resources for wives of alcoholics. I found that blog support sites go without updating for several years - understandable - seeing as how once your husband finds a soft landing spot in recovery, you do not want to continue to dwell on the horrors of your lives before. As with any serious situation, if you, or anyone you know is married to an alcoholic and being abused in any way, get out.

Here is a national list of women's shelters.

Al-Anon Support Groups Online: offering support for families of alcoholics and addicts.

Al-Anon is even on Facebook!

And of course, don't be afraid to e-mail me!

**A special thanks to The Jarett's & The Phillips's for their help, support, and friendship during and after the times I needed it most.**

Don't forget to follow via Google Friend Connect located on the sidebar.
Or find me on Facebook @ Mommy Needs An Aspirin.


  1. Wow Jess I had no idea! Thats the thing about GFC and following to many blogs- they all show up in my dashboard and its too much to filter through but I don't get a feed on the ones I really actually want to read (like yours). Hmm you need to post when you post- although since i can be offline for days this could backfire too... LOL! Anyway I have SO much to say about this- first that I am sorry. I too am married to an addict (Matt's addiction is pornography) and I know it can be very trying and difficult. Second GOOD FOR YOU FOR CHOOSING TO STAY COMMMITTED TO ROCKY! You are absolutely right about the friends who tell you to leave (not really much of friends) but in our current culture what can you expect? Most people don't realize it takes more bravery, courage and honesty to stay but excepting abusive situations that is just what we should do- as you said we said for better or for worse and God heard it! So did our husbands. I have often worried about Matt's drinking- both his father and his grandfather are alcoholics (although his dad has been sober for about 14 years). Being in the Navy for 5 years and being a cop all with a strong family history meant he definitely had the odds stacked against him. Thankfully his drinking slowed down significantly since we had Grace and i can not remember the last time he got drunk. However as I said he has an addiction (that I almost left him over) but is also in recovery and seeking help. Matt has given me his blessing to write about his struggle (and our struggles) but I have not yet had the couraqe to share something that personal, though I think someday I will. I'm assuming Rocky must be ok with you writing about him too- tahts good I think it shows a step in the recovery process. One thing I would say is that I agree alcoholism is not a disease but be careful equating it just to selfishness I definitely had that attitude with Matt but I am taking a class called "Betrayal and Beyond" its a hardcore workbook and support group that really force you to look at yourself and your life too when dealing with a husband who has a sex addiction. It has taught me a lot about addiction and while yes it is still a weakness there is some actual chemical things that go on in the brain of an addict. I could say so much more but I think google will cut me off... LOL! If you ever want to talk about this email text call or FB me you know where I am. Again GOOD FOR YOU and I will be praying for you guys :)

  2. thanks for responding miranda! and thanks for being so open! I'm going to repost, because as I'm sure you know - people don't share these kind of secrets. yes, Rocky is ok now, he's been on the wagon again for 6 wks (we had to restart the timer). Yes, I also agree there is some bit of chemical dependecy going on, because he can become addicted to everything (including pornography, nicotine, adrenaline, weed, you name it!). What I have learned over the years through Rocky's trials is that you just have to rock the embarassment like it's cool! That's when you find people wanting to pray for you (like I will do for you too!), or help you, or whatever.