When your husband drinks too much, if you’re like me, you don’t realize it at first. You write it off as a bad week, a bad month, a bad stretch. You figure it’s just a phase, and that this too shall pass. You stop drinking yourself because one of you has to be able to take care of the kids. Eventually social events become uncomfortable. You start avoiding them or going home alone more and more often.
Then reality slowly settles in. You subtly attempt to control his behavior and manage his drinking. You do things like bringing home beer to keep him from buying the hard stuff. Or convince him to go out and eat so that it keeps the liquor from coming home. You both studiously avoid mentioning the subject.
Slowly you begin to withdraw. You dread the Friday afternoon phone call and cringe at the sound of the ice maker. The sight of the whiskey bottle on the counter makes you want to scream. You know you need to say something, but you can’t talk to him about it and you don’t dare talk to anyone else.
As the weeks and months go on, you cry every day in the shower. You run through scenarios in your mind on how to effectively manage a separation. You look up divorce attorneys on your lunch break and wonder if you’ll ever make that call. You wonder if not being able to afford to live on your own is reason enough to stay.
When your husband drinks too much, if you’re lucky (and not everyone is lucky), one day things might change. You might decide you can’t live like this anymore and work up the courage to say so. It isn’t until later that you realize how fortunate you were that he had arrived at that same decision for himself on the very same day.
Once he’s decided to stop, the hard work really begins. You hold your breath while he works on getting sober. You go with him to meetings and you sit with him as he raises his hand. You celebrate with him as his coin collection grows and you try not to do anything to jinx it.
If your husband is like mine, much to your surprise he might decide to work a program. You watch as he follows the steps and are amazed at the changes that take place when he does. You learn from him how to forgive and how to accept and you begin to work on your own shortcomings.
Time passes one day at a time and before you know it he’s been sober for two years. Every day is not perfect, but there are more good days than bad. You both do the best that you can. Yes, you will always have fear, but you also have to have hope.
And while it isn’t true for everyone, when your husband drinks too much, sometimes grace strikes when you least expect it.
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