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Detach, Survive, Thrive In My Marriage To An Alcoholic
By Linda J Riley

The world of the non-alcoholic in the midst of alcoholic insanity is difficult. Many succumb to the insanity and become part of the disease itself, and others die from stress-related illnesses. But it is possible to survive. Once the non-alcoholic has learned the survival techniques, the next step would be thriving in spite of it all. It can be done. I am proof that it is possible.

One day I watched in horror as my husband, Riley, stood in the middle of the living room and spewed a stream of urine onto the carpet. Things had gotten bad, but I never imagined they would get that bad.

After getting his clothes changed and running the carpet shampooer, I listened to the ramblings of a man who did not live in reality. He related to me how I had destroyed our marriage and that he never really loved me anyway. He went on and on and I tried to block out the sound of his voice. But the words managed to reach my brain and, once he had passed out, I ran outside in tears. I paced the driveway and called my best friend for comfort.

A week later, I discovered pools of blood in the bathroom and managed to get him to the emergency room. I was told he would not survive and I prepared for his end. It broke my heart to hear my daughter weeping over the anticipated loss of her father.

But, something happened… he was “out of the woods” and on his way to physical recovery. Before I could take a deep breath, he was admitted to a nursing home where he could regain his strength. He would be just fine. Upon his release he went to the nearest liquor store and bought two large bottles of vodka.

This was not the first time this scenario had played out. He had been to rehab 13 times and this was his third near-death detox experience.

While he was in the nursing home, I made some decisions and came to some realizations. The man that lived with me was not my husband. My husband died many years before this last detox. I looked at him and knew my husband was gone. Once I understood that fact, I felt free to grieve my loss. It was my first true step toward detachment, survival and then thriving in the midst of chaos.

The only way to survive the insanity of being a non-alcoholic person immersed in the life of an alcoholic, is to detach from the alcoholic. To detach means to separate, either mentally, physically or both, from the person causing pain. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

We learn from childhood that being a “good” person means helping others. To be a good spouse we are taught to put our beloved above all else. The concept is everywhere. We see it in the movies, on TV, read about it in books, and hear sermons – all based on the importance of loyalty, love and commitment. We even vow to it in the presence of God, family and friends on our wedding day when we say “‘til death do us part”. All of that doesn’t serve the spouse of an alcoholic because they must adhere to a different set of standards.

In order for a non-alcoholic spouse to survive, he/she must “unlearn” all those things we learn as we grow up. We must realize that there is a point at which the vows have been fulfilled even when the spouse is still breathing. We must understand that being a good person doesn’t mean forgetting about personal needs and boundaries. Self-preservation must become the foremost concern, and it doesn’t indicate failure.

Choices are a huge part of this step. The non-alcoholic must look at the options and understand there are really only two choices – Go or Stay.

I remember standing at the counter of our little hamburger shack in my hometown. I must have been 7 or 8 years old. My big brother was next to me. When it was my turn, I asked “What flavors do you have?” The answer was Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Butter Pecan, Rocky Road and Orange Sherbet. As we walked away… me with my Orange Sherbet and he with his Rocky Road, my brother asked me, “Why do you always ask that question? You always get the same flavor.” My answer was very matter of fact. “I just want to be sure of my options.”

In order to make the choice between Going and Staying, you must first know all the facts about your options. Just like the little girl at the hamburger shack, if you have a decision to make – be informed about what is available to you. Also be informed of the possible outcome of that decision.

In my opinion, if there are small children in the house, the only logical option is the “Going” one. There has been a long-standing argument between the theories of “nature” or “nurture”. We don’t know if children raised in the presence of alcoholism are doomed to become alcoholics. We also don’t know if the children who are removed from the alcoholic household at a very early age will NOT become alcoholics. I have (had) two children – both were raised in the same household by the same biological parents. My son died as a result of alcoholism while my daughter has never had issues with alcohol.

For children, I believe any risk is too much risk. Children deserve every opportunity to become the healthiest adults possible. It is our obligation as parents. Without a doubt, an alcoholic household is not a healthy atmosphere for children. If I had to do it over, I would have left much sooner than I did.

Going does several positive things. The family is removed from the insanity created by the alcoholic. They may now pick and choose when to be in the presence of the alcoholic. The physical distance can generate some objectivity as to when it is appropriate for the children to have visitation by the alcoholic. Now that the non-alcoholic has detached physically, they become freer to detach emotionally.

Another benefit is that the alcoholic must now fend for him/herself. They just might decide the insanity is not as preferable as the presence of the family. The alcoholic may seek help from other sources such as AA or a rehab center. However, this should not be the reason for the non-alcoholic’s decision to go. The motivation for Going must be purely for the sake of the non-alcoholics in the household. Any attempt at using the Going as a means of getting the alcoholic to quit drinking is futile. If the alcoholic quits drinking as a result of the family separation, it’s just a welcomed side benefit and nothing more.

Lao Tzu has been known to say, “When I let go of who I am, I become what I might be.” The non-alcoholic must let go of the person (him/herself) who has been infected by the alcoholic lifestyle – which focuses on trying to get the alcoholic sober. To let go of that purpose allows the non-alcoholic to heal and blossom into someone with a happier, more purposeful life.

If rehab happens – great… but it doesn’t mean the non-alcoholic can simply resume the relationship. An alcoholic can relapse many times over again. If an alcoholic chooses sobriety, they must focus on achieving and maintaining their sobriety while everything else takes a back seat. The alcoholic detaches from the family and “marries” AA. Reconciliation is possible for the couple. Amends can be made. However, the marriage will be different and the spouse may often feel as though they are the “Other Other,” rather than the “Significant Other”.

Even Going has its pitfalls. Non-alcoholics are a very caring, loving, giving group of individuals. If you Go and move on to another relationship, you may have a tendency to repeat the cycle and find yourself caretaking someone new. It doesn’t happen intentionally, but it happens. Even non-alcoholics are susceptible to relapse. So even if you Go, continue to learn all the red flags and be brave enough to see them for what they are.

Whether you Go or Stay, the non-alcoholic must take an inventory of her/himself. This isn’t a list of faults, but rather a re-introduction to oneself. What are your interests, likes, dislikes and what brings you joy when you rise in the morning? Rediscover what you want from life and then go for it. If you want to be a photographer – start taking pictures. If you want to go back to school – take a class. Realize that you have a life outside the insanity circle and cultivate that life.

Staying is the most difficult option. To be able to survive this option, the non-alcoholic must absolutely know the facts about alcoholism and what to expect along the way. Education is the key to survival.

The best place to start is in Alanon where there will be support by people who are in exactly the same circumstance. Listening to their stories will help the non-alcoholic see what may lie ahead. Nothing is more eye-opening than the truth. You will absolutely need a friend who accepts you unconditionally. This friend should be willing to listen to all your outrageous thoughts as the alcoholic slips deeper into his hole and creates immeasurable chaos. No one will understand you more than someone who is going through the same difficulties.

Learn everything about the biological dysfunctions of an alcoholic body. Learn the names of the associated diseases like Cirrhosis, Hepatitis, Delirium Tremors, Hepatic Encephalopathy, Esophageal Varices, Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, and Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy. Find out everything you can about these diseases. Learn about liver transplantation – most alcoholics do not qualify. Know what blood tests to ask for when taking your alcoholic to the physician. Learn how to use the blood test results to determine the Child-Pugh Score which is a good indicator of life expectancy.  Search the internet and gather any and all information available. There is no such thing as too much knowledge.

Now that the research has been done and the horror stories have been heard, the non-alcoholic is in a position to make an informed decision. If the decision is to Stay, detachment will be their lifesaver. Without it, the very real chance exists that the non-alcoholic may reach death far before the alcoholic.

How or why do I do it? Riley and I were separated for 15 years before he came back to my home. He was near death. His roommates could not, and would not, take care of him and did not want him in their house. My daughter wanted Riley to come live with her. I am still legally Riley’s wife and my priority above all else is my children. I would not allow my daughter’s life to become encased in all that alcoholic hazy crazy nonsense. Unlike her brother, she had managed to dodge the alcohol bullet. I would not allow her to now become the target. Riley is my responsibility and I took him back.

The beginning days were painful as I have described earlier in this article. When I woke up to the fact that this man was not who I remembered him to be, I was able to grieve for the man who was no longer alive. I went to a grief counselor who was also a specialist in addictions. I cried. I called my best friend. I ate gallons of Häagen-Dazs. And I emerged on the other side as a strong, determined and detached woman. Riley is still in my home, but my husband is gone.

Surviving is good. Knowing I had survived was such an accomplishment. But I needed something else. I knew I was a natural caretaker and I thrive in helping others. I had done it from childhood when I helped take care of my ailing grandmother. I needed a purpose that was not just to take care of Riley and keep him alive. There had to be something I could do to help others gain this freedom I had achieved.

I started writing. I wrote constantly–letters, essays and rantings that never left my computer desktop. Then finally, I found the blog-o-sphere that allowed me to reach other non-alcoholics just like me. I started getting e-mails. People were telling me how much they appreciated knowing they were not alone. I finally had a purpose.

There was a snowball effect. The blog lead to sharing my story on other websites. The websites lead to planning an event to celebrate recovery. In turn, the event led to the formation of the Brian Riley Foundation which will provide support, education and referrals for families of alcoholics. All of that has led me to writing a book and in turn fulfilling my desire to take care of others. As in the Lao Tzu quote–I have become what I might be.

I never thought–on that day of Riley peeing on the carpet–that I would live long enough to completely protect my daughter from his insanity. I truly thought I would die before him from sheer exhaustion. But, I learned detachment, I learned what to expect, I found myself again, I learned what I needed to know. And most importantly, I learned how to help others who are living my life. I never thought I would be grateful for having taken on this task. But I am.  My survival through the journey within the alcohol craziness created a means for me to thrive.

And I’m joyful for the journey. I’m now looking forward to retiring so I can devote more time to planning events focusing on the families of alcoholics. I can’t wait to provide support for people who are working their way through the craziness.

The truth is… my life is so much more fun, and I have so much more to look forward to, now that I’ve learned to thrive.

Linda J Riely Bio:

I’m a 62 year old woman living in rural North Carolina. I have worked as a reporter, administrative manager and real estate title examiner. I hope to retire and become a full-time author and recovery event promoter. I have a daughter, grandson and two great-grandchildren. In 2008, my son died of an alcohol related illness at 41 years of age. I have been married for 45 years and he has been an alcoholic for most of that time.

Visit my Blog. This blog is about what I have found to be true during the experience of surviving my husband’s alcoholism. I understand that no two drunks are the same and that my experience may not be the same as anyone else. I will only attest to what has transpired over the lifetime of the alcoholic that is directly affecting me.

I hope you can take from these writings knowledge that may be hard to get in any other fashion. I will write about little known truths and what you can expect from the medical community as well as family and friends. I will come out and say what no one wants to hear or admit. What I write here will be bare-naked honesty.

In AA, there is a saying – “Take what you want and leave the rest.” Such is the case of this blog.

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COMMENTS (42) | alcoholic, empowerment, relationships, self realization, thriving


42 Responses to “Detach, Survive, Thrive In My Marriage To An Alcoholic”

  1. Anonymous
    April 4th, 2011 @ 12:14 pm

    You’ve so beautifully shown others what it’s like to walk in your shoes. You’re an extremely strong woman who is a true survivor.

  2. donna roth
    September 15th, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

    thank you linda for your honesty and courage. you inspire others to save themselves; not rely on fixing the addict. you are wise and generous with your story. and you give hope to those still suffering from his/her other’s addiction. so sorry to hear about your son. so many stories like yours, but many are absent your strength and understanding. thank you.

  3. Kquintrell
    July 24th, 2012 @ 11:40 am

    Truly amazing…..I’m living the life you have lived…

  4. heidi
    December 13th, 2012 @ 11:14 pm

    Beautiful to find this blog. My alcoholic
    is passed out as I type this. We had a lovely I love thatt. But he gets bored. One of the biggest problems he/ we have is socializing. We are NOT religious. But we are spiritual. I follow a Pagan path that I find useful. Both of us prefer outdoorsy stuff. We meet people that say they are interested in doing what we like to do (berry picking, mushroom hunting, dog sledding. But when the time comes to go nobody wants to. He’s tried treatment. He cannot do Aa a fourth time. Besides many therd say “one day at a time after I sober up again”..and even some drunk at the meetings! He waz told his problem was “not that bad” when he finally had courage to speak up. Simply because he does not drink every day. I stay with him for the good man that is addicted.. He has a problem. But they treat him like HE IS the problem. We are in Alaska. HE is disabled Vet and since doesn’t “drink daily” he doesn’t get their help because he won’t live in their “facility” and attend their church. (They send him to Salvation Army”.) I stay with mine because I have been to his open meetings and been part of two treatments. Any questions..ask God..devote to God..but nothing to help us cope with cravings. He drinks out of boredom & depression with Fibromyalgia being what he is on Diability that he fought 10 yrs to get. I love that man. He’s a different personality drunk. I suspect like his brother and his Dad. However, over last year he has gotten more from drunk to recovering drunk. Lies when he drinks are less. He admits regularly when he has been drinking. It makes me angry but one less little hurt (the lies) is starting to lessen. He’s admitting cravings and when he gets them. He needs a sober friend so bad we’ve talked abt advertising on craigslist lol. Any advice for a couple working on themselves? I DETACH no doubt but I always say my piece while he’s still awake..and repeat it when he is sober. I cry. Soetimes to relieve the ache. But my anger is split between him and mental healthcare that failed him on so many levels! I am in spiritual counseling and love it. ALanon is not for me as many of them here have issues way more severe and much like the AA here..our problem is minor because he doesn’t beat me!! Thanks for reading. Will be back:)

  5. Melissa
    January 25th, 2013 @ 7:57 pm

    For 20 years that had been my life! This last time was so bad , he attacked me then choked his 19 year old twin daughter who was trying to defend my her mother…now we have a no contact order! Me I have learned to live with the abuse but my daughter she has never had to endure such pain … He is a dessert storm veteran and is living with his demons! I don’t know if I can go back ! Please someone help!!!! Thank you, Melissa

  6. Linda J Riley
    January 26th, 2013 @ 2:50 am

    UPDATE — Since I wrote this story, I have created several support groups: Two on Facebook and one on an independent site.

    To find these groups go to FB and search for Immortal Alcoholic. This is an open site viewable by everyone. There is a private FB site – search for OARS F&F Group. You must request permission to join. I’ll grant access as soon as I see the request.

    To join the independent site (which is far more secure than FB) go to my blog. You will find a link there.

    As a member of the OARS Group you will find support without judgement or criticism. OARS stands for “Our Alcoholism Resource Support” Friends and Families Group. We are NOT a 12-Step program but just a group of people helping each other.

    Please consider joining us. — LindaJane

  7. Melissa
    January 26th, 2013 @ 5:09 am

    Thank you , LindaJane; I will consider joining. Thank you against for your response .. Be well Melissa

  8. Melissa
    January 26th, 2013 @ 5:12 am

    Sorry typo , thank you again …

  9. michele
    May 11th, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

    I am hurting so badly right now, it is taking all the strength and coping ability I have just to get through the day! On top of the pain of the pain and chaos of living with an alcoholic, my son and nephews blame me, that’s right blame me for my husband’s hospitalization / detox. They can’t handle it. They are upset and they lashed out at me! I’m being victimized terribly to the point that there have been times that I have fallen much too low. Please help. I am struggling and hurting so badly. I cannot believe how hateful my family is being to me when I have been so abused and I’m hurting so much already. Before my husband became an alcoholic, I really loved him deeply! I cannot or haven’t been able to let go of the man he was. And now these young men are attacking me because their stepfather and uncle is in detox!!! Can you believe it?! Please answer.

  10. Cathy
    August 10th, 2013 @ 12:24 am

    In reading I see how difficult it is to be married to an alcoholic husband for 30 years and have now discovered that if I had to do it over again I would have left him long ago. He is now at the critical stage of the disease is mind is going and his health is also I lost my husband long ago and have been in morning of the loss. My biggest fear is that he will die in our home in his room alone because I do not sleep with him anymore. I also fear my son knowing that his father died here in our home as an alcoholic not a good thing to have to remember. I understand all of the pain we non alcoholics are going through and I wonder what is it that we are trying to prove anyway what am I really trying to do I sure don’t know. I feel like I am grounded and want to fly and have no wings and the pain is terrible. I am holding on for dear life and I wonder how much longer I can hold on. My son also blames me for everything and I know he is very upset but what can I do? It seems that there is no justice in this world and if it were not for my belief in God I sure would have never been able to handle any of this. Maybe there will be a day when I have to finally give up and detach myself from my husband who knows only God I guess. How can I give up and let him die?I sure wish someone could give me an answer seems easy for everyone else but the person who is living the nightmare. How do I keep from hurting others with all this seems no matter what I do nothing seems to work or help so I will keep praying and hoping God will work this out for the good of all of us.
    Just God and Me till the wheels fall off.

  11. judy
    September 25th, 2013 @ 10:25 pm

    Thanks for ur writings… it really help my mind to calm down…. where can i go to talk with alot of nonalcoholics??? Need strength so bad…

  12. TJ
    October 12th, 2013 @ 9:17 am

    Thank You!!! Like “judy” commented above my mind was racing and I felt out of control… My life seemed to be falling apart… AGAIN…

    You helped me reframe and refocus…

    Gonna start making some baby steps right NOW!!!

    Thank You again :)…

  13. ld
    October 27th, 2013 @ 6:56 pm

    I thought I was suffering alone. The advice and comments make me feel better and gives me the strength to go on. Keep them coming!

  14. Julie
    November 24th, 2013 @ 3:03 am

    Its 4:50am here. I can hear him snoring in the nursery. I brought the baby to bed with me.. He only snores when he drinks. This man I married has broken more promises than kept. His drinking is getting worse but hes not an angry drunk. He doesnt physically abuse. His words are where it stings. His peeng on himself. His sloppy slobbering disgusting smell. His bad mood that he refuses to ever admitcare hangovers because he doesn’t get hung over. Hes convinced himself “men have a beer. Men watch football with do everything with a drinkers.” He’ll take our last 4 $ plus hunt for change and buy beer before milk. Its destruction. I dont want to do it anymore. I dont want to detatch. I don’t want this disease to win! I want my husband back. 20 years he did in the army and this wasn’t a daily thing. He took that job more serious thst anything even fatherhood. Ive never told anyone these things. Private. Public. My mother and sister knows but they reward and use it to their advantage. Want him to do something. .buy him some beer. I hate it. I hate it I hate it! The beer breath the changes the whole thing.

  15. Linda Jane Riley
    April 14th, 2014 @ 5:48 am

    About a year ago I was forced to take a step back from all things related to alcoholism. My husband, Riley, was not drinking due to a near fatal heart attack which left him with dementia and the inability to care for himself. I switched from being the caretaker of an alcoholic to the caretaker of a dementia patient.

    Recently I was asked by a major television network to help produce a documentary on alcoholism. I accepted the challenge and have been brought back into the world of alcoholism. I was surprised when this request actually sparked a new enthusiasm for my life in general. When I was “out of it” I was just existing — but now I’m thriving once again.

    If you are interested in joining the support group OARS, please use this link:

    To read my blog:

    If you would like to participate in the upcoming documentary, please e-mail me at:

    Thanks — LindaJane

  16. sariah
    August 29th, 2014 @ 9:17 pm

    I wept as I read your story. I am currently learning to detach as well after 20 years of marriage to an alcoholic. Leaving is not an option for me as of yet. Detaching has taken away his power over me and given me my life back. I am young (38) and when the time is right I will find the strength to leave….Although he says he will commit suicide if I do.

  17. TJ
    September 2nd, 2014 @ 3:41 pm

    Thank you for this article. You are the first person who seems to understand why I am still married to an alcoholic. I have a huge fear of my children having to care for him as his drinking robs him of his health which would happen if I divorce him. They spent their lives dealing with the baggage that came along with his selfish addiction because we didn’t have enough money for me to leave him AND I was terrified that a judge would require me to allow him to have partial custody. There’s no way I could put my children in that danger. So, here I am, in what I jokingly refer to as my life sentence, waiting for him to lose another job (and blame me) or die of alcohol poisoning. Maybe both are inevitable. The silver lining? As he became weaker, I’ve become stronger. I’m not a victim- I’m choosing my life so that I have no regrets. Again, thank you for validating my choice.

  18. Carol
    December 24th, 2014 @ 5:50 pm

    I have recently begun to admit that my husband is an alcoholic. My heart is broken… I am pissed… I have so many emotions I can’t define or understand. I appreciate your words and I will look forward to learning from you because you have survived thus far and I needed to find that n someone…

  19. Grateful
    January 27th, 2015 @ 9:49 pm

    I cannot express how much I appreciate your story. I have been with my alcoholic for 11 years and I do not even know myself anymore. Our little girl is now noticing what is really going on and I find myself for the first time looking on the Internet for inspiration or help. Your writing truly spoke to my pained soul. I thank you from the bottom of my crying heart.

  20. Casadina
    February 28th, 2015 @ 7:50 pm

    I am so thankful that I found this website. I am like others on here and my alcoholic is passed out snoring again. This seems to be like my life but some what fast forward. I am pregnant with our 7th child and love when he is my husband but hate that it doesn’t stay longer. I think this is why I hang on, I get to enjoy glimpses of my husband but I am left wondering if it is enough. We have been married 16 years and I think the kids have become my distractions From the truth, and the truth is not pretty but I feel helpless in facing it and moving forward. This article gives me hope that I can do the right thing.

  21. rene
    April 3rd, 2015 @ 9:31 pm

    Yes i too lived the nightmare for 45 yrs..when in my marriage the last. 10 yrs my alcoholic lived in the same house and never spoke it was like living in a prison with an abusive stranger..he was gone i didnt know him anymore..i was dying inside myself…i couldnt stop the pain..i was afraid to leave in case he killed me and then it got so bad i wanted to take my own life..i left and little by little found peace within as through all that chaos i had lost myself..i promised when i left i would always be there for him no matter what and i was..he died in August of alcohol related disease..sad ending..he was finally at peace..he lived in his own hell and i allowed myself to get dragged into it..i couldnt fix it..i tried but it was much bigger than me..i am still grieving for the man i once knew..before that terrible disease ruined our lives..

  22. LindaJane Riley
    June 24th, 2015 @ 7:05 am

    I apologize to everyone who has commented. I didn’t know this story was still active.

    I would like to invite all of you to join the NEW support group that I’ve just created. It’s on my website, in the Support Groups section. It requires TWO passports to access this forum site. Send me an e-mail with “Support” in the subject and tell me your preferred username. I’ll add you & send instructions.

    Thank you for responding to my story. There are a lot of others who have similar stories and experiences.

    Linda (The Immortal Alcoholic’s Wife)

  23. Elle
    July 29th, 2015 @ 10:02 pm

    Wel written article. My husband is walking around totally beligerant. Where he ends up making messes, he has snowballed as of recent. He was doing better going long stretches sober. Lately though it has been bad. We just had a baby and now more than ever I understand I am not just looking out for myself but my daughter now. I cannot let her be subjected to this. He has had so many opportunities to have a wonderful life but he doesnt fully commit to change and helping himself. I am so beyond my breaking point, I don’t even like him as a person anymore. My biggest problem in deciding to GO is I feel he will really fall apart. But why am I staying around to prevent him from falling when he obviously doesn’t put me or the baby first? It’s all so hard and there isn’t a easy answer or solution because it is ultimately someone I have had a lot of love and care for and want things to work out, but I can’t subject myself or my child to this.

  24. Vicki Osheka
    September 18th, 2015 @ 10:28 am

    This is my second marriage and I came from a non drinking family. Didn’t realize what I was getting into when I married him. Best husband possible when he is sober and we all know what it is like when they are drinking. After 8+ years of his drinking, I packed my clothes up and said I was leaving. To make a long story short, he went into intensive outpatient therapy, which saved his life…after now 7 yrs of sobriety (with only a couple of slips) he is starting to slip back into drinking. 9 “slips” this year. I find I can’t deal with the possibility of going back to the way it was. I have learned to detach but am waiting to see what to do. I am tired of being a babysitter, checking for alcohol, etc. around the house and I refuse to too that any longer! It had affected my health before and won’t let it happen again…tired of telling people what it is like, no one can help us or him. I am though a positive person wanting to do what is right before God. And there is my delima…thank you for listening.

  25. Karol
    October 24th, 2015 @ 11:58 am

    Listening to all the mother’s on here is overwhelming for me. I think about what all of you are going through and I can relate to every single story in one way or another.
    I have two children with my alcoholic. We also each have one adult child from a previous marriage. Both older children have no contact at least partially because of my husband. He is amean drunk and has been abusive to me, but not our kids, not yet.
    We have a son who is eight and now a baby. I am in my mid forties and much older than most moms with babies. (concieved during one of my husbands “sober stints”) Rehab has happened so many times I can’t even count. They were a waste of time…a revolving door. Until he finally agreed to take Naltexone. It has helped a lot and he is able to fake his way through a good job. (before he couldn’t work at all) but he still drinks every
    chance he gets on his days off. I don’t have to work on detaching it is happening naturally. I wouldn’t have a bit of trouble either BUT I have no family and no friends.(the few friends I had have slowly slipped away. My only choice is a shelter and I can’t bare to take my kids there. That and my son is home schooled, so keeping that up and being homeless would be difficult.I wish I had options. If I did would run like the wind with little hesitation or regret. Those of you who have the means to go should get out for the sake of your kids. I do not want my kids to grow up like him. This has been a nightmare.

  26. Amy
    December 3rd, 2015 @ 7:56 pm

    My daughter is five and her dad is an alcoholic. I know we need to leave. We both own our house and I can’t afford a lawyer. Do I walk away and our house goes into foreclosure? My unpaid bills give me bad credit? How do I start over with bad credit and a foreclosed house? We need to leave. Advice?

  27. Mary Ellen Bennett
    August 28th, 2016 @ 1:34 pm

    Thank you so much. I am married to an alcoholic and I have watched him go through rehabilitation and relapse many times. recently he has gotten worse. Luckily his children and mine are grown. I have finally after 6 years begun to realize it is not my fault and have made this clear to him. I am not financially able to live on my own so accepting the worst is the best that I can do. I am one of the blessed ones with no small children and I have a job with benefits. I am learning that when i choose to take time away that I just leave and if he chooses to go fine and if he does not that he will be responsible for his own choices while I am away from our home. I know that I can not change him but that he can only change himself.

  28. MANDI
    October 7th, 2016 @ 2:26 pm

    Is this group still going? I love my husband and I knew what I was getting into when I married him. I knew he like to drink. When we first got together he was not bad happy we had fun loved being around each other. then we got his kids full time and things changed. his son has done lots of damaging things to our family and my husband seems to be drinking more. now of course it is all my fault and I am called ever nasty name in the book and then some. pretty sure he has had to control himself to not hit me a couple times. He is angry after he drinks angry if he is not drinking angry when he is drinking. I can not remember the last time he said something nice to me or his daughter honestly. I don’t know what to really do. I love him and I know he loves me. But I am so unhappy in life and I know I have done it to myself. my father was an alcoholic it is like it is all I know. everyone I have ever dated is this way. I think I can help them and I know I can’t but I think I can. I have made the mistake of trying to control it and it makes it worse. I am very lost and don’t and don’t want to give up but at the same time I want to be happy.

  29. Robert Goldsmith
    December 23rd, 2016 @ 7:22 am

    Thank you for sharing that very intimate experience and your story. I’m married to an alcoholic and am having severe problems detaching. I want/need to believe people can get better, that there’s always hope. I’m beginning to see there’s not any left in my relationship.
    Please, help me to understand and process HOW to let go? How to detach? I know once I’m gone, my alcoholic spouse will drink himself to death. He was such a good person and I still see glimpses of that in him, but it’s overshadowed by the alcohol and the emotional punching bag technique he uses with me. I feel so thoroughly beaten and hopeless that sometimes I wonder if this is good as it ever gets, that this is maybe what I deserve?

  30. Catherine Ellen Pettway
    January 18th, 2017 @ 5:41 pm

    My husband and I married in 1988. He occasionally drank beer but not everyday. He came from a long history of alcoholics and all of them have died. He starTed increasing his intake of beer about 15 years ago and keeps drinking more and more. We have a beautiful daughter who I am so blessed to have. So thankful she has not inherited that alcoholic trait. I have stayed because I didn’t have the confidence to be on my own. I’ve endured so much pain over the last several years. I decided to change my life and went back to school to get my B.A. I stay with my daughter alot but have decided to tell him I am leaving. I work full time while he sits home and collects his disability. He has cirrhosis of the liver. Imagine that. I am not getting any younger and want to find happiness while I still have some life left to live. Seeking counseling for myself. Divorce us not an option right now. I am taking one day at a time. He will never change. He is beyond help. I have nothing left to give. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

  31. g
    January 24th, 2017 @ 2:56 pm

    Thank you for your words. As I navigate through marriage with children (11, 5, 3) and I am a stay at home mom, the idea of completely divorcing is overwhelming and is scary. We are currently separated and yes, he has “chosen” sobriety because of the separation. Any more on that topic would be appreciated. We have been separated almost 3 months however he is still here a lot and I still feel a bit under the “control” of the alcoholic.

  32. Sandra
    February 25th, 2017 @ 3:02 am

    I am from USA, i am 36 years old, i want to gladly give My testimony of how a spell caster dr.mac@yahoo. com brought back my boyfriend, just a quick word to tell everyone, I never believed in spell casters until my life fell apart when my boyfriend of 4years decided to call it quit. I was so devastated. After 9 months of emotional pain and languish, a friend of mine introduced me to a certain spell caster, this was after I have been scammed by various fake spell caster. I was introduced to Dr Mack and God so kind this spell caster lives in USA and In less than 3 days, i saw wonders, my boyfriend came back to me and my life got back just like a completed puzzle… am so happy.. thanks to Dr Mack for saving my life. Dr Mack is the best and kindest spell caster I’ve ever met! Thanks, thanks thanks!!!!

  33. Anonymous
    March 30th, 2017 @ 1:53 am

    Thank God for your blog. After 37 years of being married to an alcoholic,I’ve finally reached my breaking point. Emotionally 5drained,physically exhausted,and mentally confused,I surrender. I have no choice of

  34. Tired
    August 17th, 2017 @ 8:31 pm

    I am struggling with detaching, but still trying. I have been with my other half off and on for 5 years. The offs were due to his unacceptable behavior that made me leave our home or made him decide I was to blame for issues he created and throwing me out. But, and I am sure so many can attest, he cried, swore he was cleaning up and needed me by his side to do so……and the cycle continued. Last year, we returned home to be with both families on Thanksgiving. In our 5 years, he’s never seen his own mother and never returned home to either parent for a holiday and rarely accompanied me when I returned to see my own family. It was peaceful and wonderful to see him back in the family fold and we returned home speaking of marriage. The next a.m. I was awakened by him to get up and do his bidding that he thought needed doing “Now” and I could tell by his behavior and face he was drinking. He had accepted a new position in another state and we would be moving within a month. He asked me how many realtors I was talking to and wanted me to line up 5 homes to view and to take the car to have oil changes and tires rotated the next day. He left the house and returned an hour later and I quote, “I have decided to return home and take a job in a steel plant and be near family again. Family comes first.” 1. Notice the word “I”, not “we”. 2. He is white collar and a small man and the steel plant really confused me. 3. This was not the first time he had made a major decision and didn’t discuss it with me, his mate. I walked away and wanted to calm down before I spoke to him and a few hours later, I was calm enough to do so. I asked him for an explanation and it went downhill from there til I was on the same stretch of interstate as 24 hours before heading the opposite direction. So we both were eventually here in our hometown and not together. The job he counted on didn’t come to pass. At some point his behavior made him unwelcome in his father’s home…..and in his sister’s home. He was sober all this summer and we were reunited and happy and damn it, I was hopeful again. The issue with his sister caused him to drink again. We moved to the city of the latest impending job and lived in extended stay hotels. That ate into the money set aside and then he brought another bottle into the room and I left him where he was. It resulted in horrid emails and phone calls and threats, etc. The job didn’t pan out and he had no choice but to have to move to NY with another sister. He couldn’t take his beloved dog, our dog that he refused to let me take when I left last year. He stated that he was going to kill her as he’d never put her in a pound and I drove 2 hours to get her. I tried to find a peaceful existence for the last time we would see one another and wanted to take him to eat since I knew he was existing on the bourbon. We never made it to the restaurant before he started verbally abusing me again and I took him back where I got him and retrieved our dog and left. More nasty contact until I blocked him. Then I got a message that his time at the extended stay was up and he had no money. I drove back and paid for 2 nights in another hotel so he could be near for his father’s pacemaker surgery and he was to leave for his sister’s the next day. I got to speak my peace to him about his behavior and try to explain that I loved him but he had to change before I would ever return. We had a peaceful, loving moment and he went to his car to get something for me and brought yet another bottle into the room. I have cut him off. The sister who was expecting him contacted me worried as he never showed at the hospital for his father and wasn’t responding and I let it all out. The drinking, the abuse, the behavior, etc. She was upset and contacted him and told him he needed to be clear that he would not drink in her home and he would not disrupt her home, marriage or job and if so, he was out. She’s upset as is all his family. I don’t know what is going to happen to him and I guess we wait and see, but I told him he spent his life as a man child and he was nearly 50 and it was time to be a grown ass man and decide who he wanted to be and follow through. I can’t say it isn’t breaking my heart, but I chose me. One of us had to and I am tired of coming in 2nd to an inanimate object and having a bottle ruin my life and not even drink. I thank you for the chance to vent.

  35. jw
    November 3rd, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

    I have been with my husband twenty one years. We have three children together, ages 5,7, and 9. He is a functioning alcoholic, he’s not mean, and it’s not all the time, but I am repulsed by him when he drinks. I have lost most of my respect for him and have not been intimate with him in years. I am a stay at home mom, 3000 miles away from my family, and haven’t worked in ten years. I am financially dependent on him. I don’t feel like splitting up the family is an option right now as I feel the children need both of us. I worry about my children’s safety being under his care in another household. I am unhappy and on edge at all times. On the nights when he drinks I am consumed with resentment and irritability…’s not fair to my children. I feel trapped and do not know how to make the best of this situation. I am so mad at myself for being a stupid girl, falling in love and ignoring all the red flags. I knew deep down it wasn’t right when I married him but did not know why. When I look back, the picture is clear as day and I am now paying the price living in misery.

  36. Lorraine
    December 16th, 2017 @ 1:58 pm

    Married thirty seven and a half years to an alcoholic. But he is a good person. And he does good deeds for everyone neighbours, other allotment holders. I believe he thinks they will (and do) think he is such a great guy. But i first found he was seacretly drinking

  37. Angel
    March 11th, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

    I learned how to detach from my drunk husband! Than my mother passed away. All gloves were off after that. My son graduates high school in 4 more years. I will be leaving after that. I have an end in sight after being in this dreadful marriage for 22 Year’s! My DH died years ago as far as I’m concerned. I am now mentally in a much better place and try to take care of myself because in 4 years I’m throwing a getting back he F out party! It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this free. It’s refreshing!

  38. Amanda
    May 27th, 2018 @ 6:13 am

    The family is waking up Sunday AM and my alcoholic husband again makes another nasty comment to me. The things he has said and accused me of are out of this world insane and outrageous. The only way I can stay in the same house is to continually say to myself, He is ill and not well. To continually tell myself I’m ok. My 22 year old daughter is shocked at her fathers verbal abuse. I was very honest and said your Dad is an alcoholic and not right in the mind. She looks at me like I’m insane to stay in this relationship and put up with his blantant craziness. I fear my children will see that my staying as weakness and acceptance of such abnormal behavior. I stay because I have a 15 year old daughter who I feel will be crushed by a divorce. My plan is to get her through high school and into college then I’m done. It feels good to have a plan. To have an out in the future. I can see little things in his overall health that are concerning to me and I do not want to be around for the decline and the diseases that will assuredly arise as he continues to abuse his body with no attempt at fixing himself.
    Stay strong and know you are not alone. There are other women out there silently struggling with the same situation and I know somehow, some way it will be ok.

  39. Nancy Flora
    July 31st, 2018 @ 7:00 am

    I think what you mean is a non-drinking member of an alcoholic family. Alcoholism is a family disease. Just as your husband suffered from the disease of alcoholism, so do you. Unfortunately there is no cure for this disease. Only treatment. It sounds like you have a good treatment for the symptoms of your disease. I do worry about you understanding of it. Action is the key. We must understand that sometime the non-drinker can hinder the disease. I was not part of the solution when the disease struck my family. Maybe I did not permit 13 rehabs but enabling was a very large part of my symptoms to this disease.


  40. Union Alarm
    April 14th, 2019 @ 12:41 pm

    The best way is to leave such a person as it is not worth making your life miserable with such a person. I know this as I have been in a similar situation and I did a favor to myself by walking away.

  41. Alice
    November 7th, 2019 @ 1:15 am

    Helping someone with this issue is hard. And even more if you love him. I know that very well. We struggled with it for many years until I saw a recommendation for this guide by Ellen Petersen. I got it here –
    Excellent approach, which turned out to be a godsend so I can easily say that it’s the best help so far and believe me I have read a lot of books in my life about alcoholism. Hope it will help others too

  42. Kim
    September 15th, 2020 @ 11:34 pm

    This was an excellent blog. I have been with my alcoholic husband for 15 years. I felt like I was losing my mind with the Jekyll and Hyde nature of this disease. This disease is confusing, it is chaos and it will make the entire household sick. I left last week and I am navigating through feeling a little lonely…no more babysitting to make sure he didn’t leave the oven on before he passed out, no more fake sleeping to try to avoid the verbal abuse, no more wondering if this is the day he gets another DUI and no more of that disgusting sweaty alcohol smell in my bedroom. I’m not used to this quiet, but I suspect I will learn to like it. I feel hopeful. I feel that peace will come. I’m taking this day by day and I am strong.

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