When I first became alcohol-free, when I first stopped drinking, I was so pleased. So proud. My life opened up. I looked to my husband for support and love – and to my amazement didn’t actually get what I expected.
In the cold light of day he carried on exactly like ‘him.’
What I hadn’t realised is that being sober would make me question my relationship. Suddenly I had no escape mechanism. All the faults (in my eyes) of my husband.
Suddenly I could not escape that he was so irritating, so uncaring, so unloving, so disrespectful, so unseeing of all the things I did for everyone, so ungrateful. What the Hell were we doing together? 🤔
Without the blur of alcohol to paper over the cracks could we survive?
Or had alcohol just kept us together longer because I couldn’t be bothered or have the strength of will to leave?
Did I actually like him? 😳
He sure as Hell irritated me especially now I was alcohol-free. We didn’t seem to get on, tittle tattled and bickered too regularly. Bad memories surfaced of situations between us (often after drinking I realised later). I was AF and life was going on around me same as it was. But I wanted more. I’d escaped from my prison and was spreading my wings and I felt trapped.
Is he truly a person I don’t get on with and I’ve married the wrong person and covered it up with alcohol?
Did we actually get on once?
Where had it gone wrong?
At what point had we changed from being loving and caring to each other to -‘this.?’ 😥 Was it years of alcohol that had done this to us? Do I need to get out now or stay and be miserable? Or stay and work at this?
Is he prepared to work at this or not? Am I prepared to work at this?……😕
I discussed it on site. — Tentatively because I thought it was only me. It’s a difficult subject discussing your relationship. I felt like I was betraying us.
As usual when we open up our secrets I was not alone in feeling this after all. However I was given comments that helped me see things from both our angles and not just mine. My husband had stuck with me, seeing and living with me at my worst it was pointed out. Still loved me. I was told there’s a lot to be said about that.
What was I like with him? Was another comment. – Hmmmmmmm…… 🤭😨
Did he have good points?
He was a strong family man.
Had never cheated.
Used to be very loving.
But what about us as a ‘loving’ couple now? Now I was AF I was wanting love and affection again.
And after much discussion, I had to accept that I too contributed to how we were now.
DAMB! I wanted to blame it all on him…!! 😱
Alcohol had contributed to where we were now. Bad habits formed.
I looked better I felt better I was growing prouder by the day.
I wanted him to stop drinking. He drank less but still drank a bit and when he did – it was like 2 fingers up at me.
He didn’t even know I was watching him. Notching up everything. Resentment burning inside me.
I wanted him to SEE me…..
Drinking pals for many years — I realised that it was me that had changed the rules and I expected him to follow suit. Become a different person. Loving, caring, respectful of me.
But he didn’t know that…
I realised that in nagging and feeling deep resentment and wanting to change my husband into someone else if I flipped it around how would I feel if he was trying to change me? Questioning who I am and how I act. Actually sometimes he did. So I knew how undermining it is.
How resentful would I feel? I would become resentful and distant. I had to try at least to stop finding fault. Finding fault is so easy. Finding positives is harder but I found I got better results.
My husband is my husband with all his faults, and yet, and yet with so many good qualities.
I had to stand back and get off my high horse to see them because I’d covered the good qualities with my own ‘requirements’ of how he should behave, my own needs and somehow lost him along the way.
Argue less and ‘talk’ more.
Speak not shout.
remove yourself from escalating situations.
‘Cut off’ from anxious situations and drift away in your mind.
I can’t always do it but I tried.
I decided to ‘stand back’ a bit from the relationship if that makes sense. Not respond when he goaded me. Not argue when he angered me. Protect myself and concentrate on staying alcohol-free. If things didn’t change then I would be stronger the longer I went AF and able to make a decision.
When I was in my first year I gently told him I needed us to be a loving couple working together again or that the marriage would fail. He needed to know to give him a chance to work with me or not.
Harsh words I know and yes he was shocked. And very angry…
He tried to argue but I refused to join in. Eventually he said he could see me growing stronger and was scared of losing me. And he said he didn’t want that and that he was unhappy with the situation too.
I told him I didn’t want anyone else I wanted him back.
That was a nice moment for us 🤗
We’d lost the ability to relate without alcohol. But that was both our faults not just his.
You see for all his faults and irritating habits I have mine as well.
Who’d have thought? 🙃
I realised I’d formed a habit of taking offence easily. If he was gruff with me then he clearly didn’t love me… I argued easily. I can be a bitch with my words. Quick and wounding. So I got the same back.
I can be a martyr.
“Look at all I do for you and the family it’s always me that does everything and gets no thanks.”
I realised it was my choice what I do and what I don’t within reason.
So I did less. Stopped being ‘the goddess of all life around me’ the ‘solver of all problems’ and let them all do more.
That was interesting……
If I did things I did it less resentfully, because I’d chosen to do it. If it was essential I did something then I saw it as just that.
At first I tried to accept him for who he was then started to gently show that I needed more. Needed him to treat me differently.
A good example is I started showing unexpected affection. Yes even though I often wanted to strangle him. We’d lost the ability to give each other that.
A trick is treat him like we’ve just met. I learnt that on here too. Like you are trying to attract them. I greeted him when he came home. He didn’t respond without embarrassment at first but over time that changed to big hugs whenever we see each other after work.
I was treating him like ‘mine’ not much respect so that’s how he treated me. You only give love to those who give it you and we’d forgotten how to be a couple in love. And I found out that he’d missed that as much as me.
I thank him when he does something for me now, not just take it for granted. I listen to him and now he listens to me.
Not always but we try. We still tittle tattle. It still depends on mood I accept that now.
I find films for us to watch, go to the movies, meals etc. Cuddle up. We’d stopped doing that. I’ve accepted Mr Zoo isn’t very good at surprising me with ideas of what to do though I still struggle with this.
I hinted about going to see ELO and he didn’t get me tickets for my birthday. When I sulked he said he hadn’t even picked up that I wanted to go.
It seems stupid writing now I write it down. Why didn’t I just tell him straight?
Human emotions – we’re all so complicated aren’t we? Looking for acknowledgement we exist. That we matter.
I’m not saying any of this will help your marriage/ relationship.
It wasn’t a quick fix this took a LONG time to change. And we still have ‘moments’ of tittle tattle.
If we argue over something stupid and small we don’t back down. Absolute equals. We just sort of fizzle the argument out and carry on. That will never change.
But nearly 3 years and it’s starting to glue together. We’re very ‘loving’ now. Respectful of each other. Long time but it’s habits you’ve learnt in how you treat each other you’re having to change.
Recently – – watching him without him knowing — I hadn’t realised how much he ‘knows’ me. How he does things for me without me noticing. How he looks after me without me asking.
No we don’t have a perfect marriage but who does?
34 years together. So many memories together – a life spent together.
This is a hard subject to discuss objectively when some days I feel very positive about my marriage and other days I don’t. But I think maybe that’s just being 2 very different human beings trying to live together 🤔
Give it time.
Don’t change anything for a year 1 year I was told. And I’d recommend that for you too.
Maybe things will improve and maybe they won’t but for now just focus on staying Alcohol-Free and relearning who you are. The rest will follow.
You’ll can make that decision one way or the other once you’re clear what you want and what you’re prepared to put up with.
For me my marriage — it’s still a work in progress.
but believe me
— -So am I 😊
More From This Author who is Now in Her 10th Alcohol-Free Year :
If you’re “sober curious” … If you are drinking too much too often and want to stop or take a break… Talk to Us.
We are an independent, anonymous and private community who share resources, support and talk it through every day. It helps to have a community behind you in a world where alcohol is the only addictive drug that people will question you for NOT using