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Thread: Why can't I get my Recovering Alcoholic husband to connect with me?

  1. #1
    Member aporia14's Avatar
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    Why can't I get my Recovering Alcoholic husband to connect with me?

    I am trying to build a deeper more fulfilling relationship with my husband who I love so much. He cares for me and loves me but he doesn't always show it. He isn't engaged with me and the kids when he is with us. When he does do things with us, he chooses what we do and how we do it. It has to be something that interests him or he doesn't participate. I feel like I get more compliments from strangers than him. He misunderstands me a lot and is rarely supportive of things important to me.
    He becomes resentful of those things. He rejects my proposals to do things alone without the kids.
    He has been sober for 2years. I feel like he is dismissive of my thoughts and ideas just because its from me. We've been married for 12years. I've expressed my frustration and desire to be closer to him and he said he wants that too, but he doesn't have time. He is an alcoholic and he is trying to reduce stress, not create more things to add to his plate.
    It feels like he is growing distant from me and closer to his AA buddies. He thinks they are the only ones who can understand him. I figured I would just be here for him, but patience is not one of my virtues.
    Is there anything I can do, or read about to
    communicate with him better?

  2. #2
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Many abusers are alcoholics. His relationship is still with alcohol, now it's just all the AA and whatever that goes with being a dry drunk. He is so used to not having a relationship with you because you tolerated alcoholism for at least a decade that there really is no connection. You need to make an appt with a therapist to explore all this and figure out your role in all of it and how his being a dry drunk is still affecting everything.

    You can't fix or change him. However pull way back and get out of the enabling role. Start to doing more alone with your friends, family, kids etc. Start going to alanon to get support for yourself and start to understand your situation being with an alcoholic for so long and now dealing with his attitude, raw selfish personality and all the other things both of you covered up with alcohol. He drank, you thought that was the main problem.

  3. #3
    Gold Member smackie9's Avatar
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    I come from a family of alcoholics, and with alcohol there are other issues that were already there before the alcohol. IMO you are discovering that now. Alcohol helped him cope with day to day life, now that he is without it, he struggles. He doesn't know how to deal with it like how normal people would. He doesn't know how to communicate, doesn't know how to feel or how to make himself feel good about himself, etc.

    My suggestion is that you both go into couples therapy, that specializes in recovering alcohols. They will teach you both, how to relate to each other/communicate, and help him with his coping skills.

    My guy friend who is a recovering alcoholic for 3 years now, has discovered he too is struggling with his partner, but it's the opposite. She doesn't want to do anything. Well when he drank she disconnected from because of his mental abuse but he didn't notice because he was too busy being drunk. So they both are readjusting, and they are working on it through counseling. They are still together so it must be doing some good.

  4. #4
    Member aporia14's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Wiseman2
    You can't fix or change him. However pull way back and get out of the enabling role. Start to doing more alone with your friends, family, kids etc. Start going to alanon to get support for yourself and start to understand your situation being with an alcoholic for so long and now dealing with his attitude, raw selfish personality and all the other things both of you covered up with alcohol. He drank, you thought that was the main problem.
    Please do not misunderstand my request for information on how to deal with recovering addicts. I am not trying to fix him. I am looking for information so I can better understand the issues recovering addicts are dealing with. I know that I cannot change him. I want to know how to better communicate with him. Perhaps he has to let go of his emotional baggage and resentments before he can communicate and connect with anyone. I thought he was well on his way to doing that. Also, please do not get me wrong. My husband has made some incredible strides since getting sober. We do do things as a family. Certainly we do many more things than when he was drinking and I believe he decided to get sober because I drew boundaries and I took myself and the kids out and left him at home. We learned to live without him and he realized that he was doing it all to himself.

    With regards to therapy, I am(or we are) going to see a therapist for our marriage next week. He first said yes to going (but reluctantly), then No, now he is back to Yes. Either way, I told him I am going with or without him. Also, we are taking a drive from MD to Ohio next weekend to attend Dr. Gary Chapman's marriage seminar. That is the author of the Five Love Languages and many very well written books. It is a start and we will see where it goes. In the meantime, I have to deal with my emotions and expectations and I want information as I want to understand what he is going through.

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    Gold Member smackie9's Avatar
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    Ya that's a good start, you do what you can do. Like I said he doesn't know how to cope with his emotions...and well without the alcohol, he's very scared to face those emotions, that's why he won't go. This is something he has to discuss in his meetings with other alcoholics. I hope those meetings makes him feel comfortable enough to talk openly about his feelings. These things do take time unfortunately.

  7. #6
    Member aporia14's Avatar
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    Thank you Smackie9. I've often felt he should go to individual therapy. He has made the effort to do anything other than his weekly AA meeting, which his fellow addicts tell him he should be going to 2-3 meetings a week. I am sorry, but that just won't work for our busy lives. We both work full-time and have two kids under 8. I am also trying to finish-up graduate school so, we really cannot sacrifice more time away. I did offer to take our to cub scouts on Thursdays so he can attend another meeting, but so far he hasn't taken me up on that. I offered to do that as a peace-offering as I saw how important it was to him and he does come back from AA meetings in a positive mood.

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    You sound extremely co-dependent and while it is great that he has agreed to therapy and a seminar, you need to do work on you. You have been in a precarious and difficult situation for years and while you are very concerned about understanding where he comes from, his experiences, his feelings, he does not appear to be showing any interest at all in yours. You must get help to make yourself stronger and to take care of yourself. Please get a therapist who is trained to work with the spouses of alcoholics and/or PTSD survivors.

    Good Luck!

  9. #8
    Gold Member Gary Snyder's Avatar
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    You've gotten some good advice from Smackie and Wise. Yes, substance abuse usually starts because of mental issues.

    This guy seems to be controlling and take you for granted. Counseling could help, if you could get him to go.

    You could also try tough love. Cut off sex. When he asks, "What's wrong?" - then he'll be ready to really listen to your needs and change.

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    If he needs three meetings a week, please do not tell him he can't go!

    If he (god forbid) had cancer and needed chemo or radiation three times a week, I doubt you'd tell him sorry, our family is busy, you can only go once a week.

    This is just as important. He's trying to find a way to survive.

    I agree that therapy is a fantastic step. And the seminar can be an eye-opener for the both of you.

    But please remember he's trying to survive with a disease he'll be battling for life.

    And I strongly disagree with using sex as a weapon. Please don't do that unless you want to make things way, way worse.

  11. #10
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    He may not know how to love you sober.

    You should consider Al-Anon. There's a lot going on through his head, and takes a very long long time to process and work through things, making new associations. There are things he can share with his group that he can't share with you yet, and as much as we try to be open books our selves, everyone is different.

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